With every step she took, the still gazes clung tenaciously to her.
It was her first meal after entering the palace, but there was little left to eat in the dining room.
Asha was very hungry.
It seemed that the servants had purposely disposed of all the leftovers before she arrived.
But Asha, without complaint, swept the leftovers into a bowl, then walked to the door and said.
“I’m leaving, so enjoy your meal.”
Asha returned to her private dormitory, but as soon as she opened the door, she paused at the scene in front of her.
Her room had been ransacked.
As she tidied up her room, it was clear that they deliberately made a mess.
All the drawers were all open.
Asha smiled bitterly.
She didn’t bring anything.
It was upsetting.
The treatment of ethnic minorities in the palace was not good.
She was grateful that at least she had a nice private room.
Asha ate alone in her room.
Although the food wasn’t good, Asha ate like crazy.
She was so hungry, maybe because she worked hard all day.
She couldn’t tell if the cold soup or the hard bread were going through her nose or her mouth.
Due to the lack of food in the village where she lived since she was a child, she never had a proper meal, let alone a warm meal.
Asha told herself that this was nothing.
She expected it, and it was pretty good.
She felt more comfortable working frantically than facing him.
However, as soon as she finished eating, someone opened the door and walked in without knocking.
At the doorway was a woman who seemed to have a poisonous appearance.
Asha recalled that the other servants referred to her as the ‘Head maid’.
She heard that she was in charge of cleaning the Emperor’s bedroom before she arrived.
She crossed her arms and said with a disapproving look.
“Stop eating and go clean the outdoor bathroom.”
Asha asked curiously.
“Do I have to clean the bathroom too?”
“Of course! It’s the servants’ job to keep the bathroom clean every day after His Majesty’s bath.”
Asha quietly followed her.
But when the sun went down, there was no one in the dark outdoor bathroom.
She threw the cleaning tools on the ground and then left Asha alone.
Asha’s eyes widened slightly when she realized that the other servants had left all their work to her.
Originally, cleaning the bathroom was laborious and time-consuming, so all the servants had to clean it all together before going to bed.
But after she entered, no one seemed to have any intention of doing it.
Asha looked around the dark bathroom for a moment in the moonlight.
Just looking at it, it was terribly big to clean alone.
She didn’t know that she would have to stay up all night to clean the whole place by herself.
* * * * *
Late at night, a scream erupted inside the Emperor’s bedroom.
Duran, who was standing in front of the door, immediately kicked the door open and ran inside.
“Your Majesty, what’s the problem!”
On the bed, Karaf sat up and covered his head with both hands, panting.
He took a deep breath, and the front of his loose robe was drenched in a cold sweat.
Duran hurried over, knelt by the bed, and asked anxiously.
“Did you have another nightmare…..”
He quickly held out his handkerchief, and Karaf smirked as he wiped the sweat from his neck and chest.
“It was terrible…..”
Karaf touched his neck with trembling hands.
In his nightmare, his mother climbed onto his body and strangled him.
He was chained to the thorn bushes he had made, unable to move.
He couldn’t ask for help because he couldn’t even speak.
Duran looked at the book lying on the bedside with a sad expression on his face.
It was a history book containing all the butterflies of all time.
He couldn’t sleep and seemed to have fallen asleep after reading a book all night.
Duran’s expression darkened.
“The day of the new moon is just around the corner… Why does it have to coincide with the blooming season……”
A new moon means ‘the day the moon does not rise‘, but it had a different meaning for Karaf.
He frowned and muttered obsessively.
“Vanessa can’t see me like this before the opening ceremony.
We have to delay it somehow.”
Karaf opened the drawer by the bed, immediately poured an excess dose into his mouth in one go, and drank the water.
It’s his regular medicine that he’s been taking ever since he was cursed.
His hand trembled as he grasped the cup, and a stream of water ran down his neck.
When Duran saw it, he got up and started to make tea.
Karaf still asked in a sharp voice.
“What are you doing? You can ask the servants to do it.”
Duran responded calmly as he was making tea
“Lady Vanessa gave me the mixed flower tea earlier.”
Karaf asked, slightly surprised.
She knew that Your Majesty do not trust people, so she asked me to tell you directly.”
Duran was a little embarrassed that he had told her about it, so he hid a part of it.
As he was about to serve the brewed tea, he paused for a moment and said.
“Just in case, I’ll drink it first.”
As Duran poured the flower tea into a new cup, Karaf asked with a grin.
“Why? You think there’s poison in it?”
“I believe in Lady Vanessa, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with being careful in this Palace.”
Duran drank the tea first to make sure it was safe, then handed him a cup of tea.
Karaf looked at him, then picked up the teacup and took a sip of the flower tea.
He closed his eyes and slowly exhaled a deep breath.
This makes me feel a little better.”
“Is that so? That’s a relief.”
Duran looked at him like he was genuinely happy.
Karaf opened one eye and glanced at him.
In fact, he was a little moved by what Duran had said to Asha earlier.
Duran stayed in front of his bedroom every single night after the horrible incident.
The reason he stood sentinel without having to order another knight was that he didn’t know when and how he would be threatened with assassination.
If he ordered Duran to die on the spot, he would stab himself in the head without hesitation with the sword he gave him.
He has been very harsh with him and has told him many times not to come back home if he couldn’t carry out his orders.
Karaf called out to him in a soft voice.
“Yes, please tell me, Your Majesty.”
Duran bowed politely, and Karaf muttered sadly.
“Look at how I look now, but you haven’t changed in the slightest….”
Duran’s eyes widened slightly.
Are you really all right? You look very worried today.”
“Is that so?”
Karaf looked down at his teacup.
There, some flower petals, which Asha had prepared for him, floated beautifully.
He felt the door to his heart slowly open for her without realizing it, but he was still afraid.
He was afraid of being betrayed again after giving his heart…..
He may not be able to resist if the butterfly betrays him.
“… … Duran, what do you think?”
Duran looked at him curiously at the sudden question.
“What do you mean?”
“What do you think of Vanessa?”
Looking at his serious expression, Duran hesitated for a moment, then said.
She’s a good person.”
He looked at him with a slight frown on one eyebrow, but Duran added politely.
“I knew it from the moment she came to the Palace.
She appreciates the lives of others more than anyone.
Even at her own expense.”
Karaf felt a little annoyed when he suddenly recalled that she was trying to save Lycaon’s leader.
“Furthermore, even when the servants torment her, she never gets angry or responds.
She also appears to be a kind and patient person.”
Karaf asked, slightly startled.
“Are the servants tormenting Vanessa?”
Duran sighed and told the truth about what had happened.
But when Karaf heard the story, he had nothing to say.
The servants tormented her because, in effect, he was the mastermind.
He felt confused.
Looking at his darkened face, Duran said cautiously.
“Actually, I am a little concerned…..
He said cautiously.
“Your Majesty is also a good person, perhaps it hurt your heart to give such an order…..
I am a little concerned.”
Karaf burst out laughing.
“Do you think I will feel guilty for tormenting Vanessa now? Look what the ethnic minorities did to me! Compared to that, what I’m doing now is like a drop in the ocean!”
Duran looked down without saying a word.
He still vividly remembered that Karaf was a kind and caring person a long time ago.
He was never a heartless man who never tolerated a single mistake as he is now, nor did he have the destructive tendency of not being able to control his anger.
He had been discriminated against since he was a child.
He used to have a pious heart towards ethnic minorities and commoners.
But now he has become a tyrant due to the wounds of betrayal.
He has lost the trust of the people of the empire and has become a solitary emperor who trusts no one.
The people of the Empire feared him, calling him a ‘Bloody Tyrant‘ no matter how strong the empire was.
Knowing this, Duran had no choice but to leave him alone.
Because he knew better than anyone the severity of the wounds he had received and how deep the dagger went into his heart.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty…….
I made a slip of the tongue….”
“All right, get out of here.
Duran got up quickly, greeted him, and left the room.
Karaf lay back on the bed, feeling his presence silently guarding the front of his bedroom.
But soon after, he kicked off the blanket and got up.
Duran asked, startled to see him trudging out of the room.
“Your Majesty…… ?”
“I have something to tell Vanessa right now.
Duran hurriedly followed behind him.
His silver robe billowed as he walked.
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