A thought suddenly flashed through Leguna's mind. He suddenly understood what was amiss.
Cold, she's far too cold.
Latie appeared bright and friendly, but her gaze was chilling and her eyes empty.
She must have talked to him to distract him and keep him from acting quickly enough to stop her. He was the only other top assassin in the room, he was the only one who stood any chance of stopping her.
Her plan seemed to have succeeded. The tip of her dagger was just centimeters from the emperor's throat and Leguna was still rooted to his spot dozens of meters behind her.
The emperor gazed at the girl, he didn't move to dodge or block her strike.
Got him! Mission complete! Little Brother, you won't have to come risk yourself anymore! Latie smiled.
There was no intent or hope of survival in her eyes, just the determination to kill the emperor and then die. Her smile was both happy and tranquil, and cold and vicious.
But it froze when her dagger touched the emperor's skin. A large hand gripped her wrist.
The slender man stood beside Larwin. His presence had been completely forgotten until now.
Latie immediately knew she had failed. She could not beat the man or even just get free. She had one last trump card, however. She started gathering her impetus, preparing to blow herself up.
But the man immediately noticed what she was doing and poured his impetus into her body, scrambling her own and dispersing the gathered force.
Geoffrey's response came a moment later in the form of a petrification spell. The nearest guards arrived a moment later and pinned the girl to the ground.
"And here I was just wondering whether Haden would use this chance to kill me."
The emperor spoke as if he had not just been literal millimeters from death. His long life on the throne must have made him used to such things.
"Who are you?" Geoffrey asked, staring down at the girl.
"You know, why ask?" Latie answered coldly. A slight waver of fear hid in her eyes despite her cold voice. Stokian training could not extinguish that last sliver of humanity in her. She may be a single-use consumable, but deep down she was still human.
"Who else is hiding in the shadows here?" Geoffrey pressed.
"I don't know."
"No, you do," Geoffrey insisted, beginning another dictation. A sphere of chaotic energy quickly grew in his hand, a disintegration spell.
"Even you should know what this is, right? It won't kill you instantly. It'll slowly turn your limbs into crystals which will then shatter and crumble into dust. It'll be very beautiful, though I imagine it won't be a pleasant experience for you."
"Just kill me! I don't know anything!" Latie's voice shuddered.
"You know something, even if it's just barely more than nothing."
He knew very well she really didn't know anything, but the game was too much fun. He intended to disintegrate just her limbs at first. It would take immense control. Most people didn't know this, but Annelotte did, and that was all that mattered.
Geoffrey gazed at Latie's terrified expression. His hand stretched out slowly.
The sphere in his hand touched the girl's arm. It immediately started disintegrating. Small shards of skin, flesh, and eventually bone slowly ripped off before turning into crystals.
It at first felt like a thousand needles pricking her skin, the it ripped into her like fire eating away at her flesh, lick a thousand blunt knives cutting into her. She held out for a few seconds, but when the first bits of bone cracked off, she opened her mouth. An animal scream like a banshee wailing in the night escaped her. The large windows at the edges of the hall vibrated. The pain compounded as more and more of her flesh began to crystalize. She could still feel everything even after the flesh had separated from her body, so she felt every cell, every molecule slowly rip itself apart and rearrange itself to become crystal.
"How is it? Should I do your left or right leg next?"
"Kill me! Just kill me! I don't know anything!" Her formerly bright and clear voice that rung like glass bell was now rough like an old reed in half-rotten flute.
"You won't die until you give me what I want. Next leg."
Leguna couldn't take it anymore. He had tortured Hladik's disciple before but that man had deserved it, and he was venting his fury. This girl might have tried to kill the emperor, but she'd not actually hurt anyone. He could also see that Geoffrey didn't hate her, on the contrary, he felt nothing. This was just a bit of entertainment for him.
Kurdak wasn't happy with this, but he stopped Leguna. He know there was nothing they could do.
"This is the palace, and she tried to kill the emperor. Plus, he's watching over this. We can do nothing, only the emperor can put a stop to this."
Leguna stared speechlessly at his boss. He knew Kurdak was right, but he couldn't accept it.
The girl's personality might have been fake, but he liked it. He couldn't stand watching her begging to die and the prince just toying with her.
Leguna immediately hated the man. He wanted to kill the girl and end it quickly, but he could do nothing. He had neither the power nor authority to intervene.
Was was probably a hundred times more powerful than the emperor, but the man had a thousand times his authority, so he could do nothing.
If only he was more powerful. Power could overrule authority, but you had to have enough. If only he were as strong as Kreighdon. He could waltz up and even slap the prince to stop him and no one could say anything, not even the emperor.
A switch was flipped in his soul. Before he'd wanted power to get his woman, but now he wanted it for himself. He wanted power to use as he wanted, to be able to do whatever he wanted to whoever he wanted. If he had had power, Eirinn wouldn't have had to suffer; Cyranos, Jaehart, and Minnie wouldn't have died; he wouldn't have been chased away from Lance; he would've stopped this torture before it even started. Power and authority. He could do anything once he had those two things.
He didn't, however. He was weak. He had just enough strength to stand above the common man, but he was barely a hill in a mountain range.
Latie's left leg had vanished. The smooth surface of exposed flesh and bone vomited blood onto the floor.
"I'm sorry... I'm too weak. I can't help you," Leguna muttered, engraving the girl's cries into his brain. He couldn't imagine how it would feel if that were Eirinn. No, he didn't want to imagine it. The thought alone might drive him insane.
The hall suddenly chilled. It suddenly became as cold as that mountain range from years ago. It lasted only a moment before everything returned to normal, save Larwin's tea, which was frozen solid in the cup.
"What the hell?!"
"Who did this?!" Geoffrey lost his temper. Latie had died before he could finish his torture, frozen like his father's tea.
His gaze turned to the spindly little boy he had seen earlier.
"No, I did nothing. He can testify," Leguna answered.
He couldn't dislike the prince more. He didn't even bother maintaining a respectful facade.
Annelotte suddenly turned white as winter snow.
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