Chapter 1. Prologue
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Ten years is not a short time.
No, it has been a harsh long time for someone waiting for someone.
“So I would like to ask your opinion, My Lord. Do you want to end the experiment at 99, or do you want to continue the experiment to achieve one hundred?”
Shed’s forehead was faintly contorted. It was because High Priest Amar’s tone was strange.
“Why do you ask me that?”
High Priest Amar smiled. But it was an awkward smile.
‘We did not intend from the beginning to condemn the other members of the Del Harsa royal family, with the exception of Karzen del Harsa. It was the young tyrant who trampled on the weak by spraying innocent blood.”
The target was just that young tyrant.
Just because he was a priest who worshipped God did not mean that he was solely benevolent. The Holy Knight holds a blade and gives a righteous conviction to the wicked. A murderer who has violated the weak must die. To execute the grievances and desperation of the weak on the behalf of the weak.
All of this was the duty of those who followed God.
“I’ll tell you the conclusion first. My lord.”
High Priest Amar continued without losing his bitter smile.
“If we finish the experiment here, I cannot assure you what will happen to the life of the Princess in the process of destroying the eyes of the heir.”
Shed’s blue-gray eyes, which had been dull all along, cracked oddly at the moment. So did the armrest of the chair that Shed was holding. Something tried to explode from the top of his neck, but barely sank.
“King Shed Hildes.”
The High Priest’s body was actually quite weak, due to the overuse of his sacred power, but for other reasons, a painful smile came out.
“Perhaps you know this, but the Princess wants to die.”
That’s about it.
Shed already knew about that. He could not not know it. From the day he was brought to the Imperial Palace, the Imperial Princess already checked to see if he could strangle her.
He just couldn’t.
It was more unpleasant than he had ever imagined to hear directly from the mouths of strangers the fact he had suppressed in a corner of his mind. Shed stared blankly into the air.
A heavy silence fell.
“And there is one more thing I would like to mention.”
In fact, High Priest Amar was troubled just before he walked into this reception room. Was it right to say these words? However, he couldn’t turn a blind eye after hearing about the Princess who was getting thinner and thinner day by day. It wasn’t much different from the King in front of him.
So High Priest Amar made a decision. He brought up the secret of Raha, which he had never told anyone, not even once in more than six months, and with a sense of repentance.
“The Princess helped you escape in exchange for success in killing her.”
“But she said she didn’t want the end to be you.”
Perhaps it would have been better if Raha had not added those words. Then High Priest Amar might have at least gotten over it without knowing the feelings that the Princess had for Shed Hildes. Then he would continue to think that the Princess treated the King just as well as the beautiful jewel and tamed an expensive domestic animal that would not listen.
He might have tried to think it like that.
The Imperial Princess, who looked like a statue of ice, not matching her young face, didn’t have to say so.
She didn’t have to say that she didn’t want to see Shed at the end of her life.
He whispered, but his eyes were strangely red. Amar took a handkerchief out of his pocket. He continued slowly, pressing down his eyes.
“I’m sorry, My Lord. That’s why I’m cowardly giving you the choice.”
Because all of this was the one remaining true intention of that imperial Princess.
* * *
Raha was soaking her feet in the sun-warmed river water. The rippling sound of the waves rang in her.ears.
It was a few days later when Oliver visited. He looked a little tired, but as always he had that warm, lively, child-like smile.
“I was about to die trying to sort out the gifts that were pouring into the Imperial Palace today.”
His voice was full of complaints. He was young, even for the wisest of disciples, no matter. Raha lightly tapped Oliver’s forehead with her fingertips.
“You’re not dead.”
“Of course I’m not dead. How can a doctor die before his patient?”
Raha chuckled. As Oliver had said, gifts for Raha were sent one after another. Duke Winston, who had returned from his business affairs abroad, visited separately and also apologized.
He said he wanted to show people Jamela’s portrait but he mistakenly showed the Princess’s portrait to the royalty of other countries instead. Rumors soon spread and he himself was in trouble.
Everyone knew of the Princess’s beauty through rumors, but it was rare to see her portrait in person, which made it all the more surprising.
Raha could not understand what Duke Winston was really thinking. Parents with children seem to be so sensitive. If the future of his children were going to be harmed, he would somehow remove it with their wits, keep it in order, and placate it? This seemed to have given Raha an instinctive premonition that the Duke wanted Raha to have a decent husband, and that person should be a distant royalty from another country.
He did not yet know the true desire that Karzen had for her.
“Thanks to you, there is no place in the palace to store all the gifts. Should I share them with the Duke?”
“No. I cannot accept such valuable gifts.”
“Well, in that case.”
The gifts could be given to the maids. Finally, Duke Winston did not forget to say that there was no marriage proposal for the Princess.
Of course, Duke Winston, like any great noble, managed his expression perfectly. Raha didn’t express the least bit of disappointment……..
Oliver gave Raha a dose of medicine and then checked her body as usual. As the weather got hotter, her health seemed a little better than the cold winter, but still not good.
She had been ill for a long time last winter.
After Raha finished the medicine with some warm tea, Oliver carefully took something from his pocket as the attendants retreated. Then he held it tightly in Raha’s hand.
Something hard touched her palm. Raha blinked and opened her hand. It was immediately after. Her breathing and gaze stopped. It was not a short time. Even the fatigue and emptiness that had been thickly accumulating disappeared in an instant…..
It was that blue jewel.
Surely it was.
Raha stared at the blue jewel in her hand with her mouth open blankly. Looking at the back of it, there was a long silver needle newly hung on it.
The use of the jewel had changed to a brooch used to secure women’s shawls or other garments, but there was no way she couldn’t recognize the original shape.
It was that blue jewel on the treasured sword given to the only slave
on a cold winter day.
A cracked voice came out. Raha couldn’t come to her senses like a person who was suddenly thrown into the sea. She managed to clear her throat, but the end of her voice trembled terribly.
“Why is this….”
She had thrown the pure gold rose that Shed had placed on her collar into the blazing fire. She had walked away from the palace completely, but at the end, she had no choice but to go back like she was possessed.
In that lonely inner palace, she saw the treasured sword that Shed had left behind. It was pitifully ruined, without the blue jewel and was cracked.
Everything about it looked like her and Shed. There was no change. The remnants of that day were sometimes, or quite often, painted on Raha’s head, emptying her mind.
Raha, speechless and looking down at the brooch, gripped the jewelry tightly. There was a certain emotion that was closer to overwhelming than loss. It filled her up a little with every breath, a name that hurt terribly to call nostalgia, but she couldn’t get it out of her mouth, so it just circled around the bottom of her neck. The pain that had seeped like a bloodstain deep into her chest where no one could see it shook erratically. The heat that had already disappeared seemed to rise again.
Oliver seized Raha’s shaking hands.
From the moment the gifts flooded into the palace, Oliver helped the maidservants sort through the gifts.
It was Raha’s order. ‘I’ll take the medicine every time, I’ll rest and eat. Stop nagging me and help me sort things out.’
Seeing Oliver open his eyes in shock at Raha’s annoyed voice, the palace attendants even started laughing for the first time in a long time.
The reason that Oliver’s residence was allocated to the palace was because the Princess was in terrible pain for the entire season. The young genius doctor, who was usually very attentive to the Princess, often acted as a sort of starter for her.
“The Princess assigned me to the gift classification on purpose.”
“If he (Shed) sends something, I can’t help but notice it.….”
The attendants wouldn’t understand. Because, besides Raha, it was Oliver who had the most conversations with Shed in this Imperial Palace.
“The Princess has been waiting.”
In case that slave sent something. He (Shed) might send something with bad feelings, whether hate or anger, and Raha was afraid it wouldn’t be able to get to her.
She thought if that slave sent whatever, she would hold it in her hand tightly. She was willing to do so.
Raha was choked up and couldn’t speak well. After looking down at the jewelry for a while, Raha used the silver needle behind the brooch and pricked her fingertip. Oliver immediately jumped.
“I thought it was poisoned….. I guess not.”
“…… I don’t think he’s a mean person.”
“How do you know that?”
“I have a feeling.”
It was a firm reply that didn’t suit Oliver’s innocent voice. Raha smiled faintly.
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