Edward: If possible, I would like my brother to be out of Prince William’s control. That way he can truly be an emperor and govern this country.
Swallow Manservant: That is your wish?
Edward nodded. His smile was so bright that no one could have imagined that his life was under danger on a daily basis.^ To become emperor, Prince William devised myriad schemes to frame Louis and Edward.
Even to this day, Louis was still a puppet emperor who was easy to control, but Edward’s reputation among the citizens was even better received than Louis. If Prince William took care of Louis first, there was a higher possibility Edward would be harder to handle. Moreover, the death of the emperor’s relative would create less suspicion than that of the emperor himself. Eliminating Edward first would be a better plan to seize the throne.
The Swallow Manservant listened as Edward explained the country’s situation. Returning Edward’s favor, it was now at his service. When it recalled the day they first met, it felt like fate had arranged everything...
“Bang!” The emperor’s gun shot an animal, so Prince William told Edward to go fetch the hunted animal.^ Edward followed his brother, the reigning emperor, on a hunting expedition deep in the mountain. Prince William who had actually killed the previous emperor did not think twice when ordering Edward around. He must be thinking of a way to harm Edward, but under the watch of his brother, Edward was not worried.
Edward walked for quite a while but still failed to locate the hunted animal. Just as Edward wondered whether he had gone the wrong way, he caught a glimpse of something flying across the woods.
Edward walked toward the direction of the sound and saw a maiden uneasily walk toward a gigantic swallow to check on its condition. Edward hid in a bush to observe and noticed that both the maiden and the swallow were heavily injured. He was surprised to see the swallow speak. If Prince William found out about them, they would surely be in trouble, so Edward decided to help.
Edward: How strange...a talking swallow?
As soon as they saw Edward, the maiden and the swallow stood with caution. The swallow stood in front of the maiden and channeled elemental power to protect her. This reminded Edward of a past experience — how his brother, Louis, protected him.
Edward: Relax. I mean you no harm. My name is Edward and I am one of the princes in this country.
Edward: This is actually our country’s hunting grounds, so we inadvertently shot you.
Edward: Please first hide. I will come back and help you when everyone else has left.
Swallow Manservant: Why should I trust you?
Just then, Doris walked up from behind the swallow and gestured it to lower its elemental power-imbued wing, probably telling it to stand down. Although the swallow was still confused and skeptically looking at Edward, Doris smiled and said:
Doris: I am Doris, and this is my manservant.
Doris: Please excuse our previous behavior. You said you could help us?
Edward slightly nodded and led them deep into the forest. Before he left, Doris said:
Doris: My manservant’s behavior was inappropriate and for that, I must apologize again. You have saved our lives. I will repay you one day.
After helping Doris and the swallow settle, Edward returned to Louis. He lied and said they were mistaken and that they did not hit anything, but Louis could tell with a single glance that Edward was hiding something. However, knowing that Edward must have his own reasons, Louis agreed with Edward, so that Prince William could not defame him.
Edward not only helped Doris safely leave the hunting grounds, but also built a wooden house for them after learning their situation. Although Doris mentioned countless times that she would repay his kindness, Edward had never asked for the favor, because he thought helping others was not asking for something in return.^ A few days later when Edward was still frustrated over how to deal with Prince William, a swallow flew to his window...
Since saving Doris and the Swallow Manservant in the hunting grounds, Edward now had one more friend with whom he could share his troubles. Doris wanted to return the favor of Edward saving her life, so she decided to send Edward the Swallow Manservant, who could stay beside the prince and help him with various matters.
Swallow Manservant: His Majesty’s birthday is coming up soon, isn’t it? I can see people busy with preparation work.
Edward: You are right. I am also wondering what to give my brother as a present...
It was less than half a year ago when Louis ascended the throne. His first birthday as the role of emperor was coming up. That was not all; this birthday also signified his entering adulthood, so everyone in the country was preparing for it. As Louis’ brother, Edward’s choice of present would receive a lot of attention. Apart from that, Edward truly wanted to give Louis something he liked as a token of gratitude for his brother’s protecting him all the time.
Swallow Manservant: How about an accessory? I can imbue protective magic in it.
Swallow Manservant: He will always wear it, so the protective magic will be effective all day long.
Edward: Accessories are indeed nice! Louis loves plants too, but which type does he like the most?
Edward: Plants...oh, right! Laurel! Laurel represents glory and victory. It is the best choice for my newly crowned brother!
Edward: If we use fresh laurel to craft the accessory, my brother will love it so much! But wouldn’t it soon wither?
Swallow Manservant: There is no need to worry. It will always stay green if I cast a magic on it.
Edward: Is that so? Then I will have to borrow your power again.
Swallow Manservant: We should be able to find laurel in this area, but we will have to be careful at this time of night.
Edward: Finally found it! Now I can prepare the best gift for my brother!
Completely focused on gathering laurel branches, Edward was unaware of a follower. He happily returned to his room with the plants and waited for the Swallow Manservant to arrive and cast magic on it. However, the door suddenly burst open before Prince William ordered his men to seize Edward.
Prince William: Your Highness, how dare you secretly store laurel branches.
Prince William: Laurel branches are used to dispel evil. Are you saying His Majesty is an evil creature?!
Edward: No! I did not know that was one of laurel branches’ functions. I only knew it represents...
Prince William: Humph! Stop making excuses!
Prince William: Men! Take Prince Edward to the dungeon! We will interrogate him!
Before Edward could say anything to prove his innocence, Prince William’s men had taken him away.^ The Swallow Manservant witnessed the entire trap from outside Edward’s window. He could not offer any assistance but to find Louis and tell him to help Edward before he was tortured to death...
In the cell, no matter what Edward said, Prince William could twist his words to seem traitorous; no matter how Edward explained, Prince William could claim he was lying or making excuses! Prince William kept torturing Edward, gradually rendering him powerless. However, throughout the merciless torture, Edward did not scream at all. Suddenly, Louis’ voice could be heard and his figure appeared. Edward immediately felt relieved and lost consciousness...
When he awoke, he was in his room and lying on his bed, with Louis sat beside the bed. Looking at the peculiar accessory on the sound asleep Louis, Edward could picture what had happened...He began to sob as he vowed to himself: no matter what happens, I will stay beside my brother and protect him.
After Edward was tortured by Prince William, the two brothers knew that if this situation kept going on, their lives would be in grave danger, especially Edward’s. Hence, they decided to proactively find a way to deal with Prince William...
Edward: Right now, we only have a few officials, who used to serve our father, that are willing to help us. Most of the others are probably the sly prince’s men.
Edward: Plus, the generals are under his command. We’re at a disadvantage in every aspect.
Louis: If we can find evidence to prove his crimes, we can get rid of him!
Louis: Someone as narrow-minded as him must have recorded the details of every transaction...
Louis and Edward assigned the Swallow Manservant to search around for evidence of Prince William’s wrongdoings. Although Louis and Edward knew Prince William had schemed lots of plots, they had never thought that almost all forms of crime were related to him — defalcation, bribe, and land-embezzlement.
Edward: So we can deal with William now that we have these?
Louis frowned as he read through the pile of evidence in front of him. He then answered Edward after sighing:
Louis: No...these are not going to work...
Edward: Why not?
Louis: These papers do not clearly mention Prince William’s involvement. He could probably dismiss these charges with ease.
Louis: If so, he’ll know that we’re finding evidence that can be used against him...
Edward: He has committed so many crimes. There must be something we can use...
Swallow Manservant: There will be justice. We will find evidence to use against him.
No matter how they searched, they could not find concrete evidence that could accuse Prince William of his crimes.
Hence, they wanted to search his mansion.
Edward: We are counting on you.
Edward and the Swallow Manservant went to Prince William’s mansion. Edward hid in a forest nearby as the Swallow Manservant flew into the mansion to gather information. The mansion was as large as a castle, taking up a lot of time and the Swallow Manservant’s energy to find Prince William’s office. While it searched across the room for evidence, sound of footsteps came from outside the door, so it had no other choice but to fly out of the window first.
From the slit of the window frame, the Swallow Manservant could see that the person approaching was Prince William. However, it could not see much from the slit. When it wanted to fly back into the room after a long period of silence, the prince was nowhere to be seen! The Swallow Manservant then realized that the office must have a hidden room and the evidence they were looking for should be in the room.
Learning of the secret room, Louis, Edward, and the Swallow Manservant started to prepare a plan to get the evidence. The only thing missing was a person agile enough to sneak into the secret room and steal the evidence that can be used against Prince William...
After learning that the evidence related to Prince William’s crimes was in the secret room of his office, Louis made a deal with Ali Baba, the treasure hunter — if he is able to find the evidence, he can choose one item from the emperor’s treasury — to which the infamous thief immediately agreed.
With Ali Baba’s help, Louis and Edward finally succeeded in getting the records of Prince William’s crimes and used it to overthrow the prince and arrest him. Hence, Louis became the true emperor of the country.
What they could not have predicted was that Prince William wore a ring imbued with immense evil power, which he planned to use to destroy Louis and the entire country! To stop that from happening, Edward used another ring to absorb the evil power and it tortured him to this day. The evil power gradually corroded his mind and body; as the purple line on his body grew darker, Edward could feel his body turning rigid and could no longer hold a smile.
One day when Edward took a stroll around a city with the Swallow Manservant, a poor beggar asked them for money. Edward used to give money and food to people in need, but now, he paid no attention to them, so he ignored the beggar’s plea and simply walked past him. The Swallow Manservant could not help but say:
Swallow Manservant: There is a beggar beside you. Won’t you help him?
Edward: That’s his life. It has nothing to do with me.
Edward: No...I have to help...he’s poor...
Looking at the struggling Edward, the Swallow Manservant began to worry. He knew that the evil power’s influence was starting to take over Edward and began to benumb his kind heart. That night, Edward lay in bed and contemplated matters related to the country and Louis. Without himself realizing, he slowly fell asleep and faded into darkness...
Edward: ‘Statues...? Why is everyone a statue...?! No...! I don’t want to live in such a world!’
Another Edward: A stone heart is of course cold and merciless. Why are you resisting it?
Edward: No! I’m not stone!
Another Edward: This, is life. Emotions are meaningless.
Edward: You’re wrong! It’s because of our emotions that we can understand the meaning of life!
Edward snapped awake from his nightmare which caused him to shout in fear. He wanted to sit up, but his body was stiff like stone. Upon hearing his scream, the Swallow Manservant immediately came to his assistance. Although it took a lot of difficulty, it was only with the Swallow Manservant’s help could Edward sit up.
Swallow Manservant: The evil power is turning you into a statue...
Edward: Perhaps I’ve lost all my emotions...?
Edward: How come I can’t feel sorrow, desperation, or even fear?
Edward: I didn’t want to cry in the past, but now, I can’t cry even if I want to...
Although his eyes could no longer see, Edward still turned toward the window, as if he was admiring the twinkling stars in the night sky. The Swallow Manservant could not help but sigh — it could only watch the evil power consume Edward, and could do nothing to stop it...