The Prince’s Regression
Drip, drip drip.
The blood flowing down from his fingers blossomed into red flowers on the white snow.
Renato pressed his blood-stained hand against his stomach covered with dark red blood.
Renato clenched his teeth, swallowing the blood surging up in his throat.
His mouth was filled with a pungent smell.
Someone shouted from afar.
Startled by the sound of the hounds barking, Renato’s shoulders flinched.
He then could hear several voices.
They were pursuers.
“I see footprints over there!”
“Chase him! He couldn’t have gotten far!”
Voices full of malice pierced his eardrums.
Renato stared at the blue light visible through the snowstorm and bit his lower lip.
“A little more……”
I just need to go a little further. Renato held firm onto his last string of reason and forced his staggering body.
He had already sent the horse that came together with him this far to the other side.
He also threw away his shoes and necklace just in case.
So he wouldn’t be caught right away.
Renato calmed himself down and moved his feet.
As Renato had expected, the pursuers’ voices became distant again.
Fortunately, his trick worked.
Grasping the situation, Renato diligently moved on.
Before the pursuers could realize his trick, he had to enter the imperial tomb.
However, after just a few more steps, he collapsed.
A dry cough leaked out from his chapped, torn lips, and dark red blood splattered over the pure white snow.
Renato felt his vision getting blurry and strained his eyes.
A blue light flashed across his hazy vision.
“Ha, cough, ugh……!”
Renato coughed up blood again and touched the ground with his hands which had become frozen in the fierce snow.
His stamina had long since run out.
His wounded body had now reached its limit.
But his mind was clear.
The thought that he couldn’t be any more miserable now drove Renato forward.
He crawled towards the blue shining barrier.
Whether I’m caught here or not, I’ll die anyway.
Renato could sense his death.
Even if he reached the imperial tomb, he would not be able to live.
That hope had been abandoned a long time ago.
Nevertheless, the reason he was heading there was to find a place to die.
Because he had been swayed by others all his life, he wanted to at least decide the place where he would die.
“The Prince! The Prince is over there!”
“Catch him! Don’t let him enter the imperial tomb!”
When Renato arrived in front of the barrier, he could hear the shouts again.
“You are late……”
Hearing the shouts of the pursuers who discovered him and the barking of the hounds, Renato faintly smiled.
And without delay, he stretched out his hand.
As soon as his blood-soaked hand touched the blue shiny pattern, an invisible shock fiercely struck his head.
Renato, unable to overcome his vision changing and his body twisting, retched.
When he opened his eyes again, the world around him had completely changed.
Renato burst into laughter as he saw the beautiful scenery unfolding in front of his eyes.
The burial ground where the Emperors and Empresses of all eras, as well as numerous imperial family members listed on the Imperial Genealogy, were resting, was completely different from the fierce snowstorm outside.
Perhaps the word ‘flower garden’ was more appropriate to describe this place than ‘burial ground’.
When glancing around helplessly, Renato realized the pure white altar in the distance.
He recognized the identity of the altar at a glance.
It was the tomb of the first Emperor and the Fairy King who loved him.
Facing an unexpected situation, Renato muttered with a perplexed face.
Although his purpose was to enter the imperial tomb, he did not know that he would come to the place where the first Emperor and Fairy King were sleeping.
“Where is the Prince!”
“Your, Your Majesty.”
Renato, staring blankly at the altar, was awakened by a voice he heard from behind.
It seemed like that man, Maximo, was chasing after him.
However, he could only hear Maximo’s voice and couldn’t see the man.
It was a natural thing.
Because that man wasn’t a legitimate heir recognized by the Fairy King.
“My apologies, Your Majesty.
The Prince has fled to the imperial tomb.”
“You incompetent bastards!”
Blocked by the barrier, Maximo was raging mad.
As Renato heard the voice filled with anger, he burst into laughter, thinking that man deserved that.
Maximo, who became the Emperor but was not recognized by the Fairy King, would be unable to enter the imperial tomb even if he died and was resurrected again.
“Find a way no matter what! Just find one! No, just break the barrier right now!”
“Whether you use magic or set fire to it, just break this **ing barrier!”
“Your, Your Majesty.
Please calm down.
I’m going to call a forest guardian right now.
If, if there is a forest guardian, the barrier would……”
“Who knows when a forest guardian will come! Just set it on fire!”
“We won’t be able to break the barrier with just a fire…… Above all, this is the Fairy King’s……”
“Shut up! Who cares about that damn Fairy King! I am the Emperor! The Emperor of this country!”
Maximo shouted in a voice filled with madness.
Even without looking at him, Renato could guess what kind of expression the man was having on his face.
Renato stood up, leaving Maximo’s voice behind.
Facing the tomb of the Fairy King, he remembered what he wanted to do before he died.
Renato barely arrived in front of the altar and sat down like a doll whose thread was cut.
A gust of wind made the pocket watch in Renato’s chest pocket fall to the floor.
His body felt heavy.
Renato gasped, feeling his death approaching.
His breathing became heavy, and his vision blurred as if a fog was surrounding him.
His gaze turned to the broken pocket watch.
“I have to give this back, though……”
Collapsing in front of the Fairy King’s tomb, Renato murmured in a faint voice.
His shaky hands held the broken pocket watch dearly.
A sharp piece of glass dug into his palm, but strangely, it didn’t hurt.
If this watch hadn’t blocked Maximo’s sword, he would have died without being able to make it this far.
Renato held the blood-stained pocket watch in his arms and whispered an unreachable word of gratitude.
And he then apologized.
I don’t think I can return it to you. Renato tearfully whispered.
He had no regrets in life, but the fact that he couldn’t keep the promise to the watch’s owner made him feel troubled.
“O Nature itself, the Fairy King……”
Renato gathered all his remaining strength and stretched out his hand toward the altar.
His red-dyed hand touched the pure white altar.
“I have, cough, ha…… something, I want to ask you.”
Dark red blood splattered on the clean, spotless altar.
Renato continued his words with a stutter.
Now, he couldn’t even move his tongue well.
“The people, ugh, that I love…… Have they safely, come, back to nature They, haa, don’t feel, ugh, pain there anymore, right”
The Fairy King was nature itself.
When his companion, the first Emperor, passed away, he chose to fall asleep together with him.
Before falling into a deep sleep, the Fairy King blessed the children that inherited the bloodline from him and his companion.
The ones inheriting that blood were the imperial family members of the Empire.
Therefore, to the people of the Empire, the land was the bosom of the Fairy King.
In particular, the imperial tomb was a special place in the Empire.
This was because, even after several hundred years had passed, the protection of the Fairy King still remained in this place.
Thus, when an imperial family member died, they would be buried in the imperial tomb.
They would then return to nature and receive eternal rest in the arms of the Fairy King.
That was why he wanted to ask.
He wanted to know if the people whom he loved more than his own life but couldn’t protect, who had suffered and struggled their entire lives, could forget all the pain and were at peace in the arms of the Fairy King.
Only with that could he comfortably close his eyes.
Renato leaned his forehead on the silent altar and let out a weary breath.
As expected, there was no answer.
Just what did I even expect
Renato looked at the quiet altar with a bitter smile.
If the Fairy King was going to answer his question, something would have already changed back when he begged while grasping at straws, when he cried out to wish that Ludmilla would survive, and when he prayed earnestly to protect Trudy.
However, the Fairy King never responded to Renato’s appeal.
Back then, and now.
“Ugh! Cough, cough.”
Staring resentfully at the altar that remained silent till the end, Renato coughed and convulsed.
A lump of dark red blood poured out from his gaping lips.
“I wish this kind of blood, haa, didn’t continue……”
Renato lamented as if crying and laughing at the same time.
Transparent tears streamed down from his eyes, which had lost their light and become hazy.
Together with him, his eyelids lost their strength and fell down.
The moment the last direct imperial family member of the Empire closed his eyes, the altar soaked in his blood began to glow belatedly.
A gust of wind blew over, and the silent tomb shook like a person crying.
A bunch of flowers, which was wrapping around the altar as if to protect it, scattered and fell like tears on his cold body.
Who is there While sinking into the endless darkness, Renato moved his lips when hearing someone apologize to him.
But his voice couldn’t come out.
「I’m really sorry.」
A sad voice rang in his ears.
The voice continued to apologize to Renato.
A warmth similar to that of the sun wrapped around his stiff body.
Just before he stopped breathing, Renato felt soft energy like a spring breeze touching his eyes.
His tears-soaked eyelids slightly trembled at the longing and tender feeling.
He wanted to confirm the owner of the voice, but he had no strength to open his eyes.
Soon, drowsiness rushed in like a tide.
With that, Renato fell into a sleep that he could never wake up from again.
But the rest he had hoped for did not come.
Renato woke up again six years ago, on the day his world collapsed.