Chapter 1 Part 1
Kwanach hugged me more tightly. After kissing my head briefly, he whispered.
“…… can I kill him? I didn’t think you’d be comfortable with that.”
“Because he’s my flesh and blood?”
Kwanach nodded. I felt a chill in my heart every time I thought of Diaquit.
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“I don’t even want to think of him as my family to begin with.”
I became silent and dug deep into Kwanach’s arms.
I had no way to explain to Kwanach. What would I say to him? That I was actually a person who had died and came back? That I had narrowly avoided Diaquit’s contempt and betrayal I experienced in the previous life in this life?
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
I could almost understand why Kwanach wanted to hide his first encounter with me. I didn’t want him to find out about my past, when I was helplessly, purely foolishly, trapped in a castle.
“It’s just that …… we weren’t very close siblings. Kwanach, I’m tired. I want to sleep.”
I deliberately changed the subject to cut off Kwanach’s doubts. Actually, I felt pretty sleepy.
“Yes. Lie down comfortably on my lap.”
“And you? You didn’t sleep a wink either.”
As I mumbled, Kwanach forcibly pulled me down. Without a second thought, I lay back down, using Kwanach’s lap as a pillow. It was really sturdy and warm around my head.
Kwanach lightly tapped my shoulder with his large palm. The gentle touch, which was intended to put me to sleep, completely released the taut strings of tension. My fidgety eyelids became heavy. I muttered in a dazed spirit.
“This…… you can’t rest properly….”
“I’ll be fine. I just sit and get some shut-eye.”
I felt Kwanach stroking my hair with his fingers. Unable to overcome my sleepiness, I fell into a deep sleep on Kwanach’s friendly lap.
* * *
I slept soundly all the way from the forest to the palace without waking up once.
I didn’t know how I slept so comfortably on someone’s lap. Maybe it was because it was Kwanach’s lap and not a stranger’s.
Kwanach woke me up by gently shaking my shoulder. I made an effort to awaken my foggy spirit and came out of the carriage with Roman’s experimental records clutched in my arms.
“Let’s go see Jaxor.”
Kwanach said while supporting my back.
Do you want to eat first?”
“…… I don’t have much of an appetite if I saw something like that.”
“Did you get some shut-eye?”
Kwanach nodded silently. I don’t know if those words were true or false, as he was a man of strong physical strength who didn’t show his complexion by staying up all night.
We headed for the dungeon where Jaxor was locked up. I felt as if I could not rest until I completely finished this job.
When we entered the cell, we found Jaxor tied tightly in the center, just as he had been yesterday. He lifted his lowered head and slowly looked at me.
“Ah, it’s our noble empress.”
Jaxor’s sarcastic voice was laced with taunts. A vivid malice.
‘He must have felt I was an uninvited guest.’
Jaxor seemed attached to the country he and his best friend had led the revolution to build. Was he angry that an outsider woman suddenly appeared, occupying the seat as empress and stealing Kwanach’s attention?
But I knew that many people who had an adult appearance but never grew up and remained children on the inside. Jaxor may be such a person.
Clank clank. I approached Jaxor a few steps closer.
“I have brought you evidence.”
Jaxor flinched slightly at my words. His eyes shook as he looked at the papers in my hand.
“How can you expect me to believe a piece of paper like that? Who knows if you faked it?”
“Look at it yourself. It’s Roman’s handwriting or not.”
The experimental record was shoved in front of Jaxor’s eyes. His eyes were shaking. His gaze wavered. Curious but not wanting to see.
Hesitated, he looked through the experimental record papers. His lips hardened. His expression was telling a story. I spoke gently.
“The way I see it, it looks like Romain wrote it, right?”
“I’ll read it to you. Sit down and listen comfortably.”
Jaxor slumped. I slowly read out the experimental journal, which no matter how many times I read it, was ugly and overwhelmed with a feeling of recrimination. Jaxor listened without the slightest movement, and then reacted with one last sentence that freaked out his whole body.
“My children. They were born in the same place as me.”
Jaxor’s shoulders shook.
I stopped reading and there was a terrible silence in the prison for a while.
Jaxor raised his head very slowly. There was a deep despair on his face, which was originally dark.
The shaking eyes stared at me and Kwanach alternately. It dried up and burst lips trembled. It was the face of a man crashing as everything he held in his grasp crumbled.
At my call, Jaxor looked at me with a broken gaze.
He murmured in a cracked voice.
“I’ve never heard of this before.….”
His response was transparent. As expected, was not evil enough to go along with Roman’s dirty plan.
‘So Jaxor was also used by Roman. ….’
I was curious as to the reason for this. What made Jaxor become his accomplice?
“Jaxor. Tell me what you know.”
“You have chosen a false belief. The only way to right your wrongs is to tell us everything.”
Jaxor’s face twisted greatly. His redden eyes were watery. His breathing became more and more labored. His chest shook violently, and he spoke in a voice that seemed to break.
“I had no choice . I knew inwardly that I was wrong, but how could I refuse him? Roman … the only one left of my bloodline.”
“…… you mean you two are brothers?”
I looked into Jaxor’s eyes, similar in color to Roman. My ominous, brooding guess was correct.
“Yes. We are born of the same death.”
Jaxor’s mouth opened.
Thus, the ugliest aspect of the previous dynasty was revealed to the world.
* * *
Kwanach and I listened to Jaxor’s story in silence for a while. Jaxor calmly told his story, precisely the story of his brother Roman.
When Jaxor’s story ended, my eyes went dark for a while and my body seemed to shake. Kwanach quickly supported my back. I took a deep breath and sat up straight again.
After Jaxor had told us everything, he said, as if he felt better.
“….. my brother wanted to create more beings like himself.”
A being born from death, Roman with magical powers that defy nature. I could see why his eyes turned red every time he used magic.
I clenched and stretched my fists. Listening to him, I understood why Roman did what he did and his motive.
After all, the original sin was held by the last king of Pernen empire. Roman and Jaxor’s father, who immersed himself in madness, brought children from the death into the world.
The young Roman was confined underground for a long time, which must have distorted his mind. They were twin brothers, but Jaxor grew up outside and he did not turn out to be as evil as Roman.
It didn’t matter where he came from. The environment made the child sick. That much was certain. In a way, Roman was a victim, too.
But Roman had done too much evil to be sympathized or forgiven. He crossed the line too many times and it was too late to return.
Kwanach, who had been silent since entering the prison, spoke in a harsh voice as if he had scratched his vocal cords.
“…did you sympathize with Roman after hearing his story? Is that why you betrayed me?”
Jaxor’s wavering gaze wandered through the air. He could not make eye contact with Kwanach.
“Was Roman, who appeared one day out of the blue, more important to you than me, with whom you had lived almost your entire life, from the day you were a child? What are our beliefs? Where are the revolutionary principles that have won so many battles?”
The longer he continued talking, the more agitated Kwanach’s tone became. The betrayal and sadness that he had held so tightly in check leaked to the surface.
Jaxor replied with a depressed look on his face.
“Revolutionary principles didn’t matter to me.”
“I’m neither smart nor strong like you, Kwanach. Few people devote their lives to ideology. It’s mostly driven by emotions and matter.”
“Just …… yes, I felt sorry for my brother. And I liked the fact that I had a family too. You know how false a concept family was to the slaves. How much we longed for it, missed it, and were touched by it.”
“…… I thought of you as family.” (Kwanach)
“But you made a new family, not me.” (Jaxor)
Jaxor lifted his head slightly and looked at me. The gaze stung.
“Kwanach, you’re so straight that you didn’t expect my betrayal. Just know this. It means that everyone is not like you. The world is full of soft and weak fools. They always destroy the world.”