Chapter Sixteen: Bloody Mary

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Mary was dead, her corpse twisted and rotten. As she lay on the pool of her dried up blood, her body was hoarded by burrowing insects. With her wide lifeless hazel eyes staring coldly at the ceiling and her bluish lips which were parted as her mouth hung open, she was a terrifying sight to the eyes. The smell however was the worst part. It smelled like rotten meat.

Duke Zenos looked from the corpse to me and questioned, "Are you not scared? You can wait outside if you want."

In spite of the gory scene I am witnessing, I am not scared. It is a nauseating sight but not a frightening one for me because I have died once already. The feeling of dread and the realisation that you are going to die as bits and pieces of your life flash before your eyes...I know it all too well. My heart aches for this girl. She and I were both mere pawns who were killed after we served our purposes. Whoever did this...I will definitely find you and put an end to you with my own two hands!

"I am fine. Please don't mind me and begin the investigation," I replied, fury raging within me.

With eyes wide, Duke Zenos said, "You really don't fail to surprise me. For a 15-year-old noble lady, you are handling this very calmly. Its admirable."

He leaned towards the body to carry out a close inspection and explained, "The culprit first tried to suffocate her which I can see from the marks on her neck. There are multiple stab wounds present on her chest, most probably the cause of the death. We need to further inspect the body. Cesar, take the body back. I will look into it after I return to the estate."

Suddenly Cesar appeared out of thin air.

He was tagging along with us all this time? I didn't sense his presence at all.

Cesar nodded as he swung his hand left and right at the insects to make his way to the corpse.

I thought I could finally hear him talk. Will I never get to hear his voice?

"We should also get going," Duke Zenos said as he exited the hut.

In complete silence, we left the Abbey and entered the carriage. The ride back home was also quiet.

We arrived at the Rosario estate soon after and both of us got down from the carriage.

"I will return to the estate and investigate the murder properly. If I come to know anything new, I will let you know," Duke Zenos voiced.

"Thank you," I replied, gratefully.

"Another thing. Let's discuss the details of the contract this coming weekend. I will send Cesar to escort you to the estate," Duke Zenos informed, curtly.

I have to suffer through that awkward silence once again huh...

"Okay..." I answered, hesitantly.

"Well then this is where we part," Duke Zenos said, sounding oddly disappointed.

I bid him farewell, "May the Spirits bless you."

As the carriage door closed, I saw something utterly shocking. I saw the corners of Duke Zenos's lips slightly curl. He was smiling at me.

Wait, was that actually a smile? Not a smirk or a snicker but a smile? Was it my imagination?

Lost in thoughts, I walked into the mansion to see Raelia awaiting me.

"Oh my, sister, are you blushing?" Raelia asked, the annoyance clear in her tone.

"No, I am not. What brings you here at this time, Raelia?" I replied, regaining my composure.

With crocodile tears, Raelia provided her reason, "These days it's so hard to meet you, sister. I realised that this was the only way I can talk to you. Please don't think of me wrongly...I just missed you so much."

Here she goes again, with her fake act of sisterhood. Let's translate this: These days all you do is ignore me. I realised that the only way to talk to you is by blocking your path. I miss Uken so much, I need to know whether you guys have actually broken the engagement to plan my next move.

"My dear little sister, I am not angry with you. Rather I am pleased to see you. I hope you are faring well. If you are facing any problems, your elder sister is always there to help you," I said as genuinely as possible.

"You are too kind, sister. I am faring well however I am worried about you. Is it true that the engagement between you and Young Lord Uken has been cancelled?" Raelia questioned, impatiently.

With a nod, I responded, "You heard right. I annulled the engagement."

"Is that so..." Raelia whispered, barely hiding her grin.

"Afterall, I have found myself a man much more exceptional than him," I added whilst smiling.

Confused, Raelia questioned, "What do you mean?"

"Didn't you see Duke Zenos who just escorted me back? He is my new fiancé," I announced, proudly.

I could smell something burning. Raelia was burning with jealously.

Green with envy, Raelia asked, "You mean that Duke Zenos? The one who has surpassed all his predecessors in taking care of his Ducal duties, has magical powers stronger than any of the three families and is the number one sought out bachelor on par with the Crown Prince?"

"Oh, you seem to know more about my fiancé than me. Yes, I am talking about that Duke Zenos," I confirmed with a smirk.

Raelia stood in front of me, speechless.

"Aren't you happy for your sister?" I questioned.

With an expression full of disbelief and jealousy which she could not hide, she replied, "Of-f co-ourse. Congratulations sister. You have found yourself a great man."

"But why does your face not match your words, little sister? Perhaps you are worried about Young Lord Uken? How nice of you. Don't worry, he will definitely find someone regardless of the fact that 'I' was the one who annulled the engagement," I reassured her.

A simple translation: Worrying about your little lover boy? Don't worry, you can have my leftovers.

By this time, Raelia's body was trembling in rage.

Barely uttering the words, "Well then, its late sister. I will depart for my chamber," she stormed out of my way.

Round two clear. Two wins for me, zero for Raelia.

Mariah arrived as Raelia exited.

As we headed towards my room, Mariah asked curiously, "Miss, how did things go at the Xavier estate?"

"Mariah, I will tell you tomorrow. For now, I would like to rest," I answered, tiredly.

"As you wish, Miss," Mariah responded, clearly disappointed.

Plopping myself onto the bed, I could not believe the events that had occurred throughout the entire day. The marriage contract, the dead body...everything felt so surreal. Exhausted, I slipped into the world of dreams.

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