Asha smiled awkwardly.
“I don’t know if that was an oracle, but as a butterfly, he gave me an answer on how to proceed.”
Dart thought for a moment before saying.
“I see… God said to me… that an empire ruled by an unflowered emperor is unstable and susceptible to the emergence of monsters. Especially since His Majesty is a black rose, the intensity of the threat is greater.”
Asha’s face darkened.
In the Flower Empire, it has long been said that if the emperor does not rule properly, the flower will wither and the empire will gradually decline.
Even the previous emperor, Ricardo, who didn’t rule properly, had brought an unprecedented cold season to the empire. It was believed that the reason for the birth of the Black Rose was because of that.
Just like the flowering ceremony of Karaf went wrong, heinous things kept happening in the empire.
* * * * *
Karaf sat alone in his office, suffering from a headache.
There were numerous stacks of paper on his desk, all of which are incident reports of monsters appearing all over the empire.
As a temporary measure, Karaf had quickly dispatched knights from the imperial palace to subdue the monsters.
But before he knew it, his hands had become unusable, and now even the most elite unit, the Cactus Knights, had to step up.
The empire was consumed by great anxiety, and suspicions about Karaf were growing among the people.
Karaf nervously crumpled the papers and wrapped his arms around his head.
But then, he heard someone announce.
“……Your Majesty, Lady Vanessa has arrived.”
Upon hearing Asha’s arrival, Karaf quickly raised his head.
Asha discovered him buried in piles of paper with a troubled expression on his face.
When Karaf looked at her, his face brightened as if he had never been troubled.
As Asha approached him, she asked cautiously.
“Your Majesty, may I help you with the paperwork?”
“No! It’s all right. I can do it by myself.”
Karaf replied, suddenly becoming flustered and trying to clear the papers from his desk.
At that moment, Asha sneakily picked up a fallen stack of papers from the floor and looked through them, causing Karaf’s face to be slightly stunned.
Asha could understand why Karaf would not let her see the documents.
Her face became serious when she heard about the monsters appearing and Karaf’s declining reputation.
Karaf couldn’t lift his face in embarrassment and kept his eyes fixed on the ground.
His eyelashes, which had fallen over his red eyes, looked very uneasy.
“…… Your Majesty.”
“It’s okay. This is not something the Empress needs to worry about.”
Asha approached him, calling him again.
“It’s nothing to worry about either, Your Majesty. Aren’t we both already aware that the current rumors are all nonsense?”
Asha tried to comfort him, but Karaf couldn’t be sure if it really was just a rumor.
Could he really be sure that the events were not because of him?
The sudden appearance of so many monsters at once was unprecedented.
No, maybe it was an expected event that just hadn’t happened earlier.
He was cursed….
As Karaf was lost in thought, Asha, who was reviewing the documents, made a serious declaration.
“Your Majesty, I will also participate in the monster subjugation.”
Karaf asked, startled as if he had just woken up.
Asha looked into his red eyes seriously.
“As the Empress and Vanessa, I will participate in the monster subjugation for the honor of the Imperial Family. The people will feel and trust that they are protected by the Imperial Family. All the mishaps that occur in the empire should be taken care of by the flower and butterfly together.”
“No, it’s not possible. I can’t let the Empress be in danger. If something happened to the Empress again, I wouldn’t be able to live sanely. If it’s really for the peace of the empire, don’t even mention such things.”
Asha remained silent.
As expected, he flatly refused.
As she reviewed the documents, she suddenly had a good idea.
“Your Majesty, it’s almost time for the Month of Blossoms, and we will be holding events at the palace soon.”
Karaf thought it was not the most important, but he finally remembered when Asha handed over the papers he had thrown away.
His mind was complicated, and he muttered irritably while scanning the event documents.
“There are too many damn events in this empire. Should we just get rid of all of them….?”
The chamberlain who was standing at the door was frightened and shouted. But Karaf was serious.
Most of the events held in the palace were pointless displays.
In particular, since the previous emperor was extravagant and interested in entertainment, he would invite nobles to a party at the imperial palace whenever he had a chance, so there were a lot of special events.
It seemed like a good idea to get rid of all of them except for what was necessary.
But then, Asha spoke cautiously.
“Your Majesty, how about inviting the nobles to help the Imperial Family at this Month of Blossoms event?”
Karaf seemed to have forgotten his thoughts about removing the events and focused on the documents again.
The Month of Blossom event was a ceremony where flowers were gathered to keep the empire safe from all kinds of natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and landslides.
In fact, it was not a bad event that could show the authority of the butterfly, a commoner.
If the ‘Flowering Ceremony’ is the biggest event that highlights the emperor, then the ‘Month of Blossoms’ gave a unique authority to the butterfly to gather the people she wanted to her side.
It is said that the reason why butterflies mostly come from commoners is the will of God who wants to keep the aristocracy in check and balance.
Although Asha was ridiculed by the nobles and no one wanted to be close to her during the last flower festival in her past life, things were different this time.
“The Flowering Festival was ruined. How about we hold a ‘Lantern Festival’ together at the temple? The public sentiment is not good due to the outbreak of monsters.”
“A Lantern Festival?”
“Yes, it would be good to have a ceremony to pray to the gods while uniting the hearts of the people of the empire.”
Karaf nodded his head, impressed by Asha’s clever idea.
Indeed, the people of the empire loved any kind of festival and eagerly awaited them.
They needed a way to relieve stress and a source of hope during this depressing and desperate time.
Asha smiled faintly as she spoke.
“Flowers must be pruned well in order to grow better. You should cut off withered petals as soon as possible so that they look better and don’t transfer to other flower stems.”
Asha remembered Nia Delphinium’s visit and realized that as a butterfly, it might be a good idea to understand the tendencies of the forces around Karaf and attract necessary allies while pruning out the ones to reject.
In the past, she had been too timid to do so, but now so much had changed.
She wanted to fill Karaf’s surroundings with good people and create a positive environment. It was time to arrange the flowers in the jungle-like palace.
Karaf looked at Asha with a slightly vague expression.
In the past, he had always dealt with these matters alone, but now that Vanessa was by his side, he felt secure.
He regretted not consulting her sooner.
Asha returned to her room and checked her to-do list for the event.
First, there was a ritual of offering dance to God at the temple.
Asha was confident in her dancing skills, as she had practiced tirelessly in her past life for this day.
She knew she could captivate the nobles with her dance and gain their favor, just as she had captured Karaf’s heart before.
Upon hearing the news, Ella, who knew Asha’s body size, went straight to work on making dresses.
All the maids gathered in the dressing room, excited to see what kind of dress Asha would wear this time.
Asha looked at them, her face flushed, feeling a little hesitant.
Somehow, every time she wore a dress, they seemed to look at her with fanatical eyes.
Asha asked Ella.
“Does the dance start at sunset?”
“Yes, Lady Vanessa.”
Asha thought for a moment, then smiled as she whispered something in Ella’s ear. Ella’s eyes widened.
“Lady Vanessa truly has a genius eye!”
“What is it? Please tell us too!”
Sonya and the other maids crowded around Ella, eager to know.
Asha secretly smiled and said.
“Well then, I’ll leave it to you.”
“Just leave it to me.”
Ella said with a determined look on her face before quickly leaving the room.
* * * * *
Jackal continued his training in the valley until late evening.
He repeated diving into the water several times and was now meditating while being hit by the waterfall.
With his shirt off, he untied his hair and closed his eyes.
The strong stream of water fell onto his head, hitting his body with cold force.
His tense muscles bulged, and his bronze skin looked like a dynamic and lively statue, soaked in water.
Sosa had gone down to the village to gather information and avoid disturbing Jackal.
After merging with the water for a while, Jackal suddenly heard a voice ringing in his ears.
[… Where are you?]
It was a clear voice, reminiscent of that of a young boy.
Jackal furrowed his brows and spoke telepathically to the unknown voice.
[Who are you?]
But the voice only murmured like an echo from afar and was no longer audible.
Jackal opened his eyes, feeling certain that the voice he just heard was that of a water spirit.
Was it looking for him?
With a sense of urgency, Jackal sprang up from his seat and peered down at the bottom of the water.
“Are you there…….”
He didn’t know when Sosa would return, but Jackal felt like he would miss the spirit forever if he didn’t go look for it now.
“Wait. I will awaken you.”
Jackal chained himself up, took a deep breath, and plunged into the water. As he sank to the bottom, he closed his eyes and sent another telepathic message.
At that moment, a small vibration occurred in Asha’s room.
The dagger with a sapphire-eyed horse carving on it, which she had brought when she first came to the palace, vibrated and shook inside the small box of her belongings.
A blue light from the sapphire eyes flickered suddenly.
Simultaneously, Jackal struggled violently in the water, gasping for breath.
Meanwhile, Sosa, who had returned from the village, screamed in panic when he realized that Jackal was nowhere to be seen.
“Chief! Where are you?”
Running around with his nose sniffing, he finally found Jackal struggling painfully in the water and screamed.