Chapter 92.1

The princess’s countenance bore emotions more nuanced than mere resignation, a subtle shift toward either familiarity or indifference. It hinted at a mind preoccupied elsewhere, detached from the conversation unfolding between her husband and the doctor. Silently, she lowered her eyes before speaking as Rezette asked, “Should we take a break for a while then?”

“Well, for now… from today, for the next three or four days, it would be a good time for us,” Elise murmured.

At that moment, the princess’s body was primed for conception, yet advising them on diligence seemed unnecessary—it had already been excessive. Freya sighed, her breath catching at the lingering intimacies etched on the princess, the marks that refused to fade. Bruises adorned her delicate skin, resisting the healing touch of ointments, a testament to wounds that persisted.

“Let it be,” she had said to the worried Freya.

“But it must be painful…”

“It’s okay. I like the marks to remain.”

Though unspoken, the omission left no room for misunderstanding. Frustration clawed at Freya inwardly. Not a good sign.

One month had passed since her return from the Tene River, and within this brief span, the once-unfamiliar currents of change had subtly reshaped the princess in myriad ways. Familiarity had woven its tendrils around her, and now, the arrival of the Grand Duke was no longer an event that sent her heart into a flutter of panic.

Even when the Grand Duke approached her with an urgency that might have rattled her in the past, the princess exhibited a remarkable poise. A momentary surprise flickered across her features, swiftly replaced by a composed demeanor. She effortlessly leaned into him, finding a natural ease in his proximity, a stark departure from the trepidation she initially harbored upon encountering the imposing figure in Rotiea.

Her transformation extended beyond mere composure. Initially reticent and bashful in the presence of visitors, she now bore the gown that draped her form with a nonchalant grace, as though shedding any inhibitions about her own body. The metamorphosis was palpable, a testament to the profound impact of her experiences by the Tene River.

Yet, beneath this newfound ease lay a clandestine communication between the princess and Freya, unbeknownst to the vigilant Grand Duke. Every three days, in the Grand Duke’s presence, a specific remedy was discreetly administered by the princess to ensure her restful repose. Freya, however, struggled to decipher the mysterious contents of the prescription.

Observing the princess, Freya gently inquired, “You appear fatigued. Are you facing difficulty with sleep these days?”

The response was measured, “I do sleep, but it’s fleeting.”

Concern etched Freya’s features, prompting her to suggest, “Perhaps a sip of herbal tea might aid you. I can recommend herbs and scents to enhance your rest.”

The princess, her gaze meeting Freya’s with a hint of vulnerability, nodded faintly. As if on the verge of disclosure, she hesitated before addressing her husband, seeking permission with a delicate inquiry, “Rezette, is it still okay?” Her awareness of his vigilance over her sleep patterns revealed itself in this unassuming plea.

Recently, Rezette had undeniably immersed himself in caring for Elise. However, this devotion existed alongside an unwavering vigilance that never wavered for even a moment. It was as if he sought to validate his claim of never closing his eyes twice, and his gaze, trailing Elise, was unrelenting and merciless.

Whenever Rezette, with his ever-watchful eyes, furrowed his brows, a sharp pang coursed through Elise. It felt akin to swallowing a needle whole, a pain borne from the tension so severe it triggered contractions in her throat and stomach. His unreadable expressions seemed to draw blood while she remained painfully alive.

In the midst of her unease, Elise pondered if he had detected something amiss. At that very moment, Rezette’s sizable hand approached her face. The temperature and glide of the hand, tracing lightly down her cheek, held both familiarity and an unsettling unfamiliarity.

Suppressing the internal turmoil that felt like her organs twisting and convulsing, Elise resisted revealing the true extent of her discomfort. While wearing a facade of fatigue was acceptable, admitting to pain risked trapping her further in Rezette’s attentive care. Silently enduring the lingering touch of his hand, she treated it as if measuring the temperature of her cheek, a momentary exploration.

If she could endure these fleeting seconds…

“Well, then.”

Anticipating a gentle approval, Elise steeled herself for what would come next.

“It’s still midday, so it might be good to light some incense and take a short nap.”

Rezette’s suggestion, coupled with a lenient permission, introduced a fragrance that seemed to draw her closer to death. Despite the routine nature of the proposal, an inexplicable subtlety lingered in the air.

With utmost care, Freya arranged a pristine cloth bag containing dried herbs on the table, a meticulous presentation that hinted at the gravity of its contents.

“I’ve combined it with the same herbs you’ve been using,” Freya explained. “Brew it gently in warm water and, upon waking, consume a light meal.”



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