Home Post 1348-chapter-117


‘Had I known, I should’ve checked the mirror one more time before coming here.’

Watching him pour wine into her glass first, Jiwoo hesitated but then spoke.

“I thought you were incredibly busy.”

“People are not as important as you’d think. I can spare for a moment.”

“Still, someone who’s been providing stability suddenly disappearing might cause chaos. I heard you’ve been a great calming force.”

Aleph closed his mouth for a moment, he looked a bit surprised. As if he hadn’t expected Akarna to worry about such matters.

“Those standards will change. It’s a new era for a human-only empire so there would be a few flaws in the emperor. The new emperor, at least, won’t rely on vain things.”

“Still… you’re going to be missed.”

“I’m just… fed up. I’m sick of caring about the empire. It’s become tedious.”

Aleph looked extremely tired and worn out as he said those words.

He was the most talked-about person in the empire, even more than the emperor. Jiwoo had meant to consider that when she brought it up, but his response made it seem like he was done with the Empire.

Did he lack patriotism perhaps?

But that seemed off, given the hard work he had done so far. From his military achievements to handling the temple. It felt out of character for someone who seemed so accustomed to his role as he had done it countless times.

“I don’t know much, but I thought you were suited to be the emperor.”

“Is that so?”

Aleph chuckled, not looking particularly pleased. But he didn’t look upset either. Just a smile that faded into a more calm demeanor.

“There’s more to lose than gain in that position…”

She heard he was young, but his eyes seemed too deeply weathered. As if he had experienced decades in that role.

Yet, when Aleph looked at her, his gaze was different. It was like finding a fresh moist sprout under the desert where the sandstorm had cleared.

“Shall we skip the dreary topics? How was your stay here? I heard you get cold easily, haven’t you been too cold?”

While cutting meat on his own, Aleph swapped his plate of neatly sliced meat with Jiwoo’s.

As Jiwoo was choosing her words carefully, Aleph asked again with a hint of impatience.

“Why didn’t you send….more letters?”


She hadn’t expected him to be concerned about that. Initially, he didn’t even reply…

“I thought I was becoming a burden by staying in the castle, so I planned to leave soon. I thought you wanted to send me away with the knights to the outer wall…”

“It’s better to go back but….if you prefer to stay in the castle, you’re welcome to stay as long as you wish.”


So, he did want to send her somewhere else?

It seemed right to confirm it from the way he spoke, but no matter how she looked at it, Aleph’s actions seemed to show he had a fondness for her. Jiwoo was not oblivious to such cues.

Yet, to like and keeping a guest in the castle for too long was a different matter altogether.

As Jiwoo was lost in thought and quietly ate, Aleph initiated another conversation.

“How do you find that bird?”

“Oh, I think it’s cute… I tried feeding it, but it wouldn’t eat. It must not be a living bird. It doesn’t make any sound either.”

“Nothing unusual happened?”

“What kind of unusual?”

“Ah… not yet, I guess.”

Not yet? What did that mean?

As Jiwoo looked puzzled by his confusing comment, Aleph quickly changed the subject.

“Didn’t you like the…gift?”

“Which one?”

“That you’ve done nothing with it.”

Aleph had sent her fashionable jewelry and other items while he stayed in the capital. They were all quite expensive. Jiwoo learned about it belatedly through the servant who delivered them.

“Oh, that… It felt too precious to use.”

“Why? Are you afraid it would lose its luster next to you?”


“Wouldn’t it be more regrettable if the owner did not use them? Please, use them generously.”

Her hand paused for a moment from moving the utensils.

…What, what is it? That sounded almost flirtatious.

Was he the kind of person who was always so smooth with his words?

Feeling the weight of his gaze, Jiwoo cleared her throat awkwardly.

“…Anyway, I heard you got injured while fighting the beasts.”

“I was injured?”

“I heard it from the knights. They said you have injuries from the beasts.”

Aleph frowned as if he was genuinely unaware of what she was talking about, trying to recall the incident.

“Ah… now I get what you mean. The knights have been blabbing unnecessary things to you. It’s nothing serious.”

“They said you take medicine every night.”

“Just a simple painkiller.”


“There’s no need for you to worry. It’s not serious.”

Aleph, who had been leading the conversation with a soft smile, suddenly tried to cut off and steer away from this topic. It was clear he found this discussion uncomfortable.

“Then let me treat you.”

“…I told you, you don’t have to worry.”

Jiwoo shook her head.

“If it’s not serious, I might be able to help you more quickly.”


“I’ve wanted to thank and repay you for the favor. I’ve been well taken care of in the castle, and you also took in the knights.”

“Repay, huh…”

Aleph set down his utensils, making a distinct sound from his plate for the first time. He sighed deeply.

“The person who should be receiving compensation from the empire is you. For a year, you’ve been saving lives and expanding the empire’s territory at great personal cost. Have you received proper compensation for that?”


“Now that I mention it, it’s probably too late to talk about this. It would be difficult through the temple now, so I’ll arrange for you to receive compensation through the empire. I’ll get going first.”

She didn’t know what went wrong but the good mood seemed to have abruptly shifted.

Jiwoo watched as he quickly finished speaking in a more harsh tone than she had ever heard and stood up.

Jiwoo got up and ran after him, grabbing the hem of his clothes.

“Excuse me.”

“I said it’s not necessary…”

“I don’t want to repay the empire, I want to repay you.”

Aleph’s movement paused abruptly. He turned his head with difficulty.

“…If that’s the case…you really don’t have to do anything, Akarna.”

“Don’t call me Akarna.”


His expression, with those frozen red eyes wavering pitifully, looked immensely hurt.

While Jiwoo couldn’t quite grasp the swift changes in his emotions, she spoke politely yet firmly.

“You said Akarna no longer exists. You should call me by my name.”

“Ah, right… Yes…”

He seemed lost in thought for a moment before snapping back to reality.

“You’re really… straightforward.”

And then, unexpectedly, he began to chuckle softly.

He was really strange. At times he seemed cool and serious, but in front of her, he often showed a bewildered side. Although he appeared calm and unaffected, Jiwoo often found herself witnessing his emotional side more frequently. Although he appears unhesitant, yet distant.

“My name is Seo Jiwoo.”

“…I see.”

His initially harsh response softened a bit.

“Again, my injury isn’t something you need to worry about.”

“But a single drop of blood can do it. Especially if it’s not serious.”


Her heart skipped a beat.

“Don’t be like that. Just take it easy while you’re here.”

Aleph patted her shoulder as if to encourage her, then left the room.

Standing in the middle of the room, Jiwoo blankly watched him go.

The spot where he had tapped her shoulder burned.