Adele took a look around the Empress’s chambers slowly, if anything remained—even a small regret—but she felt nothing.
Her heart became surprisingly light when she thought about it.
Suddenly, she could hear urgent footsteps and the door slammed open with a bang.
Only one person had the ability to act in this manner. 

The man who appeared beyond the wooden door was insanely handsome, and his shiny blonde hair was disheveled as if he had run.
He glared at Adele with sharp, decadent purple eyes.
Karl Ulrich is the emperor of the Ehmont Empire and Adele’s ex-husband.
He narrowed his eyes at Adele’s attire and gritted his teeth. 

“What are you doing?” he asked.
His voice was dangerously low and his burning eyes seemed to devour her.
Adele shifted her gaze away from him and attempted to leave the room.
The emperor blocked her path and growled, “I asked you a question.”

Adele’s golden eyes flashed defiantly.
She had never had the courage to look him straight in the eye.
This was what he wanted.
She wanted to be brave for once—even if it was a farce.
Even if it meant being locked up and subjected to bondage.

She took a step back from him and maneuvered toward the door as if she didn’t want to answer his question, but before she could cross the threshold, he grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around.
She utterly despised his behavior, but she knew she was powerless against him.

The two locked their blood-red gazes on each other.
Karl took a step closer and divulged the question he had been meaning to ask the entire time. 

“Are you going to see him?” he spat.
“Are you crawling to Lionel Baldr?”

The emperor yelled in despair, but Adele’s face grew even colder.
He was ignorant until the very end. 

“No,” she replied coldly, “That is unimportant to me.
It’s critical that I can no longer stand by your side.”

“Where would my Empress be if she couldn’t be with me?”

Adele burst out laughing at his preposterous question.

“Empress? You are attempting to dethrone me,” she scoffed.

Karl was stunned by her accusation.
Adele wiped away the sarcastic smile off of her face and looked at him blankly before whispering.

“That’s a lot better,” she said.
Karl froze.
He wanted to kneel in front of her and beg her to stop talking.
Adele, on the other hand, didn’t even give him a chance.
“If you didn’t,” she whispered, “I couldn’t have done this.”

“Stop,” Karl croaked.

Adele gave him the smile he craved, as seductive as a crescent moon as she uttered the words: “I’ll throw away the seat next to you.”

The emperor broke down in front of Adele at those words, and she showed no sympathy.

“No! You simply cannot.
The only place for you is the seat next to mine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get you back there.
You’re my empress!”

Adele spoke with firmness to him who dared to call her the empress.

“I will give up my position as the Empress.”

* * *

A group of people was making their way through the vast wilderness.
Large wagons carrying various rare items were lined up, and hundreds of soldiers appeared to be escorting the procession.
A large, colorful wagon and two flags hanging side by side stood out in the procession.
The flags of two massive empires located across the sea hung proudly on both sides of the carriage. 

A woman in a brightly colored carriage was looking out her window, seemingly disinterested.
She raised her hand and pulled her shiny black hair back, which fluttered in the wind and obscured her vision.
Her eyes were then revealed to be a rare gold color that seemed to contain the dazzling sunlight.
Adelaide Gottrov is her name.
She is the top striker capable of removing the tower’s core on her own, and she is the princess of the Imperial High Trough, no, the one who used to be the Crown Princess.
The soldiers escorting the wagon kept peering out the open window at the foreign princess.
She was a woman whose beauty drew people’s attention.

“Adelaide Gottrov,” she muttered.

Adele laughed as she cynically repeated her name.

‘It is a letter of proposal from Emperor Ehmont.
Go and make yourself Empress of Ehmont.’

‘You must have been so worried, mother, that you couldn’t leave me here.’

‘Didn’t you think you’d be happy?’

Adele was deafeningly silent in response to the Empress’ question.
The Empress approached her silent daughter and spoke in hushed tones.

‘Don’t you think about that day at every difficult moment? If I had let Lucio die on that fateful day… You would have risen to the position of Emperor of Gottrov.’

‘Stop it.’

Adele pushed her mother away, her eyes tired, but the Empress did not budge.
Adele stared at her with sad eyes.

‘Adele, don’t you owe your only brother something? Of course, you will remain loyal to Lucio, but what about your future children? Your assistants? Is everyone thinking the same thing you are? You, too, are disturbed.
To the Gottrov Empire, your existence is like a sword under the chin.
Go after the Empire and your brother.’

Adele shook her head and took out a small box that had been tucked away in the carriage’s corner.
Inside the box, a red envelope contained a portrait and a document.
Adele lifted the portrait; there was a drawing of a man in Ehmont’s imperial robes.
He was quite lovely.

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