She thought nobody would come to find her and she would just end up dead like this. She laid on her bed for so long until the silent castle became dark. She could hear her stomach growling in hunger, but Erna did not plan on heading out.
What am I supposed to do now?
She had no idea what to do. Right then, she heard the door open. Erna hid her body under the blanket out of surprise. Who is it? Who just came in? She could hear footsteps heading inside the room. But the sound came to a stop. After a while, Erna mustered up the courage to slightly lower the blanket to take a peek. She saw a middle-aged woman sitting near the bed with one of her knees kneeled to the ground.
“You are…” Erna had seen her at the wedding. Her name was…
“Vanessa Schulz, chairman of the Hessenguard council. We’ve met at the wedding.”
Vanessa quickly introduced herself as she noticed Erna hesitating. Vanessa’s eyes were soft and gentle. She was the only person who took Erna and Kalion’s wedding seriously while the rest were laughing at them—as if the wedding was something important.
While Erna continued to stare at Vanessa, Erna’s stomach growled. As the Haband maids had been busy packing to leave Hessenguard, no one had prepared food for Erna. Thanks to them, Erna had not eaten anything for the day. Erna lowered her head in embarrassment. She worried Vanessa would think she was pathetic and laugh at her.
However, Vanessa did not laugh at her. Instead, she stood up and walked toward the closet to find some clothes for Erna to wear. All the clothes did not fit Erna. Also, some garments were ruined as the maids have ripped off and taken the embellishments from clothes. Vanessa could not find any appropriate clothes in the end, so she took off her cloak and put it over Erna. Erna unconsciously placed her face on the cloak as she could feel Vanessa’s warmth.
Vanessa then bent towards Erna. “I will be assisting you from here, Your Highness,” she said. She talked in a gentle voice with a smile on her face. “I hope you to remain in Hessenguard and take care of it for a long time.”
Erna bit her lips. She could only be thankful to the person for picking up the thrown-away shoe. Erna wrapped herself in Vanessa’s cloak and got out of her bed.
Vanessa guided her to the dining hall and told her she will be coming here often from now on. After that, she found some Hessenguard clothing for Erna to wear and guided her throughout the castle.
Vanessa would repeatedly say, “You are the Grand Duke of Hessenguard now.”
After reminiscing about the past, Erna gripped Chenille’s collar.
“What exactly is the black hound?”
Chenille kept her mouth closed. It meant that the question was more difficult to answer than the previous one. Erna looked toward Kalion. He quickly caught on and grabbed Chenille’s wrist and twisted it. They could hear the bones crack. It was not a meek imitation of torture. Kalion crushed Chenille’s wrist quickly and precisely. He was silent, but he was as angry as Erna was.
Kalion had also trusted Vanessa. He had no other choice as he had been in the same situation as Erna. For the past decade, if anyone asked Kalion who he trusted the most, he would have thought of Vanessa right away. Thus, he had handed over a lot of authority of the grand duke over to the council just for her. He believed that it was the way to repay his debt towards Vanessa. But it was all planned out.
As her wrist twisted in the wrong direction, Chenille bit on her lips so hard that it bled. However, she did not make any sound. Kalion could tell she had been trained well. Cold sweat ran down Kalion’s back. He thought about how many people like Chenille might have been around him and Erna. If the two had a slight feeling of longing toward their homeland… they might have been killed like the people before them.
Then, Erna, who had been still for a moment, spoke again. She let go of Chenille’s collar and stood up. She then stepped on Chenille’s wrist and crushed it.
“Answer this,” she demanded. Kalion could notice the sadness in Erna’s voice. He looked at her face and saw her trying her best to hold in her tears. “After the wedding… You’ve all been observing and listening to us, right?”
Chenille remained speechless.
“You all heard… me begging… and crying to spare my life, didn’t you?”
After the wedding, Marquis Canavan had ordered the maids to teach Erna some manners. The maids tore her clothes and washed her. They had spread her legs and shoved something cold and unpleasant between her legs.
Erna was over most of what had happened in the past, but she could still feel her body freeze when she recalled that day.
“You could have stopped it, but you didn’t, right? So that…” Tears dropped from Erna’s face. “I would hate Haband more.”