It had been confirmed that Mercedes disobeyed an order and went to Valhalla. Breaking an order was proof that she had lost faith in the emperor, while visiting a hostile kingdom without permission was evidence of rebellion. The contents of Gyuratan's report contained clear slander and distortion of facts. The behavior of the First Knight was a cause for emergency because she had gone to visit the enemy.
'There is a reason why Mercedes visited Valhalla.'
She had tried to get revenge by finding the Undefeated King's descendant. In fact, there was no way she would join with Valhalla. Emperor Juander was convinced of this. However...
'It is also true that she broke my orders.'
Sadly, the emperor had no choice but to doubt Mercedes' loyalty. If she were truly loyal to him, she wouldn't have left his sight for any reason.
'Well, I never expected loyalty in the first place.'
It was natural. Even the trusted Piaro had betrayed him and the empire. The so-called knights were no different from clowns. Loyalty was merely a mask that could be thrown away at any time.
'But it would be nice if I could trust Gyuratan a bit more.'
The Fourth Knight Gyuratan was the decisive figure who revealed Piaro's betrayal 12 years ago. What was his reason for monitoring the Red Knights and turning Mercedes into a villain by distorting the truth?
'There might be something dangerous. I have to watch out for Mercedes.'
Emperor Juander made a decision.
"The First Knight should be loyal to the royal family, but Mercedes abandoned her duty by breaking my orders. I will deprive Mercedes of all her qualifications, and she will be disciplined for three years."
It was like a bolt out of the blue. The big and small officials were upset.
Who was Mercedes? She was the person who united the Red Knights which had been fractured due to Piaro's betrayal. Thanks to her work, the Red Knights could be maintained and stability restored. She showed bravery in wars and activities which were difficult to emulate. Mercedes was the symbol of a new era. Yet the emperor was throwing away this symbol? The wave of shock created at this time was terrible.
Even the emperor's aide thought negatively about it.
"She is under the empress' command. No, I don't think you should do this, even if she is a puppet of the empress."
"That's right. Disqualifying her is on a different dimension from simply disciplining her.
"You have to think about her influence. There is a fear that the knights will go against Your Majesty. I think it is right to give proper disciplinary actions."
Would the Red Knights follow Duke Limit or First Knight Mercedes? Most of the knights were likely to choose Mercedes. Mercedes was a respected knight, so the emperor's decision was puzzling.
"Hrmm..." With even his closest people reacting like this, the calm emperor became frustrated. He tapped the table with his thick fingers. Then suddenly...
Strange noises came down from the ceiling.
In the emperor's office, Emperor Juander and the dukes sitting around the table looked up.
"Wait a moment." Guard captain Bain, who was always protecting the emperor's side, jumped up. The falling metal chandelier was caught in Bain's big hand.
"W-What is this...?"
The faces of the dukes turned white. The chandelier hanging on the ceiling had suddenly fallen?
'What an ominous sign!'
This was the emperor's office. It was impossible for the facilities to not be maintained properly. Indeed, there were no signs of old age on the chandelier. In fact, it seemed new. The dukes read this as the sign of a disaster and were anxious. However, the emperor was furious. "Empress...!"
The blood vessels on his face bulged as he realized something. The empress wasn't a puppet of the nobles but their leader. The emperor confirmed that this chandelier was a gift from the empress one month ago and shouted furiously, "Drag Marie before me right now!"
It was an unusually serious situation. The dukes, who had been sitting heavily on the ground, rushed out of the room. There were already hundreds of guards in front of the office. Emergency commands were ringing out all over the imperial palace.
"Block all the doors right now! Don't let a single mouse leave the palace!"
"Go and collect Empress Marie! This is a royal order!"
A flood of chaos poured out. The political situation of the empire was changing rapidly. At this time...
"I-It is urgent!!" Shocking news was delivered to the emperor. "A corner of the southern wall has collapsed!"
The strong walls of Titan, which hadn't allowed a single enemy since its founding, had collapsed? To think that all of this was happening so suddenly? It was an unprecedented event and emotional instability started to bubble deep in the heart of the emperor.
"Your Majesty doesn't have any part that isn't beautiful." In the empress' palace, the noblewoman bowing whilst on her knees kept on saying flattering words. She was carefully painting the empress' nails. A noble lady from a good family was on her knees and doing someone else's nails… It made the maids, who were at one side, restless. They knew that they would eventually receive a punishment for witnessing a noble like this.
"I'm worried this powdered pearl might not be beautiful enough for your feet.
"Don't be disruptive. It isn't bad," Empress Marie responded with a benign smile. She felt a bliss that couldn't be spoken. A noble lady was like a puppy before her… The feeling of this power was great.
'She is doing my toenails.'
This was the power of the empress. She couldn't imagine what the power of the empress dowager would be like. Marie's desires were overwhelming. Her goal of putting the 4th Prince on the throne became even more set.
"Huung. Huuung," the empress's humming flowed out from her mouth. It was a beautiful song like an angel was singing. However, the noblewoman and the maids knew. They couldn't be deceived by the empress' kind smile and beautiful appearance. She was far from an angel.
The tranquility was broken. The empress stopped humming and moved her gaze. Viscount Albert had urgently rushed over, panting harshly. "It is better to avoid His Majesty."
"What?" The empress was angry rather than confused. She was the empire's empress and would later be the mother of the emperor. Yet she now had to avoid the emperor? Her? Why?
Viscount Albert explained to the frowning empress, "Duke Grenhal is headed for this palace, but his mood is bad! He has His Majesty's guards with him!"
Why was the right arm of the emperor coming here? The emperor's guards were also coming?
"Find out what is going on," the empress said, realizing that the mood was unusual. Then she immediately rose from her seat, and the maids carefully put on her shoes. Before leaving the room, the empress pointed to the maids. "Get rid of them. We must defend the honor of our countess."
"E-Empress...!" The maids cried out.
"I am always thrilled with Your Majesty's consideration." The noblewoman bowed with thanks. The empress' palace, which was filled with lowly women, was also disgusting today. Viscount Albert bit his lips so that the empress wouldn't notice his thoughts. Then he picked up his sword and cut down the five maids.
One knight ran and reported to the empress, "I heard that the mobile hanging in your bedroom fell down." (Mobile: a decorative structure that is suspended so as to turn freely in the air.)
The empress' face stiffened. "What is the cause?"
"I'm not sure. The maids said that the mobile became bigger and heavier than before."
"....." She couldn't believe her ears. Empress Marie immediately grasped the situation. "Right now... Prepare the carriage right now. I must meet His Majesty."
She had to explain it at once. Then the empress heard a voice, "I have already prepared the carriage. Now, let's go, Your Majesty."
It was Duke Grenhal. As usual, he was riding on top of a rhino. The empress didn't like his gaze. However, she couldn't express this. Duke Grenhal, who boasted the strongest power among the seven dukes, wasn't someone the empress could deal with.
"Thank you for your consideration."
"This is serious."
Regardless of the awfulness, the empress' palace was peaceful on the surface.
At one point in the afternoon, this was overturned. Veradin identified the cause and decided that the empress' position would be greatly reduced from today onward.
'If we don't move, we might be caught in the flames.'
Immortal belonged to the Rose Knights under Empress Marie's command. They had to be careful of the guilt by association.
'A new nesting site is necessary.'
Veradin hastened to take steps. Immortal and Agnus had stayed at the empress' palace for a while.
'Let's leave this palace.'
In the worst case, the backing of the empress could be poison. Then it would be hard to go anywhere on the West Continent.
'It would be nice to move to the East Continent.'
A crisis was an opportunity. It might be forced but this was good timing to try new challenges. Veradin thought so and felt a clear sense of hope. He thought it was simply Marie's crisis and forgot how dangerous the situation was. Why?
...Because at least the palace was still the safest place. Leaving it would be a big mistake. His enemies were greater in number than he had imagined. For the sake of revenge, the enemy had sunk the biggest nation on the continent into chaos.
One step, a second step, a third step...
Veradin's steps became faster as he left the palace. He felt a sense of discomfort. Due to the absence of the empress, the knights and soldiers who used to be on guard everywhere couldn't be seen. Then he realized… this was no longer a safe place. However, enlightenment always arrived too late.
"Do you feel the need to go to the toilet? Why are you in a hurry?"
When they arrived in front of the palace, Veradin heard a familiar voice behind him. Veradin stopped walking. "Is it because of Lauel? The current situation is Lauel's work?"
"You aren't qualified to ask me."
"Are you a fool? This is Immortal's base. What do you plan to do after successfully infiltrating it? You alone can't threaten us."
"You aren't a threat. I will kill you. All of you."
"Hah, do you plan to use Knights Summoning? If the Overgeared members' faces are seen in this uproar, the sword of the empire will point at the Overgeared Kingdom."
"You know what? You are the first one."
Veradin was still turned away from Grid. Then he looked toward the entrance of the empress' palace and screamed as loudly as possible, "Get out here!"
"What? Eh! G-Grid!"
"What? Really? It is Grid!!"
"Everyone get out of here!"
Dozens or hundreds of necromancers poured out. It was only after seeing them that Veradin felt relief. Then he faced it—Grid's cool gaze.
"This is the first time."
"What do you mean?"
"The first time that you will die for me."
"I won't count Piaro's kill, you bastard."
Khan's enemy was finally right here. The Grid at this moment wasn't the person admired by two billion people or the Overgeared King representing his people. It was the complete Grid. He wanted to vent his uncontrollable resentment and killing desire.
The necromancers summoned their skeletons. However, the moment that Veradin's death knight and some of the necromancers' skeletons tried to intercept Grid...
"Remember. You are already dead if I appear before you." Grid moved to Veradin's side using Freely Move and wielded the Enlightenment Sword while being buffed with Blacksmith's Rage and Blackening.
[You have suffered 51,900 damage.]
[35% of your maximum health is preserved due to the effect of Overcoming Death.]
Did Veradin get hit by a skill? His spirit was stunned by the very powerful blow. Veradin shrank back and pulled out a potion.
Then Lifael's Spear pierced him. Death Knight Kyleo and the other skeleton knights started hitting Grid. However, rather than blocking the attacks, Grid just released a poisonous fog. Veradin was in pain from being stabbed by a sword and spear, not because he was poisoned.
"Die. A hundred times, a thousand times more." Grid smiled evilly as he dealt the finishing blow, reminiscent of the days when he was called a butcher.
It was only two normal attacks...
Then the black flames exploded. Veradin and the surrounding necromancers turned to gray.