༺ Pandemonium ༻
“You’ll… make me the Empress?”
Frey just nodded indifferently as Clana inquired with a shocked look.
“That’s right. I’ll make you the Empress.”
As he saw Clana looking at him in bewilderment, Frey replied with a smile,
“Think about it. What possible reason could I have to make you the Empress?”
Clana racked her brains for a while trying to come up with an answer, but she soon gave up.
“I-I don’t know. Why would you…?”
“It’s obviously so that I can manipulate you for my own convenience.”
Clana looked baffled upon hearing those words.
“Shouldn’t you be the one who is most aware of the recent abnormalities that are plaguing your body? Do you know why your body has become like this all of a sudden?”
“It’s because I’ve put a curse on you. To imagine you couldn’t even think of something simple like that. How utterly incompetent.”
Clana shamefully lowered her head as Frey rested his legs on the desk in front of him.
“From this moment on, you’re going to gradually lose your mind in my absence. You’ll eventually end up going insane, and the citizens will probably shave your head and send away the crazy Empress to some convent.”
“So you have no choice but to obey me. Do you understand?”
Frey lifted up Clana’s chin causing her to meekly nod in fear.
“Ha… You should’ve just been submissive from the beginning. It’s no wonder no one likes you since you’re always being pretentious and acting noble.”
“Shut up. Don’t cry in front of me.”
Without waiting for Clana to stop crying, Frey ignored her and carried on; as if he wasn’t willing to deal with her anymore.
“Now that you cannot disobey me anymore, your existence will simply be a means for me to maintain my authority…”
“Why did you refuse my sister?”
Frey stood up to leave the room but came to a halt when he heard Clana’s words. Seeing him come to an abrupt halt, Clana reached out her hand to try to grasp what had now become her last ray of hope.
“I saw it. You received a proposal from my sister.”
“That’s impossible. No one else was…”
Frey started calmly rebutting her but stopped as the realization dawned on him. He raised the canary he was carefully holding between his hands and stared at it.
“She promised… that she would make you her Prince Consort.”
As the light of hope grew brighter within her, she incessantly pushed on.
“So why did you turn her down? Why are you trying to make me the Empress instead?”
Clana stared at him with clenched fists, but Frey, who was gazing at her in a daze, simply let out a sigh.
“Because you’re harmless.”
“That’s right. Rather than a venomous snake, it’s more convenient to use someone who can’t even survive without me.”
Frey brutally crushed the last vestiges of Clana’s hopes and suddenly grabbed her shoulders while she was still in a daze.
“Instead of supporting the First Imperial Princess, who might plot to kill me in the future, it would be better to make someone like you, who’s no different than a harmless doll, into the Em…”
Unable to endure the words that were tearing her apart with every passing moment, Clana cut Frey off and grabbed his hand.
“Let’s forgive each other and make up.”
“I already told you I don’t want to. That was the last opportunity that you had.”
“I don’t like how we are right now. Let’s just make up Frey.”
Clana erratically started pushing Frey for a reconciliation in their relationship–Her eyes, full of unbridled chaos.
“Frey?? You’re not going to reconcile with me?”
Golden mana suddenly erupted from Clana’s body. Frey slowly backed away in shock.
“…What’s going on now?”
Something abnormal was happening.
“Frey… let’s make up. Frey…”
“Calm down! Clana!”
Clana had lost her mind.
I initially thought that she was merely acting out after I had treated her so cruelly, but checking her status window proved otherwise.
[Stats: Strength 7 / Magic 7 / Intelligence 7 / Mental Strength 3]
[Passive Status: Emotional Outburst / Manic]
Her Mental Strength had fallen from 8.1 to 3.
I didn’t understand how, but if she really did gain memories from the Second Ordeal, I could understand the drop in her stats.
However, the fact that she was currently under the status ailments of ‘Emotional Outburst’ and ‘Manic’ was a big issue. Her ‘Blessing of the Sun’ and ‘Monarch’s Aura’ had disappeared as well. a big issue.
A character’s Passive Status wasn’t something that could be affected by regular emotional changes. Only things like witchcraft or magic could affect it.
This could only mean that Clana was being driven out of control by some external force.
My train of thought was broken when Clana started creating golden spears around her.
“Fuck… I’m losing my mind…”
‘There really isn’t a single day that passes by without any problems…’
I quickly drew my sword from my waist and got ready to fend off the spears that were aimed at me.
Clana suddenly yelled out. After dispelling the spears, she began to smash her arms against the floor.
“No! Not now! Not this time!”
Between her bouts of insanity, Clana extended her arm out towards me, summoned a dagger in the air…
“I told you to stay still!!!”
And stabbed it towards her arm with all her strength.
It was the sound of flesh being deeply torn.
I was relieved that the sound had come from my arm rather than hers.
Blood started to flow from the gash where the golden dagger had penetrated my arm.
Clana started to panic and her hands started trembling as she saw red blood overflow.
“Clana, withdraw your solar mana.”
“I-I can’t… My hands are shaking too much… When my hands shake, the solar mana…”
“I’ll hold your hands, so slowly take deep breaths.”
I took her into my arms and carefully held her hands as I started to calm her down.
‘It’s fine. I can still resolve this. For now.’
I could just tell her that this had been a hallucination that was caused by her unstable mind.
Although she was settling down, she was still in the state of ‘Emotional Outburst’ and ‘Manic’ after all.
So, for the time being…
– Knock, knock.
“Who is it?”
Clana was gradually pulling back her solar mana as I patted her on the back, when someone knocked on the door.
“Give me a second. I’ll be out soon.”
I spoke gently since I couldn’t let others see Clana in such a frenzied state, but the knocking persisted.
–Knock Knock Knock.
“…You, who are you?”
– Bang! Bang! Baaang!
Clana, who was still in my arms, started to look afraid when the knocking sounds started to turn aggressive despite my warning.
The door broke down and someone came in as I still held Clana close.
I thought it was an evil spirit that was invading the room, but it turned out to be a person.
It was actually a maid from the palace.
“What’s the meaning of…”
The maid suddenly took out a hidden dagger from underneath her dress and charged at me.
Even in such an absurd situation, I was able to throw myself to the side with Clana. I carefully started gathering stellar mana on my fingertip without delay.
The maid turned around and swung her blade at me again, but I managed to intercept her dagger with the stellar mana I had condensed on my fingertip. Yet, she simply looked at me coldly and took out an aikuchi as well.
‘…A combat maid.’
I was wondering how she was so proficient at combat, but seeing how she’s been taking out hidden weapons one after the other, she must be a combat maid who was hiding amongst the other maids.
“Ora ora ora!!”
Her combat skills were quite high. There was nothing good to be gained from engaging in a prolonged fight with an expert, so the moment her dagger missed, I kicked her to the wall.
There was a resounding bang as her body crashed into the wall.
Although I had put a lot of strength into that kick, it merely caused the combat maid to stagger a little.
“Clana, listen well now.”
Clana let out incomprehensible sounds as she still seemed to be in a daze. It was clear that she was incapable of processing the current situation she was in. I briefly glanced at the maid before holding Clana’s shoulder as I tried to gently reassure her.
“This isn’t reality.”
“This is a dream.”
Clana looked at me in confusion, clearly puzzled by my words.
“The curse is trapping you inside this shitty dream. Do you understand?”
“W-What are you… Frey… I…”
“I’m not Frey. I’m just an entity your subconscious mind created to protect you.”
I locked my gaze with hers and continued to lie through my teeth. Before long, Clana’s eyes started to tremble.
“Would the real Frey protect you? This is just a dream. So, get a hold of yourself.”
“Ah… you’re right. Huhu…”
We were running out of time. I shook her shoulders, but Clana just let out a laugh with a dazed look on her face.
It was some bullshit excuse that normally wouldn’t have convinced her, or anyone for that matter. But thankfully, it seemed to have worked out due to her unusual condition.
“From this moment on, you’re going to have to escape from this dream with me. Otherwise, you’re going to be stuck here forever.”
I shook her again.
“So, get a grip… We have to get out of here, alright?”
“I don’t want to.”
“I want to stay here forever with you.”
“Stop with the nonsense and…”
I was about to rebuke her but I came to a halt. Clana had suddenly started saying some bizarre things.
“Just now… I’m starting to remember it now. But, there’s nothing I can do about it anymore… So, at the very least… I’ll stay here with you…”
“What are you saying?”
“You… You gave me the Stellar Primrose… and the Solar Primrose…”
Clana stopped abruptly and looked up at me with quivering eyes.
“Could it be… You… Huk.”
Before she could finish, I struck the back of her neck, making her go limp instantly. Sensing the maid swiftly approaching us, I turned around and pointed my sword at her.
“…This is seriously driving me crazy.”
Since I didn’t have to worry about Clana watching me anymore, I knocked out the combat maid in a single hit using all my strength.
“Now then, what should I do?”
A sigh escaped my lips as I looked at the scene in front of me where the maid had broken down the door.
Through the door, I saw the aristocrats tottering around the ballroom with lifeless eyes and dazed faces. Unfortunately, they seemed to have already noticed me and were slowly making their way towards me while exuding ominous auras.
They were surely coming to kill me.
At the same time.
“He said he would make his move in a few hours, but did he start already ?”
The girl who had granted purple aura to the man, moved her fingers through the air as she looked into the ballroom.
The space in front of her split apart as she moved her fingers. The girl then reached into the space, took out a few items shining with a bright silver light, and equipped them on her body.
“…I guess it’s finally time to take the stage as the Hero.”
Frey’s flustered face was reflected in the girl’s ruby eyes.
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