Adele shouted in a harsh tone.
“That’s my child! I’ve been holding him in my belly for ten months! What have you been doing?”
The emperor’s gray eyes shook. It showed a complex emotion that could not be expressed in words.
The words he was trying to argue with in anger disappeared without being able to speak. The Emperor looked at Adele coldly again.
“Then there’s no choice. Bring the woman too.”
As the emperor turned away, the knights grasped Adele’s arms. Adele wriggled and resisted.
“Let me go! Let me go!”
Leo shouted in surprise.
Adele took a deep breath and tried to calm herself down.
“Let go, please. Let go of me. The child will be scared. I’ll follow you meekly.”
At Adele’s words, the knights let go of her arms.
Leo was finally relieved when Adele held him. Adele lifted Leo, holding back her tears.
They were put on a cart and taken to the Dreyfus Castle. The castle of the Marquess of Dreyfus, where Adele went to work every day, was so bright at night that the entire castle was filled with torches on all sides. Adele left work at 4:00 p.m., so this was the first time she had seen such a scene. The territorial people, visible outside the cart, were also out on the street at a late hour, as if to admire the strange sights.
Steinhart, the capital of the Alfred Empire, was three or four hours away from Dreyfus estate. Today, however, it seemed that the emperor intended to stay here instead of going to the capital. Adele and Leo were shown to a clean guest room.
“We will be leaving early tomorrow morning.”
Neither the person who showed them to their rooms nor the one who came to give them a quick meal were servants of the Dreyfus estate.
Adele clicked her tongue at the thoroughness of it all. However, there was one thing that the emperor had not yet thought of.
This was Adele’s workplace.
Adele knew every inch of Dreyfus Castle as if it was her own home. Adele calmed her expression and called a servant.
“I’m leaving so suddenly. I would like to say goodbye to my lord.”
Adele tried to hide her nervousness.
“Please wait a moment.”
The servant who went to deliver the words soon returned.
“The Emperor has given his permission.”
Adele was taken aback. She thought that the servant had gone to seek the Marquess of Dreyfus’ permission.
‘What is the Emperor’s permission?’
The right to life and death for herself and Leo was already in his hands. Adele put away the covers and left the room, watching Leo as he slept, breathing easily.
“Come on in.”
When she opened the door of the familiar lord’s office, the inside was not as bright as she expected. Marquess Dreyfus, Adele used to see every day. She was in her late thirties, still young and energetic. The Marquess, who usually had tremendous spirit, looked worried about something today, and her face was dark. Adele greeted her politely.
“My lord, I’ve come to greet you.”
Adele looked around. There was no one in the office, but she still kept her voice low.
At her words, the Marquess looked at Adele.
“In the last succession to the throne, a large part of the imperial bloodline died.”
Only Emperor Alfred and those who supported him survived.
“The emperor is still in the service of the empress, so it’s only a matter of time before Leo and I will lose our lives.”
Leo, an illegitimate child of an unmarried emperor.
It was no better than Adele, a commoner. It was just the right seat to be the victim of political strife.
The Marquess sighed.
“Godmother, please help Leo.”
The Marquess of Dreyfus was Leo’s godmother.
When she gave birth to Leo out of wedlock, the territorial people secretly looked down on Adele and Leo.
However, once the Marquess of Dreyfus, the lord of the estate, participated in the baptismal ceremony as Leo’s godmother, no one in the estate could ignore him after that.
“What is your child’s name?”
“I haven’t come up with one yet.”
“I see. Well then… Leopold. That’s the child’s name.”
The Marquess even named the child herself.
Although she had to express her gratitude, Adele was puzzled. It was like a nobleman’s name. It was somehow not a name that suited a commoner’s child.
“Thank you for your kindness, my Lord.”
It had been a month since the dissolution, and Adele, who hadn’t been exposed to much publicity at the time, couldn’t tell the Marquess that the name was a burden.
“I don’t care about my life. Leo. Just the child.”
Adele put a sliver of hope in the lord, who thought Leo was exceptional, even giving him a name.
“What makes you think that life in the Imperial Palace will be unhappy?”
Adele tried to overcome her fears.
“It might be different from what you think.”
Adele shook her head.
“I’m not foolish enough to hope for such a fluke.”
The Marquess didn’t exchange a word. She looked at Adele with a serious expression on her face.
“A cart loaded with groceries will be coming in at 5:00 am. You have half an hour to prepare.”
Adele bowed her head to the lord.
As she was about to leave the room, Adele turned around.
“My Lord, because of me… I’m sorry.”
The Marquess shook her head.
“No, it’s not. For the past 4 years, I’ve been sitting comfortably thanks to you.”
Adele wiped away her tears and walked out of the room.
But when it came time to hang up, it was hard. What would happen if she and Leo ran away tomorrow? It might be the Marquess of Dreyfus who would be decapitated. Adele was heartbroken by her own selfishness.
The Marquess said it would be okay. She must have thought of a way.
Adele had to think like that.
Adele spent the whole night cutting the bedding with a small knife.
She cut the bedding, tied it up here and there, and sewed it together to make a baby carrier. When dawn came, Adele wrapped the sleeping Leo with the sash.
This was in case she had to run on her feet with the child. She wore a loose robe and a hood over her head. Leo was a small child, they wouldn’t know she carried him on her back.
Adele left the room with a trembling heart.
With a loud bang, the office door of the Marquess of Dreyfus flew open.
A chambermaid, unable to endure push, fainted.
“Marquess! Was it you?”
A dark energy emerged from the angry emperor’s body. He was a brutal slayer.
No one had ever seen him on the battlefield properly. Swordmaster Vanhelm Von Al reached the 9th class. He had reached the point where he could kill people just by living.
But no one knew that. Because everyone who angered the emperor was put to death.
The Marquess knelt down in front of the emperor, leaving behind the pain that twisted her insides.
“Your Majesty. This is not a very good time.”
”Please welcome the empress from a powerful family. After that, when the inner palace has settled down a bit.”
The Emperor glared at the Marquess.
“I never wanted your opinion.”
“Your Majesty, my opinion is……..”
The Emperor couldn’t contain his anger and smashed his fist into the wall.
The hard wall shattered into powder.
“I thought I raised a dog that listens well, but it turned out to be a dog that bites its owner!”
“No, Your Majesty. It was just advice from the heart.”
The Emperor laughed scornfully.
“Aren’t you the noble that His Majesty gave the name himself?”
The Marquess bowed her head.
“I can bring them in anytime. You don’t need to hurry.”
The Emperor looked down at the Marquess, who was kneeling at his feet.
“Do I seem to be in a hurry right now?”
The Marquess stopped talking.
The Marquess felt dizzy, as if she was about to vomit blood and die from the murderous energy the emperor was furiously spewing.
“Which way did they go?”
Blood ran down the Marquess’s mouth.
“…To the north.”
The Emperor calmed his murderous spirit.
“I am grateful to you. But do not expect mercy a second time.”
As the Emperor exited the office, the knights straightened their postures.
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
Behind the knights, who were saluting and moving hurriedly, the emperor snorted.
“I’ll go myself.”
Adele quietly walked down to the kitchen of the castle.
In front of the back door was full of empty boxes with baskets of bottled goods and fruits. There was no one around the carts as they were busy getting the goods into the castle.
Adele looked carefully at the empty boxes. It was hard trying to get into the back of the cart with Leo on her back, but this was not the time to think about it. Adele lay down with Leo in her arms in the cramped crate and put the lid on.
After a while, she heard the sound of empty boxes being put away, and the cart jolted along the dirt road. Clank. Clatter. The noise of the regular shaking was strangely calming.
Taking a breath, Adele remembered what had happened yesterday.
“Then there’s no choice. Bring the woman too.”
The Emperor didn’t seem to have any intention of taking her along with her son. Adele was angry.
‘You didn’t show up until he’s this big.’
She was furious, but there was no time for it.
Adele worked as an administrator. The place where she worked was a territory some distance from the Imperial Palace, but theoretically she was quite strong.
‘How long is my lifespan? Is it until I reach the Imperial Palace? Or is it before that?’
The Emperor would not have come that far if he had intended to take her in the first place.
“I’ve come for my son.”
How could he do such a thing as someone who came to pick up his belongings? As the mother of his child, he didn’t seem to have the slightest regard for her.
‘I’m a commoner.’
If he was forced to take her with him, it was impossible to tell when she would be separated from her child.
‘The only one he wanted to take with him was Leo.’
Adele shook her head in agitation.
It was fortunate that the Emperor stopped by Dreyfus Castle. It felt like the last chance the sky had given her to live.
Lying in a shaking box, it was cozy as if lying in a dark cradle.
“I hadn’t slept a wink all night.’
Physical strength was essential for escape.
Adele closed her eyes and fell fast asleep.
Leo shook Adele with his small hands.
Adele opened her eyes slightly.
“Mother, where are we?”
From between the wooden boards, Leo looked around.
“Where is father?”
Adele felt like her heart was crushed.
It would have been better if he didn’t have one.
It was natural that Leo was curious, that he wanted to see his father, that he missed him now that he knew he had a father. Just like Adele’s feelings for the last four years.
“Leo. Are you hungry?”
“Yes. I’m hungry!”
To a child, a mother is his world.
He didn’t even question what this situation was surrounding him because his mother was there with him.
For Adele, Leo was like that, too.
But the man didn’t give birth to her son or raise him. How could he call himself a father? He was nothing but a destroyer of Adele and Leo’s world.
“Mother brought some bread.”
“There’s water, too.”
Adele put some of the food she had brought into Leo’s mouth.
“Mother doesn’t eat?”
“Yes. Mother will eat soon.”
Leo finished off one piece of bread and swooned all over the place.
“Can’t we get out of here?”
“Mother’s going to have a look around.”
The cart stopped for a while now. Adele wondered how long she had slept.
She needed to see where they were.
‘There didn’t seem to be any tracking.’
Adele was relieved that the surroundings were quiet.
She gently lifted the lid of the crate.
Quickly looking outside, she saw no one passing by and what looked like lush green trees and shrubs.
‘We’re at a trading post or something?’
Usually, they make a large clearing in the forest between cities and run trading posts. Adele took Leo out of the box reassuringly and got off the cart with care.
“Did you sleep well?”
Then a voice came from beside her, and Adele froze in place.
The Emperor was sitting with a chair.
When her gaze intertwined with his, her heart seemed to freeze.
Then she saw the forest that stretched behind the Emperor. Far behind, she saw stone walls laid neatly under the sky.
“What is this place?”
The Emperor replied sarcastically to Adele, who was speechless.
“Welcome to the Imperial Palace.”