Chapter 1. Kill the Empress
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Boom, boom, boom!
“Open the door! Hello!”
Anna pounded her fist on the tightly closed castle gate and called for someone.
Her frozen hands were as hard as stone, and her trembling body had long since lost its senses to the cold.
“There’s a horse-drawn carriage overturned!”
The carriage had completely broken down after rolling across the snowfield, and to make matters worse, the horses were released from the carriage and ran away from their own.
“Shh – It’s okay, nanny, there’s going to be someone soon. Nanny stays still.”
“My Lady, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not the nanny’s fault, what are you sorry for? It’s cold, so stay still, nanny.”
Anna calmed the shivering Rwanda down and said softly.
The carriage flipped over, breaking Rwanda’s wrist.
Fortunately, the place where the carriage overturned was not far from the castle she needed to find.
Taking only the most necessary things, Anna supported Rwanda and arrived at the castle after half a day of walking.
But it was getting dark, and very late in the day.
‘If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have refused and waited for my father to go together.’
The belated regret came over Anna.
While Count Marktup was away from his mansion, Anna’s father had been in charge of the place for some time.
There was a big fire on the border of the estate, and since it was the work of the intruder, the Count had to go.
Meanwhile, her father was guarding the mansion in place of his best friend, saying that there was a possibility of another attack on the castle. Anna couldn’t wait for the Count to come back without knowing when. She was very impatient.
“Father, do you know where Uncle Henrik is now? Please tell me. I have something very important to tell him.”
After much pestering of her troubled father, Anna finally found the place where Henrik Alpatio was likely to be.
He was in the famously cold region of Hashantia, two days’ drive from Count Marktup’s estate.
Anna did not hesitate to leave immediately.
Rwanda followed her forced march with anxiety.
It was Rwanda who dressed, fed and always took care of Anna.
Rwanda who had a hard time meeting the wrong owner, but even now she was just shivering, afraid Anna would be in trouble.
Anna clenched her fists once more.
She didn’t have the strength to protect the people she loved until now.
She had to lose them right in front of her eyes.
‘I can’t let that happen again. Because Rosie is still alive. Rosie, she’s still alive!’
“Hey! Isn’t there anyone here? Uncle Henrik! I know you’re here, Uncle Henrik!”
It was then that a voice rumbled through the silent darkness.
The thick gate of the castle, which had been so tightly closed, slowly opened a crack.
A huge man stepped out of the gap as the startled Anna jerked back.
“Who are you? What is your name?”
Dark green eyes, like a swamp, looked down at her darkly through dark red hair.
Anna’s body froze in surprise.
In his hand was a large sword of frightening size.
The moans of the woman writhing in pain were heard insidiously in the dimly lit hallway.
She couldn’t scream if it hurt too much, and she couldn’t raise her voice, so she gasped for air.
“What is that?”
Anna, who had been walking behind the man who had gone on ahead of her, looked around the area with anxious eyes.
There was not a single passing servant in the old castle, which was neither that big nor that small.
The only figures that she occasionally saw were armed knights guarding here and there.
When the man turned around, he only stared at Anna with eyes full of suspicion, but made no reply.
Anna held Rwanda in her arms and stared straight into the eyes of the mindless man.
In the dimly lit corridor, the huge shadow of the man held her down.
The eyes, which showed no emotion, felt oddly hot.
The only red was the color of the man’s hair, but there was a harsh intensity in his eyes, as if he was holding some kind of flame.
“That’s what it is…”
Anna took a short deep breath, trying not to deflate.
‘Don’t be discouraged.’
Her face was pale with cold and exhaustion, but her eyes glowed sharply as she stared at the man.
No matter how honest and innocent she was, she had endured several years in the imperial palace, where all kinds of dirty things were rampant, and that too behind the Empress’ back.
The fact that humans would not faint because of the eyes that stare at them has already been experienced countless times back then.
The man, who had been looking at Anna for a while, frowned strangely, and immediately turned his face away.
Then he walked on as if nothing had happened, and eventually reached the front of the room where the screaming had been eerily heard.
The man looked back at Anna again. A horrified look came into his eyes as he stared at her.
“What’s your name?”
“Anna, daughter of Viscount Rotrega, you would know.”
As if to confirm, she said it clearly.
Fortunately, the man didn’t behave quite so rudely to her, with only an overbearing look in his eyes.
The man gave a look to the soldiers guarding the door as if to ask them to protect her, and went inside.
And shortly after, she came into the room and Henrik Alpatio greeted her with a blank look on his face.
“Anna. Yes, I remember. Haha, it’s been a while.”
“Uncle Henrik, hello……”
Before Anna could finish her greeting, a moan came from across the room where Henrik had his back turned.
It sounded like the sound of someone enduring torture, or the sound of a choked cry.
It was a half-dead scream, and Anna stared at the closed door.
Henrik explained heavily, frowning in pain.
“I’m sorry. The timing is not good. My second daughter’s amniotic fluid burst earlier than her due date…”
At that word, both Anna and Rwanda, who was being supported by Anna, could only open their mouths in surprise.
So then, this sound that they had been hearing from earlier must be the scream of a woman giving birth.
“Uuuuu! Ugh! Aah!”
“Damn it, I’m sorry, Anna. I’m sorry. I’m also in a panic right now. The midwife who was supposed to come couldn’t….”
“There’s no midwife right now?”
Henrik just bowed his head as Anna asked in surprise.
“So, who’s in there?”
“My wife…… But she doesn’t know what to do, she’s just holding her hand.”
Henrik swept his hair roughly as if he was going crazy and looked at Anna with a pale smile.
“You’ve come a long way to visit but the timing is not good. I’ll give you a room so you can rest and some medicine for your wound.”
Sighing impatiently, Henrik made an effort to reassure Anna.
The middle-aged man’s pale face was twisted into a scowl of worry and anxiety.
In Tanatos, it was common for mothers and babies to die during childbirth.
There were many midwives and doctors in the capital city, but the further into the countryside, the harder it was to find an experienced midwife.
And even if there was a skilled midwife, if the mother was weak, if she went into labor on a cold day…..
The survival rate of the mother and the baby will be extremely low.
Fortunately, today was not an extremely cold day. But it was unbelievable that there was no midwife…..
“Is there only your wife inside? What about the servants?”
“The maid was in there but she’s very young and naive. She couldn’t help.”
Henrik scratched nervously between his fingers.
His hands were scratched all over the place, as if it was a habitual behavior when he was nervous. For a moment, the surroundings seemed to darken, and then the huge man who had brought Anna in grabbed Henrik’s wrist.
“Oh, I’m doing it again. Hahahaha.”
Henrik put his hand down with an embarrassed laugh. Meanwhile, another shrill scream came from the back room.
Startled, Henrik moved to the door of the room and quickly turned his head away.
There was a heavy buzzing around him.
There was a young man in the room besides Henrik, and the one who had not moved in front of the door banged his head against the wall.
“Come on.This isn’t going to end quickly.”
“My son in law. At times like this, you have to hold out more firmly. You’re her husband.”
The man bit his lip and clenched his fist at Henrik’s words.
He seemed to be the husband of the woman who was giving birth, Henrik’s son-in-law.
‘The time is not good.’
Anna clenched her fists, feeling the suffocating air.
Just then, Rwanda, who was standing close to Anna, asked,
“Did you bring plenty of hot water and clean towels?”
“I hope you’ve also included a few things that the mother might hold onto and give her strength.”
Rwanda, who couldn’t stand it, interrupted cautiously.
A startled Anna stared at her.
The gazes of the men, who had no choice but to stand there, all turned to the middle-aged woman who was physically injured and tired.
With a tired and pained look on her face, Rwanda whispered quietly in Anna’s ear.
“You came here because you need their help, didn’t you, young lady?”
When Anna stared at her in surprise, Rwanda gently smiled and nodded.
Then, unlike Rwanda’s haggard face, a calm voice came out.
“I’m the one who received the lady. Of course, I’m not a midwife………… Still, I have a few experiences of going into the birthing room.”
Anna wanted to say that she didn’t have to push herself too hard for her (Anna) own good.
But the pained groaning coming from the room stopped her from speaking.
Rwanda took another step toward Henrik.
“If you don’t mind, can I help your daughter give birth?”
Only at that moment did Henrik’s face light up. As he tried to hold Rwanda’s hand, he was surprised to see her swollen arm and asked.
“How can you do that with your arm…….”
Rwanda looked back at Anna.
At this moment, Rwanda’s face couldn’t help but freeze in tension.
“Will you be my hand, young lady?”
Anna gasped in surprise.