༺ Chaos (1) ༻
In the reception room of the Imperial Palace.
Maximilian sat there, sipping his tea and gazing at the Tower Master seated opposite of him.
Long and red, curly hair. Upturned eyes and an upturned mouth. She was the kind of woman who could be described as alluring, but Maximilian knew better.
She was an old woman who had lived for more than a hundred and twenty years.
“Why did you call for me?”
The Tower Master asked, her words spoken with a feigned elegance. Maximilian answered without faltering.
“Since the festival has begun, I’ve called you to honor your services until now.”
“You’ve done well.”
The Tower Master’s smiling face hardened. It was because Maximilian was talking poorly and saying incomprehensible things.
Unaware of her mood, Maximilian replayed his brother’s words in his head.
– Please stall her until the sun sets, only until then.
This was the request of his little brother, whom he had always thought to be immature. Therefore, it only made sense to listen to him as the older brother.
“Is anything bothering you?”
The Tower Master’s eyes narrowed at Maximilian’s words.
“Thanks to the Imperial Family’s grace, I am living in abundance.”
“Is that so?”
Maximilian nodded and continued.
“I saw the items from the Magic Tower that you submitted for the auction. There are a lot of interesting things there.”
“Oh, I’m glad that you liked it.”
“Yeah, I’m especially impressed with the artificial organ. We’ll have to consult with the healers on how to use it.”
“It’s my creation.”
Her own creation.
The question of how in the world she was able to complete it… slipped back into Maximilian’s throat along with his tea. He recalled the story that his brother told him.
‘A walking corpse without its organs.
Wasn’t it really suspicious and obvious?
“Thank you for always looking out for the well-being of the Empire.”
“I don’t know what to say. Ah, if the business here is done, can I go now?”
Maximilian halted at the words that he heard.
“…Stay for a little longer.”
“Do you have any more business with me? ”
“I’d like to talk to you more.”
Luckily, his voice did not come out shakily. His composure that he had honed as the Crown Prince definitely paid off.
The Tower Master stared at Maximilian. She made an ‘hmm’ sound as her gaze pierced through him, then she stood up from her seat, laughing, and headed towards Maximilian.
As she approached, the Tower Master sat down on Maximilian’s thighs, and her hands began to stroke his cheeks.
“It sounds like you want to do this. Or am I mistaken?”
Maximilian felt panicked and repulsed, which was rare even for him.
The thought of being accused of flirting with an old woman who was more than a hundred and twenty years old gave him goosebumps.
However, he couldn’t reveal that, so Maxmillian placed his hand over the hand that was on his cheek.
‘I’m sorry, Princess.’
He inwardly apologized to his fiancée, and continued to speak.
“…It depends on what you think.”
The Tower Master’s lips began to stretch into a long smile.
The Tower Master stared at Maximilian with narrowed eyes and slowly leaned her head forward. Maximilian tensed up, his pupils shaking as if experiencing an earthquake.
It was a reaction triggered by the denial of what was about to follow.
As much as he wanted to shake her off and walk away, he couldn’t, so he just shut his eyes tightly.
Maximilian, who emptied his thoughts in order to feel nothing, felt something right after.
It was the feeling of a tongue licking his earlobe.
He felt sick. He was nauseous. Maximilian endured it by gritting his teeth hard.
There were goosebumps running down his spine.
For the Empire. For my brother.
As Maximilian told himself to endure it all, he could not help but widen his eyes at the words that came next.
“The Second Prince is quite curious, isn’t he?”
Maximilian felt his heart sink. It was because of the sudden mention of Albrecht. He sucked in oxygen and turned his head towards the Tower Master, who was before his very eyes.
The Tower Master laughed, a big smile on her face.
“You can play innocent.”
Maximilian was not so stupid as to not know what she meant.
‘…Did she know?’
She figured it out. She knew what he was doing and why he had called for her today.
Suddenly, Maximilian’s thinking sharpened.
‘My brother is in danger.’
The thought made his expression harden.
“…You should be worried about yourself.”
The Tower Master said. Her hand slid down his cheek, past the nape of his neck and headed towards his chest.
With a very subtle movement, her hand that was rubbing his chest moved a little lower, and at that moment, Maximilian’s breath stopped.
There was a horrifying cracking sound.
At that moment, his sense of reality disappeared, replaced with shock.
Maximilian’s head shook as he looked down towards his stomach.
A bloody cough erupted.
He saw the Tower Master’s hand in his stomach.
“Hmm, seriously. I was thinking of keeping you alive if you were a bit prettier.”
When the Tower Master pulled out her fist from his stomach, blood started pouring out.
“The Crown Prince looks too manly that it’s unappetizing.”
Maximilian staggered at the sudden pain that swept over him and looked at the Tower Master.
She rose from her seat, humming as she walked towards the window.
“Since it’s a festival, we should have more fun, right?”
He wanted to call for the guards who were just outside the door, but he was too weak to do so.
The last thing Maximilian saw before he lost his consciousness were flames as red as blood.
In the cavity beneath the junkyard in the slums.
After Vera hugged her and brought her down, the first thing Renee did was…
She was nauseous.
Her nausea soared up again. There was no other reason except for the foul odor emanating from that place. Renee’s hands trembled, and her legs wobbled. She could guess what kind of smell it was.
A fishy and rotten stench. It was a foul smell that she had never smelled before in her life, but she instinctively knew after smelling it.
Renee shakingly looked for Vera as she covered her mouth. Soon, her hands found Vera’s collar.
“Is it… a corpse…?”
It was the stench of a corpse. Not a stench of one or two corpses, but at least a dozen.
Vera’s expression crumpled at Renee’s question, and his lips moved slightly.
“Yes, they’re lying all over the place.”
Vera’s gaze scanned the surroundings.
Bodies with their stomachs split open, rotting in spots that suggested they’d been left for quite some time. Pools of blackened blood gathered underneath, swarming with worms.
In the midst of all that, there was something that stood out. It was the head of the corpses.
The one that Rohan had mentioned. A woman with long pink hair and a gentle face. Each of the corpses’ heads bore her face.
What was even more bizarre was that while the rest of the body was decomposing, the face was clean without the slightest hint of decay.
What was the cause of this?
What in the world was the cavity made for?
While Vera was thinking about this, the others descended into the hollow. Their faces were equally stunned.
“What is this…”
The most shocked of them all was Rohan. He stumbled back from the impact of the scene.
Marie and Count Baishur looked at the scene with serious faces, and Albrecht’s face was frozen in shock.
“This is crazy. How could she walk around so calmly after doing this?”
The back of Albrecht’s hand that held the Pure Blood was bulging with veins.
Vera looked at the scene for a moment and resumed his thoughts.
‘There’s no one.’
There were no signs of life. It wasn’t like he couldn’t sense it, but rather, there was really no movement in the cavity aside from theirs, apart from the sound of the squirming insects.
There definitely had to be someone who gave the serum to the Tower Master, because only then would it make sense.
Vera felt his mind getting complicated.
What did he miss? What the hell was this place for?
While he was thinking such thoughts, Vera felt a disharmony throughout the place.
‘…What if it was cleaned up?’
What if they had removed all the things that had been in here?
Vera strained his eyes and carefully examined the place.
The first thing he checked were the walls. It was roughly carved out of bedrock.
He then examined the corpses. It was the same as the last time, their skeletons equally decayed.
Lastly, he checked the floor. Scanning the floor where the corpses were, Vera shuddered at what he saw.
Vera, who had been assisting Renee until now, handed her to Marie and walked over to where six corpses were piled up and began to clear it up.
He felt a chill all over his body from the sensation of the corpses.
Ignoring it, Vera picked up the bodies and swept away the stagnant blood.
‘…It’s been dug up.’
He saw that the ground was unusually sunken compared to other places.
It was as if something were on top of it.
It was then that Vera realized.
‘Did they evacuate it? ’
Just like the junkyard above, everything here had been removed.
Moreover, the corpses were intentionally placed to cover up their traces.
Vera’s body shuddered as he put those words together and weaved his thoughts.
‘…They knew we were coming.’
They knew we would find this cavity.
He continued to think.
Judging by the size of the cavity, it could not have been small.
There must have been more of those moving corpses that were guarding it.
The last experiment to be numbered in the journal was 2000.
Even if that number was steadily accumulated in the past years and even if some had been replaced, the number should at least be in the hundreds.
Of course, if there was such a large-scale movement, they wouldn’t be able to leave the Empire without getting noticed.
Vera continued to think.
‘…What if they didn’t leave?’
He came up with that assumption.
If they hadn’t left, if they were still in the Capital, and if they were still lurking around the Capital with some purpose…
Goosebumps rose all over Vera’s body. He quickly stood up.
The strongest force in the Capital were currently in the slums. Tourists from different places were all gathering. The Tower Master and the Intruder already knew that they had been caught.
So, the situation that might occur, the choices they might make…
The ground rumbled. Their bodies stiffened. Their eyes turned in unison towards the source of the sound.
“…It’s a vibration from the center of the Capital.”
They were going to drive a wedge.
They were going to terrorize the Capital in the midst of the festival and use that opportunity to escape, leaving no room for pursuit.
Vera, who thought that far, recalled what they would aim for through terrorism.
He remembered where the Tower Master was.
“…The Crown Prince.”
They would target the Crown Prince. To buy time and to keep the Capital from moving too quickly after this incident, they were going to stall it with internal chaos.
Vera jerked his head around. He spoke to Albrecht with an urgency in his voice.
“The Crown Prince is in danger!”
…They were taking advantage of the chaos to assassinate the Crown Prince.
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