Over the past three weeks, she had come to a conclusion about Archduke Rezette Kyrstan: he did not refuse her orders. Although he had stated that he had no intention of helping her, he was always courteous to Elise. He would maintain his distance and walk away, but he never ignored her when she reached out to him. No, he couldn’t ignore her. After all, Elise was his responsibility, the object of his protection, although as soon as she arrived in the capital, she would be sentenced to death.
The man’s eyes narrowed at the gap in Elise’s laughter, but as always, he didn’t ask why. It wasn’t easy for a person to be so reticent, but in a way, it was impressive. In any case, Rezette Kyrstan remained by her side.
As dawn broke, Elise woke up with a shiver, her hand automatically reaching for the bedside table. Then, a hand grabbed hers and held it.
“What do you need, Your Majesty?” came a voice that was barely audible to someone waking up. Elise looked blankly at the man, raising her eyes.
Was it because she was still half-asleep, or was it because the man was shrouded in darkness? In her mind, the man’s dark hair overlapped with Andrei’s brown locks.
Elise reached out with her other hand to him and wound her fingers through his soft hair. “Andrei,” she whispered. Those eyes were blue like the sea, but she wanted to believe they were golden. “Andrei,” she repeated.
My emperor, my beloved half, my world. My kind little brother who always called me, his big sister, even though we were only ten minutes apart.
“If you could survive, I would do anything…” I still can’t believe you’re not in this world. Elise’s devastated mumbles drifted futilely in the air. “I should have been the emperor,” she whispered sadly. “If I had been the emperor, I would have died…” Then you would live. Even if Argan fell, you would have built it up again. You were a child who could do anything.
From somewhere, she heard her brother’s faint reply.
[So do you.]
[My sister is a much more wonderful and graceful person than she thinks. A princess who deserves to be admired by everyone, more suited to Argan than anyone else.]
[Without you, I would be nothing. It’s the truth, Elizabeth.]
“If you knew my thoughts right now, you might detest me,” Elise whispered. “But it doesn’t matter.”
From the moment I plunged that dagger into my shoulder, I stopped being the perfect princess.
“I’ll be there to make sure your tombstone is built, my dear brother.”
The words fell from her lips as her consciousness slipped away.
Rezette gazed down at the princess, who had been asleep for so long it seemed as if she had fainted. Her body was burning hot, like a ball of fire. He had heard rumors that the princess of Argan was sick, but he had not expected it to be this severe. The long journey and her poor surroundings had clearly taken a toll on her already injured body. Has the treasure of Argan ever slept in such a humble barracks? It seemed that the princess was not as strong as she appeared. Had she really scarred her delicate body just to keep him by her side?
Rezette gently removed the hand the princess was grasping. As soon as the warmth left, she curled up. “Andrei,” she whispered, calling out to the man who had already passed away. Her voice was faint and her beauty was fragile, like she could break at any moment. Rezette understood why the emperor of Argan treasured his sister so much. He had said that if he held his sister too tightly, she would break, and if he let her go, she would fly away. Rezette would have done the same.
But it wasn’t just because the princess was enchanting and her body was weak. There was something about her that was completely inexplicable, almost otherworldly. She was born to command, to reign, to put the world at her feet. She lived in a completely different world from Rezette in many ways. He had been born on the humblest of ships and had barely made it to the top while rolling through the mud. The princess, on the other hand, was born with a different fate.
That was why Rezette had no doubt that even if death loomed over her, she would straighten her spine and remain resolute until the end. But he had not expected her to cling to him like a lifeline. It was a strange feeling. Rezette could only acknowledge it. He had always stood by her side, the only person she could have by her side in this large barracks.
As the woman’s body shuddered under her thin blanket, Rezette heard her whisper, “It’s cold.” There were no watching eyes, and an impulse suddenly rose within him. He lifted his head, like a snake ready to strike.