Ruben, who was screaming madly, suddenly screamed at the terrible pain he felt in his ear. His earlobes were sliced open by a dagger he hadn’t seen coming. The dagger trembled from how violently it had been thrown and pierced the wooden decoration on the wall. Ruben writhed in anguish and gripped his bloody ear.
“I missed,” Kalion sighed as he looked at Ruben. He intended to aim the dagger at his blubbering mouth, but the sweat in his hands caused the blade to slip and rip his ear instead.
He pulled out a second dagger to soothe his regret. He had planned to rip his ears that heard Erna’s voice (which he had not for such a long time) anyway, so switching things around a bit wouldn’t have bothered him.
“Why did you keep him alive?” Kalion asked irritatingly.
“I left it for you to handle because it’s annoying,” Erna answered, hugging Kalion.
With an air of approval, Kalion patted Erna’s head as though she had given the right answer.
“Good job,” he grinned, “I’m good at disposing of trash. If anything similar happens in the future, leave it to me. I’ll take care of it.”
The chat was too lighthearted for the seriousness of the occasion. When Kalion took up the dagger once more, Ruben immediately conjured up a magic trick that made a jarring noise. Kalion’s dagger slightly shifted direction and sailed away from the lips he had aimed at.
As the missed dagger grazed Ruben’s shoulder, he broke out in a cold sweat. “Crazy bastard!” he muttered under his breath.
Realizing that Kalion would never kill Erna, Ruben looked around for a way to escape. At that moment, there was a commotion as several people climbed up the stairs connected to the wall. It was the knights of Aether.
“Your Highness Ruben?”
When the chief of the knights recognized him, Ruben hurried over to their side.
“You’re finally here! Escort me now!”
While it seemed like the Knight Commander would quickly enfold Ruben, he rarely made any noticeable movements and instead stared at each of them in turn. Ruben shouted again.
“What are you doing!”
Despite the pressure, the Knight Commander of Aether did not budge. Seeing the suspicion in the eyes of the knight staring at him, Ruben now understood why they were acting so suspiciously.
“Damn it,” he cursed.
He had forgotten the fact that he did not immediately call the Aether army into the castle because of his doubts. Moreover, he had planned to remain in the castle with Erna. Since Aether’s army consisted of those loyal to the first prince, they had no choice but to be wary of Ruben, who acted differently than expected. Ruben gritted his teeth and shouted.
“First, kill Erna Hessenguard! That spell only weakens when she disappears! Come on! If we don’t, we’ll all die here!”
The Knight Commander turned to the wizards standing among the knights. The question of whether or not Ruben was correct lingered in the air. The wizards nodded as they glanced at the magic above their heads with fearful eyes. Certainly, what Ruben proposed was the finest option at the moment.
The thought of every single person being exterminated quickened the Knight Commander’s judgment. I had to live and see for now, he thought. A plot to assassinate the grand duke would be a cross-state issue, but that was something to consider later. The Knight Commander raised his hand and spoke briefly.
“Take care of both.”
Erna Hessenguard must be killed, and Kalion Hessenguard, a witness who saw everything unfold before his eyes, also had to die. Besides, he was targeted for elimination regardless.
The moment the Knight Commander lowered his hand, knights and wizards began to attack. Kalion kissed Erna’s cold forehead and leaped at their attackers before they came at him. In an instant, the castle was covered in blood and screams. Kalion’s wrath, which had burned brightly the whole way, was now focused on the aggressors who had threatened both he and Erna.
Erna, once again on her own, clutched at her chest in distress. By eliminating the spacetime warp that trapped Kalion, she expended an excessive amount of mana. He was the only reason she was able to hold out until now.
“What should I do?” she muttered to herself as she thought desperately of an escape. The simplest way was to reassemble the magic formula she created, but it would be a lengthy process. In addition, it required great concentration.
Was that possible in this mess? More so, her physical capabilities were being taxed to their maximum. But at this point, there was nothing else she could do.
Erna felt the warmth of Kalion, which lingered on her arm. Kalion is here, I’m not alone. She made a feeble attempt to get to her feet, but just then a dark figure loomed over her.
A wizard had approached from behind, pointing a blade in Erna’s direction. The wizard’s eyes were full of envy as well as hostility.
Before coming to Hessenguard, the wizard thought it was a false rumor simply made up by Hessenguard’s people, but seeing Erna’s abilities and brilliance in person was unsettling. The wizard standing before Erna was a small, insignificant man, who believed that he would be able to rise to the occasion if the talented individual disappeared.
As soon as Kalion turned around, the wizard swung the blade at Erna, only to be thwarted by a second sword.
Erna, who closed her eyes tightly, opened her eyes wide at the clash. In front of her stood a person she knew well.
Vanessa shoved the wizard’s blade away, kicked him, and yelled.
“Everyone! Protect the Grand Duchess! With all your lives!”