Chapter 68.2

Genovia drew Elise closer, her lips brushing against her ear, sending shivers down her spine. But what stunned Elise wasn’t the sensation, it was the words Genovia whispered.

Shock filled Elise’s eyes. “What are you saying?”

Alive. Who?

She bit her lip and shot a glare at Genovia. “Is that a lie? How foolish do you think I…!”

“I’m Genovia of Norella.”

Before Elise could continue, Genovia’s madness seemed to evaporate, replaced by calmness. She withdrew her hand and spoke rationally.

“Norella is the heart of the Northern Confederation. It’s a vital route to the south, and most travelers heading to the capital, Opel, must pass through Norella. It’s where a wealth of information gathers, second only to the Grandel Southern Castle. And all that information falls into my hands.”

Elise remained silent.

“After the burning of Argan Castle, don’t you wonder what’s happening in the southern part of Grandel? The Duke won’t tell you everything, will he?”

Elise’s golden eyes rippled with curiosity. Within moments, those ripples turned into a tempest, and once again, she trembled under the taunts of this devilish woman.

“Is it true?” 

Genovia’s eyes gleamed with satisfaction as they narrowed. “Of course. Among your people, there’s a survivor, Elise.”

“Who is it?” she demanded.

“I can’t reveal all my secrets, can I?” Genovia replied slyly. “Even if I told you, you probably wouldn’t believe it.”

Genovia seemed to revel in poking at Elise’s hope for the lone survivor amidst the tragedy, adding life to a glimmer of hope for someone who had already outlived the dead.

Elise clenched her teeth, whispering through the tension as she held her throbbing temple. “You are truly despicable.”

“Swearing on Norella and Irrien, I’ve never lied to you or hidden the truth. Unlike your husband. So who’s the one truly despicable here?”

Genovia laughed dryly at Elise’s silence. “Right, Elise. Your husband knows more about ‘them’ being alive than I do.”

“That’s not possible.”

Genovia shrugged and said, “You probably don’t believe anything I say, do you? Let me make it clear. Let’s go out together tonight.”

Elise hesitated. “Where should we go?”

“Not too far. Just to the first defense line of Rotiara Castle, beneath that fortress. I’ll show you something very interesting. There, you can witness with your own eyes and ears what your husband is doing, what he’s saying.”

Elise, struggling to contain her confusion, eventually agreed. If Rezette was there, it wouldn’t be particularly dangerous. Moreover, it was the same location he had visited earlier that night. Temptation overwhelmed her.

Just to confirm. Just to confirm if any part of what this woman is saying is true, she reasoned.

Seeing Elise’s inner turmoil, Genovia’s lips contorted in a strange spasm. “You’ve made the right choice, Elizabeth,” she grinned. “Once you witness that, you won’t hold the same love-struck gaze as before. Never.”


On a moonless night, a carriage silently departed from Rotiara Castle. Apart from Elise’s loyal maid, Ivetsa, no one else knew there was an additional passenger concealed within the carriage, beside Lady Irrien herself. The Duke of Irrien’s anchor emblem adorned the carriage.

The vehicle navigated through the triple-layered defenses and arrived before Rotiara Castle. Genovia stole a glance at Elise, seated opposite her.

“It appears it’s all over already. I can smell the blood,” Genovia remarked.

A faint metallic scent crept in through the gap in the carriage door, unmistakably the scent of blood. Genovia expressed her disappointment.

“It’s a shame. You should have witnessed him taking a life with your own eyes.”

Elise, shrouded in a black robe, huddled her shoulders. The odor of blood brought back painful memories of the blazing Argan Castle.

Genovia drew back the curtain, opening the window. The outside air flowed into the previously silent carriage, the early summer night warm and refreshing.

“Pay close attention and listen carefully. I’ll be kind enough to unveil that man’s true thoughts for you.”

Genovia swung open the carriage door. As her dress trailed behind her, Elise was left alone inside the vehicle.

Through the carriage window, Elise could see the woman moving farther away. At the end of Genovia Irrien’s steps, a long shadow loomed. The carriage’s skewed angle made it impossible to see the figure clearly, but the pools of blood were unmistakable.

A head…? Elise wondered.

An elongated silver blade was suspended over a lifeless body, blood streaming along its edge. A shiver coursed down her spine. Elise took a deep breath to steady herself and leaned closer to the open window, eager to catch any snippets of conversation.



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