Translator: thursdays PR: scarcecrow
Rezef kicked Zenon’s head with his foot.
Zenon groaned in pain, holding his face. Before him, he saw a shoe backlit by the blazing fire of the lamp oil.
When he lifted his head, he saw Rezef bleakly looking down at him. The prince had taken off his hood to reveal his face.
The realization struck Zenon like a thunderbolt.
He had been discovered.
The prince knew that Zenon was the accomplice behind the kidnapping.
“Your Highness, I can explain. It’s a misunderstanding—”
Rezef did not want to hear more. He kicked Zenon in the stomach. Zenon suffered a terrible pain as if his ribs had been broken.
“Is it so hard to know your place? I really can’t understand you.”
Zenon began to understand what would happen now that he had encountered the mad prince in a place where he possessed no control.
Although the prince was much younger than Zenon, he was nearly 185 cm tall and had begun swordsmanship training when he was five years old. There was no way that Zenon, who had only trained enough to be fit, could beat him.
“It’s really easy. Look at me, Zenon. Do you think I could have survived the imperial place until now if I didn’t know my station?”
Zenon rasped and spat up blood.
He had to survive. He just needed to escape from here and take control of the monstrous prince.
He was the second son of the Evans family, one of the pillars of the empire. He had no reason to be mistreated like this.
As Zenon crawled away, Rezef stepped on his ankle and broke it.
“When I think of how hard I worked to lure you here these past few days, I’m so angry that I can’t bear it.”
Rezef was the one who had leaked the false information that there was a contractor unaffiliated with Archduke Heinrich. He asked abruptly, “You must have been very nervous. Right? You didn’t investigate properly before running here.”
Unmerciful fists began to mess up Zenon’s face.
“Why? You want to kidnap my sister again? Or, are you trying to kill her?”
Rezef’s eyes glistened with lunacy.
“Were you blinded because of the failed poisoning?”
Whatever it was that Zenon wanted to say, he was unable to voice it. He raised his arms to cover his face.
“Anyway, why are there so many annoyances? You, and that Raphael bastard, too.”
Rezef felt that Raphael, who had become more prickly when he succeeded the duchy, was trying to gain greater influence over his sister.
Rezef smiled and pretended to be fine, but inside, he was boiling.
He had to quickly become the emperor and ensure Cayena could not marry Raphael.
“I can’t let you insects covet what is mine.”
Rezef stopped his efforts to turn Zenon into mush. He grabbed Zenon’s neck and trudged over to the fire.
“Do you think… you’ll get away with this?”
Even as he was dying, Zenon spoke fiercely.
“I am… an Evans…!”
Rezef burst into laughter as if he heard a funny joke.
Rezef smiled vilely and looked at Zenon with pity.
“Did you know that Marquis Roderick is in the capital? I’ve already spoken with him.”
Zenon coughed out a glob of blood, unable to speak.
“He said he didn’t notice that the second son was growing cannabis on his farm.”
“You were cut off.”
Zenon’s eyes in the firelight were tinged with despair.
Was his brother really betraying him? Why?
Zenon couldn’t understand. He was competent and commanded influence within the imperial palace. He couldn’t meet his end like this.
“Let me go! I took you in, a half-prince, and you dare…!”
“Sure, my blood is only half imperial.”
Rezef paused his steps in front of the flames. Zenon struggled and squirmed, but Rezef easily dragged him up.
“I’ll make you half a person, too.” Rezef cast Zenon over the fiery pit.
The oil and flames climbed onto Zenon, making him scream horribly. Rezef clicked his tongue.
“Hmm. I was only going to burn half of him…”
Well, it couldn’t be helped if the man burned up completely.
Rezef shrugged and turned away.
“Vera, bring Annie to my chambers.”
As soon as Cayena arrived at the princess’s palace, she called for Annie and sent everyone else out.
Cayena sat on the sofa with her legs crossed as she extricated the ribbons in her hair.
‘Annie may be young, but she hadn’t been caught as a spy for a decade.’
Cayena tapped her fingers on the small side table and thought about how to deal with Annie.
At first, she was going to expel her. But now, Cayena changed her mind.
“She’ll definitely be useful.”
After Cayena returned to this world, she had prepared a pouch of money in her bedroom, just in case. Cayena thought about where the pouch was and held out her palm.
A blue silk pouch landed heavily on her hand.
Cayena felt that her understanding of her abilities was increasing.
She may even be able to teleport herself if her ability was refined.
‘But I wonder if my body can withstand it.’
She had nearly fainted after stopping time for just about a minute. It could have been because her body was weakened from paring down her life span.
‘I don’t think it’s an ability I can use casually.’
Finally, Annie entered the room.
“Did you call for me, Your Highness?”
There was nobody else in the room except for Cayena. Annie felt that something was wrong.
The bedroom door shut behind her.
Annie felt a strange pressure from Cayena, who was sitting with her legs crossed on the sofa right in front of the door.
The tension made her lips dry.
Cayena threw the pouch she was holding in front of Annie.
Annie’s gaze turned to the weighty bag on the floor. Somehow, she knew that it was filled with money.
Finally, Cayena spoke. “Take it and leave.”
Her voice was strident.
Annie felt as if she had been splashed with cold water. She had made some mistake.
She knelt right away and prostrated herself, hands flat on the floor as she bowed.
“Please forgive me, Your Highness!”
Cayena looked bemusedly at Annie.
“I have no intention of keeping anyone who is not one of mine.”
‘She knows I’m a spy!’
Annie was an expert at her job. She had been confident that she would never be caught.
She couldn’t understand how it happened.
‘I must have moved too much because of all the news in the princess’s palace recently.’
She bit her lips and blamed herself for her mistake.
Cayena smirked and said,
“You aren’t even making excuses.”
Annie closed her eyes tight and thought.
She thought about what would happen when she left the palace, how she would live, and what she should say to the princess.
The Kedrey duchy would never fall to ruins. What was the palace, compared to that?
The palace was rotten to the point that it wouldn’t be unusual if it fell apart at any moment.
“…Even if I had ten mouths, I can make no excuses.”
Annie had admired Cayena during the time she worked for her. And surprisingly, her feelings had turned to reverence.
It wasn’t for malicious purposes that Annie continued to be Raphael’s informant.
‘Duke Kedrey favors Her Highness.’
Annie was sure of it. Whenever she went to report on the happenings of the princess’s palace, the duke only asked for information regarding the princess’s safety.
It was information to keep Cayena safe. Annie thought of the duke as a secret knight protecting the princess.
“Raise your head.”
Annie looked at Cayena with a determined face.
She clearly understood what she had to say next.
“Please use me as you wish, Your Highness.”
Cayena tilted her head.
“You’re telling me to use you, who betrayed me, as one of my own?”
“I promise that nothing like that will ever happen again. I swear it on my insignificant life.”
After seeing Annie’s firm eyes, Cayena uncrossed her legs and stood up.
She met Annie’s eyes and said, “Then, be mine. However”—Cayena’s face turned stern—“there will be no next time.”
Annie bit her lips again and swallowed her excitement.
She bowed again with complete sincerity.
“I will absolutely repay Your Highness’s kindness.”