Chapter 1. Kill the Empress
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It can’t be.
Natasha would never keep a secret from him.
Gillotti thought nervously, biting his fingernails.
Natasha denied it, but he kept an eye on her in the name of precaution.
Looking closely as if to observe her, there were indeed doubts.
‘The atmosphere in which she spoke with the Prime Minister was not normal.’
Smiling with a wink was a face she would only show in front of a person she liked.
The casual eye contact and the greedy look in the Prime Minister’s eyes as he gazed at Natasha were all suspicious.
‘No, it can’t be. How could Natasha betray me, the emperor?’
But that wasn’t all that was suspicious.
Natasha sometimes used her growing belly as an excuse to sleep separately, and she sometimes roamed the castle.
More than one or two people claimed to have seen her walking quietly down an empty hallway while everyone else slept.
“…… d*mn it. My head hurts.”
Gillotti scratched his head in frustration.
It wasn’t Natasha whom he needed to care about now.
Even though more important and harder tasks awaited, his nerves were focused on Natasha.
‘…… d*mn it!’
Gillotti threw things around him as he stood up.
Beautiful vases, feather stands, books and teacups alike fell to the floor.
He staggered and leaned against the desk as he stood amidst the broken and cracked objects.
Johan, the chief chamberlain, startled by a loud noise coming from his office, rushed inside.
“There’s nothing to make a fuss about. I don’t want to see it, so get them away.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Johan ordered his attendants to quickly finish off the messy office.
Meanwhile, Gillotti, who had swallowed a glass of red wine in one gulp, asked Johan sharply.
“What happened to the chase?”
Johan’s face immediately turned pale.
He answered firmly, trying not to be intimidated.
“We are still following the trail. It is not easy to find them because they move so stealthily. But they are children already accustomed to the Tanatos’ climate, so they would not have been able to escape the empire.”
“What are you waiting for! We must find them before the July festival begins!”
Johan bowed deeply at the emperor’s fierce shout and replied,
“I will keep it in mind.”
With a sigh, Johan slipped out of the emperor’s office and returned to his office with busy steps.
As soon as he walked into his office, the sigh he had been holding back leaked out.
How could he look for those things that had long since disappeared without anyone noticing?
Initially, the management of the beasts has been done by the Empress.
Until now, the emperor had roughly or carelessly handled most of the important tasks, and it was the job of the Empress to review and adjust them.
It was not originally the Empress’s job, but the Emperor handled it so immaturely that it was all transferred to the Empress at some point.
So Gillotti had no choice but to stray from Tanatos’ work on big and small matters.
It was the same with La Gorreci.
The emperor killed the Empress and had already forgotten about her for months, but now they had to prepare the skins and horns of the silver deer for the July Festival.
‘It’s driving me crazy……Originally we had to communicate closely with each other every 15 days.’
The July Festival was one of the most important festivals in Tanatos.
It was a great ‘festival of power’ that showed the majesty of Tanatos to the surrounding countries, not to mention the ritual worship of the winter power that made Tanatos strong.
All nations visited Tanatos and presented rare and precious treasures.
Tanatos promised peace to the neighboring nations that offered their precious gifts, and to the most sincere of them, the emperor would give a silver deer’s horn, a symbol of exchange, in return.
The problem was that now Tanatos did not have enough “silver horns” to use for the festival.
What was piled up in the imperial treasury was literally the finest horn used in Tanatos.
They could never give that to the guests, so they had to catch the silver deer….
…… but they vanished without a trace.
Johan sat huddled deep in his chair, his hand on his forehead.
Not a single thing has gone well in this country since the death of the Empress.
His gaze reached the emperor’s imperial edict on the desk.
The name of the Duke of Gertium was written above the emperor’s clear seal.
Johan’s expression grew more serious.
No one in the world was unaware of the fact that the emperor loved Natasha Roanti so much that he shunned the empress.
Of course it was ridiculous, but no one would be surprised if the emperor gave Natasha the Empress’s position.
Moreover, Natasha was probably holding the emperor’s child.
Although her origin was low, it was not at all unlikely that she was holding the emperor’s only descendant.
However, the emperor had said in his imperial letter that he would not put Natasha but “Gertium” in the empress’s place.
The current Duke Gertium’s youngest sister, who had not yet reached adulthood.
Perhaps the emperor wanted to restore Gertium’s allegiance, which looks a little different than it did before.
It was not that he didn’t know the intention of the emperor at all, but it was too dangerous.
Johan rubbed his forehead and sighed deeply.
Unfortunately, the current emperor did not seem to know how dangerous and poisonous Natasha Roanti was.
She was a woman who had come up from the lowest to the highest position, using her beautiful, innocent smile as a weapon.
The woman was ignorant of the greater good. Nor did she particularly care about justice.
All that mattered to her was her safety, her prestige, and the wealth of the children she bore.
Probably not including Gillotti Tanatos.
“……What in the world is going to happen to this country?”
Johan gripped his prickling stomach and let out only a heavy sigh.
If he had known this was going to happen, he wouldn’t have become a chamberlain, no matter how much money they offered him….
‘I should have listened to my wife.’
When the previous Empress died, his wife asked him to leave the imperial household.
Her voice caught his ear as she pleaded, “Please, get out of there. There should only be blades in the imperial household that no longer have shields.”
“Is this why you have to listen to your wife well?”
Johan picked up his pen once more with a sigh.
Even if he quit tomorrow, he had to do what he had to do today.
First, he had to find the missing La Gorreci as soon as possible.
* * * *
At first Asha could not believe her eyes.
For she could not understand at all how a beast that should not be here was held in Tamon’s arms.
“I am not certain since this is the first time I have seen it in living form, but it must be a young silver horned deer, right?”
Tamon immediately asked Asha.
Asha was the only one among them who knew the most about silver horned deer.
Freezing in surprise, she ran to him at once and looked at the little deer on his chest.
“Where on earth did you find it? This is not the deer’s habitat……..”
“I found him lying in a small patch of grass at the entrance to the canyon, hiding himself. He’s short of breath.”
It was a mysterious beast with snow-white fur and shimmering silver horns.
The full-grown adult was as huge as a bear, its horns as sharp and hard as the blade of a well-forged sword, and its white leather skin tough enough to withstand the venom of the monsters.
But these were only the characteristics of the adult.
The young silver deer were a little tougher than ordinary beasts and did not boast as great a stature as the adults.
For this reason, the silver deer herd gave top priority to the protection of the young deer.
“First, treat this baby first; if it goes on like this, it will die.”
Tamon immediately took the deer into his tent.
The knights, who had followed Tamon a bit behind, looked like they wanted to know what was going on.
Leaving the rustling knights behind, Asha hurried into the tent where Tamon had disappeared.
“I don’t know if I can save it.”
Asha’s face turned pale and twisted at Tamon’s words as she watched the deer.
“You must save it. You have to. Please….”
The fact that a young silver deer was found meant that there was most likely a herd of silver deer nearby.
And so, their young must be there with them.
“We will only listen to the empress.”
“So, Empress, please take good care of us. Please feel sorry for the deer. Protect us so that the ruthless emperor cannot slaughter us.”
These were the words of the children of the white deer called La Gorreci.
They were the survivors of the children who were sacrificed to the greed of the empire.
The voices of the Mirah and Lucentia siblings came alive in Asha’s ears.
Rough fingertips lifted Asha’s chin.
Sharp eyes licked Asha’s face, twisted with remorse.
A rough thumb gently swept her tightly closed lips.
“Why is your face so desperate, Asha?” (Tamon)
Unable to answer, she looked down at the gasping young beast with bitter eyes.
“When you look like this, I want to just give you my life……..” (Tamon)
The words were said so lightly that they didn’t fit the situation, but Asha was already well aware of how heavy and cruel his intentions were.
So Asha grabbed Tamon’s hand when he took out his dagger.
“…… I’ll do it.” (Asha)
“You, yourself?” (Tamon)
Surprised, Tamon handed over the dagger he was holding.
Tamon was a man who did not know how to take care of himself.
He was bound to inflict more wounds than necessary and shed more blood, so Asha took the dagger herself and scratched his fingertip.
Tamon couldn’t help but giggle at the ticklish small wound.
Even though Asha drew it with force, there was only a small cut on Tamon’s fingertip.
Blood began to trickle from the wound.
Asha quickly shoved Tamon’s finger into the deer’s mouth despite Tamon’s taunts.