Chapter 188

“Hmph.”

The crown prince locked eyes with Yelena, glaring at her and then childishly tossing his head back. Yelena didn’t react.

The contract, made effective by the stamped fingerprints, went into Count Morgana’s hands. The faint-hearted count’s thin eyelashes quivered as he held the brutal contract that could lead to someone’s hand getting cut off.

Then, Grace, who had been observing quietly, spoke.

“Well then, shall we commence the monster extermination?”

***

Count Morgana provided two servants to each of the parties. Each servant held a dagger and a sack. Their job was simple. Once a monster was killed, they would cut off the monster’s ears and put them in the sack. At the end of the extermination, both parties would return to the count’s castle and check which party eradicated more monsters based on the number of ears.

Neeeigh! Hmmm!

“Ugh, tch.” Crown Prince Bartèze clucked his tongue lightly.

He had brought five palace knights with him up the mountain. The six men, including himself, were all on horseback.

Grace had advised him that it would be difficult to take horses, as the mountain was steep, but the crown prince ignored her advice because he didn’t want to be bothered with walking up the mountain on his own feet.

But after they passed the start of the trail, the terrain grew more rough and the horses ended up being a hindrance.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we abandoned the horses?” One of the palace knights suggested, struggling with the reins. “Our delayed progress is already an issue, but if someone were to accidentally fall off their horse, we would face a great loss of manpower.”

Truthfully, what he was worried about the most was the crown prince falling off his horse and getting hurt, rather than losing manpower. The knights who were accompanying the crown prince would definitely be held responsible for his injury. The knight suppressed his true thoughts with a gulp.

“It can’t be helped.”

The crown prince eventually got off his horse with the air of someone being forced to, letting go of the reins and jumping off the saddle. His movements were rather rough. He was in a bit of a bad mood.

‘I thought that I’d be able to acquire the Holy Sword easily back when I learned about it from the temple…’

A few days ago, Crown Prince Bartèze received extremely valuable information from his close friend, the Chief Priest: the Holy Sword had been discovered at the Morgana Countdom.

As soon as he had acquired this information, he mobilized all of the palace sorcerers and installed a large-scale magic seal.

After staying up for several nights, the sorcerers completed the long-distance transportation seal. The crown prince towed a handful of servants and guards and was easily transported from the royal castle to the count’s castle.

Everything had been going well.

‘Duchess Mayhard.’

There had been an unforeseen obstacle. The crown prince scowled at the thought of Yelena.

He had been offended by how she wasn’t intimidated by his authority and articulately talked back to him. He became more annoyed when he thought about how because of her, he had to waste his time doing something he didn’t even need to do.

‘Both the wife and husband are so… Well, whatever. Now that things have come to this, it’ll be fun to see her despair when she loses the contest.’

Crown Prince Bartèze imagined Yelena’s fair and exquisite face stained with disappointment and dispiritedness. It subtly provoked his sadistic side.

The crown prince smirked and pulled out a sword from his waistbelt as he walked.

“Let us write a contract.”

“…Hmph.”

The crown prince was a bit wary of Yelena’s attitude just from how confident she had been about writing the contract. But this wariness bore the same weight as a meager hangnail on a fingernail. Objectively speaking, the duchess’s party had no chance of winning based on the current circumstances.

The crown prince shouted.

“Listen carefully! From this point on, we’ll split into two groups and slaughter the monsters. You two follow me towards the east, and the remaining three of you…”

“Y-your Highness!”

At that moment, a palace knight widened his eyes as if he had discovered something. The crown prince’s temper flared at the interruption, but he held back his anger after seeing the knight’s serious expression.

“What is it?”

“There’s… there’s smoke,” the knight stuttered as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “I think there’s a fire!”

“What did you say?”

Everyone, including the crown prince, looked towards where the knight was pointing at.

It was just as he had said. There was smokey gray fog rising within the dense forest. The smoke was by no means small in volume. It undoubtedly looked like a fire.

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