Asha was able to escape death the day Count Delphinium attacked her village and she was awakened as a butterfly.

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It was the seed of misfortune…….

Although it hasn’t happened yet, she didn’t lie to Duran.

“I would also like to know about His Majesty.”

Duran, who was in deep thought at Asha’s question, looked at her with delight.

“Then, do you have the slightest desire to break your Majesty’s curse?”

Asha sighed slightly and replied.

“I still don’t know how to break the curse.
But if it’s something I can do, I’ll try to do it.”

Duran nodded and asked.

“What do you want to know?”

“About His Majesty’s past.
How did he end up under a curse?”

Duran flinched.

“Sir Duran has always been by His Majesty’s side, so you must know the details of the curse.”

He hesitated before speaking.

The story of the curse was not to be taken lightly, but Duran sincerely hoped that she, the butterfly, would save His Majesty from the depths of darkness.

“…..This story is known by only very few people in the Imperial Palace.
His Majesty did not want this story to spread, so everyone was silenced.”

“But please tell me.
I think it will help me in some way to understand His Majesty.”

Asha wanted to know more about the story as she recalled her past failures to make him bloom. 

It was a story she wouldn’t have dared to ask in the past.

And even if she had, he wouldn’t have been able to give an honest answer to a story that was nothing more than his own arrogance. 

Now it was the opportunity. 

Duran looked up at the red sky where the sun had begun to set and carefully began to talk.

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“…..Believe it or not, His Majesty was not a cruel man without blood or tears enough to be called a tyrant.
I watched His Majesty since childhood, he was the loneliest of all, but he was not a cold-hearted man.
Since that day, everything has changed.”

Duran’s eyes darkened.
Asha asked.

“That day, are you referring to the day His Majesty was cursed?”


He sighed.

“From a young age, the Emperor was always alone, people were only by his side to keep his Black Rose power in check, and I know that the previous Empress did not love His Majesty.
Rather, she neglected him and hated him.”

“She hated him? Why……He is her only son…..”

As Asha mumbled in disbelief, Duran smiled bitterly.

“Because the black rose was not a very good symbol to establish her position as the Empress.
Rather, it was more of an ominous symbol that would anger the empire and divide the nobility.
The former Empress abandoned her role as a mother.
His Majesty even now hates to talk about his mother.”

For some reason, Asha felt that the reason why he was so mean and obsessed with her was probably related to his mother.

“When His Majesty was the Crown Prince, he had a close friend who comforted his loneliness.
Although he was of low status, he was like a brother to His Majesty.”

Asha was surprised that Karaf had such a childhood, but was even more surprised to learn that he had a close friend of low status, even though he was the Crown Prince. 

He was really different from what he is now. 

Perhaps back then, there wasn’t a single peer around him to put his mind to.

But what he said next left her speechless.

“On the day the previous emperor died, his very close friend cast a curse on His Majesty’s heart.
After that….
everyone knows.”

Karaf’s bloody coronation ceremony was so famous that no one in the Empire knew about it. 

That day, there was a bloodbath in the Palace.
Karaf purged all those who opposed him to his accession to the throne with a sword. 

Whether it was his will or the power of the curse that manipulated him.
But on that day Karaf was reported to be running like a madman with a sword in his hand, and his eyes glowing redder than blood. 

The Imperial Palace became a sea of blood, and it was recorded in history that the coronation ceremonial uniform of the first black rose was stained with dark red blood as if it symbolized him. 

Asha could barely open her mouth to ask.

“His close friend…..Did he really betray His Majesty?”

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And he was also from an ethnic minority.”

Asha trembled unconsciously. 

It was only then that she understood why Karaf hated ethnic minorities. 

Duran kept talking with a complicated look on his face.

“From that day on, His Majesty could not trust anyone and did not open his heart to anyone.
He’s like a rose that protects itself with thorns.
He has developed the habit of testing people for the possibility of betrayal.
If there was any sign of them stabbing him in the back, he would stab them off first.”

Asha was also very aware of his personality.
He doesn’t trust people easily and puts them to the test. 

His instruction given this time must have been an attempt to give her a chance and put her to the test. 

He was the type to hurt others first because he didn’t want to be hurt.

And after that, it’s up to him to decide whether or not that person will remain by his side until the very end.

It was a very crooked and wrong way to build a relationship, but he had no choice but to do it. 

It must have been the only way he could protect himself from all the betrayals and threats around him…..

Asha suddenly looked at Duran and asked curiously.

“Then how did Sir Duran earn His Majesty’s trust? You said that His Majesty doesn’t trust anyone, but I have heard that you are His Majesty’s favorite henchman.”

Duran was the person who supported him from beginning to end, who brimmed with suspicion.

Asha wanted to know how to win Karaf’s heart. 

Duran answered with a bitter smile.

“Actually, I died once.”


Asha’s eyes grew bigger. 

She felt that she had misheard.

Duran said calmly as if it was natural for her to react that way.

“The day His Majesty’s close friend betrayed him, I was attacked and pierced by his sword while trying to protect His Majesty.
I definitely stopped breathing.”

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“But how……”

Asha looked at him speechlessly.

“You may be wondering how I am still alive and well.”

He said looking at Asha with bitter eyes.

“His Majesty saved me.
Even though he was cursed and seriously injured, he gathered his strength and saved me with the vitality of flowers.
When I heard that, I felt that His Majesty’s powers were far greater than the nobles could have imagined.
I can’t even bring myself to talk about it.

Duran’s eyelids were lowered.

“His Majesty suffered indelible wounds in body and mind.
He was unable to get out of bed for several months.”

Asha was at a loss for words at the shocking story. 

He then looked up into the distant sky.

“Why did he use so much power to save someone like me…….
I thought about it countless times while His Majesty slept.
Perhaps His Majesty feared not having anyone by his side more than losing his life.
If I disappear, there will really be no one left by his side…….”

His golden bangs, tinted by the sunset, were gently ruffled by the breeze.

“I received a great grace that I will never be able to repay even if I dedicate my whole life to His Majesty.
I cried and swore to his Majesty, who was unconscious in bed like a dead man, that I would now live only for him.
Maybe Lady Vanessa does not understand me.
Actually, good and evil are not so important to the Cactus Knights.”

He turned to her and said with determination.

“We are the thorns that protect His Majesty.
I follow His Majesty’s command.
I would do anything to break His Majesty’s curse so that he doesn’t suffer anymore.
I don’t care if we’re called His Majesty’s puppet, but it’s my mission to never leave His Majesty’s side even for a moment.”

The relationship between Karaf and the Cactus Knights seemed to run much deeper than she had thought. 

The Cactus Knights are made up of all the knights that have been there since he became Crown Prince.
And they were all in his debt.

Duran was also a knight of commoner origin, but after risking his life to save Karaf, he earned the title of baron.

In the Etzheim Empire, the duke, marquess, and count were titles that could only be held by the five founding families of the nation.
So the title of baron was the last position that could be held. 

However, Karaf cared for him much more than other nobles and placed him, who was only a baron, as the knight commander.

The Cactus Knights were an elite and very loyal troop.

In the past, Asha feared those who blindly obeyed the Emperor’s orders, but after hearing Duran’s story, she seemed to change her mind.

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“His Majesty is lonely.
He just doesn’t know how to relieve his loneliness, he just blindly hugs you and stabs you with thorns.
It’s really difficult to gain His Majesty’s trust, but once he decides, he considers you one of his own.
He values you and cares for you more than anyone else.”

Duran paused for a moment. 

But it’s a bit ridiculous that he asks her not to hate His Majesty so much, who is called the worst tyrant in history. 

So he coughs once and then changes the subject.

“But you seemed to be in trouble before, so I’ll help you with anything.”

“Ah…..Then, just hold on to them tight so that the clothes don’t fly away.”

Asha also turned away from the sudden awkwardness, but she soon clasped her hands together and blew the wind towards him as he was holding the clothes. 

When Duran let the clothes fly because of the strong wind, Asha shouted in surprise.

“How can you let go of the clothes! I told you to hold them tight!”

“I’m… I’m sorry! I didn’t know the wind would be so strong!”

A shadow leaning on the wall moved slowly at the ridiculous sight of two people running side by side with their hands outstretched to catch the flying robe. 

It was Karaf. 

He had come to see Asha and found her talking to Duran instead.
He hid behind a wall and secretly eavesdropped on their conversation. 

His red eyes reflected in the sunset looked a bit sad.

* * * * *

After finishing the laundry, Asha headed to the communal dining room used by the servants for a late dinner. 

However, as soon as she entered, the eyes of the young enemies fell on her, and Asha stood up in the doorway. 

The servants, who were chatting happily a while ago, stopped talking when she arrived and looked at her in silence. 

Asha felt a cold sweat break out on her back at the sudden, terrifying silence.




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