The dark sky was riding from afar, turning into a bluish color. After first dropping Eunice and Ximena off at the hotel, Lara took Valac and headed towards Acerus’ castle.
“Let’s go to the Imperial Palace.”
Even though it was still too early to meet the Crown Prince, as it was an urgent matter, the coachman agreed to Lara’s request and drove the carriage. Valac buried himself deep in the carriage chair and exhaled a long breath, saying that he could now return home. Then, suddenly, something heavy hung on the wall of the carriage.
The carriage was tilted slightly to one side and got on track again. Startled, Lara and Valac got up from their seats and looked out the window. Outside the carriage, the coachman was loudly complaining to someone.
It was Demian. After jumping into the running carriage and hanging on the wall, he roughly offered a word of apology to the coachman.
“Sorry for surprising you.”
“Make some kind of sign or something!”
“I will do so next time.”
There was a hint of a smile in Demian’s voice. Lara feigned ignorance when Valac muttered ‘crazy guy.’ Then, she opened the door from the inside. Demian jumped into the carriage, he smelled of acrid smoke.
“Did you get hurt?”
Lara urgently asked when she realized there was a long cut on Demian’s forearm. When she rolled up his torn clothes, the blood had already stopped. Though his injury was not serious, she was not expecting him to actually get hurt. Lara lightly bit her lips and raised her head.
“I got hurt on purpose.”
“That way, the red-haired demon will be able to keep track of me.”
Demian smiled pleasantly.
“Did you win?”
Valac asked him this time. He knew he would be scolded if he intervened, but his curiosity could not hold him back from asking.
Demian generously answered Valac’s question.
“I almost won.”
“I pretended to run away.”
Anxious, Valac kept asking.
Then, Demian wriggled his eyebrows and stared at him.
“Why should I tell you that?”
“Demian, why did you do that?”
This time, Lara asked on Valac’s behalf, who was scared and was crouching down. She judged that Demian could overpower Paimon and her judgment was right.
“If I catch him now, there would be nothing to gain.”
“What does that mean?”
“You said that your God needs karma to give you this and that, but karma cannot be obtained from a human, but a demon.”
“I plan to push him to his limits and make him use magic. After extracting all the karma allowed from him, I will catch him alive and give him to you.”
Demian said sweetly. Valac opened his mouth and Lara shut her mouth tightly.
After running fast and arriving at the Crown Prince’s castle, Valac, Lara, and Demian shook Acerus up to wake him up from his sleep. They explained in detail what happened in the theater and had a long conversation about what to do in the future.
Demian was supposed to be at the border, so when he suddenly appeared in Dandelion, Acerus got very confused. But after Lara stated that they should devise the Eastern Union as the mastermind of this matter, he agreed and rushed to the Emperor.
“How dare they!”
The Emperor was furious, or more accurately, pretended to be. The Emperor sent his knights to the theater where the incident took place to investigate the incident while ordering them to detain every single person from the Eastern Union’s delegation.
Prince Nicholas protested that it was a misunderstanding, but no one in Dandelion believed him. After all, the red-haired slave who suddenly attacked the escort of the saintess was a Lafortian performer he brought, he also disappeared like smoke after the incident.
Even his associates from the Eastern Union who came to the Empire with him whispered behind his back and handed Prince Nicholas over to the Empire. Most of them were nobles from Sias and Mortan. They suggested it would be better to prove the innocence of the rest of the people and go back to the East.
After being trapped in the detention room, Prince Nicholas ruminated over and over again what Lara had said.
What should I do now?
There was only one key point. If the Emperor of the Empire had made this happen due to his greed for the territory of the Eastern Lands, he was going to resist to some extent and run away.
But what about the opposite?
If the Emperor just needed a well-behaved neighbor, Nicholas could kiss the Emperor’s feet and beg for help, even at the risk of humiliation. If he could get the unified throne in return, he could even lick the Emperor’s soles.
‘Can I be a King?’
At first, he thought it was just nonsensical alienation, but as things turned out like this, he kept thinking about it. His father, the King of Lafort, had no intention of coming down from the throne until his death. Having been betrothed at a young age to his mother, who was the Princess of Sias, and having had Nicholas, he was still young and healthy.
‘As long as my mother is part of the royal family of Sias, I also have the right to succession.’
Nicholas could not become the King of Lafort, but it was not the case in Sias. His mother, who had a burning hatred for Lafort, divorced her husband before Nicholas was even a grown-up. She returned to her hometown in Sias and had long reigned in high society.
‘That won’t be all. The saintess was a completely different person than what I expected… I have to bear in mind again what she said from the beginning. There must be a hidden deep meaning behind it.’
Lara’s words suggesting him to become the monarch who unified the East rather than remained as an errand country for the Eastern Union were engraved in Nicholas’ mind like a permanent tattoo–it could not be erased.
What is the outcome the saintess wants? What is she moving for?
“After first proving my innocence…”
Nicholas, who was deeply troubled, suddenly saw the candle swaying violently as if it was about to go out.
It was Paimon. A thick bloody smell emanated from him, along with the pungent smell of smoke. His whole body was covered with wounds. Nicholas, who had never seen such an appearance of a demon before, got up from his chair and trembled convulsively.
“What in the world happened?”
“Do you know how difficult the situation is now? All of this may be mere amusement for you, but we…”
“I told you to shut the f**k up. One more word and I will rip your mouth open up to your ears.”
An unusual force flowed from Paimon. He seemed genuinely angry. Up until now, no matter how unpleasant it was, he had only ridiculed the humans by saying it was like watching a vermin’s talent show. But now he was shedding bloodthirstiness and threatening Nicholas.
Nicholas shut his mouth and nodded.
“There is a really great prey here. Next to the saintess… Go out and investigate the black-haired one with blue eyes that the saintess carries around. What his name is, where he came from. And how many of those things are by the saintess’ side.
“I think it would be better to eat him first and then rinse my mouth out with the saintess. He ran away swiftly so I missed him… But he won’t be safe next time.”
Paimon licked his lips with his tongue as he mumbled. His torn and swollen wounds healed instantly.
Nicholas was afraid of Paimon. He always said that he would soon become the demon lord, so he was very curious about the identity of the saintess’ escort, the one who made Paimon like this.
He was wrong when he thought the saintess would be an immature child. Perhaps she was already fully prepared for the war against demons. And what if she already knew everything about the East’s situation?
God’s vicegerent. Suddenly that word came to his mind. Someone who acted on behalf of the will of God–The saintess was the embodiment of that. Nicholas barely suppressed his trembling chest and opened his mouth.
“Am I not imprisoned now? If I go against the Emperor, your amusement will also end here. The Empire has been at war with demon worshippers for a very long time. They’re not pushovers.”
“Should I rip your mouth open?”
“If I go out now and pry into the saintess, we will become the public enemy of the Empire. First of all, we have to prove that we’re innocent, then I will carry out your…”
“Humans are so funny.”
Paimon sat down on the chair that Nicholas had been sitting on in a drowsy posture. His face looked relaxed but the wooden handle he was holding was crumpled like a piece of paper.
“You don’t even realize which side you should be more afraid of, you’re even talking about it recklessly. I will have to rip your soul out of that tacky body.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“I will get you out of here, so find out about the thing that’s attached to the saintess.”
Paimon’s eyes slowly turned dark red. Nicholas was in a cold sweat, trying not to make eye contact with him. He knew how all the slaves who moved with him changed after seeing those eyes.
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