Asha climbed into the room through the rope she made that hung from the window.
However, as soon as her feet hit the ground, she found a shadow standing in the middle of the room, and Asha almost cried out in surprise.
“…… Where did you go alone in the middle of the night? Secretly through the window, too.”
His deep voice sounded angry, like the growl of an animal.
As he walked to the window, she could see his pale face cold in the moonlight.
Asha trembled and swallowed hard.
His eyes were cold, 180 degrees different from before.
It was the same familiar gaze that had always looked at her in her previous life.
Asha intuitively realized that he had followed her.
Besides, seeing how angry he was, he seemed to know everything, from where she had been, also that she had sneaked out of the room through the window secretly.
The reason he didn’t wake up all the servants as loudly as last time is probably because he didn’t want rumors that Vanessa had run away during their first night.
But it was even more terrifying to get to the room with him waiting for her in silence.
He was testing her now.
Lying in this situation will destroy the trust that she has built so far.
Asha lowered her eyes and spoke the truth.
“…… I went to the dungeon.”
When she answered honestly, Karaf’s cold expression softened a bit.
“Why did you go and talk to the spy without telling me?”
Asha said in surprise.
“I said nothing! I just wanted to know how to break Your Majesty’s curse…….”
“So you went to interrogate the spy yourself?”
“That’s not your job, but mine and the knights!”
Karaf raised his voice for the first time. His appearance felt even more daunting.
Feeling like a prey against a predator again, Asha shivered unconsciously.
“I heard the bullshit he said. Because I’m cursed, I shouldn’t bloom.”
He smirked at himself.
“I have heard it since the day I ascended to the throne, I’m tired of it now. But strangely, it was unbearably unpleasant to hear it this time. How dare he tell my Vanessa to pick up a man other than me!”
As expected, he heard everything.
As Asha lowered her eyes even further, he said while looking down at her in an authoritative manner.
“I told you to stay by my side no matter what happens. I told you that I will protect you and take care of you so that you don’t have to do anything and just be comfortable. But you try to mingle with the spy. I’ve been working hard to please you, but did you find it so ridiculous?”
“No, Your Majesty……It’s not like that…….”
“Do you think so too? That I am the seed of misery that will destroy everything in the Empire?”
“That is not true……!”
“Then why did you listen carefully to him when he said such nonsense? Why didn’t you get angry when he insulted me and even asked who the other man is!”
As he screamed, Asha closed her eyes in a daze.
His usual cold appearance disappeared, and before she knew it, he looked like a madman.
She could feel the strong breath right in front of her.
He deserved to be angry.
He must have felt that the butterfly would leave him and fly off in search of another flower at any moment.
But he clearly told her that he had no doubts about her…
The hope that he could change was shattered.
Asha gave up making excuses.
And as she always has in the past, she leaned down and begged him to forgive her.
“…… I was wrong, Your Majesty……. I am very sorry to have offended and defamed Your Majesty…….”
“Do you also…… think I am cursed?”
His voice, which seemed to suppress his anger, contained an unbearable pain.
“That is not true.”
“Then will you try to make my flower bloom?”
“I will try.”
“Try…… you will try….”
Karaf smiled bitterly.
“That’s a very formal answer. It doesn’t seem like the relationship of an emperor and empress.”
Asha looked up. Her eyes caught Karaf by surprise.
Her purple eyes were full of sadness and resignation.
He asked in a trembling voice.
“Why…… Why are you looking at me like that?”
Asha did not answer.
The two of them didn’t really have a normal relationship as emperor and empress.
In the past, they did not love each other.
Karaf’s face contorted painfully at Asha’s silence, but his expression barely changed and he spoke coldly.
“…… you don’t like me, but it seems I misunderstood and my heart raced by itself.”
He was originally pale, but in the dark, it seemed as if he had no blood.
His pride was hurt, he bowed his head for a moment, pursed his lips, and shouted loudly.
Duran, who was waiting outside, entered.
“Did you call me, Your Majesty?”
“Watch Vanessa so she doesn’t leave the Palace.”
“From now on, make sure she doesn’t go out alone and don’t let anyone meet and talk to her without my permission. My butterfly seems to fly through the windows, so close all the windows in the room and cover them with wooden boards.”
Asha squeezed her eyes shut.
She went back to the past, but she was walking towards the same end.
“There isn’t much left until the flowering ceremony, so until then, don’t go anywhere and just stay quietly in your room. This is a command. This is all for your safety, so don’t blame me. If you don’t want to be kidnapped or die like last time, you’d better do as I say.”
Karaf calmly said what he had to say, and left the room without looking at Asha.
Left alone in the dark room, Asha lost strength in her legs and collapsed onto the bed.
* * * * *
A long rainy season has come to the Empire before the flowering ceremony.
In the rainy season, when summer had yet to come, the reaction of the people of the Empire was divided into two.
Some people say that this phenomenon is an ominous omen, but roses bloom between spring and summer.
Some say that it was a good sign that a butterfly appeared this time and that the actual ‘flowering day’ was approaching.
Karaf arrived at Asha’s room during his busiest work schedule.
He made the decision to lock her in her room, and he wasn’t comfortable with that, so he couldn’t get any job done.
But from that day on, Asha curled up like a pupa and lay on her bed like she was dead.
The maids were worried that she was getting sick and reported everything to Karaf.
Karaf would visit Asha whenever he had a lot on his mind, but at the door, he would look at her lying in bed through a crack in the door, hesitate, and just go back.
He returned to his office, nervously tapping his quill pen on the desk.
After falling out with Asha, his days turned unpleasant like a rainy season.
The spy’s last curse still rang in his ears.
You will never bloom and die……! Just because Vanessa is by your side? I bet my life she resents you and hates you. No butterfly will love a sick, rotten flower……!
As soon as he heard that, his eyes shook, and he drew a sword and struck his neck.
He didn’t want to hear anything from his mouth anymore, even though he had a lot to find out.
Trembling with rage, Duran looked at him from behind and fell silent.
Karaf said, barely containing his anger.
…… Find out everyone who has anything to do with this bastard, take off their clothes and take them out of the Imperial Palace. Cut their throats if they ever gave this bastard any information.
He wanted to kill them, regardless of the severity of the crime, but changed his mind, remembering that Asha would hate it.
He was afraid that if he did that, Asha would hate him and start avoiding him.
The further apart they were, the more anxious Karaf became.
Asha would have nothing to regret if they weren’t together.
He had nothing she wanted in the Imperial Palace, and he didn’t know if she would be comfortable living in the palace as a person from an ethnic clan.
But he couldn’t live without her.
Because she’s the only one who can save him from the curse…….
Karaf put all the documents on the desk aside and covered his forehead with both hands.
He’s supposed to give Vanessa nothing but the best, and he was supposed to make her fall in love with him, but instead of being nice to her, he’s punishing her…….
It seemed that by doing this she would resent him and hate him.
He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong, but he didn’t know how to fix this situation.
Meanwhile, Jackal realized that something had happened to Asha when she didn’t come to visit him.
He was also nervous because the flowering ceremony was just around the corner, but at that moment, he heard the conversations of the passing servants.
“…… His Majesty is imprisoning Vanessa in her room?”
Jackal gritted his teeth.
He wondered why that damned tyrant was suddenly so nice to Asha, but this time he went too far.
For some reason, she seemed to be in danger whenever she was near the emperor.
She would be safer if she lived like a wanderer.
“His Majesty is doing this to protect Lady Vanessa, but she won’t be able to leave the room no matter how hard she tries…….”
Among the servants, there seemed to be very few maids serving Asha.
They even said they were all under the emperor’s supervision and reported every move she made.
When he thought of Asha, who must have been hurt by him again, his heart ached.
He wanted to immediately run to her and comfort her.
Jackal lowered his head.
He should be by Asha’s side.
He didn’t have much time now. Now that this has happened, it was all or nothing.
Jackal was able to escape from the servants’ surveillance, secretly returned to his human form, and opened the door.
And as soon as he left, he turned back into a horse and ran down the corridor.