Another chapter out! As this has 212 chapters in total, I’m trying to work more on this compared to the other ongoings.


“You mean she started changing a month ago?”

The Emperor’s office.

Nicolai lightly tapped the armrest of the antique chair.
A man with a sturdy physique and cold gaze stood before him.
It was Cares, the Interior Minister.

“Her fever was so severe that even the healers gave up.
However, after recovering, people said she underwent a complete transformation, quitting the parties, the drinking, and relationships with men.”

“Is there a possibility of it being the Netherworld blossom?

“There were no signs of the Netherworld blossom, like the petal-shaped red rash, the distinct scent, and no coughing or bleeding.”

Nicolai was well aware that Elisabeth had nothing to do with the Netherworld blossom.
Still, he wanted a second opinion to confirm what he already knew.
Although he couldn’t explain why he felt that way.

“Was there any news from the temple? I heard there was a clergyman who’s studying the Netherworld blossom.”

“You mean Cardinal Arkansas? Shall I summon him for an audience?”

“Never mind.
Hurry up with the conferment of Elisabeth instead.”

“What should I do if Miss Elisabeth continues to refuse?”

“Has there been anyone who dared to defy my orders and survived?”

Nicolai appeared bored even as he declared his intention to bring death to those who defied him.
Even Cares, his loyal retainer, remained unmoved.
Such was the position of the emperor.

“The closer her quarters are to mine, the better.
The rear palace’s too far away.”

In an instant, Cares’ gaze changed.
Despite the countless consorts, it was the first time Nicolai had given such a command.

“Are you saying you want her in the main palace?”

“Is there a reason why it wouldn’t be possible?”

“A typhoon will rage, perhaps even bringing with it a torrent of unrest.
Who knows?”

“The Casanova Emperor’s merely collecting beautiful women as usual.”


An inexplicable smile touched the corners of Nicolai’s lips.
He was well aware.
The palace, disguised as a place of tranquillity, was about to be thrown into chaos, and Elisabeth was to be placed in the midst of that typhoon.

‘Some will survive, while others will vanish without a trace.
Perhaps someone will even rise to a great position.’

As if the mere thought was giving him a headache, Cares rubbed his temples.

“There will definitely be a lot of arguments coming from the noble’s faction to expedite the appointment of an empress.”

“There are too many greedy little rats eyeing the position.”

“It can’t be left empty forever.”

“I’m the one who decides who shall be the owner of Hartman’s Heart.”

The ruby tiara, was something only the Empress could wear.
Known as ‘Hartman’s Heart,’ it featured a heart-shaped ruby and was adorned with hundreds of diamonds.
The emperor cunningly employed this tiara as a means to manipulate the influential nobles, who, though fully aware of the game being played, outwardly displayed deference.
However, if one of the consorts from the ‘Four Great Noble Families’ were to ascend to the position of Empress, the delicate balance of power would instantly collapse.
Humans blinded by power can’t tolerate others having greater authority than themselves.

‘It takes skill to govern a country while donning a playboy façade.
You need to deftly dangle the carrot to entice the bootlickers and brandish the whip to the bandits.’

What would it take to possess Elisabeth? To capture that alluring crimson silk mouse.
As Cares departed, an attendant brought out a chocolate cake.
Nicolai cut a corner of the cake with his fork and placed it in his mouth.
The extremely rich and sweet chocolate cake was the only food he could taste.

“It’s sticky and cloying.
Was it always supposed to taste like this?”

Nicolai’s scarlet tongue glided over his lips, unaware of the seductive allure it held, capable of melting the hearts of all women.
No matter how many times he tried to erase it, Elisabeth’s charming face kept swirling in his mind.
Just the thought of her brought the scent of cherry blossom flitting past his nose.
The cascading scarlet locks, hands as fair as white jade, and the enigmatic abyss of her dark-coloured eyes, which seemed to hold unfathomable depth, kept lingering in his thoughts.

‘It wasn’t just a kiss, it was a collision.
It’s possible it was part of her ploy.’

If it was a ploy, it was a great success.
Just recalling that day’s kiss sent a tremor through his senses that had hardened like a lump of charcoal.
The tongue-piercing sweetness, the exhilarating freshness that cleared his constricted chest, and the intoxicating fragrance that overwhelmed the rest of his senses.
How could he forget that ecstasy? He yearned to possess her as soon as possible.
Nicolai wanted to rush to the Amsters’ mansion without hesitation and bring Elisabeth back.
He didn’t care if he was called a tyrant.
This impetuosity didn’t sit well with him.

If it was a ploy, it was a great success.
Just recalling that day’s kiss sent a tremor through his senses that had hardened like a lump of charcoal.
The tongue-piercing sweetness, the exhilarating freshness that cleared his constricted chest, and the intoxicating fragrance that overwhelmed the rest of his senses.
How could he forget that ecstasy? He yearned to possess her as soon as possible.
Nicolai wanted to rush to the Amsters’ mansion without hesitation and bring Elisabeth back.
He didn’t care if he was called a tyrant.
This impetuosity didn’t sit well with him.

‘I’ve completely lost self-control.
Has the Goddess’s wolf gone mad? Or perhaps it’s me who has gone mad.’

The vein on the back of Nicolai’s hand bulged.
He couldn’t bring himself to admit that someone could shake him so deeply.
The fact that someone was a woman, and was a woman who rejected to be by his side, was extremely unpleasant in every way.
Even the expectation that she could be his first and final hope for salvation was no consolation.
Nicolai glared at the contract bearing Elisabeth’s fingerprint, his eyes burning with intensity.
For a moment, he hesitated and then pressed his lips over the tiny fingerprint.
He took a deep breath, inhaling it deeply.
Unlikely as it may seem, it felt as if the scent of strawberries and cherry blossom jam wafted from it.
His brief night spent with Elisabeth once again muddled his reasoning.

“Your Majesty, you will never understand how I feel since you have gladly accepted death.
You were waiting, weren’t you? Waiting for someone to end it all for you.”

Tears, formed within the depths of her dark-coloured fell steadily onto Nicolai’s chest.
In an instant, her tears seeped through, sending a chill to his very core.
How did she managed to see through his innermost thoughts with such clarity? The truth he had never told anyone.
Nicolai bit his lip.

“Send a messenger to the Amsters’ mansion.
Tell her, if she fails to present herself at the palace tomorrow, consider the contract terminated.” Nicolai commanded sternly, completely forgetting the fact that he was holding the contract with the tiny fingerprint close to his heart.


“You’re giving me another perk?”

Overwhelmed by shock, I fell on my rear in disbelief.
However, there was no pain to be felt.
The surroundings were filled entirely with a white light.
It felt as if time itself and even the flow of air, had come to a complete halt.

“Through the Iris of Mourasynthia, you can detect diseases.
When wearing the divine artefact, Mourasynthia’s eye will activate.”

I looked around with my eyes wide open, but there was nothing to be seen.
It was a world devoid of Bluetooth speakers and CCTV cameras.
Once again, the mysterious presence that had bestowed Elisabeth’s life upon me had reappeared.

“Hey, who exactly are you? Why are you doing this to me?” I asked, clutching my spinning head.
The white light was warm and gentle, yet it spoke in a concise and straightforward manner.

“Will you accept? Or will you refuse?”

Will I be able to handle the divine artefact? What will happen if I refuse? The sudden and bewildering choice made my head feel like it was about to explode.

“I’ll ask one last time.
Will you accept? Or will you refuse?”
 The white light urged.
I shut my eyes tightly.

“I’ll accept! Even if it may come back to bite me!1”

Throb.
I felt a sharp pain inside my chest.
Although I spoke with fervour, I couldn’t ignore my niggling conscience.

‘Shamelessly claiming another perk, are you? Do you think you deserved to be called a righteous soul? In the first place, you couldn’t even survive on your own!’

My harshest critic had always been myself.
But now was not the time to wallow in self-doubt.
The decision had already been made.

“The righteous soul has accepted the first artefact.
If the second artefact is not found, all perks will disappear,”
 the voice declared as it struck me hard on the back of my head.

“The se-second artefact?”

“If the perks disappear, the righteous soul will be returned to the previous world.”

“You should’ve told me that from the beginning! What happens if the soul is sent back?”

“They return to nothingness.”

My heartbeats pounded in my eardrums.
The air felt thin, as if every blood vessel in my body was constricted.

“The main character was supposed to get all kind of buffs when regressed, but what about me? Why saved me if you’re going to be like this? How long do I have to search for that second artefact?!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, but the white light had vanished.
I sank down onto the floor, covered in dust.
The Iris of Mourasynthia.
No, more like a curse.
I gazed at yet another threat to my life.
I couldn’t even escape the guillotine ending, and now I have to contend with this soul destruction flag?! Dizziness and nausea assailed me at the same time.
 

“Elisabeth! Are you alright?!” Douglas supported me, though his complexion was even paler than mine, who had been deceived by that damn being.
 


“There’s a legend that says it’s dangerous to touch the artefact carelessly.
It’s my fault you collapsed…!”

“It was my choice.”

“What?”

“Lord Douglas, did you hear that voice?”

“Voice? It’s just the two of us here.”

Even though Douglas was right beside me, he knew nothing.
A spark of hope quietly crept into my mind.

‘I might just be hearing things.
Maybe all the sleepless nights and stressed have worn me down.’

With a trembling hand, I picked up the monocle that had fallen to the floor.
I slipped the monocle over my ear and clasped my hands tightly in desperation.
Perhaps due to the tension, my eyelashes fluttered with nervousness.

“Elisabeth?” Douglas called out with concern in his voice.

“Shh! I need to check something.” I placed my hand over Douglas’s mouth and cautiously opened my eyes.
Nothing had changed.
I let out a cheer without realising.

“Thank god! This is just a box, and that is just a window!”

Suddenly, the mundaneness of this world, which is now familiar to me, seemed lovely.
That’s right, it was all a hallucination.
I was just hearing things.
 I shall replenish my energy tonight with some boiled duck meat and fried chicken!’

“That’s just a dead bug, and that’s a rat skeleton! I knew it, there’s no way something like a divine artefact exists!” There was no way someone like me, who expresses fondness for dead bugs and rat skeletons, would seemed normal to Douglas.

“You might have hurt your head when you fell.”

“Nope, I’m healthier and saner than—!” I couldn’t finish my sentence, for the white light, which I thought had vanished, was illuminating just below Douglas’s chest.

“No way, it can’t be!”

As the white light became increasingly transparent, it faintly revealed Douglas’s skeletal structure and internal organs.
Flustered, I tried to remove the monocle.
However, it clung to my face as if glued.
Closing my eyes was futile; if anything, Douglas’s organs became more distinct.
They were alive and pulsating!

‘What are those dark crimson spots on his stomach? Somehow, it feels sinister?’

I stared at the unmistakable spot and asked,


“Lord Douglas, do you perhaps have any issues with your stomach?”

“Ah, I see you’ve heard about it from Susan.
You don’t have to worry.
The condition has improved a lot.”

“Improved? I thought you were getting worse.”

“!”

“Night after night, you must’ve been in excruciating pain.
Your stomach always felt bloated, and you couldn’t digest food properly, right?”

 “Wait, how did you know?” Douglas asked, like a man possessed.

How do I explain it? Even if I explained, would he believe me? The Iris of Mourasynthia explained in detail where the disease was located, what symptoms it causes, and how it progresses.
I didn’t want to believe it either.
I just wanted to cry.
It was no coincidence when suddenly I had a vision of a delicately drawn handsome man that seemed to emerge as if painted stroke by stroke.

“If you want to cry, cry freely.
I won’t go anywhere.”

How long will that statement remain valid? I wanted to ask Nicolai.
I never expected to reunite so soon like this.
 

“What the hell are you doing, Your Majesty?”

I glared contemptuously at Nicolai, who was sitting arrogantly on an opulent throne.
I don’t give a damn if I’m committing the crime of contempt against the Emperor or not.
Nicolai didn’t even bat an eye seeing me being bound up with a rope.
I wonder what was so funny that made the corners of his mouth turn up with delight.

“Wasn’t the journey here uncomfortable?”

“You’ve the audacity to say that after seeing me in such a state?”

“It seems there might be a slight misunderstanding.”

“You call kidnapping an innocent person a misunderstanding?”

“Is it a crime for a husband to miss his wife?”

       To be continued…

Translator’s Notes:

1 I honestly thought there won’t be a need for any translation’s notes this chapter (lol).
Anyway, here, she said “한국인은 못 먹어도 고니까!”.
It translates literally to “even if it’s something Koreans can’t eat!” And that’s literally what it means.
However, from a cultural perspective, it’s a phrase that implies the person is willing to accept or receive something, even if it may not be suitable or enjoyable for themselves.
I didn’t want to translate it literally, but I used the suggestion Cupsidate from NU forum gave me.

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