“How are you today…”
Yuni grumbles while she was cleaning the room. It was because of the lady who was outside.
It’s been three days since they came to the Imperial Palace. Lena’s record had been spectacular. Poison on the first day, champagne on the second day. Then how would she look like on the third day today?1
Yuni sighed heavily, and just in time, Lena came back to the room.
“Miss? Why did you come so early?”
“I have some time left.”
“You’ve got a schedule until evening… What is it again? What’s going on?”
As soon as Yuni saw Lena, she noticed the tension. Lena sat down on the sofa smiling as if she couldn’t. Then she unbuttoned her stuffy uniform and said, “I met my father.”
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“Have you met?! Uh-uh, what did you talk about?”
“I told him what I needed.”
When Yuni shouted in surprise, Lena even took off her gloves. Then she leaned back against the sofa and exhaled a long breath.
She looked tired. Yuni stared at the figure, she swallowed her curiosity and asked, “….Did you eat?”
“No, not yet.”
“Stay here. I’ll bring you something to eat.”
Yuni left Lena seated and ran to the shelf. Then she brought a lot of fruit and cookies. Lena blinked at the unexpected refreshment.
“Where did you get all this?”
“A tribute. I have some followers in the Imperial Palace.”
Lena burst into laughter at Yuni’s natural answer.
The smart and chatty Yuni soon fit in everywhere. Usually, little Yuni was cute and treated well, but she didn’t like to be treated as a child, so she regarded their kindness as a follower.
Both were similar in terms of serving objects, so they’re not much different.
“I’m sorry to keep you alone.”
“It’s okay, I have followers.”
Lena’s smile lightened up at Yuni’s bold answer. Then, she continued her speech reassuringly of the child’s brilliance.
“I’m here to talk about it anyway.”
“What is it?”
“Soon there will be people approaching Yuni.”
Yuni was brought by a strange lady named Lena Rubel. It was natural for the child to draw attention in the midst of an Imperial Palace full of intrigue and conspiracy.
“There’s a high probability that it’s from my father’s side, and other possibilities are rare.”
“Then what should I do?” Yuni asked with her eyes wide open.
Lena was worried about Yuni, who had to spend time alone in this vast palace. So she tailed her more seriously than ever.
“If you think it’s dangerous, avoid it. As fast as possible.”
“….What if it’s not too dangerous?”
Yuni asked carefully.
Lena sighed at the child’s curiosity. And replied.
The deepest part of Grandis Grascha’s Imperial Palace was a palace called the Duham Palace.
The place, which could only be reached after passing thirty gardens from the main palace, was only a palace by name. In fact, it was a ruin unchanged that left the remains of the old palace.
There were collapsed arch pillars, a fresco with only traces left, a throne under the rubble, and a huge half-broken stone plate in front of it. All of this was a cross-section of tragedy, and the sunlight pouring from the open ceiling didn’t reap the gloom here.
“Has the Duke of the East not arrived yet?”
Amidst the gray ruins, Klavis asked with a white smile.
“Maybe he’s too into the hero’s play.” (it’s like what Klavis said before, that Lynn was the main character, do you get it?)
When Klavis grumbled, the Duke and knights from the South and the North had already gathered there.
The afternoon schedule of National Foundation Day continued at Duham Palace. It was because of the order of the Empress to conquer the tomb.
As the Empress’ presence, there was Lena at the side of Duke Arles, and on both sides of the Northern Duke were Marquis Rubel and Ruvid.
The distance between Lena and Marquis Rubel was only a few steps. However, they acted as if they didn’t know each other.
“He used to be so impatient.”
When the Eastern Duke didn’t show up even after a long time, the Southern Duke murmured angrily. And then he protested directly to the Imperial Cardinal.
“We better begin now.”
“But the Duke of the East hasn’t come yet.”
“I was humble enough to be patient. Do I have to put with vulgarity now?” said Iura coldly.
Iura Flanus, Duke of the North, was a high-tempered person as rumored.
Lena whispered in an impressive tone, “He looks exactly like his brother.”
When Lena talked about Iura and Ruvid, Duke Arles muttered low, “I hate them too.”
While Lena and Duke Arles secretly nodded, Klavis was forced to curry favor with Iura. He responded to Iura’s criticism.
“Well, let’s get started. Then, the altar.”
When the Cardinal’s permission fell, Marquis Rubel stepped forward.
The Marquis ordered the knights to carry the sedan chair out. Decorated with gold and velvet, it was a gorgeous sedan chair that a King somewhere would ride. But strangely enough, there were piles of stones on top of it.
The knights solemnly laid down numerous stones in front of the Cardinal like a small grave. Klavis smiled deeply at it.
“You found so many. Of course, the North is certainly competent.”
“All thanks to the greatness of Duke Flanus.”
When Klavis admired, the Marquis answered as if he had waited. The Southern Duke laughed at the sight, and then an unexpected voice as heard.
“Am I late?”
At the same time, knights in black uniforms rushed into Duham Palace.
“No, the Dukes must have been in a hurry.”
The owner of the irrelevant voice was none other than the Duke of the East, Lignan Eitner.
He appeared quite leisurely in the late hour. Then, without a moment of anyone’s scruple, he smiled at the knights that followed without a break.
Knights of the East carried heavy sacks. Then he poured it down before the Cardinal.
Everything from the sack was stone. It was the altar, a stone with a strange pattern on its surface, just like what the North had been carried with a sedan chair.
At first glance, it was more than the North had collected. The face of Marquis Rubel was stiffened as the achievement of the East took the lead than the North. Klavis burst into laughter, whether he realized it or not.
“The Duke is late. I got a little upset, but you’ve brought a lot of things, so I’m afraid I can’t scold you.”
“Really? Then, as an apology…”
In Klavis’ statement, Lynn strode forward. Then, the Northern’s altars, which had been piled up in the sedan chair, was swept away with Lynn’s feet.
“I’ll help you to compare these with East’s.”
Lynn said so and stepped on the North’s altars.
At the provocation, Lena glanced at the North. Sure enough, everyone was staring at Lynn with burning eyes.
“….Maybe he’s aiming for this?”
“….I hate him too.”
At Lena’s whisper, Duke Arles replied in a sickening voice. Lena fully understood the feeling.
‘Sir Lynn, so you’re like this on the outside.’
She frowned when Lynn said that he would act like a motherfu*ker, so she wondered how much he would do, but when she saw it herself, he indeed was a great motherfu*ker. Lena felt sorry for him, but he deserved to be blamed.1
Lynn felt fresh in his misbehavior and returned to his place. Klavis slipped in as the atmosphere became harsh with the appearance of the East.
“Well, that’s good. I’m telling you in advance that everything is reported to the Empress. You know that, don’t you?”
With the Cardinal’s leadership, the East became more contributing and the North became more uncomfortable.
Anyway, the Empress wasn’t interested in the nature of the Dukes. The only thing that mattered was following her orders. And it was the Empress’ first order to gather those stones, the altars, which had piled up now.
“Then, let’s really get started.”
At Klavis’ signal, the priests began to list the altars scattered on the floor one by one.
“Behold, I send a messenger, and he will prepare your way. Heaven is under the wrath of God, but he who is under the wrath takes away,” said Klavis, in front of the priests who moved the altar.
“100 years ago, the door was opened for the first time right here.”
Empress Niheal described that day in her biography.
—What I had never seen before poured out of the crack that was torn like a thunderbolt.
—They stood on the ground in various forms. None of them entirely resembled God’s creation.
—Spreading out multiple pairs of wings, carrying many horns, and having insect joints. There were all sorts of grotesque figures.
—But the most bizarre part was the human face they had.
“In the most peaceful days, the Kingdom Grascha was destroyed by enemies that had never been seen before. In response, Niheal Grascha, the last bloodline of Gracia, took the sword in the name of revenge and reconstruction.”
Klavis spoke as if he was talking about the old days. This was also included in Niheal’s biography.
—The bizarre beings only wanted our death.
—We were constantly killed and eaten.
—I was born as a princess, I had never held anything heavier than a fan, but there was no other way.
—Since there were no more swords or shields on my behalf, I raised all of them myself.
“Niheal Grascha fought countless battles without knowing what they were. And at the end, she came across those who wore bright, mighty crowns.”
Before then, people used to call them monsters or demons. But their identity, which Niheal identified, was far beyond the existing predictions.
—I smashed the enemies and made way, threw myself through the cracks in the shape of a thunderbolt.
—We’ve fought hundreds of battles in a world where the sky is red. And when I had dug into the inner core of the black earth, there was a person who welcomed me.
—He said, ‘Welcome, granddaughter.’
—He was Grascha’s late King, three generations ahead of my father.
“Then, Niheal Grascha realized. Why they have human faces, and constantly covet the ground.”
This was a fact that every citizen knew. But the Cardinal calmly concluded as if teaching a child a new truth.
“They were our ancestors who were already dead and buried. That’s why we call them the dead.”2
At the same time, Yuni was in the underground laundry room of the palace of the lake. It was to get new towels and bedding.
“You’re still young, but you’re skillful.”
Yuni was in the middle of packing up the laundry, and suddenly a strange voice came in. She looked up and saw an old man smiling kindly. It was her first time seeing him. He looked like a handyman in a suit.
“Who are you?”
“A man who serves his master like you.”
Yuni frowned at the old man’s vague answer.
But a moment later, Yuni’s eyes were round again. It was because the old man took a bottle of candy out of his inner pocket.
“Do you like candy?”
“There are no children in the world who hate candy.”
“But I don’t carelessly eat something strangers give me.”
Yuni stared at the candy bottle with her eyes guarded. Just a few hours ago, Lena reminded her.
—Soon there will be people approaching Yuni.
Yuni thought for a moment between Lena’s words and the candy bottle in front of her eyes, and asked timidly, looking at the old man’s countenance.
“But, what does it taste like?”
“Would you like to take a look? I’m not sure because it’s all mixed up.”
“Just watch the candy?”
“You don’t eat what strangers give you.”
In response to the old man’s answer, Yuni gave a sullen mouth. The child thought about something with a dissatisfied face and soon said with a tone of kindness.
“Then, please offer me one more time. I also have consciences, so I don’t refuse it three times.”
The old man burst into laughter at the cute request of the child. Then he was willing to stick out a bottle of candy.
When Yuni accepted the candy bottle, the old man, the butler of Marquis Rubel, hid a faint sigh in his smile.
‘I shouldn’t even do this either.’
The butler swallowed bitter smile as he watched the child fell into the candy.
The butler of the House of Rubel was coaxing a young maid. He was disillusioned in the situation, but the butler looked at Lena’s maid in a kind mask, as his master ordered.
And Yuni recalled the conversation she had with her lady again.
—If you think it’s dangerous, avoid it. As fast as possible.
—What if it’s not too dangerous?
When Yuni asked back carefully, Lena sighed. And then, she answered.
—Then get close.
—As enough as possible.
‘How much is enough?’
Yuni thought alone and put the candy into her mouth.
Then, she pretended not to know and smiled at the old man who pretended to be a good person.
So, for a while, maybe some days later, the title of this novel will be abbreviated. This won’t happen forever, I promise 🙂 When the situation is good enough, I will change the title back, oh and also the cover….