It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (52/87), enjoy~
The sun had set, and the waiting moon was peeking through the clouds. The ground was dominated by darkness, and the insects hidden in the flowers and grass were buzzing as if they were blending into the night air.
At such a dark time, Liz and Skaaha had arrived at the Great Imperial Capital.
Upon recognizing the sixth princess’s figure, the soldiers immediately opened the city gate and invited them in.
There were no signs of enemies hiding in the surroundings. Above all, they couldn’t send away their ally, Liz. It was rumored among the people, that she had rushed to the capital with a small force to save the city. If she were to be driven out, a mob might break out.
“Your Highness Celia Estrella!”
The commander of the Golden Lion Knights salutes her. Liz returned the salute and called out to him from her horse.
“The battle isn’t over yet. There are still many enemies left. Keep your guard up.”
“So, what brings you here, Your Highness Celia Estrella?”
“I’m here to make sure my father is safe.”
“I’m afraid that’s not necessary. The gates of the Great Imperial Capital on the east, west, north, and south sides are tightly closed, and our Golden Lion Knights are on the defensive. In addition, the Imperial Palace is guarded by the royal guards…”
“Wait. You mean the royal guard is the only one who protects my father?”
When Liz looked over at the commander of the Golden Lion Knights with a surprised look, he simply affirmed.
“That’s right… There are also several other high-ranking officials and their knights who are also on the defensive.”
“Then it’s like being completely naked…”
If Stobel is invading the imperial palace, the royal guards are no match for him. The private armies of high-ranking officials are far inferior to those of the royal guard. There must have been less than a hundred soldiers with all of them.
“Assemble the troops immediately and send them to defend the imperial palace.”
The commander made a sullen face at Liz’s order. The shadows created by the torchlight danced on his expression.
“The Emperor has ordered us to fortify the walls. Therefore, if I were to form a force and send it to the imperial palace without permission, I would get nothing but a severe reprimand.”
“Shut up! If father’s decision is wrong, you won’t receive a reprimand at all!”
The commander of the Golden Lion Knights cowered from Liz’s anger.
“The first emperor, who created the Golden Lion Knights, would be ashamed of himself. If you are truly soldiers of the Empire, then immediately organize a separate force and send them to the Imperial Palace.”
I’ll take full responsibility. That’s what Liz declared. The commander looked dumbfounded, but he quickly put on a serious face and gave a salute.
“Then I’ll head to the Imperial Palace first!”
Liz nodded in satisfaction and kicked her horse’s belly as she headed for the imperial palace.
“It’s quiet, huh…”
Skaaha, who was riding alongside her, said.
The city is quiet, as she said. Everyone is confined to their homes because they don’t want to know what’s going on outside. Liz felt a gaze on the strangely quiet street and noticed the presence of people hiding in the buildings. Their eyes were tinted with fear as they peered out the window.
Liz smiled and tried to tell them it was okay.
“Don’t worry! The rebels will be subdued in no time!”
She waved her hand exaggeratedly and ran down the street to reassure them. The usually bustling central street was only echoed by the sound of Liz and her horses’ footsteps. It was almost as if they had wandered into an abandoned city.
However, due to the lack of obstacles, they were able to reach the imperial palace at a frightening speed.
“…This is strange.”
However, when they arrived in front of the main gate of the Imperial Palace, Liz sensed something strange.
“Fumu… is it really this quiet? Isn’t there a guard on duty in the first place?”
Skaaha seemed to have guessed as well.
They checked their surroundings from horseback but could not find any sign of people.
There was no sign of the gatekeeper either.
Even when they stepped inside, the place was shrouded in darkness. Passing through the rose garden that gave off an eerie feeling, Liz jumped off her horse in front of the Imperial Palace Venetain.
As she rushed to the door, she found a royal guard, who must have been on guard duty, lying in a pool of blood.
There was no need to check if he was dead or alive. He had lost his head.
Liz looked at Skaaha and held up the Flame Emperor. Skaaha was also wary and held up her Ice Emperor.
“I think we’d better be careful. You never know where an arrow might come from.”
Liz answered with a nod and pushed the door open. The air that had been trapped inside was expelled outside.
Liz frowned at the strange smelling breeze. Skaaha also held her nose and raised her eyebrows. A few moments later, the rotten smell of the wind melted into the darkness of the night.
“It looks like no one is breathing…”
“This is really bad. The stench of death fills the air.”
Stepping inside, they found a vast number of corpses lying in a heap.
High-ranking officials had been murdered atrociously. Some of them may have been their families, but the women in their gorgeous dresses were dead regardless. Some of the bodies were of the royal guards who may have offered resistance. Everyone’s armor and clothes were scorched, and some were still burning in the remaining fires.
The sound of footsteps echoed in the corridor, making things strangely unsettling. It was so quiet that it was hard to believe that this was a noisy imperial palace where people were always running around, no matter what time of day or night.
“There seem to be no survivors. Still, couldn’t they afford to go outside to call for backup?”
Skaaha’s question was understandable. But it was the holders of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword who were able to do so ― they had all been killed before they could report this unusual situation. As they proceeded down the corridor dotted with corpses, their throats clamoring with tension, as they came upon the following.
“…The throne room is here.”
Liz stopped and put her hand on the large door.
The doors of the throne room, which invited people from other countries, were full of dignity. The door was gleamingly decorated with the emblem of a lion and a black dragon ascending to heaven.
“It is certainly easy to protect… but if you are the emperor of the Grantz Empire, don’t you think you should take refuge somewhere in case of emergency? Isn’t it too conspicuous in the throne room?”
Skaaha tilted her head in front of the door.
“It is. If my father didn’t have the power, he’d probably run underground…”
“Is he by any chance the wielder of the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword?”
“Correct. Only a few members of the royal family and the heads of the five major noble families know about it.”
Nodding her head in agreement, Skaaha made a thoughtful gesture.
“And… I think we didn’t have time to think about anything else. I’m sorry… we should get going.”
“Yes, then, are you ready?”
Skaaha nodded her head, and Liz nervously touched the handle.
“What are you sneaking around for?”
The two of them hurriedly jumped away from the door and set up their respective weapons. A familiar voice was heard from the other side of the door.
“Kuku, don’t be so alarmed. I won’t take you by surprise, so come on in.”
It was Stobel’s low voice.
“Skaaha, let’s go. Keep your eyes open!”
Liz kicked open the door and stepped into the throne room.
The throne room, a majestic and elegant space that had not decayed for a thousand years, a symbol of power, was filled with blood as red as hell.
The smell of rusty iron stung their noses. The unpleasant smell of burnt flesh made them nauseous.
Fighting back the gastric juices rising in her throat, Liz made her way to the throne.
The throne at the far end ― a sacred place where only successive emperors were allowed to sit.
There, Stobel sat with an air of arrogance about her.
Unbeknownst to others, Liz was angry. However, it instantly dissipated.
She noticed a figure fall down in front of Stobel.
“Wha, is that the emperor…?”
Skaaha was dumbfounded as if her brain couldn’t keep up with the situation.
Liz was also shocked and frozen in place.
The body was headless. But it was still her father and the emperor. He wore glittering ornaments and carried a golden cloak that only the emperor was allowed to wear.
“You’re late. A little sooner and this old man’s head would have remained attached.”
There was a head at Stobel’s feet. It was the emperor’s head, his face contorted in pain.
“But you’ve come at a perfect time, haven’t you? It’s as if you’ve measured it.”
Stobel’s smile widened as she stomped on the emperor’s head.
“I had no choice. There was no right or wrong. I only cut off his head because he resisted.”
“Stobel, do you know what you’ve done?”
Liz said in a shaky voice, and Stobel opened his mouth annoyingly.
“You’re the one who has no idea about anything. Why don’t you rejoice in this historical moment?”
The air of misery began to surround Stobel’s body as he rose from the throne.
“My sister. Rejoice, for a new god is born.”
The current came from Stobel’s right hand. In his hand, the Thunder Emperor is clenched. In his other hand, the left hand, a strange wind was swirling.
Stobel pointed her left hand, which was swirling with wind, at Liz and the others.
“There is nothing more wonderful than the power of the primordial. Even the Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword have no choice but to follow.”
“Wind Emperor? But how can it choose you, the one who murdered father…?”
The Five Emperors of the Spirit Sword will not reveal themselves unless they recognize the bearer as their master, and if one tries to force them to manifest it, they will be cursed. That’s what the biography says. If that’s the case, then the Wind Emperor, who favored the emperor, would not have chosen Stobel, who had killed him.
“I’ve indeed been foolish enough to stand up to him, but now that I have the power of the Primordial, it has no choice but to surrender to me. Or should I say, I’ve forced it upon me?”
“A-are you crazy…? Even spirits have a will!”
“What does it matter? Even if they have a will, they are just tools for killing people.”
Stobel let out an exhausted gasp and gave her a piercing glare as if to say no questions asked.
“What are you going to do now? Will you join me, or will you become my enemy?”
Liz’s angered words did not reach Stobel’s ears.
“Of course, I don’t want to be under you, even if it kills me!”
The murderous intent from her red, blazing eyes pierced Stobel.
But Stobel, who took it with a stern attitude, snorted.
“Fuh, you foolish sister. Like when I picked up a stray dog with a different coloration, you really don’t look like royalty. But I can say for sure that you and this old man have the same blood!”
Stobel kicked the emperor in the neck, and a sneer appeared on his face.
“The same was true when the old man picked up your mother. The love affair between the daughter of a poor nobleman whose only claim to fame is her appearance and the emperor who rules the central continent would have been touching if it had been a revue, but in reality, it is tragic. Temporary affection can only bring tragedy to a person. They don’t know that hypocrisy will destroy them.”
“What’s the matter? Don’t you have anything to say? She may have died like a rag, but she was still your mother.”
A silence coiled between the two. But what was lurking there was anger.
A smile deepens on Stobel’s face as he notices this.
“Oh… well, I’m sorry. I forgot.”
Stobel laughed cruelly and repeated the provocation.
“She’s just a piece of meat ― you couldn’t be sure she’s your mother, could you?”
A loud laugh rang out. The unpleasant sound of his voice reverberated through the throne room, which felt deafening.
Liz, who had been shaking her shoulders, raised her tear-stained face.