Lionel looked down at his burnt palms, then slowly rolled them up and gazed up at the spot where the empress had disappeared.

The distorted and disheveled bare face of the empress, who always presented herself with only a flawless figure, remained in Lionel’s mind like an afterimage.
The tree, which stood upright and endured the storm with its entire body, appeared noble when viewed from afar, but when observed up close, it swayed and bent mercilessly.

“She was the one who laughed so hard,” Lionel thought to himself.

He guessed that’s why his heart raced every time he saw her slender shoulders pulled taut while she forcibly concealed her scarred face.
However, he quickly shook his head with a self-mocking expression.
It was because his feelings of pity for the empress felt in vain.


There was no way to know in what spirit Adele arrived at the empress’ palace.
She climbed onto the bed without bothering to take off her clothes, and Giggs could hear her dismissing her maids in the distance.
Pulling the blanket over her head, Adele rolled herself up tightly.
Giggs detected an unfamiliar odor in the air, unlike the usual scent he was accustomed to.
Nanny always dried the blankets in the sun, creating a pleasant fragrance of sun-dried linen mixed with a faint hint of soap.

The smell that permeated the room was indescribable.
It was something her body remembered and her mind embraced.
Tears flowed down her cheeks, wetting the blanket beneath her.
Adelaide rarely cried; she didn’t even cry on the day she gave up her position as crown princess or the day she left her old friends behind to cross the strait.
It was as if she had no tears left to shed.

Still, the tears poured down her face like a waterfall, and Adelaide remained motionless, allowing her emotions to consume her.
She was angry at what had happened, but the tears wouldn’t stop.
It felt like a gaping hole had opened up inside her chest, ready to swallow her at any moment.

Her toes grazed the edge of the cliff, and the thought of stumbling sent a shiver down her spine.
One wrong move and she would plummet into the dark, unfathomable abyss below.
Adele gazed down into the void, feeling the wind gust fiercely around her.
The turbulent whirlwind of her life had relentlessly pushed against her frail shoulders time and time again.

Gottrov’s witch, Gottrov’s Black Panther – the nicknames given to her by people she knew all too well.
Her thin shoulders trembled before the vast and distant space, where the distinction between east, west, north, south, heaven and earth no longer held meaning.
It was a place where the cries of those who had lost their way and their sense of direction echoed through the emptiness.

Her soul was violently shaken, and she didn’t know what to do as she trembled until the moon tilted over the black hole.
Time passed by slowly as the darkness enveloped her.
The night felt endless, but eventually, a faint light began to emerge, chasing the darkness with all its might until daybreak arrived.

At dawn, Adele rose from her bed, feeling as though she hadn’t slept at all.
She soaked herself in the hot bathtub, rubbing off the makeup on her face and washing her body for what seemed like an eternity before muttering to herself.

As she closed her eyes, she imagined her old nanny and her wrinkled eyes curved like the moon.

Whenever Adele did something against her mother’s opinion, she clung to her nanny for comfort.

“Tell me, Nanny, what should I do?” she muttered to herself.

Her nanny’s voice echoed in her mind, “For comfort, it’s better to follow His Majesty’s opinion.”

Adele fell silent, and her nanny continued, “Don’t be angry with me.
If you’ve already decided, why are you asking me? Walk the path of the princess.
Are you afraid of regretting your decision and thinking that the outcome would have been better if you had chosen a different path? Is life a process or a result? It’s a personal choice.”

The nanny hugged Adele tightly and whispered, comforting her.

“Do as you please, but be prepared to accept the consequences that come with it.
Such is the destiny of those like Adele, a princess.
It is people like her who have the power to change the world.”

As Adele listened to the nanny’s words, she felt a sudden urge to laugh.
It was as if she could hear the nanny’s boisterous laughter ringing in her ears.
Adele’s laughter bubbled up from deep within her, causing the ladies-in-waiting outside the bathroom to shiver in fear at the sound of her eerie, low-pitched laughter reverberating against the bathroom walls.

“Scared…?” One of the young maids muttered involuntarily, but the others did not scold her.
They all knew the wrath of Her Majesty the Empress could be fierce.

“I’m really scared…” Adele’s thoughts echoed the sentiment of the other maids.
It was not just about her, but the people around her who were affected by her actions.
The weight of her responsibility as a princess was starting to sink in.


After soaking in the hot water until his hands and feet turned white, Adele reflected on the situation with a clear mind.
Firstly, while the emperor may have been angered by the empress’s calling Count Calvin, it was her right to do so and hand over the gold bar.
She needed to investigate the reason behind the cruel act of forcing dying people to their deaths.
Secondly, she decided to give up on the first night and not wear makeup anymore.
The more she thought about it, the more enraged she became.
Thirdly, she thought about Diane Poitiers and how she perceived Adele.
It felt like she had already lost her position as empress to Diane.
Adele respected Diane’s feelings, but she also knew she needed to develop her own power independently of the emperor’s.
Trying to win the Emperor’s favor by competing with Diane was futile.

“I must develop my own power independently of the emperor’s power.”

To win the Emperor’s favor, trimming her face pretty and competing for her love with Diane Poitier would be impossible, even in death.
Adele took a deep breath.
After reaching her conclusion, her agitated heart began to calm down.
Then she suddenly raised her hand and touched her shoulder.

Lionel Baldr.
The strong, soft power and firm palms that supported her shoulders came to mind.
Had he not come and caught her, she would have rolled unsightly down the stairs.
Adele, who had been silent with her eyes down, buried her face in his hands and sighed.

“Your spouse is out of luck.”

Her mother’s favorite fortune teller had told Adele:

‘Princess Adelaide was lucky to be born.
Her spouse’s luck is greater than her parents’ luck, and her child’s luck is great.
Alas, of course your parents are very lucky.’

Adele clicked her tongue and shook her head, finally muttering bitterly.

He’s a complete quack cheater.”

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