Jackal glared at him with a cold sweat breaking out on his face.
“…… The emperor’s woman? Do you think you deserve to talk about her after leading to her death?”
Karaf responded dumbfounded.
“I don’t know what the hell you are talking about. Aren’t you the one who is leading her to her death? If she hadn’t met you, none of this would have happened to her!”
Jackal burst out laughing.
“That is exactly what I want to say now. I am speechless. Do you realize how much pain Asha has suffered all these years because of you?”
Jackal’s piercing blue eyes and Karaf’s fiery red eyes collided.
Karaf said, clenching Jackal’s jaw so hard it almost broke.
“I gave her all the love I had. Still, it was she who betrayed my heart first. She left me for another man…!”
Jackal gritted his teeth.
“The flower must be bad in front of the butterfly’s eyes.”
Karaf once again gripped the wound on his side tightly.
Jackal closed his eyes tight and frowned.
He twisted the wound and could no longer control his expression.
Karaf said in a low voice.
“From now on, the name ‘Hyacinth’ will never be mentioned again. Because that flower will disappear forever in the Empire.”
Jackal gasps for air.
Karaf’s face expressionless watched him in pain, then withdrew his hand from the wound and wiped his bloody hands clean.
Drops of blood fell to the ground, and at the same time, Jackal lowered his head.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Duran, standing in the doorway like a stone statue, answered.
“I’m going to go see Vanessa now, so torture him. If he faints, wake him up immediately, and don’t let him rest for a while. Oh no, don’t kill him by mistake.”
When Jackal heard that he was going to Asha, his blue eyes immediately widened and he charged as if he was going to run away at any moment.
The chains that restrained his body rattled frantically.
Karaf glanced at him, turned around, and said.
“Don’t worry. You won’t die that easily. I have an appointment with Vanessa.”
Jackal looked at him with bloodshot eyes as Karaf smirked.
“In return, I will give you pain worse than death. You will beg me to kill you. There’s nothing more exciting than that.”
Karaf walked out of the cell.
He wasn’t smiling at all as he kept walking.
As he walked down the dark dungeon corridors, his face was dark and maddened as a reaper’s.
* * * * *
The prison where Asha is being held is made of dark stone walls, but unlike Jackal, she was in a cleaner space.
This was a place where nobles of relatively high status were detained for only a short period by the Imperial Family when they committed crimes, and it was different from the worst dungeon.
But here, too, a prison is a prison, so the place is dark and cold.
Asha was squatting against the bed with her head bowed.
From the small square window, sunlight streamed in and shone down on her.
The sunlight made her blond hair shine white, and the dust rose like a mist around her.
Then, the sound of footsteps broke the silence.
Finally, the footsteps stopped in front of the iron bars, and Asha, who had been crouching like a pupa without moving, raised her head.
Karaf stood before her like a cold, solid pillar.
His expressionless face was white, and a fierce wind seemed to be blowing.
His authoritative look brought Asha back to her old memories.
Every time she ran away, he would always make that face when he caught her……
He remained silent, then asked in a deep voice.
“Why did you betray me?”
“Answer me. Why do you always lie to me? Why don’t you trust me?”
The word ‘trust’ brought Asha to her senses.
“…… Your Majesty.”
When she spoke in a low voice, Karaf remained silent and listened.
Asha looked at his face and continued.
“Have you ever trusted me?”
Karaf’s face hardened a little, but somehow her face looked so sad that he was embarrassed to say anything else.
Asha tried to smile through her pained face.
“You must be expecting me to make Your Majesty bloom. But I can’t break Your Majesty’s curse, I can’t make you bloom. I tried my best, but I have already failed once in the past.”
Karaf’s face paled at the completely unexpected words.
He asked, stuttering uncharacteristically.
“What…What did you mean……? You failed in the past?”
When Asha didn’t reply, he pressed on fiercely.
“Answer me! I asked what the hell that meant!”
“…… Your Majesty.”
“Your Majesty, can you forgive that close friend who led Your Majesty to death? Can you love again that close friend who put a curse on Your Majesty’s heart before he died……?”
When Asha didn’t answer the question and asked a random question, Karaf’s face became even more confused.
“Neither do I.”
“What do you mean…..”
Karaf didn’t understand what she was talking about.
He felt as if a flower and a butterfly were talking to each other in different languages.
And that, ironically, was the feeling he felt every time Asha spoke to him……
Karaf, again, couldn’t accept that for reasons he couldn’t understand, the person he thought was his, was trying to get away from him.
Then, without realizing it, he pressed on more eagerly.
“So you mean you weren’t going to forgive me from the first day you entered the palace…..?”
Asha didn’t answer.
In response, Karaf said more furiously.
“Yes, I resent your people and torment the innocent. However, I regretted it shortly after the flower banquet, I treated you with all my heart. I did my best to give you love, to win your heart. You keep saying that I didn’t trust you. Is that why you abandoned me and chose that man?”
Asha stared at him without saying a word, he was blinded by jealousy.
Karaf’s face hardened.
“I came here after torturing him.”
Asha’s eyes trembled.
Karaf clenched his fist seeing her react as soon as he mentioned it.
Does that mean that he is so precious to her?
If so, I can’t leave him alone.
If I make her precious man suffer, she will feel helpless.
Unlike me, who is already stained with malice to the bone, she is a good person, so she will have no choice but to choose me and love me, even if it is forced.
The only thing precious to her has to be me.
She is the Empire’s only butterfly, and she is his only light and hope…….
Looking at Asha, who couldn’t say anything, Karaf deliberately spoke more cruelly.
“He will be tortured and die painfully. And his head will hang in the square for a long time until his flesh rots beyond recognition.”
Asha’s face paled and trembled.
It was the same ending that Jackal had in the past, although the reason had changed.
Karaf laughed like a madman.
“All the people will look and point to his face. He dared to kidnap the emperor’s woman on the sacred day of the flowering ceremony. I will throw his rotten corpse to the wild beasts or the crows. The grave is a luxury for him.”
Asha screamed, closing her eyes and covering her ears, not wanting to listen to these terrible things any longer.
“Stop……! Please stop……!”
Seeing her strong reaction for the first time, Karaf’s eyes widened slightly.
As soon as he came to his senses, he saw Asha crouching miserably and trembling on the ground.
He could see her tears dripping down the floor.
Karaf felt a sharp pain in his head and put a finger to his forehead.
He felt again that he had seen her like this before…..
It was the same during the flower banquet, and every time he saw Asha, he kept seeing different memories, like a feeling of deja vu.
Karaf lowered his voice to Asha, who was crying silently.
“Still, I…… I will never let you die. I’ll give you one last chance. Now, completely erase him from your heart and become my woman. Choose me.”
Although he was speaking firmly, his eyes were slightly trembling.
He was afraid that she would choose death instead of him.
Just imagining her death made her heart collapse. He doesn’t want to see it.
Then Asha looked at him through her teary purple eyes and said.
“…… Your majesty. As I said before, I cannot love the person who killed me before, twice.”
“What the hell do you…….”
Karaf muttered with a pale face as if his soul had left his body.
“Now that I think about it, you told me the same thing……. What the hell did you mean by that? Please explain it in a way that I can understand!”
He exploded with rage.
He always thought that he would get angry no matter if the situation didn’t turn out the way he wanted.
“……If a person tries to take a rose and was deeply pierced by a sharp thorn, that person will not try to take the rose.”
Asha squeezed her eyes shut, shivering.
“I am afraid of Your Majesty. You’re scary enough to give me goosebumps just coming near me…!”
Karaf’s expression now contorted piteously at her cry of pain.
I wished that this day would never come…….
Asha finally made up her mind and opened her mouth as if driven by some irresistible force.
She thought that she would keep it a secret for the rest of her life until she died.
“……Your Majesty. Actually, this is not the first time that Your Majesty and I have met.”