As the doors to the audience room swung open, Noyer’s eyes fell upon the figure of Princess Argan. It was the first time he had laid eyes on her in the flesh, and he found himself secretly taken aback. Her countenance was pallid, her garments shabby, and the heavy chains that adorned her delicate wrists seemed to engulf them entirely. However, none of these things could hide her inherent beauty.
Noyer immediately understood that Argan’s emperor had not kept his sister hidden for no reason. Elizabeth Aseica appeared to have led a sheltered life, one where she was cherished by someone always.
At twenty-two, she had reached an age of maturity, and yet her every movement and expression betrayed an immaturity that was heartrending to see. Her eyes were dewy, her gaze anxious, and her breathing unsteady. She seemed to be on the brink of collapse, weighed down by the terror of impending death.
Even Noyer, who was known to cut down anything that was deemed unnecessary, found himself moved by her plight. He could see that she was trembling uncomfortably, and he knew that it was impossible to save her, no matter how much she fought to cling to life.
Indeed, she was beautiful, but only in that sense. The princess was worth more dead than alive.
In exchange for handing over her body to the Ugels, Van Yela would receive a share of the territory that had been taken by them from Argan’s empire. The savages had a peculiar fascination with taking the heads of the dead as a trophy, but for Van Yela, it was a profitable business. The northern regions were always in need of fertile land, and this was his ticket to prosperity.
“I heard that the princess has some last words for me,” Noyer said.
Noyer’s initial intention was to disregard anything the princess had to say, but when he heard that she had some last words for him, he was unable to resist his curiosity. The words that flowed from her lips were so unexpected that he forgot himself entirely.
“I beg your pardon?” He asked incredulously, his posture involuntarily leaning closer to listen. “Princess, just now… If my ears didn’t deceive me, it sounded like you said that you have conceived the Duke’s child.”
“You heard correctly.” The princess spoke forcefully, her words leaving Noyer’s facial muscles twitching with surprise.
“So, that means the Duke and—”
Noyer hesitated, wondering whether to soften his expression to save the princess’s face. But before he could make a decision, the princess spoke again, hastily adding, “I seduced him first. Don’t blame the Duke, and don’t ask him to take responsibility.”
A burst of laughter erupted from Noyer’s lips, the sound filling the room. “Haha…the princess seems to not know my brother very well,” he said finally, a look of amusement on his face.
The news of Rezette Kyrstan’s supposed seduction and subsequent night of passion was as unreliable as the gusts of wind that whipped through the castle’s turrets. If Noyer had not been a man of discipline and decorum, he would have snorted in derision. However, the princess standing before him was no ordinary woman.
Noyer’s gaze lingered on the Princess, his eyes probing her with an intensity that made her feel as though he could see straight through her. With a feigned stroke of his chin, he turned his head towards his attendant and ordered, “Summon the Duke to the audience chamber immediately, no matter what he’s doing or where he is.”
Even Rezette Kyrstan, a man who treated women like insignificant pebbles on the side of the road, would find it difficult to resist such a woman. The Princess’s attitude alone was enough to unsettle Noyer. Though she occasionally trembled, her back remained straight and her gaze steady. There was something peculiar about her that made others believe every word she spoke.
Noyer regarded her slowly. “The Duke of Kyrstan is not an ordinary person. He is a dragon. Does the Princess know how difficult it is for a human to conceive a dragon’s child?”
Elise tilted her head, her complexion paling and turning an unpleasant shade of green. Noyer’s sharp tone only added to her discomfort. “Did you not know what you were doing? Then how did you come to know that you were carrying his child? You were captured by General Van Yela only two months ago. Do you have any evidence that could convince me?”
Elise replied softly, “My twin brother was a wizard. He taught me how to examine my body by sensing the magic power flowing through it. I am not a wizard like him, but I can sense a little bit of magic power.”
She stretched out her left hand and held it out in front of her. A brilliant cluster of light appeared for a moment before fading away. It was the light that emanated from the magic circle inscribed on the inside of her left forearm. To Noyer, who was unfamiliar with magic, it looked like a shower of shattered stardust.
I have never heard that the Princess has the ability to wield magic, Noyer thought to himself, his interest piqued significantly.