Chapter 35 - An Awakened Predator
“The lord hasn’t even come back yet, and you can find it in you to sleep so peacefully? How can a human be so despicable? Of course no one loves you.”
“Are you going to keep impudently sitting on the bed?” The baroness’s tone was cold. Isabel got out of bed. The moment she stood, she felt a sharp pain stab at the soles of her feet. She gasped and grimaced.
“Are you mad at me? An adult tells you to stand up and you make that expression. Where in the world did you learn such outrageous manners? This is why vulgar blood…” Ghyria clicked her tongue.
Isabel felt unjustly treated but apologized quietly nonetheless. Had she been younger—much younger—she would have made a few excuses and protested, but over time that urge gradually dissipated. Nobles did not use violence, so to speak. Instead, they doled out punishments, and the level of corporal punishment was left solely to the discretion of the administrator. Isabel did not wish to be subjected to further physical punishments if she could avoid it. She could still recall the pain in her back and arms after being struck.
She had learned that whipping would not leave scars so long as the individual meting out the punishment managed his or her strength well—though that was not to say she was not left with black bruises or that blood had never flown from her wounds. As a result, Isabel became more and more submissive until Ghyria no longer punished her, but the terror still remained. “Sorry. I’m sorry.”
“Whatever. Anyway, this is why vulgar blood is useless even if they’re educated.”
“But, madam, what is the matter?”
The baroness trembled with hatred every time she laid eyes on Isabel. Simply seeing Isabel going in and out of the manor was enough to ruin her mood. She resided on the top floor while Isabel kept mostly to her room on the first floor, so the likelihood of them encountering one another was normally very low, but they couldn’t avoid each other forever. Because of her contempt, she would never seek her out, much less make her way to her room in person, unless there was a serious matter to address. “There will be a guest arriving in the evening who will be staying for a few days, so be careful not to come out during that time.”
“A guest? Who… is coming?”
From time to time, guests would visit the barony and stay in the manor for several days as part of the baron’s efforts to build social capital. Whenever that happened, Isabel was confined to her room.
“What will you do with that information? Are you going to try to tempt some young nobleman like your promiscuous mother?”
“Your meals will be delivered to you. If you need anything, call the maid. Never come out of your room.”
Ghyria slammed the door shut behind her as she left. Isabel cast her gaze down to her feet. No wonder she had felt pain the moment she tried to rise from the bed. She must have taken a wrong step and accidentally caused a blister to burst. Biting the inside of her mouth in response to the stinging pain, she wiped her foot with a clean towel.
She had no medicine so she could not treat her injured feet, leaving her with no choice but to clean them daily and hope they would heal instead of festering. From tomorrow onwards, she was to be locked in her room until the guest departed. That was fine. Isabel was best at keeping to herself.
* * *
Gorgeous blond locks; eyes as red as a flickering flame; flawless, alabaster skin. With such features, even if he were to be clothed in a material that was not even fit to be used as rags, he would still look beautiful. Perhaps because his complexion was so splendid, darker colors tended to suit Agares best. Today, the Grand Duke wore a bluish-black suit and a white dress shirt paired with a dangerously blood-red tie that looked almost black. His attire was tailored to fit him perfectly, which further enhanced his appearance.
‘Why is he looking in the mirror like that?’