As Duke Bellator ascended the grand staircase to contact Conrad, Andrei sank his weary frame into the depths of the plush sofa. Closing his eyes, he embarked on a quest to seek solace within the recesses of his own spirit, a golden radiance enveloping his form.
The sole thread that tethered him to his sister manifested as the lingering imprints on her fragile body, a tenuous lifeline between them. Yet, at times, this connection seemed to vanish into thin air, much like it did now.
Elise had not yet attained mastery over her magical abilities, implying that another, a man who accompanied her, must have orchestrated this disappearance. He had chosen an elusive hideaway where prying eyes would not easily discover them. The thought of him living as her partner was a painful and acrid sensation, akin to salt being rubbed into an open wound.
His poor sister, who had never known true health due to his actions, was tied to this world against her wishes, thwarted from escaping through death. Perhaps it was greed that had driven him. If Elise died, he couldn’t live either. Guilt twisted within him.
“So, I wanted to make her happy,” he reflected.
Andrei yearned to be the one to find Elise, to cherish and love her more than anyone else in the world. Yet, regardless of his qualities, he couldn’t capture her attention, for no one on earth could dare to compare with her.
To surrender his beloved sister to another, and not just any other but a dragon, the antithesis of a Gallian descendant, was unthinkable.
“No, Elise,” Andrei lamented, his face hidden in his hands as he wept.
“If a child is born, you will be forever entwined, never to return to me. Sister, I implore you, answer…”
His lost sister remained silent, leaving him in anguish.
Upon waking, Elise was immediately met with a tumultuous argument echoing from an unknown source.
“Do you really want to be dragged out like this?”
“Is it such a big demand to want to say goodbye?”
The voices were unmistakably familiar, and the two individuals were making no effort to conceal their mutual disdain.
“I personally wrote a letter to His Majesty and conveyed it. Consequently, Lady, your obligations in Rotiara have concluded. Bidding farewell to my wife is not a part of your responsibilities.”
“Have you sought Elise’s perspective?”
“Show her the appropriate respect. She holds the title of the Duchess of Rotiara.”
Elise contemplated summoning Ivetsa by tugging the cord, but she chose not to. Instead, she slowly rose from her slumber.
Today, Andrei had not featured in her dreams. It had been comforting to encounter her brother in her dreams and hold conversations with him. Yet dreams remained just that—mere dreams. Upon awakening, a void and helplessness typically engulfed her.
However, today, she felt an unusual lightness. As she donned her shawl and began to move about leisurely, her stomach emitted a soft, rumbling sound.
Now that I think about it, I did not have a proper meal yesterday.
After a restful night’s sleep, she felt surprisingly famished. This was entirely ordinary.
As Elise made her presence known, the two men and one woman locked in a heated standoff within the living room simultaneously turned their attention to her.
“Elise.” Rezette closed the distance between them in brisk, purposeful steps. “Did the commotion wake you?”
Elise hesitated briefly before nodding, and then she inquired softly, “I suppose you’re preparing to depart, Lady Irrien.”
“Yes, she’ll be leaving shortly. Don’t worry,” Rezette replied on her behalf.
Genovia’s voice erupted, “Elise, aren’t you saddened by parting like this? There are so many things I haven’t had the chance to share with you yet.”
“You don’t need to listen,” Rezette interjected, guiding Elise back into the bedroom. He then cast a glance at Genovia, and Elise distinctly perceived the intensity of his resentment.
It was uncommon to witness such fury on the countenance of someone who seldom betrayed any change in their demeanor. Rezette appeared more emotionally charged than usual.
“Rezette.” Elise seized his hand. The anger that had clouded his face seemed to vanish like a mirage, reverting to his usual stoic countenance. Elise raised an eyebrow. “Are you, by any chance, angry?”
“Am I not allowed?” Rezette responded in disbelief.
“You’re running a fever,” Rezette pointed out. “You haven’t been yourself all day.”