“Did someone order you to do it?”
The girl clamped her mouth shut. I let out a weary sigh. Does she really hope I will let her go? I knelt down and put the knife on her toe. She screeched. I cut off another toe. The girl sobbed.
“That is why you should answer my questions.”
The girl sobbed and panted. “His Majesty will know if I am gone. His Majesty won’t let this slide.”
“Inverius the 3rd?”
She kept quiet. “Where are you from?” She hesitated and then decided to answer. Maybe she thought I would cut off her toes one by one. “I am Elsie Swandle, daughter of Count Sileni. You are going to pay for this.”
I sighed. “The King assigned you as a food taster for the princess? He gave you this mission?”
“The Princess also agreed to this.”
So, the princess knows about this. “What did you think you would find in the Grand Duke’s room?”
“Evidence of treason. The Grand Duke is a traitor.”
The girl’s eyes flashed. I realised why she would put herself through this. She was a fanatic. I didn’t know whether she was devoted to the King or the Princess but fanatics were dangerous. They could go to any lengths to do this for those they believe in, even at the risk of their own lives.
She has already accepted that the Grand Duke is a traitor and is searching for evidence to prove that instead of the other way round. She was trying to find anything that would make her fanatical belief come true.
The Grand Duke in previous life did search for evidence if he had a doubt that someone was a culprit but he never condemned them if there was no evidence. I mean I was the example. He wanted to find evidence against me and he couldn’t. In the end, he couldn’t really arrest me. I was not one to leave evidence lying around.
So, the facts we had were that the King had ordered the Princess’ food taster to search the Grand Duke’s room for any evidence of treason.
“What kind of a drug was it?”
The girl looked at me. Her mad faith was replaced by fear in her eyes. “I don’t know,” she said. ‘I don’t know what they gave me. They just told me to put it in his food so that he won’t be able to move a finger for a while.”
“Who are ‘they’?”
She shut her mouth. I was getting tired of threatening her. I didn’t think she would blurt out any more names. Letting her go will have consequences. There was no guarantee she was telling the truth.
I walked behind her and pulled on the string around her neck. She struggled but it didn’t last long. She should have tried to save herself by talking a bit more when she had the chance. Why don’t they understand that I have limits? I wasn’t the most patient person in the world.
I only let go of the string when her body went completely still. She fell lifelessly forward from the chair. Her toes were bloody on the floor. I need to clean them up before anyone sees this. Should I just throw them out of the window?
As I thought about ways of cleaning everything up, I heard a faint sound from outside. Footsteps. I leaned against the door and listened. I had locked the door so it wouldn’t open but…
“Are you here, My Lady?”
When I heard Archer’s voice, I peeped through the door. “What is it? Is he done with his bath?”
“My Lord asked me to find you, My Lady.”
“I am here,” I said. “I was just resting. I’m a bit tired. I wanted to be away from him since he hogged my room.”
A faint smile appeared on Archer’s face and disappeared just as fast. “Do you need help with anything, My Lady?” asked Archer, “My Lord asked to help you with anything that you might need help with.”
Did he know? Archer spoke as though he knew what I had done and had arrived to help me clean the mess.