Chapter 21 - Her Past
Eli groaned and began to move, embracing her tightly. He wasn’t as wild as yesterday but it still felt painful.
As their entanglement continued, Eli alternated between going slow and speeding up. Eventually, his movements became every bit as fierce as they had been yesterday, his groans resounding over the walls of the cave.
Edna felt him bite her earlobe and the stimulation made her bend her spine like a strung bow. Eli raced on, chasing his completion, his desire for her body like a wild animal’s.
* * *
Lying on her side and bending over seemed to ease her pain. As she laid on her back, she lost what little warmth she still had to the cold stone floor, and the tingling in the deepest part of her body waned little by little.
Eli got up and moved closer to her, sitting down and stoking the fire as he said, “The rain doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. We might have to stay here until nighttime.”
Edna nodded but kept quiet. She couldn’t complain that he had his way with her; after all, he was her husband. Not to mention, he had married her in exchange for her chastity.
She closed her eyes tightly then opened them again after a moment, fighting back her tears. ‘At least you’re alive now. You have to be satisfied solely with the fact that you’re not dead.’
Act 2. On the Edge Of Dream and Reality
Part of Eli’s attention was focused on the wild animals roaming outside as he picked up his sword. It was a longsword, nearly 1.5 meters long, with a bloodstained blade. Sitting naked, he wiped his favorite sword with a cloth that had been tied to its sheath and looked to his side.
He waited until Edna, so was huddling next to him, fell asleep before sitting up with a blank expression. Grabbing his now dry shirt, he covered her body. Then Eli resumed his watch of the area outside of the cave while slowly grooming his sword.
The sound of the bonfire filled the cave with a warm energy. As he listened to the distant sound of rain, Eli pursed his lips and tightened his grip on the guard of the blade.
* * *
It was too dark. Fleeing barefoot, the inky darkness rushed open-mouthed behind Edna to swallow her. She ran frantically, eyes clouded with tears. The sound of a branch breaking under her foot reached her ears and she felt her skin bleed as she stepped on thorns, but Edna couldn’t afford to stop and wrap her feet.
With a desperate will to get away, she picked herself up whenever she fell down and rolled in the cold snow, then ran frantically ahead.
* * *
Succeeding Ducaine II, Ducaine III ruled the world mercilessly, proclaiming himself the sun in the sky. When he became king, all the power of the world was surrendered to him. There were many people whose breath hung in fear at every word he said. However, he spared no means in order to enjoy more things for longer periods than Ducaine II.
He was ruthless and completely disregarded any rules. He ignored reality and imposed heavy taxes, forcing the feudal lords to squeeze the farmers even further.
Ducaine III had the habit of taking any woman he wanted, uncaring whether she was married or not. He enjoyed pitting lords against one another and creating disputes. The careless battles affected everyone, bringing about a terrible famine. Even then, he didn’t care.
To Ducaine III, everything in the world existed for his sake.
In that situation, Cecil, the third queen, got pregnant. However, Ducaine III was already losing interest in Cecil and getting enthusiastic about another woman. Turned into a grass widow, Cecil was anxious to survive. It was possible that Ducaine III, who had already abandoned two queens, would at some point abandon her and greet his fourth queen.
Her sole wish was that the child in her belly was a boy because if she birthed a son, she would be able to protect her position. Alas, she gave birth to Edna. With all the children of the former queens dying of measles before they were a year old, Edna was Ducaine III’s sole offspring.
After secretly consulting her aides, Cecil decided to raise Edna as a boy, not a girl, to preserve her status and succession to the throne. This move was only possible because Ducaine III, who had lost interest in his queen, had never come to see his child after the birth. Then the queen poisoned all the people who were present at the time of her childbirth, without leaving a rat or a bird so that Edna would not be exposed as a girl.
By then, the number of people who knew Edna was actually a girl began and ended with Cecil. She raised her child as a boy and completely blocked other people’s access by personally taking care of her beloved successor.
Edna only met her father when she was six years old. Ducaine III, who could barely keep his eyes open and yawned continuously, seemed to discover he had a son for the first time in his life. He was already on the decline; his brilliant brain had dimmed, its intelligence robbed by alcohol. His loyalist had abandoned him, leaving him surrounded by treacherous people.
Under Cecil’s guidance, Edna thoroughly walked the path of a prince. The queen instructed Edna harshly. She could only survive if she protected the throne, and she could only do so as a prince.
It wasn’t until she was ten years old that Edna began to realize that she was different from other men. Cecil used all kinds of herbs to slow Edna’s growth, but she couldn’t obstruct nature. As a precaution, Cecil thoroughly cleared out the surrounding area so that no one would notice Edna’s true gender, and further accelerated her education as a successor.
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