Prologue

***

 

The night was so dark that she couldn’t even see ahead of her if it weren’t for the small lit candle next to the bedside table. She quietly rose from where she had been lying alongside Emperor Carmun. 

 

Perhaps it was luck that brought her here. She even slept with the emperor of the Idelberg Empire, whom she had never met in her life. 

 

But would he ever know that it was the biggest mistake of his life? 

 

After becoming the Emperor’s 27th concubine, she had no intention of sleeping with him. But somehow, the Emperor kept coming to her,  and now he even abandoned the Empress to seek only her.

 

She checked to confirm if the Emperor had fallen asleep.

 

“Your Majesty…” She said quietly. 

 

The Emperor did not move as he exhaled steady breaths. After seeing that he was sleeping peacefully, she grabbed the dagger she had hidden under her pillow. The hand that held the dagger was already trembling with fear.

 

‘Why did you choose me out of all the women in your entourage?’

 

She had to kill him. He was her father’s sworn enemy. She wanted to kill him and fulfill her father’s wish, but her body was shaking more than she thought and she felt like she was going to miss the blade…

 

The Emperor was lying on the bed asleep with an unconcerned look on his face, not knowing what she was up to. 

 

Her hands shook, and suddenly, she did not want to kill him. When she looked closer at the emperor, who was called the devil, he did not  look like a bad man, let alone a devil.

 

He was a good emperor who cared about his people. And he was a scarred man with a painful secret.

 

She couldn’t hurt such a person just because he was her father’s enemy, even though he was better to her than anyone else in the world. 

 

“Huff…huff.” (Crying sound)

 

Carmun didn’t open his eyes, despite the sound of her quiet cry. It was as if he was dead. She held the dagger in her hands. But she froze in place, she couldn’t stab him or stop crying when she saw him sleeping peacefully in front of her. Her father’s urging had already gone too far. If she didn’t kill him, her father would be disappointed. Then she would be a useless daughter again. 

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

She whispered quietly as she lifted the knife high in the air and quickly strained it so that she could plunge it into his heart. But she couldn’t bring herself to do it because the thoughts suddenly came to mind.

 

“Edith, look at this. I can’t believe you’re smiling. That’s why the flowers bloomed. It’s because of your smile.”

 

The cherry blossoms that bloomed in the early summer.

 

“From now on, don’t smile so sweetly. It makes me angry when other people see you smiling.”

 

He was good at being jealous, and he was the hydrangea that she said she liked.

 

“You must be the only person whose wish for the emperor is a hydrangea.” 

 

He was a man who would give her anything, even if she didn’t have anything to wish for. She had even entertained the thought of driving a knife into his heart! It was only then that it dawned on her. It was then that she realized what she had been pretending not to know. She had him in her heart.

 

She let go of the dagger in her hands in surprise.  Then, just  as she was about to hastily grab it, she heard a loud popping sound, and  immediately, a hand bigger than hers seemed to anticipate it and grabbed it calmly.

 

“…!”

 

She let out a silent scream. 

 

Carmun Idelberg, the Emperor of the Empire, opened his eyes.

 

The weapon in his hand clearly said that she was the murderer. 

 

“Your Majesty!”

 

She was too surprised to speak. She stammered and called him, but he just looked at her with a cold face. It has been a long time since I lost my usual gentle smile. His cold, red eyes looked down at her and she couldn’t move as if her whole body had frozen. She realized the seriousness of the situation as if a red warning light was flashing in her head.

 

 “I’m guilty of death…!”

 

“Shh…” 

 

He covered her mouth with his other hand. It was a cautious move, as if he didn’t want to be found.

 

‘What are you doing? Isn’t this the time to question me? Or calling the guards to capture me?’

 

Yes. It was for the best. She knew from the start that this was going to happen. There was no way she was going to succeed in killing him. He didn’t know who she really was. She couldn’t reveal that she was not Edith, her father’s beloved eldest daughter, but Helen, the abandoned one, who couldn’t take the bullying. She couldn’t say that she wasn’t the Edith he loved, she just chose to be killed by his hands. 

 

Until the moment she died, she was a coward. Helen closed her tearful eyes, foreseeing her death. At that moment, every thought came to her mind.

 

‘He will blame me. He will hate me.’

 

But it was harder for her to reveal that she was Helen than it was for him to hate her. ‘Why in the world am I in this state?’

 

 “Edith, open your eyes,” he said, his voice sounding like a growing beast in a cave. 

 

She was very scared, but she knew that he was completely out of control when he got angry. So Helen secretly opened her eyes and looked at him, his eyes were shining dangerously. 

 

“Why didn’t you kill me?” 

 

The words that came out of his mouth were something else entirely. He sounded like he was disappointed that Helen didn’t kill him.

 

She looked straight at Carmun, not hiding her panicked eyes, and this time he grabbed her shoulders. With an obvious urging look in his eyes. 

 

“What are you talking about?” 

 

“Did you think I didn’t know?”

 

Carmun smiled knowingly. A sense of unease came over her seeing that smile. For there was something between him and her that she did not know. 

 

“Wasn’t it a fact that everyone knew that your father and I didn’t get along? If you look a little further back, you will find that there are countless stories of suspicion. So please tell me. Why didn’t you kill me? Why didn’t you obey your father’s orders?”

 

His eyes shone brightly. He grabbed Helen by the shoulders, his hands tightened as if not letting her escape. 

 

What could she say to him? Does he want to know that it was her father who sent her here to kill him, the Emperor, in his own room? Or now she was attempting to kill him?

 

She kept looking at him with a panicked look in her eyes. She couldn’t speak to him about any of these thoughts. If it becomes a problem between countries, there will be a huge bloodstorm in Cordelia, a small country.

 

As a princess of Cordelia, she couldn’t open my mouth and bit her lip as if to strike. She was a little numbed by the look in his eyes, as if he was a wolf on the hunt, watching his prey. His red eyes shone in the moonlight.

 

Carmun, still locked Helen in his arms, stared down and spoke in a distinctive low voice.

 

“If killing me makes you feel better, then kill me.”

 

‘What does he mean?’

 

He put the dagger directly in her shaking hands. Then he placed her hands holding the dagger in front of his heart.

 

Has he really lost his mind?

 

”What, what are you doing!”

 

Helen shook off his hand with all her might.

 

Clank!

 

The dagger fell to the floor and made a clunk sound. Even in the midst of it all, Carmun’s gaze never left  her. He didn’t seem the least bit upset or panicked. The one who panicked was her, the one who was going to kill him. The plan wasn’t supposed to be like this… Helen was going to let him kill her. The situation just drifted out of control and he wanted her to kill him! 

 

He grabbed her by the chin and lifted it. His gaze met hers once more, and Helen had the illusion of being eaten by it.

 

“…if you choose to stay with me instead of just being…”

 

He stared at her. For a while he went silent. When he opened his mouth again, he looked as if he had made some great decision. 

 

“Be my Empress.”

 

‘Empress? I tried to kill him, but instead of executing me, he wants me to be his Empress? Is he crazy?’

 

“I’ll protect you no matter what you do,” he said, smiling with satisfaction as my eyes widened in surprise.

 

“If you refuse, I will let the world know your crime. Your father, who sent his daughter to assassinate the emperor, will not be safe.”

 

It was a proposal Helen couldn’t refuse. No, it was a threat. It was a condition that he set knowing that she could not refuse. ‘What on earth did I do to deserve this?’ There was not a single good thing about her that fit the position of Empress. 

 

She was a princess from a weak country in the middle of nowhere, she wasn’t good at dealing with things, and she wasn’t smart enough to compete with the Empress.

 

He said, looking at the prey he had picked up by chance with his eyes full of satiety.

 

“Become my Empress, Edith.”

 

His gentle voice sent a shiver down her spine as she recoiled. His proposal made Helen very happy, but there was one more secret he did not yet know.

 

‘I am not Edith. I am Helen Cordelia.’

 

It was the fact that she was not the Crown Princess of the Cordelia Empire, but the troubled second princess.