Chapter 1. Prologue
“You are very good at adjusting your strength. Shed.”
It was the first word that Raha spoke when Severo had left the palace. Shed replied, turning his body completely toward Raha.
“You told me not to let him get traumatized. I have to do as you say.”
“Thank you. I don’t like him.”
“Why don’t you ask why I don’t like him?”
“Is there any reason to ask? I didn’t like him either, so it’s good for both of us.”
“You don’t like him?”
Raha tilted her head. Shed met Severo for the first time today. Why didn’t he like him? Was it because Severo was Karzen’s subordinate?
“The moment he was about to kiss your hand. Should I leave him alone?”
“What …… did you throw him on the floor because of that?”
Raha had asked Shed if he could appropriately deal with Severo when she heard Severo was going to visit her. She was a little nervous about Shed’s willingness to accept, though she added that no bones should be broken and no harm done to his face.
“It’s just his facial expression. He couldn’t possibly want to kiss me. “
“Maybe it’s because you’re used to your bedroom slaves, Raha.”
“He wanted to kiss you. I saw it on his face.”
“The slaves won’t have that look on their faces. They’ll all be dead soon.”
“Some of them are still alive, though, aren’t they?”
Raha frowned lightly.
“You don’t want to kill those boys too, do you?”
Shed answered surprisingly honestly.
“Half of them, I think.”
“No, you’re not going to kill them.”
“You said you wanted to kill half of them.”
“Half of it is the idea of letting them live. You won’t like it.”
“Why don’t you do what I don’t want?”
“Why would I do something you don’t like?”
A counter-question that Raha didn’t understand. Every time Shed did this, she felt a strange unfamiliarity.
“Even if I sleep with the other slaves?”
At that moment, Shade’s eyebrows twitched lightly.
“You are …….”
Raha asked slowly.
“Does it upset you that I say this?”
Shed, who was staring at her, smiled.
“I’m choking, is that anger?”
It’s like this again.
Raha found this kind of reaction and attitude from Shed uncomfortable and strange every time, because all the people who said they loved her were brutal to her. Why wouldn’t the person she really hurt behave cruelly toward her?
She raised her head at the call.
“If you want me to be mad at you.”
“You make it clear that’s what you mean. Please don’t say something like this.”
I hope you are angry with me.
The moment she heard Shed speak, Raha felt something that stung her deeply. She was not in the mood to be wildly upset by the words and deeds she felt for Karzen every time. It was more like something that was tightly skinned and closed was cracked open and the inside was pulled out.
But it was a little worse than that. Where would anyone be happy with the feeling of being peeled off and uncovered inside one by one? Wouldn’t you rather know if what is inside is something beautiful that would appear in a fairy tale? It’s just something that Raha held deep in her heart. ….
Wasn’t it just a wish to die? And even that, that this man was already dimly aware of.
Yes. Actually, Raha wanted Shed to be angry with her.
She wished that he would gradually, firmly get tired of her, even if he was so nice every time. In the end, he wouldn’t be so sad. Or perhaps she wished she wouldn’t be so sad.
It was a mind that always kept going round because she didn’t want to think too much about it.
What was it with this man who grabbed the edge of those long thoughts…. ….
Shed was still looking at her. Not once did he take his gaze away from her during this time when Raha’s mind went round and round.
Her hands were tense. Raha felt helpless, as if she were a child with childish lies laid bare as they were. Her eyes gradually sharpened.
“What if I told you that’s what I meant?”
A brief silence passed. Shed shifted his eyes and looked at Raha’s hand, bone white from the effort. He took her hand in his. The moment Raha’s gaze dropped to him, he grabbed her chin with his other hand. He leaned in and kissed her.
Only when Shed’s lips touched hers did Raha realize that her temperature had dropped considerably. The heat slowly pooled and flowed through her body. Shed pulled back after without kissing her for a long time.
“I do this when I’m angry.”
“So I will do this to you. Because this is what you taught me.”
Raha’s lips were in a straight line. It was impossible not to know what he was talking about. The winter when this man was presented to her as a prisoner from the Holy Land. There was one day when Raha was so angry that she went crazy. It was the day that this man learned that she was going to spend the night with the corpses of slaves.
“Don’t you dare pity me.” She had told him. He did not reply, but she couldn’t not know. It was obvious that he felt sorry for her, that night that was like a nightmare for Raha, who could not get rid of her anger ans slapped him in the face.
Then he grabbed her and kissed her with his bleeding lips without permission….
Het neck shook. With a burning feeling in her eyes, Raha slowly opened her mouth.
“I don’t know if you’ve forgotten, but that day I also slapped you.”
Shed replied absentmindedly.
“If I do exactly what I learned, I will have to take you to bed now and undress you.”
“I would if only you would let me. But didn’t you say you had to go out for a while?”
Raha became quiet. Shed was right. Today was the day she had promised to meet with Jamela and the Count Paltz to discuss the gardens of the Imperial Palace.
Shed stared at Raha and bent down toward her. When he pulled down the collar that came up to the end of her neck and stuck out his tongue to lick her skin, Raha was immediately perplexed. She realized that he wasn’t just saying it. Raha finally grabbed Shed’s face and pushed him away.
“…. not now. Do it when I get home tonight.”
“I told you I’d do it now. I can’t go back on my word.”
Shed grinned. He grabbed Raha’s hand that had grabbed his face and kissed it lightly.
“I’ll do as you wish.”
* * *
Severo smiled brightly.
“It has been a long time since I have greeted my lord.”
Karzen looked down at Severo, squeezing his tired eyes. He was standing with the court wizard Lesis.
“Have you seen Raha?”
“Ah, you must have already spoken to Sir Blake. Yes. Your Majesty was in an important meeting, so I went to see the Princess first.”
“How did it go?”
“Her Highness’ lawful fiance grabbed me by the neck.”
Karzen tilted his chin lightly.
“The royal lord saw Raha’s portrait and fell in love with it.”
“It’s only natural. The Princess is beautiful from a very young age.”
Karzen smiled at Severo, then examined the insignia brought by a servant.
The sign of the Inheritor. It was one of the treasures of the Delo Empire. It was also a miniature, connected by star power to a huge testament kept in the central garden of the Imperial Palace. Originally there were two of them, but the other was kept by the previous emperor.
The previous emperor gave all the other items to Karzen, but kept one. However, a few years ago, Karzen received one of these miniature signs.
The miniature sign was chock-full of all kinds of magical procedures. Because of its shape, at first glance it seemed like an inscription stone with numerous scratches etched into it.
Karzen turned the sign with his fingers and opened his mouth.
“Raha told me she’s not feeling well and doesn’t want anymore slaves.”
Lesis replied, breaking out in a cold sweat.
“….. Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t the branding on the slaves that made Raha’s body weak from the side effects?”
“No, Your Majesty! It was because the Princess was badly injured by the slave that escaped at that time. But fortunately, we have made most progress in our research. It is true.”
So said the wizard who had carved directly into the body of that many slaves dedicated to the Princess during those years.
Karzen said good-naturedly.
“There have been studies everywhere that have attempted to destroy the Eyes of the heir.”
The Delo Empire had been consolidating its position as the continent’s most powerful for hundreds of years. There had always been those who wanted to rebel against their rule, and thus research was always underway to try to eliminate the most direct divine blessing that protected the Delharsa imperial family, the Eyes of the heir.
It was forbidden, of course. It was never going to last. Because the source would already be stopped and dead before then.
But even unfinished sculptures could be pieced together to complete a useful spread. Lesis, the wizard of Karzen, presented a very interesting study in this way.
It was something that Karzen had aspired to all his life.
It was a way to obtain the Eyes of the heir and Raha del Harsa at the same time.
“How much longer will it take to properly inscribe the branding in the eyes of the Princess?”
Severo asked in an innocent tone, and Lesis broke out in a cold sweat.
Even just for the sake of it, Karzen had not been in a good mood since the royal lord of Hildes proposed to the imperial princess. Not wanting to go against Karzen’s mood, Lesis said in as cautious a tone as possible.
“…. it’s going to take another year or so.”
“That’s shorter than I thought.”
Fortunately, Karzen’s reaction was moderate. Karzen’s hands slowly gathered and opened as if grabbing something in the air.
Lesis, as well as Severo, knew exactly what the action meant.
“Raha knows nothing about it.”
As Karzen mockingly murmured, Raha del Harsa knew nothing. What kind of eeriness did she feel every time he touches her?
The hallucination of thousands of blades rustling on his neck every time he touched Raha’s skin. The obvious feeling of death overwhelmed Karzen.
Beneath her smile, Raha was extremely uncomfortable with Karzen touching her. She would probably think it was perfectly concealed. She would think she was completely fooling him with that adorable smile.
She always smiled. Actually, anyone would. But only Karzen, who touched Raha directly, knew this fact.