Home Post 868-chapter-12


My words became tangled in my mouth, but I couldn’t afford the luxury of fixing or reconsidering anything.

I reached in my shirt and pulled out the necklace Eugene had given me.

“This! Take this!”

The Grand Duke’s gaze remained indifferent, his expression as inscrutable as ever.

However, one thing became abundantly clear to me.

‘It’s evident he doesn’t take me seriously.’

I anticipated the Grand Duke’s reaction.

After all, who would believe a girl they just met saying, “If you don’t take this, your arm will fall off!”

‘Someone taking it seriously would be unusual.’

But I couldn’t back down now.

I had already caused a major incident by grabbing onto the Grand Duke from the beginning.

The Grand Duke had promptly killed Eugene for being a little noisy.

‘If I back down now, it would’ve been pointless, and he might even kill me.’

Therefore, I needed to convince him that my words held weight.

My hands trembled, and my throat felt parched as I pointed to where Eugene had stood.

Too afraid to turn my head away from the Grand Duke, I looked him directly in the eye.

“That green-haired guy said so! If I don’t have this necklace, my arm will fall off!”

Had Eugene been alive to hear me, he surely would have expressed outrage.

He had mentioned the possibility of losing limbs to me, but he never said my arm would fall off.

But Eugene was already dead. The dead don’t speak.

And I hadn’t completely fabricated my words.

I must admit, I had skillfully twisted the truth.

Yet, Eugene did say something like that to me.

Not in this lifetime, but before I returned to the past…

I extended the necklace to the Grand Duke once again.

“Take this! If you have this, it won’t fall off!”

I wasn’t even sure if I was speaking properly. I just hoped he would understand.

The Grand Duke stared at me in silence.

His inscrutable gaze still made my heart pound heavily.

After what felt like an eternity, he reached out to me.

As his large hand approached me, I involuntarily closed my eyes tightly.

Perhaps it was foolish to hope that he would believe me with just this…

“You can take it.”

I sensed the necklace slipping from my grasp.

I opened my eyes, but the Grand Duke was already several steps away from me.

It wasn’t until he vanished completely from view that my tension finally began to ease.

As I exhaled in relief, I found myself lost in contemplation.

…Had I made the right decision?

* * *

Vincente, the overseer of Risolante’s Dark Market, surveyed his lifeless subordinates with hollow eyes. Apart from the fact that he had lived with them for quite some time, he had a sinking feeling that he would soon be in a similar situation as them.

Until this morning, he had been in a good mood. He was excited about making a big profit from the auction.

But things had changed. Because of the black-haired man in front of him.

‘Ashid Ronen Belloc.’

Born between the former emperor and the deceased first empress, he was blessed with powerful magic.

But at some point, he went mad and killed not only his wife but also the servants in the palace.

Following the incident, numerous nobles vied for Ashid’s throne.

Instead, the second empress, the current empress, who was the half-sister born of the second empress and the former emperor, inherited the throne.

Still, as the biological son of the former emperor, he was granted the title of the Grand Duke…

After that, whether he became more insane or the suppressed madness surfaced was unknown.

What was certain was that the current Grand Duke Belloc was different from before.

He ruthlessly killed anyone he didn’t like.

Moreover, he pillaged the Dark Zone, mercilessly slaughtering its inhabitants whenever opportunity presented itself.

And now, the man known as the ‘Mad Butcher’ was standing right in front of him.

Survivors of Grand Duke Belloc’s massacre testified that he seemed to be looking for something.

But no one knew exactly what the Grand Duke was seeking.

Whenever the Grand Duke attacked, the place was devastated. There were hardly any survivors.

So those who had some ties to the Dark Zone feared and avoided the Grand Duke Belloc.

Vincente was no exception.

Although he had never been attacked by the Grand Duke Belloc, there was always a possibility.

But there was no one who could surpass the Grand Duke Belloc to hire wizards and knights, even if he wanted to.

‘If the Grand Duke attacks, I’ll undoubtedly be defenseless.’

Stricken with fear in moments like these, his steadfast master dispatched a cadre of dark wizards.

They were tasked with creating a barrier to prepare for Grand Duke Belloc’s attack.

After a month of hard work, the dark wizards completed the magic, creating barriers throughout the Auction House.

“Even if it’s Grand Duke Belloc, he wouldn’t be able to detect this magic barrier.”

“Then, with this barrier alone, the Grand Duke Belloc won’t be able to enter our Auction House?”

“No, that’s not it. This barrier responds not only to the Grand Duke but to everyone. That’s why this is necessary.”

The dark wizards handed Vincente a box full of small minerals.

“What’s this?”

“Just some pebbles, but we’ve enchanted them to allow passage through the barrier. Think of it as a kind of pass.”


“Oh, if someone passes without these stones, they’ll immediately pay the price.”

“The price…?”

“They’ll have to give up one limb. It’s unpredictable which one, but the chances are higher that it’ll be a frequently used appendage.”

“Is that really true?”

“If you don’t believe it, you can test it separately. Well then.”

With that, the dark wizards left. Vincente couldn’t shake off his doubts regarding those dispatched by his master.

Nevertheless, he felt compelled to verify the barrier’s efficacy.

The more certain, the better.

Vincente had the ability to do so, considering the plethora of goods he had.

After testing, he verified the accuracy of the dark wizards’ claims.

‘That’s certainly the case, but how did he manage to arrive here…?’

Moreover, despite the claims of impending limb loss, Grand Duke Belloc emerged unharmed, his limbs fully intact.

His limbs remained unscathed, devoid of any injuries.

‘Why didn’t the barrier halt the Grand Duke?’

Vincente couldn’t even fathom that someone had bestowed upon the Grand Duke Belloc a necklace.

Feeling the specter of impending death, a fierce will to survive surged within him.

No, he must survive.

The wealth amassed during his tenure as the proprietor of Risolante was vast, enough to last a lifetime and bequeath to future generations.

Would he perish over mere riches?

‘No, I won’t allow myself to perish.’

With unwavering resolve, Vincente grasped at straws.

“I’ve heard that you’re seeking something!”


At first glance, the Grand Duke appeared unchanged.

However, Vincente, seasoned by years of experience, possessed a keen eye for detecting subtle changes in others.

He detected a slight disturbance emanating from the Grand Duke Belloc.

He dared to make his claim.

Whatever Grand Duke Belloc sought, it undoubtedly resided within these walls.

“In truth, I anticipated the arrival of the Grand Duke. I believed you would find interest in what I possess.”

“Do you have it?”

Just as he anticipated!

Though it was practically a gamble, upon hearing the response, Vincente swiftly altered his approach.

Risolante trafficked in commodities, predominantly slaves.

‘The Grand Duke Belloc undoubtedly seeks something within these walls. A woman resembling his deceased wife, perhaps? He held great affection for her until he ended her life, did he not? His descent into madness only deepened thereafter…’

Confident in his deduction, Vincente smiled.

“Indeed, you’ve found the right place! Are you in search of a woman bearing resemblance to your late wife? With some time, I guarantee the Grand Duke will be pleased with the results…!”

Vincente’s pitch hung unfinished in the air.

Suddenly, his world was upended. The last thing he saw before…

“What a waste of time.”

With indifference in his voice, the Grand Duke turned away. In the blink of an eye, flames engulfed the Auction House.

* * *

In the midst of the raging inferno, Ashid walked with deliberate steps.

Perhaps because the flames were of his own creation.

Shielded by a protective barrier, Ashid reached into his pocket and retrieved a necklace.

Simple in design, it was just a weathered leather cord with a small stone pendant. Nothing extraordinary at first glance.

Yet this necklace had been his salvation.

“Just accept it! Or else, your arm will suffer!”

“Here! Accept this!”

Initially, he found the girl’s incessant chatter vexing and even contemplated silencing her permanently.

But when she pressed the necklace into his hand, he sensed the magic imbued within.

The magic wasn’t particularly extraordinary; it simply granted the wearer the ability to ‘detect’ the presence of whoever had touched the necklace.

What intrigued him, however, was the classification of this magic as ‘dark.’

“That green-haired fellow said so! Without this necklace, your arm will be forfeit!”

Though her face betrayed fear, the girl remained resolute, extending the necklace toward him.

He couldn’t shake the suspicion of a potential trap, yet it mattered little to him.

Ashid harbored confidence in his capacity to outmaneuver any scheme.

‘If she deceives me, then her fate is sealed.’

With that resolve, Ashid accepted the necklace, soon confirming the veracity of the girl’s claims.