Ch. 200 The Dragon’s Orb (1)
Elena hadn’t yet fully recovered, but there was no telling when her next chance to meet Sullivan would be. She rose urgently from her bed.
“Help me get ready.”
“Are you sure you want to go? You’re in no state to be moving about right now…”
“I need to meet him.”
Elena was determined to find answers. Sullivan and Carlisle made varying claims about the blue bead ring—Carlisle had said the ring’s ability to grant wishes was simply superstition, but Sullivan thought otherwise. He even permitted their marriage because of it. She didn’t think that Sullivan would believe something so outrageous without cause.
What was more, the black scales on Carlisle’s body gave her reason to believe that perhaps the ring had hidden abilities that Elena didn’t know about.
While it was not clear whose claim was true at this point, there was one thing she could say for certain.
‘If it’s dangerous…Caril might not tell me.’
It wasn’t that she was distrustful of Carlisle, but he was clearly averse to anything that might put her in danger, even to the point where he tried to divert Elena to a safe area several times when they were chased by assassins.
But Elena needed to know. Especially if Carlisle might be in jeopardy.
‘I’ll protect you.’
She vowed never to leave Carlisle’s side, even if she had to stare down tens of thousands of dangers. The site where the poisoned arrow struck her still hurt terribly, but she would take any injury for him countless times if it meant keeping him alive. The agony of her loved ones leaving her first was far more painful. She wouldn’t be left alone anymore…
Elena quickly began to prepare for her visit, a determined glint in her eye.
If one saw Elena walking towards the Emperor’s palace, they never would have guessed that she was suffering any injury at all. Although she could not properly tighten her corset because of the wound, her waist was straight and her expression was that of serene calm. She had also chosen a brightly colored dress to hide her pale complexion.
Elena pushed forward with a stately gait, ignoring the throbbing pain in her back. Any hint of weakness, and the Imperial Family’s enemies would immediately take advantage of it. Information traveled fast enough that others may be aware that she was injured, but she didn’t have to reveal how serious it was. Showing everyone that she was healthy would suppress any unnecessary gossip.
Elena finally arrived at the prearranged meeting place. When the head butler saw her, he hailed her arrival.
“The Crown Princess has arrived!”
There was a hacking cough from inside the room, then Sullivan’s voice replied.
“Kolog, kolog. Come in.”
Permission given, the head butler bowed lowly to Elena then opened the door for her.
“Please enter, Your Highness.”
Elena gave a passing nod, then went inside the room. Strangely, all the curtains were drawn across the windows, leaving the room in darkness. She took in the gloomy surroundings curiously, then moved closer towards Sullivan lying in bed.
Sullivan’s face looked far more gaunt than it did before. The disease seemed to have advanced to the point it where it was now clearly noticeable.
Elena spoke in a worried voice.
“Father, are you ill?”
“Even if I’m lying in bed while my daughter-in-law is here, there is no need to worry. It will be as if nothing has happened after I take a sleep.”
“Yes, you should.”
Elena tried to speak optimistically, but she knew from her last life that Sullivan had died from a long-term illness. For a while she hoped that his death might be changed since Carlisle was now alive. Unfortunately, Sullivan’s illness only seemed to continue its destructive progression.
“Are you feeling better?”
“Yes, Father. I am much better now, so you don’t have to worry.”
Her arrow wound hadn’t healed yet, but she didn’t want to cause unnecessary anxiety to her already sick father-in-law.
Sullivan nodded contentedly at the news, then reached out his hand to her.
“Sweetheart, help me up.”
Elena took his hand and carefully helped him out of bed. With her help, Sullivan managed to stand and limp towards a wall. He leaned himself against a nearby table as the meager task took its toll on him.
“Do not forget what I’m about to tell you.”
“Kolog kolog! Turn the picture frame three times to the left and four times to the right.”
She looked at the picture he was indicating, a framed painting of a black dragon ascending to the sky. Because of the empire’s founding myth, there were many emblems and artworks of dragons found around the Ruford Imperial Palace. She wondered at Sullivan’s order, but for now she did what she was told without a word.
The frame moved as Sullivan requested, but nothing changed. She glanced back at him, and he gave her the next instruction.
“Finally, turn the candlestick on the wall to the left.”
Elena turned the antique candlestick. It was then.
There was a clunking sound, and an imperceptible seam in the wall split open and separated from each other. Without Sullivan’s guidance, she never would have guessed there was a secret space hidden in the Emperor’s room.
A smile played on the Emperor’s face as he looked at Elena’s stunned expression.
“Not even the Empress knows about this.”
She suspected there may be secret passages in the Imperial Palace, but this was more sophisticated than she expected. For her to enter one that was connected to the Emperor’s room was even more remarkable.
“Normally, I would only tell the son who would inherit the throne. Carlisle detests this kind of thing, however. I’m afraid he will try to close this if he finds out about it.”
“Then is this a place only you know, Father?”
“No. I cannot be sure, but perhaps Archduke Lunen also knows. I know that my father, the former emperor, taught him several things with the intention of handing the throne over to him.”
Paveluc now ruled the Duchy of Lunen. That meant he knew the secret of the imperial family for a long time.
Elena’s heart pounded as she realized that that secret now lie before her.
“Father, what is the purpose of this room?”
Elena was well aware of Carlisle’s character. He was stubborn, but never thoughtless. If Sullivan tried to hide this from his own son, it must be for a good reason.
However, Sullivan only smiled, his pale face glowing in the dark.
“Let’s go in and I’ll tell you.”