You, My Devil - Chapter 7
His fiery red hair turned downwards. With his head bowed, the Emperor’s command was issued to him.
“Kill it. That night. Before the people of Nike.”
The cold, low voice of Nike broke the space. Those were the words that came out of the Emperor’s mouth. He didn’t say the target to kill, but everyone knew the target. Yuri got down on his knees on the spot.
“… I will not disappoint Nike.”
“I will not hold you responsible for today when you took out your sword in front of the Emperor.”
Yuri put his head on the floor and greeted him politely.
As soon as Nike gave the dismissal order, Pesis was the first to leave, followed by the ministers. Yuri was on the floor for a long time, and only got up after the last minister left.
“Everything is according to the will of Nike and the God who protects him.”
A low but powerful voice flowed from the Emperor’s lips as he looked at Yuri. Yuri bowed his head to him.
“… Everything is according to the will of Nike and the God who protects him.”
After greeting politely last, Yuri left the Emperor’s audience room. He walked slowly and pondered.
The look on Nike’s face that Yuri had just glanced at was a face that Yuri had never seen from him before. What was it, that expression?
He followed his father to numerous battlefields from an early age, but he never remembered it, but it looked so familiar to Yuri.
Yuri quickly erased the sudden thoughts from his mind and speeded up his steps.
Nike. The Emperor was a cruel father who left Yuri, who was less than ten years old, naked in the desert for ten days. Fear appeared on that Nike’s face. It was nonsense.
The coming-of-age ceremony that Nike ordered to kill Heina was right before him. There was a lot to prepare.
This time, he will show his power clearly in the eyes of the Emperor. Yuri grinded his teeth while walking.
“What does it have to do with me that Prince Yuri’s coming-of-age ceremony is tomorrow?”
Heina, who was staring blankly out of the window, asked with a look of disbelief at the handmaid’s request that she should be groomed.
“There is no reason for the Prince’s orders. Even if there is a reason, I cannot ask for it.”
“So, after all, you don’t know. Why do I have to bathe in a country where water is scarce in order to participate in that guy’s coming-of-age ceremony?”
As Heina let out a chill, the handmaid scolded her with a stern expression on her face.
“Be careful with your words and actions. It will make him angry.”
Heina raised her head and sneered faintly.
“It will be more than death?”
“Are you sure you don’t want to leave this room?”
The handmaid seemed to have stabbed her in the corner. A crease crept into Heina’s beautiful forehead.
The handmaiden made up her mind to arouse her by going a little further.
“Tomorrow night, to celebrate Prince Yuri’s coming-of-age, all citizens of Granada as well as the former Emperor and Empress of Constance will be in attendance.”
Heina’s eyes widened in surprise. She swallowed a gulp and blinked her eyes.
“Is that really true?”
‘Can I see Mother and Father? My family… Can we meet?’
It has been a year since they lost the war and she was taken prisoner and brought to Granada.
Meanwhile, Heina never had a chance to meet her parents. The devil Yuri threatened to kill her parents in the most brutal way in the world on the day she even committed suicide. Although she was skeptical that her parents were still alive, she couldn’t give up hope, so she kept her undead life. But….
“My… mother, father… Are they attending?”
Tears welled up in her eyes, Heina asked in a trembling voice.
The handmaiden Elise nodded her head softly towards her.
Watching Heina over the past year, it was also true that at first she was uncomfortable with her planting because of Heina’s lofty and fussy personality. But she became more and more sympathetic to Heina who was as old as her daughter. Soon after she made a fuss of cutting her hair with the broken teacup, Yuri’s anger was enormous. If Heina had done harm to herself, the young maid who served the tea would probably have died at Yuri’s hands.
From the day she read Heina’s worried expression in her eyes as she hinted about the well-being of the maid, who had been kicked out of the palace, Elise began to sympathize with Heina little by little.
“I am sure they will attend.”
According to the rumors that the maids of the Imperial Palace gossip, tomorrow night is Heina’s sacrifice day.
She didn’t expect her own future even an inch ahead, and seemed to be more at a loss for what to do with the excitement to meet her parents. Heina, who had never shed a tear in front of Elise, was shaking her shoulders and sobbing.
“Let’s go before the bath water cools down.”
When the handmaid tried to support Heina, she lifted her face wet with tears. Heina clenched her fists and stood up on her own.
“I can walk alone.”
Heina followed the handmaid by moving her wobbly legs.
Since she was brought to Nike, it was her first time to leave the room. She wasn’t even leaving the palace, and her heart was pounding strangely.
Heina stepped on her foot slowly to make sure she did not break her knee and fell. When she first came, the imperial palace of Granada, which she had not been able to see properly, was so dark that she wondered if she could not see even an inch ahead no matter how dark it was.
Heina’s body trembled in the atmosphere that it wouldn’t be strange if an assassin popped out while hiding in the dark, or even if a ghost appeared.
The handmaid was moving without the sound of footsteps. With every step she took, only the sound of the lapels rubbing was clearly audible.
She passed through the many rooms laid out in the long hallway, and finally she came to the wooden door of a dark room that seemed to have little light.
“Go in and wait. I will help you with the bathing soon.”
“No. You don’t have to. I will do it alone.”
The handmaid opened the door to the dimly lit room, let Heina in, and then closed the door without a word. In the room, where no light hits at all, only a few incense candles emitting a dim light were lit to illuminate the dimly lit room.
In the middle of the small room, hot steam rose from the bath made of roundly piled up worn stones.
It could not be compared with the baths of Constance, where bath culture was developed from early on, but compared to the past, when she was confined in a room and had to wash herself with little water, tears came to her eyes from joy.
She felt a little dizzy at the smell of burning herbs from somewhere. Heina moved her hand slowly. As she untied the string that was wrapped around her waist, the white robe that was wrapped around her slowly fell to the floor.
As the Nike’s garb fell from her body, Heina carefully put her body into the bath, from her toes. The space was deeper and wider than expected.
As the warm water wrapped around her, it felt as if her muscles were relaxing. The smell of incense candles was still strong enough for her, but it was tolerable because she drank tea every day. It was the moment she closed her eyes and gently leaned her head against her stone wall.
The door opened and a ray of light from outside shone faintly into the dimly lit bathroom. Even though she said she didn’t need it, this handmaid seemed to be carrying bath towels.
Heina frowned and leaned her back against and lifted her head slightly.
The first thing that caught her eye before she could even say that she didn’t need the handmaid was the red hair that she was all too familiar with. Heina’s eyes widened.
She hadn’t seen so many Nike people before. But, as far as she knew, only one of the Nike people had red hair.
Heina took a deep breath for a moment and hid her body by putting down her head up to the tip of her hair in the bath water. The world went silent, but her heart raced like it would burst out of fear.
– “One, two, three, four, five, six. Seven, and eight….”
How long did she hold her breath? The first song ended and the second song started.
With her eyes closed, Heina felt as if she could hear Arzen’s voice in her ear.
– “Heina, haha, I can see everything behind the tree.”
– “This is unfair! Arzen can find me wherever I hide. If Arzen hides, I will never find you!”
As he draped a flower crown on her, Arzen smiled.
─ “So that’s why I’m always the tagger, Princess Heina. Even if you decide to hide from me, I can find you.”
She first met Arzen when she was twelve and he was eighteen, Heina was in love with him. She had never met anyone in the castle of Constance who smiled as sweetly as Arzen did.
– “Wow! So, even if I get lost in this castle, will Arzen come to me in the end?”
She believed that they would be together forever.
Her future with him was certain, she believed, that they would live happily in Constance with the blessings of all.
– “Of course not, Heina. I’ll always be by your side, so you won’t get lost.”
Arzen’s voice was faintly disappearing.
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