Garden Of Poison Chapter 145 - 146 - Physients Stories

Missing from the palace (Chapter 145)

Music Recommendation: What have we done to each other? - Trent Reznor     

Dante, who was engaged in conversation with his grandmother, discussing the guests and the symptoms they experienced after consuming the concoction she brewed, suddenly frowned. Abruptly, he turned to look in a particular direction, intently staring, and the Mother Queen noticed his reaction and inquired,      

"What's the matter?" She shifted her gaze in the direction he was looking.      

"Something isn't right," Dante murmured, and he stepped away from the binoculars. As he proceeded towards the staircase, the Mother Queen's eyebrows rose in curiosity.      

"What do you mean? Do you sense the demon of mischief?!"      

"It's Anastasia. I cannot sense her presence," Dante said before swiftly descending the stairs to look for her. Meanwhile, the Mother Queen's progress was hindered by her aged body, causing her to follow him at a slow pace. He navigated through the corridors, his gaze turning dark and the golden slits in his eyes appearing as if trying to pick up the heartbeat that he had grown accustomed to. He questioned one of the passing servants, "Do you know where Anastasia is?"      

The servant offered a bow without meeting his gaze and answered, "No, Your Highness."     

Dante walked directly to Anastasia's room, only to find it empty and perfectly arranged. He felt his heart begin to pump faster, his senses heightening into a frenzy as he tried to locate her. Just then, Emily caught sight of his worried expression and asked,      

"Brother Dante—"     

"Have you seen Anastasia? She isn't in her room, nor can I sense her." Dante gritted his teeth as he scanned his surroundings as if he could perceive every individual behind the walls and beneath the floors, yet Anastasia wasn't among them.      

"Perhaps she's in the garden," Emily ventured, noticing her brother's rising anger. "I will go and inquire about her maid's whereabouts. Norrix might have some information."      

However, when Mr. Gilbert appeared in the corridor with Theresa by his side, Dante demanded from the woman, "Where is Anastasia?"      

Theresa appeared anxious as she explained, "I left her with Lady Noor not long ago, but when I returned, neither of them were in the room."      

"Is Victor in the room?" Dante asked the servants, who nodded. He proceeded to Lady Noor's room, with everyone following suit. This included the Mother Queen, who had finally descended the final stair and entered the room with her hand resting on her back.     

Dante's eyes landed on his sick brother, still resting on the bed. He looked around the space, searching for any sign of struggle, until his attention settled on the assortment of medicines arranged on the table.      

Concerned, Emily inquired, "What makes you think that something happened to her? Are you suggesting that someone might have kidnapped them?"      

"It is the soulmate bond we share," Dante stated, thankful for its existence. Without it, he wouldn't have immediately detected the faint distress that didn't come from him, but from Anastasia, before his perception of it ceased abruptly. His eyes narrowed as he caught sight of a droplet of blood on the carpet, his lips curling in anger as he growled, "Fucking bitch!"     

Apprehension swept through everyone in the room, and the Mother Queen turned to Mr. Gilbert, ordering, "Send word that Anastasia and Noor are missing. They must be located at once!"      

"Yes, milady!" Mr. Gilbert hurried out of the room, causing several gazes to be directed at Victor, with some at Theresa, who had been the last to see the two.      

"Why did you leave Anastasia's side?" Dante interrogated the woman, his eyes ablaze with anger.     

"S—she instructed me to fetch Mr. Gilbert, as there was no maid assisting Lady Noor," Theresa explained, having only followed what she was told, not expecting to find the room empty upon her return.      

"Do you think it was Noor who has been playing us all this time?" the Mother Queen asked Dante, who clenched his jaw in response.      

"Check Victor's blood." Dante instructed her, causing the Mother Queen to swiftly approach the bedside. Making a small cut on the young boy's arm, she tasted his blood before a frown formed on her face. "It tastes the same as Lucretia's, albeit fainter."     

Emily's face turned pale, caught off guard by the revelation that Lady Noor had been the one targeting her family, and now Anastasia.      

Dante stormed out of the room, tracing Anastasia's scent, only for it to cease abruptly at the palace walls, as if she had never crossed beyond them. The entirety of Versailles underwent an exhaustive search for Anastasia and Noor. Every house, every street, and the dock were scoured, yielding no information. This strongly implied that a demon with a higher power had a hand in her disappearance.      

And while the search for Anastasia yielded no traces, Dante's intuition that this had something to do with a demon, or even multiple demons, turned out to be accurate.      

Anastasia winced, feeling her head throbbing once more, and it took some time for her vision to regain its clarity.      

"You are finally awake," she heard Lady Noor's voice addressing her.      

When Anastasia's eyes fell on Lady Noor, the woman was seated on a chair across the room, her legs elegantly crossed. The woman smiled at her before saying,      

"You boarded the ship. You should have just left on it rather than returned, Anastasia. It's almost as if you were seeking trouble, when I showed you how much trouble you will face by remaining in the palace."      

"Why are you doing this, Lady Noor?" Anastasia found it hard to accept that the kind woman, who had consistently offered her assistance, advice, and insights within the palace, was the mastermind behind these events. "This isn't who you are…"     

Lady Noor chuckled at Anastasia's words, seemingly finding amusement in them, until her expression abruptly shifted to one of seriousness. She asked, "I have always been like this, innocent Anastasia. Why is it that people tend to assume and fabricate a certain image of someone, and when their expectations don't align with reality, they cry betrayal? But they are the ones wearing the cloak of hypocrisy, wouldn't you agree?"      

Anastasia's head throbbed, and she asked, "Were you also the one to hit me the last time?" This woman… She was the very person who had ordered her to be cast into the sea. Oh God, she whispered in her mind.      

"It was indeed me. Always wandering around, when I was nice enough to help you leave. You longed to return home, didn't you?" Lady Noor inquired.      

"Attempting to murder me is not the method I would choose to return home." Anastasia tried to shift her position, but her hands were bound behind her back, and her legs were bound to the chair's front legs.      

As more seconds passed between the two women, Anastasia's eyes roved around the room, landing on the dull walls that surrounded her. She could hear the chirping of birds outside the window, and the weather seemed to have grown cooler compared to what she had felt earlier.      

"Why are you doing this?" Anastasia asked the woman, who was leaning slightly forward in her seat.      

"I am returning a favour. Having completed my task, I am offering my assistance," Lady Noor replied with a smile directed at Anastasia.      

"Returning a favour?" Anastasia questioned, but Lady Noor's expression remained unchanged.      

"To the demon, of course," Lady Noor continued, her amusement evident. "The one all of you have been scrambling to locate, which has been quite laughable. To think that he has been with you in the palace all this time, right under your noses," she chuckled.     

Anastasia couldn't help but think of the first person who popped into her mind, and she uttered, "It can't possibly be your son. The demon of mischief is hiding..."     

Lady Noor's smile widened. She observed Anastasia's attempts to free herself, tugging at the ropes in vain, yet they held firm due to being securely fastened. She said, "Do you imagine this scheme was orchestrated by a mere two individuals? It goes far beyond that."      

Anastasia stared back at the woman before her, a woman who forfeited any right to be called a 'Lady', as she had been colluding with a demon and others. When she next spoke, her words came out as a whisper. "You killed Marianne..."      

Anastasia's limbs turned cold as she stared at Noor in disbelief. Gradually, anger began to fill her brown eyes, a sentiment that Noor simply responded to with a smile.      


Marianne's murderer (Chapter 146)

"Marianne?" Noor inquired, not caring who Anastasia was referring to.     
"Maxwell's concubine, the one who died the evening the king was murdered," Anastasia explained, her anxiety evident and her heartbeat slowing as she awaited a response. She observed a shift in the woman's gaze, the look in her eye changing to something menacing.      

Noor, whose eyes remained fixed on Anastasia, watched the young girl before inquiring, "A friend of yours, was she? I had even forgotten about her until you brought her up. Insignificant individuals tend to fade away from memory, don't they? That's just the way life is, transforming you into something people no longer remember. It is unfortunate for her that she happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and I had to dispose of her."     

"It hurts, doesn't it?" Noor questioned her.      

"I will kill you," Anastasia threatened the woman, her anger fueled by the lack of sympathy she had for her sister's death. All this while… She had been friends with the person who had taken her sister's life. She had killed Marianne…     

"I would have killed you by now, but I have been ordered to keep you alive, at least until the transaction concludes," Noor said with a tone of indifference, as if unfazed by Anastasia's threat. "You forget that you are the one who is tied up here, and all it would take for me is a swift slice across your pretty neck." She pulled out a small, sharp dagger, poised and ready to spill blood.      

Anastasia had sworn to avenge her sister and to one day catch the murderer who had taken her life. Even though she wasn't a violent person, she was ready to mete out the same fate to the murderer that her sister had experienced. The memory of the blood that had pooled around Marianne, which haunted her most nights, remained etched in her mind.      

"Marianne was innocent," Anastasia said, her hands clenched into tight fists. "She was a victim of the palace, of this kingdom—"     

"And now you are marrying into the very family that made her a victim. Ironic, isn't it?" Noor countered, her lips curving into a twisted smile.      

"Dante had nothing to do with her death, nor with the kingdom's practice of forcibly bringing women here," Anastasia retorted, aware that he too had fallen victim to it alongside his mother. Seeking to understand, she asked, "Why did you do it?"     

"Isn't the answer simple?" Noor asked back, her head tilting slightly, supported by her hand. She continued, "I have despised Versailles for a very long time. Don't be upset, Anna, because I have nothing against you, but this was personal, and it had to be done. I have bided my time for years—so many years—honing my skills in the meantime. It wasn't easy, especially when the man you want dead can read your thoughts."     

Nobody had ever liked King William Blackthorn, and people despised the man's existence to their very cores. Anastasia then heard the woman say,      

"Sometimes all that remains is a thirst for vengeance, and that becomes the sole essence of one's purpose."     

"What about your son, Prince Victor? You don't care about him? Unless… he is the demon you have been helping." Anastasia felt her headache intensifying as she tried to think, and she desired to use the same object that Noor had used to strike her.      

"You don't know anything about the cruelty of this world." Noor clicked her tongue, straightening her head and getting up from the chair she was sitting in.      

"So, you tried to stop the cruelty by making it worse?" Anastasia asked, baffled by the lack of logic in this woman's words.      

"Sometimes, plans cultivated over many years result in casualties, and those lives hold little significance in the great scheme of things," Noor stated, walking around the room, which had small gaps near the ceiling to allow air and light to filter through without the need for huge windows. Anastasia's eyes narrowed at the woman for saying her sister's life was inconsequential.      

"There was once a time when I was just like you. I had a family of my own, and everything was perfect, until it wasn't anymore."     

There was only one word Anastasia could muster for the woman: deranged. How had she, or anyone else, failed to realise this person's true nature? All this time, the woman was only wearing a facade. The more she contemplated, the more stunned she became as the realisation began to sink into her mind. She would have laid some blame on Niyasa, given that the young princess hogged all the attention while casting no light on this woman, who had been slithering through the shadows like a snake.      

"Let me tell you the story, for we have lots of time at our disposal," Lady Noor stated, her composed tone inducing an unsettling feeling in Anastasia's body.      

"Where are we?" Anastasia questioned, as she suspected they were no longer in Versailles, bewildered about how they could have even moved that fast.      

"Somewhere, where neither you nor no one in Versailles can guess," Noor replied, and a flicker of annoyance passed through her eyes, as if not liking that the young girl was shifting the subject. "If you are waiting for Dante to find you, I'm afraid it isn't going to be an easy task. So, why don't I continue… Many years ago, when I was a child, King William arrived in my hometown. After emerging victorious in a war, Versailles was travelling through our land when he and his people decided to pass some time in our kingdom."     

"King William caught sight of my mother, taking a sudden interest in her despite her having a husband and a child," Noor continued, her expression devoid of emotion. "He raped her, and when my father tried to intervene, he was killed in front of me. My mother died as well, right in front of my eyes. No one came to help them, neither the ministers from Versailles who stopped to interrogate him, nor the people of my own town."     

"I am sorry that you had to go through that…" Anastasia said to Noor, whose expression only hardened within the quiet room.      

Noor wasn't done with her story, and she continued, "I knew my time would come because I was waiting for him. I tracked his every move across various kingdoms, and when he finally appeared before me, I did what I had to do. And during those years of anticipation, I trained myself to control my thoughts, before moulding myself into a courtesan."     

"But you couldn't hide your intentions the day you stole the Mother Queen's potion and killed him," Anastasia stated the obvious, and Noor smiled.      

"Years passed, but it wasn't easy to end his life. A single lapse in thought, and I would have been beheaded. That is, until the demon arrived, aiding me with the potion." Noor looked pleased as she ruminated about the demon. She smiled, a hint of wildness she had concealed all this time evident in her eyes. She reminisced, "I cannot forget how William begged for his life, and it brought me immense satisfaction. I watched him struggle to cling to his life as each stab of the blade rendered him frailer. Bastard died while begging and confused, questioning how his sweet concubine could do such a thing, and why he didn't see it coming."     

Anastasia pursed her lips and responded, "He wasn't a good man, and he destroyed many lives, putting them through hell… And I understand where your hatred stems from. If time and place allowed, I am sure there are many who would want to torture him as payback. However, what I don't support is your taking innocent lives and treating them like they are nothing. Because in doing so, you've become no better than he was."      

"Sorry to disappoint you, but do you think I care about your opinion?" Noor laughed, drawing in a deep breath before exhaling it. "Anyone who happened to witness me ending his life was bound to meet the same fate. It was her bad luck that she stumbled upon the scene and had to die. And do you think I care about something that I created with the man I despised?"     

"Why did you stick around in the palace?" Anastasia asked while she attempted to harness her ability or hoped it would manifest.      

"Magnus wanted me around, to ensure he could keep an eye on you and have you driven away so that he could set his own plans in motion. He helped me with William's death, so it was my turn to repay the favour. However, as unfortunate as your luck has been with me, you also seem to possess a streak of good fortune." Noor shook her head, half in irritation. She continued,      

"Efforts were taken to ensure that you and Dante didn't stay together. We planted seeds of doubt. First with your dreams, and then later with Maxwell. But he was weak and too fragile, and ultimately, he became useless. That gardener, on the other hand, was a tool we employed later, and it worked perfectly."     

"Why such a long charade?" Anastasia questioned Noor.      

"Dante's demon was poised to unleash wrath upon the living world, transforming it into a second hell, a feat only achievable with you gone." Noor smiled at Anastasia, adding, "Just because the two of you formed a bond doesn't mean that what Magnus wanted cannot still come to fruition. Magnus has been waiting for the right time, playing a fool."     

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