Karaf still has a lot to work out with Asha, he was disappointed that he didn’t have time to talk about it.
But today was a really important day, so he quickly returned to his dignified appearance and said.
“Let’s go out now. Everyone eagerly awaits the Empire Butterfly.”
He held out a hand, so Asha took it without a word.
She had held his hand before, but unlike Jackal, his hands were as cold as ice.
They left and headed to the temple in a colorful and antique carriage.
The temple was already crowded and noisy with many spectators even before they arrived.
The two of them got off at the entrance and were about to mount prepared horses and go straight through the people of the Empire.
But then, from afar, a familiar horse walked hand in hand with a servant.
Asha’s emotionless purple eyes slowly widened and her vitality returned.
She quickly ran over to stroke his mane, Jackal raising his head up and down, expressing his joy.
Eyes wide, Asha gazed at the smooth-groomed blue-gray fur, ornate silver saddle, and magical bridle.
Karaf said softly from behind.
“I brought your horse because I thought you would be very nervous. I think that horse would make you less nervous. This will be the most special and joyous day for both of us, so ride the horse you love the most.”
Asha looked back at him, a little moved.
Karaf’s expression was calm.
He sent for Sheppy because he was worried that they couldn’t see each other since the day they were locked up.
It was his first sincere apology.
Asha tilted her head slightly towards him.
“…… Thank you for your concern, Your Majesty.”
Karaf’s worried expression relaxed a little.
Asha once again made up her mind as she looked at Sheppy who was staring at her from the side.
Asha now thinks that if she walks this path, she will walk a path of no return.
As in the past, she has chosen the path of becoming the Emperor’s Butterfly, but it is not yet known what the consequences of that choice will be.
As Karaf said, today will be remembered as the most special and happy day, or as the most painful and sad day……
But she would never regret that choice.
Seeing Sheppy, she was reminded again that Lycaons could enjoy a free life, and her mind calmed down.
Just like in the past, she was not alone in this palace.
Now there was Sonya at her side, friendly maids, and above all, Sheppy.
She was no longer afraid of anything.
Asha climbed lightly on Sheppy’s back, and said, gently stroking his mane with her slim white hand.
“Let’s go, Sheppy.”
Sheppy walked solemnly, looking only forward.
When the two of them entered the temple, the people on both sides of the road cheered at the same time.
“Long live Your Majesty! Long live Lady Vanessa!”
All the people wore the traditional clothes of the empire.
Women wore dresses with transparent shawls on their shoulders as if symbolizing the wings of a butterfly, and men wore clothes with puffed hems above the ankles as if symbolizing flower buds.
Today was an auspicious day when a butterfly descended.
Asha smiled gracefully at them and waved her hand slowly.
Karaf also appeared before the imperial people today with the dignity of an emperor.
With his hair neatly pulled back, he looked down at the people with his red eyes and smiled languidly but confidently.
Rose petals fluttered in all directions and the screams rang out with such force that they could tear eardrums apart.
The two of them were really well-matched emperor and empress.
On the hill where the journey would end, a magnificent silver altar with a hole in the roof was visible in the distance.
There, Asha would light a beacon of blossoms and hold a ceremony to marry the Imperial Flower.
But then when they entered the narrow path that led to the altar.
Sheppy, who had been walking fine until recently, suddenly started acting strange.
Sheppy suddenly changed direction and started running like crazy.
Asha’s eyes widened and screamed.
“Uh oh, Sheppy……!”
Asha panicked and pulled on the reins, but Sheppy didn’t listen and galloped off wildly.
Looking back, she saw Karaf approaching in great shock.
Asha tightened the reins again, but Sheppy still didn’t listen.
Jackal ran at full speed and jumped through the dense crowd.
People got scared and hurriedly fled.
Having managed to avoid a collision with people, Sheppy began to run more recklessly.
The surrounding servants and knights realized something was seriously wrong with the excited horse.
“Everyone stop that horse!”
As Duran yelled, the knights quickly grabbed their weapons and began chasing after Sheppy.
However, at that moment, smoke rose from all directions along with a deafening roar.
They were smoke bombs.
Karaf’s face paled and weary, then turned fierce.
His red eyes flashed and he screamed.
“It’s the minorities! Chase that horse right now……!”
“…… It’s not going to happen.”
Gabe, who was hiding in the crowd, grinned and murmured.
They settled into the temple in advance and prepared for Asha’s retrieval operation.
It was a serious operation that would not tolerate a single mistake, resulting in at least a beheading if they failed, so they memorized the geography of the temple’s surroundings over and over enough to walk around with their eyes closed.
Jackal also received a map from them in the guise of a dating spot, and while he was staying in the Imperial Palace, he grasped the structure of the temple.
They began simultaneously detonating smoke bombs from all directions, and signaling with explosives and the howl of a hawk so that Asha and Jackal could escape safely.
Jackal was blind and his nose was paralyzed, relying solely on his hearing to find his way.
Their original plan was to detonate smoke bombs during the flowering ceremony, and they would find Asha’s scent, force her onto his back and run.
However, things went relatively smoothly thanks to an unexpected favor from Karaf.
The Cactus Knights aimed their arrows at him, but there were too many people and the smoke obscured their view, so they couldn’t fire hastily.
It was a situation where people could get hurt if they made a mistake.
Furthermore, it was difficult to discern who the enemy was because all the Lycaons wore the traditional clothing of the Empire and hid among the general public.
Nagi and Yuri, short in stature, disguised themselves as mother and son, obstructing the movement of the knights.
Nagi cried loudly as if he was afraid of the world, and Yuri ran riot like crazy and secretly blocked the knights’ movements.
The people around them were even more agitated by their reactions, and scattered in all directions.
That was enough to distract the knights.
Duran narrowed his brows and followed Asha with hawk eyes.
Asha leaned her upper body forward, squinting against the smoke at the speed of the horse’s frantic gallop.
The wind ruffled her hair, which had been beautifully styled by the maids.
It was a fierce chase that was impossible to see.
But then something happened when they were about to leave the temple.
As soon as the crowd around him thinned out a bit and the smoke cleared a bit, an arrow flew from afar.
And at the same time, Sheppy let out a sharp cry.
When Asha looked down in surprise, she saw an arrow pierced just above his pelvis and blood dripping from it.
But Sheppy didn’t stop running even though he was breathing heavily.
Gabe’s hawk soared high into the sky through the smoke with a long, high-pitched cry.
Following the hawk, Sheppy headed straight for a deserted mountain road, and, while avoiding the dense trees, went deeper into the mountain so that the knights could not easily pursue them.
After that, Sheppy, who ran for a long time and completely lost track, soon stopped only after reaching a deep cave.
With his injured body, he ran at full speed with all his might, his eyes were blurry as if he was going to run out of breath at any moment.
Asha scrambled down, removed Sheppy’s bridle and saddle, dragged him into the cave, and set him on the ground.
Sheppy’s body, drenched in blood and cold sweat, shook from head to toe.
A suffocating sound escaped incessantly from his nose.
With tears in her eyes, Asha couldn’t bear to caress Sheppy’s aching body with her trembling hands.
“Why did you do that, Sheppy……. Why? … Huh? Did you want to take me out of the palace because you were afraid that I would be unhappy if I stayed there……?”
With those words, he exhaled sweetly, faintly opened his eyes, and looked at her.
The way she looked at him seemed so sad as if the world had fallen…….
Asha buried her face in Sheppy’s neck and began to cry.
“You can’t die… … . If Sheppy dies, I will die with you.”
Jackal slowly closed his eyes again. Tears welled up at the corners of his eyes as well.
Asha mercilessly tore at the precious dress she was wearing.
When she carefully examined Sheppy’s body to cover his injuries, he still had a sharp arrowhead stuck in the side.
She couldn’t believe he was running so fast with her on his back.
Asha’s eyes trembled, but she soon pulled herself together.
“Sheppy, it’s going to hurt a lot. But you have to put up with it, okay? I’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt too much.”
Asha held the arrow in both hands, took a deep breath, and pulled the arrow out of his body.
Sheppy jerked violently, his agonies echoing through the cave.
Asha covered his wound with the fabric of her torn dress and hugged Sheppy’s body fighting the pain so that the wound would not open any further.
Asha’s dress was stained with blood.
Sheppy, gasping for breath in her arms, soon couldn’t get over the pain and closed his haggard eyes.
Asha got scared and covered the horse’s face with both hands, but Sheppy was already unconscious.
She looked around helplessly, not knowing what to do, and got out quickly.
It was as if she was going to lose her mind, and it seemed to her that the whole place was spinning.