“The duration is for one week.”
The second test, this Hide and Seek, will last for one week.
“You just need to capture the targets and bring them back before the public execution in a week. The contents of the test will be revealed to the entire Empire after this and anybody will be able to attend the public execution without any restriction.”
Zero scoffed and then mumbled.
“This is crazy.”
This test was crazy.
Second Imperial Princess Olivia scowled.
Cale looked around. There was an eccentric heat of passion rising through the heavily sunken air. The candidates and their helpers were all warily looking at each other, unable to release the stiff looks on their faces.
The Chief of Staff was the only one smiling.
“The test will start one hour from now. Best of luck to end up in the top of the rankings.”
The Chief of Staff said something to make them disperse and then stopped talking.
Nobody was talking. They were all warily looking at one another before one person made a move and they all quickly headed back to their palaces.
– Human, Mary is going!
The first person to leave the place was Mary, or Heni Wishrop. Eruhaben was behind her.
– Cale, it looks like we will need to chat.
Cale slightly nodded his head so that it would not be noticed by others after hearing Eruhaben’s voice.
Zero was mixed in with the crowd that was leaving.
Cale saw something as that all happened. He saw the Chief of Staff’s gaze heading toward Mary and Zero.
‘…They haven’t put down their suspicions.’
Zero and Mary were the only survivors of the incident in Precinct 9. The Imperial Palace was still suspicious of the two of them.
And with them was naturally…
“Your Royal Highness.”
Olivia. The Chief of Staff started to speak to the Second Imperial Princess, the only person still standing in the garden.
“You must hurry, your Royal Highness.”
“Yes, your Royal Highness.”
Olivia, who had called out to the Chief of Staff in a low voice, raised her slightly lowered head.
“Do you really think that a public execution makes any sense?”
There were small flames in her eyes.
“Your Royal Highness, the groups listed on there are to be immediately executed when found anyway.”
“…Who came up with this?”
The Chief of Staff looked at Olivia as if he was confused at her question.
“This test naturally has the will of his Majesty. Why would you think it would not, your Royal Highness?”
Olivia quietly observed the Chief of Staff before turning around. The Chief of Staff spoke to her again.
“You know that you cannot keep the priest-nim next to you as a helper, right your Royal Highness?”
The Chief of Staff made eye contact with the priest who had the area under his eyes covered by a cloth. The priest lowered his head in an extremely elegant and bright expression on his face.
Olivia responded without even looking back. Her voice was low.
“…I know at least that much.”
She then left without any hesitation toward her palace.
Cale matched her pace as he followed behind her.
Olivia did not say anything until she returned to the palace. Furthermore, she kept her mouth shut even after entering this palace. That made the approaching attendants urgently look away.
That was how stiff Olivia’s face was right now.
Olivia headed toward the window after entering the bedroom.
She opened the curtains.
Cale walked in after her and closed the door before Raon commented in his mind.
– Casting the soundproof barrier magic!
Olivia opened her mouth at that moment.
“Has the sound been sealed?”
“Yes, your Royal Highness.”
She closed the curtains again. The Garden of the Stars… This place was full of life again.
Olivia did not like that. She stared at the curtains with a piercing gaze as she spoke.
“This test is unbelievable.
A short laugh came out of her mouth.
“Finding the people on the list is determination?”
She turned around. She continued to speak once she made eye contact with Cale. Her voice subconsciously became louder.
“It will definitely be a field of lunacy!”
The capital and the Empire were currently full of anxiety and chaos.
The death of the most likely heir and others, the threat aiming for Precinct 9, and the attack on the Huayans Estate… All of these reasons led to people being anxious.
Of course, that anxiety had calmed down a bit based on how the Imperial Palace was proceeding with the second test as if nothing had happened.
“A public execution at a time like this?! It is obvious that all of the arrows will be pointed there!”
Olivia bit down on her lips.
“…Revealing the contents of the test would mean that the list is revealed as well. People will implicitly believe that the people on the list are the criminals responsible for all of this.”
There was also another problem.
“One week? They’re going to do all of this in one week? That makes no sense.”
Olivia covered her eyes with one hand.
Even if there was someone who was suspected of being a member of a group on the list, they needed to do some investigation to confirm whether that person was truly associated with the group. Furthermore, the severity of their punishment would depend on the things they have done as a member of the group.
‘Most importantly, are the groups on this list even actually guilty?’
She got chills.
She had not thought much about the people who had been immediately executed until now.
‘Why do they have to die?’
There was no reason for them to die.
If anything, this Imperial Palace and the House of Huayans should die.
Although she was a member of the Imperial family, that was what Olivia thought.
“The fact that they want to take care of all of this in a week… This is basically saying that anybody they bring will be killed without asking any question or a proper investigation……”
Her voice slowly lost strength.
“…The people who want the position of Emperor will not care about anything and will bring as many people back as possible to rank in the top. A lot of them might be innocent and there is no guarantee that a group on that list has committed any crimes-”
Her voice slowly started shaking.
Her voice sounded as if she was feeling a sense of disillusionment. The fingertips of the hand covering Olivia’s eyes were shaking.
She started to imagine it.
She kept thinking about it despite not wanting to do so.
The central plaza…
The people surrounding the public execution area made in that large space… Those people shouting for the people captured to be quickly killed…
She could also see the Huayans patriarch, no, her Royal Father, standing on top of the platform giving the order to kill those people.
She imagined herself watching all of it as well.
She lowered her hand.
The small flame in her eyes had gotten bigger. Her eyes were burning fiercely unlike her tired voice.
“I absolutely cannot watch this test come to fruition.”
She realized something while she was on bed rest healing.
She realized how weird this test to select the next Emperor has always been.
‘So many people died because of these tests in the last 300 years.’
The fact that an Imperial candidate died meant that the people following them had died as well.
“…But we saw it as a festival.”
In this perishing world, in this world that was slowly getting more and more polluted, people saw this test as a festival and enjoyed it.
And there were always people willing to participate in the test with the desire to become the best.
She thought to herself.
‘Is this really the right thing to do?
It wouldn’t even be enough if all of the talented individuals who have participated in these tests worked together to protect this world.’
Olivia’s voice was weak and shaky.
“What should I do?”
She looked at the Purifier who was standing silently. White hair and green eyes… It was different from his appearance that she knew, but she remembered the flame he had summoned in the darkness.
It was different from a gently glowing light.
That red light felt as if it would swallow everything, glowing on its own consumed the darkness.
Olivia wanted to ask this person, the one who not only shone brightly but also allowed the people around him to feel that light with him, for an answer.
At that moment, the Purifier undid the cloth covering his face from underneath his eyes.
Olivia could see that he was smiling. However, the smile felt odd and creepy.
His eyes that were smiling…
Those green eyes looked red for a moment.
They looked like the fire he had summoned.
“Your Royal Highness.”
The Purifier calmly started to speak.
His voice was the same as usual, not shaking in the slightest.
He asked in a calm voice as if he was just asking where they were going to go for lunch.
“What do you want to do?”
He asked Olivia.
Olivia knew that this was a time to answer honestly and carefully.
That was why she answered without any hesitation.
“I want to put an end to all of this.”
She then continued.
“And then I want to raise it up again properly.”
Cale thought for a moment while listening to her quiet but firm voice.
– Human, is there a need to get all the way to the third test?
Raon asked in Cale’s mind.
Multiple words floated around in Cale’s mind.
His contemplation did not even last a minute. However, that was enough.
It was not the enemy but Cale who was one step ahead right now.
He looked at Olivia once again.
“Your Royal Highness.”
His voice was extremely lighthearted and calm. However, Olivia’s heart was beating wildly as this voice called out to her.
She was extremely nervous.
‘The Purifier is someone who is only here for a moment and will leave.
Is it okay to rely on him like this?’
In some ways, it was acceptable to lean on him because he was someone who was going to leave. She could work with him.
‘Although I don’t really have anything of value to offer this partnership.’
However, the Purifier would not try to rule this land since he is someone who will eventually leave.
Honestly speaking, Olivia found the Purifier’s fire to be more marvelous and scarier than the Huayans or the Imperial family. It made her think of a god.
She looked at the Purifier.
She would not avoid those green eyes.
She could see a gentle smile appearing on Cale’s face. The Purifier started to speak just as she realized that it was a smile of satisfaction.
“As you wish, your Royal Highness.”
They would do as Olivia wanted.
“There will be no third test.”
Olivia started to smile after hearing what he said after that.
“And in a week… Let’s flip it all over.”
Turn it upside down.
Cale immediately gave some orders once he made up his mind.
* * *
“Is that really true, Pope-nim?”
“Yes. The esteemed Purifier has said so.”
The Pope calmly shared the will of the Purifier to the core individuals of the Church of the Fire of Purification who were with her.
“We will all be captured and head to the public execution ground in a week.”
The Pope’s gaze headed toward an individual silently sitting to one side. He was giving off a mysterious elegance while just sitting there.
No, to be more specific, it was a gentle level of Dragon Fear.
This great and mighty existence had been in a bad mood since returning from Precinct 9.
“The Dragon will lead us.”
Eruhaben just responded by nodding his head slightly.
He was thinking about what Cale had said.
‘Eruhaben-nim, the Huayans patriarch and the Emperor will both supposedly be at the public execution ground. They are playing such a strong hand so we should do the same. Don’t you agree?”
Eruhaben started to smile.
He had properly understood Cale’s words.
‘If the enemy is going to play a strong hand, he thinks we should just flip the playing field upside down.’
He closed his eyes while sensing the solemn mood of the members of the Church of the Fire of Purification
At the same time, Zero was smiling while looking at the black Hawk that had come to his palace.
“You want me to bring all of the Agents of Destruction into the public execution ground?”
“All of them captured?”
“You can decide on the method as you wish.”
The black Hawk’s red eyes looked at Zero.
The black Hawk could see the lunacy behind Zero’s eyes. But an eccentric look of passion was covering it up. The corners of Zero’s lips curled up as if his whole body was itchy and he was just waiting for that moment to arrive.
However, he did not laugh.
The black Hawk found this to be odd.
“Okay. How can I not follow the orders of the Purifier?”
Zero looked directly at the black Hawk as he continued to speak.
“Go tell him.”
Although the black Hawk had only told him to bring the Agents of Destruction, Zero could sort of guess the true meaning behind those words.
“Tell him that the moment we appear is the moment of destruction.”
Although Zero was calling Cale the Purifier and spoke as if Cale was in a position of power… The intense desire that could not be hidden behind the lunacy was giving Cale a warning.
He was telling Cale to do it properly.
The black Hawk started smiling.
The black Hawk moved to the window and his red eyes curled up.
It was the voice of a young boy but years of experience could be felt in that voice for some odd reason.
The black Hawk calmly spoke to the man who was openly showing this lunacy in his eyes.
“You are not the one who will choose the time.”
Zero’s eyes opened wide at that moment.
Loud laughter soon burst out of his mouth.
“Yes, yes indeed.”
He nodded his head before speaking to the black Hawk in a more lighthearted voice.
“Please take good care of us.”
The black Hawk chuckled instead of responding and flew out the window.
One corner of Zero’s lips curled up as he watched the black Hawk fly away.
His gaze headed toward Imperial Princess Olivia’s palace.
The curtains were currently shut and he could not see inside.
Olivia had sealed off the room to take in the Purifier’s words.
“…Oh Purifier, do you really mean that?”
“Yes, your Royal Highness.”
Cale started to smile.
– Human, you look like the crazy Clopeh! Not just Clopeh but crazy Clopeh!
Cale slightly flinched at Raon’s comment but he did his best to ignore it and put on the holiest smile he could muster.
“Your Royal Highness, it will be used in the execution ground in a week.”
If the Huayans and the Imperial Palace use the strongest hand they could to cause chaos…
Olivia asked in a shaking voice.
“…W, will you use the power of a g, god?”
Cale was planning on using a power that could get rid of that chaos.
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