It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (57/90), enjoy~
In the Grantz Empire, there are several places that only certain people are allowed to enter.
One of them is the site of the former Imperial Palace ― a vacant lot behind the Imperial Palace Venetain.
The building was torn down after a horrific incident that occurred fifteen years ago. Even now, nothing is being built, and there is a gaping hole in the vast land.
The other is the tomb of the emperors. It is rumored to be located under the Imperial Palace.
(Is this an area that only the current and next emperors are allowed to enter…?)
In the evening, in the corridor where the horrific incident occurred, the sound of footsteps echoed uneasily, perhaps due to the lack of people passing by.
When Hiro arrived in front of the place he was looking for ― the guest room, two men appeared and bowed to him.
One was Prime Minister Gils, and the other was the leader of the tomb guard.
“Thank you for coming, Your Highness Hiro.”
The reason Hiiro had come here ― he had been summoned by Prime Minister Gils, who was standing right in front of him.
“So, there were intruders in the emperor’s cemetery?”
“It seems that someone has taken advantage of the chaos to infiltrate.”
Prime Minister Gils said as soon as he raised his head.
“I’m really ashamed of myself. I will take whatever punishment I can get for this blunder.”
The leader of the tomb guard, who was standing next to Prime Minister Gils, fell to his knees and apologized.
“Please take me to the emperor’s cemetery first. Can you tell me about the damage along the way?”
“Very well. Right this way, sir.”
As the leader of the tomb guard stood up and turned away, Prime Minister Gils turned to face Hiro.
“I will take my leave here, then. Only members of the royal family are allowed in the cemetery.”
“I see, I understand. Thank you for your efforts, Prime Minister Gils.”
“Well, I’ll be leaving now.”
Prime Minister Gils bowed and left.
Hiro was staring at his back ― or rather, his lost shoulder.
(That clown… I wish I could cut his head off right here and now.)
The urge to kill, the anger rising from the depths of his heart, almost painted his head. However, by beating his chest and repeating his breathing, he was able to release the heat and catch his breath.
(If I beat him here, the body would escape. He’s only a tail, after all.)
The first prince Stobel, Prime Minister Gils, and many others are corrupting this country.
But even they, who are at the center of the nation that dominates the central continent, are just the tail. There is no end to the curiosity of what is going on with the body covered in darkness and the head that lies beyond it.
(I will definitely drag them out. Until then, you can wait and laugh.)
Hiro smiled eerily and stared into the darkness that pervaded the depths of the passage.
“Now, Your Highness Hiro, this way, please.”
Hiro came back to his senses when the leader of the tomb guard called out to him, and he followed him.
The underground cemetery where successive emperors are laid to rest is located in the corner of the imperial palace called the “Passage of Nothingness.”
There are several hidden doors, and some rooms have traps for intruders, making it a place that cannot be entered carelessly. Above all, it was impossible to even set foot in the place without the emperor’s permission. But now that the emperor was dead and the “Wind” was gone, no eyes were watching.
“Please do not touch the walls. I can’t guarantee your life.”
The leader of the tomb guard warned Hiro, who was looking around curiously.
Hiro withdrew his hand from the wall and smiled.
“I see; there are traps in the wall as well.”
Although he didn’t know the trap’s power, it would be better not to touch it.
Hiro, who was protected by the Black Princess Camellia, would be safe, but the thought of what would happen to the leader of the tomb guard who was caught in the trap frightened him.
“Here we are.”
Eventually, the leader of the tomb guard stopped in front of a plain wall.
A heavy sound echoed through the air when he touched it, and the cold air blew against the skin.
The next thing Hiro knew, a staircase leading to the basement appeared in front of him. The walls were covered with torches, dimly lit but bright enough for him to see his feet.
The leader of the tomb guard led the way down the stairs, and after following his crooked back, a long passage appeared. The darkness enveloped them, and it was hard to see what lay ahead, but the leader of the tomb guard proceeded without hesitation.
On the way, there was a heavily damaged corpse lying on the ground, probably from a fierce battle.
Seeing that Hiro had noticed it, the leader of the tomb guard opened his mouth.
“They’re my subordinates, the tomb guards. They were killed by intruders.”
There was more than one corpse. There were two, then five, then eight more as they walked down the passageway.
Hiro suddenly noticed something strange.
“Not a single body of the intruders?”
“It’s a disappointing story…”
The leader of the tomb guard muttered in frustration.
Hiro didn’t know the capabilities of the people under his command, but since they were entrusted with guarding the cemetery where successive emperors were laid to rest, they must be competent. However, they were defeated without being able to defeat any of the intruders.
As the leader of the family that has guarded the cemetery for generations, he must feel nothing but shame.
The damaged corpse gave Hiro a sense of déjà vu, and the existence of a group of assassins hiding in the darkness came to his mind.
(Black Death Village, the assassination group that once had the emperor in its clutches)
He recalled that the man who was the lord of the satellite city of Zuik had been killed by the same means. The method of gouging out both eyes and destroying the brain was so cruel that it made him want to throw up, and beside the body was a creepy mud doll without a head.
(Imitating the figure known as “Father.”…)
Although he doesn’t know what this means, he feels that something appeals to him.
The emotions that seep out are rage, hatred, and obsession. But he can’t find the answer. It was as if he had lost his way in the bushes and could not grasp anything.
Unable to find the answer, Hiro eventually exited the passage.
It was a vast space.
Even if he looked up, he could not see anything beyond the darkness. Only the area where the torches could reach shone brightly, and the place where the light could not reach was an abyss, as if once entering, one could never come out again.
“A thousand years ago, according to mythology, this place was ruled by one of the Five Great Heavenly Kings.”
The leader of the tomb guard told Hiro as he looked around.
“The lone and most fearsome ‘Black Dragon King’ who has spread fear throughout the world. When he appeared to the world, everyone shuddered in fear, and every race was on the verge of extinction in the face of his overwhelming power.”
The leader of the tomb guard began to walk slowly as he spoke.
“However, the most fearsome of them all, the Black Dragon King, was defeated by a single hero. Since then, this place has been ruled by the human race, and a capital city has been set up on the surface. Later, the first emperor, Altius, who realized his own mortality, designated the crypt as the resting place of the emperors.”
The leader of the tomb guard added at the end that it was the most sacred place in the Grand Imperial Capital.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so much warmer underground than it is above ground, where winter has arrived. Was it because the power of the ‘King’ still lingered, or was it the air created by the strange hills that lined the vast space?
“…..By the way.”
Hiro muttered in a voice that did not show any emotion and then changed the subject.
“May I ask why I was called here?”
“As a descendant of the God of War, Your Highness Hiro has the right to know.”
The leader of the tomb guard shook his head.
“No, it has to be Your Highness Hiro, a descendant of the second Emperor Schwartz.”
“The right to know…?”
The leader of the tomb guard stopped and moved his arm in front of Hiro’s question mark.
“Has Your Highness noticed the hills that dot the emperor’s cemetery?”
The leader of the tomb guard pointed out, and Hiro looked around again.
As he had been told, the ground had risen in many places, forming a kind of hill.
“According to folklore, the hills were named “Thousand Hills” in the hope that the prosperity of the nation would last for a thousand generations, and on each hill, the emperors of the past have slept.”
And behind us ― said the leader of the tomb guardian, turning around and bowing his head.
“This is the tomb of the second emperor.”
There was a hill covered with grass. The grass was neatly trimmed, and it was clear that it had been tended regularly.
There was a large fence around it, decorated with glittering jewels.
At what seemed to be the entrance to the hill was a large hollow.
However, the area around it was extremely unnatural.
For some reason, only the entrance was blocked by rubble, while the surrounding area was neatly organized. At a glance, it was obvious. Someone had wrecked the place.
“Originally, there was a door and a coffin inside…”
If it had been destroyed artificially, the scene would be exactly what he imagined when he entered.
“Is this some kind of grave robbery to take advantage of the chaos on the surface?”
Hiro concluded, but the leader of the tomb guard tilted his head suspiciously.
“At first, I thought it was the work of grave robbers too, but the strange thing is that nothing was stolen, except for one thing.”
The leader of the tomb guard rifled through his pockets and offered him something.
“The body of the second emperor was the only thing that was stolen, not a single piece of jewelry. Instead, this was found in the coffin.”
On top of his wrinkled hands was a headless mud doll.
“What about the other cemeteries? Has anything been stolen?”
Hiro looked at the mud doll with his cold eyes and then looked at the leader of the tomb guard.
“No, the rest of the cemetery is safe. Only the tomb of the second emperor was vandalized.”
They didn’t take any jewelry, but only the body of the second emperor. It seems that this was not a crime of grave robbery.
But before that, he was still alive and had not been in the tomb. There was nobody in the coffin.
If there was a body, it probably belonged to someone else who was placed there as a substitute.
What is more mysterious is why they targeted the tomb of the second emperor.
(Is it the Black Death Village, plotting to resurrect the Father…?)
Hiro looked again at the mud doll in his hands.
At that moment, a chill ran down his spine, and he instantly took a sharp look at his surroundings. The space begins to creak under the pressure of the enormous amount of energy being dispersed.
He took threatening action in case there were any hostiles present, but the leader of the tomb guard was unable to withstand it. He pressed his chest in agony and fell to one knee on the ground.
“Oh… I apologize.”
After Hiro confirmed that there was no one lurking in the darkness, he suppressed the murderous intent at one level. But he never let his guard down.
Slowly, slowly, Hiro repeated his breathing and stopped his gaze at a particular place.
“…W-what is it?”
The leader of the tomb guard also looked at the same place, but there was only space.
The sudden release of murderous intent caused a large amount of sweat to appear on the face of the leader of the tomb guard.
“No, it’s nothing.”
Hiro said it was nothing, but his black eyes did not waver one bit. They were pointed at the same place the whole time.
Darkness coiled quietly there, dark and somber as if refusing intruders.
Hiro’s murderous intent was more subdued than before, but…
“W-what have you found?”
The leader of the tomb guard asked as if he was suspicious, seeing that Hiro was still as alert as ever.
Hiro checked his expression with a sideways glance, then muttered quietly.
“Where is the cemetery of the first emperor?”