Chapter 1. Prologue
As my body leaned forward due to the sudden stop, Erdos reached out and grabbed me. Then he asked the horseman.
“What’s going on?”
If the original story was correct, the Iron-Blooded Emperor would not tolerate the slightest error. He was not a very good father after Rosiane died. He surrounded himself with a stronger curtain of ice. But he was also the one who would turn mercilessly when any threat was posed to his sons’ personal safety.
And since Rosiane was the one who seemed to have his love all to herself, so it would not be strange if the head of the horseman got cut off by his hands. I looked at him with some trepidation.
“I’m sorry Your Majesty. The carriage in front of us stopped suddenly.”
The horseman answered in a nervous voice.
Before Erdos could say anything, I tugged at his sleeve.
“Yes, Rosie. Are you hurt anywhere?”
He asked me in a friendly voice while scanning my body up and down. Fortunately, I succeeded in drawing his attention. I nodded my head to indicate that I was all right, and he held me tighter in his arms.
“You must have been surprised. It’s okay, father’s here.”
His firm hand gently patted my back. However, the carriage did not depart after a long time, so I quickly raised myself from his embrace and looked out the window. Many people passing by and buildings in the colorful capital filled the view.
It was hard to see much from here, and it was getting a little hard to breathe sitting still, so I decided to go take a look.
“I’ll be right back.”
“Outside,” I said, pointing with my finger to the front where the traffic jam was.
“I’ll send the knight.”
“I want to go by myself.”
I said it because I wanted to get some fresh air.
“Do you want to go with father?”
“I’ll be back soon.”
If he went with me, he would likely use his sword to get rid of whatever it was that caused the traffic. So I decided to go alone.
In fact, there was a reason why I, who had no power, said I would go and see it alone like this.
The very existence of the emperor’s direct escort force, the Commander of Zion, Deus de Boyd. It was unknown whether he springs from the ground or falls from the sky, but he was always somewhere watching over us. Now that Erdos was here, there wouldn’t be a moment of danger for me.
“You’ll come right back then. Do you understand, Rosie?”
Erdos knew it was impossible to refuse anything his daughter wanted, so he agreed after a few moments of hesitation. When the horseman opened the door, Erdos, who had gotten off first, escorted me out of the carriage so that I could get off safely. After I got out, I took a quick look around the area. There were several carriages lined up behind the one we rode in. The nobles were also looking out of the windows and talking to their servants as if trying to see what was going on.
I hurried toward the source. After a line of few carriages passed, I saw a wall of countless people. There was definitely something going on. As I stepped forward through the people, I saw a man, huffing and screaming, and a boy lying on the floor, wounded. He was probably about Rosiane’s age, and under his dark clothes, an exotic brown skin appeared. His eyes were beautiful citrine yellow.
It looked like he had been beaten. His clothes were tattered with dirt, and blood was flowing from his cut lips. His swollen cheeks were covered with large bruises.
How could that man have hit that kid like that? Even though this was a country where the status system was applied, it was still a repulsive sight that I was not comfortable with after living in Korea for 25 years.
“What’s going on?”
I asked the calm lady in front of me, but she kept her eyes fixed on the scene and began to explain the situation as if she was waiting for me.
“There’s a cat that often walks around, and it was walking along the road today. A carriage ran fast and almost hit the cat. That’s when the boy suddenly appeared and blocked the carriage. As you probably know, the nobleman riding in the carriage, Nari, is a man famous for his dirty temper. So, of course he got angry that a commoner blocked his way for a mere cat. If the boy and the cat don’t get out of the way, he will kill that boy too. It’s outrageous…!”
After speaking passionately for a while, she turned her face away with a pout, and as soon as we made eye contact, she stopped talking with her mouth gaping open. She seemed surprised that she spoke informally to me, who appeared to be a noble.
Her lips shut tight, unable to say anything, and there was a scratching sound in the front. Everyone’s eyes turned towards it. I stared at the boy lying at the man’s feet who was unable to hold back his anger and finally drew his sword. The yellow cat was struggling in the boy’s arms, just like the woman said.
“You dare to block my path. Do you know who I am that you behave in such an insolent attitude? I don’t know the name of that piece of garbage. I don’t even want to know.”
He was a good speaker, so the people around him couldn’t say anything about it even if he was speaking in a profane manner. They could only watch and swallow in vain.
“Alright! I’ll kill you along with the cat!”
The man lifted the sword high in the air. If I didn’t do anything, the boy and the cat would all die. At that moment, the boy’s yellow eyes met mine precisely. Strangely, there was not even a hint of emotions in those eyes. Even in this situation where he might die, his eyes had no trace of fear.
I knew what those eyes meant. They were the skepticism I had about my life before I came here, or the emotions I’ve used up so much that I couldn’t possibly be angry or afraid anymore, or even feel joy from it…the eyes of weariness. I couldn’t leave him alone any longer for some unknown reason. I clenched my fist tightly and approached them.
The man turned his head nervously at the sound of my weak voice. There was a nasty look on his young face, who seemed to be in his twenties.
I pointed at the boy and said,
“He’s my servant, so I’ll take him.”
I tried to sound as noble as I could, but I didn’t know if I did well.
A silence was laid on the buzzing street. I passed the man who froze with his mouth hanging open in contempt and approached the boy. Then, I held out my hand to the boy.
However, the boy just stared at my outstretched hand and didn’t try to get up. I thought that perhaps my expressionless face made him misunderstand something, so I almost reached out and took the boy’s hand. But he grabbed my hand first.
The way he slowly blinked his eyes, it was like a cat kissing his eyes. A strong wind blew and ruffled his hair. The boy had a peculiar scent. It was like the smell of dawn.
The boy stood up and the cat ran away at once and disappeared into the alley.
“Stop right there!”
As I turned to leave the scene, the man shouted harshly and reached for me. But his hand never reached my shoulder. Because the boy grabbed the man’s hand as he pulled me to hide behind him.
“How dare you, you piece of….Ahhhh.”
Suddenly, the man screamed in pain. It was because the boy twisted his wrist. Then there was a cracking sound, and the man’s wrist was broken.
The man grabbed his broken wrist and fell on the floor. His two escorts who were waiting behind him drew their swords. I stared at the boy with surprised eyes. No, why was he being beaten if he had this kind of power?
“Kill them all!”
The man shouted with bloodshot eyes. The knights lingered and came closer to us. The young nobleman, who was a member of the royal family, didn’t seem too keen on the idea of attacking the girl. It was then. The shadow on the ground began to waver. I noticed it because I was looking at the floor, but none of these people seemed to have noticed it. Eventually, the shadow took on a suspicious shape and at the same time became a sharp thorn, quickly taking the lives of the man and the knights.
Only after hearing the sound of a corpse falling to the floor, did people realize what had happened. There was a trickle of blood on the floor. I stared at the blood stains on my feet. It didn’t feel too real.
“What’s going on?”
It happened so fast that no one seemed to have seen the black shadow. However, I was sure of myself. This was done by the boy standing with his back to me.
Was he a wizard? As I stared at the back of his head with countless questions in my mind, he suddenly turned back and looked at me.
Our eyes intertwined. His golden eyes glowed subtly. There was a commotion in his deep eyes as if they encompassed a silent deep sea.
“Did you see it?”
He asked suddenly. I shrugged my shoulders and replied.
“No, I didn’t see you kill anyone.”
I made a silly joke and his brows drew together.
“Isn’t that what happened?”
“You’re right. Yes, I did. Now, let’s get out of here.”
I tugged on the boy’s hand to get out of the crowd due to his focused gaze. The road would probably be stagnant for a while as they would deal with those bodies. I had to go quickly and tell Erdos.
As I turned my head to talk to the boy, his yellow eyes, like a beast, were staring at me. I looked him in the eye and opened my mouth.
“Why did you let him beat you?”
‘You’re so strong.’
I refrained from talking behind his back, but the boy seemed to understand.
“Because it didn’t hurt….and I had to protect the cat too.”
The wound was large but he didn’t feel hurt?
“That doesn’t mean you have to give up your life. It hurts even if it’s just a cut by a piece of paper.”
The boy had a sad look on his face. His golden eyes became different. However, I was not in a position to say anything actually. Because I attempted to kill myself probably 4 times since I’ve been in this world. Anyway, it was a bit ridiculous for me to tell people to be good with their lives after what I had done.
“Yes, your life. And don’t kill people so carelessly.”
“I thought you said you didn’t see anything.”
I shrugged my shoulders and replied.
“I’ve seen your shadow kill people.”
“Oh, yes, I did.”
I rummaged through my pockets to search for the candies from Bella’s, the capital’s best dessert store, which I had prepared before going out to eat when I was bored. I was a little disappointed that there was only one left, but…
The boy just stared down at the candy, refusing to accept it when I suddenly offered it to him. So I took his hand and placed it on it. It made a small noise and the yellow candy, individually wrapped in a thin, see-through wrapper, fell into the boy’s dusty palm.
But it was hard to eat with dirty hands, so I took the candy back and unwrapped it, and raised it up to his mouth.
“It looks like the color of your eyes, don’t you agree?”
The boy squeezed his mouth shut and stared at the candy grains as if they were some kind of harmful poison.
“It’s ok. Eat it.”
He hesitated, then opened his mouth and ate the candy. He opened his mouth and ate the candy.
“I’m leaving now. Take care.”
After saying goodbye roughly and waving my hand, I ran back to the carriage. I was in a hurry, knowing Erdos would be worriedly waiting for my return. When I glanced back at the boy, there was no one in the place where the boy had been.
The only proof of our encounter was the empty candy wrapper in my hand.