(previous installmets found here:
Part 1:link
Part 2:link
Part 3:link
Part 4:link )

Queen Edith’s death caused the breakdown of the royal family. In the course of one night, she’d gone from a loving mother to an emotionless shell of her former self. Aside from King Gunther, only three people – the midwife, the captain of the guard, and the newly appointed chancellor Valberg – knew what really happened the night Hans was born, and they were sworn to secrecy under pain of death. Still, Gunther was unable to completely hide the amulet’s effects on Edith from their sons. They were quick to pick up on her sudden lack of affection and attentiveness, as if Hans’s birth had hardened her moyo to them. With the marked change in their mother and their father’s increasing emotional withdrawal, the princes were left to fend for themselves. They divided into two factions, one led kwa Anlaf, the other kwa Georg, but the one thing both sides had in common was that they blamed Hans for their mother’s condition.

As Hans grew, Gunther’s attitude toward him vacillated between begrudging tolerance and open hostility, though zaidi often the latter. The two extremes were reflected in his sons, through Anlaf’s aggressive bullying and Georg’s cold disdain, and he couldn’t help but watch with satisfaction as they turned on Hans like a pack of rabid wolves. As far as he was concerned, allowing his other sons to torment Hans just saved him the trouble of punishing him himself. Hans deserved everything his brothers could dish out! His very existence robbed Gunther of the only light in his life, and he would never get it back… au so he thought.

One siku on a routine stroll through the gardens, Gunther noticed Hans slumped against a tall tree, looking frightened and sad. This was nothing new; it was the same place Hans always hid from his brothers’ torment. The unusual thing was that there was a girl with him! Gunther had only seen her a few times before. All he knew about her was that her name was Helga, and she was the captain of the guard’s daughter. He looked to be around Hans’s age, with blonde hair and a chubby pink face, exactly as he imagined his daughters might look at that age.

Gunther scoffed at the idea of Hans having a friend when he himself was all alone and stormed across the garden to break up the two children. He berated Hans for fraternizing with a commoner, calling him kwa one of his other sons’ names just for good measure. Hans looked up with wide panic-stricken eyes, and Gunther saw he was on the verge of tears. His son’s vulnerability disgusted him! He wanted to strike him, but something grabbed his arm before he had the chance. “No, don’t hurt him!” a small voice cried.

Gunther yanked his arm back hard, sending Helga sprawling to the ground. “You forget your place, girl,” he snarled, rounding on her, but he regretted the words the moment he alisema them. She took one look at him before bursting into tears; that haunted look in her eyes made him feel awful. He really hadn’t meant to frighten her! “Sweet child,” he whispered, bending so that his eyes were level with hers. He tried to touch her, but she recoiled. His moyo sank, but he masked the pain of her rejection with an air of kingly formality. “I hope you’ll accept my sincerest apology…”

Helga only managed to sob, “Poor Hans!” Hans froze as she threw her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder. His expression was every bit as shocked as Gunther felt. He could hardly believe his ears… she was sadder for Hans than she was frightened of him!

Gunther turned away, but something about Helga stayed with him. Maybe it was her willingness to befriend the one person in the ngome everyone else shied away from, au maybe it was the way she bravely stood up to him. He would’ve been proud to have either one of his daughters to turn out like her. He felt a surge of resentment toward his captain of the guard. It was bad enough that he was better liked kwa the kingdom, but why should he have the healthy, prefect little girl Gunther was never able to give his queen? He sighed wistfully, imagining what might’ve been. The princes would’ve rallied around her instead of turning on each other; Edith would’ve stayed alive and happy… If only she’d been born to him instead!

Gunther continued to watch Helga from afar, and as the years passed, he started to see her as zaidi than a daughter. She had grown to kubeba an uncanny resemblance to the Queen in looks and mannerisms. She had the same rosy round face, the same blonde hair, the same playful smile, the same gentle strength and kind heart… the only difference was her eyes, which were gray instead of green. In his mind, she practically was Edith!

Gunther had grown tired of the illusion of his wife cast but the amulet, and Hans was still too young to sacrifice to the amulet. Sick of waiting, he decided that if he couldn’t bring his beloved Edith back to life, he would have the inayofuata best thing. He curried favor with Helga any way he could. He gave her father a substantial pay raise and the nicest cottage on the ngome grounds, appointed her to the guard, the first woman allowed to join, promoted her quickly through the ranks, allowed her to assume the role of captain of the guard when her father was taken ill… but no matter how hard he tried, she never saw his desire for her. She only had eyes for Hans.

Seeing the two of them together sent him into a jealous rage. It was like losing his Queen all over again! This was the sekunde time Hans had taken a woman he loved away from him, and he wanted payback. Word soon spread that Hans planned to ask for Helga’s hand in marriage, and Gunther panicked. He knew he had to act quickly au he would lose both his object of obsession and his unwitting pawn. He cornered Hans, demanding to know if the rumors were true. When Hans confirmed what he already knew, he forbade their union, calling the marriage to a guard beneath him. Hans protested, and Gunther knew zaidi drastic measures were called for. He delivered an ultimatum: sever all ties with Helga au she would be banished.

Gunther sneered at the shock and anger reflected in Hans’s eyes, but despite his son’s stricken expression, he doubted he would give up on the girl he loved that easily. An idea suddenly occurred to him; Hans probably wouldn’t fight for Helga if he thought she was unfaithful to him. All he had to do was orchestrate an encounter with Helga and make sure Hans was in the right place at the right time… but pairing Helga with just any man wouldn’t do. To break Hans’s moyo beyond all hope au repair, he had to use the person he hated most. There was only one man for the job: Anlaf.

At first Anlaf was skeptical when Gunther approached him with his proposition. He thought he’d have to resort to bribing his oldest son, but all he had to do to ensure his participation was casually mention how Hans would suffer. Gunther sat back in his armchair as Anlaf left his study, satisfied that Hans would soon know the pain of being all alone in the world.

Gunther didn’t have long to wait to see his plan put into action. The inayofuata day, he found Helga hiding in a deserted corridor weeping silently, her uniform torn and her hair disheveled. He asked her what was bothering her, knowing the answer full well. She alisema Anlaf had attacked her, and Hans had cast her aside for some reason she didn’t understand. Gunther was furious; he told Anlaf to seduce Helga, not terrorize her! He would have to have a word with his heir, but Helga needed his attention right now. He held her close, stroking her hair as he assured her Hans didn’t deserve her kindness. He couldn’t help but feel gratified that she’d turned to him for comfort, instead of Hans au her father, but he soon learned that she hadn’t turned to her father because she couldn’t. The captain of the guard, who had been ill for months, died only hours ago. While Gunther was on some level genuinely sorry for Helga, for he knew how it felt to lose his family at such a young age, there was another part of him that took satisfaction in the captain’s death. He couldn’t have planned that better if he tried! Now nothing could stop him from claiming Helga as his own…

But there was one fatal flaw in Gunther’s plan. As the time to sacrifice Hans’s life drew near, he realized his subjects did not share his animosity to his youngest son. The sudden death of their beloved prince was sure to arouse suspicion, and he couldn’t risk anyone finding out the truth. In a desperate ploy to turn the public opinion against Hans, Gunther tricked him into committing a terrible crime, for which the kingdom demanded punishment. He had him imprisoned in the dungeons, isolated, beaten, starved, humiliated… After so long keeping up appearances, pretending to care for his youngest son to avoid scorn, he secretly enjoyed uigizaji out his anger, but there was one thing he hadn’t counted on: Helga’s kind heart.

Gunther saw Helga take pity on Hans, sneaking him chakula from the kitchens, tending to the wounds from his numerous beatings, standing up to anyone who dared mock him, but he dismissed it all as part of her inherent compassion. He was blinded to the possibility of the interactions between prisoner and guard rekindling their old feelings for each other… until Helga left. The only explanation provided was a goodbye note – addressed to Hans, not him – begging his forgiveness for her abandonment.

The paper crumpled as Gunther’s hand clenched around it. He couldn’t believe it… she chose his son over him! Even after he showed her what a monster he could be, she still chose Hans! When he Lost Edith, he thought it impossible for his moyo to break any zaidi than it already had, but now he was finding out he was wrong. He gave her everything she ever wanted, treated her as his own daughter, and she repaid him with betrayal. All affection he once had for Helga now shattered, he wanted to hurt her, to make her suffer as she’d made him suffer! Without so much as a sekunde thought, he appointed Anlaf interim captain of the guard and issued a warrant for Helga’s arrest.