The man screamed in pain and swung his sword at me. Reflexively, I threw the Imperial History I had been holding directly at him.
The Koreans were said to be tenacious people.
With a dull thud, the man’s sword, swung with considerable force, collided with the Imperial History.
I took a step back with a pale face.
If that sword had pierced my flesh, I would have been as good as dead.
Although I had been worried about the state of the book the protagonist asked me to bring, now was not the time to be concerned about that.
My heart pounded with unease. I had to somehow get rid of that sword first.
“Damn it, my eyes!”
The man grabbed his eyes and contorted his body.
Well, it would be blind anyway if the poison I had sprinkled took effect.
I swallowed my saliva and looked around. However, there were no weapons to be found nearby.
Anxiety quickly took over.
Moreover, I didn’t even know how potent that poison was.
“What are you?”
I asked as calmly as I could.
I had a general idea of the man’s identity, but I needed to know who he was.
“I don’t need the likes of you to know!”
He had been calling me derogatory names since earlier. I wasn’t feeling particularly good.
The man charged towards where my voice came from, but I calmly moved to the side.
Bang! With a sound, the man collided with the bookshelf.
Is he an idiot?
No good could come of a rampage here.
Looking at the unstable bookshelf, I composed my voice and spoke.
“That stuff I sprinkled on you is poison. Do you know that?”
At my words, the man stopped moving and turned his head towards me.
His face showed surprise.
“That’s the poison the duke gave me.”
The man’s face hardened grimly.
“If you continue to rampage like that, the poison will spread, and you’ll die soon.”
“Don’t talk nonsense!”
The man charged towards the source of the sound again, and I immediately threw myself to the right.
Unable to withstand the force, the man collided heavily with the bookshelf, causing it to topple over him.
The man screamed as he supported the falling bookcase with his shoulder.
“It’s not nonsense. Since I didn’t kill the Crown Prince with that poison, you’re here to kill me, right? Isn’t that the case?”
Thud! With a sound, the end of the bookshelf grazed the man’s arm and passed by, causing him to lose his grip on the sword.
I quickly ran and grabbed the fallen sword from the floor.
My hands were shaking, but I did everything in my power to remain as calm as possible.
“If you keep moving like that, you’ll die, right? Since I sprinkled it on your eyes, well… I wonder how long it’ll take to spread throughout your whole body.”
Despite staggering, the man approached me. I tightly held onto the sword.
“If you come any closer, you’ll die.”
The man hesitated, freezing in his tracks.
My teeth chattered.
The sword was positioned just below the man’s chin, where I could cut off his breathing at a moment’s notice.
Of course, I had no intention of killing him with my own hands.
“Unless you’re an idiot, you realize that I have an advantage over you here. Don’t you?”
* * *
From the moment he came into this world with the surname Posman, Calix’s life has been filled with misery.
‘Traitor, raise your head!’
‘Mother, mother, no, mother!’
At the age of seven, his mother, the former Empress, was brutally decapitated for the ridiculous reason that she had tried to murder the emperor in pursuit of black magic.
The first death Calix witnessed in this world was none other than his mother’s death.
This world had been too cruel to him.
The son of a traitor who had attempted to kill the emperor.
And the crown prince of the Empire.
That carried a significant meaning.
Although he held the position of the Crown Prince, it seemed unlikely that there was anyone who would support him.
His mother’s death was a clear frame-up.
However, the Emperor, who did not love the Empress, did not care whether she was unjustly accused by opposing factions.
‘Your Majesty, you know, that my mother would never have committed such an outrageous treason.’
‘So, what do you expect me to do?’
‘Spare my mother, please.’
‘Why should he spare a woman who tried to kill him?’
There were only brutal spectators.
Still, he couldn’t grasp the emperor’s clear intentions, why he kept him alive, why he still had him as a crown prince.
Just because he was a convenient pawn? That couldn’t be true.
People wanted to get rid of him.
After all, his mother’s death was part of a scheme to eliminate him, the Crown Prince.
‘Kill or be killed.’
That was the formula, ingrained in him like instinct, since he was very young.
Trust brought betrayal, and betrayal brought pain and despair.
That’s why Calix was always alone.
His mother, who had protected him in the midst of this fierce competition, was no longer there.
He had to survive in this hellish palace with his own strength alone.
That’s why he couldn’t trust anyone.
The only one who remained by his side, as the son of his deceased tutor and his sole friend, was Ruel. But Calix could not fully trust even him.
What did his tutor do when his mother was executed?
‘Tutor, spare my mother, please.’
‘……Your Highness, all this is for your sake.’
They are no different from the emperor.
How could silence, under the name of protection, be justified?
The first attendant to whom he bestowed favor tried to kill him, and Calix had to kill him with his own hands. A man he had known for ten years, a man who was like a brother to him.
‘I want to live.’
‘I don’t want to die.’
And since then, Calix has never slept soundly.
Except for one night.
The night after the new maid came.
It was a strange occurrence.
The probability of it being just a coincidence was high.
Perhaps that was why it felt even more repulsive.
Calix found himself glaring at the maid as if she had pierced through his expected boundaries.
He didn’t like things happening outside of his expectations.
And the maid was definitely a human being outside of his expectations.
“Where did she come from?”
At Calix’s question, Ruel tilted his head and furrowed his brow.
How would Ruel know something Calix didn’t?
Calix smirked to himself.
She was definitely a type of human he had never seen before.
Was it simply that she wasn’t bought by the duke?
But usually, she would have been obliged to die in order to let a ‘real’ assassin into his bedchamber.
Under normal circumstances, Duke Tianel would have already ordered her to kill the crown prince.
That cunning and old fox would want him dead since he would become the most powerful successor to the throne if he died.
“I have heard that the duke has brought in a new maid.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
Calix silently observed the new maid as he stared at the untouched tea.
Things weren’t going as he had expected.
The tea he thought would be poisoned turned out to have nothing in it.
The woman was very… peculiar.
She paid attention to insignificant things like morning meals that no one had cared about before and unnervingly checked his complexion for no reason at all.
Even the room she had rearranged was excessively well-organized.
The uneasiness didn’t dissipate.
“From what I was able to find out, it seems that unlike Rose Estanya, this time they managed to get a woman who used to work for a mercenary organisation.”
Suddenly, a laughter burst out.
The duke had found a new assassin who would undoubtedly try to kill him.
Tonight, the maid with pink hair would die by his hands.
“Does that mean my current maid wasn’t part of the duke’s plan?”
“That is still unknown, Your Highness.”
It was a frustrating situation.
An ignorant servant who knew nothing…
In the end, because he had killed the assassin the duke had painstakingly hired that day, he was left without someone to kill him.
So, until a professional assassin could be secretly procured, a maid would have to fill the position, and since maids are the only ones left in the palace, he sent one of them…….
“This is getting interesting.”
“What do you mean?”
Calix chuckled in response to Ruel’s question and glanced briefly at the clock.
It feels like a long time has passed.
His foot on the couch tapped lightly.
His heart pounded in his chest, as if he’d found something quite interesting after all these years.
Not surprising, since it was hard to find anyone who didn’t have a grudge against him.
“It’s getting late.”
Calix leapt to his feet.
Then, standing up, he chuckled and spoke.
“If she handles the Crown Prince’s order like this, retaliation is inevitable. Isn’t that right?”
In fact, he had given a very simple task to the maid.
The third volume of an unimportant imperial history.
Hidden among them was an invitation.
An invitation to the prince’s party.
It took her a whole 10 minutes to find just one book.
Normally, he should have felt irritated and indignant, but human psychology is quite cunning.
To think that he would feel flattered just because she did a little better.
To get in such a hassle for being slightly nice to him.
Calix left the bedroom at a fairly leisurely pace.
It was then.
The sound of something falling echoed down the corridor.
Calix quickened his pace.
Something didn’t feel right.
Since no one was supposed to be in the hallway, the protagonist of this noise could only be his maid.
With a sense of foreboding, he hurriedly walked with his long legs, revealing the space where the woman had been sent.
And in there was a bubbly pink-haired maid, which didn’t match the grim atmosphere at all.
“Why don’t you answer right away? You damn bastard, your conscience is full of shit!”
She was threatening a masked man, using language he had never heard before.
Calix’s face was filled with a rare look of bewilderment.