Huge thanks to HONORATA for the kofi! (1/1) ✨
01. A Humble Princess (9)
Her mind felt like it was filled with hot steam, and her vision blurred as her eyes began to feel sore. Catherine clung to the black doorknob as if it were a lifeline with quivering shoulders.
“If Brother had truly loved me, you wouldn’t have done this to me.”
“You, you have never loved me, not once.”
Who would do such a thing to their family? A normal person would never suggest such a miserable choice to their loved one. Her father would never have presented her with such a heart-wrenching option, and vice versa.
To Catherine, he was her brother through and through.
“Catherine, please don’t misunderstand my words…”
Crack! A brutal noise, as if something was being shattered, erupted right above Catherine’s head. Her complexion turned a ghastly shade as she lifted her head in alarm.
Through the door, a sharp and menacing blade had thrust toward Lancel’s forehead.
He quickly leaned backwards and pulled Catherine over in an instant. The razor-sharp blade barely grazed his forehead.
Shiiing, the blade was withdrawn, and Lancel swiftly pushed Catherine behind him.
“Stay behind me. Don’t move…”
“I asked you to do your homework, didn’t I?”
When a low and slow voice was heard, Lancelot hardened as he was pulling a dagger from his thigh. Having been completely hidden by his back, Catherine had no idea how things were going.
Lancel drew a dagger from his thigh, and upon hearing the low and languid voice, he stiffened in place. Completely hidden behind him, Catherine had no idea how the situation was unfolding.
With a creak, the hinges slowly swung open.
“I didn’t expect you to present your sincerity in such a cute manner.”
Thack, as footsteps entered the bedroom, a dizzying metallic scent pricked Catherine’s nose. She now recognized this smell.
It was the smell of blood.
The moment she spotted the unwelcome intruder in the bedroom, Catherine held her breath. Today, she learned that too much red could appear black.
Deimos was entirely drenched in blood. The blood flowed from the black uniform coat dripped onto the floor. There wasn’t a single spot untouched by red from head to toe, as though he’d emerged from a river of blood. Like he was the Rediot, and not her.
When Catherine met Deimos’s gaze, her heart sank. His yellow eyes, which gleamed like a beast’s, seemed to grasp her heart with a tight grip.
The sight of Lancel’s body stiffening like a statue registered in real-time. Perhaps because he swallowed dryly, he spoke in a more subdued voice.
“Your Highness, what…”
“Planning such an act and leaving a wound on my fragile heart.”
He slowly moved the sword horizontally. The sharp tip of his sword pointed directly at her.
“What kind of punishment do you want?”
With her right in the middle of his gaze, his black pupils had expanded to their limits. Like a predator spotting its prey in the darkness.
Gripped by an instinctual fear, Catherine unknowingly clutched the hem of Lancel’s clothes. Dein’s gaze was drawn to her hand, and a shadow was cast over his bright eyes.
When did he start listening in from? Seeing how angry he was, it was undoubtedly from the very beginning… everything…
Lancel raised his arm, and blocked the blade that was placed right in front of her eyes. His wide hand acted as a shield before her field of vision.
“I apologise, Your Highness. I’m not sure how much you’ve heard, but if you would give me a chance…”
He pressed a gloved index finger to his lips.
“I’m in the middle of a conversation with my woman.”
As he moved the sword horizontally, the sharp blade cut through the air. As the blade approached Lancel’s neck, he instinctively stepped back just enough to avoid it. If he didn’t move in tandem, the sword would cut through him and exit from the other side.
As Lancel took a step back, Catherine’s heart sank suddenly.
He couldn’t run forever. The wall was just ahead. His sword was merciless and unforgiving. If Lancel lost a place to retreat to, the sword would pierce through his neck without hesitation.
That can’t happen.
The retreating Catherine suddenly lunged out from behind Lancel.
“Please forgive me. Your Highness…!”
He finally stopped and stared at Catherine, his gaze fierce and chilling.
“If you give me a chance, I can explain…”
Catherine trembled at the way he acted warmly, like an elder treating a young girl that had spilled milk. In contrast to the terrifying blade that was aimed directly at her, what was more menacing was his golden eyes, which seemed like they could tear through hell itself.
Catherine barely managed to move her legs, which felt like they could give way at any moment. Her olive-coloured dress brushed against the floor lightly as she closed the distance between them.
They were close enough to meet eye to eye, yet he didn’t move his sword away from Lancel.
She took another step closer.
She stepped forward again hesitantly. They were so close that she could feel his breath.
He tilted his head, with the corners of his eyes folding into a curve.
“Now, give me a kiss.”
“Your fiancé had barely returned alive from the frontlines. Shouldn’t you be thrilled?”
Her heart pounded like it was about to break her ribs. Kissing in front of others? Shame coloured her face, yet her toes twitched strangely. Was she losing her mind out of fear?
Catherine stared at his sanguineous and sneering lips quietly, and slowly raised her head.
She wasn’t exactly petite herself, but Deimos was quite tall. To kiss him, Catherine had to hold onto his arm and tiptoe.
As he lowered his head to accommodate her, Catherine closed her eyes. Their lips met, and soft flesh gently meshed.
Fortunately, he didn’t tease her as roughly as he had in front of her brother previously. Catherine quickly withdrew from the almost peck, hastily releasing him and opening her eyes.
Their eyes met. It felt as though he had been looking at her throughout the kiss.
Deimos only moved his gaze to look straight ahead. Precisely at the spot where Lancel was, and grinned with satisfaction.
As Catherine was about to turn towards Lancel, Deimos pulled her towards him.
He must have thrown his sword to the ground, because there was a clanging sound. He strode towards the bathroom, interlocking his fingers with Catherine’s.
When Lancelot tried to stop him, Deimos tightened his grip on her. Swish, she was whisked away and fell into his bloodied and firm body.
“Your Highness, my sister…”
“One more word, and there won’t be a ducal family in the Pendragon Empire.”
He jerked his chin towards the ruined door.
Lancelot clenched his fists so tightly his knuckles turned white. A cloudy maelstrom brewed within his clear, blue eyes.
If he had to choose between her and Caliburn, it was common sense and a reasonable choice to abandon Catherine. Because Lancelot is the mighty lord that will lead the ducal family after Father. Nevertheless, Lancelot hesitated for a while in the face of the previous Emperor’s order.
After taking several deep breaths, his head soon dropped like a broken branch.
Catherine was leaning against Deimos and staring at him, but he soon turned away from them. Pfft, he heard a mocking laugh and he dragged her into the bathroom.
Bang, the bathroom door slammed shut.
“Ah, Your Highness. Please, wait…!”
Lancelot closed his eyes tightly at the pleas coming through the bathroom door. Soon, he turned his head and exited the bedroom roughly.
“Block the door.”
After entering the corridor, Lancelot ordered the knights that were at a loss and only bothered to read the atmosphere.
A bloodstained uniform coat fell onto the bathroom floor. He tossed aside his coat, and with his crimson-stained coat, he pulled Catherine into the bathtub.
“Ah, Your Highness. Please, wait…!”
The pristine bathroom scene suddenly flipped, and water splashed everywhere. As lukewarm water fiercely engulfed her, the scent of rose from the bath salts permeated her senses.
She frantically supported herself on the floor of the bathtub, lifting her head above the surface. Her breathing was ragged, and her hair, which had just dried, clung heavily to her face.
There was no time to regain her composure from the shock. While gasping for breath and leaning against the bathtub, her trembling hands kept slipping on the smooth ceramic rim, causing her to plunge back into the water.
He had thrown even his shirt to the floor and now stood in front of the bathtub. As he got closer, Catherine shrunk backwards involuntarily, pressing her back against the cold tile.
Her jaw clattered harshly. A face covered in a red mask, and a shirt. An instinctual fear arose as the looming silhouette seemed poised to devour her, who was trapped in the bathtub.
So, this is how I’ll die. Losing even the name that was my sole possession, disappearing with only eternal disgrace.
The fiancé of an Imperial hid her identity as a Rediot. It was a grave sin, not just for her but for the entire Caliburn family. After all, they had planned to marry cattle like her to the Emperor’s brother.
It’s the end. For me and for this family.
“How long have you had such a close relationship with Brother Lancel? You two were so very affectionate.”
At this provoking question, her shivering suddenly stopped. The words he uttered contained an unexpected revelation.
Amidst fear and confusion, a flicker of realisation emerged from a corner of her mind.
‘Perhaps… I might be able to survive.’
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