Author: alyalia Editor: popcorn

Despite the Grand Duke’s warning, Ben still attempted to escape multiple times. Meanwhile six months had gone by.

 

“You’re going to die at this rate. Cherish your body.”

 

Archen still secretly visited Ben to heal his wounds. He couldn’t enter the prison, so he reached over the bars and applied medicine to the wounds.

 

“If I could die from doing something like this, I would already be dead.”

 

Ben’s eyes looked different from what they had six months ago. His dark purple eyes, which once were weak and anxious, suddenly took on the appearance of beasts. They had now become sharp, ruthless, and calm eyes without agitation. Archen and Ben both knew that he wouldn’t have survived if he hadn’t changed. It was a kind of self-defence.

 

Archen knew what made him do this, so he healed his wounds every day to keep him from hurting. It was the only thing he could do for him.

 

“How about taking a break from today’s training?”

 

“I don’t need a break.”

 

Ben stood up and grabbed a sword made of thick paper. Ever since the day Grand Duke whipped him, Archen secretly taught Ben about swordsmanship. He wanted Ben to build up his strength, even if it wasn’t much. He wanted Ben to have power so Ben could get revenge whenever a chance would present itself. Archen was okay with it, even though he might lose his life in Ben’s grasp since that was the only way for him to atone for his sins.

 

Archen taught him everything he knew about wielding a sword. Ben soon followed along. Ben grew up day by day, his shoulders became wider thanks to the swordsmanship, and now he looked like a dignified man.

 

“When can I go out?”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

After training, Ben always asked the same question and Archen always had the same reply. Archen felt sorry for always repeating the same words over and over. And Ben only smiled bitterly as he sat on the floor and touched the bracelet. 

 

Then a voice filled with longing came.

 

“Well, how about Ben?”

 

 

That day was unforgettable. It was the first time since his mother’s death that someone gave him a name. He liked the name Cersinia had picked for him. He was so happy that tears flowed out when his new name slipped out of Cersinia’s red lips. Ben slowly pictured the time he spent with her in his mind. On the day he was almost dragged by Viscount, Cersinia came to find him in heavy rain.

 

“You’re free now.”

 

It was only a piece of paper, but the slave document, which had become his shackle, burned to dust in Cersinia’s grasp.

 

“Because of my power, you may suffer too. But… if that’s okay with you…”

 

That day Ben had promised he would be with her no matter what happens. So he had to go back. To be by her side. His place was next to her.

 

“I miss you. Dearly.”

 

A voice filled with fleeting longing cast low in the basement. When Ben was brought here, he thought of Cersinia countless times before realizing it. Why does he want to go back to her side so much?

 

‘Because I like her.’

 

It started from the day he first held her hand at the gambling house. As Cersinia reached out her hand, the warmth that had embraced his hand comforted him. From that day on, his life completely changed. His body and mind, which had died due to being a slave, came back to life after meeting her. The feelings he felt for her made him aware that he was still alive and breathing. She was his happiness. His heartbeat that day was so loud that he was sure that anyone passing by could hear it. Those emotions rose every time their eyes met, everything was good and peaceful.

 

“Cersinia.”

 

His head dropped. Coming back to reality, inside the prison, where he was left alone.

 

* * *

 

Next day

 

“So that woman was called Cersinia.”

 

Even that day, the Grand Duke, who beat him again, mentioned Cersinia’s name out of the blue. Ben, who had endured all the pain without making a single groan, lifted his head in anxiety.

 

“Why are you surprised? Isn’t that the name you called out for?”

 

The Grand Duke laughed at it.

 

“How dare you say that name.”

 

Ben growled. He looked as if he would kill the Grand Duke at any given chance.

 

“Puhahahaha!”

 

The Grand Duke let out a dreadful laugh, then he stopped and proceeded to say in a cold demeanour.

 

“She is in the Mulain Village, isn’t she? What should I do with her? Should I kill her or throw her into the street?”

 

Originally, the Grand Duke had planned to beat and brainwash Ben into doing what he wanted. But he didn’t look like he would oblige anytime soon. So the Grand Duke decided to change his strategy. So he decided to threaten him with what he was always longing for.

 

“If you touch even one hair on her body, I will kill you!”

 

Ben shouted furiously. He was so mad that his tightly tied body shook.

 

“Do you want her to die because of you?”

 

At those words, Ben stopped moving if not breathing even.

 

“It’s easier to take her life than to kill a passing ant. Even if she hides, it’ll be fun and easy for me to hunt her down.”

 

“…”

 

Ben bit his inner cheeks. Blood rose up to his brain, and his heart quivered. Red veins appeared on his neck from the rising anger.

 

“If you keep acting like this, I will go find that bitch.”

 

“If you keep doing something like this, I will go find that bitch.”

 

Thump.

 

Ben’s heart fell to the floor. His complexion paled, then fear and anxiety took over his senses.

 

“D-Don’t… Don’t you dare do that.”

 

“If you rebel against me from now on, I will not guarantee that bitch’s safety.”

 

The Grand Duke laughed mercilessly. His laughter contained satisfaction. He finally found out Ben’s weakness. He was delighted to be now able to manipulate Ben according to his desires. But there was something the Grand Duke overlooked.

 

If Ben had been an immature child who was easily frightened by violence and intimidation, he could have been tamed by beating and intimidating in moderation, but Ben was already an adult. The Grand Duke would be unable to brainwash him. 

 

“Do you understand?”

 

The Grand Duke slapped him on the cheek.

 

“…Don’t touch her.”

 

Ben’s eyes glared at him, but his tone was softer than before.

 

“If you’re good, I will not touch her. From now on, you must obey my every word. Otherwise, I will turn your precious Cersinia into crow food .”

 

From that day on, Ben obeyed the Grand Duke. He sent only one letter to Cersinia and didn’t bring up her name even in front of Archen. He thoroughly hid his claws, feeling deeply that he needed strength to protect her. He vowed that if the opportunity came, he would bite off the Grand Duke’s neck without a single hesitation.

 

* * *

 

Two years and eight months have passed.

 

Ben had carefully planned to pretend to obey the Grand Duke, until he found the perfect opportunity to denunciate him, and reveal his treason to the Emperor.

 

“A week later, there will be a birthday banquet for the Crown Prince. On that day, I will formally introduce you as Alexdemikan Shorevarce.”

 

The Grand Duke glared at Ben who was standing in front of his desk. Now Ben has truly become a man.  This child, who was born from spending a night with a maid, resembled the Grand Duke more than Alexdemikan. Especially the dark purple eyes that did not hold any emotion.

 

Not being able to produce another child, Ben and Alex were his only lineage. And so after the Duchess passed away since Alex’s health was still not improving, he started to look for Ben who was taken away by the fugitive maid. It did take him a lot of time to tame Ben but now he could use the little brat to his advantage. This also meant that he did not have to worry about an heir when he overthrew his brother, the current Emperor.

 

“I understand.”

 

Ben answered the Grand Duke politely.

 

“Get out.”

 

A fishy smile drew itself on the Grand Duke‘s face as he looked at the puppet that he could now control to his liking. Ben left the office.

 

It has been two weeks since Ben left the basement, a month after Alexdemikan Shorevarce died of chronic disease. He had been locked up in the basement for over two and a half years. He thoroughly learned about nobles and took succession classes during that time, and was also brainwashed more than hundreds of times a day.

 

“Your ego doesn’t exist. You are nothing more than a puppet. You just have to do what I tell you to do.”

 

It was something that the Grand Duke said as often as Ben was eating rice. Ben obeyed and did what the Grand Duke told him unconditionally and silently accepted any harsh words. Ever since the moment the Grand Duke brought up Cersinia, he neither spoke nor visibly yearned for Cersinia just in case the Grand Duke would keep his promise.

 

“Archen.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“The time has come.”

 

The time has finally come. There was a heavy tension between them. His solemn expression represented his long-standing commitment to revenge.

 

* * *

 

The Crown Prince’s birthday banquet has begun.

 

“Oho! It was true that he became healthy.”

 

The Emperor was very pleased to see Ben standing next to his younger brother, Grand Duke Kantrid. His nephew, who he had only seen for a few times when he was very young and was too weak to leave the mansion, had now completely recovered and become a dignified man. 

 

“I see the sun of the Belfar Empire. May your glory grace upon us. ”

 

Ben, dressed in a tailcoat, knelt down on one knee in front of the Emperor. The Emperor expressed his joy.

 

“I am really delighted to see my nephew again and in good health.”

 

The Emperor was genuinely delighted. He undoubtedly believed that Ben was Alexdemikan. Everything was going according to the will of the Grand Duke. How could they dare to fool the Emperor? The end of the Grand Duke’s plan is to overthrow the Emperor and seize the throne.

 

Ben had to put an end to it with his own hands. If the Grand Duke, who he didn’t want to call father, became an Emperor, this Empire would only meet its demise. Ben approached the Crown Prince as planned when the Emperor and the Grand Duke were not around.

 

“Your Highness, I sincerely congratulate you on your birthday.”

 

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