“My daughter, haven’t I always told you? The things threatening your position are not human. What should be done with things that are not human when they are left alive?”
“Father, that statement…”
The words were those of her mother, the former Empress, on the battlefield.
Isilis furrowed her brow, feeling confused by the memory.
Faylos, sensing her troubled state, supported her from the side. As he did, she slowly pieced her thoughts together. No matter how she thought about it, the words were indeed spoken by her mother, the former Empress.
How could she forget the memories of the first battlefield?
“Ah, I see.”
Tartos, noticing her perplexed state, snapped his fingers. It was a feeling of sudden clarity in her mind.
“You should pull yourself together when speaking to me, Isilis.”
Berthas frowned at the Emperor-like attitude. Despite being her father, the attitude was disrespectful. Even the former Empress, her mother, wasn’t like that to Isilis.
“I heard you’re betrothed to Bertas Hillenton?”
“Has the rumor spread that far?”
“I heard you cleared Hillenton.”
“What do you mean?”
“Because you took over Hillenton, there’s no place for the magical bullet to go.”
Isilis couldn’t hide her astonishment at Tartos’ words. Could it be true that those words had come from her father’s mouth?
“Then… all the magical bullet provided up until now…”
“I told them to do so. An emperor without trials cannot grow, that’s the way of things.”
Isilis raised her voice in response to Tartos’ words.
It was an act of national betrayal. How could a former consort of Larchen act against the interests of Larchen?
“What on earth is this? Did Mother also know about this?”
“What would it matter if that person found out?”
As she looked at him, his eyes were chillingly sharp, and she had a strong intuition that everything was orchestrated by that person.
Why did she resent her mother? Why did she always avoid her? If she had talked openly at least once, she could have prevented this.
No one but her could understand the pain and fear her mother had!
Overwhelmed by rushing thoughts, Isilis couldn’t compose herself. She now understood every attitude her mother had.
“Now, do you plan to claim the Emperor’s seat, as a rightful heir?”
* * *
Born of imperial family’s blood, she didn’t possess strong magical powers. However, she had slightly stronger magical abilities than her younger sister, born of the same imperial bloodline, which enabled her to ascend to the position of Empress.
It was a peaceful time. There were days when she remained in bed all day due to insufficient magical power, but she was happy. Everything she did was for the people of Larchen.
…But when that man appeared, everything changed.
“I am Tartos Helver.”
Summoned to the Palace, despite being a commoner, as the right-hand man of the Swordmaster, he was praised for protecting the Empire’s borders and saving the imperial citizens from monsters.
Her subordinates called him in, praising him for his service.
Even though she didn’t want it, at that time, she thought it was only natural. He was fighting for the Empire.
…And that was when her misfortune began. He used his powerful magic to entrap her.
“Do you know how I wanted to deal with the woman who took my place?”
She was instantly pulled to a man who was a head taller than her. The man whispering in her ear was not just a Swordmaster but a Magic Swordsman. An archmage and a Swordmaster with an endless reserve of magic.
He was Tartos Helver.
Even though she tried to pull away from his magic, it was futile. Her magic was minuscule compared to his. Looking at his glowing red magic, she had an intuition.
He was the child her father and mother had lost.
* * *
She had a secret that nobody could know. Aila first realized this secret when she visited the temple where her true name was inscribed.
Aila, who heard from her mother that every imperial family’s name was in the secret room of the temple, secretly left the Palace and headed to the temple. There were no guardians in the temple, and the High Priest was absent, called away by her father.
Without any obstacles, she stood in front of the room and tried to open the door, feeling bewildered at first.
“Why won’t this open?”
The room for only the Imperial Family wouldn’t open. Faint electrical magic surged through, making her flinch, and she hid as she heard someone approaching.
The priests who came running started searching the surroundings and shouting.
“What’s going on?”
The High Priest, who hurried back to the temple at the commotion, asked.
“It seems like someone tried to enter the room.”
“It was unnecessary to step to a place only accessible to the Imperial Family.”
Her mind went blank at the High Priest’s words.
Not an imperial family?
If she, who had greater magical power than her younger sister and should inherit the throne, was not an imperial family, then who was the Imperial Family?
‘Not the imperial family…?’
Returning to the Palace with doubts in her heart, she came face to face with the chief lady-in-waiting. She was a woman who always looked at her with warm eyes. Having been with her since birth, she must know something.
“Where have you been, Your Highness?”
As the chief lady-in-waiting asked politely with her head bowed. With a penetrating gaze, Aila asked her.
“I heard that I am not of imperial blood.”
“I heard that my bloodline is not of the Imperial Family.”
“Who in the world would say such absurd things?”
Aila felt a strange sensation at her outburst. If the chief lady-in-waiting was her usual self, she would have quietly laughed and said that it was nonsense and not to worry… though this reaction was different.
Observing her flustered state with sunken eyes, Aila intentionally spoke.
“I have always… had my doubts. Despite inheriting the same hair color as Father, I lack the powerful magic that the Larchen Imperial Family possesses, and my eye color and hair color are not different from the distinctive traits of the Imperial Family. Moreover, my magic ability…”
Seeing the chief lady-in-waiting’s eyes redden as she spoke, Aila felt even more unsettled. What exactly was she hiding from her?
After a brief pause, she whispered softly.
“If I am not of imperial blood, then where is my mother?”
“Your Highness! It’s all my fault!”
The words that sprang from the chief lady-in-waiting’s lips stunned her.
When the Empress had a child, the chief lady-in-waiting also had a relationship with a wizard and bore his child.
Upon having the child, she was hurt by the wizard, who pretended not to know her. Fearful of bearing the child alone and knowing that she would face death if it became known that a maid in the Palace had a child, she concealed her swollen belly with loose clothing and continued her work.
Fortunately, she caught the Empress’ eye and became her confidante.