A month after that.
“I don’t think you can put it off any longer, Your Majesty.”
At those words, Wilhelm’s eyes, which had been uninspired all along, turned wide.
“You can’t leave the Empress’ seat empty for this long.”
“… Duke Barantes.”
“Please make a wise decision and make Lady Hazel your Empress.”
Wilhelm stared at the Duke of Barantes with his squalid eyes.
Since his daughter’s disappearance, he had been actively leading the mainstream opinion of the aristocrats to raise Avelin as the new Empress instead of looking for her.
When the father of the missing Empress, not anyone else, begged, other nobles naturally changed their will.
So Wilhelm has never been as upset with the Duke of Barantes as he had been in recent years.
It was much more intrusive than before he swore allegiance to him by the oath of Goddess.
It was because he insisted on raising Avelin as the new Empress at every meeting.
How could he upset him like this? It was crazy.
“I must have told you at the last meeting.”
Thus, the cool warning could not be avoided even by the Empress’ father.
“If you bring it up again, I will consider it as a protest.”
“The Empress will surely come back.”
But Wilhelm’s voice, saying so, was trembling. With the slightest disbelief he had.
“I believe so. So, never again, never say that I should put Lady Hazel as Empress again.”
“But, Your Majesty, you can’t wait forever…”
“Mrs. Rochester has already taken over and ruled the palace’s safety. The first two years after I ascended to the throne, she had a hard time like that.”
Wilhelm drove a wedge into his words with the air of it being no issue.
“So I’m going to wait at least two more years.”
“Let’s wrap up today’s meeting here.”
Before the Duke of Barantes said anything more, Wilhelm quickly finished the meeting and left. It was only then that he had a little breathing room.
“Are you okay?”
Colton asked, worried. Wilhelm replied that he was not okay, only in his mind.
He had always been like that these days. He couldn’t breathe properly.
In particular, when the Duke of Barantes scratched his insides like before, it was even harder to breathe properly.
Anger broke out inside and pushed him to the limit. A little more time and Wilhelm figured he would get psychosis.
“If you go back to your palace, you should get some rest. You don’t look well.”
Colton couldn’t have known his condition. He recommended in a voice of genuine concern.
But Wilhelm answered flatly.
“I don’t need it. I’m not sleepy.”
It had already been a month since Anastasia disappeared. Wilhelm had never slept properly all that month.
It must have been his judgment to assist him at a short distance. At best, he could only take a nap.
He even pushed himself to the point where he almost passed out after working to the limit.
Not even eating properly, Colton couldn’t even imagine how bad his health had been lately.
One day he became so worried that he begged him to sleep. To which he got the following response.
“I think I forgot how to sleep.”
Wilhelm confessed with empty eyes.
“It would be okay if I just lay down like this. If the Empress hears about me, she will show her face at least once.”
Colton, shocked to hear this, threatened Wilhelm with a sleeping pill if he didn’t go to bed right away.
If it was Wilhelm now, it wouldn’t be strange at all if he really ruined himself with such thoughts.
In the end, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he was barely able to survive by putting him to sleep in a soothing way.
‘How much longer can he last…?’
Watching Wilhelm grow more and more broken, Colton grew increasingly regretful of his decision not to hold onto Anastasia.
In the end, when she left, nothing changed.
Wilhelm was still refusing to have Avelin as empress, and the palace was empty.
These days, he thought it would be better to have Anastasia.
At least then Wilhelm was fine. And he looked happy.
Now he was in a state of exhaustion to such an extent that it made no difference whether he died from divine punishment or withered from lack of sleep.
When Wilhelm finally arrived at the Central Palace, his complexion was not very good.
As of today, he hadn’t slept for four days, so it was natural.
‘At this rate, I’m going to have to put him to sleep.’
That was when Colton thought he was going to force him to sleep.
Wilhelm staggered as if he was about to fall, and Colton, startled, tried to grab him. However, someone else was faster than that.
A worried voice broke the air’s stillness.
“Are you okay?”
No matter where she appeared, Avelin supported Wilhelm with a surprised face.
Perhaps she had come to the Central Palace and kept waiting for him. For Avelin recently, that was her daily life.
“I’ll take you to the bedroom.”
“… Leave me.”
Wilhelm opened his mouth in a sharp voice.
He didn’t just do it with words. Before Avelin could move her hand away from him, he struck her hand which was supporting him.
Avelin took a step back, biting her lip at the familiar cold treatment.
But even looking at the distorted expression on her face, Wilhelm did not show any sympathy.
It was natural. He couldn’t afford to care about anyone now, and if he could, it would never have been Avelin.
He didn’t care about the person who made Anastasia leave his side. Now and forever.
Wilhelm still spoke to Avelin in a cold voice.
“I see you often at the Central Palace these days.”
“… I am worried about Your Majesty.”
Avelin licked her lips and said.
“I heard that you haven’t slept well lately. You don’t even eat well…”
“I know this is because the Empress is gone, but…”
“Just go away.”
As if he didn’t want to hear any more, Wilhelm cut Avelin before she could finish speaking.
“Go back to Sienna Palace. And don’t show your face in the Central Palace unless I call for you.”
“… Your Majesty.”
Avelin called Wilhelm in a bewildered voice, but he walked past Avelin, as if he didn’t want to speak any more, and walked into his room.
Colton glanced at the Avelin who was left behind, and followed Wilhelm.
Left alone, Avelin stared at where Wilhelm had been with her terrifying eyes.
It had been a month since Anastasia disappeared.
But there was no progress between the two.
No, it would be right to say it was getting worse.
When Anastasia was there, Wilhelm was still polite and courteous to her, but now he rejected her as if she were the culprit.
Things were about to go wrong again.
Avelin turned around, grinding her teeth. Now was time for a tactical retreat.
Wilhelm was absolutely convinced that Anastasia would return. There was no reason. He just had a feeling she would.
No, maybe it was just hope. A desperate wish that she would come back.
So he made an unfounded justification that she would come back. Still, it kept Wilhelm alive.
If there was one thing that changed positively after Anastasia disappeared, it was that Wilhelm became obsessed with painting.
By any chance, Wilhelm feared that Anastasia would not return because his senses and his justification had gone awry. And he was prepared for anything like that to happen.
From the moment he accepted the fact that Anastasia had left, Wilhelm began painting portraits of her.
He had a purpose to remember and not to forget her, but above all he needed a montage of her.
After Anastasia disappeared, his insistence on finding her was disapproved by most of the nobles, including Duke of Barantes.
Eventually, he personally dispatched the knights to search for Anastasia.
However, for a month, there was no outcome even with fairly accurate montages.
“What did you tell me last time?”
“I did an investigation, but…”
As soon as he returned to the room, Colton opened his mouth in a troubled voice, next to Wilhelm, who was sitting in front of the easel and was drawing a portrait of Anastasia.
“Unfortunately, we have not found any contact between the temple and the Hazel House.”
“But I’ll find out more.”
After a brief reply, he gestured as if he was going to leave.
Colton wanted to tell him that a good night’s sleep came first, not a picture, but it was obvious that he wouldn’t listen to it anyway. He gave up and left.
Wilhelm, left alone, was absorbed in painting again for a long time, and suddenly took something out of his arms.
It was a letter. Left by Anastasia.
Wilhelm opened the letter, which he had already read dozens of times, and read it again.