✍️✍️✍️✍️ Garden Of Poison Chapter 140 - 141 Complete Chapters ✍️✍️✍️✍️



Echo of the walls (Chapter 140)

Anastasia experienced a shudder in her heart upon hearing Dante's direct words, and regardless of how much time they spent in each other's company, there were some of his words that always caught her off guard. As his hand around her waist loosened its hold, her bare feet regained their footing against the cold floor, all while his eyes bored into hers in question.      

Dante heard her heart accelerate its rhythm, and to put her at ease, he gently took her hand and placed it on his own chest. Anastasia's eyes widened as she sensed his heartbeat matching hers, and he stated,      

"You aren't alone. You are important to me." His eyes delved intensely into hers.      

Anastasia's lips parted, and she replied, "I am yours to corrupt…" She noticed a sizzle in the air as Dante's hair lost its remaining moisture and turned dry.      

"Without a doubt, in every form and every life." Dante's hand reached for the belt fastening Anastasia's robe before he tugged it free.     

And as bold as Anastasia's words were, she turned shy when the robe came undone, unveiling her to Dante's unabashed scrutiny. His gaze shamelessly roamed over her body, drinking her in. With a graceful touch, his hands found her shoulders and then deftly guided the robe to cascade down, pooling around her feet.      

"Do you want to help me remove my robe?" Dante teased her, seeing her grow more aware with each passing second.      

As Anastasia's fingers closed around the belt of his black robe, her cheeks had already turned flush, and she murmured, "It is like unwrapping a present." Her heart pounded within her chest, and when Dante clasped her hand, her eyes returned to meet his, finding him already staring at her.      

"There's no need to be scared, little rabbit. I will give you the highest pleasure this world has to offer," Dante vowed, aiding her in untying his robe. "An experience nothing will ever come to match, and something that both of us will enjoy."     

"Y—Your words are making me feel drunk," Anastasia responded, as her hold on the belt loosened and it slid out of her hand.      

Anastasia saw Dante raise his hands to his chest, where his fingers slipped beneath the fabric, provocatively parting it, and she heard it softly drop on the ground. Her eyes fell on his broad shoulders before they began to linger on his well-defined chest. He was magnificent, exuding a blend of confidence and a pure masculine aura. However, before her gaze could travel further down, he advanced a step closer, redirecting her attention to his intense crimson eyes, locked onto her.      

"I want you to be as intoxicated as I am." Dante's voice flowed like silk, smooth, and rich. When he not-so-subtly leaned towards her, she gravitated towards him, akin to a moth drawn to the flame, ready to surrender its wings to the captivating fire.      

A gasp involuntarily escaped Anastasia's lips as Dante's finger lightly traced from the dip of her neck and began to travel downward, initiating a cascade of sensations. Her slightly parted lips opened wider, quivering an inch away from his while he watched her with pure fascination. Anastasia sensed an increasing feeling of yearning for his touch, but the person before her was a demon intent on witnessing her writhe and moan within his tantalising torment until she dissolved into oblivion.      

When Dante pulled his hand away from her before it could venture below her stomach, he saw her eyebrows knit together and her eyes convey a quiet plea. The expression was enough to stir his own thoughts, and in the next second, he lifted her into his arms.      

Dante carried Anastasia across the room, and the ease with which he held her made her feel as weightless as a feather. He gently lowered her onto the centre of the bed, and then climbed on it such that he hovered above her.      

Anastasia's gaze fixed on his dark, thick locks of hair, its gentle movement captivating her senses, and the impulse to touch it became irresistible. She admired the contours of his face, his eyes watching her beneath his thick eyebrows. The angles of his nose and jaw were sharp and strong. As her hand extended to caress his jaw, he gently caught it in his hand, proceeding to kiss it with his sinful lips.      

He guided the hand he held to rest above her head, pressing it gently against the surface of the bed as he lowered his head to hers.      

"Ah..!" Anastasia moaned when Dante's knee unexpectedly pressed between her legs, reigniting the delicious sensation that she recalled him allowing her to experience. "Dante…" His name escaped her lips in a breathy whisper.      

"Yes, my little rabbit?" Dante inquired of her, his voice a soft murmur against her lips. "Looks like you need to be fed, as you are hungry."     

The next moment, their lips sought each other, moving fervently as if they had been famished for years. The kiss overflowed with longing and desire—an insatiable need to be close to each other and never wanting to let go; after all, they had finally found one another.      

And as patient as Dante had appeared, his touch was anything but that, now revealing an urgent impatience as his restraint began to break. When Anastasia's lips parted in invitation, he seized the opportunity to plunder and claim what rightfully belonged to him. He playfully nipped her bottom lip to taste her sweet blood.      

"There's something about your blood that makes me want to delve into it, wanting to savour it until the very last drop," Dante murmured, his eyes flaring with an unvoiced craving for her.     

Anastasia felt the grip of his hand on hers turn firmer, his struggle evident as his canines elongated and the root-like markings emerged from the corners of his eyes.      

As if sensing his internal conflict, Anastasia lifted her head and gently kissed him, her lips lingering there. His canines returned to their usual state, and so did his skin.     

"My most precious person," Dante murmured before capturing her lips once more, a smile forming on his lips as he felt her body relax. He peppered her with delicate, butterfly-like kisses along her jawline, evoking a tickling sensation that made her giggle. He pressed his lips against her skin before pulling back to look at her and saying, "With all our inhibitions and worries lost, let me devote myself to you as you rightfully deserve. Completely and wholly mine."      

Dante's hand let go of hers, reaching instead to curl around her neck, his grip firm yet gentle as he sucked on her delicate neck with an intensity that was bound to leave a mark, a visible testament to the passionate moments they had shared in each other's company.      

Lost in the tantalising sensations, Anastasia had closed her eyes, and soft sighs escaped from her lips when his lips traced a path along her skin, descending towards her chest.      


Anastasia let out a gasp when Dante's finger flicked the tip of one of her breasts, eliciting a surge of blood that not only flushed her neck and prompted her eyes to flutter open, but also ignited heat between her legs.      

"So responsive," Dante murmured, his eyes darkening at the sight of her nipples hardening beneath both his gaze and touch. Anastasia noticed how the sweet demeanour he had tried to maintain dissolved, now replaced by something more primal. "You have been tempting me ever since the first night we danced."     

"I have?" Anastasia questioned, her voice emerging as a mere whisper. A shiver coursed through her when she felt Dante's playful fingertips flirtatiously tracing the curve of her breast.      

She heard Dante hum in response, and her lips quivered when he cupped one of her breasts, which fit perfectly in his hand. "Your wet clothes clinging to your body like a second skin—did you think it didn't affect me? The things I wanted to do to you that night are the very things I will show you now."     

Dante squeezed her breasts with his hands, watching as she succumbed to waves of pleasure.      

A soft cry escaped from Anastasia when Dante took one of her hardened tips into his mouth. An electric current surged through her body, causing her back to arch off the bed, which only granted him greater access.      

Her delightful cries only aroused Dante further, and his mouth turned rough as he relentlessly sucked on her breasts until the room was filled with her moans. He ran his hand along her back, tracing the beautiful curve she arched for him.     

Anastasia's eyes rolled back as Dante's teeth grazed her nipple, rendering it sensitive. He let go and transferred the same fervent attention to the other nipple. And once he pulled away from it, he blew air over the peak to see her body shudder in response.     

"Beautiful," Dante praised, his hands and lips roaming over her body, leaving nothing unexplored.     

Anastasia's stomach dipped as Dante peppered kisses across it, causing her toes to curl. Instead of going lower, he shifted to sit upright between her legs and watched her chest heave. Her eyes fluttered open and swiftly met his attentive gaze, which watched her every reaction.     

Dante picked up one of her ankles, his lips trailing along the length of her leg, before once again leaving her hanging without touching her where she craved it most.      

"Dante…" Anastasia complained, to which he responded with a knowing smile that curled his lips.      

"Yes?" Dante asked her.     

Anastasia wished she knew how to torture Dante like he did to her. She said, "Please… touch me."      

Dante's jaw clenched, Anastasia's words pouring gasoline onto his already roaring blood. He yanked her ankles to bring her closer to him. When he touched her between her legs, he remarked with a pleased gleam in his eye, "My needy rabbit. So wet."     

There was something in the way Dante uttered those words that heightened Anastasia's arousal, turning her even wetter, and she furiously blushed under his burning gaze. As he sat between her legs, her curious eyes travelled down his toned body before settling on his hardened manhood, and she gulped at the sight.     

"Ahh!" Anastasia cried when Dante's finger glided into her wet folds, and her toes pressed against the bed. His finger moved in and out at a pace that added to the already-building pleasure poised to erupt within her.      

However, just as she approached the peak, on the cusp of release, Dante slowed the movement of his hand, and a chuckle escaped from his lips when Anastasia cast an involuntary glare in his direction.      

"What an intriguing expression you have there; it makes me want to see more of it," Dante remarked, and her glare swiftly transformed into longing as his finger picked up its pace, this time adding another digit to prepare her for what lay ahead.     

He returned to her side, their lips meeting in a tender kiss, and like the Blackthorn rose that had stirred to life, every part of Anastasia came alive and responded to Dante, reacting to his every gesture and action. She melted for him, and she felt him caress her cheek as they locked eyes in an intimate gaze.      

"This will hurt, but for not more than a second," Dante reassured her. Noticing her purse her lips, he gently asked her, "Don't want to go further?"      

Dante tried to rein in his uncontrollable desire for her, and even though he had guided her to this precipice, he didn't want to force her if she wasn't willing, while holding a fervent hope that she wanted to continue.      

Anastasia gently shook her head, her words soft as she explained, "I didn't kiss you the way you kissed me… or touch you the way you did," and she heard him sigh. His forehead settled against hers, and she watched as he briefly closed his eyes before he looked at her once more.      

"There's plenty of time for you to do that; it doesn't have to be today." Dante kissed her nose. "All you need to do is breathe, and let me take care of the rest."     

Seeing Anastasia nod and place her hands on his shoulders, Dante guided his hardened manhood and rubbed it against her wet entrance.     

Anastasia found the sensation to be different compared to his fingers, and she relished the feeling. Her breathing hastened, as if anticipating what was to come next. However, he didn't prolong the moment, as he swiftly pushed himself into her.     

A loud cry spilt from Anastasia, the sharp pain piercing through her as Dante penetrated her more deeply.      

Dante allowed her time to adjust and waited for her to get accustomed to him before he started moving his hips. Every thrust elicited a louder moan than the one before it, while her fingers gripped his shoulders with increasing intensity, digging into his skin, which he more than welcomed. One hand moved to her waist, and the other gripped her thigh, feeling her tighten around him.      

Anastasia found her head thrown back in the throes of pleasure, her lips parted as she sensed Dante pulsing inside her. As the seconds passed, his movements only picked up pace.      

The bed softly creaked at their movements, and the room was filled with moans and sighs. All coherent thoughts vanished, and all Anastasia could remember was Dante's name, which eventually turned into a whisper as her throat grew parched.      

It took only a few moments before Anastasia's body prepared to descend from the high that Dante had taken her to. He watched her beautifully quiver under him, her eyes dilated in pleasure and her hold tightening as she came apart, and soon after, he followed, sharing in her release.      

Anastasia's voice sounded hoarse; her mind dazed as she tried to come down from the euphoric sensation. But she wasn't the only one in this state, as the sound of Dante's laboured breathing reached her ears from above. She felt him tenderly kiss her forehead, and it filled her heart with warmth.      

"My delicious rabbit. You did very well," Dante said. When her eyes met his, a sweet smile spread across her lips, her cheeks burning.      

Anastasia sat upright on her knees in front of Dante, and he watched her with curiosity. Leaning in, she kissed his lips before whispering, "It was out of this world."      

Dante could sense the satisfaction radiating from her, and he pulled aside a few strands of her hair that were stuck to her face. He smiled and said to her, "I am glad it exceeded your expectations. Are you tired?"      

"Not much," Anastasia breathed. "You?"     

"It appears that we both have a voracious appetite that requires sating," Dante remarked, causing Anastasia to blink at him in response. When he snapped his fingers, she heard something crackle on the wall.      

Her attention was captured by a mirror materialising on the wall, reflecting their naked selves. Turning her gaze back to Dante, a blush tinged her cheeks as she inquired, "This is not for getting ready… is it?"      

"No, my love," Dante replied with a mischievous smile. His hand curled around her neck, bringing her close for him to kiss her, and he remarked, "This one's for you to experience other worlds."     


Mirror on the wall(Chapter 141)

Unaware of the mirror's purpose, Anastasia was about to turn to talk to Dante when she felt his hand snake around her waist from behind. Her cheeks reddened upon catching sight of their naked bodies in the mirror's reflection.      
"T—This is embarrassing," Anastasia muttered, wanting to turn and bury herself in his chest.      

However, Dante's palm splayed across her abdomen, bringing her closer to him, and she felt his hardened member nestled at the crease of her bottom. His lips glided from the outer edge of her shoulder to her neck, and she heard him murmur,      

"Is that so? I don't think it's anything you haven't already seen or known, but what awaits are a myriad of emotions you've yet to experience."     

Anastasia felt his hand descend from her stomach, and a sharp intake of breath escaped her as his hand moved between her legs. Sensitive from the lingering pleasure still singing in her blood, she was quick to respond with a sigh, her back pressing further into him. His hand encircled her neck to intercept her attempt to lower her head to ensure her gaze remained locked onto their reflection.      

"You have a sensual expression, like an exquisite work of art that no one has ever yet created." Dante's whispered words brushed against her ear. Anastasia felt herself shudder when he pushed two fingers inside her, rhythmically inserting and withdrawing them, making it difficult for her to speak. "So pure, yet erotic, with your longing spilling from those dainty lips," he continued, capturing her earlobe between his teeth and biting it to see her gasp in response. Seeking support, her hands instinctively grabbed his thighs from behind.      

However, Dante allowed her release to wash over her before withdrawing his hand from between her legs.      

Despite having already made love to Dante, Anastasia couldn't suppress the flustered look that marred her face. It was difficult to stare back at his reflection, given the intensity emanating from his eyes.      

"Hands on the bed, Anastasia," Dante instructed in a husky voice. His grip on her neck eased as his hand moved to settle gently on her nape.      

On the bed? Anastasia asked herself, and her body lowered for a second before he steadied it with a firm hold. Feeling inexperienced, she responded, "I don't know how else…"     

Dante pressed a kiss into the crook of her neck in response, and he patiently said, "No need to fret. I should have been clearer. Place your hands in front of you, not the sides."      

Anastasia's heart pounded in her chest, the sound reverberating loudly in her ears. Gulping, she proceeded to gingerly position her hands on the bed. At the same time, Dante's grip on her waist loosened, and the hand on her nape travelled down her spine before he placed it on one of her globes. With a gentle push, he nudged her to lean forward.      

She felt him caress her bottom, feeling the curve and softness with a hum of appreciation. She pondered the necessity of the mirror when they had been able to see each other perfectly well without it, but perhaps it was because their current position would not have allowed them to view each other. In this new position, her body felt slightly more alive than before as her eyes concentrated on his reflection.      

Dante's hands traced the graceful curves of her body, his eyes tracking the path, taking in her slender waist. A desire to hide her from the world welled up inside him, and he acknowledged it was selfish of him to bring her here, wanting to corrupt her soul so that he didn't have to rely solely on the soulmate bond to keep her by his side.      


A loud moan escaped Anastasia's lips as Dante thrust himself into her without notice, taking her by surprise for the briefest second.      

The sheets beneath Anastasia's hands creased as she clutched them when Dante pulled out before thrusting his hips into her again. She felt him stretching her with every thrust. However, it was only when her gaze shifted from his reflection to her own in the mirror that her thoughts spiralled, triggered by her own lewd expression.      

It wasn't only her, but Dante as well, who found himself aroused by the erotic expressions he drew out of her. Every time he withdrew, he only rammed himself deeper into her that much harder, his grip on her waist unrelenting, and his motions left her utterly weak. She felt him hit a sweet spot over and over again. Unable to balance herself on her palms any longer, her elbows took over the task of supporting her. Her cries of pleasure grew in intensity, each surpassing the last, leaving her mouth and throat dry. The soft sound of their bodies smacking against each other added to the symphony of sounds in the room.      

Dante gently brushed her hair to the side, then assisted her in lifting her lowered body so that he could look at her instead of having her face buried in the crumpled sheets.      

"This is how I will love you for eternity," Dante's voice strained out as he planted a kiss onto her shoulder, while his hips continued their movement.      

"D—Dante, I—" came the incoherent words from Anastasia, feeling herself nearing a climax.      

"Come with me." Dante felt her tighten around him, and he reached his release along with her.      

Anastasia felt Dante support her weakened body as he withdrew from her. She panted, attempting to reclaim her breath, all while hearing his laboured breathing by her ear, letting her know that he too had experienced similar sensations.      

Sensing Dante's heartbeat against her back as she rested against his chest, she smiled with her eyes closed. She felt him gently kiss her temple, and then he gathered her in his arms before proceeding to assist them both in cleaning up.     

Somewhere during the time when Dante returned to the room with Anastasia cradled in his embrace, she had fallen asleep. He carefully laid her on the bed, watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest.      

Dante's crimson eyes snapped towards the door at a sound that reached him from outside. Rising from the bed, he walked to the door, and upon opening it, his eyes narrowed. He asked curtly,      

"Was there something you needed that brought you here?"      

Viktor stared back at Dante with his hollow eyes, his hands held behind his back, and said, "I initially came here to inquire about Raylen before I realised something. Your current course of action is not going to work, because whichever option you choose, there will always be a drawback. Ultimately, you belong to opposite sides of the world."     

Dante turned to look at Anastasia, who continued to rest, before he stepped outside the room and closed the door behind him. He remarked, "I didn't know you were interested in my love life. I thought angels and demons were complete opposites." He noticed a faint smile grace the Devil's lips.      

"You are one of my favourites. Why wouldn't I take an interest?" Viktor responded, his accent slightly heavy. He said, "Keep her in this realm, and it will create an imbalance, leading to your death. Leave her be as she is… it presents a chance for certain individuals to separate her from you forever. She'll go straight to heaven."     

"Keep your hands off her soul," Dante warned the Devil, who smiled at him.      

Viktor stated, "Seems like you are about to receive some visitors in the living realm."     

Dante's eyebrows furrowed, and he asked, "Who?"      

"The enemies you have made. Those who go by the name Elder ministers; I cannot believe the eight power crystals ended up in possession of those useless earthlings." Viktor looked miffed as he recalled this information, and said, "You killed four of them, causing the crystals to revert to Hell. I want you to recover the remaining pieces and deliver them to me. Those four hold significant importance, and they won't be easy to retrieve."     

"And what if I succeed in bringing them back?" Dante asked him, his gaze fixed on the Devil, who wore the appearance of an older man.      

"Perhaps then I will let you off the hook, releasing you from both Hell and my grasp," Viktor replied, lifting his hands before intertwining his fingers and tilting his head. He raised his hand, and without prior warning, he said, "Time to go back," and snapped his fingers.     

Anastasia jolted, drawing a sudden gasp of breath as she sat upright on the bed, her sense of reality momentarily distorted. Beside the bed stood Dante, his expression etched with irritation, and he apologised to her, "I am sorry you had to experience that. Viktor sent us back without any forewarning. Are you alright?"     

"I think so. What happened?" Anastasia looked around, recognising that they were back in Dante's room in the Blackthorn Palace. One moment, she was dreaming in bliss, and in an instant, it was as if someone had rolled her off the bed and hurled her to fly from a cliff.      

Dante filled a glass with water and offered it to her. "Drink it."      

"Thank you." Anastasia took a couple of sips before returning the glass to him. "It is quite convenient to return this quickly," she murmured, considering that they didn't need to travel from the demons' lair back to Versailles, which would have been a time-consuming task.      

"You should get some rest while I go see if there has been any news about the Elder ministers. Will you be alright?" Dante asked, leaning forward and kissing the top of her head. "I will have Theresa sent here."     

"I will be fine." Anastasia nodded, offering him a smile.      

When Theresa arrived to attend Anastasia, the young woman recounted her experience, describing the place she had visited and the individuals she had encountered. And once she had regained her energy, she strolled along the palace corridors.      

Engaged in a hushed conversation with Aziel, the Mother Queen intermittently glanced at her pocket watch, her attention drawn to Anastasia emerging from the far end of the corridor. The older woman noticed how carefully the young lady moved, and a wide smile spread across her lips—an expression that worried the minister.      

"Anna," the Mother Queen called.      

Anastasia promptly offered a bow and greeted, "Good afternoon, Grandmother."     

"A very good good afternoon to you too." The Mother Queen continued to smile before she laughed, catching everyone present off guard. As they stood facing each other, she inquired, "So, how was it? When can I expect the good news?"      

Anastasia frowned. "Hell? It was dark, and we met the Devil—"     

"Who cares about the Devil? I want to know whether things progressed smoothly between you and Dante." The Mother Queen gave her a knowing look, causing Anastasia to stare at the older woman. A shy smile graced Anastasia's lips, and the Mother Queen smiled again. "I have already prepared the beds, just in case there's any damage to the current one. All prepared."     

The memory of their lovemaking was still fresh in Anastasia's mind, and uncertain of how else to respond, she said, "Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Grandmother."     

"Who else will be thoughtful about it, if not me?" the Mother Queen asked her, adding, "Back when I had a good back, I put my body to good use."     

"Mother Queen!" Lady Sophia's face flushed red at the older woman's words. "Could you please refrain from discussing such things out loud where others might overhear?"      

"This is my palace, after all. Where else should I speak freely?" The Mother Queen chuckled, as if in an extremely good mood. She would have reached for a bottle of liquor if she didn't have to keep glancing at her watch every now and then. She then said, "Poor Lucretia isn't here to help Anna, so I took it upon myself to offer her some advice."      

"I think King Dante will give her all the advice she needs, surpassing any wisdom you typically dispense to everyone in the palace." Lady Sophia's lips pursed, and Anastasia observed a hint of agitation in her demeanour.      

"He might, but it is my responsibility to impart wisdom," the Mother Queen stated with a self-assured nod. Leaning towards Anastasia, she not-so-quietly whispered, "After my husband died, I endeavoured to taste all the available fruits the garden had to offer."      

Lady Sophia's expression shifted to one of mortification upon hearing the Mother Queen's words, and she muttered, "I cannot believe you would say something like that."      

"It is never too late to do the same, Sophia," the Mother Queen responded, and Lady Sophia couldn't bear to remain there for another second and stormed away. "I think I upset her more than I intended to," she said under her breath.      

Anastasia inquired, "Aren't you worried about people judging you?"     

"Is it due to my role as the Mother Queen or simply because I am a woman?" the Mother Queen asked, steadying herself with the aid of the staff she held before her.      

"Both," Anastasia replied curiously, her gaze fixed on the woman who seemed like a force to reckon with.      

"Previously, I might not have uttered such words, even though I was a queen, but now I have nothing to fear, as I have a grandson who is a demon, and a granddaughter who has her own abilities to protect others," the Mother Queen said with a proud smile. "Considering how my husband enjoyed other women, I saw no reason to abstain when I was in the prime of my life. Of course, I did it secretly, and those were colourful days indeed."     

Anastasia's lips curled into a smile in response to the Mother Queen's words. She then shifted her gaze in the direction Lady Sophia had taken as she walked away.     

"Don't fret about her. She's just worried after what happened this morning."     

"What happened in the morning?" Anastasia inquired, prompting the Mother Queen to explain,      

"She's deeply concerned for Emily and Aiden after what happened to Niyasa. You see, when Sophia married my son, she was prideful, as she is now, but also partly docile, and that's how Maya managed to steal the spotlight in the past." The Mother Queen's eyes narrowed as she reminisced. She softly harrumphed and continued, "The way she is now is a product of my continuous badgering. Lucretia and she had a strained relationship and didn't get along with each other, which created a precarious situation for her. So, in a way, you can say there's a figurative sword hanging above her neck, causing her considerable stress. Anyway, let us get back to breaking beds."     

With the assistance of a servant, a mere minute later, Dante summoned the Mother Queen to the watchtower, sparing Anastasia from the older woman detailing the art of bed-breaking.      

When the Mother Queen arrived at the location where Dante waited for her, she huffed and puffed as she had to walk up the stairs leading to the watchtower of the Blackthorn Palace. Still trying to catch her breath, her eyes fell upon her grandson standing alone before the binoculars, adjusting their angle as he peered through them.      

Curious, the Mother Queen asked him, "What are you doing here, Dante?"      

"Checking to see if these work. I was told the Elder ministers will be visiting us soon, which only means that Versailles will need to prepare for an attack. But so far, there has been no sign of them."      

Before she could say something, Dante asked her, "How is everyone doing? Have any guests or family members fallen unconscious?"      

"Apart from a few experiencing slight nausea, there hasn't been a single indication," the Mother Queen responded, her frustration evident. She wondered whether her concoction had gone wrong or if this elusive demon of mischief was nowhere within the palace and they were trying to catch a ghost. Seemingly recalling something, she said, "There is one person who didn't eat or drink anything containing the potion."     

Dante pulled his face away from the binoculars and raised an eyebrow. "Who?" he inquired.     


On the floor below, Anastasia, who was with Theresa, inquired, "Auntie, do you know if Prince Victor's health has improved?"     

"I believe not," Theresa responded, shaking her head. She said, "You have assumed the queen's responsibility of looking after everyone. Would you like to pay him a visit?"      

"Yes," Anastasia replied, while internally smiling as she couldn't shake off the happiness stemming from what Dante and she had done earlier. Upon arriving at Lady Noor's room, she knocked on the door and informed her,      

"It is me, Anastasia." Lady Noor opened the door and offered her a smile. She said, "I thought to come see how Prince Victor was doing."      

"That is very sweet of you, Queen Anastasia," Lady Noor responded with a polite bow. Anastasia picked up on the subtle change in their interaction, observing a noticeable distance in the woman's demeanour after what happened this morning. "Please come in."     

Anastasia entered the room with Theresa following behind her, and they saw Prince Victor asleep on the bed. Approaching the bedside, she inquired, "Has the physician examined him?"      

Lady Noor held a grave expression as she shared, "Yes, he came by an hour ago. However, the physician said that it is possible that my Victor might be afflicted with the same sickness that Lady Lucretia had. There was blood when he coughed."      

Anastasia's expression shifted to one of concern, given that Victor was still young. She expressed, "I am sorry to hear that, Lady Noor. I hope it isn't what Lady Lucretia went through, and maybe it's something less severe."     

Lady Noor smiled, though the warmth didn't quite reach her eyes. She looked tired as she sat down beside her son. She spoke with a tinge of sorrow, "First I lost William, and now my son." She then switched the subject by saying, "I didn't have the chance to properly congratulate you this morning. I am happy to hear that you have returned, and that you are the king's soulmate. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that."     

Anastasia pursed her lips, asking, "Is there anything I can do for you?"     

"I am fine, just fine," Lady Noor said. "By the way, I have a collection of designs that I received from an old seamstress of mine. They are in my viewing room, if you want to take a look at them. I am sure you will find one to your liking."      

Anastasia offered a gracious bow, thanking the woman. "You didn't have to. Though it was kind of you to take the time to gather them. Thank you." Her gaze then shifted to a bowl of water and a cloth, indicating Lady Noor's attentive care for her son. She turned to look at Theresa and said, "Can you fetch Mr. Gilbert for me, Auntie?"      

Lady Noor was surprised by Anastasia's manner of addressing the maid, and once the woman departed, she said, "You surprise me."     

Anastasia's smile was genuine as she shared, "From the moment I arrived here, she has always looked after me. My status within the palace might have changed, but I don't want to change or forget the bond we've developed." Now that she would assume her role as queen, Anastasia wished to change Theresa's status, a matter she intended to discuss with Dante later, in the hopes of elevating it to a more honourable standing.      

"Only if there were more people like her," Lady Noor remarked. Anastasia glanced at the array of medicines the physicians might have prescribed, picking up one of them and inspecting it. "That one is meant to suppress his coughing."     

As Anastasia moved to place it back, the medicine slipped from her hand and fell to the floor, and she quickly apologised, "I'm sorry about that. Let me get it."     

Bending down while feeling an ache in her back, she reached for the fallen item, when her eyes fell on something beneath a nearby table. Her hand reached for it, and she retrieved a small vial containing a dried drop of green liquid, and felt her hands grow cold.      

"You seem to have terrible luck, don't you?" Lady Noor's voice sounded from behind her, and before Anastasia could turn, she felt something hard hit her head with force. "To be struck by me twice."