Author: alyalia

Having both contestants stand side by side was quite a tasteless act, especially since the one defeated in this match was not a mere participant but the former crown prince, Edward von Lindeman. The crowd began to murmur.


Amidst the murmuring, the emperor whispered to his mother seated next to him, “To defeat the grand duke, this young man must possess remarkable talent. I need to uncover his identity.”


“…Do as you wish, Your Majesty,” the Empress responded with a subdued voice, looking sympathetically at Edward standing before the throne.


Just as the emperor was about to raise his hand to quiet the crowd, a voice rang out at the perfect moment, “Benny! Remove your mask! Reveal your identity!”


The voice belonged to Rante di Edwin. His clear call and encouragement from others quickly spread throughout the stadium.


“So, who is the Sword Reaper?”


“Who are you?”


“Remove your mask!”


The emperor chuckled lowly. He didn’t need to insist on removing the mask if the audience’s opinion was such; pretending to comply would make him appear more magnanimous.


It was then.


“Silence!” A voice like thunder from a red-haired swordsman filled the stadium. His booming voice, not amplified by magic, matched that effect. A stunned silence fell among the crowd.


“Your Majesty, my name is Carlo of the Dawn Wolves mercenary group. I humbly request to speak! May I have your permission?”


The Emperor’s eyebrows twitched. “…I will allow it. Speak.”


“This swordsmanship competition was graciously held by His Majesty to all, including commoners without proof of identity! Thanks to His Majesty’s consideration, many who could not reveal their identities due to various circumstances could compete purely on skill! Many talents were discovered thanks to His Majesty’s wide benevolence and care!”


One of the mercenary members sitting near Carlo muttered, “Was Carlo always this eloquent?”


Shh, quiet. He’ll hit you later.”


Carlo glanced sharply at his comrade and cleared his throat. “Cough, anyway, if Benny’s identity was revealed here and now, it would force many talents back into hiding! So please protect Benny’s secret!”


Hmm.” The emperor’s gaze slowly shifted to Luize.


Behind her mask, Luzie swallowed nervously. She had braced herself for her identity to be revealed but expected it to be after receiving the sword in a less public setting.


“That’s right!”


“Protect Benny!”


Voices agreeing with Rante’s hidden allies rose, and the murmuring crowd quickly sided with Luize, shouting, “Benny, don’t remove the mask!”


The Emperor raised his hand, silencing the arena. “Indeed, you make a good point. After hiding it so far, it would be uncomfortable to reveal one’s identity in such a public setting. Carlo, was it? I accept your proposal, but.”


His gaze shifted to Edward standing by Luize.


“As the Emperor, I must know who takes the imperial treasure. Benny, come forward.”


The emperor’s dark green eyes met Edward’s red gaze in the air. He seemed insistent on reminding Edward that he was the emperor. On the other hand, Edward, upon locking eyes, smiled as if meeting an old friend. The emperor’s eyebrows twitched again.


Following the command, Luize steadied her racing heart. She trembled slightly; sweat cooled her back, and her hands and feet grew cold. This was something she had prepared for. Now, she only needed to reveal her identity to the emperor and ask to keep it a secret. Yet, her feet wouldn’t move easily, uncertain of what would follow her revelation.


Edward approached her with a composed stride, pretended to pick something up from the ground, and grabbed her left wrist as if handing it to her. Luize looked at Edward with trembling eyes behind the mask.


“Will the Emperor agree to keep my identity a secret?”


“You won’t be found out.”


“That’s impossible. I’ve been seen too often at the banquet hall.”


“Remember, Miss Luize. You’re Benny di Kazer from Lindeman. They’ll believe that.”




“I don’t have time to explain in depth. Let’s go.”


Nodding bewilderedly, Luize followed the path to the throne. Edward quietly snapped his fingers as she walked away. Reaching the throne, she faced the emperor, turning her back to the audience.


“What’s your name?”


“I-it’s Benny di Kazer.”


“Kazer? That Kazer family from Lindeman?”




The emperor’s expression hardened. “Take off your mask.”


With trembling hands, Luize removed her mask. The emperor’s eyes widened at the sight of Luize’s face, clearly surprised. It was a natural reaction to seeing the face of the final winner, a familiar woman. She had been discovered.


Louise looked down and spoke with a trembling voice, “I’m sor—”


“You look so ordinary! A bit short, but very ordinary.”




“Surprisingly ordinary for the final winner. I didn’t expect the need for a mask.”


The empress, looking at the bewildered Luize, spoke softly, “Your name is Benny?”




“From the northern Kazer family?”




“I see. You have a kind face.” The empress smiled gently, not used to public speaking, her lips trembling with tension.


The emperor ordered a servant to bring Lensia’s sword. The servant brought a long box. He took out the sword and approached Luize.


“This is Lensia’s sword.”


The silver scabbard engraved with small ice crystal shapes and the handle also engraved with a large ice crystal was indeed the sword her mother had often spoken of. Luize took the sword and quickly bowed. “Thank you.”


Haha. It’s rightfully yours. Congratulations on your victory.” The emperor officially announced Luize’s victory to the audience.


After the crowd was dismissed, Luize, wearing her mask again and holding Lensia’s sword, descended the podium. She approached Edward, still disbelieving. “How did this happen?”



“I had asked a wizard I know. At my signal, he was to fulfill any request. To their eyes, Miss Luize appeared as an ordinary young man.”


“What kind of signal could change my appearance to a completely different person…”


“The important thing is that you avoided a difficult situation, isn’t it?”


“Right, thank you.”


Luize sighed in relief, finally able to appreciate Lensia’s sword with joy. Like her silver hair, her mother’s silver sword was now her inheritance.


The announcer spoke, “Now, we will have the temple’s oracle announcement and the emperor’s closing declaration awaited by all citizens!”


As the temple representative stood to give the oracle, creating an atmosphere, he announced, “The oracle is as follows: ‘A dragon awakened from a long sleep will vanquish the darkness lurking in the empire!’”


The crowd murmured at the oracle.


“A dragon? Surely not the Black Dragon waking up? Wasn’t it killed? Will that terrible event happen again?”


“What darkness?”


The priest, as if waiting, interpreted, “The Black Dragon symbolizes the imperial family. This oracle means a new emperor will rise to eradicate the black magic slowly consuming the empire. The new emperor is undoubtedly His Majesty Eligor von Bellord present here, and the temple wishes to serve as the emperor’s sword to eradicate the wizard for the glory of the empire and the temple!”


The crowd cheered, united as if a great hero had emerged in troubled times, chanting long live the emperor.


Louise was the only one looking at Edward, not the emperor, amidst the cheers. The beautiful former crown prince stood perfectly still amidst the adoration for the emperor, eerily calm. His smile was flawlessly composed.


Luize found herself holding his hand without realizing it. His coldly beautiful red eyes slid towards her beneath the slightly damp black hair.


Luize spoke, “I’m still trembling.”



“Please hold on a little longer.”


“If we keep holding hands, the audience might think we’re lovers.”


“I don’t mind.”


“It matters to me.”


Edward stretched out his hand to take Luize’s hand away, smiling calmly. But Luize strengthened her grip on his hand. The grip was so strong that it was hard to believe it was from a woman. He stiffened in surprise.


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