✍️✍️✍️✍️ Garden Of Poison Chapter 127 - 130 Complete Chapters ✍️✍️✍️✍️


Mine, as much as I am yours (Chapter 127)

Music Recommendation: Lights are on- Tom Rosenthal     

It took some time before Anastasia's tears finally ceased, and she calmed down. They sat on the ground, with her sitting on Dante's lap, her face buried in his chest, and his arms around her.      

Anastasia hadn't meant to cry this much, but once she started, she simply couldn't stop. He felt warmer than usual, as if she had found her way back home, and despite the recklessness of her decision, she was glad she had jumped off the ship. She wondered if the ship that had sailed without her would return once it was discovered that she was missing.      

"The fragrance of jasmine has now been replaced by the scent of the sea," Dante murmured as he caressed her head.      

Anastasia slowly pulled away from his chest, and her tear-filled eyes met his darkened ones. She asked, "You noticed?"     

"I always notice, particularly when it concerns you," Dante answered, as his eyes drank her in without missing a single detail. He brought his hand to her face and gently tucked her hair behind her ear, allowing his fingertips to linger on the back of her ear, delicately tracing the contours of her skin and noticing the way she shivered in response.      

Having detected the scent of jasmine on her, Dante had to hold himself back from yielding to its compelling allure earlier. He asked her, "Feeling better now?"     

Anastasia nodded, and before long, she felt Dante press his lips against her temple. He expressed, "Don't cry, little rabbit. It breaks my heart when you do."     

Now that he was back to using his old endearments, Anastasia felt like she was floating on clouds. Curiously, she inquired, "How did your meeting with the Elder ministers go?" Because she assumed that was what had kept him from seeing her off.      

"I had to cut it short," Dante replied, taking her hand into his own and caressing it with his thumb.      

When Anastasia's eyes fell on his knuckles, she carefully took his hand with both of hers and asked him, "Are you still hurting?" She wondered if he still had those urges he had mentioned before.     

"I don't think I care about it anymore," Dante stated, and internally, he was overwhelmed by what he had discovered. "Everything I have felt until now pales in significance to the present and the future."     

Anastasia gently lifted one of his hands, bringing it to her lips, before pressing a kiss on the grazed skin. She said, "You shouldn't have to suffer alone, Dante. Is there nothing I can do to help?"      

Dante stared into her brown eyes, which earnestly looked back at him, and he pulled Anastasia closer to him. He softly said, "You forget I am a demon of the underworld, my rabbit. Simple wounds like these…" He revealed the back of his hand, where the wounds vanished, leaving her astonished. "My mind was preoccupied, and I neglected to mend it before you noticed. But, if you intend to grace my wounds with your kisses, I think I will allow them to stay."     

His words brought a smile to Anastasia's lips, and she adjusted herself to face him completely. She saw how Dante wasn't merely looking at her but delving into the depths of her soul, as if he yearned to know everything, from her emotions to her thoughts.      

Anastasia felt her heart squeeze in her chest, but this time, it wasn't out of pain, but from a surge of happiness so profound it could bring tears to her eyes.      

"You don't have to do that for me to kiss you," Anastasia said to him, leaning towards him.      

Dante's fingers trailed along her jawline, and he murmured, "Is that so?"      

He closed the distance between their lips, capturing her lips in his and kissing her tenderly. She kissed him back with the same vigour, their emotions bursting through like the colours of the sky as they moved as close as they could, not wanting to be separated again. The kiss made her giddy, a sweet yet passionate kiss, making her melt in his arms.      

Anastasia asked him, worried, "Do I taste salty?"      

"You taste wonderful, my seasoned rabbit." Dante smiled before kissing her again.     

Anastasia held onto Dante, her initially timid grip growing firm on his arms as seconds passed, with the water wavering and the birds returning to their nests as the sky gradually darkened. They continued to sit there, unbothered and undisturbed, slowly compensating for the time they had lost the last few days.      

"We should return to the palace so that you don't catch a cold," Dante suggested, as her dress was still wet.     

"I can fix that…" Anastasia responded, and Dante's eyebrows rose slightly as he wondered what she meant. Like him, she had been too engrossed in her emotions to pay attention to whether her dress was wet or dry. She rose from his lap to sit next to him. Clearing her throat, she whispered, "Transform the dress into something dry and comfortable."     

The dress emitted a glow before transforming into a pale shade of pink, leaving Dante taken aback. She explained, "Marianne had given this dress to me on the night of Lady Sophia's birthday. It is what I used to dress up as Tasia Flores."     

"Even though I have seen many miracles, this one might be the most intriguing. It seems like this dress knows what suits you well, as many women were envious of your wardrobe," Dante said, impressed as he looked at her.      

When Anastasia's eyes briefly glanced at the sky, she noticed that the moon, which appeared more prominent than on most days, looked as if it were glowing. Still staring at it, she asked him, "Will every full moon affect you from now on?"      

"Just twice a year, when the moon is enveloped in gold," Dante replied to her, his gaze fixed on Anastasia, who was admiring the moon's golden hue. He continued, "Every time the Golden Moon makes its appearance, it brings out the innate nature of demons. However, there's more to it, as it is also said to draw soulmates together. Those who haven't formed a bond will be compelled to connect."     

Feeling Dante's eyes on her, she turned to meet his eyes as he said, "It allows us demons to be able to find the person who was made just for us."     

A breeze swept over where they sat as Anastasia's eyes slowly widened, and a surge of adrenaline seemed to flood her mind, stealing her breath away. Her heart started to pump faster as she asked, "You mean… we are…" She felt goosebumps form on her shoulders. "We two are meant for each other?"      

"We are each other's soulmates, Anastasia. You are mine, and I am yours for eternity," Dante revealed to her.      

For a fleeting moment, Anastasia wondered if she was dreaming while aboard the ship. But she hadn't forgotten the fact that she had ingested seawater before emerging from it. She asked, "H—How do you know for sure?" What if it was incorrect?     

"It is the unique scent that you emit. Each person has a particular scent that only their partner can detect. Earthlings don't possess abilities like demons or half-demons like my family and others," Dante remarked, gently taking her hand in his. "You carry the scent of air after rainfall," he added, closing his eyes.      

Anastasia's eyes welled up upon Dante's words. She knew he wouldn't take another woman, but to know that they had been soulmates all along brought a smile to her lips, even as her eyes teetered on the verge of tears.      

She drew in a deep breath, and then uttered, "I am so happy," as if her heart were ready to explode from the pure happiness that filled it. Dante smiled at her warmly because he was equally happy.      

Dante rose to his feet and helped Anastasia stand while pulling her into another embrace, as if he couldn't get enough of her. "There are a few matters to attend to, but once we return to the palace," he informed her, and Anastasia nodded in agreement.     

Before Dante and Anastasia mounted the horse, the resounding blare of a ship's horn echoed through the air, and soon, the ship she had boarded earlier made its way back to the dock. She turned, embarrassed, as the ship gradually drew nearer until it came to a halt alongside the dock.      

"Your Highness, please forgive us for our negligence!" One of Dante's men, positioned by the railing, expressed himself apologetically before stepping down onto the dock. The men appeared worried, their expressions marred with dread. "We didn't realise, because that man almost fell into the water and—"     

"There's no need to fret," Dante raised his hand for the man to stop spluttering. "You can unload Lady Anastasia's trunks and continue with the voyage."     

The men visibly relaxed as they realised they weren't going to face any punishment, while Anastasia's gaze shifted towards the ship, catching sight of Gabriel standing by the railing. He observed the king's arm encircling the young woman's waist before he looked at her, noticing she was in a better mood compared to a while ago.      

Anastasia was thankful for Gabriel's help earlier, and she smiled at him, observing him shake his head in response, returning the smile. Dante's men boarded the ship again, and they finally departed with Gabriel, along with the trunks that Dante had intended for Anastasia's family.      

"Ready to head back?" Dante asked, causing her to tear her gaze away from the sea to look at him.     

Anastasia smiled and replied, "Ready." They walked over to where Oasis stood, and once Dante mounted the horse, he assisted her in settling in front of him before they rode back to the palace.      

Back in the Blackthorn Palace, as the guests continued to celebrate the new king's reign, they remained oblivious to the grim truth that three people had died and their lifeless bodies were being dragged to the dungeon. Meanwhile, on the forbidden side of the palace, Raylen stood drinking a bottle filled with blood as he stared at the Blackthorn rose.      

Taking another sip from his bottle, Raylen left from there, before instructing the servants to bring down his three trunks. And as the servants carried the luggage towards the palace's entrance, he followed closely behind. Along the way, he encountered the worried Mother Queen, who looked surprised upon seeing him walking with the trunks.      

"You are leaving?" the Mother Queen asked him, her question arising while she awaited Dante's return to the palace, as he had been missing since Aziel last saw him.      

"I have had a wonderful time here, but I received summons to return to Storm Kingdom yesterday. And I don't believe there's any reason for me to extend my stay here," Raylen stated, offering the older woman a polite smile. "I am sure that Dante can handle the rest."     

The Mother Queen heard a muffled sound, and her gaze shifted towards the trunks. Raylen said, "I think you might like to take a look at the Blackthorn rose."      

Seeming to grasp the situation, the Mother Queen remarked, "It was nice having you here, Prince Raylen."     

"Wishing you a pleasant evening, Queen Ginger," Raylen conveyed, watching the woman quickly head towards the restricted side of the palace. He patted one of the trunks and ordered the servants, "Careful with this one. It contains something precious, and I'd rather it remain undamaged on my journey back to my kingdom. Have these ready for my departure."      

The Mother Queen arrived where the Blackthorn rose was rooted, her quick footsteps gradually slowing as her attention was drawn to an array of golden curves filling its surroundings with light. The rose was trying to restore itself, as its withered petals began to gradually regain their suppleness and colour.      

"It is coming back to life!" the Mother Queen exclaimed, punctuating her words with a delightful clap and a hearty laugh. As the light dissipated, she saw that the rose had returned to its former glory, but it was yet to stand upright from its wilted position. "Just a little longer... Aziel!" she shouted for her minister, as if he would appear at her word. "Open that bottle I have been saving just for this occasion!"      

Cementing the soulmate bond (Chapter 128)

Music Recommendation: Your Apartment- Na Sang Jin     

The gates of the palace swung open for Dante and Anastasia, granting them entry as Oasis' hooves clip-clopped against the stone path before coming to a stop in front of the palace entrance. Once Dante dismounted from the horse, he helped her get down.      

"Welcome back home, Anastasia," Dante affirmed with a pleased expression, and his hand naturally found hers to hold, their fingers entwining.      

Anastasia realised that she had spent almost as many years residing in Versailles as she had in Hawkshead, and this place had indeed turned into her true home—not that Hawkshead wasn't her home as well. But it was her home in her past, and this place was her present and would be her future. She felt Dante gently squeeze her hand, and she expressed,      

"Thank you for bringing me home."      

"I will always bring you back to me," Dante let her know, and he asked her, "Shall we?"      

"Yes," Anastasia replied, gracing him with a smile while the fluttering butterflies in her stomach continued their ceaseless flapping, causing a hurricane in her emotions.      

As they began to walk through the expansive entrance, Mr Gilbert, who was deeply engrossed in his tasks, caught sight of Anastasia by the king's side. His surprise was evident, given that she was supposed to have been on the ship by now.      

"Norrix," Dante called the man, who promptly appeared, bowing respectfully before him. "Arrange for men to be sent to the dock to pick up Anastasia's trunks. They can be found next to the rock."     

It seemed there was a change in plans, Mr. Gilbert thought to himself, and he bowed again. "I will see to it right away, Your Highness," he acknowledged.     

"Is the celebration still going on in the main hall?" Dante inquired.      

"The guests are all still present there, along with the others. I have made all the necessary arrangements for their accommodations here," Mr. Gilbert informed him.      

"Excellent," Dante remarked, "Looks like it is the perfect time with everyone gathered." His eyes met Anastasia's.      

Mr. Gilbert didn't know what was happening, but it seemed quite important, and he promptly departed to fulfil his orders so that he could return to the main hall as quickly as possible.      

Amidst the main hall's lively atmosphere, the attendees continued to enjoy the music being played and indulged in a steady flow of refreshments, matched by the pleasant company of fellow guests. The musicians gradually softened their tunes as they caught sight of the king stepping into the vast room, prompting the attendees to shift their gazes in his direction. Their eyes fell on the king's hand, entwined with that of the woman beside him, who had worn a blue dress this noon.      

Anastasia felt her heart skip a beat every couple of seconds, feeling everyone's curious gaze on them as they made their way towards the centre of the room.      

"Lily, look!" Aiden whispered to his sister, who was being wooed by one of the esteemed gentlemen of Versailles.      

Emily's eyes followed her brother's line of sight, and a smile gradually spread across her lips. She said, "She's back."     

The men and women who had been dancing hastily cleared the space for the king, who stopped and turned to meet everyone's gaze to address the assembled crowd. A hush fell over the room as the attendees realised the king had something to say to them.      

"I hope each and every one of you is enjoying this evening as much as I am," Dante spoke to the crowd, and a resounding chorus of agreement echoed from the gathered individuals. With his head held high and his gaze steady, he continued, "Today is an auspicious day, and I am here to make an announcement. In a month's time, I, Dante Blackthorn, will be marrying this woman, Anastasia Flores."     

Everyone's eyes widened at this news, and a ripple of murmurs swept through the crowd. Positioned together on one side of the room were Lady Sophia, Lady Maya, and Lady Noor, their eyebrows furrowing in shared confusion. Lady Sophia said in a lowered voice,      

"That goes against the law of the palace. He cannot marry his concubine."     

"Didn't she leave the palace?" Lady Noor murmured, her voice tinged with bewilderment.      

Lady Maya remarked, "You forget that Versailles is no longer under the Elder ministers' rule and is an independent kingdom. He doesn't have to follow their directives, and is free to make his own rules. It is a welcome sight to finally witness a concubine's ascent to a queen, breaking the confines that once limited the position only to the privileged women of high status." And she sipped the drink from her glass.      

However, it wasn't only the older women of the Blackthorn family who discussed this matter, as some guests questioned this development. No king in history had ever married a concubine before, prompting their curiosity.      

Dante couldn't help but subtly smile at everyone's confused expressions. He spoke with a measured tone, "Allow me to offer you a word of advice: any disrespect shown towards Anastasia will not be taken lightly. Impudence towards my soulmate will be regarded as a grave offence, equal to you courting your death."     

A stunned silence fell over the gathering, and everyone's mouths gaped in astonishment. The revelation hung in the air as they blinked in disbelief. They were soulmates?! Soon, those who looked down at the woman with a condescending gaze for being only a concubine suddenly sang effusive praises,      

"Congratulations, King Dante, on finding your soulmate! Congratulations, Lady Anastasia!!"     

"This is wonderful news!" one of the ministers exclaimed, prompting the room to break into applause and felicitations for the couple.      

"T—This cannot be true," Niyasa uttered in disbelief, her face pale. "This is all made-up lies!" There was no way that the lowly woman was going to become a queen who would surpass her.      

"Brother Dante doesn't engage in jest, Niyasa," Emily responded with a serene smile as she held her hands over her heart. "It would be wise of you to choose your words carefully. You heard what he said."     

"I am not going to serve her!" Niyasa hissed, furious.      

"You don't have to worry about serving her, as once you are married, you won't be here anymore," Aiden remarked, a wry smile playing on his lips. He then touched his neck and continued, "I am glad that I never tried to court Anna after the day of my mother's birthday. It feels like I spared myself from facing execution." And it was only because his brother had swooped in and pulled the woman onto the dance floor that evening before he had a chance to make a move.      

Anastasia couldn't believe that she would be marrying Dante in a month's time. It seemed that he didn't like to waste time and preferred to get things done right away. She heard him say,      

"Now, even those unaware will know not to cross you."     

She turned her gaze towards him and asked, "May I have my parents present at the wedding?"     

"That's precisely why there's a month's time, my rabbit, else we would have the wedding tomorrow," Dante remarked, bringing warmth to her cheeks. "There are some things that need to be dealt with here first, after which we shall visit your family. I know they are significant to you, and what is important to you is important to me."     

Anastasia's eyes lowered while a smile graced her lips at Dante's words. When she lifted her gaze to meet his, the demon couldn't help but notice how her eyes lit up like fire in the midst of winter. She said,     

"Thank you for being so thoughtful."     

Dante's gaze remained fixed on her, ignoring the surrounding individuals as if they didn't exist. He murmured, "It is time to leave."      

"Where to?" Anastasia asked.      

"To my room," Dante replied to her. "Now that the announcement has been made, I think I would like to have you all for myself, without having to share your time with anyone else."     

Without a moment's delay, Dante pulled Anastasia away from the bustling main hall, as he didn't care about the celebration when he could use the opportunity to devote that time to loving her instead. The goofy smile on her lips didn't leave her face as she followed him and saw him glance back over his shoulder, bestowing upon her a tender smile that almost had her melt into a puddle.      

When they arrived at his room, the servants and other onlookers were dismissed from the corridor so they could have privacy and space. Once inside, the door shut behind them, and Dante turned to meet her gaze.      

All it took was a few steps before Anastasia found him directly in front of her, his hands gently cradling her face beneath her jawline. His lips captured hers once again, this time igniting a fervent passion that surged through the seams of their lips.      

"Anastasia," Dante huskily whispered her name against her lips. "There is something that needs to be done to complete the bond."     

Her eyes remained closed, still bearing the lingering sensation imprinted by his lips. As her eyes fluttered open, she noticed his red eyes staring at her, as if ready to devour her. A hint of unease crept over her, but she whispered, "Okay."     

"It isn't what you imagine," Dante murmured with a smile, and his eyes then turned serious before he tenderly pressed his lips against her forehead, letting them linger. He said, "Come with me," and tugged her towards the bed before assisting her into a comfortable seating position.      

"What do we need to do to complete the bond?" Anastasia asked him.      

"It will only involve me, since you don't possess demon blood," Dante explained, pushing one side of her hair to rest over her other shoulder while exposing her neck. "I need to bite you, and I won't deceive you—it will be painful."     

Bite? Anastasia felt her heart beginning to pound once more. She asked him, "How painful?"      

Seated at her side, Dante didn't directly answer her question but gently caressed her cheek as a reply. He softly instructed, "Hold me tight."      

When Dante leaned in and his lips touched her neck, Anastasia caught her breath in anticipation of the impending bite. However, rather than sink his teeth into her, his lips brushed against her soft skin, and he peppered her skin with a series of gentle kisses to ease the tension in her body.      

Dante's tongue languidly traced her salty skin, and a shuddered breath escaped her lips. His hands wound around her back and cradled her head. When she finally gave in to her desire, his canines elongated, and not a moment later, he sunk them into the crook of her neck.      

Rejection of a father (chapter 129)

Music Recommendation: Strange Feelings- Jung Se Rin     

A painful cry escaped from Anastasia's lips when she felt Dante's canines break the surface of her skin and penetrate far deeper than she had anticipated. The pain was unbearable, and she wanted him to pull away as a searing heat began to spread, coursing through her veins like molten fire, but his hands didn't let her move an inch, keeping her firmly in place.      

Dante's mouth continued to stay latched onto her skin as her sweet blood seeped into his mouth while the toxin from his canines mingled with the flow of her bloodstream.      

Anastasia dug her nails into his arms as she felt the blinding pain searing through her until she finally lost consciousness.      

Dante eventually withdrew his bloodied canines from her, his tongue flicking over the wound and the smears of blood around it. Gathering the remnants of the blood on his lips with his tongue, he looked down at the woman in his arms. His eyes glowed, the golden slits becoming prominent as their bond solidified.     

"To think you have been fated for me for such a long time," Dante murmured, his gaze fixed on Anastasia, a woman now his through the bonds of blood, destiny, and time.      

Scooping her up gently, he laid her on the bed and removed her shoes before pulling the blanket over her and lying beside her.      

And while Anastasia fell into a deep sleep, the bond she had formed with Dante allowed her to tap into one of his memories. Like grains of sand swept by a forceful desert wind, she was transported back in time.      

The day was bright like any other, with the sun casting its glow and the birds chirping away. On the upper floor of the palace, Lady Lucretia entered her son's room, dressed in elegant attire.      

"Mother," the young boy's face lit up upon seeing her, and he eagerly made his way towards her.      

Lady Lucretia sat down on her heels and opened her arms wide before enveloping her son in a tight embrace. "Happy birthday, my lion! You have grown so old, and to think it won't be long before I won't need to kneel to hug you," she laughed. "Am I the first one to extend my wishes to you?"      

The young boy had reached the age of ten and hugged his mother with a beaming smile. He said, "Father bestowed his birthday wishes upon me first. He was here before I woke up."      

"Is that so," Lady Lucretia responded, pulling away slightly to regard her son. She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. "He must be even more excited than you are today. I could tell for the last month that he's been looking forward to this day."     

"Are we going to cut the cake now?" the little boy asked, his black eyes shining, as this was a ritual he had partaken in for every birthday.      

"Not now, my lion. As it is a double celebration, the cake cutting will take place in the evening," Lady Lucretia informed him, and soon a servant knocked on the door.      

"Milady, King William has summoned Prince Dante to ride with him on the journey to the shrine," the servant informed her.      

Before long, the young boy departed from the palace, sitting in front of his father on his horse, accompanied by four ministers and the Mother Queen, who were eager to witness the occasion. Upon arriving at the shrine, everyone seemed in a good mood, as they couldn't wait to see what the king's first son could do.      

"Step in front of the shrine, Prince Dante," instructed one minister. "Place your hand on the stone in front of you. You will soon feel the surge of power coursing through your arm."      

The little boy did as he was told, all eyes fixed on him in eager anticipation. But when nothing happened, they exchanged puzzled glances. King William questioned, "What happened? Is it not working?"      

Stepping forward, the king placed his hand upon the stone, feeling the latent energy within. He then instructed his son, whom he had high hopes for, "Focus your mind and place your hand back here."     

But as seconds turned to minutes, the realisation finally sunk into their minds that the boy was an ordinary child devoid of a Crux. He was rather an unfortunate child, denied the privilege to wield the Blackthorn lineage's powers. On the other hand, the Mother Queen's eyes widened, a look of dawning comprehension sweeping across her face as she stared at her grandson.      

Disappointment clouded King William's eyes, his jaw tightening as he realised that he had a useless son, one who lacked a Crux. Without uttering a single word, he left the shrine, striding towards where the horses were stationed before mounting his own. The others followed, while the little boy looked for his father's guidance.      

The prince, requiring assistance to mount the horse, called out, "Father?" He waited for a response, but the king remained silent for several seconds.      

"You can ride another horse. Furthermore," King William said to the little boy in a stern voice, "From here onwards, you will address me as King William, not as your father."     

Though the young boy had ridden with his father on their journey here, he now sat on another horse, trotting behind his father, who looked distant. Upon reaching the palace, everyone seemed excited to welcome their future king, who was poised to sit on the throne.      

Lady Lucretia informed him, "Your Highness, everyone is waiting for the cele—"     

"There will be no celebration," King William curtly dismissed her, leaving the woman perplexed. He said, "You have let me down, Lucretia. Giving me a son who cannot carry the Blackthorn blood; it is a disgrace." He then proceeded to announce, "There won't be any celebration, and all those who have gathered can depart." With those words, he disappeared inside the palace.      

The Mother Queen looked torn, her gaze conflicted, before she followed her son to talk to him, while Lady Lucretia walked to where her son stood at the back. Before the ministers could leave, she asked them, "Did something happen at the shrine?" The king had never before looked at her with such indifference.      

"Milady, Prince Dante doesn't have a Crux. It's as if he's cursed... or isn't the king's son," one of the ministers replied to her, regarding her with a hint of suspicion before departing with the rest.      

"Do you think her inferior blood might be the reason?"      

While the men's conversation carried on, Lady Lucretia turned to look at her young son, who appeared visibly pale.      

"Did I disappoint you too, Mother?" the little boy inquired.      

"You could never do that, my lion," Lady Lucretia said, wrapping her arms around her son to hug him. "I am already very proud of you. Very, very much."     

However, the boy's feelings were hurt, and he remained silent.      

"I think they are just in shock. Once your father's mind cools down, he will return to his usual self and summon you to his chamber," Lady Lucretia consoled her son.      

But as the day passed and the boy waited for his father, King William didn't want anything to do with him. The next day, the king left the palace to travel to another kingdom on official matters. During that time, the young prince ventured beyond the confines of the palace, stepping into the town with a desire to explore, accompanied by a minister and four guards, who followed him as chaperones on this excursion.      

As the young prince trotted on his horse, which was a gift from his grandmother, the town's inhabitants caught wind of rumours regarding the supposedly cursed prince. Whispers began to circulate, insinuating that he might be an illegitimate son of the king's concubine. A series of hushed conversations arose, accompanied by pointed gazes at the little boy.      

"What is he doing here? I thought he would be locked in a cell with his mother."     

"Looks like he isn't ashamed of the burden he has brought to the Blackthorn family."      

"Did you hear that he is a cursed child?"      

Unbeknownst to the little boy, the murmurs and whispers persisted. He had only come here for some fresh air, away from the now foul atmosphere within the palace, where people looked upon him with disdain, continuously whispering something to each other—especially the maids and other women.      

When the young boy turned to look at a man, the very man, engrossed in something else, tripped over a stone behind him and fell to the ground. But the spectacle went unnoticed by the onlookers. Instead, what they saw was that the boy had the ability to bring harm to them. In response, they erupted in shouts,      

"Go back! Leave and return to the palace!"      

"Are you trying to plague us?!" the men and women shouted their concerns, hiding their children behind them.      

Amidst the sudden chaos, the little boy and the men accompanying him were thrown into disarray. The minister tried to restore order by saying, "Stay calm! There is nothing to worry about here—"     

"Get out of here, you cursed prince!" someone yelled at him. "Don't bring us bad luck like you did to the king!"      

"Weak prince! We don't want you here!"      

Someone picked up a stone and flung it at the young boy, striking his arm with considerable force. Initiating a chain reaction, the others swiftly follow suit, grabbing objects before hurling them at the harmless and innocent boy, subjecting him to their cruelty.     

The young boy tried to shield his horse from the assault, which was also bearing the brunt of the townsfolk's aggression, causing it to rear up in distress. The guards soon used their batons to control the crowd while the minister guided the wounded prince back to the palace.      

The Mother Queen and Lady Lucretia were the first ones to see the first prince wounded and bleeding. The older woman demanded, "What the hell happened out there?! Why is my grandson hurt??"      

The minister trembled under the Mother Queen's intense gaze, and he replied with a bow, "The crowd went into a frenzy, My Queen. I don't know why, but they... they suddenly started to call out derogatory names. Claiming that the prince is cursed."      

"Those dumb people. Let me go and see who had the audacity!" the Mother Queen exclaimed furiously.     

Lady Lucretia quickly pulled a handkerchief from her dress pocket and pressed it onto her son's wound. Urgently, she inquired, "Dante, are you alright? Where else have they hurt you? We should call a physician, Mother Queen."      

The Mother Queen barked at the minister, "Fetch the physician! I will then decide how I should punish you for your negligence."     

While the minister ran from there, the palace gates swung open widely, and one of the palace guards came running before announcing,      

"King William has returned and is on his way to the palace!"     

Five minutes later, the gates of the palace swung even wider, revealing the sight of King William riding astride his horse, flanked by a small contingent of guards positioned both at the front and the rear, while a palanquin followed behind him.      

"Whose palanquin is that?" the Mother Queen inquired, her eyebrows furrowed as she strained to see. Once King William dismounted his horse, he offered a bow to his mother but paid no heed to his concubine standing behind her or to his son.      

"Good afternoon, Mother," King William greeted his mother. "The treaty has been a success."      

"Good afternoon, William. I am relieved to hear that, considering there are some important matters that need your attention," the Mother Queen responded.      

King William appeared to be in a good mood and said, "Before everything else, I have a surprise." He then turned to look at the palanquin, as did those around him, intrigued to discern its occupant. Not a second later, a slender woman emerged from the palanquin, and he said, "Allow me to introduce my new concubine. Her name is Noor."     

Lady Lucretia looked shattered because she was told she was the last woman to capture the king's heart. The Mother Queen looked slightly uncomfortable, and out of formality, she greeted the woman, "Welcome to the palace, Noor." She then addressed her son, saying, "Dante was targeted by the townspeople today; you need to do something."     

King William's eyes shifted towards Dante, who quietly looked back at him. "If only he possessed a Crux, this incident could have been prevented. Yet, something went wrong, and I can't shake the feeling that he isn't truly my son. If he is, he ought to learn to defend himself rather than run back to the palace like a coward," he remarked, clicking his tongue in frustration. He then escorted his new concubine inside the palace.      

The Mother Queen couldn't believe her son was seemingly discarding her grandson as if he had no ties to him. He was a small boy! She expressed, "Forgive me, Lucretia. This wasn't supposed to be like this, especially with the rumours that are circulating."     

"I—It isn't your fault," Lady Lucretia's cheeks flushed with embarrassment, feeling ashamed even though she bore no blame. She said, "I will go help Dante clean his wounds until the physician arrives. Da—Dante?" She looked around, but the little boy had vanished.      

After looking everywhere, Lady Lucretia eventually found her son sitting in the secret garden. She noticed his knees were drawn close to his chest, and her lips pursed before walking to where he sat, taking a seat next to him. She gently rested her hand on his head, and she heard him murmur,      

"Everybody hates me..."     

"They aren't able to differentiate between right and wrong." Lady Lucretia's heart squeezed at the sight of her boy, his emotional wounds mirroring his physical ones. She gently conveyed, "Not every day is the same, Dante. Days change, and so does one's time. Not everyone is granted the same gifts. Some are rich, and some are poor. Some possess talents, while others compensate with their hard work. And that is what you need to focus on."     

The little boy turned his gaze towards his mother, his eyes reflecting a deep sadness. He asked her hopefully, "Will Father talk to me then?"      

Lady Lucretia gave a thoughtful nod and said, "Prove to him that you are capable and that you don't need a Crux to be acknowledged as a Blackthorn." She placed her hand on his chest and added, "Everything you need is right here, Dante, and no matter what, I will always be on your side. You will always be someone who makes me proud."     

And although Lady Lucretia had consoled her son with those words, she couldn't foresee that in the years to come, her son would become a seasoned conqueror, filling her with both pride and worry about his safe return. Meanwhile, the Mother Queen, who already suspected Dante's fate, played her cards well, aligning herself with the appropriate side.      

Birds in the bed (Chapter 130)

Music Recommendation: The memory of Danhyang- Oh Yeo Na     

Before Anastasia could even open her eyes, tears welled up and escaped from the corner at the boy's sufferings she saw in her dream, and her eyes finally fluttered open. A shuddered breath escaped from her lips, and she turned to find Dante sleeping beside her, lying on his side.      

Anastasia couldn't believe that someone as strong and capable as Dante had gone through such hardships, where people openly looked down on him and called him names when he was only a vulnerable child. Her heart broke at his memories, and she gently placed her hand on his cheek, prompting him to slowly open his eyes.      

"Did you have a bad dream?" Dante asked her, his voice carrying a slight huskiness.      

"People are crueller than demons," Anastasia remarked, her heart feeling as heavy as yesterday, weighed down by the memories she had witnessed. "I will not let anyone hurt you."     

Dante's gaze held a hint of curiosity as he smiled and said, "My brave and courageous rabbit." He could tell that she had ventured into his past, which their bond had allowed her to glimpse. He continued, "Don't be sad for what you saw. What happened in the past shaped my present, and it is the reason I am who I am today."     

Anastasia couldn't help but question how his life as an earthling was painful, as was his time before his demon side awakened. He was much better off as a demon, able to shield himself from the pain inflicted by others. Her fingertips lightly brushed against his jawline as she stared at him quietly.      

"I wish you had a better father… not King William," Anastasia murmured, feeling melancholic. "You should have had my father."     

A peaceful smile spread across Dante's lips, and he replied, "If I had him, then it would have been impossible for us to be together, wouldn't it? Besides, I wouldn't want to steal your father away from you."      

Anastasia pondered for a moment before replying, "I can share him with you now. You will like him." Though she wondered how her parents would react to the news that she was going to marry Dante, someone whose family had kidnapped her and her sister from them. "Did you sleep well?"      

"I guess better than the last few days. Having you near is soothing," Dante stated before bringing his hand to gently touch her neck where he had bitten her and staring at it. "If you need more rest, you should sleep some more. No one will disturb you."     

She hadn't realised she had fallen unconscious, and she noticed light seeping through the gaps between the curtains. She said, "I think I am well-rested now." And not a moment later, Dante leaned in and planted a kiss on her forehead.      

Dante murmured, "My beautiful girl," and this brought a smile to her lips.      

When they sat upright on the bed, Anastasia's attention was drawn to the markings on the backs of his hands, resembling the roots of a tree, which had spread even further. She frowned and asked, "What happened to your hands?"      

"It is the bond that has formed with you, just like on your neck," Dante's eyes fleetingly shifted to look at her neck once again.      

"My neck?" Anastasia inquired, then hurriedly scrambled out of bed and walked towards the mirror. As she looked at her reflection, she noticed how her hair looked tousled, resembling a bird's nest due to the salt in the sea and the wind. But then she caught sight of her neck and took a step closer.      

Similar to the black thorns marking on Dante's hands, there was a pattern of thorns etched on her skin, originating from the spot where he had bitten her on the side of her neck and disappearing beneath her dress. She pulled the neckline of her dress to the side to see where the marking extended and was stunned that this was how it worked.      

Anastasia turned to look at Dante, who was watching her. To think that yesterday at this very hour, she had been overcome with sadness, and now her heart was full from all the happy things that had occurred. With a contented smile, she said,      

"Thank you."     

"I didn't do anything; it is all thanks to you." Dante held a peaceful expression, and he stood up from the bed. He made his way to her and said, "You jumped from the ship. Not that I wouldn't have swum to get to you."     

Anastasia felt shy under Dante's unyielding gaze because he never looked away from her; his eyes locked onto her without wavering. Her stomach grumbled as she hadn't eaten anything for many hours, and a chuckle escaped from his lips.      

"Do you want me to order someone to bring you food to the room?" Dante asked her, and Anastasia shook her head.      

"I think I will take a bath first," Anastasia replied, as she felt a little sticky, and even though Dante was being kind towards her, she wanted to be presentable rather than appear as if she were prepared to house birds in her hair. She said, "I… should go and take a bath."      

Dante didn't stop her and said, "You should, before I drag you into the bath right here." Even though the Golden Moon had disappeared, his urges hadn't, but he wanted to treasure Anastasia just as she deserved. He could have his fill later, he thought to himself.     

When Anastasia returned to her room, she found Theresa already present. Hearing her footsteps, the older woman turned and smiled at her. She said,      

"I knew you were going to come back. They say the third time is always the charm. Welcome back, Anna." Theresa opened her arms wide, and Anastasia quickly walked over to her before hugging the woman.      

"I am back," Anastasia replied with a smile.      

If someone had told her in the past that she would be happy returning to the palace, she would have looked at them as if they had lost their mind.      

The older woman said, "I heard about you being the king's soulmate, Anna, and I am so happy for you! After everything you had to endure in the past, God has bestowed his blessings upon you." Anastasia silently hoped God would shower her with continued blessings because a part of her felt she still needed them.      

After thoroughly rinsing the sea salt from her hair and body during her bath, Anastasia donned a new dress. When she stepped out of the room, she found Dante patiently waiting for her. She turned to look at Theresa, who said with a bow,      

"I will have your clothes placed back in the cupboard, Lady Anastasia."      

Anastasia walked to where Dante stood, noticing him stare at her dress and murmur, "This should do for the trip later."     

"Trip?" Anastasia asked while looking down at her dress.      

Dante smiled at her before he remarked, "My imp seems to have gone missing from the living realm, when I instructed him to complete his task. It is an opportune time to take a trip to the underworld, once you are fed."