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TC Chapter 67

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Inside the cell, Jackal was lying on the floor, almost naked and bleeding.

After barely coming to his senses at Asha’s voice, he gathered all his strength and transformed into a horse.

He did not want to show this terrible side of Asha.

However, seeing him lying on the ground after transforming into a horse was just as terrifying and devastating.

His entire body was deeply dented with whip marks, blood dripped from every wound, and the area where the arrow had hit him was severely torn and bleeding.

Every time he breathed in and out, blood flowed from his mouth and wet the ground.

Asha rushed over to him and pulled him onto her knees as her eyes widened and tears welled up in her eyes.

“Jackal! Are you alright?”

Jackal was very puzzled by the fact that Asha had come here, but first, he looked up and saw her face.

He responded relieved to see that she wasn’t hurt.

“…… Purung.”

Asha burst into tears. 

He was a mess, but he still took care of others first even though his entire body was injured. 

Asha couldn’t help but bury her face in the back of his neck crying.

She could hear Sheppy’s heartbeat and feel his breathing.

There were so many things she wanted to talk about, but after seeing him like this, her mind seemed to go completely blank.

Asha hugged him and held back her urge to cry.

She knew that he would suffer even more if he saw her sad, so she desperately suppressed her tears.

Jackal could hear the sound of gulping and crying.

Asha soon took off the thin robe she was wearing and wrapped it around his body.

“…… Jackal, I have one last thing I want to say.”

Jackal’s blurry eyes widened slightly.

Her words sounded like she was saying goodbye, so he weakly shook his head.

Asha placed a light kiss on the bridge of his nose and spoke softly to reassure him.

“It’s okay. We’re going…..we’re going to be apart for while..… I wanted to see your face after a long time. I want to keep it deep in my eyes and remember it for a long time…….”

At that, Jackal returned to his human form. 

Asha stared at him, face to face, with her messed up face.

Jackal couldn’t open one of his eyes because it was horribly swollen, but with the other, he took a good look at Asha’s face.

His blue eyes shone clear and serious even in the dark.

Asha slowly opened her mouth.

“You promised me back then.”

     ‘Whatever happens, I will follow my chosen king.’

Recalling Jackal’s oath, Asha continued.

“I decided to do my best without giving up. Because this life is really precious to me……. I met new friends and made precious memories….. I don’t want to lose again. I intend to persuade His Majesty to make a contract.”

Jackal’s eyes widened just a bit.

“So please do what you can, Jackal. But promise me you won’t die… Promise me.”

Asha forced a smile through her teary eyes.

Jackal lifted Asha’s hand and kissed it with his torn, bloody lips.

And he spoke in a broken voice.

“……I won’t die. I will wait for you forever. I just hope that you are happy with whatever decision you make.”

* * * * *

“…… Your Majesty, It’s Duran.”

After Asha and Jackal’s meeting, Duran came to Karaf.

He kept the fact that he had allowed them to meet in secret but wanted to comfort Karaf’s aching heart at least a little. 

However, Karaf looked at him with a cold sweat on his face and said coldly, as if he had already reached his limit.

“…… Didn’t I tell you to guard Vanessa? Is my command a joke now?”

Duran lowered his head.

“…… I’m sorry, Your Majesty.”

Karaf nervously ran through his sweaty hair and said.

“If you understand, get out of here.”

“Your Majesty…….”

“Did you not hear me!”

Karaf groaned. 

He didn’t want to be mad at the only person who was on his side, but his emotions were out of control right now.

Fearing that he would unknowingly speak badly towards Duran, he wanted him to get out of there quickly.

However, Duran did not come out and said with a worried look.

“Your Majesty, the new moon is coming……”

At those words, Karaf held his head like mad and laughed.

Duran couldn’t leave him alone because he knew he was out of his mind.

Karaf laughed for a long time and said while catching his breath.

“……I will leave the palace for just a few days. I never want to show my ugly side to Vanessa again. She doesn’t want to see my face anyway, so it doesn’t matter.”

“Your Majesty, then I too…….”

“Don’t come with me, stay by Vanessa’s side. This is my command. Don’t make me repeat it three times.”

When Karaf rolled his eyes, Duran lowered his head bitterly.

“Yes, Your Majesty…….”

Seeing Karaf sitting on the edge of the bed with his head bowed, Duran had no choice but to leave the room.

* * * * *

Returning to her cell, Asha waited for Karaf to make a decision.

Jackal’s torture stopped until he made his decision, giving her some peace of mind. 

However, even after a day and two passed, he didn’t even show his nose.

Suddenly, outside the dark window, thunder and lightning roared with force, and rain began to fall.

Somehow, ominous energy washed over her.

It was the first time Asha had been afraid that he wouldn’t come to visit her.

Thunder rang out from the sky, like a beast streaking through the sky.

While listening to it, she had an ominous feeling, as if something had happened to him.

It was a butterfly’s intuition for a flower.

Asha called softly to Duran, who was standing guard outside with a miserable look as if he was in a bad mood.

“Sir Duran.”

Duran looked back at her. 

His face was stained with worry. 

Asha looked into his eyes and asked.

“Where is His Majesty now?”

Duran shuddered, slightly averted his gaze, and said.

“…… His Majesty has been away from the palace for a few days. He will return after organizing his thoughts. If you wait until then…….”

“You’re lying.”

Duran was slightly surprised by Asha’s words and looked back at her.

Asha asked seriously.

“Tell me the truth. What’s going on with His Majesty? Is that why he can’t come here?”

“…….”

Duran let out a small sigh and spoke the truth.

“Lady Vanessa, I probably told you once before. Since His Majesty was cursed, he would suffer severe pain once a month….….”

Asha remembered that. Her face hardened a bit and she asked.

“Is it around this time?”

Duran nodded.

“Originally, the period coincided with the flowering ceremony, but I understand that His Majesty has been forcibly enduring it by taking medicine.”

Duran turned his head with a sad look on his face.

He thought that telling her this would not change anything.

But it was then.

“Lead me right now.”

At Asha’s resolute words, Duran raised his head.

Her expression was very determined. 

She didn’t say anything else, but he knew what she was thinking and what was on her mind.

Duran led her out of the cell without saying a word.

He went out with Asha and went to the stable where his horse was.

And soon he led his special horse, a dark horse, and said.

“It’s not that I don’t trust Lady Vanessa, it’s for your safety, so I want the two of us to ride a horse together.”

As he said, if the two of them were riding different horses, it would be hard for him to protect her if something unexpected happened.

It was even more difficult to do it in a situation like the current one when it’s raining heavily and nobody can see an inch ahead.

Asha nodded and got on the horse first.

Duran jumped after her and led the horse with the utmost courtesy.

The two of them ran quickly through the heavy raindrops.

* * * * *

There was a small castle in the forest a bit far from the imperial palace.

It wasn’t long after it was built, but it was a secret place that no honored guest could enter and see.

On the surface, Karaf was known to visit this place to recuperate once a month.

From the past until now, Asha only knew that he was going hunting as a hobby and staying overnight.

When she went down to the hermetically closed castle basement, a terrible scream was heard from the corridor.

It was the sound of gasping in pain, like a monster tearing its chest off and screaming.

Asha ran after Duran, her face turning even paler, and soon she was in front of a room locked with chains.

It was like solitary confinement for a vicious criminal.

Now, there was an intermittent sound of breathing that sounded like sobs.

As Duran tried to open the door with a pained look on his face, Karaf gasped from inside.

“…… Who is it!?”

“Your Majesty, it’s me, Duran…….”

“I told you not to come……”

He was unable to finish his sentence and let out another terrible scream.

Duran asked urgently.

“Your Majesty! Are you all right!?”

“…… Don’t open the door.”

Duran paused at those words. 

Karaf muttered under his breath in a beastly voice.

“Don’t open the door……. If you do, I could kill you…… I’ve done this before on my own…… I can get over it. So go back……. This is an order.”

At that time, Asha said with a distorted look.

“Open the door.”

When Karaf heard her clear voice, she could feel him startle.

“Who else is there….?”

“Your Majesty, please forgive me for being disloyal…….”

Duran closed his eyes and opened the door. 

As the iron door opened with a loud sound, Asha’s eyes widened and trembled as she saw the room that soon appeared.

In the middle of the room, a blood-soaked Karaf lay writhing.

Red veins like rosebuds radiating from his heart seemed to bind and wound his entire body. 

A red pattern like a full moon burned into his chest like fire, creating deeper and deeper wounds.

It was almost as if a rose monster sleeping inside him was about to grab him and devour him. 

As if stabbed by his own thorn, Karaf rolled to the ground and groaned in pain.

Without blooming, he was already rotting inside…….

Asha covered her mouth and inadvertently shed a single tear.

He raised his sweaty face and found Asha, and his red eyes trembled.

“Asha……?”

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