Before dawn, a carriage carrying Elena and Liabrick drove through the streets of Sylronce.
“Lady Elena, I received news about your parents this morning.”
“Really? What did they say? Did they arrive safely?”
At the mention of her parents’ news, Elena became a daughter of great filial piety. She looked so desperate that no one would believe it was all an act.
“They got out of the territory unharmed.”
“Thank God. Thank you, Liv, for caring.”
Liabrick narrowed her eyes and pushed her luck.
“But they said your mother’s not in good health, perhaps because she had overworked herself on the way.”
“What? Ah, what’s wrong with her? Is she hurt? Where is she hurt? It’s because of me. My heart aches so much, my body…”
Elena made a fuss as if she were half out of her mind, then dropped her head.
Waterdrops fell under the lowered head and soaked the rod.
“Mother, mother… Oh, mother.”
Elena wept sadly in longing and concern. It was as pitiful as a child who lost her mother.
Liabrick narrowed her eyes. She had intentionally given her false information, expecting Elena to respond in some way if she had been involved in their escape. But what’s this… It seemed that she couldn’t even guess that the couple had run away, crying so bitterly.
‘She doesn’t seem to know it at all.’
Liabrick slightly bit her lips.
“Don’t cry. The therapist said it was a temporary fever, so she would get better soon if she
rested. She said so.”
“She must get well. Or I won’t have the confidence to live in the Empire.”
Elena finally pulled herself together and wiped her tears with the handkerchief handed to her.
“By now, both of them must have reached the Mariana Islands.”
“Ma-Mariana Islands, the paradise on Earth?”
“Yes, it’s called the best island in the world.”
Liabrick had the nerve to lie. The Mariana Islands were referred to as paradise on earth through oral fairy tales or novels, but the reality was very different. It was actually a remote area where even fishing was not easy due to the flood of pirates and strong waves. Knowing that fact clearly, Elena clapped her hands, pretending not to know.
“I’ve heard that, too. I’m relieved if that is so. I hope they don’t have a hard time and live comfortably.”
“…That will happen.”
Seeing Elena naively relieved, Liabrick had no choice but to doubt the suspicions she had.
‘She’s such a child, am I the only one who’s being too sensitive?’
Elena consistently showed a subpar and dampened appearance. Nevertheless, it was strange for her to keep doubting Elena. Elena was inwardly relieved to see Liabrick confused and unable to let go of her doubts.
‘Liabrick’s suspicious of me. That means Mom and Dad ran away safely.’
Elena was inwardly pleased with Liabrick’s doubts. It was certain that her parents had escaped safely. If not, Liabrick would have no reason to doubt Elena.
When they reached the warehouse wharf behind the dock, they got off the carriage. She was then guided by a middle-aged man who was riding a horse, and boarded a ferry that was tied to the edge of the pier.
It was a long way off the land through the mist. The ferryboat reached the rear of a huge and colorful sailboat.
“Shall we go up?”
Led by Liabrick, Elena and a middle-aged knight got on a ladder and boarded the ship. No one was seen standing on the deck before the departure. Perhaps because of that, she felt uneasy.
Liabrick walked past the deck and onto the ship. She only stopped walking when they reached the cabin at the end of the corridor where the candles fluttered.
As the creaking wooden door was opened, she saw a spacious cabin with fairly high quality furniture. At a glance, it was a luxury cabin which could be used by aristocrats or royalty.
As soon as she came in, Liabrick locked the door of the room firmly.
“For the next ten days, you’ll be staying here with me.”
Elena forced a smile. Barely tolerating the twisting of her stomach.
* * *
“You’re not allowed to leave the cabin at this time.”
It was a one-sided notice.
“A meal will be served from the outside three times a day.”
She gave no room for rebuttal.
“You can use the restroom inside the cabin.”
Liabrick’s attitude towards Elena had changed. Her friendly attitude from before had disappeared without a trace, and she now authoritatively treated Elena like a subordinate. Liabrick used her spare time to teach the basic culture and history of the Empire.
‘A story I already know.’
Elena paced herself to be moderately sharp. If she was too smart, Liabrick would be suspicious. On the contrary, if she acted too dumb, she would clearly be caught and slandered.
It had been nine days since she sailed on such a tightrope. The sailboat had also entered the waters of the Empire.
“What did the nobleman say?”
“By following these words, Lady Elena will become a noblewoman who is favored by other nobles in the future. It is naturally your silent duty as the princess of the Grand Duke of Friedrich who has a lot of enemies.”
“Ho-hold on. The Grand Duke?”
Elena stuttered and raised her head. She looked taken aback as if she couldn’t tell if those words were true.
“Princess Veronica is a blood relative of Grand Duke Franches, the head of one of the Four Great Houses of the Empire. It’s also Lady Elena’s new identity.”
In a moment of surprise, Elena’s mouth twitched.
“Grand, Grand Duke… That’s beyond my imagination.”
Liabrick was convinced when she saw Elena’s lips curl up as if she was trying to pretend not to look too pleased about it. A snob blinded by desire.
“That’s enough for today.”
“We’re getting off the ship.”
Elena was able to leave the cabin after nearly ten days. After spending so much time with Liabrick, she felt a little better sending away the pent-up anger from the cabin towards the sea breeze.
Just like when they had boarded the sailboat, they crossed the railing and got on a ladder to the ferry. After over three hours of rowing, they reached the shore. They stepped out of the sandy beach, then got in a four-wheeled carriage that had been hidden in the bushes.
“Liv, where are we going?”
“A safe house.”
“It’s a very private place. Only a handful of the Grand Duke’s people know about it.”
Liabrick turned her head to the window. It was an indirect way of telling her that she no longer wanted to continue the conversation. Elena also shut her mouth. It had been a compulsory question anyway, there was no reason for her, who already knew of the destination, to ask about it.
The carriage travelled nonstop. Despite the difficulties in distinguishing their surroundings due to the lack of moonlight and the mountain road that was not even maintained, the carriage did not stop.
At last, they reached a mansion, presumably the safe house. It was so secretive that you would never find it unless you knew the path, since it was located inside a dense forest. Elena’s face cooled as she looked at the exterior of the mansion.
‘There’s the place that drove me to my ruin.’
Even though she tried hard to calm down, Elena’s heart jumped violently, as if it had lost its reason. What kind of expression should I make when I face him? Will I be able to endure the boiling anger when he’s in front of me? A myriad of thoughts and uncontrolled emotions constantly clashed within Elena.
Just in time, the carriage stopped. When Elena got off the carriage along with Liabrick, a neatly-clad maid greeted her politely.
“She’s Jane—she will be serving you from now on. She can’t speak because she’s deaf, so if you need anything, you can just write it down in your notebook and show it to her.”
As soon as she and Jane made eye contact, she followed Liabrick and set foot into the mansion. Across the corridor to the right side of the main hall, where the ornate chandeliers attracted attention, was a marble-decorated parlor.
“He is beyond this room.”
“As soon as he heard about Lady Elena’s arrival, he came running from the capital.”
Liabrick carefully placed her hand on the door handle and pushed the marble door open with all her might.
Elena’s heart beat furiously. A storm of unruly emotions swirled from within her, just like when she had first faced Liabrick.
A man stood in the distance. Even in his middle age, he looked like a man of dignity; an example of a true nobleman.
Elena recognised who he was at a glance. How could she forget? His ridicule of the dying Elena was still vivid in her eyes.
He couldn’t speak when he looked at Elena. His shaking eyes, trembling lips, and his expression crossing over joy and despair—like a saint who had seen a miracle before his eyes—was a spectacle to the extent that it was a shame to see it alone.
She even got goosebumps, knowing that it was all a fabrication of hypocrisy and lies.
“My daughter… Did you really come back alive?”
The man who had driven Elena to her downfall. A man who would not be belittled. Right away, Grand Duke Franches was gradually approaching Elena.
Elena gritted her teeth. Her clenched fists trembled—like an aspen tree—in uncontrollable rage. The face that had derided her and led her to her demise was still vivid in her memories. Her hateful thoughts were raging to the point that she wanted to kill him.
‘I have to be patient. I shouldn’t be swept away by my emotions.’
Elena constantly suppressed herself. It was no use to vent her anger by killing that man. All Elena wanted was not only the complete destruction of the Grand Duke Frances, but also of Liabrick and Veronica. Until that day came, she would endure and wag her tail like their faithful dog.
“Is it really you, Veronica?”WuxiaWorld.S i t e Only
Grand Duke Franches asked, and couldn’t take his eyes off Elena.
Standing in front of him, Elena lowered her gaze, unable to even make eye contact. Grand Duke Franches reached for Elena, who looked helpless.
Elena cringed when the back of his hand touched her cheek. She got goosebumps as he did so. It was an unpleasant feeling, like a bug crawling on her face.