As she cautiously crossed the threshold, the dreadful noise that had echoed in her head like a lie began to subside. She straightened her back as she took another step. Slowly taking in the perennial snowscape beyond the window, tears welled up in her eyes.
“Look at this. You can do it, Karentina.”
After taking a deep breath, she pushed aside the myriad of thoughts and emotions. She turned around in a hurry to leave the annex but then spun back around. Inside the room stood a doll that looked exactly like Ignis, as if it were a painting.
Karentina murmured softly to the doll.
“Come here. There’s something we need to do.”
Now, they were going to twist the original story.
The dawn sun, illuminating the darkness, warmly embraced the two shadows.
The place where the Princess of the Badelstan Empire resided was so luxurious that words couldn’t adequately describe its size and grandeur in the Lorraine Ducal Castle.
The arched windows offered a breathtaking view of the northern mountains, and the high ceilings were magnificent. As if to prove its ownership of most of the mana stone mines distributed throughout the empire, the glittering magic stones were scattered everywhere.
It was no exaggeration to say that the Badelstan Empire relied on the magic power emanating from magic stones as an energy source.
Most magic stones were naturally mined, and alchemists used them for various magical abilities through refinement. While a rare mineral the size of a fingernail could provide entertainment for several years, it was a consumable with its limits.
In a bed large enough for a few adults to lie down, a tiny girl lay, breathing shallowly.
By the child’s side, the imperial handmaiden, Timothia, glared at the ailing Princess with a cold expression.
‘This wasn’t part of the plan.’
Displeasure appeared on her face as the plans she had prepared were disrupted due to the Princess suddenly having a fever early in the morning. Looking at the young Princess, Timothia got lost in old memories.
‘It’s been a long time.’
She recalled her first meeting with Empress Christina at the slave market.
The leader of the noble faction and the heir to the long-standing Duchy of Horton in the south, a prominent noblewoman—a noble lineage known as the next empress candidate.
The meeting with the proud empress-to-be, whose arrogance was like a weapon, was unforgettable.
The memory of being taken care of by her when she was a slave as she introduced her to the Marquis was vivid. Timothia became Christina’s eyes and ears, and that was how she managed to rise to the position of the imperial palace’s handmaid.
Even though deceiving the suspicious Crown Prince had been challenging, the time had finally come to give Christina Empress what she desired.
Though still young, she possessed the chosen bloodline of the palace, destined to manifest as a transcendent. What if she was to accomplish the remarkable feat of draining all of the Princess’s magic power? The thought of being elevated to Christina’s most trusted confidant brought a joyful laugh from Timothia’s lips.
‘After all, the Crown Prince is destined to die in this subjugation, so let the siblings die together.’
With a knock on the door, the elderly butler entered the room.
“Is everything prepared?”
Timothia’s eyes flashed coldly at the butler’s sycophantic tone. Even though the young Princess’s life would be cut short, it had nothing to do with her.
She looked down at the sick Stella.
“Ti, Timothia. Where’s Gemma?”
Timothia, looking at Stella, who seemed to have momentarily regained consciousness and was breathing heavily, raised the corner of his mouth.
“She was away for a moment, Your Highness.”
“My body hu…hurts so much.”
Despite Stella’s pitiable state, as she struggled to regain her senses fully, her gaze remained cold and calculating as she responded.
“It’s natural for the pain to be this severe. I’ll make sure you’re comfortable until your pain subsides, Your Highness.”
Saying so, she placed a special stone that could absorb magic power around Stella.
“What is this…?”
Ignoring the question, Timothia retrieved a leather pouch from her bosom.
Stella felt afraid of Timothia, who was acting differently from usual. She clutched her tiny body before squeezing her eyes shut tightly.
With a voice weakened by the rising fever, she murmured.