Chapter 36.1

During her second and third days in Rotiara, Elise’s life continued to unfold smoothly. It felt reminiscent of her days as a princess, with the only distinction being the lively energy of the castle, which she had always observed from afar, now just outside her door.

In Rotiara Castle, Yvetsa was the only person who approached her with familiarity. The other servants exhibited either excessive caution or an abundance of politeness towards her.

However, Elise had grown accustomed to such treatment, so it didn’t bother her. Yet, whenever she noticed a particularly attractive maid or servant, she couldn’t help but involuntarily pause in her tracks.

Even though their beauty may have been superficial, didn’t Elise find herself in a situation no different from theirs? After all, they all shared the common purpose of bearing the heir of the Grand Duke.

It was a choice she had made for herself, so even if it caused inner pain, there was nothing she could do about it.

“I wish we would have a child soon,” Elise silently wished. At least then, she could alleviate the restlessness that came with the feeling that time was slipping away without respite.

As the journey to Rotiara encountered delays, nearly a month had already elapsed within the contract period. Impatience grew as Elise counted the remaining days.

However, the peace she initially found was short-lived. Starting from the fifth day in Rotiara, Elise began experiencing difficulty in falling asleep. The familiar comforts of the castle only intensified her longing for her younger brother, Andrei. Each night, Andrei, who appeared in her dreams, would admonish her.

“How could you do something so foolish, Elise? You are the princess of Argan! How could you lower yourself to become a servant of a nobleman…!”

During the journey to Rotiara, Elise hadn’t dreamt of Andrei. The most significant difference between then and now was undeniably the absence of that man.

A week had already passed, and Elise slept alone and woke up alone in her spacious bedroom. The space beside her remained untouched, devoid of any signs of a damp bed or a body lying upon it.

“…He hasn’t come today either.”

Unintentionally, ever since Elise met Rezette Kyrstan, there had been few days when he was absent from her side. It had only been a week, yet she already missed his presence in that vacant spot.

For the past few days, Elise had only caught a glimpse of him once. Yesterday, she observed him from a distance outside the window, accompanied by his knights. That was the extent of their interaction.

No matter how expansive the castle was, it was impossible for her to avoid him unless she deliberately did so.

A sense of unease inevitably arose. Could it be…?

“Surely, he intends to keep his promise…?” Elise contemplated. The voice that had dismissed her, claiming he didn’t desire a woman like her, and the casually spoken words of “adapt in advance” alternated in her mind. Although she had witnessed the man’s excitement firsthand, she couldn’t completely disregard the possibility. Her neglected state over the past week filled her with immense anxiety.

Sleep evaded her entirely in the end.

“I should at least see his face,” Elise resolved. She pulled the cord hanging by the side table. Shortly after, Yvetsa appeared at the bedroom door, wearing a cheerful smile.

“Your Highness, you’ve woken up early! You could have slept a bit longer.”

“No, it’s fine,” Elise responded.

“I’ll bring you some warm soup first to soothe your stomach.”

“No, just bring me the shawl.”

“Huh? You’ve only just opened your eyes. Where do you plan on going?”

“To the study. It’ll only take a moment. I’ll use the shortcut stairs, so it won’t take long.”

Elise quickly splashed water on her face and hastily dressed. She dampened the curtain and unveiled a hidden wooden door. A narrow and dimly lit spiral staircase lay before her. This path was said to be exclusive to the lord and his wife, off-limits to the servants.

However, as Elise descended the staircase for just two turns, she had to admit that her assumptions were mistaken. The staircase was narrow and unstable, devoid of windows or candlesticks on the walls. A faint light seeped through a crack in the ceiling, casting a dim glow below.

Regretfully, she had not brought a candle. If she were to stumble here, her bones might crumble to dust. Elise descended the spiral staircase cautiously, attentively watching her step.



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