The last day of the hunting competition has dawned.
"Oh, is this my armor?"
Emperor Yovanes said, lifting up the sparkling gold breastplate.
"Yes, Your Majesty. I have prepared a color that will surely stand out."
"Yes, yes! You can see me well even if I'm in the middle of the Madman's forest!"
Yovanes burst into laughter and tapped on my shoulder.
Ah, since last time, seriously.
I pulled my body back, saying.
"Your Majesty's safety is more important than anything else."
If Yovanes get hurt in a hunting competition hosted by me, it will be troublesome.
"Ho ho! You speak so beautifully!"
The emperor burst into laughter once again.
"I have thorns in my heart because I hadn't been able to come to the hunting grounds for a long time. Thanks to you, I'm laughing out loud!"
He then beckons his servant to help him wear the armor on his body.
Of course, the breastplate I prepared for him fits perfectly with the Emperor's body.
"Yes, this is very good. Are all the knights ready?" Emperor Yovanes asked the knight general.
"Yes, Your Majesty, there will be a total of ten knights including myself." The imperial knight commander, who looked fierce at first glance, approached and reported.
It was an appearance that reminded me of Sushou.
I took a quick look at the figure and snuck in to ask Yovanes.
"Your Majesty, if you don't mind, may I join you?"
"Hmm? Florentia, you?" The Emperor with full round eyes opened, asked again, quite surprised.
"Yes, it's the last day of the competition and I wanted to go into the woods at least once, but I haven't had a chance yet."
"But it's quite dangerous for the young lady to enter the forest." The Emperor said as if he would be bothered.
I know he would say that, but I already think this through, much so like a loaded horse.
I smiled at Emperor Yovanes and said, "With the strong Emperor and the mighty knights beside him, was there any safer place in the Empire other than here?"
The corners of the Emperor's mouth become indescribably sunnier.
The head of the Imperial Knights, who was blunt and rocky, also twitched at what I had said,
"Huh! That's right! Yes, let's go into the forest together!"
"Wow! Thank you for your permission, Your Majesty!"
I bowed my head to Emperor Yovanes and made a small greeting to the Imperial Knight.
"...I'll take you safely, Lady Lombardi." The commander of the knights said in a low voice.
I knew this was gonna happen.
Has it been about an hour since I entered the forest of madman?
The Emperor's party, including me, were confronted with a man.
It was Perez with a bow in one hand.
It was like an encounter that happened by accident.
Well, is it really a coincidence?
This is the reason why I tag along.
Whatever Perez had prepared, I had a strong feeling that it would happen by the end of the hunting competition, which is today.
"Your Majesty, this is..."
Perez, who was about to say something to Emperor Yovanes, found me and stopped talking.
I could tell by his eyes what he wanted to say, 'Why are you here?'
I smiled and looked at him as if telling him to do his own business.
'I'm just here to watch.'
But Perez, whose face became stiff, couldn't take his eyes off me.
"Was the Second Prince also hunting around here?"
In the end, Yovanes spoke to him first.
"...Yes, Your Majesty, this is a place where dangerous monsters come out. Let's move to the other side." Perez said turning away from me with difficulty.
"Hmm, is that so? I thought this was still close to the entrance."
"Yes, I'll take you somewhere safe."
At Perez' words the emperor turned to the imperial knight commander.
"That would be better. Your Highness will know better what's going on inside the forest than us."
Eventually, I, the emperor, and the ten members of the imperial knights lined up after Perez.
At first glance, it seemed like we were going somewhere safe at the entrance of the forest, but Perez, who was leading us made a big turn.
Hmmm, is this?
Then it happened suddenly.
A monster with sharp claws popped out while screaming weirdly.
And, unfortunately, it was the emperor that it jumped into and aimed.
The imperial knights quickly tried to protect the Emperor.
However, the arrow shot by Perez came first.
The monster was hit by an arrow from the side and immediately fell out.
But it was not alone.
The next one popped up right away.
But this time the direction wasn't good.
It approached the blind spot of the imperial knights.
Emperor Yovanes stepped back in surprise, but the monster seemed to succeed in coming at him.
The monster's roar was heard right in front of him.
Right then, the monster's long claws touch the Emperor's chest.
The blue light flashed and the monster split in half and fell on the floor.
Emperor Yovanes blinked his eyes and made a steady, deflating sound.
And the Emperor's hands touched his protective gear.
There were long deep claw marks on the gold armor.
"Your Majesty! Are you alright?"
In an instant, the knights made a circle that guarded the surroundings and shouted.
"Ho, It only scratched the gear. Don't make a fuss!"
Even at that moment, the Emperor pretends to be strong.
Although I can see his trembling fingers.
"Wear this instead."
Perez, who came to the side with his sword, said to the Emperor, taking off what he was wearing.
"A heavily scratched armor won't do its job the next time it hits."
Emperor Yovanes' gaze immediately turned to Perez, who was not wearing any armor.
"Yes, I will wear it."
Eventually, the red armor that Perez was wearing was wrapped around the emperor's body.
At that moment, Perez and I's eyes met.
Perez's red eyes sank deep.
"Be careful." Perez said to me.
I stared at Perez without answering.
It was him who asked for the Emperor's armor to be made in gold.
"Let's go back."
Not surprisingly, Emperor Yovanes said.
"That way." Perez said so and took the lead again.
And soon after, I found out what Perez's plan was.
Astana appeared in front of them who were continuously moving.
From head to toe, he was covered in the blood of a monster, holding a sword in his hand.
Astana was smiling.
And suddenly he started running towards us.
To be precise, towards the emperor standing next to me.
The commander of the knights exclaimed.
Knights quickly guarded the front of the emperor.
And some ran out to stop Astana.
But Astana was too fast.
He went out with a blink of an eye as if possessed by something and ran away from the knights.
It was a monstrous force.
"I'll kill you!"
Astana, who shouted out loud, came right to the ground.
The commander of the knights, who was guarding the emperor, eventually pulled out the sword.
Pointing a sword towards the Prince was like a last resort for an Imperial knight.
With that, the head of the Imperial knights struck Astana's sword.
As the sword flew away, Astana became empty handed.
"Your Highness, calm down!"
Bellesac, who threw his sword in front of the imperial knights and chased Astana, shouted.
And at that moment.
Astana screamed and swung something.
I clearly heard the sound of something being sliced.
But it wasn't the emperor's scream that followed.
It was Astana who was rolling frantically on the ground and letting out a painful cry.
"My hand! Argh! It hurts! My hand!"
Astana's right hand was missing.
There was nothing in the spot where the red blood was pouring out.
The severed hand was at the feet of the frozen Bellesac.
Still holding a sharp dagger.
When everyone was frozen.
"Protect Your Majesty, Sir." Perez ordered in a low voice.
Looking coldly at Astana rolling on the floor.
The commander of knights with a hard complexion answered and picked up the dagger that fell on the floor.
With Astana's hand.
And then he handed it over to the deputy, as he said.
"Keep it safe. This is an evidence of the alleged assassination of the Emperor."
It was the moment Astana became a sinner.
Then Perez approached me.
He reached out to my face.
"Blood splashed out."
Standing next to the Emperor, Astana's blood must have splattered.
Perez's hand touched my cheek.
Then he began carefully wiping the blood off of my face.
When Astana's hand was cut off, his forehead was wrinkled.
"I'm sorry, Tia."
Perez said in a low voice.
Astana's scream which still rings in the background while the head of the knight says, "We need to find out what's behind it, so we need to keep him alive."
It was the voice of Emperor Yovanes who had been forgotten for a while.
The Emperor let out a laugh and touched the chest of the red armor.
It was a part with a shallow sword mark that Astana made.
"In the end, like this..."
The Emperor looked at Astana, murmuring unknown words.
Perez also looked at Astana and spat out.
"It's probably because of the magic."
"Dark magic flows through the blood of monsters living in the forest of the madman. It is said to infuse the desires that were in the deepest part of a person. That's how a person can move like that, it'll make us lose our reasoning."
The muttering Emperor Yovanes' eyes gradually cooled down.
"Second Prince." Yovanes called Perez.
And gave him an order.
"Take the First Prince to the Imperial Palace."
The Emperor's procession was returning from the hunting competition.
Empress Lavigne was in front of the palace to greet the Emperor first.
Emperor Yovanes got off from the most spectacular and advanced carriage.
And Perez got off the carriage that followed.
But it was weird.
No one got off the carriage of Astana.
"Your Majesty, where is the First Prince?"
It was just when Empress Lavigne asked.
Behind the procession, someone burst into tears.
Empress Lavigne's face, who inadvertently looked at it, was shocked.
"Prince! Prince, how come...!"
Astana, whose whole body is in a mess of dried blood, cried sadly when he saw the Empress.
"Mother! Ah Mother!"
Lavigne, who saw Astana's right hand wrapped in a bandage, screamed silently.
"What's going on, Your Majesty? How can this be...!"
But Emperor Yovanes did not answer.
He only spoke when the Empress touched him.
"Take the First Prince."
"No!" Empress Lavigne shouted, blocking Astana's way.
"What kind of sin did the prince commit? For him to be this badly hurt...!"
"The charge is treason for the attempt assassination of the Emperor."
The Empress' eyes opened wide.
Emperor Yovanes answered coldly and went up the stairs.
Leaving the hardened empress alone.
"Let me go! Mother! Mother!"
Astana called the Empress as he was being taken away.
But this time, even Empress Lavigne couldn't stop it either.
The bewildered empress murmured as Perez passed right in front of her,
At that moment, Lavigne's blue eyes and Perez's red eyes met.
Passing by the empress who began to grasp the situation, Perez ordered the commander of the knight.
"Keep the sinner in prison. I'm going to interrogate him myself."
Following the Emperor Yovanes' footsteps, Perez's one corner of his mouth quietly twisted up as he climbed the stairs.
A/N: Wooo! That was intense. Did you guys all see that! Our baby Perez has some brilliant plan! From the canteen to the breastplate! Dang! It has started everyone! Let's brace ourselves!
Anyways for those who didn't know. A canteen is like some water bottle that people uses back then, you can see it on some historical movies or you can just google it!