Chapter 84.2

“Are you all right? You were injured when you fell into the water earlier.”

Barnon clutched the door, his eyes drifting over Elise’s face, hesitating to scrutinize the princess’s form.

“It’s okay. I’m fine. I’ve been fine all this time.”

“The rumors have reached the south. That you’re carrying the child of a beast worse than that.”

“No, not yet.” Elise barely managed to shake her head.

“Not yet? Elizabeth, you can’t possibly….” Barnon grimaced. “Did he, the Archduke of Rotiara,… force you?”

“Not that, and not that it matters.”

“Elise, that’s more important than anything else…!”

“Barnon, there’s no time.”

Elise anxiously scanned her surroundings. If Rezette discovered this clandestine meeting, she wouldn’t be able to foretell his future, let alone her own. There was no time for a protracted explanation.

“First of all, what happened to you? I didn’t expect to find you so close to Rotiara. I had only heard that your brother was cut off on his way north.”

“My mission was to find you, and, of course, I had to come up to the borders of Rotiara. I went to great lengths to disguise myself as an ordinary peasant from the north.”

Barnon jokingly remarked that it wasn’t easy to mask the inherent dignity of a stranger, and suddenly, he looked like the Barnon Conrad Elise knew.

“I didn’t realize it was so cold up north,” Barnon said.

“That’s why your face is so flushed.”

Elise swallowed the lump in her throat. Like Barnon, she had left the ruins behind and survived as best she could. And perhaps…


“Barnon, do you have something to tell me? Actually, I have something I want to ask you, too, I suppose… the same thing.”


As Barnon confirmed, an odd sense of relief slowly washed over her. And now, in this moment, the determination in his eyes. A voice with a resolute core. The unmistakable pride in their country.

Every sign pointed to one thing.

“His Majesty is alive.” Duke Conrad’s face radiated conviction as he conveyed the news of his master’s survival. “Our Emperor… my friend and your other half lives, Elizabeth.”

A tear silently rolled down Elise’s pale cheek.

She had believed that the least she could do for her brother, who had perished at the hands of the barbarians in her stead, was to erect a tombstone. But no. It felt as though the air had been sucked out of her lungs. 

Surely, this couldn’t all be a dream.

“His Majesty has sent a message.”

Elise struggled to straighten her back, sensing this was not just a warning or a request from her brother; it carried a message from the master of Argan.

“‘My dear sister.’” Barnon’s voice resonated, overlaying his brother’s raspy tone. “‘I know you have come to me, if only for a moment, as I have sought you in my dreams.'”

“…Also, the magic I first inscribed in you acts as a conduit to tear our destinies apart and put them back together again. What was once one was split in two, and we were born with something taken from each other. In the end, I left you the spell for fear that it would lead you to your death.'”

“Now that you’re away from my mindless draining of your magic, you’re healthier than you’ve ever been, so I understand if you’re shaken by the comfort of the nest that now surrounds you.'”

At that moment, Elise halted her sobbing.

Andrei remained Andrei, the one who knew her best in this world. The half of her that could decipher his weak, foolish sister’s anguish as if it were second nature, even from a distance.

“But, Elizabeth, think of the things you and I have to protect.”

Elise’s trembling gradually subsided as the calm voice continued.

“Consider the lives of our people exploited by the barbarians, contemplate how the soldiers of our allies have been torn apart by the right arm of the man you have chosen to be your husband.”

“…I know, I know.”

“You are capable of many things, as I have always told you. So come back to me. This time, I’ll give you everything I have. It’s your turn to reclaim everything I’ve ever taken from you, Elise.”

That was the final utterance. Andrei’s words echoed silently through Barnon’s mouth. Elise wiped the back of her hand across her face, now damp with tears.

“…You don’t have to sound so pleading, Andrei.” She smiled wryly. With the assurance that her brother was alive, everything else seemed trivial. Her priorities were crystal clear.

I must go south, even if it means facing death on the way.

If Andrei could communicate with her through dreams, she could do the same. The magic stemming from his unwavering will intertwined like golden threads between Elise’s fingers.

Hope, a small bud, unfurled alarmingly fast, blooming into full vibrancy. Before long, Barnon’s face was streaked with tears.

But the reprieve was short-lived. Lingering beneath the open window were long shadows.

Rezette and his knights were returning.



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