Red Labyrinth - Chapter 7
Translator and Editor: Lea and Aki
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Strangely enough, it caught everyone’s attention, whether it was pleasing or not. Icaryl’s longing eyes were pitiful, yet, as though she was an ancient cunning fairy, she peeped at the Countess who got dizzy over her dark gestures. Wasn’t it a strange charm?
The problem was that even the Countess, who loathed her, was attracted to it.
Although Icaryl was aware that the employees were maimed with that gentle, pitiful face of hers, she pretended to be innocent and submissive. The Countess bit her lips, her face devoid of any emotion. At first, she thought it was an illusion, but the more she stared at the girl’s red eyes, the more it made her feel strange. She scorned her desire to wander into those orbs, but it was hard to escape from it because it kept stimulating her nerves. She shifted her gaze.
That strange gaze of the girl seemed to tempt a man, stir up his thirst, and eventually, his anger. Why did Marquis Esperis bring such a girl without finishing her along with her country?
She didn’t know there would be too little to shed in those ominous eyes of hers. Countess Beatrice’s heart sank as she soothed for the girl’s luck. After all, he was the father of the devil of paganism.
“We are not allowed to reveal the internal affairs of the Imperial family.”
“But what if I make a mistake?”
Icaryl spoke up without stammering. However, soon, she started biting on her fingernails, seemingly afraid that she might have gone too far. Then, she immediately shifted her gaze to another maid, who was sitting beside her. The Countess kicked her tongue disapprovingly. Even if she was being educated, that petty attitude of her was still intact. She answered rather irritably.
“Yes, unexpectedly, Her Highness has passed away.”
She rudely cut off her curiosity.
“As long as Sibonne is appointed to this duty, she shouldn’t be interested in anything other than what I told her.”
Icaryl slowly nodded, looking up at the cold face of the Countess with her hazy red eyes.
One day, the Emperor collapsed while he was dealing with the political affairs. The court was overturned and the first-class noblemen, including the seven serpents of the empire, were called up. Some carefully murmured about the crown being replaced. As an immature young knight made fun of the Emperor by saying, “Isn’t His Highness infected with syphilis, not a heart disease?”, he was cut off by Marquis Esperis, who heard him.
After one disturbance, the entire system of the capital, Karyl, was as silent as an old abandoned mansion. During that period, various nobles hurried to the Palace of Carmulen, which was the residence of the emperor.
Although she didn’t join the nobles, Icaryl, as the mistress of the emperor, was dragged to a small annex at the rear of the Palace. She, with no emotion, was also the youngest of the countless servants who cried praying for their emperor’s well-being.
In the anxiety, sorrow, and pain that filled the small hall, Icaryl was a thorough stranger. If she had to pick one, she felt anxious about her own future. That’s it. She wouldn’t feel anything if he, whom she had never seen, died. The question was, who would own her if the emperor really closed his eyes for the eternal good?
What suddenly popped into her mind was the cold face of the cruel knight who led to destroy her home country and pushed her into this mud. Icaryl hurriedly shook her head. She was afraid. Nothing was as certain as it seemed.
She bit her lips until they bled, and as its taste brushed her tongue, she shifted her red eyes and stared at the brightly lit palace. The sobbing prayer from all sides wrapped around her like a string. Suddenly, it made her feel as though she was standing in the middle of her home, covered in flames. She tapped on her chest with her fist, trying to calm down her racing heart.
Icaryl curled up, hugging her head. The night breeze was like the damp gloom of a cemetery. As her vision was covered with darkness, she felt a sense of relief as if she was in her mother’s womb, but soon, it was replaced with the feeling of being imprisoned. Her life had always been a mystery. As if she was being blocked from escaping an endless maze at her every step.
Nothing had changed since Argonia was burned.
She was still a young girl, who ran through the maze, being chased by an intangible monster.
‘Huff. Huff. Huff.’
She could her pant everywhere. Her hands trembled. Dead men beckoned her from every path. “Icaryl~ Come here~ Quench our thirst, Icaryl~” She was the whore in the eyes of those men. A dirty girl. How could she hide the reason she was born?
She shuddered as someone giggled. Her older sister, who died of being horrified by the enemy’s soldiers, was beckoning her with her arms that were rotten and mutilated. Icaryl’s red orbs shook aimlessly. Her beautiful crystal colored eyes, which were full of jealousy, were filled with maggots. And, her lips were like rotten seeds of a plant.
‘N-No, don’t come near me—!’
“Hey, are you all right?”
Her inner plundering voice died down in an instant. Icaryl, clattering her teeth in a cold sweat, raised up her eyes at the boy, who was staring down at her. A momentary light blurred her vision. Her eyes were still a little sore under that dark daydream of hers.
The boy, whose age wasn’t much different from hers, was half embarrassed and half curious. There was a soft glow on his face. He nervously smiled, as if trying to make her relax. Icaryl tried to speak up as if she was struck by an unfamiliar thunderbolt.
‘I’ve never seen anyone so shiny.’
He was a little hesitant. As he sank down to the floor to adjust to her level, the hem of his white coat got covered with dirt. His friendly, warm, and reddish-brown eyes twinkled in the dark. It even reflected the weak girl in front of him, who was in tears and was trembling with fear.
His soft, warm palm carefully swept her damp cheeks.
Icaryl felt his eyes saying, “Why are you crying? Where does it hurt? Don’t cry.”
An unfamiliar feeling touched a corner of her brain as if a long forgotten bookcase was being opened. As her lips curled up into a smile like a child, the boy smiled.
“I’m Carl. What is your name?”
She answered in a flash as if she had been hit by water.
“Icaryl? That’s a very unique name. Are you new here?”
She nodded, looking up at his dreamy blonde hair. As she saw his radiant face gazing down at her, she felt a twinge in her chest. She so wanted to be lost in this warm little monster’s eyes, but she couldn’t.
The reason? Yes, the man.
He stood on the second floor of the building, which was located across the garden. His strong arm, with his shirt rolled up, hung on the terrace. His black hair swaying gently in the night breeze. His blue eyes, which rose above those white cheekbones of his, shone under the moonlight. For a moment, Icaryl thought he was smirking.
The trajectory of those blue orbs was towards her as if she was being stitched with a needle. His dark self, behind the blonde hair of the boy, is frighteningly contrasting. And soon, that poisonous aura of him haunted her, taking her mind all the way to that day.
Perhaps, she was still unaware of the tragedy that was about to happen in the future.
On the night of the full moon, the emperor did not eventually die, which then sparked another war.
The ultra-rightist Priest Kijet denounced the profanity of the peninsular kingdom of Akadia, and a total of three pre-emptive candidates voted in favor of it, among which was Marquis Esperis. The prince’s guardian and moderate leader, Duke of Inkart, strongly opposed the idea, but when his brother, Count Theodore joined in, he could not avoid the numerical inferiority. Eventually, the 5th Peloire War was ignited by the announcement of Empress Adelana, who sat on the emperor’s throne.
As usual, the dark Admiral of Pankeat, the Marquis of Esperis, was appointed as the loyal commander of the Imperial Army.
Entering the emperor’s bedroom, he kissed on his wrinkle hand and swore reverently.
“I promise to strike the savage throat of Akadia and bring it’s heart to you, Your Grace.”
The old emperor, who spat out bloodlusts in his fever, swept the cheek of a heartless young man with the back of his hand, a weak smile lingering on his face. Soon, he silently closed his eyes, his trust still intact for this brilliant and brave Admiral.
As Lucien stepped out of the noisy palace of Carmulen, the corners of his lips crept up into an evil smirk.
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