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At some point, the passage became illuminated. The wall itself was emblazoned with mana stones that illuminated the path. Celia examined her surroundings by repeatedly opening and closing her eyes.
‘This way… I think this is similar to a dream.’
Even with her eyes open, the power became foggy as she would have to get used to seeing the glowing mist. Celia then moved her feet slowly.
There were five imperial palaces, but only three were in use.
The palaces of all the princes were arranged in a half-moon shape around the palace where the emperor lived. The palace used by concubines and concubines took up the rest of the half moon.
The palace for the princesses was located outside of them.
‘I think I walked for a long time. By this time, I must have entered the Emperor’s palace.’
Celia was on the move quickly, either running or walking. It’ll be more difficult for her to leave in the morning.
Walking down the long corridor, she came across a large space with an oval opening. Celia looked at it from the top of the stairwell leading down to her.
A massive rock and a temple with high pillars and statues were at the bottom of the stairs. The temple’s external structures appeared to have been demolished, leaving only this section standing.
It was as if the gods’ power was hidden beneath the Imperial Palace.
It was also where the Hermos imperial family’s obsession that the gods’ essence would be power into the future Imperial Family was housed.
At the end of the stairs, Celia closed her eyes. Where the shining mist gathered. A vortex of light swirled at the centre of the divine power flow.
Celia was startled when she heard the faint heartbeat. It wasn’t her who made the noise. The fluttering sound was fierce as if it belonged to a small creature.
‘What is it?’
With her wide-open eyes, Celia gazed down at the temple’s stone. She was already walking down the stairwell as if drawn to something.
There were stairs leading down to the temple on all sides as if all the secret passageways led to this place. Celia hurried her steps as she anxiously looked at them.
She had no fear of being discovered if they used the secret passage in the 2nd Imperial Palace, but this had to be a room the emperor knew. Michael is……
‘There was no mention of Prince Michael coming all the way here. But he might know this place.’
As she hurried down the stairs, she felt the power of God even more robust. The power of Nedesmer, the God of Heaven, was entangled and poured into one place, along with the power of other gods.
The goddess described divine power as the affection poured out by the gods.
‘Is anything there?’
Celia reached the end of the stairs and climbed up the rock again. She passed through a tall and gigantic pillar in front of the statue and headed towards the pool of light.
Seeing a fog of light swirling and flowing in one place was incredible, but nothing was at its centre. Celia closed her eyes again.
The fog of light as it became clearer. It appeared to contain something resembling a nest. It wasn’t quite the normal size. No animal ‘egg’ would be bigger than this.
Bigger than an ostrich egg and smaller than a monster egg…
Celia scrambled up to it. It was because it felt dangerous to be floating in the air surrounded by a fog of light.
If she didn’t get it, the egg would fall to the floor and crack. As Celia reached out her hand towards it, the egg slowly descended.
Celia, the new Saintess, was holding it in her arms.
A hard, smooth eggshell touched her fingertips. The warm light faded as Celia opened her eyes, and a strong wind blew at her.
The mist vanished instantly, leaving her holding only a large egg. It was a real egg, with spots dotted around it that resembled quail eggs.
“An egg……Why is this?”
Celia was perplexed because she had no idea the goddess would send an egg, even if it moved, as the goddess had shown in her dream. On the other hand, the egg was warm and faint, but its heartbeat could be heard. It even trembled a little when she sensed movement inside the egg.
Celia pondered what the egg was as she held it in her arms. This is definitely….
‘New Divine Beast!’
She swallowed dry saliva. Leonis wishes to become Emperor by rebelling but is troubled by the reputation of being a cursed killer duke.
Something absolute was needed for such a man to have the legitimacy to become emperor.
The new divine beast would be the absolute thing for Leonis because it meant that the god of heaven, Nedesmer, had acknowledged him as emperor.
‘I’m happy about that, but……’
A cold sweat broke out on Celia’s forehead as she hugged the egg.
“How am I supposed to escape with this egg?”
She thought she would get caught when she exited the secret passage, much less outside the imperial palace.
✦ ✦ ✦
The time has already passed to open the gates of the capital, but it doesn’t matter. Leonis climbed over the wall and into the capital wearing a black mask and a cape.
The same thing happened to Zeppel and another knight.
The servants of the Duke of Cardian, who had been contacted, were waiting near the wall with their horses ready. Leonis astride his steed and rode away to the Imperial Palace. The tension on the faces of the knights and Zeppel as they followed him was palpable.
If it was the path Leonis took, they were determined to follow, even if it meant death at the end. But they were worried about the Duke’s condition.
The Duke’s condition was stable enough to be described as perfect after he married Celia. The fact that Celia had been kidnapped had shaken him to his core.
It was as if his strong mask had cracked, allowing his madness to escape.
‘Are we going into the Imperial Palace like this way?’
No one could stop Leonis’s madness, which was already leaking out. The Cardian knights were all aware of this.
As a precaution, Zeppel had his horses deliver a message to the waiting underlings. Will and Miline had already left, so it was for them.
It was transmitted in code, so it would not be noticed even if it leaked in the middle.
Will, who played the fake Duke of Cardian, joined the procession that had begun earlier. They were told to stay in a village near the guard post, where a teleportation wizard was stationed and focused on Will.
He dispatched escorts around him searching for the Duchess while creating witnesses to prove the Duke of Cardian’s presence.
To help them create Leonis’ alibi.
The real Leonis hid his face behind a black mask in the capital. Only the emperor and a few others who stood by Michael’s side could bring out his true power.
So Leonis could insist on entering the Second Imperial Palace and causing a bloodbath if he did not reveal himself.
The real Duke of Cardian was outside, looking for the missing Duchess.
Phil, the second prince, was also to blame for this disaster.
Even knowing that no one in the Empire could face Leonis, it was arrogance and a foolish choice.
‘The Emperor… …will have no way to kill him in the end because he is afraid of the Duke’s curse.’
Leonis’ curse was too powerful to cut off his limbs and imprison him. Leonis would have gone insane and died within a month if he had been locked up like that.
The emperor had to keep Leonis alive because no substances or magic could put him to sleep.
As Zeppel was thinking about this, the imperial palace was getting closer and closer.
Leonis and the others could get in and out of the palace without being detected. It was not difficult to infiltrate the Second Imperial Palace, whether hiding by the emperor’s side or not.
A shiver of joy ran down Zeppel’s spine. The hope that they would go into the emperor’s palace and cut the head of the emperor Orkan came to mind.
However, the emperor had the power to ‘purify’. He could purify polluted land, water, and things contaminated with a monster’s spirit. Still, it was also possible to make things already polluted even worse.
The same could be said of Leonis’ curse.
Just as the Emperor could not kill Leonis unless the curse were lifted, Leonis could also not kill the Emperor.
The Emperor can use his powers to drive Leonis insane in an instant.
‘The Emperor will come to the Second Imperial Palace if he learns that his son is going to die!’
Before that, they needed to find the Duchess and get her out of the Imperial Palace.
✦ ✦ ✦
Phil gritted his teeth as he felt a dull and sharp pain. His wrists and ankles were tied, and his eyes were covered as if something had been hidden. He couldn’t breathe properly because a sheet had been shoved into his mouth.
He struggled to free himself from the sheet’s hem, which was wrapped around his head. Because his wrists were tied behind his back, he couldn’t grab the seat with his hands, so he pressed the hem of the seat with his feet and immediately pulled the hem out of his mouth.
“Heok! Huk, Huk……”
Phil took a deep breath and scanned the room with glinting eyes. He didn’t find Celia in the room.
Phil screamed, summoning servants and courtiers. The servant was startled when he opened the door and came in at the sound of a yell close to screaming.
The terrified servant loosened Phil’s wrists and ankles. Phil jumped to his feet and dashed over, ignoring the pain in his head.
He instinctively tried to heal his wounds with his ‘heal,’ but he felt nothing, neither from his body nor his hands.
“Huh? What went wrong……”
He had been vomiting for a while and was hit in the head and didn’t even know he was throwing up stones. When he vomited, all he could feel was something hard.
Phil’s face turned white as he attempted to use his power again. He had a mother from the Duke family, but he would be pushed out of the crown prince candidate contest if he didn’t have the mysterious power from the imperial family.
He had the worst reputation!