The Empress, who pitied her, had tried to treat her well. She delved into the tender heart of the fragile Empress and became her confidante.
As her due date became closer, so did the Empress’s.
The young woman had no idea that she was about to give birth. Being the only lady-in-waiting the weak-hearted Empress relied on, she was brought along to where the Empress was to deliver the baby.
The Empress relied heavily on her.
Inside, it was only the midwife, herself, and the Empress. The Empress exerted all her strength to deliver the baby, who turned out to be a boy. The midwife attended to the unconscious Empress without properly confirming the sex of the imperial offspring.
And she, feeling the rupture below, gave birth to the child amid intense pain. She endured the pain without even a scream.
Unable to move from the sensation of something slipping out, the midwife yelled at her.
“What are you doing? Go and call the imperial doctor!”
Her complexion was not good, and cold sweat dripped down her face. The midwife, who was looking at her hesitantly, quickly rushed outside.
The Empress lost consciousness, unable to see anything. Her gaze briefly turned to the newborn imperial baby. The Empress’ child lay in the crib, while her own child, born under her skirts, lay on the cold floor, unable to breathe properly.
In a moment of injustice, she switched the babies. She laid her child in the crib and wrapped the imperial baby in cloth to hide it.
Whether the imperial baby lived or died didn’t matter.
As people began to rush in, she slipped out and left the palace, entrusting the child to a temple outside the palace, and she erased it from her memory.
It was the unhappiness born of the closed customs of the Larchen nobility.
Fortunately, the child had magic and had the same hair color as the Emperor. The Emperor himself had minimal magic and did not have red hair, so he could be deceived.
Watching the child with magic grow up as a princess without any issues, she felt relieved in a situation where no one suspected anything. She guarded the child’s side, showering her with affection, promoted from the child’s nanny to the chief lady-in-waiting.
“…Are you saying that now?”
As Aila tried to leave, the chief lady-in-waiting grabbed her arm and stopped her.
“What are you going to do? You’re saying you’re not of imperial blood? We don’t even know where that imperial blood lived or if it’s dead.”
“How could a citizen of the Empire do such a thing?! Living under the Father’s protection and acting like this?!”
“You can curse me if you want. If you see that in me and can’t stand it, I’ll leave. However, Your Highness, you are of this country’s imperial blood.”
“If the bloodline isn’t continued, how can I be of imperial blood…!”
“What does it matter if you are of imperial blood or not!”
Aila was taken aback by the chief lady-in-waiting’s anger, who continued to argue that as long as she had magic, it didn’t matter if she was of imperial blood or not since she was already studying kingship and was capable of ruling the country.
Aila was convinced by her continuous arguments and closed her mouth out of fear of this tremendous truth.
After sending the chief lady-in-waiting back to her hometown, she gritted her teeth.
She strove not to be overshadowed by her younger sister, training hard to increase her meager natural magic. While she couldn’t defeat those born with strong magic, the wizards of Larchen revered her as a member of the imperial family. It frightened her and pushed her to keep striving.
She didn’t want to betray their trust or let them know that she wasn’t of imperial blood. Aila made efforts, fearing that she would be ridiculed for trying to become the Empress with weak magic.
She had lived like that for a long time until Tartos Helver appeared before her.
* * *
“I wanted to kill you. Tear you to shreds.”
Aila trembled at his voice echoing in her ears before she closed her eyes.
It had come… the moment she had always feared had arrived. Since learning the truth, she had never truly relaxed.
Aila’s resigned posture as she closed her eyes made Tartos chuckle softly.
“Though I can’t kill you that easily.”
His actions, as if brushing off something dirty, caused her to collapse onto the floor. Approaching her as she lay in disarray, he lifted her quivering head and spoke.
“You’re quite good-looking.”
The man licked his lips with his tongue before he forcibly captured her lips. Even though she resisted and bit his tongue, it was futile.
This was the difference in magical power.
‘So, this is what the imperial’s power…is like.’
It was her first time encountering such magic. Helpless under the pressure of his magic, Aila was subdued.
Living as a couple, she had Tartos’ child as he had taken the place by her side. Despite the fact that she wanted to pour her affection onto Isilis, she couldn’t do so under Tartos’ watchful eye, as he killed and destroyed everything she showed interest in.
Because of him, she couldn’t show affection to the child she bore and always kept her distance. She resented him for taking Isilis with him and dragging her into battle, transforming into his likeness.
Aila shuddered as she recalled those memories.
Gazing at the distant palace, she spoke.
“…Forgive my shortcoming, Isilis.”
* * *
Tartos remained silent, prompting Isilis to ask again.
“Did you come to seize the throne?”
“No, I didn’t come here for that.”
With a determined refusal, she gazed at him with a tense expression.
If not for that, then why did he come?
While it was a relief that her father was alive, his changed attitude disturbed her peaceful life. Moreover, the talk of a magic bullet… handing over the magic bullet to HIllenton to give her a trial. Where did such words come from?
It was absurd.
“Why did you come here for then?”
“I came to find Aila.”
“Mother has left.”
“I wish you had inherited more of Aila’s blood. If you had, I would have treated you more kindly.”
“May I ask you something? I thought the Marquis wouldn’t prepare for treason without any reason…”
Tartos, who was listening to her words, spoke to her in a harsh voice.
“That was presumptuous. I never instructed him to do anything other than hand over the magic bullet to HIllenton.”
“Exporting the magic bullet to another place is strictly illegal, Father.”
Isilis did not yield either.
“If it was a magic bullet registered in the Empire, then maybe. But that was made with my magic.”
Tartos uttered coldly, prompting Isilis to widen her eyes and speak again.
“That doesn’t mean that an act that endangers Larchen can be forgiven.”
“You said forgiven? By you?”
“Or else? The Empress of Larchen is me, Isilis Larchen. Not you.”
Isilis, who had cast aside her respect until now, raised her head firmly and spoke. Seeing her sudden change in demeanor, he smiled amusedly.
“Yes. That’s the way you should be. That’s how I taught you to be.”
“Does this seem like a joke to you right now?”
“Who said it was a joke to you? That’s not possible. The magic bullet handed over to HIllenton was made with my magic. It has a device. If it’s not my magic, it won’t work.”