“Do you want to run away with me?”
“If you do, I’ll follow you.”
My eyes opened in response to someone’s voice.
I was sure I was talking to my husband in my bedroom a moment ago.
Yet before me was a vast meadow.
It was my home, Kartelle.
I was dreaming, wasn’t I? I couldn’t be back here in the blink of an eye.
Yes, it had to be a dream.
Was this another effect of the poison? It seemed my brain was also damaged.
“Ella, can you hear me?”
Come to think of it, someone had spoken to me.
When I turned my head, I saw a person with platinum blonde hair and red eyes like me.
The individual seemed to be very angry.
“Don’t believe what they say.
All humans are evil.
They are cruel, stupid people who justify their own follies.”
A familiar sight, a familiar conversation.
It was a memory from before I left Kartelle, though I was dreaming.
“You’ll die if you leave.”
“Then run away, you fool.”
“There are witch hunters outside the wall.”
The person’s red eyes narrowed.
I could’ve sworn this was my dream, but it seemed someone was nagging me.
Regardless, the individual clenched her teeth and ruffled my hair.
“It would be better than dying in the land of humans.”
In both cases, I was likely to die.
Which one had a slightly higher chance of survival?
“I didn’t want to go.
The land of humans is terrible, but it can’t be helped.”
Yes, I couldn’t do anything.
“For we witches, the Witch Queen’s orders are absolute.”
The Witch Queen’s orders were obeyed unconditionally.
This was one of the rules which set the foundation of witch society since time immemorial.
Unlike humans who had numerous leaders, every witch served one ruler: the Witch Queen.
This was to prevent internal strife within our race.
It was no exaggeration to say her orders were absolute.
In the world of witches, she was the one who made all the decisions.
If a witch disobeyed, her heart stopped.
That was the power of the Witch Queen.
Kartelle operated with such a structure in mind.
“I’ll die if I go and die if I don’t go.
I only had to choose where to die.”
Yet the Witch Queen made the choice without my consent.
I couldn’t even pick where to put my grave.
So, I married Lukas Havel.
Yes, definitely it was…
“Tell me the truth.
You didn’t expect this to happen, did you?”
It was a funny question.
I nodded slowly.
The place that was supposed to be my tomb became my second home.
With a smile, the Black Reaper who would kill me became an ally.
This was truly a miracle.
The world around me changed; I was in a room in Havel Castle.
I thought I woke up, but I saw the person from my dream again instead of my husband.
A half-smile was on the individual’s face.
“Did you fall in love with him?”
“…I doubt it.” I shook my head, yet I still felt uncomfortable.
I tried to think what the reason was.
“You protected him.”
Those words were like chains around my heart.
I was unable to breathe.
You could say it was inevitable in order to maintain the peace treaty.
Strangely enough, the words didn’t come out of my mouth.
“Wake up, Ella.”
“Don’t forget what happened to all the witches who loved humans.”
“Are you going to make the same, stupid mistake as them? Then you’ll actually die.”
The person began to strangle me as hard as she could.
Even though I knew it was a dream, the terrible pain was inescapable.
My whole body was stiff, unable to move.
That person smiled just like my husband did on our first night.
“You’ve already experienced it, haven’t you?”
I wonder if the world before me began to fragment into pieces.
Suddenly, a bright light appeared.
I was greeted by a spacious room.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
A faint, warm light poured in from the window, indicating it was morning.
“When did I fall asleep…”
It sucked that I fell asleep without realizing it.
Come to think of it, I was in the middle of a conversation with my husband… What did he say? Crap, I didn’t remember.
Wait… Ah, I got it.
“Ella, I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”
If there was a problem, I just didn’t remember what came after, right? It was around the time my consciousness faded away.
What was he going to say? I was frustrated because of my curiosity.
I felt myself get a massive headache like my mind was going to shatter into a million pieces.
“My entire body is stiff…”
I had to use all my strength to get out of bed.
Immediately, pain enveloped me.
I just took one step and already I was out of breath as if I ran around the whole castle a few times.
“How did it end up like this?”
Let’s try to be optimistic here.
I recovered this much overnight after drinking a strong poison.
It was definitely something to be pleased about.
“…My insides are fine, and I can see… It seems I just lack the energy?”
It would be too much to run, but I could walk.
I decided to take a few more steps.
Oh, that scared me.
I looked up and saw silver trays rolling on the floor and shattered bowls.
Rhonda’s face was pale as if she’d seen a ghost.
“Good morning, Miss Rhonda.
Are you all right? You didn’t get hurt—”
All the maids shrieked before running toward me.
“When did you wake up? How are you feeling now?”
“I’m so glad… I was so worried when I heard my lady collapsed…”
Betty, despite being someone who cried easily, was the one to calm down the maids.
It was a rare sight, but now wasn’t the time to watch.
“I just needed to rest for a bit.
See, am I not in good shape now?” I tried to move my arm around, but it quickly fell to my side.
Rhonda’s face paled again.
Well, that didn’t help.
Desperate, I changed the subject.
“Where is my husband anyway?”
“My lord is preparing to see the guests off.”
They’re leaving today.”
The guests were going to return to their respective homes.
I felt better knowing I didn’t have to deal with those humans.
“Shouldn’t I also go see them off too?”
All’s well that ends well.
Still, it was a celebration where I debuted as a duchess, so shouldn’t I say my farewells while standing next to my husband, who was a duke?
“No! You just recovered!”
“If I don’t show them I’m alive then… Who do you think was the person who tried to poison us?”
“Yes, but…” Rhonda trailed off.
I almost blurted out the count’s name, but I succeeded in holding it in.
I was confident, however, that he was the one who poisoned the Carcalos.
Unfortunately, I had no evidence to support my claim.
I might make some people angry.
Moreover, he had the crown prince on his side.
Someone from the crown prince’s faction tried to poison the duke who was an enemy of the crown prince.
This obviously would have major consequences.
More importantly, I was sure that scrawny man was crying tears of joy right now.
Ugh, this was more than enough of a reason to show I was still breathing!
I probably shouldn’t do it, but… “I’ll just go for a quick walk outside!”
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