Chapter 86.2

As she leaned out, only a minuscule front yard, scarcely larger than a palm, came into view. Six individuals knelt in a row before the fence. Two appeared young, while the remaining four seemed to be in their middle years. All were unfamiliar faces, their countenances subdued under the watchful gaze of ordinary knights.

They were mere peasants, rendered frail by the oppressive weight of the circumstances. Yet, a foreboding premonition enveloped Elise.

No way… 

It couldn’t be.

However, the fragile tendrils of hope shattered into pieces the moment Elise witnessed someone being forcibly dragged through the fence, ensnared in Ruben’s firm grasp.


With an unceremonious toss, Ruben cast the young man with grayish hair, identified as Barnon, into the front yard. Already stumbling, Barnon found himself seated alongside those who were already kneeling. In an attempt to rise, a blood-red blade promptly pressed against his throat.

Elise instinctively covered her mouth with her hand. The mere presence of Barnon made it painfully clear who these captives were—they were the scouts of the Argan Army who had ventured into this region with him.

Standing before the captured individuals was Rezette Kyrstan. The dark energy emanating from his feet cast an ominous hue over the grassy ground. The magic power of the seven-branched dragon, divided into seven strands, permeated the shadows surrounding the captives and began to entwine their bodies.


Before her mind could rationalize the situation, Elise slammed the door shut. Descending the stairs with an urgency that seemed to defy her protesting muscles, every step elicited a painful throb in her waist and the insides of her thighs—numbed by the relentless strain of the night.

“Your Grace, Your Grace! Please calm down!”

Ivetsa struggled to support Elise, who teetered on the brink of stumbling down the stairs. Gritting her teeth, Elise clutched her friend’s forearm and inquired with urgency.

“Since when? How long have they been like that?”

“It was around the time dawn broke not long ago. Lord Ruben and Sir Isaac brought them one by one. I heard they were individuals personally pointed out by His Grace…”

Elise had succumbed to exhaustion and fallen asleep just as the first light of dawn painted the sky. Vaguely recalling the sun hanging on the horizon before closing her eyes, it couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours since then.

If that were the case, Rezette had acted almost immediately after her slumber began. He must have sensed something amiss since the previous evening and possibly gathered evidence upon returning to the house yesterday. Otherwise, despite spending the entire night with her, he wouldn’t have swiftly apprehended Barnon.

When had the first seeds of suspicion taken root in Rezette’s mind? Was it during her conversation with Barnon by the river? Perhaps when she accidentally fell into the water? Or did it stem from last night when Barnon visited this house? Had he overheard their conversation?

No, I need to stay calm.

Elise sought refuge in Ivetsa’s embrace, burying her face and steadying her trembling breath. Uncertain of whether Rezette was absolutely convinced that these individuals were Argan spies, Elise grappled with the weight of uncertainty. Originally, Rezette’s investigation focused on finding the missing tribute from Rotiara, and apprehending those who aroused suspicion during the process was not an unusual course of action.

Maybe my overly sensitive reaction would be only fueling suspicion.

Fearing the consequences of acting recklessly and losing Barnon, Elise grappled with the realization that she wouldn’t have the face to meet Andrei even in death. The overwhelming fear surged through her like a storm.

“Ivetsa… Can you help me clear my head? Dress me properly. My hands are not steady.

Rezette harbored a disdain for Elise appearing disheveled, reserving such sights exclusively for himself. To avoid provoking him further, she swiftly set about tidying her appearance, erasing any elements that might trigger his displeasure. With a composed demeanor, she descended the few stairs. Sobeul, lingering on the first floor, noticed her and wore a puzzled expression.

“Your Highness, it’s still early. Why…”

“There’s a commotion downstairs. Where is the Grand Duke?”

“He’s in the front yard. He’ll be finishing soon and returning, so please wait a moment.”

“What is there to finish?”

Sobeul hesitated, swallowing hard as he relayed the message he’d been instructed to give the princess when she woke up.

“He will be dealing with the infiltrators who trespassed into Rotiara. His Grace said it won’t be a pleasant sight for you, so please stay inside.”

“Infiltrators? The ones who stole the tribute?”

“…Strictly speaking, they are not the ones.”


Sobeul lowered his gaze, hesitating. Elise, attempting to calm her eerily pounding heart, moved past him and swung the door wide open. The unfolding scene in the yard unfolded completely before her eyes.



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