It was already close to midnight by the time that Sethian had finished all his work and headed back to his chamber.
Even Lenox, who had been beside him and assisted him from morning till now looks a bit tired, but Sethian, who had actually processed all the onerous and heavy tasks, doesn’t have the slightest change in his complexion as if nothing had happened at all.

“I’m worried that the sudden increase in your workload might put a strain on your body.”

Lenox cautiously deplored in the hallway leading to the bedroom.
Sethian usually wouldn’t even glance at anything other than basic tasks or would just hand them over to his adjutant, Ergen, but recently, he has been frighteningly obsessed with work.
Not only would he not let a single document just pass by his hand and didn’t attend every meeting half-heartedly, but he also corresponded with the surrounding nobility frequently.

Lenox naturally thought of Yi-Gyeol.

The ghost that Crown Prince Sethian settled in a magically constructed body by using the Golden Arts.

And the young man who upholds the greatest interest that his Lord has shown so far, most especially, the only one who receives his Lord’s phenomenal[1] affection.

He wanted to assume that this matter too was related to that, but he couldn’t even find any significant connection between the two sentences that he had concluded.
He knew that only the emperor or the crown prince could use the Golden Arts, but he doesn’t know the exact details of how the golden magic works and what is needed to maintain the body created by using it, as only a few members of the Imperial family and the upper ranks of the tower knew.

However, it was true that Sethian gradually began to change after meeting Yi-Gyeol.
So he can only guess that it is also his influence this time.

“Is it perhaps related to Joo Yigyeol-nim….”



As soon as the name Joo Yi-Gyeol came out of his mouth, he immediately came to a halt and responded to his Lord’s call.[2] Sethian, who was walking ahead, glanced at him over his shoulder, without stopping his fast pace.

“You also know that His Majesty’s condition is getting worse, right?”

Lenox slightly lowered his head and replied that he naturally knew.
The current emperor’s condition is worsening day by day, and he also heard that he mostly just opens his eyes once a day for a brief moment.
From the outsider’s point of view, it seems like he was just unduly resting within the Imperial Castle, but the matter of fact was already fully known by the Imperial Family and their close aides.

“If we’re going to base it on those people’s machinations, perhaps it will be a month or two at best.”

“Machinations…? Then is the Emperor’s illness….”

Lenox raised his head and met Sethian’s gaze in surprise.
Sethian, who was looking back at him, spoke in a cold and calm manner as if he were talking about someone else rather than his father.

“It must’ve been for quite some time now, given how it looks like he’d just naturally gotten sick.”


Lenox’s face dramatically intensified.

Sethian mentioned ‘people.’ If so, according to his words, the emperor who often went hunting and had never let his sword out of his hands just until several years ago, had gradually gotten sick due to several people.

“Do you have any idea of those involved?”

“Isn’t that too obvious?”

Neither a single agitation nor tremble could be found in Sethian’s eyes and voice.
As soon as Lenox noticed it, he felt chills creeping up his spine.

Sethian had already guessed whose trick it was and seemed to have known it as well for quite some time.
Nevertheless, the reason why he was just sitting on the sidelines until now whether or not his father – the emperor – dies, or whether who becomes the emperor, is because he thought it isn’t interesting enough and he had nothing to do with it.

Thinking about the inhumane characteristics of his Lord suddenly made Lenox terrified of him once again.

“His Majesty hasn’t thought of placing anyone on the throne yet.
He can only open his eyes for a while, so he probably didn’t even have time to think about that.”

“Then, if his Majesty passes away just like this, isn’t your Highness, who is the Crown Prince, would most probably sit on the throne?”

As the title of the Crown Prince itself is only given to the emperor’s successor, one could suppose that it should naturally be that way.

But Sethian’s thoughts were different.

“The title of Crown Prince that I have is just a façade.
Perhaps not only the Imperial family, but all the nobles know it as well.
Even I know that fact, since I got it without any hiccup.”

Sethian looked straight ahead.
At the end of his gaze, he saw Kirsty standing in front of his bedroom door.

“If his Majesty died without directly designating a successor to the throne, it’s going to be pretty messy.
They regard me as the only enemy and are banding together at the moment, but once the throne gets emptied, the alliance between them will definitely soon be broken.”

“What do you intend to do, Your Highness? Are you going to step aside in advance?”

Originally, Sethian should be the first to be crowned emperor based on his legitimate right to succeed the throne, but all the other successors, led by Mendel, the first prince, had established their own respective powers.
With their alliance, they could use the united power of their respective nobles to drive out Sethian, then immediately have their own power struggle after ousting him.
Sethian won’t be able to step down easily, but Lenox thought that it wouldn’t be that bloody since Sethian has never been interested in the throne.

However, Sethian gave a completely unexpected answer to Lenox’s question, whom he thought might be preparing to step down in advance.

“Before that could even happen, I’m planning to pave my way to become the emperor.”


Lenox opened his eyes wide and asked back.

“I intend to become the emperor.” 

The words that were said with a calm voice that seemed to be enjoying tea time on a bright afternoon confused Lenox.
Until just a few months ago, Sethian had no interest in the throne, and could never understand why his siblings were risking their lives just for the said tedious position.
But now, that man is speaking quite naturally about ‘the way to being the emperor.’

When Lenox dumbfoundedly stopped in his tracks in amazement, Sethian arrived in front of the bedroom, accepted Kirsty’s salute, and asked him.

“What about Joo Yi-Gyeol?”

“The lights are on in the room, but I think he’s sleeping since it’s so quiet.”

That would only be natural considering the time.

Sethian went inside without knocking only after receiving a detailed report on how Yi-Gyeol spent his day.

It is definitely bright within the room as if it’s the middle of the day confirming what Kirsty had said.
As soon as he entered, he quietly closed the door and glanced at the top of the bed, but upon looking, there was no one above it.
As soon as his eyes became sharp, he heard a faint crunching sound.
When he turned his head, he saw Yi-Gyeol sitting at the table in the middle of the bedroom and writing something.

There were five thick books piled up on the table, and a pile of paper as thick as a book filled with something.
In the meantime, Yi-Gyeol opened a book and wrote down something.
He was so focused that he couldn’t easily find a way to talk to him.

He approached closer and stood behind his back, but as expected, he didn’t realize that someone was already near him.
The swerve of the quill pen, which moves as enchantingly as the writer’s sparkling eyes, particularly catches the eye.

Sethian watched without making a sound for a few minutes as Yi-Gyeol wrote down the contents of the book, and did not speak until he raised his head to pick up a new paper.

“Can you now read this much?”


Yi-Gyeol turned his head in surprise while making a loud noise.
Seeing his eyes full of panic, Sethian came closer and hugged him by the shoulder then picked up the paper.

“Would you like me to read the whole book to you like last time?”

“No, that was just… That was just a transcription.
I wrote down the parts I would like to ask you.”[3]


Yi-Gyeol scratched his cheek and took the paper from Sethian’s hand.

“I thought I’d fall asleep if I just stayed still while waiting for you… That’s why….”

They were words that Sethian couldn’t understand.
If he’s sleepy, then he can just go to sleep.
Especially since it’s actually the time that Yi-Gyeol should be deeply sleeping.

“Why didn’t you just go to sleep?”

“How can I sleep first?”

Yi-Gyeol, who closed the book and sorted the papers, pursed his lips.

“You must have been tired from working until this hour, so I at least should comfort and tell you that you’ve worked hard.”

Yi-Gyeol soon finished cleaning the table and looked back at Sethian with a bright face and a pleasant smile.

“You did well today.”

Even though it was just a trivial remark, it seems to have given a peculiar strength to Sethian.
Just by Yi-Gyeol waiting to greet him, Sethian had felt a tingling sensation somewhere in his body, and when he even praised that he worked hard, his brows naturally wrinkled at the uncontrollable emotion.
It’s such a strange and intense feeling that if he doesn’t control himself, he’ll definitely throw him onto the bed and get on top of him.

“Are you okay?”

Yi-Gyeol, who saw the frown on Sethian’s forehead, quickly reached out with a worried expression on his face.
The tip of his fingertips touched the tight wrinkles on his forehead.

His soft, thin fingertips seemed to possess fire.

As soon as those fingers reached Sethian; his forehead automatically loosened, he took hold of Yi-Gyeol’s chin and raised it.

The moment he tried to consume those lips unannounced.

Sethian’s brows furrowed again.
Yi-Gyeol, who noticed that his aura had suddenly changed completely, blinked profusely as he looked up at him.

“What’s wrong?”

Sethian’s gaze is now directed towards the window.
To be exact, it is in a dark corner lined with curtains next to the window, which is a blind spot where there isn’t a single speck of light.

No one knows since when, but for some reason, a small dwarfish man entirely surrounded by black, was standing there without making a sign.[4]

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