The princess tapped Adele’s forehead and she tilted her head back in pain. She was gradually losing strength and soon enough, she couldn’t move her body.
“This is why you’re not fit to rule, nor should you be the duke’s wife. If I were you, I would’ve remained suspicious and cautious about everything right from the moment I stepped inside the palace.
“What did I give you?” She snickered, “A colorless and odorless poison, almost impossible to detect especially for a person as naive as you. I had some servants put them into all of your food, it was really quite easy to bribe them.”
The princess pushed her shoulder to the side with her finger and Adele immediately lost her balance. Reaching for something to stabilize herself, she hit a vase on the table, tipping it over that caused its contents to fall to the floor as she collapsed.
“Although, you don’t need to worry much, it isn’t something serious. Maybe you’ll only fall asleep for a few days?”
The princess raised the corners of her lips as she saw Adele looking up at her tremblingly.
“Our esteemed future Empress, you’ll get to open your eyes soon. But perhaps, only after my marriage is over?” she grinned, reveling in her miserable situation.
Adele let out a soft grunt of pain.
This small action even evoked laughter from her, “Pfft! Even my brother won’t be able to look after your pathetic self given how occupied he is with killing all those Maktus rebels. Even if he comes here, he’d only think you’re sleeping because of exhaustion.”
A devious grin emerged from her lips and uttered mockingly, “Have a good rest, Your Majesty.”
The princess left without looking back. The maids followed in succession and locked the door while Adele struggled to regain her senses.
But because it was too late, her vision darkened.
The last thing Adele saw was another vase and a forget-me-not on the table.
Adele opened her eyes at the familiar voice calling her name. Her father, with his back against the warmth of sunlight, grabbed her shoulder and shook her.
She glanced around. She was in a small garden attached to the castle of her parents. A place to enjoy the afternoon sun as a place to rest after finishing work. As Adele was dazed, her father looked at her concernedly.
“Are you hurt?”
“I think… I just fell asleep—oh!” Adele exclaimed, “I had a dream, father.”
“Really? Is it good one?”
Adele frowned, “I don’t really remember. But they were calling me ‘duchess’?”
Disbelieving her own words, she shook her head and laughed.
Her father chuckled light-heartedly, “Is that so? My daughter, a seventeen-year-old duchess?”
Adele blushed and hurriedly tried to refute, “N-no! It was just a dream, father. I was simply muddled for a moment.”
But he did not relent on teasing her.
“Hoo… am I now in the presence of a future duchess? How silly of me to not recognize her face! I must be punished for this offense!”
Adele glared at her father’s mischievous face. After receiving his daughter’s sharp gaze, her father laughed and dotingly patted her on the head.
“My dearest, it’s a little difficult for your father to let you become a duchess. But I shall do my utmost to marry you off to a good husband. But,” he smiled bitterly, “Ha! Daniel, that scoundrel, I can’t believe I agreed to let such a man be affianced to you. I am deeply embarrassed.”
She was quick to reassure him, “I really don’t mind, father. Don’t worry about that.”
“No! To think a boy who hasn’t even grown some hair would dare have a scandal with another girl, I feel angered to death no matter how much I think about it!”
Adele smiled bitterly as she remembered her fiancée. He interacted with numerous young girls, but never sent a letter to herself, his betrothed.
However, her father wasn’t finished with cursing that poor excuse of a man.
“My daughter is so beautiful, that bastard must be blind as a bat!” he immediately cleared his throat, “Err—do not worry, breaking up isn’t such a bad thing these days. Besides, you’re still young. You can do so much better than a rotten man.”
Of course, she didn’t really like Daniel that much. Nonetheless, she still felt hurt and betrayed.
He caused a scandal with another young girl during their period of engagement. Adele bit her lip, remembering the debut she attended the previous week.
She immediately gave her father a radiant smile, “Why should I worry? Not marrying anyone only means I get to stay with you forever!”
He smiled softly.
“I am blessed to have such a good daughter. But still, meeting other men…” he patted Adele’s silky hair and sighed.
“I’ll go clear my mind first.”
Adele walked ahead and fixed her hairstyle. Her father frowned slightly, “Don’t run away, everyone will be worried about you.”
She shook her head.
“It’s not that. I’m only going for a walk.”
Adele rattled the bag she was carrying and showed him what’s inside. After that, she hurriedly walked past the promenade and headed for the mountain behind the castle. Her father wanted a servant to follow her, but she refused because she wanted to be alone.
That location was both quiet and empty, the perfect place for her to ponder things over.
It was connected to the huge mountainous area that monsters usually frequent, but it was relatively a safe trail as long as you don’t directly cross over that area.
Patting the gun inside the bag, she immediately felt reassured.
She inhaled the fresh scent of grass after the rain, then she immediately stiffened at the sound of a faint moan.
Hm? What was that?
Adele cautiously walked towards the source of sound. As she swept through the bushes, she saw that the grass under a big zelkova was covered in blood.
Frightened, Adele thought about going back to the castle. Then all of a sudden, someone attacked her.
She let out a scream and fell to the ground with a thud.
“Oh… it’s just a human.” She heard someone say.
When Adele squinted her eyes, a boy was pinning her to the ground.
He looked to be about twelve years old and was dark-haired. But the most notable part of him was that he had blood splattered all over his body, presumably injured.
Adele looked up at the boy’s bloodied cheek and hastily stood to her feet.