Chapter 90.1

Two days later, Elise found herself once again boarding the ferry to cross the river. As she awoke, there was an eerie absence of any sign of the Arganians, Barnon included. The events of two days prior were a hushed topic, deliberately ignored by everyone, indicating that it must have been orchestrated by the owner’s command.

Rezette, seemingly determined to bury the tumultuous events of the past four days, behaved as if they had never occurred. Despite the palpable lack of conversation, it was evident that he had managed to suppress his anger, a feat made apparent when Elise, upon his brief awakening after fainting, found solace in his embrace.

Their subsequent intimacy unfolded slowly and gently, a deliberate choice that felt right under the circumstances. Rezette’s assistance in boarding the boat was executed with delicate consideration, maintaining the habit of pulling down the hood to shield Elise’s face from the river breeze. The gesture felt familiar, even as it naturally progressed to touch her cheek and, eventually, her lips.

It was an encounter that conveyed an illusion of normalcy, as if nothing had transpired. Elise, however, couldn’t shake the feeling of awkwardness and suffocation by Rezette’s side, despite the usual reassurance that leaning on his shoulder would provide. With the hood covering her vision up to her nose, Elise couldn’t help but endlessly ponder the south that Barnon would have headed to.

As she mused, a haunting realization lingered. It’s as if nothing happened at all…

All the hard-won hope, the joy of reuniting with Andrei, and the anticipation of discovering her own abilities had crumbled into nothingness. Elise, wrapped in her large and thick robe, found herself questioning the reality of it all. Was it truly possible?

As she huddled in contemplation, memories of the contract Rezette had reminded her of resurfaced. “Should I put the contents of our contract into words?” she recalled his words. 

Right, it was just a contract marriage. Love, jealousy, and the pain of being hurt—it all distilled into a straightforward arrangement, as clear as laughter untainted by absurdity. Despite their bodies intertwining, there was no sharing of hearts. Elise vowed not to repeat the same foolish mistake.

Having weathered trials, Elise fortified her heart, transforming it into a resilient diamond. The man now offering his shoulder did not love her; he harbored no intention of reciprocating her feelings. Instead, he seemed content to adorn the pinnacle of his castle with her, treating her as if she were a pretty and precious treasure.

But it was only for the duration of the contract, and Elise found solace in the knowledge that there was an end in sight. Turning this fact around, she understood that once the contract concluded, they would revert to being perfect strangers without any ties.

While the contract rendered her his possession, its termination promised her freedom from him. Elise tightly held the power within, preventing its escape, and cautiously circulated it within herself to ensure it wouldn’t slip away.

Even someone who knew her well, perhaps too well, like Rezette, remained ignorant of certain aspects. While he was aware of Elise having a ‘dream,’ he lacked the knowledge of how to exploit it. Unable to dominate her subconscious, the ‘dream’ remained Elise’s only weapon and escape route.

She was determined not to be discovered and helplessly taken away as before.

Elise clasped her waist with both arms, fingers tracing the intricate magic circle adorning her lower back. In a whispered farewell, she uttered, ‘See you soon, Andrei,’ invoking the bridge of dreams that connected their souls.

As she stood along the flowing river, an elusive scent of the bloody waters seemed to linger in the air. Weary, Elise closed her eyes, succumbing to the embrace of fatigue. Above the Tene River, a repository of countless secrets, the blood-red sunset painted a vivid tableau.


Duke Irrien’s carriage rumbled into the Yellow Field, finally arriving at Opel. A tall, robust middle-aged man descended with an air of somber determination, his formidable expression hinting at an unusual circumstance.

“I’ve come to see His Majesty the Emperor,” Duke Irrien declared with a respectful bow before making his way into the castle, an attendant trailing behind. Sensing an air of urgency, the attendant hesitated before speaking, “Your Highness, I regret not informing you in advance, but today is a difficult day for His Majesty…”

“Difficult?” The Duke’s eyes blazed, a flame ready to consume anyone in his path. He seized the attendant’s collar with a force that spoke of his inner turmoil.

“Quickly, go to His Majesty. Tell her that Irrien’s daughter, who left as an envoy to Rotiara as per the Emperor, has returned as a corpse. Also, take this, which was placed on her chest,” the duke proclaimed, delivering a letter with its seal brutally torn open. Sensing the gravity of the matter, the attendant swiftly bowed and hurried to relay the grim news to the emperor’s office.

Within the hour, an imperial edict arrived, summoning Duke Irrien to the audience hall without delay.



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