Russell looked down at Wells' face, who had his eyes tightly shut.

The Honeywell siblings resemble each other despite their large age difference.

The siblings could be confused as a pair of twins.

Had it not been for Wells' facial lines and bones being thicker and more defined, it would have been difficult to tell the two apart just by their faces.

As Wells remained closed eyed, Rose's face came to mind more clearly.

The emperor's expression contorted; he let go of Wells' collar as if he were throwing him away.

Staggering, Wells collapses onto the sofa.

The emperor, too, collapsed into the seat, wiping his face with the palm of his hand.
He spoke in a muffled voice.

“I'm sorry, Wells, I was upset and embarrassed that I did not know those reasons and ended up disrespecting the duke.”

I understand why you did what you did.”

“Does anyone else know of the vessel?”

“There is no one.
It was just my father, my mother, and me who were aware.
After the two of them passed away, only I knew, and from now on, it's just the two of us, Your Majesty.”

A new and different silence settled over them as Russell struggled to make up his mind.

It's not that I'm upset about these new secrets in the Proud and Honeywell families.
I'm furious about what will happen to Rose…

Russell swallowed the words that bubbled up.

Take a moment to catch your breath, then try again, Russell.

“Let's go see this secret.”

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Wells said nothing.

Rather, the Duke of Honeywell bowed properly and quietly left the drawing room.

Left alone, Russell tiredly buried his face in his palms.

Sitting in that position, he refused to move until the sunset light bathed the room.

Standing up, he staggered unsteadily before forcing his body to regain its strength and walking out. 

Waiting for their emperor, the knights set to guard the door to their master's parlor fell in line and escorted the emperor to the advisory gate.

The grand Imperial Palace, with all its splendor, was designed with long corridors and numerous, large, and extravagant windows, all of which fully maximized the natural beauty of the sun's light and the night's moonlight. 

Alas, sunset brought about a beauty all of its own, as the corridors of the Imperial Palace had been dyed a fiery red. 

Walking down the hallways brought about the illusion of stepping through flames. 

Unaware of his surroundings, Russell headed straight to his bedroom. 

“I'll be retiring for the night.”

After commanding the knights and sending them on their way, he shut the door. 

The bedroom was as large as the knights' training ground, but Russell ignored it and instead chose to go to the built-in bookshelf, unhesitantly removing a plain book depicting the history of the empire. 

To his surprise, the moment the book left its shelf, the large bookshelf mounted on the wall effortlessly began to move. 

Beyond the shelf, there was a narrow entrance that could only fit one person. 

Entering the hidden staircase, what lay ahead was left to his imagination, as the path was accompanied by endless darkness.

The darkness gave way to the illusion of a never-ending staircase and an ominous, cold breeze. 

Closing his eyes, he trusted his senses and stepped into the darkness. 

With only the sound of his footsteps in the darkness, the bookshelf soundlessly slid back into place.

Startled by the movement, Russell subconsciously opened his eyes. 

Although it was hazy, he could make out the shape of the stairs as they descended.

Walking forward, he used the tips of his fingers as a guide against the wall as he began his journey. 

He wondered to himself as he reached the bottom of the stairs: if it was a secret passage, where did the breeze come from? A secret passage couldn't have windows. 

Stretching out his hand, he felt the direction of the wind. 

It picked up, blowing his silver hair and his clothes away.

When there was a pause in the breeze, Russell moved on.
It was to climb upwards. 

As he rose to the top of the next set of stairs, he guessed he had climbed the exact distance he had descended.

Pushing against the wall in his way, a click sounded as the wall slid open.

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He'd arrived at a wide cave. 

Inspecting his surroundings, he found himself in a wide cave where even the smallest of movements would cause an echo.

“I haven't been here since my father brought me here when I was a child.”

His eyebrows furrowed.
There was a heavy pressure from that place.
It was crushing and all-consuming.
Just standing, a person would have to constantly fight against the urge to get out as soon as possible; feeling ill was only the start of their troubles. 

Russell continued forward, going deeper and deeper into the cave. 

At the end, there it lay. 

A single sword.
Stuck in place.

It had endured for a long time, but rust had slowly consumed its edges, removing its once sharp blade.

The emperor drew closer to the rusted weapon.

Before his feet, an engraving on the ground caught his eye. 

“Spear the heart of the evil being with this holy sword.
Imprison its body in a mirror, bleeding and suffering, neither red nor blue.

Put the soul, the source of destruction, locked in the vessel. 

So long as this holy sword does not pierce the vessel, the evil being, the destroyer, shall no longer destroy.”

Looking at the crudely engraved phrase, Russell rubbed his eyes in frustration. 

“I have this vague idea that the Honeywells are in possession of the vessel…
But who is the vessel? That too—“

He abruptly ended his sentence.

In his mind, a complicated thread began to untangle itself.

“Did the former Duke of Honeywell place the beast into Rose's body?!”

He thought of Rose, the shy girl who avoided celebrations, and he realized that he'd rarely ever gotten to see her. 

At the least, he'd seen her at the banquet at the Imperial Palace, but her expression was always grave.

To put it bluntly, she was always tense. 

Whenever she was in the presence of Elliot Proud, that tension would ease, but Russell had never seen Rose Honeywell smile brightly. 

So what if she is a member of the Honeywell family?

He knew that had she not been a part of a ducal family or if he'd not been friends with Wells, their paths would never have been fated to cross. 

But their paths have already long since crossed.

The emperor would do anything, even using the emperor's authority, if it meant Rose smiling brightly. 

And he'd done so in the past.

For Rose Howeywell to smile again, he'd approved the engagement and marriage between her and Elliot Proud. 


The engagement of two families, just to make her smile, would have become the starting point that would drive Rose to hell.

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