The bloody moon hung high in the night sky.
The spotlessly white castle on the peak of the cliff glowed to the gentle shine of the moon. If this were an ordinary night, perhaps there would be a flock of nightingales hovering above the castle and singing beautiful tones that added colors to the lifeless night sky. But the glorious night creatures cowered in the deepest caves, succumbing to the mighty presence.
The soothing sound of the pipe organ resounded in the wide, rectangular room lit by a ceiling that emanated a soft radiance. Beautiful tapestries of various patterns hung on the sleek, white walls and the weapons between them glowed a magical radiance, where one could instantly recognize its value without any knowledge of weapons. The tall shelf that was made of obsidian and embedded with golden and silver-colored threads displayed all sorts of ancient books that were held in utmost care.
The doors with floral decorations opened gradually. A magical servant entered and stood by the side respectfully. It gazed at its master with eyes that glowed in spiritual radiances-a young lady elegantly playing the pipe organ.
Under the magical radiance, the young lady's dewy cheeks and gentle, smiling eyes were clearly seen. Her pupils that were as dark as the deep night emanated spiritual radiances like the reflection of the moon in the pond. Her snowy, slender neck appeared oddly eye-catching against the contrasting pitch-black night gown, while the youthful, charming curves of her body were filled with lethal temptations. Her smooth, black hair hung to the ground and her fragile, unsullied beauty seemed as though they would break at a soft touch-breathtaking.
The young lady kept her eyes closed as she immersed in her melodious music. After a few moments, a pitch-black figure enveloped her, and she opened her eyes and stroked across the last few keys of the pipe organ with her slender, dewy fingers. Then, she stood up, turned around lithely, lifted the hem of her skit and knelt before the man.
"Greetings, Your Majesty."
The man twitched his brows and spoke in a deep voice.
"You may rise. This isn't the palace, so you don't have to be this formal, Erin."
"Yes, Big Brother."
Erin straightened her posture and gazed at the man in silence. In human terms, he appeared to be around 26 years old, slightly older than Rhode. However, his tone was as solemn as a reserved old man. He was tall and burly, and had a face that resembled a granite stone statue that a craftsman had sculpted-distinct lines and incomparably stubborn. His determined eyes glinted with confident, razor-sharp radiance. His aggressive line of sight forced others away except for Erin, who looked at him calmly.
He was her elder brother and the ruler of the Country of Darkness-the Dark Dragon Ion.
"Erin, I've heard from Balende and should warn you about your curiosity. You should be aware of your identity and the importance of this battle to us. You're no longer a child and I can't allow you to act rashly anymore, do you understand?"
Even though Ion was speaking to his younger sister, his voice was as stern and pressure-inducing as usual. He held his hands behind his back and stared at her. Erin lowered her head respectfully and Ion nodded. No one knew what was going through his head. The atmosphere in the room turned deadly silent, but Ion broke the silence soon after.
"I've seen Balende's report. What exactly is going on?"
"I'm sorry, Big Brother, I got involved too late. I didn't expect the enemy to eliminate our army that quickly. If only I were faster..."
"I know about that."
Ion interrupted coldly.
"Apart from this, is there anything that you need to report? According to Balende's report, you seemed to be pestered by the humans back then. In the Munn Kingdom and apart from the Archangel, who can give you a hard time? Don't you think you need to explain the situation to me?"
"This is my responsibility, Big Brother."
Erin lowered her head deeply.
"I seek your forgiveness. In fact, those humans weren't too powerful. But I was only surprised to meet beings in the Legendary Stage not in our report on the Munn Kingdom. I thought I could probe their strength, but I didn't expect them to use the opportunity and destroy our army, which ruined the battle for us..."
"What about the human overlord?"
"I admit that the human overlord possesses outstanding judgment and interesting views. But his strength..."
Erin recalled the scene when Rhode launched his attack on her. He predicted her movements and held skillful judgment on her rule powers. Not only that, but he also held the same sword that Ion had...
"... He has just entered the Legendary Stage and has considerable achievements as a human, but that was all to it."
That's right. That was all.
Erin lowered her gaze to the ground-her eyes glinted with witty flames. Ion let out a snort and looked at his young sister. After a few moments, he puckered his brows.
"You have to change your bad habit, Erin. You shouldn't let your curiosity get into the way of things. But this time is fine since you didn't cause too many losses. The Munn Kingdom's retaliation was indeed surprising, but as long as we pull ourselves together, we will eventually succeed. Next time, you aren't allowed to participate in battles without my permission, do you understand? Currently, we have no intentions of going into an all-out war with the Light Mainland. As a member of the royal family, you must be cautious of your identity. Fortunately, the other party didn't seem to recognize your true identity. But such a situation won't happen time and time again. Don't forget your identity, Erin. You shouldn't need me to remind you of this."
"I'm sorry, Big Brother. I was too willful."
Erin responded. She was clear of her elder brother's temperament. He was a confident ruler with great skills and strategies in others' eyes. However, in Erin's eyes, being incomparably stubborn and self-opinionated was also a part of him. He wasn't willing to listen to others' opinions, not to mention their objections. He believed that everything he did was right and his decisions didn't require criticism. Even though accidents happened occasionally, they were only minor obstacles and the consequences weren't worthy of a mention. In fact, Ion had indeed never failed. No matter his decision, he always proved that they were right.
But Erin disagreed.
She had grown up with him since young and personally witnessed how he became the ruler and steered this dark country toward the path of glory and prosperity. But instead of feeling glad, Erin felt uncertain. She didn't appreciate the style of plain sailing and this was the reason for the difference in opinions between them and why Ion criticized Erin.
Erin firmly believed that one had to figure things out before making a decision. One shouldn't watch idly by when there were unexpected changes, but should search for the cause of the changes and resolve it instead. It was apparent that Ion disapproved of this. He believed that Erin's method wasted too much time. Besides, some changes happened quickly and there wasn't enough time for them to respond. The best solution was to maintain the status quo. No matter the type of accidents, one would surely succeed as long as one stuck to their original intentions and goals. In fact, truth also proved that he was right, which was why he had never failed up until now.
However, Erin had a different view on this. Ion was proud of his judgment and decision while Erin was uncertain. She thought that a little failure wouldn't affect the main situation greatly, but would make victory even sweeter. There was nothing perfect in this world. The more perfect something was, the easier it was to receive great damage.
Ion wouldn't listen to her and she was aware of this. But... she also had her own ideas.
Because her elder brother had made a mistake.
Erin recalled clearly that during the battle the human overlord had indeed addressed her as 'Your Highness' and this piqued her curiosity because she wasn't in her human form back then. It wasn't easy for humans to differentiate between Night Wyverns. Moreover, she had kept a low profile and very few beings in even the Country of Darkness knew about her. Not only that, but she also didn't interact with the people of the Light Mainland. However, that human overlord recognized her immediately and was confident of his judgment...
What an amusing human. Perhaps why Big Brother made a misjudgment is because the human overlord knew the reason why the Archangels didn't appear. Based on this logic, if I arrived at the battlefield, the Munn Kingdom surely wouldn't send an ordinary human overlord to defend the place. Just as Big Brother said, I have an extraordinary identity. It would be fine if no one recognized me, but if I were recognized...
That human overlord actually made Big Brother misjudge the situation. Interesting. Perhaps he might become my useful helper.
"Alright then, I'm heading off now."
"Yes, Big Brother."
Erin looked up and gazed forward as the burly man turned around and headed toward the other end of the room at an unswerving pace. He exited from the room and the door closed behind him.
The deep sound echoed in the empty room and faded away.
Erin sat on the chair and placed her hands on the keys of the pipe organ. She shut her eyes and after a few moments, she said.
"Chris, get ready. We're going for a long trip."
No one responded. Erin lifted her hands and played the keys elegantly.
The melodious sound of the pipe organ filled the room once again.
Rhode leaned back on the chair and scrutinized Sonia. He wasn't surprised that she arrived at the Winter Castle because she reported her situation to him everyday despite them not meeting. Sometimes, her passionate attitude made Rhode feel as though she wasn't a pet who he had groomed and humiliated. Instead, she seemed more like a lover who was painfully separated from him... Of course, he also learned from her that Andre would be coming to the Winter Castle and also of the Light Parliament's plans.
On the other hand, Sonia seemed rather nervous under his gaze. She clutched the hem of her skirt and lowered her head while peeking at his face. Her eyes were filled with anticipation and desire. There were only two of them in the entire room. After Sonia arrived, Gillian found an excuse and dismissed herself. As a symbolic gesture, the Light Parliament arranged for two guards to be by her side and they stood outside the room at the moment. It was apparent that they weren't willing to interact with Rhode. However, Sonia couldn't wait any longer and felt extremely complicated.
After returning to Casabianca, Sonia had been struggling internally. Even though she obeyed Rhode's command to look for Andre with hopes that he could rescue her from the nightmare, the fact was that even Sonia wasn't aware if she wished to leave Rhode. After leaving the Land of Atonement, she recalled everything that she experienced every night. Then, an emotion that spread from deep inside her to her body made her shudder. However, this emotion wasn't fear. Instead, it was thrill and indulgence. Thereafter, she was almost intoxicated like a young lady recollecting loving memories with her beloved-full of joy and sweetness.
Sonia knew that this wasn't right. She should have felt painful, disappointed, and depressed. She was confused as to whether she was born a sick, licentious woman. The more this emotion struck her, the more she was affirmed of this thought. Not only did the humiliating thoughts not hurt her, but she also felt excited instead. The more excited she was, the more she degraded herself and this became a vicious cycle. She felt that she had changed completely. She didn't look for Andre because she knew that he couldn' rescue her. Instead, it was due to Rhode's command that she did it.
Now that she had arrived before Rhode, she was extremely excited. As for Andre, she had long forgotten about him.
"You're saying that you'll be representing the group of idiots in contacting us?"
Sonia lowered her head and replied humbly. Rhode scanned her and after a few seconds, he smiled.
"Interesting. Sonia, you should know what to do, right?"
Sonia's voice trembled. She looked up with her glinting eyes before slowly taking off her coat. In just a few seconds, she had stripped naked before him.
Rhode nodded in satisfaction. Then, he gestured to her, and she came to his side hurriedly and allowed his fingers to roam around her body. She wasn't ashamed, furious, or sad. All she felt was excitement.
"Good. It seems that you still remember my teachings, Sonia." Rhode spoke softly while his right hand roamed like a viper on her soft, dewy skin.
The young lady trembled. "Mas... Master..."
Her moans were filled with pleads and desires, but Rhode disregarded her entirely. He continued to caress as though stroking a pet. Then, he squinted.
"Since your job is to stay in contact, I'm sure you know what to do, right?"
"Of course, Master." Sonia answered. "I will report everything regarding the Light Parliament's latest movements to you, Master. As long as they are matters Master wishes to know, I will tell you everything!"
Rhode nodded firmly. Sonia's behavior didn't surprise him at all. Previously when Sonia yielded to him in the Land of Atonement, her name had appeared in his reputation system with the description of [Promiscuous].
However, what amused him was that after she left his side, her affections toward him in the reputation system didn't fall off. On the contrary, it slowly rose day by day. Even though Rhode didn't know what happened to her after she returned to Casabianca, it seemed that she had failed the test that he had given her and her affections toward him became [Obedience].
Rhode smiled at this thought. Then, he whispered into her ear.
"I have a matter that I need you to investigate... If you can do it well..."
Rhode slid his hand in between her legs. Sonia moaned flirtatiously and leaned on him, craving for more. But to her disappointment, Rhode retracted his arm. She looked up in desire, at the same time rubbing herself on him with hopes for more. Yet, Rhode remained unmoved and spoke softly.
"... I will give you the reward you want the most. Understand?"
Sonia's eyes glinted.
"I will obey you completely."