Chapter 83 – A handsome man and a monster (3)
I nodded my head again. Perhaps it was because of my bad physical condition, but I could feel my face heating up. I wanted to quickly end this conversation with him. It would be a problem if I coughed in front of him.
I hope he doesn’t find out I’m sick.
“Then I’ll name you ‘Rose’.”
I suddenly remembered the red rose that Blake gave me.
Why did he name me Rose? Did he recognize me?
I looked up at him in surprise. Then again, Rose was a commonly used name. Besides, Blake was very fond of roses, so it probably didn’t mean much.
“What do you say?”
I nodded. It was a common name, but it felt like a nickname just for me when he called me by it.
“Rose, I’m going back to the Imperial Palace. And I want you to join me.”
Was he thinking of taking me with him? I was startled by the unexpected remark. He was going to take a woman who didn’t even know her own name, let alone her identity, to the palace?
“Do you want to go together with me?”
Blake smiled softly. It was the same smile as when we were young. Nothing about it had changed except that I felt a little strange now.
If he asks me like that, there’s no way I could refuse.
But I couldn’t nod. I wouldn’t live long. Ser said that I’d live for about a hundred days at most. I didn’t want Blake to be sad so I decided to avoid him and quietly end my life.
I hesitated because, not knowing how to answer. Just then, Edon came into the tent.
“Your Highness, you’re here?”
“What’s going on?”
“The High Priest is here.”
Blake asked. His expression was so indifferent that I doubted if he was the same person who smiled so beautifully just a moment ago. However, Edon did not show any reaction, as if it was always like this.
“He’s here to see you. You can’t treat him like that.”
“He’s really got a knack for bothering people.”
“Your Highness, it’s the high priest. Please mind your words.”
“Rose, wait a minute.”
Blake replied to Edon absent-mindedly and smiled at me.
“Your Highness, are you thinking of taking her to the Imperial Palace?”
“I beg your pardon, but it’s not a good idea to take her home…”
Edon blurted out his disapproval.
“She lost her memory and cannot recall anything.”
“Then why didn’t you leave her to the church?”
I grabbed Blake’s shirt in surprise.
It was natural for Edon to worry. I was a woman that Blake happened to find in the Valley of Chaos and now he said that he wanted to take me to the palace even though he didn’t know anything about my identity.
I understood Edon’s worries, but when I thought I would be apart from Blake, I was afraid. If we parted ways now, we wouldn’t be able to see each other ever again.
Even though I was determined to die quietly for him, I was scared at the same time. Blake held my hand tightly as if he was relieved.
“I will return to the Imperial Palace with Rose. Do not make me say it twice.”
“…I will obey your orders.”
Since Blake was so adamant, Edon had no choice but to comply.
After Blake and Edon left, I went out of the tent too.
The morning sun felt really warm and nice on my skin. Maybe because it was my first time going out in seven years, but I cherished every moment of the bright sunlight and clear air. Even the chilly autumn wind felt rather nice.
As I took a deep breath, I heard the men talking.
“We’re finally leaving. I thought I’d have to greet the new year here again this year.”
Two young knights were chatting.
“I’m sure Edon spent all night convincing him. What would foreign envoys think if the Crown Prince was absent from the celebration?”
Edon had become the head of the knights.
For the knights, skills were most important compared to other aspects. But there was still a severe limitation of status. For a rookie belonging to the commoners to become the head of the knights was an unprecedented rise.
“Anyway, I’m going to spend the last day of the year in the capital.”
“Paul, we might not be back before the end of the year.”
“Oh, don’t jinx it. I can’t tell whether I’m the Imperial palace knight or the Valley of Chaos guard. If I had known about this, I wouldn’t have chosen the 5th division.”
The 5th division were knights directly under the Crown Prince.
When Blake became the heir to the curse, it had been disbanded. But now, they had been assembled again.
“So, we’re looking for a person who has already been dead for years.”
“She could still be alive,” said the red-haired young man as he silently arranged the tent beside them.
“Does that make sense? How could someone live after falling into the Door of Darkness.”
“Matthew is right. Besides, she didn’t just fall. Dozens of Macul dragged her in. Even if she survived, she would’ve been attacked by Macul.”
They all think I’m dead.
Well, I’ve been in the Door of Darkness for seven years, not a day or two. It was only natural that they’d think that way.
“Well, no one has seen her body.”
However, the red-haired knight answered calmly and finished cleaning the tent. Matthew and Paul looked at him disapprovingly.
“Jayden, be honest. Don’t you regret joining the 5th division?”
“Even if you’re a commoner, you could apply anywhere you wanted to since you’re a top graduate of the academy.”
The red-haired man was Jayden, Diana’s classmate.
There was no one like Jayden, a commoner who rose up the ranks to become the top graduate of the academy.
If Jayden was the top graduate of the academy, then what happened to Diana?
She said she’d surely become the top graduate…
Even if she wasn’t, she would’ve still been a high-ranked knight, right?
I promised to stay with her until she graduated, but I failed to keep that promise.
“I directly applied here.”
“You’re the type that works hard, huh?”
“I suppose so.”
The chores of removing tents and packing were originally the servants’ job, but the Valley of Chaos was strictly restricted to outsiders so the Imperial knights had no choice but to do everything themselves.
Of course, there were some people who goofed off, leaving their juniors to shoulder the brunt.
Jayden mounted the luggage he had organized onto the horse. Paul watched the scene and turned around to meet my gaze. I tried to say hello, but he screamed,
“What is it?”
Matthew was also stunned when he saw me.
The faces of the young knights were filled with disgust. I felt a sense of deja vu from this situation.
When I entered middle school in the past and the kids saw the scar on my calf, their expressions looked similar to the knights’ expressions at this moment. The only difference was that there was far more contempt and hatred in their stares.
“Why is she here? I heard someone came from the church. I thought they would leave her to the church.”
Matthew pointed at me.
“Are we going to bring her along?”
I quickly stepped back when I was subjected to this blatant contempt.
After I reunited with Ser and saw the burn scar, my heart had ached very much. When I found out that my soul had entered her body, I quickly forgot about the scar.
Everything was so chaotic that I didn’t even think of the scar, and most of all, Blake didn’t care about it at all, so I wasn’t particularly conscious of it. Edon was only concerned about my uncertain identity, but he showed no sign of reluctance at the sight of my scar.
But hearing myself get called a monster, I felt like I was facing reality.
I was okay with waking up in Ser’s body. There was no problem when I was with Blake. But the moment I heard other people call me a monster, I really felt like I had turned into a monster.
“How? We don’t even have a carriage.”
“Who’s going to bring her?”
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll ask us to do that.”
“I have a lot of luggage, so I can’t.”
“Is there no one else?”
The atmosphere quickly sank. Logically, I knew that they were in the wrong, but I still felt like I was the sinner.
I wanted to run away, but my feet felt like they were rooted to the ground. Suddenly, Jayden said, “I’ll do it.”
He spoke indifferently and approached me. Was he thinking of riding a horse with me?
I was about to say thank you, but then I heard Blake’s voice behind me.
“You don’t have to.”
Jayden bowed his head with respect, and the other knights hurriedly followed.
“Rose will go with me.”
Blake clasped my left hand that had the severe burn scar. Seeing this, Paul, Matthew, and Jayden, were all surprised.
“Also, Paul and Matthew, I will take away your position in the 5th division.”
“You know why, don’t you?”
Blake glanced coldly at the bewildered Paul and Matthew.