This magic circle was a last resort, something that Andrei had instructed her to use only in the worst case. It was a spell that would blow up the body of the person whose magic circle was engraved. By simply pressing the emblem and calling her brother’s name, Elise could disappear from this world without leaving any trace behind.
Kyrstan’s gaze returned to Elise’s face, and he abruptly stood up from his seat. His steps fell heavily as he approached her, closing the distance between them in just a few strides.
As he loomed over her, Elise contorted her face in acceptance of her fate. It was over. She couldn’t escape now. All she could hope for was a clean death, at least as a princess, as the pride of Argan. Andrei was still out there, waiting for her beyond death. So she wasn’t afraid.
“Andrei,” she whispered, pressing the magic circle on her ankle and calling out her brother’s name.
But then something unexpected happened. “I see you, Your Majesty, the Princess of Argan,” Kyrstan said, kneeling down on one knee in front of her.
Elise was speechless, her lips parted in shock. For a moment, she was confused about where she was. This was Van Yela’s camp, wasn’t it? And this man, wasn’t he the so-called dog of Emperor Van Yela?
“Commander, may I come in…” a voice called out from the door.
“No, don’t come in,” Kyrstan replied, his voice still steady and emotionless. He looked into Elise’s bewildered eyes, not breaking their gaze for a moment.
Kyrstan’s gaze was intense, trapping Elise in its hold. “Can you excuse me for a moment, Your Majesty, the Princess?” he asked.
It was clear that he remembered her at once, and it dawned on Elise that the courtesy he was showing her was the kind reserved for the imperial family. No one on the continent dared to look down on the royal family of Argan, the great empire. It was a tradition that had been practiced for over a thousand years, ever since Argan ruled over Grandel.
But now that Argan was destroyed, it was nothing more than an old-fashioned custom. There was no reason to give the empress of the defeated country the title of “Your Majesty.”
Was Kyrstan making fun of her?
“It’s not good to see you in that outfit,” he said, his expression and voice revealing nothing. He didn’t ridicule her, didn’t sympathize with her, didn’t show her any hostility. He was simply indifferent, as if her appearance was an obvious fact but meant nothing to him.
Elise bit her lip as the sounds of restless footsteps outside the barracks grew louder. Finally, she nodded her head.
“Okay,” she said.
As soon as she gave her permission, Kyrstan stood up and retrieved a clean linen cloth from the desk. He immersed it in a bowl of water and brought it over to Elise. Gently, he wiped the blood from her hands, arms, and hair, and draped a cloak around her shoulders.
“Can I touch you?” he asked, lowering himself in front of her.
This time, Elise had no choice but to nod reluctantly. As soon as she gave her permission, Kyrstan grabbed her wrists with his large hands and lifted them up. He wiped the blood from her hands with a wet towel, leaving a thin stream of pink on the hem of her skirt and his own thigh.
Elise stared blankly at Kyrstan as he cleaned her hands, arms, and hair, then draped a cloak around her shoulders. She didn’t know whose cloak it was.
Kyrstan’s black hair was damp, as if he had recently washed it. His thin double eyelids framed his long, straight eyes, and his straight nose bridge and mouth gave him a handsome, cool, and shrewd appearance.
“Anyone who dares to touch Her Majesty’s body without permission, the princess, will be punished accordingly,” Kyrstan said. Elise couldn’t understand his intentions. His subordinate had died, and he must have already guessed that she was responsible. Why was he treating her like this?
But soon Elise realized that this was just his nature. He values principles and beliefs, like Andrei. But unlike Andrei, there was no warmth in Kyrstan’s eyes when he looked at her. It was not an act of goodwill. He was simply upholding the respect due to the royal family of a country.
Kyrstan, who had fixed Elise’s dress, clenched his fist. He walked away from her and called out, “Come in, Sir Ruben.”
The door to the barracks was thrown open, and Kyrstan declared in a low voice, “This is Her Majesty the Princess.”
“Yes? What did you just say…”
“She is the last member of the Argan Empire. The last one to go, and you will have to treat her with respect,” Kyrstan said, his blue eyes still cold as they looked at Elise.