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    “His fever has gone down.”

    The doctor continued to tilt his head. He had been traveling with the soldiers for a long time, providing treatment along the way. Unlike the startled Melmond and the butler, he adeptly treated the patient. He had predicted that the fever would rise and had prescribed medicine in advance, and he had seen the effects over the past few days. But even though the fever had subsided, and the arrow wound seemed to be healing well, he still didn’t wake up.

    Tilt, tilt.

    When the doctor tilted his head again, the butler, whose eyes were swollen from crying, clung to his arm.

    “Uhuhuh, please save our young master!”

    “No, I also want to save him.”

    Melmond pleaded from the opposite side.

    “But why isn’t he waking up?!”

    “That’s really strange to me too.”

    “Uh huh, please open your eyes, young master!”

    “Yes, please open your eyes quickly!”

    Not children but adults, they pleaded for him to wake up, forming a crowd. The doctor, feeling a headache, barely restrained the urge to ran away. If Ashler hadn’t begged with all his might for help, he would have swung his sword at Melmond and the butler.

    Who on earth is this young master? Let alone a body so weak that it almost collapse every second and despite overcoming a dangerous crisis, he doesn’t wake up. Moreover, his serene breathing made him appear as if he were simply asleep. The doctor couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that he might remain asleep for a long time.

    Was it for this reason that childhood stories involuntarily came to mind? Like the tale of the prince who awakened the deeply sleeping princess with a kiss to break the witch’s curse. Though the young master was indeed a man, with such exceptional beauty, he could pass for a princess…

    “No, I’m asking you to cure him, why are you giving him such weird looks?! Hurry and wake him up!”

    “Uh huh, please wake up, young master!”

    Beside the princess, there were two gentlemen who could make even a witch run away. The doctor felt his mind going blank and unknowingly shouted.

    “Ah, then bring the prince!”

    “!”

    “!”

    “No, I mean, that’s not what I meant.”

    The doctor finally realized that the two people’s expressions had stiffened in shock.

    Why are they acting like that?

    “I’m sorry. I was just…”

    “Indeed, we must bring the prince.”

    “That’s right, butler. Maybe he can’t wake up because of the shock of not meeting the prince.”

    The two of them seriously accepted the doctor’s opinion as if they had never gotten frustrated and angry earlier. For the first time, the doctor, who was acknowledged by them, took a step back while looking at them. It was also an impossible task for him to cure a madman.

    ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖ ⊹˚. ♡.𖥔 ݁ ˖

    “Captain Ashler.”

    Someone greeted in front of the emperor’s quarters. Ashler narrowed his eyes upon recognizing that the other person was the commander of the 3rd Battalion. He was the King’s Heart spy. Ashler and Karas deliberately brought him into the higher ranks despite knowing his true identity. Whether he firmly believed that the emperor had died in the enemy’s trap or not, however when he saw the emperor who had come back alive a few days ago, his expression was truly ironic.

    He showed signs of restlessness for the past few days, knowing that he would depart for the palace tomorrow. The reason was that Ashler had assigned him and his soldiers with different tasks, preventing them from taking a single step forward. Upon seeing Ashler, he immediately expressed his dissatisfaction, as he had to inform the King’s Heart of the emperor’s survival.

    “Why do we have to associate with those barbaric 1st Battalion soldiers? They constantly monitor us and interfere in everything.”

    “……”

    “That’s not all. Even though I am their superior, they blatantly laugh and ignore my orders right in front of me. The 1st Battalion commander pretends not to notice! How can we call this a properly functioning army with such a chaotic command structure? Captain Ashler, immediately punished them and allow me and my soldiers to do other tasks. I simply cannot spend time with those ignorant and incompetent individuals.”

    “Understood.”

    “Pardon?”

    Ashler’s immediate response caught the 3rd Battalion commander off guard. Then, Ashler smiled and pointed to the emperor’s quarters.

    “It seems like you were about to meet His Majesty because of that. His Majesty also wanted to give you a suitable task.”

    “H-His, His Majesty?”

    As if feeling guilty for something, the face of the 3rd Battalion Commander turned pale. Seeing this, Ashler smiled even more and ordered the soldier in front of the quarters to inform the people inside. Soon, the soldier came out and guided the two of them inside.

    The emperor’s quarters were slightly larger than other places, but it lacked any extravagance or uniqueness. In fact, the 3rd Battalion commander’s quarters looked even better. If it weren’t for the soldiers standing outside and the flag symbolizing the emperor, it would have been considered just a higher-ranking commander’s quarters. However, the owner of the place had a presence more commanding than anyone else.

    Ah. When the 3rd Battalion commander first came here and saw the emperor, he felt the same inexplicable chill. Despite the outside weather being hot, the inside of the quarters was eerily cool. And the longer he stayed, the more intense it became.

    While Ashler continued with various reports from the side, the emperor’s gaze was fixed on the 3rd Battalion commander. The drowsy, half-opened hazy eyes remained the same even after Ashler finished speaking. As if waiting for instructions, Ashler briefly closed his mouth, and a palpable silence filled the room.

    Finally, the 3rd Battalion commander raised his eyes and met the emperor’s gaze, causing his breath to freeze as if paralyzed. Though they were just hazy gray eyes, it instilled fear as if encountering the red eyes of a nocturnal beast in the middle of the night. Being the only one to feel the chill in the room, he quickly lowered his gaze and hid his trembling hands behind his back.

    His mind was filled with resentment towards the King’s Heart that sent him here. He was told that if he endured a little, he would be rewarded with a large territory for his contribution to the war by eliminating the emperor as ordered.

    But what is this? The emperor has returned alive from the trap that was guaranteed to be his death. The bigger problem was the emperor’s true identity. The King’s Heart said that the emperor was merely a puppet and that it was thanks to the knight named Ashler that they won the war. Yet, the emperor he actually met was entirely different.

    Even though he didn’t see him fight directly, he could instinctively tell. The nickname “King of Slaughter” was not an exaggeration. The 3rd Battalion Commander wanted to inform the King’s Heart of all this as soon as possible. But here he was, not just him but even his soldiers, were in a situation being watched and restricted. They needed to leave this place quickly. They needed to reveal the emperor’s true nature.

    “What are you doing? His Majesty is waiting for your response!”

    With Ashler’s sudden outburst, the 3rd Battalion Commander realized that he had missed an important opportunity to speak. When he looked at Ashler with a flustered look, Ashler glanced at him with a contemptuous gaze.

    “His Majesty has given you a new mission. You must all depart from here tomorrow. You and the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion will depart in the morning before everyone else. It is your duty to go to the palace, announce the end of the war, and prepare to welcome His Majesty.”

    “So, we’re to depart… first?”

    The 3rd Battalion Commander widened his eyes as if he couldn’t believe it, then answered with a relieved face. This was what he had been hoping for. He was so happy that he didn’t pay heed to Ashler’s following warning.

    “Be cautious on the way as there may still be lingering enemies.”

    Despite Ashler’s tone, which was somewhat cold, the 3rd Battalion Commander, who didn’t notice, thanked the emperor and stepped back from his position. After he left, Ashler began to report in a low voice to Karas.

    “I have already ordered the 1st Battalion to follow them and deal with them tomorrow morning.”

    Then, he smiled, thinking of the King’s Heart who would be confused as they wouldn’t receive any news.

    “The King’s Heart must be frustrated, waiting for a contact that will never come.”

    “No, it’s the opposite.”

    What could that mean? Ashler looked at Karas with a puzzled look. Karas murmured with narrowed eyes, thinking of the figure in the black hood he saw in the valley.

    “Their messenger has already departed. They’ll likely spread the news of my death.”

    “What? Who on earth would commit such a shameless task?”

    However, Karas remained silent, as if too bothered to respond. Familiar with such situations, Ashler recalled a place where Karas might have seen the messenger.

    The valley? Could there have been someone from the King’s Heart among the enemy ranks?

    It sounded unbelievable, but if they were indeed part of the King’s Heart, it was entirely possible. They had suspected that they were colluding with the enemy all along. Ashler pondered and asked Karas.

    “Should we spare the 3rd Batallion Commander to potentially testify against the King’s Heart later?”

    Karas tilted his head to the side and looked at him.

    “You talk like the bald man.”

    Ashler was taken aback, realizing that “bald man” referred to the deceased enemy king.

    “Your Majesty, may I ask what you mean?”

    “Why would we need a witness?”

    Karas retorted instead.

    “Now that you’ll be returning to the palace, the next opponent will be the King’s Heart. In war, it is not enough to take lives and land, but in a fight to seize power…”

    “It’s futile if the people will turn their backs, isn’t it?”

    “…Yes.”

    “The bald man said something similar.”

    Karas lightly added, as if recalling a memory, while looking at the empty space.

    “That’s why I killed him more brutally. Because he was foolish.”

    “…”

    “No need for witnesses. They will speak for themselves.”

    Although the plan that came out like a whim may sound reckless at first glance, it was not for Ashler, as long as he vaguely knew what Karas was planning. he was only afraid whether his plan would truly succeed. However, there was no need to sympathize as it was the King’s Heart that had brought this upon themselves.

    Another long battle would begin, but his emperor would surely win once again. After reporting a few more things about the item Karas was looking for, Ashler stood waiting for any possible orders to follow.

    However, Karas seemed to have nothing more to say and didn’t even order him to leave. Normally, he would have gestured for him to leave immediately if he found his presence bothersome, but strangely, he remained silent, gazing elsewhere. Ashler wondered if he had missed his gesture signaling for him to leave.

    “Your Majesty, do you have any further instructions?”

    “No.”

    Then he fell silent again. Ashler was rarely taken aback as there was still no signal for him to leave. If there was nothing more to say, then why wasn’t she being dismissed…? As he thought this far, it suddenly occurred to him. There may be nothing to say, but perhaps there was something he wanted to hear. And then, one thought emerged.

    After coming from the Crimson Valley, Karas had never mentioned Abel even once. Ashler assumed he simply didn’t recognize Abel and thus didn’t pay it any mind. In Ashler’s eyes, the fairy-like young master definitely didn’t seem to resemble Abel’s reincarnation in the slightest.

    But what if Karas was actually concerned?

    Ashler slowly spoke to Karas, who was looking elsewhere with a stoic face.

    “Ah, one more thing… I have something else to report. There is a young master named ‘Lil’ who claims to have guided His Majesty to the Crimson Valley.”

    At that, Karas’ eyes suddenly turned towards Ashler.

    Look at this? Even though he didn’t believe it was Abel, he was showing interest. Concealing his surprise, Ashler reported briefly, as if it were nothing of importance.

    “I arranged for Lil to stay in our camp and receive treatment as someone who aided Your Majesty. However…”

    Ashler deliberately dragged his words, making his expression look serious.

    “Hmm, the wound on the arm from the arrow is not severe, but strangely, he still hasn’t awakened. It’s something that can be resolved with minor treatment for others, but it seems like it could be life-threatening for that young master.”

    “……”

    “Ah, I have disturbed His Majesty’s precious time with unnecessary talk. Then, I will take my leave…”

    “Continue.”

    It was the same voice as usual, but Ashler didn’t miss the slight stiffness in Karas’ voice. Then, he relayed the information he heard from the butler.

    “According to the butler and Melmond, that young master is so weak that he faints for several days even with just an hour of walking. So, they suspect that although the wound from the arrow is also a problem, his body has also suffered severely, possibly to the point of exhaustion. They think that’s why he’s accumulated fatigue.”

    “……”

    “Of course, I warned them not to say such things again. It is an honorable duty to guide His Majesty’s path, and it is something to be grateful for, but to collapse due to overexertion is unreasonable. It’s not like His Majesty threatened him with a sword and forced him to accompany him, right?”

    “……”

    “Your Majesty?”

    “……Yes.”

    However, Ashler didn’t miss it this time either. Although very briefly, Karas avoided his gaze. Ashler pressed him further with an unaffected voice.

    “Naturally, I made it clear that Your Majesty has no involvement whatsoever in his condition. So, Your Majesty, you don’t have to concern yourself whether he wakes up or dies. Rather, I have a few words to share regarding the remaining factions in this kingdom that need to be addressed…”

    “He’s going to die?”

    Ashler, who had casually moved on to another topic, innocently asked pretending not to know.

    “Who are you referring to?”

    However, for some reason, Karas turned his face away, seemingly reluctant to address him directly.

    Ashler recognized this feeling. It was reminiscent of the prince’s initial reaction when Abel first arrived, biting at his neck and causing numerous wounds during the first week, seemingly hating him intensely. In reality, it was his uncertainty about how to treat Abel, who was kind to him.

    Even now, he felt the stubbornness akin to a child’s belief that showing interest in someone was forbidden. The possibility that Lord Lil might actually be Abel seemed increasingly plausible. Without revealing his identity, there was nothing else that could attract the Emperor’s attention but he was able to. Ashler thought that he had to save him no matter what and raised his acting skills again.

    “Ah, you’re talking about young master Lil. Well, I don’t think there’s any hope if he doesn’t wake up in that state. Of course, Your Majesty doesn’t have to worry.”

    ₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊

    ₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊

    ₊‧°𐐪♡𐑂°‧₊

    T/N: Omg, I am giggling this whole chapter! >.<

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