- Prelude to the Rose Festival
A sacred war with a long history that exists as far back as the time when the original roses were alive. A ritual that had disappeared at one moment was recreated in this place.
While preparing for the festival, there was no way that I would not have known about this.
The rules of the Rose Festival were simple.
Rule one, all Roses return to their territory the moment the festival begins.
Rule two, the Blue Rose moves to the center of the Roses’ territory.
Rule three, the Roses look for the Blue Roses.
Isn’t it really that simple?
With the system, one winner took everything, monopolizing. So, the stage was no longer here.
Light streamed in through the window. The spectacle of the white light dancing was so sacred and holy that it was like an oracle came down from heaven.
My skirt fluttered among the light. At least no one will be able to move until they are moved. Chaser’s eyes grew so large that they couldn’t shrink back. I thought it was because this situation was unexpected, but it was a little different from that. Surprise rather than confusion?
“Iana, did you……. Did you join hands with the imperial family?”
In order to create the Rose Festival, the ‘Imperial Palace of the Sun’, which was built with the founder of the nation, was needed. To be exact, the sacred altar in the middle of that huge and beautiful castle is needed, and the Roses of this age must visit and pray at it.
It was said to be in the middle of the imperial castle under strict surveillance, so it was impossible to make an official request without the Empress’ order. So, the expression ‘joining hands’ was not correct, but it was true that we decided to cooperate.
“Answer me, Iana!”
Instead of answering Chaser’s question, I looked back.
Soon my feet move freely. Earlier, no one could move, but I was the only exception. Because I am the master and this festival was held for me.
I walked slowly and reached a place. It was where Ricdorian was. I reached out to him. Then, in expectation, Ricdorian grabbed my hand. A faint light emanated from Ricdorian’s body. At the same time, the hand that was holding me started to fade.
“Ricdorian, when you return, get ready to go to Kambrakam.”
Ricdorian grabbed my arm and held me in his arms. Holding me from behind, he whispered softly in my ear.
“Yes. I’ll go find you right away.”
The arm that was holding me gradually faded. Ricdorian obediently followed along with the movement. When I looked at where Francia was, she had already disappeared without a trace, perhaps she had already moved quickly.
Maybe the remaining knights would be taken over by Jaire and Francia’s lieutenants and quickly retreat. It won’t be difficult. Chaser, the commander of the other side, was also summoned back in the same way. I glanced at Ricdorian, but couldn’t take my eyes off Chaser.
“You will want to see…….”
“I will see you soon.”
We talked without looking. I couldn’t erase the strangeness. At last, Ricdorian’s body that had covered my back disappeared. Was it because the large warm body that covered my back had disappeared?
A cold chill swept behind my back. Alongside an unfamiliar anxiety. Why? Everything is going as expected…….
A huge lightning bolt occurred. Chaser emitted the black energy as if resisting something. He refused to be moved and looked at me with bloodshot eyes.
“Look. Iana. I don’t know anything else. But never, never. You must never join hands with the imperial family. You can’t trust them.”
…… What was he talking about? There was no villain more dangerous than Chaser in the current situation. In a situation like this, he told me to not trust anyone.
It wasn’t even funny.
“Don’t be ridiculous. The most dangerous person at this moment is none other than you.”
“No matter how good it sounds, don’t listen. Yes, like what you’re doing to me now, doubt everything. Like you always do!”
“What are you talking about?”
Was he try to buy my sympathy now? He was a smart man. It was a reasonable doubt.
“You were the one who made me doubt.”
I saw people being dragged in front of my eyes. I saw shackles and chains on my feet, how can he tell me to trust in him?
I frowned at his unusual face and urgent tone.
“…… I don’t believe you anymore.”
Then he narrowed his eyes. As I lowered my head, I could see that my hand was also gradually fading.
“Iana! Please, listen. Hoo, even if you hate me! The imperial family…… !”
My vision completely blackened.
Together with Chaser’s last words.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a quiet forest.
‘Did I move?’
I got up slowly. I roughly brushed off the leaves attached to my body and looked around. I thought it was deep forest, but when I sat down and looked at it, I could see a village through the branches of the trees. It was a small town.
“…… It’s not too far from where we discussed it.”
Under the rules of the Rose Festival, all roses would be returned to their estate, everyone must have arrived at the estate. But I know that’s not all.
I looked up at the sky.
It hasn’t started yet…… One more process remained. A terrifying sound thundered in the sky. The thumping was as if the speaker was right next to my ear.
[“The Yellow Rose of Neutrality and Balance opened the festival. I am requesting your participation in the festival, state your approval!”]
A voice was heard loudly.
[“The Red Rose of Passion and Wildness requests participation in the festival, I agree!”]
[“The White Rose of Healing and Respect requests participation in the festival, I agree!”]
And then once again.
One more time.
Once the Roses are moved to the estate, they will go through the verification process to see if they are the successors of the Roses. And here they can choose whether or not to participate once they complete the verification. According to the records, not a single rose has ever been left out.
‘Still one person……. left.’
The most important voice was not heard yet. As time went on, it would shift to whether or not to participate. Actually, this wasn’t bad either.
Roses who do not participate in this festival will never come to my side again. They must pay a harsh price for it. I clenched my hand and opened it. My palms were full of cold sweat.
Then, after a brief interval, it rang again.
[“The Black Rose of Obsession and Lust requests participation in the festival, I agree!”]
I couldn’t see it, but I could feel that Chaser was seriously considering it and asked to participate.
‘The participation is over.’
For now, we passed the first turning point, participation.’
I exhaled a little. This voice is a kind of ‘guide’. To inform and deliver notices to the participants, including myself, the subject of this battle. It was so loud that I thought it was the voice of God, but I couldn’t figure out who it was. The Empress, the informant herself, did not know, nor was it listed in the records.
This method to avoid an unfavorable battlefield by starting the festival was successful.
“…… Is this the beginning?”
I looked at the village and tried to figure out the way.
“I have to move fast.”
All that was left was to meet Ricdorian and run as fast as possible to Kambrakan. Now that there is not only Pudding in me, but also the guardian deity that has just been released, I have regained my strength so I don’t have to worry about safety.
Moreover, I had already obtained the Empress’ permission, so all I had to do was run to Kambrakam.
This is the place where the Blue Rose was moved, that is, in the middle of the estate of all Roses, but technically, there was an estate closest to this place. It was the Valtaize estate, Lenag’s.
‘Chaser must know this.’
Perhaps Chaser knows this too, and thinks I’m heading there.
Most of all, he doesn’t know what my purpose is to go to Kambrakam. I just hoped that Lenag would do a good job as a bait. This was also a role that Lenag himself volunteered for.
After confirming all participants and reviewing the operation, it was time to move.
[“The last rose requests an approval!”]
I quickly looked up at the sky.
What is this sound?
[“However, you are not a legitimate participant, so you will go through an evaluation!”]
The voice from the sky seemed to be talking to someone. What the hell is going on? Confused and couldn’t think of anything at all, an answer came from the sky.
[“The evaluation has been completed.”]
I clenched my lips.
[“Imperfect being, your participation is not permitted by nature. However I decided to admit one in a thousand years. I will acknowledge your name.”]
Imperfect. With this one word, I understood the whole situation.
[“The Purple Rose of Incompleteness and Greed requests participation in the festival, I agree!”]
This is the appearance of the fifth rose…… announcing the participation of the imperial family. I swallowed my breath.
‘What is this?’
Of course, this was not in the deal at all.
The Empress asked me for help. And she generously handed over information about the festival to me, saying that she would help anything she could. In particular, the information the Empress had was not just a record, but the memories of the previous Emperors who actually lived through countless histories. It has a higher preservation value than any other record.
As long as the festival was held and all the information turned out to be true, everything had not been a lie. However, for her to participate …… It’s something that hasn’t been mentioned.
By now, everyone should have heard this voice. And they must have felt that something was wrong.
For once, nothing has changed. No wonder she helped me so easily, did she even think of it this far? I thought it was just because of the circumstances the Empress had. I had no choice but to think like that.
At that moment, Chaser’s last words came to mind.
His words to not join hands with the Empress until the end and not to trust……. His anger was intense. I grinded my teeth.
“Who on earth is telling who not to trust who?”
I clenched my fists and pressed my forehead.
Fortunately, I did not share the operation’s strategy because I did not stop feeling uneasy and suspicious of the Empress until the end. I just got permission to use the altar.
‘But she knows I’m supposed to go to Kambrakam.’
What she doesn’t know is the route I’m going.
I closed my lips tightly.