The Great Central Empire of Marcania was a country in which the central government was stably established based on the powerful imperial power and the power of the princes.
The people respected the imperial family, and the princes maintained proper order through cooperation with local officials.
In the history of the Marcania Empire, the imperial power was never as powerful as it was now.
However, after the health of Luis von Leonardo, the current emperor of the Central Empire, began to deteriorate for no reason, Crown Prince Reynon started a purge by proxy.
Reynon von Leonardo, the next emperor and mad dog of Marcania.
At first, everyone marveled at the prince’s gorgeous blonde hair and beautiful appearance. Many, commoners and nobles, men and women alike, fell in love with his noble, holy atmosphere and were moved by his kind smile on his handsome face.
But Reynon had a cruel disposition that had no qualms about skinning a person alive with that very same smile. Especially when he faced offenders against young children.
He had their eyes plucked out, tongues cut off, and put them in a dogfight hall still alive. The public gasped at the cruelty, but did not criticize the act.
Because those who committed crimes against children certainly deserved such punishment.
Jurgen and Julia pushed their chairs back and stood up.
Everyone in the tea room politely bowed. Then Raynan entered, dressed in a brown robe and outfit that would be worn by local subordinate officials.
“It’s been a while, Sir Edelred.”
Reynon greeted him without a smile and sat down first. Then, Jurgen smiled calmly and responded with a pleasantry.
“You look well, Your Majesty the Crown Prince.”
“Have you been to the city?”
“It was the day I engraved my name.”
Reynon lightly stirred the tea brought by his attendant with a teaspoon. The silver teaspoon was clear with no discoloration, and only after his attendant confirmed did he lift his glass.
“Julia, could you excuse yourself?”
Julia’s lips froze in a smile at Reynon’s friendly words. As if she knew this would happen, she got up with dismal eyes. Jurgen rose up to bid her farewell with courtesy.
“His Grace just arrived, my lord. You are too much.”
“Well, I’m asking you to. I need to have an important conversation with my vassal.”
As if it were beyond reason to listen to her grumblings, Reynon’s golden eyes filled with irritation. The only person who disliked Julia, known as the saint and angel of the imperial family, was the Crown Prince.
With her ears red from her embarrassment, Julia wore a smile and curtsied with formality.
“Then, I shall leave you two to have important conversations. And, my lord, you look tired. If you need guiding, please come to the temple with Sir Edelred.”
Instead of answering, Reynon smiled brightly, without bothering to indicate the slightest bit of human feeling. That smile was just one of the hundreds of masks that he had.
Only after the princess left the tea room did Jurgen take a seat again.
“It was a conversation we could have shared in the Imperial Princess’ presence.”
“The guide smells awful. Don’t you know that I can’t stand it? It’s terrible—dirty.”
“It would be better than going crazy, though. It would be no different from putting the whole empire in jeopardy if Your Majesty goes wild.”
“So, isn’t that why you’re by my side?”
It was a rare and real smile.
Jurgen laid down his teacup slowly and beckoned for his guard Lannister who accompanied him from the Archduke’s estate. The knight, who was waiting a few steps away, brought forth a palm-sized wooden box and put it down on the table.
Jurgen said in a casual tone, pointing to it with his chin.
Edelred was the only person on the continent who could treat the Crown Prince so disrespectfully. As if Reynon couldn’t care less and took no notice of his attitude, he opened her box with a faint smile.
In the box, five of the highest-grade of magic stones were arranged neatly shining with a light blue color.
“The three were found at the northwest gate of the Mint this time. Thanks to excessive efforts, it was recovered in like-new condition.”
“Oh, this… . Yes, that’s what it seems.”
Reynon picked up one of her magic stones and looked at it with the light from the glass ceiling.
Every time he tilted his to the left or right, the stone full of mana sloshed around and created bubbles. Reynon closed his eyes, clutching it still.
It was a series of procedures to absorb magical powers. Raynan’s blue veins stood on the back of his hand and forearm, as he absorbed its power.
The only person who could absorb the pure mana without a medium was Reynon, a Luster and spirit sentinel.
If it had been someone else, there would have been a magical collision, and their body would have swelled up like a balloon and exploded.
Jurgen sat crookedly with a sore expression and turned his head. Then, the prince, upon concluding his absorption, opened his eyes with a satisfied expression.
His countenance was more relaxed, more angelic, but the madness in his golden eyes was not hidden. His golden eyes, which became more translucent as he gained strength, felt the raw energy of a wild animal.
The Crown Prince, who nodded his head satisfactorily over and over again, smiled. He held the rest in front of a displeased Jurgen.
“Send it to the temple. The High Priest will be shocked speechless.”
“By the way, I heard some news. They’re not looking for children anymore, they’re now targeting lesser sentinels?”
Jurgen’s eyes grew cold as he picked up the box containing the manastones.
It was just as Reynon said. Edelred has planted sources throughout the continent with a vast network. Called ‘Shadows’, they were agents of the Archduke’s family. Composed of ‘ordinary’ people without ‘abilities’, but were as strong and formidable as sentinels.
It was one of Jurgen’s major lessons gathered from his regressions that obtaining information faster than anyone else is the only way one could prosper for a long time.
He kept Plum’s information obtained by repeating regression in the secret area in the Etna library. Documenting the future he experienced in a place that no one could access.
But, damn it, for the third time now, the future altered.
“It is said that sentinels arrived at the Delis Temple in the territory. They were low-level sentinels with nothing special, and the temple gave them a guide. But as soon as they started guiding, they exploded and died. Here.”
Jurgen tapped his temple and continued his words.
“The blow left two guides blind.”
“Wasn’t it just a common runaway?”
Reynon asked back seriously.
“My father is checking, but it is said that the power of a guide could not be harmonized with the Sentinel has been discovered. He told me that he was very sorry that he could not attend this promotion exam.”
After nodding a few times, Reynon stood up. At that, the Duke also got up and stood next to him.
“Plum first appeared 20 years ago. Have they really not succeeded with a single experiment in 20 years?”