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    When Karas called him over, Melmond had a rough idea of what he was going to say. He was about to enter the palace, where he would be completely exposed to the black potion. The palace was practically under the control of the King’s Heart. They could monitor Karas closely and increase the amount of the black potion.

    The problem was that if they would increase the amount, Melmond’s antidote would weaken its effectiveness. Therefore, an antidote needed to be found quickly. This made it impossible for Melmond to raise his head. They hadn’t even found a clue to the complete antidote yet. However, what came out of Karas’ mouth was unexpected.

    “It’s not necessary anymore.”

    After the casually thrown words, the slow addition of the meant object followed.

    “Antidote.”

    Melmond didn’t immediately understand Karas’ intention. He wasn’t sure if “not necessary” meant a perfect antidote or if he was referring to his current antidote. However, regardless of the situation, he couldn’t understand why the antidote wasn’t necessary. Melmond assumed it was the former and knew it was impolite, but still asked a question.

    “Your Majesty, but aren’t you going back to the palace now? They might try to increase the amount of the dosage of the black potion, which could be dangerous. With my current antidote, I don’t know how much my current medicine can counteract that.”

    “It doesn’t matter.”

    “….”

    “Your mission is over.”

    Melmond gasped and looked straight at Karas.

    What on earth did he mean by that?

    What do you mean my mission is over?

    “But Your Majesty, without a perfect antidote, you might be poisoned by them…”

    As he spoke, a hopeful thought occurred to him, and he asked with anticipation.

    “Could it be that you have found the antidote?”

    “No.”

    Melmond barely swallowed his disappointment. Then he noticed something strange. Karas had no interest from the beginning, and Ashler seemed calm. Melmond looked past Karas and glanced at Ashler with his eyes, as if asking why.

    Why?

    Ashler, as if seeking permission, looked at Karas once and then gave a brief explanation.

    “I’m thinking of using a different method instead of an antidote.”

    “A different method?”

    “We just need to get rid of the poison.”

    Get rid of the poison…..

    “We will eliminate all those who possess the poison. Then there will be no need for the poison to be used.”

    Melmond was at a loss for words, staring blankly at Ashler. Of course, he knew they would eventually have to fight against the King’s Heart in the future. It would undoubtedly be a difficult and long struggle. But Ashler’s tone was exceptionally calm as if this had been planned for a long time and was something he was familiar to. Ashler added as if supporting this fact.

    “Since it’s a fight we must face anyway, we obviously have to win, and the goal is to annihilate the enemy.”

    Melmond had never heard the word ‘obviously’ sound so unfamiliar. He suddenly realized how vast the difference was between those who had fought wars and himself, who had lived in peace. Melmond was worried just by the thought of fighting against the King’s Heart, but they were already thinking about annihilation. On the contrary, if you put it in other words…

    “If we don’t win, we will be the ones annihilated?”

    When Melmond asked in a whisper, his voice barely audible, Ashler nodded with a calm gaze.

    “Yes. They are the ones who have maintained their power by annihilating their opponents from the beginning.”

    Melmond stared at Ashler silently for a moment. Whether it was because Ashler was accustomed to wars where death was always imminent, or had he simply prepared his mind for this a long time ago, whatever the reason, Melmond couldn’t help but feel ashamed. While he trembled with fear like a coward, worrying about the prospect of facing the King’s Heart, Ashler had long accepted the inevitable battle.

    However, he still needed to adapt to the word ‘annihilation’. It is difficult to uproot those who have held power in the country for a long time with just a mere determination. Especially considering that they had not only taken control of the royal palace but also gained the people’s support and trust through numerous temples.

    Of course, recently there have been people who have become rich through war, which threatens the King’s Heart, so the act of collecting money through temples has become more severe and the opposition has grown. However, it is not easy to just get rid of them. Rather, it is easier to just kill them.

    Leading an army into battle and beheading them would be straightforward. The crucial element, however, was having a legitimate pretext. There needed to be a reason that everyone could agree to justify such actions. Without such a solid pretext, the emperor, despite inheriting the power of the Dragon, would not gain widespread support. Instead, he would be labeled a tyrant, inciting fear and hatred. Melmond assumed the emperor of course was aware of this.

    A war fought for legitimacy could take a long time. It might even take as long as conquering the continent. However, the longer the process, the more disadvantageous it would be for the emperor. The King’s Heart possessed the means to kill and manipulate the emperor using the black potion.

    With this thought, Melmond found himself unable to refrain from asking another question, despite having already been told it was unnecessary. This time, he directed his question to Ashler, who was more forthcoming with answers.

    “When His Majesty returns to the palace, they will immediately try to control him with the black potion. They’ll put it in everything he consumes. Then, His Majesty might end up doing exactly according to their will…”

    Isn’t it a fight that takes a long time? Ashler seemed to have caught Melmond’s hidden meaning and looked at Karas again and cautiously opened his mouth.

    “We must end it before it comes to that.”

    Before it comes to what?

    Melmond suspected whether they truly intended to end it by only killing those close to the King’s Heart. Doubting, Melmond heard Ashler’s following words.

    “Towards their self-destruction.”

    “Their self-destruction?”

    He didn’t understand and asked, but this time there was no answer. He just slightly lowered his head with his eyes darkened as if he didn’t know everything in detail. It seemed that Karas was the only one who knew all the plans. Melmond automatically turned to look at him. He could tell that the prince was smart from the first time he saw him in exile.

    Therefore, he wouldn’t have made reckless plans.

    However, the current unease wasn’t due to worries about the plan failing. Perhaps, because of inheriting the power of the dragon, Karas sometimes showed a cruelty that seemed inhuman. He was worried that this cruelty might become a reality.

    When Melmond kept silent, Karas, who was looking elsewhere as if he was annoyed by this conversation, suddenly blurted out a name.

    “Lil.”

    As soon as he heard the name, worries about the black potion disappeared in an instant. Melmond quickly bowed his head to Karas with tense eyes. However, even after blurting out the name, Karas remained silent for a while, only throwing the question when Melmond couldn’t hold back from lifting his gaze.”

    “Who is he?”

    It would probably be a simple question asking about the relationship with Melmond, but Melmond’s heart sank. He glanced at Ashler, who also seemed tense with a stiff expression. It would be a sin to lie in front of the emperor. Even though he had vowed to hide Abel’s true identity, his heart trembled as he tried to speak. Nevertheless, he managed to bring out the prepared excuse.

    “I came to find the antidote and happened to meet this person. Young Master Lil’s health is delicate, and their household is well-versed in herbal remedies, and luckily, our paths crossed.”

    Thinking it would be an acceptable answer, he looked up and found his breath stopped. He felt a shiver in his spine when he saw his half-opened, hazy gray eyes. Moreover, the following question was clearly an interrogation.

    “Why did the weak young master come to the battlefield?”

    Melmond glanced at Ashler again. Unable to know what Abel might have said during his time with the emperor, fabricating a lie about the reason would likely lead to being exposed. Yet, telling the truth and revealing Abel’s identity would only invite disbelief. Caught in a dilemma, Melmond remained silent, prompting Ashler to step in and provide a clear explanation.

    “It was because of Your Majesty.”

    Melmond was taken aback and looked at Ashler. Could it be that he was going to tell the truth?

    In Melmond’s surprised look and the Karas’ sharp gaze, Ashler added slowly.

    “That person has a great respect and loyalty towards Your Majesty. If it is something that can help Your Majesty, he wanted to come to the battlefield regardless of his weak body. So, it seems that Melmond also had no choice but to accompany him. Of course, as a subject of Your Majesty.”

    Isn’t that right? Sending a signal with his eyes, Melmond quickly nodded his head.

    “Yes, it is true. Young Master Lil is a loyal subject who is extremely concerned about Your Majesty and always thinks only of Your Majesty’s safety…”

    It was true for the most part. And it was not a lie that he didn’t hide his worry for the prince even when Abel was with Karas. Fortunately, Karas accepted this answer. He immediately responded with a single word.

    “Indeed.”

    Though his response seemed like a mere afterthought, Ashler and Melmond couldn’t help but be slightly surprised.

    To take for granted the existence of a subject who rushed to the battlefield out of concern for oneself… They thought that the term “prince’s illness” was not just a meaningless phrase, and Ashler added.

    [T/N: In this context, the term “prince’s illness” refers to a situation where a prince or a member of royalty is excessively coddled or sheltered, often leading to a lack of understanding or awareness of the hardships and dangers faced by ordinary people. It implies a certain naivety or innocence due to being shielded from the harsh realities of life. Here, it suggests that Karas might not fully grasp the extent of the sacrifices made by his subjects or the risks they undertake out of loyalty to him.]

    “Young Master Lil is scheduled to depart tomorrow morning on a ship with Sir Melmond, so you don’t have to worry about anything now, Your Majesty.”

    Until recently, the emperor had pretended not to care, so it was natural to assume he would agree to this plan. However, this time he was questioning, which was unexpected.

    “Why?”

    “Ah? Well, it’s because we’ve already originally arranged to travel by ship.”

    “But that’s the plan before he woke up.”

    This time, Ashler glanced at Melmond in confusion. Fortunately, this time Melmond stepped forward and explained gently.

    “Of course, he’s awake now, but his body has weakened due to injury, so it’s best to take him back to his home for recovery…”

    “Is that what he wants?”

    “Yes?”

    “He came because of me.”

    “Yes, well, that’s…”

    “You said he likes me enough to die for me.”

    I never said such a thing. But he couldn’t possibly tell that in front of the emperor that it was his own delusion.

    However now, it was best to send Abel on the ship as soon as possible. If Abel finds out the truth, he won’t be able to handle the shock with his current condition. Melmond added a reason in a hurry.

    “Of course, the health of Young Master Lil is important, but there are also rumors spreading among the soldiers about the appearance of a fairy. So, you see, um, if he won’t return home and the soldiers who come to see him end up falling in love with him, it could cause discord in their wives and households upon their return and, uh, furthermore, it could have a negative impact on the country, putting the entire continent at risk.”

    It was nonsense that he himself uttered, something he couldn’t bear to listen to. Especially with the sympathetic gaze from beside him, from Ashler. Melmond quickly attempted to apologize and retract his words. That is until he saw Karas’ eyes shining darkly.

    “Indeed.”

    Karas muttered briefly, revealing rare signs of life.

    “The country would be endangered.”

    The nonsense was accepted by the emperor. Melmond and Ashler’s expressions became serious. The country really seemed to be in danger.

    However, Karas, who only caught the word “in love” in Melmond’s words, commanded fiercely as if he could chew on a blade.

    “Behead the traitors who spread rumors of fairies.”

    Ashler immediately bowed his head as he felt a chill run down his spine, while Melmond trembled, not even lifting his eyes.

    Was it just because of a slip of the tongue that dear soldiers might lose their lives?

    As he worried, he heard Karas’ voice.

    “Depart at dawn.”

    “Ah, yes, Your Majesty.”

    “When no one is watching.”

    “Yes.”

    “Cover his face completely.”

    “Y-Yes… Yes?”

    Melmond was startled and opened his eyes wide, and Karas’ eyes narrowed in contrast.

    “You think the country is endangered?”

    Melmond’s empty words were cursed by his own mouth. After promising to cover Lil’s face as much as possible, the cold atmosphere finally disappeared. As Melmond stumbled his way on trembling legs, Karas commanded Ashler.

    “Summon everyone.”

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