Among them, Empress Lavigne was sitting in the innermost place.
"It doesn't look so comfortable."
Perez said, casting a long dark shadow made of torches in the prison hallway into the prison.
The Empress in the dark was like a withered flower.
The glamorous appearance that once caught everyone's attention has now lost its light.
She was still sitting with strength to her waist, pretending to be noble and confident, but in the gaze of the person standing outside the iron bars, she was just a filthy sinner.
There was no place for beauty to intervene under her messy hair, dirty clothes, and eyes turned black from lack of sleep.
The reason was easy to predict.
"Aren't rats such a nasty criminal?"
As if even a secret was caught by Perez's quiet words, the Empress's body fluttered greatly.
"If you want to close your eyes and fall asleep, it's easy to squeeze out even the smallest gaps and eat whatever you want, and the sound of crawling around the bedside as if something is aiming for human flesh is likely to drive one crazy."
Dungeons or abandoned annex.
It was just the perfect home for animals living away from human eyes.
"Open the door."
Perez said to the guard,
A couple of heavy clasps rang out, and Perez walked into the prison.
"Are you here to kill me?"
Empress Lavigne asked Perez with her glaring eyes.
"Not, yet. However, there is no sign of remorse in the sinner."
Empress Lavigne snorted.
"I didn't do anything wrong. You and I just fought a war for our lives. I lost and you're tearing Angenas apart. It's like I've paid for my sins already."
The Empress said, raising her chin with her shameless face.
"I paid the guilty price."
Perez looked down at the Empress with cold eyes.
"The person who was punished has no intention of forgiving, but that person paid a guilty price. That's a strange way of counting."
Every night, no matter how much he tried to cover his ears, the voice of his mother, which he heard, was still so clear.
"You're a long way from following the pain my mother had gone through, Empress."
Perez added briefly.
"Aren't you still begging me to kill you?"
When he saw the blue eyes shaking with instinctive fear, he felt the anger that had been raging to send the Empress to her death calm down a little.
It's not gonna be that easy.
Of course, he did not intend to leave the scales tilted towards the Empress for a long time.
At Perez's orders, the guard who was guarding the door moved quickly.
Shortly thereafter, the quiet dungeon became noisy with the sound of the door.
"Hey! Let go of me! Let go of me! Hiik! Don't hit me! I was wrong!"
The voice was familiar to both Perez and Empress Lavigne.
Astana, who had been dragged by the soldiers, recognized Empress Lavigne and cried like a child.
Although he was strictly the First Prince of the Empire, Astana's wretched appearance was more of a street tramp.
Even if you wash your eyes, you couldn't find the Prince's natural nobility.
As Perez glanced quietly, the soldiers released Astana's captive hand.
Astana ran to Empress Lavigne and grabbed the hem of her dress, and his appearance in his mid-teen was surprisingly immature.
If Astana had been the Emperor like that, everyone would know who would actually have the power of the emperor.
They could tell without having to think too hard.
The guards who were watching beside Perez also felt it, and they quietly glanced among themselves and frowned.
"Oh, what's wrong with your face....?"
The Empress looked at Astana's bruised face with trembling hands.
"They are..! Uh!"
Astana said, pointing fingers at the soldiers who dragged him.
"I didn't want to come...I couldn't help it."
The soldier quickly made an excuse to Perez.
"If the sinner doesn't listen to the orders, it's inevitable."
Lavigne screamed at Perez.
"Astana is the First Prince of the Empire! No matter how strong you are, you can't treat your Majesty's blood like this!"
Empress Lavigne hugged Astana with one arm.
Perez replied coldly to the sad appearance.
"It's a command to thoroughly identify the remaining sins, regardless of their status."
The Empress gritted her teeth, furious.
It was quite different from the one who said a little while ago, 'We only fought a war.'
And the she shouted while staring daggers at Perez.
"You're a devil!"
Astana, who was embraced by the Empress, burst into tears.
"Mother! They treated me poorly! How dare they treat me like an animal!"
"It's okay, Prince. It's okay."
The Empress acted like a poor mother protecting her son.
And the figure touched something inside Perez.
The color of his red eyes, as he looked at the two hugging each other with his head tilted slightly, sank even darker.
Did she say I was a devil?
If so, I will have to live up to that expectation.
Astana lifted his head at Perez's call and sniffled.
"Your Majesty has entrusted me with the full investigations of this rebellion and the attempted murder."
Perez's words reached Astana through the cold prison walls.
"That's why you have been locked up in a prison rather than in your palace for days."
"As expected you...!"
"And yet the real culprit behind what happened in the Forest of Madman has not been revealed."
Astana stopped talking.
His stupid head turned fiercely, trying to figure out the meaning of Perez's words.
Perez said that Astana's fate was laid at ease.
"I'll make it easy for you. In short, either you or your mother will be the culprit."
"But, as the Empress said, you are a precious body that has inherited the blood of the Emperor, so I will give you a choice."
Perez said with a grin on one side of his mouth.
"At this moment, admit that your mother, Empress Lavigne, gave you a dagger and she told you to harm the Emperor."
"Then I'll take into account your cooperation with the investigation and get you out of jail right away."
And Perez made one more suggestion.
Throughout the days in prison, Astana called the food his guards gave him "garbage", and he never touched anything.
"If you write down a detailed confession of the situation at the time in your own handwriting, I'll provide you with everything you want to eat."
The whole incident in the Forest of the Madman went as planned by Perez.
Astana had to get out of jail and fabricate things that didn't happen on condition of food.
Perez waited for Astana's reply in a relaxed manner.
Lavigne made a mockery of Perez's suggestion at heart.
It was neither a proposal to guarantee survival nor a proposal to guarantee minimum rights as a Crown Prince.
In this situation, where life may be lost due to immediate treason, Perez's offer in return was too pointless.
'Who would accept it....'
The Empress's ridicule stopped when Astana released his hand from her holding and moved away.
Surprised, Lavigne called Astana, but Astana avoided her gaze.
At the same time, there was a sneer in Perez's eyes.
The Empress was startled and tried to stop Astana.
She was trying to advise him that he shouldn't fall for Perez's words, which doesn't even guarantee his life.
"Prince! If you went through such a suggestion...!"
"It wasn't my fault from the beginning."
Astana muttered, still unable to even look at Lavigne.
"It's all my mother's own fault, and it's not fair for me to get involved."
Lavigne gave up trying to help Astana.
Instead, she trembled with the betrayal.
"Uh..How...How dare you do this---."
"Isn't this all because my mother and Angenas were greedy beyond their means?"
Astana shook Lavigne's arm, still holding him. And shouted as he leapt from his seat.
"If a noblewoman in the Western part of the country had become an Empress, she would have been satisfied with it! How dare you put me in such a place!"
Astana has now condemned Lavigne.
And he said with a glaring smile at Perez.
"You and I are brothers. Brothers with the same father and share the same blood."
And then he came up with a sway.
"Whatever you say, I'll do whatever you tell me to do. Whatever my mother and Angenas do, it has nothing to do with me, brother."
With a reaching out hand, Perez slid away to avoid it.
Instead, he gave an order to the guards.
"Let go of me! I'll walk on my own feet!"
Astana said, glaring at the soldiers, and rushing out of the prison.
"I want to eat freshly baked bread and meat! You're better have it ready!"
Astana, who was getting farther away, looked back at Lavinge at the end.
But that was it.
Leaving his mother alone on the cold prison floor, Astana escape from the dungeon as if he were fleeing.
That stupid person.
Astana's well-being is guaranteed only until he receives his confession.
Though he doesn't seem to know it yet.
Perez scoffed at Astana's back.
The Empress sat down and laughed in vain.
There is no focus on her eyes and seemingly looking blankly over the prison floor.
"I'm glad that I didn't meet your expectations."
Perez said in a voice of laughter.
Then, Lavigne cried out.
"You must be happy to have your revenge! But that's only for a moment! Soon you will be consumed with vengeance!"
Then, as if she realized something, she grabbed her belly and laughed.
"Haha! Yes! It already worked! You succeed in taking the throne to get your revenge at me! That's why you can't live with that girl forever!"
The Empress' mad laughter rang loudly in the cell.
"That's great! Very good! Keep living unhappily!"
However, tears were flowing from the Empress' eyes.
Even at the moment when she laughed out of her mind, the Empress was striking her chest with a fist as if she was grieving.
The sound of laughter suddenly became a cry like that of an animal, and at one point it became a mad laugh.
And after some moment, the Empress' laughter snapped.
"Kill me. As the empress who dared to kill the Emperor, put me on the execution table. Shouldn't you have to complete your revenge?"
It was an exhausted voice, cracking apart.
But Perez shook his head.
"You underestimated me again. It's not something you dare to complete with your death, my revenge."
With a distinctly different tone, Perez tossed a piece of paper at the feet of the Empress.
"It's the desolation of the Empress. That means you're no longer the Empress of the Lambrew Empire anymore. I mean, you can't die on the execution table."
Lavigne's dry hands barely picked up the waste paper.
Perez once again confirmed to Lavigne.
"You're nothing anymore."
Lavigne's body began to tremble, as if she was hit by lightning.
"No, you can't...I can't, no..."
Lavigne shook her head in denial of reality.
Perez approached Lavigne right next to him and lowered his posture.
Then he said softly, looking straight at her bloodshot, tear-studded blue eyes without an error.
"Let me be clear. You're going to die here. It could be today, it could be tomorrow."
Lavigne's cracked lips trembled.
"You're gonna die."
However, it did not evoke any emotions in Perez.
"Someone could come in and attack you, or they could cut off your throat when you are asleep. Or maybe the food served by the guard is poisonous."
Lavigne's face was slowly tinged with fear.
"So live each day in hell, feeling that today will be your last day. Forgotten and rot in this place where no one saves you, Lavigne Angenas."
Perez, who said so, got up and left the cell.
"Not like that! Ahhhhh! Kill me rather! Kill me! No!"
Lavigne rushed to kill Perez like that, but she was quickly caught in the hands of the soldiers.
Perez finally ordered the guards coldly.
"If the sinner wants to kill herself, gag her and tie her limbs."
Perez's steps out of the dungeon were buried in Lavigne's scream.
But that's also for a while.
When the thick door shut behind Perez's back outside the prison, all he could hear was a quiet wind.
Everything about Lavigne is locked in the dungeon like that.
Perez walked through the Imperial palace without looking back.
"I haven't seen Perez these past few days."
As I left the Angenas mansion, I said to Claryvan.
"I'm sure it's hectic. He's in charge of all the work of the Emperor."
"Oh, that's right."
The Emperor's condition is still not getting better today and probably until tomorrow.
Someone will have to take care of the piled up work.
"I need to get used to it."
Perez will get busier and busier.
The same was true for me.
So, in the future I won't be able to get back and forth as often as before.
Even though I knew it well, my heart still felt sore.
Ignoring the pain, I spoke to Claryvan.
"Let's ride the carriage together. I will drop you off on the way."
The inside of the carriage returning from the Ecliptic to the Lombardi estate was quiet.
I think it's about time.
"Well, Lady Florentia."
As expected, Claryvan carefully opened his mouth.
"Tell me, Claryvan."
It was Claryvan who said he wanted to say something last time.
Angenas' organization is coming to an end.
I was right when I thought it was time for Claryvan to bring up what he said last time.
After a short sigh, Claryvan looked at me and pulled something out of his arms.
I opened the paper asking like that.
And it felt like my heart was thumping and sinking.
"This is the life contract that I wrote upon the creation of the Pellet Corporation."
Claryvan coughed loudly once again, and he said.
"Please terminate this contract."
"I think I have to put down my rights on the top of Pellet, Lady Florentia."
A/N: Lavigne finally meet her doomed day that will last until she die. And Claryvan... ohh~