Chapter 123.1

The Grand Castle looked no different from yesterday. Perhaps for the first time in history, a wedding will be held without celebration—without people to parade the streets, no petals of roses to grace the aisle, and without a single applause for the bride and groom.

The army of Aether was bewildered at the sight that greeted them upon their arrival to the capital: empty homes and barren streets, save for the rats scurrying in the alleys.

“What the hell is this,” muttered one knight. They were aware that an evacuation order had been issued for the entire capital as people kept pouring out of the city while they were stationed outside, but a ghost town was not within their expectations. They’d already known for a fact that they wouldn’t receive a warm welcome from Hessenguard, but was this truly necessary?

The commander of the knights maneuvered his horse toward the Grand Castle with an uneasy feeling. This was not the time to be concerned about the emptiness of the streets. They had to hurry to the Grand Castle, secure the safety of Prince Ruben Aether, and proceed with his marriage with Duchess Erna of Hessenguard.

To this day, there has been no news of Kalion Hessenguard, and it’s been more than a month since his disappearance, which should be enough to assume his death. The wizards may have lost contact, but they seemed to be successful in subduing the grand duke.

Aether’s army headed towards the Grand Castle. Fortunately, they could see movement in the castle through its enormous windows.

Marching at a faster pace than usual, they finally arrived in front of the Grand Castle, and the gates were wide open as if to welcome their coming. The leader of the Aether Knights smiled contentedly. The last time he’d seen Ruben, he’d been concerned about the prince, but it seemed like his worries were for naught. Feeling triumphant, the knights of Aether prepared to enter the castle.

In the past, oceans of blood were spilled for this castle. Nevertheless, in the end, a place that Aether had desired to conquer will, at long last, be in their grasp.

It was when the Knights Commander was busy thinking about the disarming of the Hessengard Knights and the future.


A knight at the back suddenly yelled out and everyone whipped their heads to look to where he was pointing.

To the west of the capital, the protective shield blocking the entry of Haband’s army was disappearing, and they were rushing into the capital as well.

* * *

“Everyone’s coming as if they’ve been waiting all their lives.”

From the castle’s balcony, Erna watched as the armies of the two kingdoms flooded the capital. Behind her stood Orpé and the substitute Knight Commander, whose faces were grim. Fear was also evident in the eyes of the servants on the other side of the room as they looked at the marching soldiers.

On everybody’s wrists was a red cloth with the crest of Hessenguard tied at Erna’s command in the morning. In case of a conflict between the armies of Aether and Haband, those bearing the red cloth must not interfere and leave the castle at once. The knights and the wizards tried to protest, but they could not dare defy the grand duchess’ command.

“What about Ruben?” Erna asked Orpé.

Before Orpé could reply, a struggling Ruben was dragged into the room.

“What is the meaning of this!” he demanded.

Erna turned around to look at him. He was cuffed by two knights. He tried his best to resist, but to no avail.

Seeing him dressed in his best clothes, Erna burst into laughter. He must have been very excited about the wedding.

“How pathetic,” Erna muttered. She then commanded, “Bring him here.”

At her order, the knights threw Ruben in front of Erna. Ruben groaned as he collided with the floor. When he lifted his head and saw Erna’s silhouette through his blurry vision, he cried out, “Erna! How did this happen!”

Erna took a step forward to Ruben and trampled on his shoulder, releasing every ounce of her resentment without grace. As the tip of her shoe dug to his skin, Ruben yelped.

“How dare a mere chest piece utter my name.”

Erna exuded the contempt she could no longer hide.

Fortunately, Ruben wasn’t a complete moron. He realized something was amiss. As he scanned the room, all he could see were blurry silhouettes, but he was certain that everyone in this place was very hostile towards him. Be that as it may, Ruben was not hopeless. The marching of his kingdom’s army resounded loudly from outside and Ruben could only choose to hope in them despite his lingering doubts.

They wouldn’t dare to harm the prince of Aether with an army just outside, he thought.

Erna turned her gaze away from Ruben and stared at the grounds beyond the castle. There was a lot unfolding. The armies of two opposing kingdoms gathered in the capital, each army foolishly believing that only they were granted entry. As they sighted Haband, Aether’s troops hastily formed a defensive formation in case of a clash. Haband was no less alert, too.



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