One night, when the moon and stars were hiding behind the clouds, the dark bedroom without a single light was quiet as if submerged in water.
Then, in the quiet room where even the slightest sound of breathing was not heard, a sudden gust of wind blew in, breaking its silence.
The window rattled and shook because of the unexpectedly strong wind, then burst open.
Through it, the humid night air flowed inside.
The moon, which had hidden behind the clouds, reappeared, and as soon as the moonlight fell in the dark room, a faint groaning sound came from the bed covered with curtains.
A painful groan leaked out from the lips of the person who was quietly asleep.
His neat and fine brows furrowed, his tightly closed eyelids twitching.
Renato, the owner of the room, whimpered intermittently as if he was having a terrible nightmare.
Then he gasped and opened his eyes.
Coming to his senses, Renato breathed out heavily, blinking his eyes.
The ceiling in his blurry vision was somehow familiar.
Renato opened his mouth in bewilderment because he couldn’t believe he could open his eyes once again.
His hand gripping the blanket crawled up and stopped at his left chest. Thump thump, he could feel his heart beating loudly through the soft silk pajamas.
Renato muttered in disbelief.
He definitely died just a while ago.
He also clearly remembered the moment when he stopped breathing.
So why was he lying here now
“Just what, ugh!”
When he got up to grasp the situation, a terrible pain rushed in.
Renato curled his body up and grabbed his throbbing stomach.
Somewhere between his waist and his stomach was hot as if on fire.
It was the place where he was stabbed by Maximo’s sword.
“Ugh, huu, ah”
Checking the wound with his trembling hands, Renato was puzzled.
The feeling of the skin on the tip of his finger was strange.
The wound that was profusely bleeding just a little while ago was now cleanly healed, and newly formed flesh had sprouted.
How much time has passed
Renato’s face became serious.
The wound pierced by a sword could not have healed in just a day or two.
Just as he was in extreme confusion, he felt someone outside the door.
“Your Imperial Highness”
Renato’s body stiffened because of the familiar voice.
When he saw the attendant opening the door and coming in, his eyes widened.
The person that appeared with a small lantern was someone Renato was familiar with.
But he was also someone who couldn’t have existed now.
…Can you be here Renato looked at Louis standing by the door and trembled as if he had seen a ghost.
No, ‘ghost’ was perhaps an accurate word.
Because Louis had passed away half a year ago.
‘Your Imperial Highness, please don’t cry…… I’m okay.’
Renato recalled the sight of Louis who said he was okay even at the moment of his death and let out a suffocated sound.
Meanwhile, Louis approached and looked at Renato with a worried expression.
“What’s wrong Did you have a nightmare Oh my God, look at your cold sweat.
Are you sick”
Renato grabbed Louis’ wrist before it could touch his face.
Surprised by the sudden action, Louis widened his eyes.
“Your, Your Imperial Highness”
“How, how are you still alive……”
Grabbing Louis’ wrist, Renato asked with a blank expression.
The man’s wrist was warm.
His body temperature and his touch were too vivid to be called a dream.
“You, you obviously died, right in front of me.”
“What does that mean…… I died”
Hearing Renato’s murmuring, Louis asked back as if he had heard something ridiculous.
Then he saw Renato’s face exposed by the light and shut his mouth.
Renato looked like he was about to cry.
At that moment, Luna, sensing the strange atmosphere, entered.
“What’s wrong, Louis”
Louis’ face brightened when seeing reinforcement.
Renato also looked up.
He glanced at the neat Luna without a single cut on her face and opened his mouth dumbfoundedly.
‘Your Imperial Highness, I will buy time.
In the meantime, please take Snow and run away.
As far as possible.
Do you understand’
‘Luna, you too……’
I can’t go.’
‘No, go with me.
I beg of you.’
‘Please live, Your Imperial Highness.
You must survive.’
The last time he saw her was when she helped him escape with a blood-soaked face and an expression that showed her readiness to die.
Renato got up while staggering and hugged Luna, tears streaming down his face.
“Luna, hic, Luna……”
“Your Imperial Highness”
“Do, do you have any injuries”
Seeing Renato suddenly hug her and ask a strange question, Luna looked at Louis to ask what the hell was going on.
Louis shrugged his shoulders with an expression saying he didn’t understand what was happening either.
After exchanging glances with Louis, Luna came to a conclusion without difficulty.
“Your Imperial Highness, you had a nightmare.
Hearing Luna’s words, Renato paused.
Was that a nightmare Were Louis and Luna’s deaths just nightmares If this moment was real, then those moments would be nightmares.
But the pain in his stomach, stabbed by Maximo’s sword, was still there.
Renato groped the area around the wound where intense heat was rising.
As long as this pain existed, Renato couldn’t dismiss what happened to him as a dream.
Even so, he couldn’t deny Luna and Louis who were in front of him right now either.
“Is it because today is the last day of Her Highness, the Imperial Consort’s funeral”
Luna tried to guess why Renato was acting strangely.
Hearing her question, Renato’s body stiffened.
“Imperial Consort Did you just say Imperial Consort You mean Ludmilla-nim”
“Yes, today is the 7th day since Ludmilla-nim passed away.
You skipped meals all this week and stayed in the bedroom crying……”
A deep sadness lingered on Luna’s face as she looked at Renato’s complexion.
After Ludmilla, who had been bedridden for a long time, passed away, Renato locked himself up in his bedroom and never went out.
Because of that, she and Louis were so anxious.
When she recalled what happened in the last week, Luna’s expression became noticeably dark.
Renato pondered over what he just heard with a blank face.
Soon, his eyes shook violently.
“Your Imperial Highness!”
Momentarily losing strength in his legs, Renato stumbled.
He probably would have slumped down on the floor if Luna had not supported him quickly.
“Are you okay Should I call the palace doctors”
“No, it’s nothing.”
The fact that dead people came back to life and moved in front of him was already a miracle by itself, but today was also the funeral day of someone who had passed away a long time ago
Renato felt his mind go blank.
His brain was scrambled up like a tangled thread.
“Luna, what day is it today No, what year is it now”
Renato managed to put himself together and asked the question he had been pondering for a while.
First of all, he needed to understand this situation.
“Pardon Uh, today is December 13th, year 628 of the Imperial calendar.”
Luna calmly answered Renato’s question even though it was a little out of the ordinary.
Renato recited the year and date she had given him.
December 13th, year 628 of the Imperial calendar.
It was definitely the date when he was stabbed by Maximo’s sword and went to the tomb of the imperial family.
But the year was different.
The year he remembered was the year 634 of the Imperial calendar.
Realizing that there was a six-year gap between his last memory and the present, Renato bit his lower lip.
If this was truly reality, not a dream or a recollection before his death……
“Is today the last day of Ludmilla-nim’s funeral”
The ritual will be held in the morning.”
On this day six years ago, he did not attend Ludmilla’s funeral until the very end.
No, he couldn’t attend.
At that time, Renato was afraid of the Empress and Marquis Medus, and the truth that he couldn’t reveal.
Eventually, he ran away because he did not have the courage to accept the terrible reality.
But now, it was different.
He didn’t know exactly what happened to him, but he couldn’t miss this second chance.
Renato gave strength to his shaky toes and stood up straight.
“……I have to go to the funeral.”
Hearing his unexpected declaration, both Louis and Luna opened their eyes wide at the same time.
Renato looked at the twins who resembled each other even in their facial expressions and faintly smiled.
Then, he ordered in a voice with a slight tremor.
“Let us get ready now.”
* * *
A rain of flowers fell on the coffin carrying the deceased.
Renato watched one by one as the flowers of the mourners fell on Ludmilla’s coffin.
He was skeptical until he went to the funeral with the help of Louis and Luna, but when he arrived and watched the ritual, he realized that it was not a dream.
This was neither a nightmare nor a recollection of memories before death, but a terrible reality.
“I didn’t know that His Imperial Highness would attend the ritual……”
“Didn’t His Majesty the Empress send him”
“Shh! Be quiet.
He will hear you.”
Renato ignored all the gazes that were pouring on him and the gossip that flowed into his ears.
He didn’t have time to worry about that now.
His gaze was nailed to Ludmilla’s coffin.
Renato recalled the one that was in eternal rest by now and lightly bit his lower lip.
He felt something hot rising and trembling in his chest, and his eyes became wet.
He watched the ritual, struggling to swallow the weeping sounds that welled up in his throat.
He didn’t even deserve to cry over her death.