The emperor had also once said that Rezette and the emperor of Argan were alike. Did the Emperor also wish to monopolize Elise’s attention like Rezette did now? The discomfort that had become familiar to Rezette returned, prickling at his senses.
Recalling the young emperor’s innocent face from long ago, Rezette couldn’t fathom that he would harbor such inappropriate feelings for his own twin. So, if not that, what could be the reason behind it all?
The twins, born simultaneously, one possessing powerful magic while the other appeared to be an ordinary human without any magical abilities. Yet their striking difference had never been questioned.
Rezette stole a brief glance at Elise before addressing her formally, “Your Highness.”
“I’m Elizabeth,” she corrected him gently, and then shifted her attention to the cherry confit dish.
“…Elizabeth,” Rezette repeated. “How is your condition now compared to when you were in Argan?”
“Good. Strangely good,” Elise responded casually. She mused aloud, half-jokingly, “Maybe I devoured my brother while I was in the palace… We aren’t so different, Rezette.”
Rezette, slightly taken aback by her remark, reined her focus back to the festival foods. “Such remarks, Elizabeth. Please have your meal before snacking,” he urged, gently pulling her away from the tempting treats.
With each passing moment, Rezette’s suspicions grew. It had been over two hours since they had set out, yet there were no signs of fatigue on Elise’s face. Her energy seemed to have increased, both in duration and intensity. Her once fragile exterior now felt somewhat stronger, hinting at an underlying transformation.
“Your Highness,” Rezette began, but Elise interrupted him.
“Elise,” she emphasized.
“Elise… Perhaps the Emperor of Argan left something with you,” Rezette suggested, wondering what kind of power or knowledge the emperor of Argan had bestowed upon her—something related to real magic, or perhaps a clue or testimony for the revival of Argan.
Yet, before Rezette could finish his question, he noticed a shift in Elise’s demeanor. The mention of the word “Emperor” had triggered wariness in her eyes, and her lips tensed with unease. The subject was off-limits, and he understood why. Elise took immense pride in her homeland, and she bore a heavy sense of responsibility for Argan. She wouldn’t easily divulge any secrets about her country, especially to an outsider.
Respecting her boundaries, Rezette stepped back, dropping the topic altogether. “No, it’s nothing,” he replied, letting the matter rest.
Elise mustered a light smile and redirected her attention to something else. It was clear that further discussions about her past with Argan were not welcome, and Rezette knew better than to push her.
However, despite stepping away from the sensitive subject, he couldn’t dismiss it entirely. The matter concerned Argan, an enemy country, and involved the unique power the Argan royal family kept shrouded in secrecy. If this power posed a threat to Van Yela, it needed to be carefully investigated and dealt with.
The thought lingered in his mind. Ever since the Emperor died, his twin sister’s health started to improve. There seemed to be a connection between the emperor’s passing and Elise’s well-being. Could it be related to whatever mark he left on her?
Elizabeth Aseica was undoubtedly harboring hidden secrets, known only to a select few. Among those who knew them best would be the late emperor of Argan, who must have employed his full power to keep these secrets concealed within the confines of the palace.
As the thought of the “deceased” emperor crossed Rezette’s mind, he found himself pausing. Something in that notion caught his attention, causing his brow to furrow in contemplation.
His mind then drifted to Prince Yanok of Ugel, who had exhibited an unsettling obsession with Elise. The prince’s infatuation seemed to be fixated not on Elise herself, but on a specific part of her – her neck, to be exact. Rezette remembered how Yanok’s desires seemed peculiarly centered around possessing Elise’s severed head, the one thing that could identify her.
Did Yanok plan to use her head as bait to lure someone? The pieces began to align in Rezette’s mind, forming a chilling conclusion. Could it be possible that the emperor of Argan, believed to be deceased, was actually still alive?
In the bustling festival square, the duke and duchess enjoyed each other’s company. Ever since then, Elise began meeting Rezette every morning outside her bedroom in the reception room.
She had learned that Rezette preferred breakfast closer to dawn rather than in the morning, so she adjusted the mealtime intentionally to accommodate him. And so, the routine continued day after day – one day, two days, three days, and on it went, almost reaching ten days. It had been over twenty days since Elise arrived at Rotiara.
As the morning sunlight gently greeted her, Rezette was there by her side. Sometimes, she would wake from a light slumber, comforted by the feeling of Rezette’s hand brushing her hair. With his presence, the haunting dreams of Andrei seemed to fade away.
With time, Rezette’s name had become more than familiar on her lips. Their morning routine, with its familiarity and comfort, had brought them closer, and they began calling each other by their names, sharing meals, and speaking freely without reservations. Elise felt an intimacy had grown between them, or so she believed.
However, Rezette Kyrstan’s standards were quite different from hers.