Elise was brought to another barracks. Although the space was empty, it was a significant improvement from the dirty and dark warehouse where she had previously been held. The barracks were outfitted with a simple bed and a wooden bathtub for washing, which were luxuries on the battlefield. However, Elise’s situation was still dire, even worse than it had been before she was captured.
Despite his reputation as a cruel war-gear, Archduke Kyrstan seemed to be more sensible than the rumors suggested. Still, he did not appear to have any intention of keeping Elise alive. Kyrstan’s arrangements for Elise included cleaning her up and providing her with new clothes, as well as a private barracks and three meals a day. However, the thought of her impending death weighed heavily on her mind and made it impossible for her to enjoy her meals. Kyrstan’s words about serving her in peace on her last journey only served to remind Elise of the grim reality of her situation. She laughed in vain, unable to shake the feeling that her time was running out.
If the archduke was going to kill her anyway, why go through the trouble of dressing her and providing her with meals? It made no sense.
Elise peered out the barracks, trying to find a way to escape. However, the guards outside seemed to be on high alert, with more escorts than she had ever seen standing guard in front of the palace in Argan’s Imperial Castle.
Despite not being physically bound, Elise knew that the watchful eyes of the guards would only become more stringent. Rather than risk any reckless behavior, Elise huddled on the ground, her ear pressed against the door as she listened to the guards outside.
“Is she really the last member of the royal family from Argan?” asked one guard. “I’ve heard rumors that she’s a princess shrouded in secrets.”
“It must be true if the prince himself has proclaimed it,” replied another.
“But I’ve also heard that she’s sick. Yet she was able to cut a grown man in half with ease. Maybe that’s just a rumor…” The first guard trailed off.
“What about Sir Roderick’s body?” asked the second guard.
“It’s supposed to be burned,” the other guard replied. “The orders are to collect only the bone powder and send it to the count. That man is a real opportunist. But if you dare lay a finger on the Princess of Argan…”
One of the guards snorted. “You keep talking about Argan, but isn’t it already a ruined country? The moment their emperor died, Argan was destroyed.”
Elise’s body tensed as she continued to listen to the conversation between the guards.
“You shouldn’t look down on Argan so much. Don’t you know the myth of Argan’s Gallian?”
“Yeah, I know. A land of wizards who protected the continent from the light dragons. But now, what’s the point of that name?”
“All countries on this continent should always pay respect to Argan. Van Yela owes its continuation as a country to Argan. The only ones who disrespect Argan are the barbarians of Ugel. Do you want to be seen as being on the same level as them?”
“That’s true… It’s already been rumored that we’ve worked hand in hand with barbarians to attack Argan, right?”
“Before those rumors damage Van Yela’s reputation, we should draw a line between us.”
Elise could only comprehend one thing from the conversation – Argan had already been destroyed when their emperor died. Tears welled up in her eyes as she realized that her twin brother, Andrei, had really passed away. Her last hope was shattered. Andrei’s final words to her, urging her to survive, became her new will.
This is not the time to cry… Elise desperately bit down on her lip, already dripping with blood. Andrei, her only shield, was no longer with her in this world. Now she was truly alone. She had to get her mind straight. Elise clasped her trembling fingertips together and listened again to the conversation between the soldiers.
“So what about the princess? The war is over and it is time for the entire army to withdraw. We can’t keep her alive, but we also can’t kill her recklessly,” said a soldier.