Chapter 154 - A Sudden Turn
Arianne, the Grand Duchess of Noichrome, was frustrated that she couldn’t figure out why the magicians of the Northern Tower had gone missing. She found traces of a group of beasts, and some people deduced that the magicians had met an unfortunate end. But Arianne thought otherwise. She believed there must have been something there.
There were no traces of fighting, so where did they go? She looked around the whole area but couldn’t find anything other than the beasts. It was almost as if someone had deliberately erased all the clues. She was wracking her brain when a magician from the tower came running toward her. “Your Grace! Grand Duchess!”
“What’s wrong, Clint?”
“Well that’s…” He was out of breath from running. “The owner of the Northern Tower is here!” Arianne was shocked at the unexpected news.
Duke Ravenhook left his estate and hid in a small house at the edge of Helsarose, in the middle of the forest. The duchess thought he was meeting his secret lover, but she was mistaken. He used this estate to plan his schemes. “Why is nothing going according to plan?” He didn’t want to go back to his estate and see his wife, Fiona, or his kids. “We would have been halfway there if she just sat still. How could she ruin everything?”
His anger didn’t subside. He didn’t survive all his past challenges just to see everything fall into ruin. Valentino thought about what he had gone through to become Duke Ravenhook. To be frank, he hated his older brother Miltiades. Out of all his evil deeds, his last one was the worst. “Do you know that your mother and brother died? It’s because I saw you at the tea party.”
Miltiades didn’t have any interest in the throne before that, but he changed that day. The previous emperor was dying of old age and didn’t have the power to deal with the monster he created, and the Crown Prince was useless. Besides, Valentino couldn’t trust the Crown Prince, even though they were siblings.
“If you want to save the 13th Prince, swear your loyalty to Miltiades. That’s the only way you can save him.” It was a coincidence that Arianne listened to Achillios’s advice. Valentino was fortunate enough to see the two and tell Miltiades about all of the Crown Prince’s plans. He saved himself and became Duke. However, the first person in line to the throne was Arianne. Valentino’s dream was to become emperor. He wholeheartedly believed that he was just as competent as Miltiades and Arianne. He wasn’t content with just being a duke. He had betrayed his own brother to work under Miltiades and planned to overthrow him to become emperor.
He had been slowly working towards his goal, but now his plans had gone awry. It would have been fine if only one part of the plan fell through, but he was annoyed that everything was failing. “You still haven’t heard from Black?” he yelled at his underlings. A butler appeared out of nowhere and nodded, “No, Your Grace, there’s been no news.”
“Damn it, what is he doing?” Duke Ravenhook brushed his hair back impatiently. “How about contacting him first?” asked the butler.
“Do you think I haven’t tried? He’s not answering me!”
“You should try again,” he put a communication device down in front of Duke Ravenhook. The sphere was pitch-black and gave off dark energy. An upset duke put his hand on the device.
“Oh, Your Grace.” Duke Ravenhook made a face as soon as the familiar figure appeared on the screen. “Why is it so difficult to contact you? What have you been doing all this time?”
“I’ve been busy. I see you’re quite upset. Is something wrong?” Duke Ravenhook’s face fell at Black’s emotionless tone. “Black, how long are you going to make me wait? You told me you would make me emperor!”
“Why’re you suddenly in such a rush?”
“Suddenly? I’ve always been in a hurry!”
“Please wait a bit longer. I’m not done preparing…”
“How long will it take? Damn it, how long do I have to wait?” The duke slammed his fist and sucked in a deep breath. “I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to, but what do I have to show for it? Nothing! Everything’s been ruined by that saintess!” As soon as he mentioned the saintess, Black’s gaze changed. “That’s interesting. Many of my plans have also changed because of the saintess.”
“I don’t want to hear it! I did everything you wanted! I even sent Berrict to Rogata Forest!”
“Yes, that was a great help. ‘He’ won’t forget your efforts.”
“I don’t need your flattery. I only want one thing,” the duke growled.
“Ah, you do,” Black nodded sympathetically, and the duke’s face fell. The former spoke slowly as if he was comforting a child, “Don’t worry, Your Grace. Don’t you know I’m doing all of this to make you emperor?”
“Don’t try to placate me! I want to know when I’ll become emperor!”
“It won’t be long,” Black grinned nefariously, “The emperor will die soon.”
Kais raised his head without thinking. A familiar white cat fell from the sky. The creature, which seemed to be made light, rubbed its head against his cheek before disappearing into the light. And then a letter appeared. It was from her again. Kais didn’t believe Amelia when she said she would write to him. He remembered how confused he felt the first time that strange white cat appeared.
“Read it.” Berrict knew another letter had arrived. With a cigarette dangling from his mouth, he smiled at the boy. There were a number of beasts’ corpses underneath him. Kais felt a bit embarrassed but calmly opened the envelope. Amelia’s writing was imperfect but tidy. He had learned how to read while being held captive by the magician, and he never would have imagined that it would be useful.
“Hi, Kais! Are you doing okay? I’m doing well. I had chocolate yesterday. Whenever I get a headache I crave something sweet. I wonder if you have a sweet tooth.” Amelia’s letters always started off with a light greeting before moving onto the topic of food. Then she would talk about Harel. Her letters were dotted with stories about Harel: how well she was taking care of him, how happy he was, and how they overcame another problem together.
When Kais first read about the tea party situation, he had to suppress his urge to storm back to Helsarose. He calmed down after reading that Amelia solved the problem, but he couldn’t help but feel upset. He wished he had been there with his little brother, but at the same time, he knew nothing would have changed.
After talking about Harel, Amelia wrote down her ending thoughts, “I’ll feed you chocolate when you come back. I’m rejecting your rejection.” Kais’s expression changed. She always ended her letters like this. He couldn’t take his eyes off her last sentence. Berrict glanced at him and remarked, “Ah, spring’s in the air.” Although they’d been fighting constantly as soon as they entered the forest, Kais didn’t seem to care. He put away the letter. He had saved every one of Amelia’s letters.
Berrict glanced at Kais, who reread the letters whenever he had free time, and felt conflicted. He was headed down a perilous path. And at the end of the road was Miltiades. “Kais, if you’re done resting, we need to move. The sun’s gonna set soon.” Every step in Rogata Forest had to be taken with caution, but they had to be even more careful at night.
Kais put away the letter at Berrict’s orders and got ready to move. “Captain, the beasts are acting more strangely than usual.”
“I haven’t seen them for the past few days.”
“Did the emperor really tell us to clean up the forest?” Kais heard the knights grumbling as he walked behind Berrict. “You shouldn’t be here.” There was a strange voice mixed in with the knights’ conversation. He had felt like someone was talking to him as soon as he entered the forest, and now he heard it again. “Come over here.” He thought only specters spoke like this. It was getting worse. Something big covered him, and his vision went black.
A dirty letter from Berrict was delivered to me. He told Duke Grandbleon to send it to the princess as soon as possible. I had a bad feeling as I opened it, and when I read it, I got up from my seat. “Kais has disappeared.”