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He wouldn’t even know what had happened. The soldier and attendant swiftly closed and secured the waiting room door, waiting for Celia and Miline to enter completely.
The moment the golden jewellery box was opened, a black oil figure leapt out and charged at Michael.
Michael was right in guessing that even if Leonis died, the curse would go to the Emperor and his descendants. If Michael hadn’t swallowed the ‘Heart Piece of the Divine Beast’, he would have done so.
The God of Heaven placed a curse on the Hermos family, but he did not place the same curse on the imperial lineage as a whole.
He was enraged that they killed the divine beast and took the power it possessed.
Therefore, Michael, who had the power because he had swallowed a piece of the divine beast’s heart, also had the necessary conditions to become a vessel of the curse.
It was a bizarre scene when a large monster covered Michael from head to toe and then forcibly sucked through his mouth, nose, and eyeballs.
It was funny to see those people who rushed in to try to ovate Celia and subdue her immediately stiffen up and stare at Michael. It was because the situation of their master was more urgent than killing Celia, so they couldn’t make a decision at the moment.
But only for a little moment.
As they charged forward, the knights reasoned that harming Celia was less important than saving Michael. They were powerless to stop it, however, because the essence of the curse was inextricably bound to Michael.
The knights who failed to sever the substance of the curse with their swords attempted to pull it out with their armoured hands, but it scattered like a slippery liquid. It was only Michael’s body that it stuck to like a sucker, and it penetrated all throughout his body.
While this was going on, Miline hid Celia behind her, drew the two daggers she had hidden under her skirt, and kept an eye on the area around her.
More than half of the body that was three metres long was sucked into Michael’s body, and Michael’s aide, who had just recently regained consciousness, made a move as though he was going to run towards Celia.
“You witch! What have you done to the prince?”
Remembering the name of the count’s successor, Celia raised her lips. At this moment, in his eyes, Celia truly looked like a bloodthirsty witch.
She and Miline had already retreated to the door.
Miline responded to the beckoning call of Celia. She said the door was locked from the outside, but if the sword master makes a move, things will be different.
She, carrying a sword in her dagger, cut the lock of the door at once, and cut the door in half. It was before Michael’s aides even moved. At that moment, Celia screamed as hard as she could.
Celia’s shrill scream made the knights flinch. This waiting room was soundproof, but that was only when the door was safe.
“Help! Prince Michael, Prince Phil!”
Meanwhile, the curse was being swallowed up by Michael. Many knights sped up and tried to stop Celia, but the door was broken from the outside in before it could be opened from the inside.
Mirine quickly wrapped herself around Celia and stepped aside at the door.
The sight of the door pieces falling off left the knights in a state of utter disbelief. After hearing the duchess scream, they wondered if the Duke of Cardian had appeared.
However, the one who appeared was not the Duke of Cardian.
“…… What is all this commotion about?”
It was the emperor, Orkhan.
✦ ✦ ✦
The presence of the emperor, who arrived sooner than Michael had intended, surprised those gathered in the waiting room. The only ones who were not taken aback were Celia and Miline.
The knights of the palace, who had broken down the gate at the emperor’s order, remained calm despite being surprised by the sight in front of them.
Celia showed respect to the emperor by bowing her head and pointing at Michael.
“Your Majesty, please punish him! Michael, who pretended to be the king’s son, killed His Highness, Prince Phil!”
It was the emperor who moved after receiving a message that he had to come urgently. The emperor then ordered the knights and servants who had barred the door to move back and his escort knight to knock down the door since the Duchess of Cardian’s screams were heard.
“… … What do you mean by impersonating the imperial family?”
It seemed that that came to his ears before the fact that Phil was dead. Celia seemed perplexed but bowed her head while maintaining a solemn expression.
“Prince Phil said that he had found the real father of His Highness Prince Michael, and requested the Cardian family’s help in assisting with the accusation.”
“What did you say?”
The emperor was still in the hallway. People had gathered to hear the woman screaming. When Michael’s aides saw the attendants and soldiers arriving, they were taken aback.
“I came all the way after hearing from the servant that Your Majesty was waiting for me… We found the hidden corpse of His Highness Phil! Your Majesty, that fake prince found out and harmed Prince Phil! Please arrest him!”
Orkan felt a buzz in his head. Michael is not his biological son. It was unthinkable. He stumbled to his knees as he stared at Michael in the room, perplexed.
“No, Your Majesty! Do not listen to that wicked woman!”
“I heard of Prince Phil’s plan, and he brought a wizard with him to this banquet who is able to perform a paternity test!”
When he heard Celia’s clear voice, Michael completely lost it.
As for him, he found out today in a briefing that Phil was aware of the secret surrounding his birth. It was therefore difficult to determine whether or not Phil was working with the Cardian duchy as an ally.
Michael barked angrily and charged Celia with the speed and power of an animal. The knights of the imperial palace tried to block him, but they were knocked unconscious by his gestures, which converted their bodies into a ball of fire.
Miline raised the dagger, her grim expression indicating she was prepared to die. Celia was about to use her divine power for the first time, but something jumped out of her wrist and hit Michael directly in the forehead.
Bang! It seemed like a massive boulder had landed on Michael’s forehead. It was as if someone from this era had managed to fire a stone cannon without the use of gunpowder.
Michael, who was filled with rage, rushed at it, but flew to the other side of the room with one shot and crashed.
Celia was shaken to her core by the sight of the massive figure colliding with Michael and then collapsing to the ground. The egg of the divine beast had escaped from the magic pouch that she wore on her wrist and had collided with Michael.
Celia was the only one who went into a panic and ran to retrieve the divine egg, while everyone else in the waiting room, as well as those outside the waiting room, became immobile.
Michael, who came to his senses faster than anyone else, yelled.
“What are you doing?! The Duke of Cardian rebelled! Protect Your Majesty!”
Michael’s knights arrived before Emperor Orkan could understand what protection meant. Now their target was Orkhan, not Celia. Michael’s statements caused confusion among the imperial palace knights, who eventually succumbed to the blades wielded by Michael’s elite.
“Pr-protect your majesty! Prince Michael has risen in rebellion!”
The imperial knights screamed and surrounded Orkhan, but it was after the victory had already been captured. The nape of the Emperor’s neck, who was turning white and backtracking, was caught in the knights’ savage grip.
In the meantime, Miline was escaping with Celia, as if she had no business dealing with the emperor’s circumstances.
Even if he was alive anyway, he was the emperor who had to be killed someday. Because Michael’s weakness was fatal, it was unknown whether he captured the Emperor or not.
‘Argh! The signal. Did the signal go through right?’
Celia had this thought as she fled the scene with Miline protecting her. She had no time to put the egg of the divine beast back into her bracelet, so she held it in her arms.
✦ ✦ ✦
‘To think there was such a place in the imperial palace……’
Amelia was walking through a secret passageway with Nicole and her group, with a face as if possessed by a ghost. When she saw that there were two more people beside her, she grew afraid; but rather they were gentler than she thought.
“How do you know about this place?”
Nile merely shrugged his shoulders in response to her serious question. Amelia was furious because the existence of secret passages that stretched throughout the imperial palace was very dangerous.
“Say it clearly! How do you know this!”
“Your Highness seems to have misunderstood that we were on a picnic.”
Nicole’s cold words closed Amelia’s mouth.
“Don’t you realise that the reason we aren’t answering the question right now is for the sake of Her Highness? Or are you implying that you don’t want me to leave the imperial palace with the treasure you cherish so much?”
“I-It’s not like that. It’s just an imperial threat……”
“Don’t you know that they are the poison and threat to this empire?”
“You are blaspheming the imperial family!”
“Are you unaware that the number of people living in poverty is growing even in this capital city? The streets are overrun with beggars, and the slums are expanding even though the capital’s soldiers force them out of the walls of the capital once a month!
The only ones who don’t know that the whole empire is sick are a few nobles with good sales or the children of merchants. Simply turning their heads would have been enough for anyone with even the smallest of eyes to see people who were starving to death.
The lord was responsible for the upkeep of at least some of the territories, but with the exception of the Duchy of Cardian, the majority of the lands did not provide the territories with an adequate level of care. Even though there was an increase in the number of citizens who went bankrupt as a result of high taxes and ridiculous policies, the nobles who were busy filling their stomachs were not paying attention.
The Emperor, who was receiving money bags from corrupt officials, was able to silence the voices of some of the aristocrats who felt threatened and demanded reform.
It was only natural that even the imperial family would resort to such despicable tactics in order to extort money from the commoners.
The Empire is ailing. Because of this, simply brandishing the sword of reform will not be sufficient to resolve the issue.
Zeppel and Leonis judged that the only possibility was to cut out the festering and rotten parts with a ruthless knife.
Nicole also only wanted to follow that will.
Amelia was aware of them too. There were times when she even risked leaving the imperial palace out of frustration.
She saw them too, but it was hard to bail out anyway. Is there a saying that even Lord Nara cannot do anything about poverty?
But Amelia also knew from the start that they weren’t like that.
It wasn’t so bad when she was still young and when her mother was alive.