* * *
The status of the Crombell Empire had already fallen to the ground. The Continental Army had already reached the vicinity of the capital. It was the first time such humiliation happened in the history of the Crombell Empire.
“You must hand over the body of the First Prince as they demand, Your Majesty!”
“That’s right, at least you have to admit the sins of the First Prince and dismiss him from the Imperial genealogy.”
The nobles who could not stand it raised their voices and insisted strongly in front of the Emperor.
“No one is going to go to war for Crombell, as long as it covers the evil black magician, Kazer de Crombell.”
“Who would sacrifice their lives in a war that was not honorable because their cause was so flawless?”
The war was a fight against a cause. The Emperor was bewilderingly protective of his son, which added even more strength to their cause.
“Crombell can’t collapse like this, Your Majesty. Please yield!”
“How dare you ask me to give up my son in front of me!”
The angry Emperor’s roar rang out. The aristocrats were surprised and impressed that the old Emperor’s voice could be that loud.
“What did those lords do for the Empire? Huh? Aren’t they the ones who quietly sucked their fingers in the capital while the Continental Army dared to enter this Crombell and rampage!”
The family that went to the battlefield to cover the black magic would be attacked by all the countries on the continent and would not be able to leave their names even in history. Therefore, no one in the Crombell Empire wanted to go to war, and in such vain, the Continental Army marched to the capital. The cause of the Continental Army was so powerful.
“How can there be so few people who stand out bravely for the Empire!”
The emperor vented his anger, but the nobles now looked half fed up. There were plenty of people who would bravely step out for the Empire. However, it was not as much as this war. There was no point. It was a war that didn’t mean anything. So someone thought.
‘This is the reason why Ambrosia, who claimed to be Crombell’s guardian, disappeared.’
There was no longer a Crombell to protect in the Imperial family. He was just filling the Imperial Palace with the stubbornness of an old man who did not want to admit that he was wrong or that his child was wrong.
“This war is not for Crombell, Your Majesty.”
At that time, the Empress slowly walked in, dressed in formal attire. She was wearing the kind of formal dress she would wear on important occasions in the Imperial family, and her dignity overflowed with every step she took.
“Your Majesty the Empress!”
Some nobles welcomed her with delight. It was because the Empress was the only one in the Imperial Palace who could comprehend the situation calmly while remaining rational.
“It’s for your twisted child love.”
“Are you trying to sacrifice Crombell for that meaningless thing?”
Seeing the Empress with a soft smile on her face, the Emperor gritted his teeth and glared at her. Although he lost his reason, the Emperor knew that the Empress was drawing support from the neutral nobles one by one.
“I’m in the middle of an important meeting, so Empress should step down.”
“So even more so, you will be pleased with the news I have brought, my Majesty.”
“A mighty army has just passed through the gates of the capital.”
At the Empress’ words, the Emperor jumped up, slamming the desk. His hands were trembling.
“What are you talking about!”
“I opened the palace’s gates.”
“Are you out of your mind? The Empress of the Empire dared to open the gates of the capital to the enemy, are you saying that now!?”
“Is there anything I can’t do? Your Majesty. Even though I’m just following Your Majesty’s path.”
How such power came from that aging body, the Emperor couldn’t contain his anger and lifted the Empress by the collar. But he was just an old man who was already old and exhausted. He had to step back helplessly at the light touch of the Empress.
“I will, I will confine the Empress. Take her to the Palace and lock her up!”
At the Emperor’s command, the nobles all murmured and exchanged glances. Among them were neutral aristocrats who held hands with the Empress.
When the angry Emperor shouted once again, the Imperial Knights moved quickly this time.
“Your Majesty the Empress, this way……”
The Imperial Knights extended their hands to the Empress with the utmost courtesy, but she rudely brushed them away. Then she smiled at the Emperor, who glared at her with his bloodshot eyes.
“You must listen to the end, Your Majesty. Did I ever say that the army was the Continental Army?”
“……You want to have a joke with me now, Empress?”
“No way. I just wanted to share this good news with Your Majesty.”
Saying so, the Empress looked back. Then, a knight wearing a helmet was hurrying towards her. His armor was full of eerie cuts and dried blood. That alone showed everyone here how fierce he had been in the battle. The Empress welcomed the knight with a benevolent look.
“My knight will report the details to Your Majesty.”
At the Empress’ words, everyone present looked at the knight. The knight got down on one knee in front of the Emperor and bowed his head deeply.
“I report to Your Majesty. It’s an army led by the Third Prince, Eleon de Crombell, that passes through the gates of the capital. After hearing about the accident of the Second Prince, he hurried into the capital.”
Exclamations erupted from among the nobles at the knight’s report. Although the Third Prince was exiled by the Emperor, everyone here knew that he was actually active as Crombell’s righteous army. The Emperor was also aware of this, but he was just ignoring it because he could not accept the Third Prince who consistently insisted on handing over the body of the First Prince. At this point, the most usable card was only the Third Prince.
“You must hurry and bring the Third Prince’s army into the Imperial Palace, Your Majesty.”
“The Continental Army is right near the capital, and the Third Prince’s army will be able to deal with it.”
“That’s right, the Third Prince’s army is mostly made up of commoners…… The cause of the Continental Army, however powerful, is not going to affect the commoners who don’t know honor.”
The nobles, worried that the Emperor would be stubborn again, all agreed.
“……I will meet the Third Prince and decide. If the Third Prince has the will to protect his older brother to the end, I might consider restoring his right to the throne.”
As if showing mercy, the Emperor allowed the Third Prince to enter the palace. Even so, he couldn’t let go of Kazer until the end. However, the nobles were relieved to hear that he would accept the Third Prince and wiped their chests. And the Empress, who was watching him, shook her head with a fishy smile.
The knight who was reporting while kneeling flinched and trembled. The knight’s clenched fists trembled, but neither the Emperor nor the nobles could see it. He seemed busy considering what else to do for the time he would earn due to the Third Prince for a while.
A dejected laugh leaked through the helmet. He slowly rose and drew his sword from its scabbard and placed it at the Emperor’s neck.
It happened in an instant.
Cheng, Cheng, Cheng!
The imperial Knights rushed in unison and drew their swords. The hall quickly became a mess due to the surprised nobles and the Imperial Knights trying to protect the Emperor. Nevertheless, the knight who wore the helmet said it in a harsh voice.
“No need, Your Majesty.”
“What, what are you talking about? How dare you……!”
Just as the angry Emperor was about to burst into a rage again. He took off his helmet.
The Emperor, seeing the face of the knight who had taken off his helmet, frozen. It was the same for the nobles, as well as the Imperial Knights who put the swords to the neck of the knight.
“Eleon de Crombell……!”
He was none other than the Third Prince, Eleon de Crombell. He, who seemed to be their only hope until just now, was now pointing his sword at the Emperor.
“Now, there is no need for the right of succession to the throne that Your Majesty holds and shakes.”
“Eleon, are you aware of what you’re doing? This is……”
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
Eleon smiled brightly with the face of a good son who had faithfully followed the Emperor’s orders.
“I understand that you want to say this is treason.”
At Eleon’s words, the Emperor nodded in dismay and said.
“Do you think there will ever be a time when this Crombell needs you more than right now? If you quietly play your role in the war, I’m willing to give up the throne that will return to you in this way……”
“Haha, Your Majesty.”
Interrupting the Emperor’s words, Eleon burst into laughter.
“I knew your judgment was clouded from the time you wrapped up the corpse of Kazer de Crombell, but……, you’re in a worse condition than I thought.”
“Eleon de Crombell!”
“What I should have done a long time ago…… I only realized it after shedding so much blood.”
A bitter smile formed on Eleon’s lips. He slowly retracted the sword aimed at the Emperor. Then he said, unable to hide his complex feelings.
“I do not have to take the right of succession to the throne, which Your Majesty gives out like a red line.”
“I will take the throne for myself, Your Majesty.”
It was when the Emperor’s eyes widened at Eleon’s words.
The entire Imperial Palace began to vibrate with a loud roar.
“What is it? Continental Army?!”
“Your, Your Majesty, you must escape!”
The Imperial Knights, who had pointed their swords at Eleon, quickly came out to protect the Emperor. However, the Emperor pushed them away and grabbed Eleon by the collar.
“What, what are you talking about, Eleon!”
Eleon closed his eyes miserably, feeling the grip of the old and powerless Emperor. The one who truly led the Crombell Empire was not the Emperor in front of him. That was why the Emperor, who felt like a huge sea or a mountain, couldn’t look so shabby. Compared to the man who led Eleon to where he was now, the Emperor was just a senile old man. He could feel it keenly at this point.
“It’s late, Your Majesty.”
At that time, the captain of the Imperial guards and the captain of the guards guarding the outskirts of the capital were running here from a distance. Their faces were very contemplative, their souls gone as if they had seen a ghost. Eleon was well aware of what they saw. That was why he bid farewell to his heartless father and incompetent emperor in a low voice.
“It’s time to step down for Crombell.”
As soon as Eleon’s words were over, the captain of the Imperial guards and the captain of the guards, who ran to the front of the Emperor, shouted like a scream at the same time.
“Am, Ambrosia is here……!”
“Magicians have appeared out of thin air outside the capital!”