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    Amelia and Sisle held each other tightly, standing as they gazed at the sky beyond the barrier, which looked particularly ominous.

    Suddenly, the sky above the main palace, which had been partially darkened, was filled with a raging storm that swirled like a vortex.

    Trees, uprooted from the ground, shot up into the air, accompanied by sizzling sounds and occasional flashes of small, golden lightning. It was a surreal sight.

    “It must be the aftermath of the ceremony of Sarcophagus of the Holy Emperor, which hasn’t been held for a long time. Don’t worry too much, it will calm down soon.”

    Francis, standing behind them, explained in a calm tone.

    Even without his words, both princesses could vaguely sense that something was amiss in the main palace.

    Amelia sensed the faint disturbance in the aura.

    Sisle could feel the aftermath of the clash between the great divinities.

    Each in their own way, they sensed the danger and worried about the Holy Emperor, who was alone in the storm at the faraway main palace.

    -In my opinion, that’s probably it. Perhaps from that point on, the audience before the Sarcophagus of the Holy Emperor lost its significance

    Sisle’s mind was filled with the words Amelia had said to her earlier.

    -Or maybe that it has become something dangerous now?

    What if it really is like that?

    What if the Holy Emperor’s sarcophagus is actually some terrifying unknown, and that’s why such danger has befallen His Majesty?

    “Dear Father…”

    Unwittingly, a term of endearment Sisle hadn’t used since that night slipped from her lips.

    -How wonderful it would be if there was something we could do to help. For now, the best we can do is to quietly ensure we’re not in the way.

    The loyal captain of the knights, standing firmly in front of the barrier, protecting the princesses, had indeed said something like that before.

    Just as he had on that night drenched in blood, and now, as a storm unexpectedly descends.

    The Holy Emperor must surely be bearing something on his own, and continues to do so.

    -“If he deems something useless, he cuts it off without hesitation. Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, you too will meet your end by his hand, just like the others.”

    That was what someone had warned the girl in her head that day.

    But surely that can’t be the case, right?

    Even Katrina, who claims to be the Holy Emperor’s shield and is always by his side, can only stand so far away when danger really strikes and wait for the Holy Emperor to solve everything.

    If she is called a shield, could there be a more useless shield in the world?

    Perhaps it is simply because the Holy Emperor cherishes his knight commander so much.

    After all, this sacred barrier protects not only the princesses, but also the entire Order of the Paladins of St. Aurelion.

    ‘There’s no way Father His Majesty would do that on purpose…’

    Sisle was slowly coming to realize.

    If the future shown in the book was so bleak, and if, according to its contents, the Holy Emperor ends up contributing significantly to her misfortune.

    At least, it would not be something her father truly wished for.

    How much time had passed like this?

    At one point, the raging storm suddenly subsided and the sky cleared up as if it were a lie.

    “…Situation over.”

    As the inquisitor, who had been staring vacantly into space, muttered, Katrina, who had been tensely focusing ahead, relaxed and nodded her head.

    “Situation over!”

    “Situation over! Situation over!”

    Following their commander’s cry, the commands of several squad leaders echoed.

    Soon, the silver sacred barrier that had been spread out wide enough to cover the entire Silver Labyrinth began to fade.

    The adjutant of the Order of St. Aurelion, who had been standing guard behind the two princesses until then, spoke, exhaling a sigh of relief and packing his weapons.

    “Fortunately, it seems that nothing major has happened. Your Highnesses, please rest assured. The curfew is now lifted.”

    Francis said so and, after bowing politely to the two, left the room.

    “It’s really… really fortunate.”

    Amelia finally let out the breath she had been holding and said.

    She hugged Sisle once and then turned around and quickly began to prepare to go out.

    Judging by the fact that there is no other message, His Majesty the Emperor must be safe as well. But still, I can’t be completely relieved. I must hurry to the main palace and see.

    That’s when Sisle, startled, spoke up.

    “…Amelia-noona.”

    “Hmm?”

    “The mark… the mark of the Saintess hasn’t disappeared yet.”

    “What?” Amelia turned her head in confusion, and her younger sister was already looking up at her with tears in her eyes again.

    “I can still feel it under my feet. Originally, my mark should have disappeared right after Sister Seo Yi-seo paid homage before the Sarcophagus of the Holy Emperor. I was supposed to be disgracefully expelled from the position of the Saintess…”

    As Sisle murmured, clear tears streamed down her cheeks.

    “…Sisle!”

    The surprised Amelia quickly hugged her sister without knowing what to do.

    But now, instead of the bitter sadness of the morning, Sisle’s face was filled with awe and a glimmer of hope.

    “Sister, you won’t believe it! Something is really, really changing!”

    ***

    That night.

    An inquisitor sneaked into Saint Bastian Church.

    Passing by the guards closely watching the main gate and easily evading the patrolling groups of Saint Bastian knights, their steps were incredibly light and leisurely.

    The stealth ability that not even the best assassins could detect was the Decalon Knights’ stealth technique.

    Descending to the church’s basement and approaching the Holy Emperor’s sarcophagus, the exorcist’s eyes flickered with the usual silver-grey glow.

    [I seem to keep imposing on you, Dame Sharon.]

    Then, the inquisitor chuckled as if sobbing.

    “Not at all, Your Majesty. Whenever Your Majesty comes to me, all those noisy ones completely shut up. The world couldn’t be more peaceful and wonderful.”

    It was a rare moment of peace for the inquisitor, who always suffered from uncontrollable channeling.

    “Now that the ceremony is over, this door won’t open for a while. It seems we can afford to take a leisurely look around.”

    And Dame Sharon began to slowly circle the Holy Emperor’s sarcophagus as if searching for something.

    At a certain moment, her eyes shone with a bright silver-gray light.

    [That.]

    Following the Holy Emperor’s directive, Dame Sharon tore off a small object decorated on one side of the sarcophagus. It was a gem emitting a deep green light.

    “…Quite a small device.”

    [Indeed. It seems that this being is someone who cannot be taken lightly.]

    A dangerous trap that would have been activated the moment Cardmos tried to draw upon his true power during their confrontation with the Holy Emperor.

    It was one of the many traps that the storyteller had been preparing for hundreds of years.

    [The artifacts of the Imaginary World are always so cunning. No matter how carefully one inspects, the deeply hidden layers of activation conditions are difficult to find.]

    This is why the laws of the Imaginary World are so formidable.

    They can isolate the demi-god’s immense power from the Delcross dimension so easily, yet,

    the primordial power, well-suppressed by the divine, could be unleashed without reason in an instant.

    [That child truly saved Delcross from peril.]

    “Is it the future that Your Majesty has sent forth?”

    [Indeed. It’s now an event that will not happen, having become the past.]

    The Holy Emperor never sees his own future.

    Just predicting a slight possibility is enough to make it certain in some way. That’s how heavy the Oracle’s prophecy is.

    —I’m not here to have an accident today, I’m here to prevent one.

    Those were the words of his son, who approached him even as he became bloodied.

    As he said, the Holy Emperor was only able to properly confirm the destruction that would have happened if the child had not come.

    The primal power that was released without control.

    And the mad, unholy monster that ran rampant.

    [Now bring it to me.]

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    Dame Sharon secured the gem and continued,

    “But Your Majesty, if I may be so bold to ask one thing?”

    [Speak.]

    “The first Holy Emperor, being a demi-god, was easily trapped in the flesh of the Imaginary World. Then, wouldn’t it be just as dangerous for Your Majesty to descend into Homunculus?”

    The Holy Emperor was silent for a moment before answering.

    […I shall keep that in mind.]

    “Yes, Your Majesty.”

    The inquisitor chuckled before disappearing into the darkness.

    ***

    The day after the Rite of the Holy Emperor’s sarcophagus. Fortunately, Sisle’s symbol had not yet disappeared and remained clear.

    And then,

    “Sisle, my sister!”

    Despite having completed the ceremony and received the first Holy Emperor’s blessing properly, Seo Yi-seo was astonishingly still very much Seo Yi-seo.

    Of course, that’s not to say there were no changes at all.

    “Listen, Princess Sisle. Guess what, when I woke up, there was a new skill in my skill window!”

    …What on earth is a skill window?

    “The skill name is super cool too. It’s called Descent of the Demigod, Descent of the Demigod! But I have absolutely no idea how to use it!”

    That was the problem.

    This skill, which seemed like an ultimate skill just by its name, was actually a passive skill that was always activated.

    Thanks to that, if she tried to take a nap, she would find that several hours had passed, or that she had been wandering around here and there after stretching.

    When she was about to eat a delicious meal, she would find herself sitting blankly in front of an empty plate after thinking, ‘This is going to be delicious!’

    “But Princess Sisle, it’s almost time for mass, why are you getting ready to go out? Where are you going?”

    “Yes, to the main palace. I’m going to see His Majesty after a long time.”

    “What? You’re going to meet that terrifying mastermind? What if he does something to you, Princess Sisle!”

    Seo Yi-seo was horrified, to which Sisle laughed as if it was absurd.

    Isn’t it funny how Seo Yi-seo, the protagonist of the book, is more afraid of the Holy Emperor than Sisle, who is supposed to be the villainous?

    “It’s okay.”

    The girl smiled transparently at Seo Yi-seo.

    “Even if something like that were to happen, the fact that His Majesty is thinking of me will not change.”

    The office, still in disarray from Cardmos’s tampering, awaited her.

    With a heart that fluttered slightly, Sisle entered the office, guided by Louis.

    “…Sisle.”

    Recently, he had been away from the palace on missions and inspections, and even the few regular audiences he had had been avoided.

    The Holy Emperor was a little surprised, but soon dismissed the others and greeted her.

    “Am I interrupting you?”

    “No, you’re welcome. I was just about to take a break.”

    However, what immediately caught Sisle’s eye upon taking a seat was the sleep mask hanging on the wall.

    A white mask embroidered with a cute rabbit, hanging at a slightly skewed angle on the wall.

    “That is…”

    Following Sisle’s gaze, the Holy Emperor nodded.

    “Owen sent it. He said it was a birthday present, so I put it on display.”

    The Holy Emperor had realized from the beginning that it was an object from the Imaginary World..

    He had not been able to figure out exactly what it was used for, so he had left it aside to investigate later.

    “I know what it is. I received the same thing from Owen-orabeoni.”

    Sisle showed the pink mask she wore around her neck like a piece of jewelry.

    According to Seo Yi-seo, it was a helpful item for sleep. True to his words, since wearing it, Sisle had seen a significant decrease in the frequency of prophetic dreams and nightmares, much to her satisfaction.

    “It wards off nightmares…?”

    “Yes, would you like me to show you how to use it?”

    With those words, the mysterious item from the Regulated World was slowly brought before him in his daughter’s hands.

    The Holy Emperor blinked but did not avoid Sisle’s hands.

    Perhaps anything given by his child, be it poison or a trap, he would gladly accept.

    As the white rabbit mask was placed over his head, the Holy Emperor’s eyes widened slightly.

    After sitting in stunned silence for a moment, he slowly tilted his head and uttered a word of reflection.

    “…It’s quiet.”

    Indeed.

    As soon as he put it on, the world became instantly quiet.

    The voices of the past that had always clung to him were nowhere to be heard. The voice that insidiously whispered the future was nowhere to be heard.

    Above all, the desperate screams of souls coming from a distant place were nowhere to be heard.

    “It’s truly quiet…”

    As the Holy Emperor slowly blinked his eyes, Sisle chuckled softly and sat down beside him.

    Realizing that she missed the rustling sound of the white robe hem that reminded her of her childhood, the girl closed her eyes slowly, leaning against the Holy Emperor’s arm.

    On that day, the chief chamberlain took great care with the refreshments for the youngest princess, who had visited the Holy Emperor for the first time in a long time.

    He decorated a table with sweets and flowers and brought out the precious tea that the foreign delegation had brought in for his birthday.

    Thinking it was the perfect timing, he confidently entered the office with the tea tray but…

    “…?”

    Louis’s eyes widened in surprise. An unexpected scene unfolded before him.

    On the plush office sofa, the Holy Emperor and Sisle, father and daughter, sat side by side, asleep with their eyes closed.

    Each wearing a white and pink, adorably indescribable object around their necks.

    In an unusually quiet afternoon where not even a bird could be heard. In the stillness where even the warm sunlight seemed to be frozen.

    Only the gentle breeze blowing from the terrace was the only thing that seemed alive, occasionally brushing through the hair of the two people.

    “… .”

    Louis soaked up the sight for a long time, feeling a strange sense of emotion.

    In his ten years as head chamberlain, had he ever seen His Majesty with such a relaxed face, eyes closed!

    Although the carefully prepared tea cooled down mercilessly, Louis left the tea tray there and quietly tiptoed out of the office, closing the door behind him.

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