In the deep darkness where she could not see even an inch ahead, Asha shed tears alone.
Even though their skins touched, she felt completely alone.
Karaf would call her in his bedroom once a month.
It was like a flower attracting a butterfly, but the flower stayed for a while and did not let the butterfly go all night long.
It was a very long night.
Every time Asha was with him, she was terribly lonely than ever before, and she felt pricked in her body and mind, but she couldn’t tell anyone about it.
Because the union between a flower and a butterfly was considered sacred.
She couldn’t adjust to life in the palace.
Although Vanessa was the Empress and a saint, no one in the Imperial Palace treated her preciously.
She was a slave rather than a butterfly.
And it was the same with the Emperor.
Asha tried to love him, but Karaf did not love her.
He merely used her like a stuffed golden butterfly specimen to solidify his own position as Emperor.
Rumors of her inability to make the Emperor bloom quickly spread throughout the Empire.
As time passed, Karaf grew colder and colder toward her.
He wasn’t like that at first.
She didn’t know if he pities her for being sold as an enslaved person or if he was trying to change her to his liking, but Karaf pretended to care for her in his own way.
Asha mistook it for affection, but he was a man who did not know love.
As the meaning of the black rose in the language of flowers, Karaf was an obsessive man.
He is a tyrant who would hurt anyone with his thorns.
He was the kind of man who didn’t even know he was hurting others.
His attitude began to change noticeably when he found out that she couldn’t make the flower within him bloom.
He did not hesitate to threaten or verbally abuse her, and if she didn’t do as he says, he would imprison her in a room and punish her.
Asha lived a solitary life in complete isolation in the Imperial Palace.
A foreigner who never quite fitted into the aristocratic world……
When she finally escaped from the palace, the knights dragged her back.
Asha knelt on the red carpet and looked up at him with a trembling face.
Karaf unsheathed his sword and said, just looking at the blade without looking at her.
What are the servants and maids of the Imperial Palace doing? When a butterfly has so much time, she tries to escape, but how can they didn’t know about it beforehand and didn’t stop her?”」
At first sight, the tone was relaxed, but they knew that he spoke fiercely.
Everyone in the room was very scared.
They knew that a bloodbath was about to happen.
Karaf instructed the knights to bring all the servants who normally attended her.
The servants, like Asha, knelt, trembling in front of him, unable to raise their heads.
Karaf looked at the knights and calmly ordered them.
「“For failing to stop the butterfly, kill them all in front of her.”」
Asha’s face turned red with shock.
Her mysterious purple eyes were red as if she was going to cry blood.
「“You’d better kill me.”」
Karaf looked at her uninterested.
「“How could a flower kill a butterfly? What are the knights doing? Hurry up and kill them.”」
Soon, a knight with a stiff face dragged out a servant who usually cleans Asha’s bedroom.
She was the first girl that showed her kindness.
「”Lady Vanessa….! Lady Vanessa……!”」
The girl screamed in a broken voice, begging for help.
Asha threw herself at his feet, crying.
She didn’t care if she got hurt or was ignored and trampled on.
However, she didn’t want the lives of others to be destroyed because of her.
Asha gasped in shock.
「“I will do anything…..
please…… That child’s life…… save her… Your Majesty….”」
She knelt at his feet and bowed.
Hot tears fell on the soles of his boots.
Karaf sat down on his knees without a word, then he gently grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him.
Seeing Asha’s tearful face, he gently lowered his eyelids and said with an infinitely compassionate expression.
“Never try to run away from me again.
Don’t even ask me to kill you.
I prefer that you beg me as you are now.
I think that side will break my heart less.”
He gently wiped her watery eyes with his thumb and whispered softly into her ear.
「“You are mine forever.”」
* * * * *
Asha opened her eyes.
When she woke up, she found herself lying in an unfamiliar bed.
Feeling a slight fever, she tried to raise her hand.
But her arms and legs, which had been frozen for a long time, did not have any strength.
Seeing that the bandages were carefully tied all over her body, it seemed that someone had treated her in her sleep.
It’s already night?
The inside of the hut was dimly lit by the fireplace.
The warm air and the soft feel of the blanket made her feel comfortable as if she was in heaven.
But Asha soon found a man sitting in the distance in front of the fireplace.
She was startled.
His blue eyes looking into the fire burned calmly.
Asha panicked and tried to get up, but he spoke without looking at her.
“Don’t move, just lie down.
The doctor said that your body is like a corpse from the dead.”
Asha was slightly taken aback by his words.
She came very close to dying twice.
It seems that she was very weak.
“Where…..is this place?”
Asha finally came back to her senses and suddenly felt ashamed.
The bed she was lying in was the bed he usually sleeps on, and the smell of his body was soaked all over the bed.
The musky smell was similar to that horse.
“Thank you for coming to find me.”
Asha put a hand to her chest and bowed politely.
He looked at her.
With the look of elegance and grace all over her body, she truly was a woman who did not fit into this place.
“……While you were sleeping, you called someone very sad.”
Asha asked, slightly perplexed.
“Me…… Did I talk in my sleep?”
You were begging for forgiveness.”
Asha didn’t know what he was talking about.
But then, the expressionless man suddenly turned his head fiercely towards her and asked.
“What are you up to?”
“What the hell did you approach me? Are you the Emperor’s spy?”
Her eyes widened when the word ‘Emperor’ came out of his mouth.
His blue eyes were as cold and sharp as a sharp sword.
She couldn’t answer, and he chuckled cynically as if he knew.
“Well, if you seduce me and accuse me, did the emperor say he would forgive you?”
“I… I don’t know what you mean…… It’s a misunderstanding…”
Then, he jumped out of his chair and climbed onto the bed.
Asha lifted the blanket in defense, but Jackal was already on top of her body.
He enclosed her in his arms and looked at her.
It was like a beast attacking its prey.
The overbearing appearance reminded Asha of her old memories, and her body, which had already lost its strength, stiffened even more.
She no longer had the strength to resist.
However, Asha did not shy away from his gaze but stared.
Jackal frowned slightly at her calm reaction and said in a low voice.
“You are well aware that the Imperial Family has issued a wanted order for ethnic minorities in the entire region.
Among them, Lycaon is the most difficult group to deal with from their point of view.”
“You, who were able to escape, you have already met the Emperor…..What the hell are you doing? Are you a minority who have already been taken to the Imperial Palace and released on the condition that you cooperate with the Emperor?”
Jackal finished speaking and looked at her face with complex eyes.
His blue eyes trembled slightly for the first time.
Minorities were forced to live in hiding for the rest of their lives so that the Emperor would not discover them.
It was because the people who were said to have put a curse on his chest were the ethnic minority…..
She still didn’t say if she had met the emperor, or that she was able to escape from the palace after meeting him.
Don’t tell me that hiding in the snow from bandits was all planned to meet me.”
Asha did not answer.
It really occurred to her that it might be planned regardless of her intentions.
She had a random regression, and there was a good chance that it would.
Seeing her not responding, Jackal’s expression hardened even more.
He didn’t trust people.
He has learned through long experiences that humans can betray others at any time in order to live even if they are of the same blood.
But for some reason he wanted her to be different.
He had a heavy responsibility to protect his people, so he purposely spoke harshly, but inside him, he only hoped that his judgment was wrong.
He had mixed feelings and felt confused.
But then, Asha spoke quietly.
“If I say that I ran away from the Emperor……Will you believe me?”
He looked at Asha sadly, without saying anything.
Jackal struggled to hide his emotions and spoke bluntly.
“That means it’s true that you’ve been taken by the Emperor.
That’s why you told me earlier that you need the strength to protect yourself.”
Then he said again with a slightly mischievous laugh.
“You were lying when you said you fell in love with me at first sight, cheeky girl.”
His smile was somehow bittersweet, and Asha felt a bit perplexed.
But it was then.
“……Captain! Everyone is waiting for the feast, but why are you so late…..?”
A man burst through the cabin door and froze in the doorway.
Jackal and Asha, who were on the bed, turned their heads at the same time to look at him.
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