✍️✍️✍️✍️ Garden Of Poison Chapter 85 Complete Chapter ✍️✍️✍️✍️



Budding Inferno (Chapter 85)

Music Recommendation: Naked Body- Kim Min Jii    

Dante's hands clenched, and his eyes narrowed upon hearing Maxwell's decision regarding Anastasia's status. Despite it being a possible path she might choose to walk on, Dante, who wanted to honour his word to her, didn't want it to happen now. Especially not when he had told her that he would wait for her.      

Noticing the frown on Emily's face, Dante stepped forward and addressed the matter,      

"King Maxwell, your decision is undoubtedly generous towards the maid, and she will be ecstatic once she hears about it. But it wouldn't be fair to Emily, who is fond of her maid and wants to retain her in her service."    

Emily quickly nodded in agreement, and she said, "I appreciate your decision and the consideration you've given to elevating her status, King Maxwell. However, I would be at a loss if Anna were to be promoted from being my maid to a courtesan."    

"Always so swift to consider our siblings and always so attached to your maids," King Maxwell commented, his eyes shifting from Dante to Emily. "Though I must say, Emily. For someone who always wants the best for others, you seem to have turned selfish when it comes to this particular maid. It only intrigues me more," he added, looking at his first sister with shrewd eyes.      

"If I may speak," the Mother Queen began, pausing until she received her grandson's attention, who sat upon the throne. She said, "I find the notion of a maid transitioning from the servants' quarters to become a courtesan or a concubine rather odd. The palace has always upheld a certain standard and division of class with only freshly plucked buds being cultivated by experienced hands."    

Dante stared at Maxwell, who looked increasingly more interested in the subject as his family members continued to try to dissuade him. For him to decide to promote Anastasia to a courtesan suggested that his eyes were not specifically on her. At least not yet. Because if that were true, the king could have easily placed her in the concubines' quarters.    

"I think it is a wonderful idea, King Maxwell!" Niyasa chimed in on her brother's decision, the smile on her lips widening even more than before. "The maid will be grateful that she has the opportunity to live a life of luxury. She will be educated and taught many things a maid can only dream of."    

"She is happy with the way things are. There's no need to change something that is already functioning well," Emily replied to her sister's words. "She's my maid. Shouldn't I be able to decide?"      

"No," King Maxwell answered in response to Emily's words, which had her purse her lips. He said, "Every person, every object within this palace belongs to the King of Versailles. Therefore, I have the first right to everything within these walls, preceding your authority, Emily. So, I get to dictate what happens."    

Niyasa looked extremely pleased with how things had turned out. The attempted escape of her own maid brought a silver lining, as not only did it result in her sister's maid being punished, but it also meant that the maid would finally be separated from her sister.      

Queen Maya wasn't particularly keen on taking a lowly maid as a courtesan and informed her son,      

"King Maxwell, I think I would like to ensure that she's a woman who will fit in with the other courtesans, and won't stand out like a sore thumb. After all, we have upheld the reputation of having flowers in our court, not cacti."      

"Then she might not be someone who is of the standard you are looking for, Queen Maya," Dante's voice was calm, and his expression barely revealed the thoughts racing through his mind.      

"And how do you know that?" King Maxwell questioned him while leaning back against the throne. "For someone who doesn't pay attention to the women of the palace, you seem surprisingly well-acquainted with her."    

Dante returned the response with, "Pardon me, My King. It is just that I know that a woman like her is unfit to be part of the palace's collection. Lady Amara had personally complained about the woman's hands being as rough as sand."    

"I am not particularly keen on including this maid among the others unless I personally evaluate her," Queen Maya reiterated. "Furthermore, we already have enough girls and don't need another one, especially since the rooms are at full capacity."      

"I would like to disagree," Niyasa stated, looking at her two siblings and her grandmother before she turned to look at her brother and said, "We have only fair-skinned women with eyes of different colours. I think that including someone with a skin colour such as hers will add much needed variety, instead of just having women of the same appearance, which the ministers might be bored of. What do you think about it, King Maxwell?"      

And while King Maxwell pondered their words, a smug smile playing on his face though his eyes were void of all expression, at the back of the palace, concealed behind the secret door and up the spiral staircase, Theresa joined Anastasia in the room.      

When Theresa unlocked the door, it woke Anastasia from her short sleep. The older woman apologised,      

"I didn't mean to open the door so harshly. Go back to sleep; I will keep you company." Seeing Anastasia glance around the room, she said, "Are you looking for the first prince? He gave me the key and told me to look after you. I am sorry for what happened to you today, Anna," she apologised once again.      

"It wasn't your fault," Anastasia replied. She whispered, "It wasn't our fault."      

"I should have hidden the gold coin in the garden or somewhere… instead of carrying it around with me," Theresa's voice contained regret, and she said, "My heart breaks seeing you like this, Anna."      

Anastasia took a deep breath, wincing as her dried wounds pulled on the surrounding skin. She said softly,      

"It was just a stroke of bad luck that someone else escaped before Gabriel and I could."    

"Frankly, I don't know which situation is better, when in truth, neither is," Theresa murmured with a frown and continued, "I heard Yaretzi and Philip were caught before they could board the ship. They are being held in the dungeon now, awaiting their punishment."    

"Do you ever wonder how many of the servants want to flee? Whether there are others besides me, who want to escape the walls of this palace?" Anastasia asked Theresa.      

"Yaretzi isn't like you, Anna. You didn't steal a single coin when you planned to leave, while she took the princess's necklace of precious gems," Theresa explained the difference between them. "I was surprised when Prince Dante came to me. I thought I was going to be punished next. It was kind of him to get you a physician to treat your wounds."      

Anastasia didn't know if she was supposed to correct the older woman that it wasn't a physician but Prince Dante himself who had attended to her wounds. Though she had tried to forget, the lingering vibration from the sensation of his lips on hers remained, causing her to quickly press her lips together. She asked,      

"Did anything else happen after I was taken away?"      

"Just the interrogation. Though the servants are still in shock and continue to question how you can speak," Theresa moved to take a look at Anastasia's bare back and sighed, "What is wrong with these people? You would think they would have a heart."    

"They are demons… We shouldn't expect them to," Anastasia responded.      

"Demons?" Theresa questioned, wondering if Anastasia was cursing the royal family, and she said, "But Princess Emily has been kind to you… and even Prince Dante made sure you had someone here to look after you. You shouldn't think about running away for some time, especially with how tense the situation is right now. I told Gabriel the same."      

"I don't think I can go anywhere with the current state of my back," Anastasia flinched when she tried to move and asked, "Could you help me into the dress, Aunty?" It felt strange having her back exposed for so long.    

"Of course!" Theresa rose to her feet and brought Anastasia's dress to the bed, while the latter struggled to get up and steady herself on the ground.      

The older woman helped Anastasia out of her torn dress, which pooled around her feet. When she raised her hand upwards, it reminded her body of the whip hissing through the air towards her back, tearing the skin which had not yet healed. The pain had been etched in her mind, and for a fleeting moment, it was as if she could still feel someone whipping her back, and it made her tremble.      

Anastasia sat on the bed and slipped into the dress without having to bend, feeling glad that Theresa had chosen a loose-fitting dress, unaware that Princess Emily had come by before she regained consciousness.      

While Anastasia pushed her dress past her waist, someone knocked on the door and pushed it open without permission. Startled, a collective gasp escaped from both women's lips, their eyes falling upon a guard standing at the door. The guard ordered,      

"Anna. You have been summoned to the royal courtroom."    

"Now?" Theresa questioned the guard because Anastasia was in pain and needed to rest.      

"Yes, now. It is the king's orders that you make your presence quickly and without delay," the guard relayed, emphasising that she should hurry and not make King Maxwell wait.      

Anastasia nodded, "Okay."      

"Let me accompany you to the courtroom," Theresa said, not knowing if Anastasia would need support.      

"Lower servants aren't permitted near the royal courtroom," the guard responded firmly, turning to address Anastasia directly, "Follow me."      

Theresa offered Anastasia her company until she was no longer permitted to join her, and along the way, the older woman wondered, "Why do you think you are being summoned?"      

"Maybe the princess didn't have her fill for the day?" Anastasia asked with slight dread.      

"If that was so, they would have forcefully dragged you there instead of summoning you. Maybe they feel bad and want to apologise for mistreating you. You are one of the princess's maids," Theresa whispered. When they neared the restricted corridors, the older woman stayed behind, watching Anastasia follow the guard before disappearing at the end of the corridor.      

With each footstep that drew Anastasia nearer to the royal family members, every second added another layer of anxiety and nervousness. She walked stiffly because of her wounded back, and when they arrived at the front of the courtroom, the guard announced,      

"The maid has arrived, Your Highness."      

"Enter," King Maxwell ordered the servant, noticing the woman's limping gait as she made her way inside.      

Everyone turned to look at Anastasia, her dishevelled hair and fatigued expression reflecting the constant pain in her back. Her lips were chapped and cracked, and she dared not raise her head.      

Queen Maya remarked, "She looks like someone who was plucked from a back alley," looking at the maid with obvious disapproval in her eyes.      

Dante watched Anastasia standing many steps away from him and the others in the room. He noticed her trembling, a consequence of her weakened body and the fear of what could happen to her, and she had every right to be worried. His midnight eyes shifted to look at Maxwell, who was sitting on the throne and observing her now.      

"I think my mother is right. The maid does indeed look like she was plucked from dirt, but with suitable attire and a bath, she might become more presentable. Isn't that right?" Maxwell questioned the maid, feigning a sense of benevolence.      

But Anastasia knew better than to respond. With her secret regarding her ability to speak no more a secret, she bit her tongue, choosing to remain silent.    

For a brief moment, she raised her head and surveyed the people in the room. Apart from the royal family members, there were guards who held down Princess Niyasa's maid and a male servant, whose hands were bound with shackles behind their backs.    

What was she doing here amongst them? Anastasia asked herself with panic filling her eyes, and her breathing accelerated. She heard King Maxwell question her,      

"What is your name, woman?"      

Anastasia looked apprehensive before she answered, "Anna," her voice was loud enough only for people in the room to discern.      

"From now onwards, you will no longer be serving Emily. You are free from the position." Hearing King Maxwell's words, Anastasia felt a flash of happiness upon hearing the word 'free'. But her face drained of colour when she heard him utter his next words, "You will instead be moved to the Paradise Tower, effective immediately."    

As his words reverberated in her ears, she stood frozen, a look of horror etched on her face. Her worst nightmare had come true. The more she resisted, the more forcefully she was drawn into the confines of the palace, when she didn't want to do anything with it.      

Anastasia shifted her gaze to meet the midnight eyes which were already fixed upon her. She didn't know if it was because she had spent a little more time with him than the others, but she could read the annoyance in his eyes.      

"Now let us deal with the thieves of the palace, who dared not only to run away but also steal," King Maxwell turned to look at the two escapees, whose mouths were bound by cloth.      

The female servant made pleading noises while looking towards Princess Niyasa, who averted her gaze in the opposite direction as if unbothered.      

"It is time to punish them," King Maxwell announced, while the servants begged from where they were restrained.      

Anastasia observed the sheer panic reflected in the two servants' eyes, their bodies shaking in terror as they were held down by the guards on either side. She noticed how the other people in the room didn't even bat an eye as they calmly waited for the punishment to be delivered. While she stared at the guards, the sound of shoes clicking against the floor caught her attention, and when she turned her head, her eyes landed on Dante.      

Dante positioned himself in front of the escaped servants, firmly grasping the back of the male servant's neck before he ran the tip of his dagger through his heart. Blood spilt from the man's mouth, drenching the cloth covering his lips. He didn't stop there as he twisted the dagger clockwise and then did the same to the maid.    

The sound of flesh being stabbed by the dagger left an unsettling feeling in the pit of Anastasia's stomach. She saw drops of blood fall on the ground before the body was released, once the dagger was pulled out of the chest.      

A chill ran down Anastasia's spine when Dante turned to look in her direction, his shirt marked with blood, and blood dripping from the tip of his dagger.      

The look in his eyes said it all. If the servants had never attempted to run or steal today, Anastasia would have never been subjugated to the suffering she endured or being turned into a courtesan. He wouldn't spare anyone who brought her pain.      

He also made her realise that he wouldn't let go of his grip on her hand. She might be able to escape from the palace, but never from him.      

King Maxwell didn't bother to stay another minute as the discussion had ended, and so had the servants' lives. He exited the royal courtroom.      

"Take these bodies away, and clean the floors," Queen Maya ordered the guards and then turned to look at the Mother Queen, "How about I accompany you to your room to get the seal?"      

"There are servants to do that, Queen Maya. It is the maid's status that changed, not yours," the Mother Queen responded, before turning and walking out of the room.      

Queen Maya tried to restrain her anger while glaring daggers at the old woman. She turned to look at the others before her eyes fell on the lowly woman. She said,      

"I will speak to Minerva to arrange your space for tomorrow. There's no need to bring anything from your room." When Niyasa's mother stepped out of the room, the younger princess stayed back to comment,      

"You will be grateful once you spend months with the other courtesans."    

I don't plan to stay here more than a month, Anastasia said in her mind. She then heard Princess Emily remark,      

"Maybe you are right, Niyasa. With Lady Evin unconscious, we are in need of an heir, and perhaps King Maxwell will make her his concubine. Which will place her higher than you in status."    

As pleased as Niyasa was to not see the maid serving Emily anymore, she was displeased at her sister's words. It looked like she would have to prevent that from happening, Niyasa thought to herself.      

"We will see about that, won't we?" Princess Niyasa replied, before turning and following after her mother to discuss the matter.      

Emily's eyes moved to the side and stared at her elder brother, who looked unruffled by her comment. A subtle frown appeared on her forehead, and she heard Aiden ask,      

"Anna, are you alright? You should be resting; let me help you bring yo—"      

"Go to our grandmother and see if she has spares of her seal or if there's only one," Dante instructed his brother.      

"Right now? Emily, you go do it," Aiden shooed his sister away so that he could spend time with Anastasia. He said, "Don't be upset that you are a courtesan now. I will make sure to demand your presence in my room." His words had Dante narrow his eyes at his younger brother. "When did you get this bruise?" he asked, raising his hand to touch Anastasia's face, when Dante caught his hand.    

Anastasia felt Dante slowly pull Aiden's hand away from her face.    

"Don't touch her."    

Anastasia turned flustered at Dante's words, and Aiden, who seemed oblivious, asked, "Why not?" Emily kept a blank expression on her face. Not because she didn't know, but because now she knew for sure.      

Dante glanced at Anastasia, who shook her head. Her eyes quietly pleaded at him. He said,      

"She's still in pain. It would be best if all of you kept your hands to yourself."