“There are various traps set up throughout the palace. This is one of them. I’m only telling you this out of necessity, but I can say no more than that.”
We nodded in agreement with her.
After entering the room, she picked out a book and pressed the risen area behind it. Part of the shelf opened like a door.
“All right, let’s go.”
Lady Letticia walked down the dark stairwell without hesitation.
“In our long history, countless royals have hidden a dark history. To draw people’s attention away, they used many triggers and traps to enter isolated locations. That’s the kind of place we are going to right now.”
We walked along a pathway forward.
At the end, there was another stairwell going up.
“Please press the third stone from the right.”
We walked up the stairs. It was a dead end.
Ludy exchanged positions with Lady Letticia, pressing down the location she’d asked him to and opening up the path.
Suddenly, light spilled down from above.
Ludy passed through the doorway to enter a narrow stone room.
The only thing there was a solid doorway and a skinny spiral staircase.
“All right. We’ll be climbing some more stairs.”
Lady Letticia led us to start climbing the stairs again.
“Is this…in the tower?” I asked when we’d reached the middle.
“Indeed. This is the tower where we imprison more noble prisoners. Considering its original function, it an oversight that there’s another door aside from the entrance. But like I said before, it could be another trap to draw people’s attention away.”
A bitter smile was on her face when she explained this.
She looked a little tired after such a long climb.
There was a very small space at the top of the stairs.
After removing some of the stones according to her orders, we could see the other side of the wall.
The three of us clustered there together, peering through into the other side.
On the other side was a room surrounded by metal cages.
In that dim area, was Yuri Noir.
“Lady Letticia, this is…?” Ludy couldn’t help but whisper the question.
Her only response was to raise a finger to her lips and shush him.
We held our silence, gazing into the space when there was suddenly movement.
None other appeared there than the man who had been imprisoned elsewhere, Prince Edward.
“Yuri! I’m here to save you.”
He said this with a loving tone of voice. Yuri only stared at him.
“How did you get here?” she asked coldly.
“This man let me out. Wait here, I’ll set you free.”
Following behind Prince Edward was a well-dressed man.
He looked familiar enough for me and Ludy to open our eyes wide.
Although he was part of the second prince faction, he received the light punishment of having his power removed and imprisoned at home because he hadn’t participated in the money printing scandal.
Following behind him was the two knights who should have stood guard at the door.
She issued these chilly words to Prince Edward as he awkwardly struggled with the cage.
He had just managed to open the door, and he looked up at her in surprise.
“What is it, Yuri? There’s nothing to be afraid of. If we can escape here, this man and his colleagues will help us hide. We’ll have to hide our tracks for the time being. When the time comes, I’ll ascend to the throne once more as king.”
He smiled at her, while she still maintained a gloomy look. Slowly a cold smile came to her face.
“You really don’t know? He had no intention of helping me in the first place.”
“I know you can’t trust them now, Yuri, but let’s get out of here first.”
“If I leave here now, I’ll be assassinated. By that guy and his companions.”
“That won’t happen, Yuri! They’re here to help us. Either way, come out here. Trust me.”
“To them you are still essential. You’re useful, after all. To recover their own status, they need to push you to the forefront. I’m different. To them I’m an obstacle. ‘Will Yuri re-establish her connection with the Towair Kingdom?’ That’s what they’ll worry. If you end up succeeding to the throne, my existence will stop other nobles from being able to present their own daughters to you as possible queens.”
“Yuri, you’re contradicting yourself. Even if they felt like you were some kind of burden, they wouldn’t risk themselves to come out and rescue you. ”
“It’s the only shot they’ll get to eliminate someone below Prince Alfred who might say something negative before you potentially succeed to the throne. Isn’t it the best chance for them when we’re supposedly hiding?” Yuri said with a steely voice.
“Plus, I don’t need people like this from a dying country. I have other knights to help me.”
The men behind Prince Edward let out a loud laugh.
“Hear that, Prince Edward? We really want to help the person you love most. But it seems like she does have ties to the Towair Kingdom after all. She’s no match for you.”
“Not at all! She’s just emotionally unstable after being shut up for so long. Yuri, I’m your knight, aren’t I? Didn’t we have our promise that no matter what happens, no matter who we encounter, I’ll protect you?”
Yuri didn’t respond to his questioning. She simply stared at him emotionlessly.
“Prince Edward! You’ve been fooled. Originally you’d be able to ascend to the throne with no issue. The only reason you failed was because this woman had outside ties. Now I’ll open your eyes to the truth.”
One of the knights pulled out his sword and charged toward her.
To prevent Prince Edward from protecting Yuri, the other knight restrained him.
Yuri continued to watch the scene with the same expression.
The moment the sword would have pierced through her, Prince Edward managed to push away the knight and step between them.
It was instantaneous.
A dull thud. Prince Edward had been pierced through with the sword.
Time seemed to have stopped, silence reigning through the room.
The knight holding the sword finally realized the seriousness of the whole situation. The sword fell from his trembling hand, clattering against the floor loudly.
In that same moment, Prince Edward fell over, surrounded by spreading red.
Even while he stared down at his own body with surprise, Prince Edward managed to raise his head to smile at Yuri.
He extended his hand to reach out to her.
Yuri’s dull eyes finally shone with tears.
“Why…why would you protect me like that?” she shrieked.
“I’m nothing but a burden to you! Eliminating a burden like they’re doing…isn’t that what a noble would do? So why…?”
Blood seeped from his mouth as he answered her question with a smile.
“Didn’t we have a promise?”
“No matter what happens, no matter who we encounter, I’ll protect you.” And so he had.
If he hadn’t entered alongside the men, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. And yet.
Yet he was the only one to protect her from the beginning to the end.