C3 Hard to Swallow
“I greet you, my lord” she bowed.
“Just sit and let us start lunch”
Apparently, he also adhered to the tradition and didn’t eat before going to his wedding ceremony. She sat gracefully, waiting for the first course. She could feel his stare burn a hole in her side but she refused to look at him. If she looked at him, he would regard her with disgust. If she didn’t look at him, he would think she was being disrespectful. He was aggravating, if not anything.
The first course soon arrived. While the aroma steaming from the duke’s food was tempting, the course served to the duke’s new wife was subpar. There was evidence of the meat rotting and the sauce barely had any taste. The smell of the duke’s food covered the smell so nobody noticed anything was wrong.
Smiling, she picked up her cutlery, enchanting it with magic. The moment she touched the food with her cutlery, the rotting of the meat was reversed and it looked presentable at the very least. She dug into it and winced. It had absolutely no taste, just the gamey aftertaste and the taste of coal. Even the sauce wasn’t able to mask the atrocious taste.
If she withdrew from lunch then, the duke would be offended and find fault with her. She was still hungry so she didn’t want dinner to be worse. She ate it, hiding the shivers that went down her back as she ate. Even orphans in the capital ate better than this. It was the height of childishness.
The first course was finally over. She washed it down with water, willing the taste to disappear from her mouth. Thankfully, the water was clean. The next course was brought over and it was slightly better. It was then she got the idea.
[Why don’t I poison myself at every meal? If I just drop dead, it won’t be believable. I’ll talk to the fairy mother tomorrow]
Thinking about this, she smiled. For the duke who couldn’t see what was going on in her head, he thought this was strange.
“Is the food so good that you’re smiling?”
“For my first meal in the duke’s house, it’s delicious. I never knew meals of such caliber were made in the duke’s estate. I must thank the chef”
He narrowed his eyes at her. The chef, who was standing while they ate, started sweating. She turned to him, put another morsel in her mouth, and ate heartily. The duke looked at him and looked back down at her food.
“The food is not so different from the ordinary taste I get every day”
“Is that so? Then the duke must be so used to eating well. As expected of the shield of the kingdom. You eat well to grow strong after all”
He asked no more questions and they continued eating. The next course was worse than the last and this time, the chef couldn’t even meet her eyes. It took all her strength to force it down her throat. Once she was more than halfway done, she stood and bowed.
“I want to thank the duke for the opportunity to dine with me but I apologize that I cannot eat any longer because there is simply no more space in my stomach. I would like to go and rest”
He stared at her and back at her food. Something was suspicious, especially since both she and the chef were not meeting his eyes.
“You may leave”
“Thank you, your grace”
She walked out briskly, passing Wilbur at the door. She ran to her room, going straight for the bathroom. She retched into the toilet, vomiting everything she had forced down her throat. She was there for an agonizing amount of time, the sound of her vomiting making her vomit even more. She regained her senses when there was nothing else to vomit, seeing as she even filled the toilet with blood. The sight made her want to start all over again.
“Haa…..Haaa…….Haa…” she flushed it down, leaning against the wall after washing her mouth. If every mealtime was like that, she would die before she killed herself. Of all the ways to die, indigestion and anorexia weren’t exactly the best ways. She already suffered enough in her last life.
“I have to deal with this chef issue. If they keep treating me like this……wait! Can’t I send for her? If she’s here, then my life will get easier. Since she happens to care for the duke a lot, she will be nice to me in public. Alright, let’s write to her”
The woman that captured the fierce duke’s heart was the youngest princess, Alana Willow Ducroft. She was the daughter of a commoner who was raped by the king and forcefully brought into the palace. Her mother died when she was young and she became the abandoned princess. Her father didn’t even remember her name or her existence.
According to what Natalia heard, she ran into the duke when she was out in the streets of the capital. How they became close was unclear but the duke was in love with her. He was unable to stop his marriage because of the king. If he got married to someone with royal blood, it would tie him to the palace indefinitely. Even if he loved her, he still put his family above her.
If she came to the dukedom, he won’t send her away since he knew how she was treated in the palace. They said she was a bright and kind child so the people in the dukedom would prefer her over Natalia. They would ignore Natalia completely and her plans would succeed. It was perfect.
She staggered out of the bathroom, going to the table where she stored her ink and paper. Using the last of her strength, she wrote the letter. It wasn’t addressed to the princess but the one person she could trust in the capital, her brother. In both lives, he had never once betrayed her. If it was him, sending the youngest princess would be a piece of cake.
She picked a candle, lit it with magic, and burnt the paper. It was the safest way to send a letter through magic to make sure that the contents were not intercepted. Once she sent the letter, she felt drained so she retired to bed. With how much she had suffered in the afternoon, eating dinner wouldn’t be an option. It would take about three weeks for her brother to bring the youngest princess so she had to somehow endure before then.
[I forgot about those blasted dragons. Shut up, you mangled lizards!]
It took a while but she managed to sleep off. Her stomach rumbled occasionally and the noise from both the fae and the dragons made it a fitful sleep. She tossed and turned, trying to get rid of the discomfort. This was the sight Wilbur was greeted with then he entered her room.
“She even changed by herself to her nightwear. Is she not planning to eat dinner with the duke? Has she forgotten about the wedding night? Whatever it is, this would be very interesting to tell the duke” he cackled, leaving the room.
Once he was gone, she rose from the bed, an annoyed expression on her face. She almost forgot about the wedding night. In the past, it was nothing short of horrifying. The duke wasn’t gentle and it hurt for days. She dreaded the days he entered her room and thought about killing herself ever since then.
“Even if I don’t want revenge on you in this life, I won’t suffer like that again”