Garden Of Poison

[Volume 1: Dante Blackthorn] When Anastasia and her sister Marianne are captured and shipped across the seas by pirates, they become commodities to be sold in a distant land. Marianne is taken as a courtesan, while Anastasia barely escapes a terrible fate by pretending to be mute. She is forced into the lowest ring of servants at the royal palace, where she endures a life of servitude and creates beautiful artwork to mask her pain. Despite years passing, Anastasia has never forgotten her sister's promise to return to their family together. However, with her movement restricted and the guards vigilant, escape seems impossible. When Anastasia comes into contact with the Forsaken Prince, her life spirals out of control and she triggers a Crux of incredible proportions. Now battling her own inner demons while navigating the treacherous politics of the royal court, Anastasia must confront the truth about her sister's fate and make a choice that could alter the course of an entire kingdom. [Volume 2: Emily Blackthorn] Princess Emily's life takes a turbulent turn when she is rejected, leaving her heartbroken and her soul at the brink of corruption. In a desperate bid to save herself, she journeys to the West. Enter the Storm Prince, a charismatic archdemon with striking blue eyes, with a saint-like smile. Emily had hoped she'd seen the last of him, but fate has other plans. As if her soul dying isn’t enough, someone wants to steal it! Caught between the suitors and the haunting nightmares that have plagued her since childhood, Emily begins to see Raylen in a new light. The blue-eyed demon may not be the monster she once thought.

ash_knight17 · Fantasy
Not enough ratings
286 Chs

Changing fabrics in the library

Marianne's face turned pale at Mr. Gilbert's presence before her, who stood at the front of the library room. With the ongoing celebration, she had hoped that none of the guests or servants, including this man, would come to this side of the palace.

Though Norrix Gilbert was not in charge of the courtesans and concubines, he knew everyone by name, and Marianne was no stranger to him, especially when she was one of the sought-after courtesans from Paradise Tower.

Mr. Gilbert looked at Marianne suspiciously and asked, "Why aren't you at the main hall with the rest of them?" His eyes moved to look behind her at the deserted library.

Marianne put on her charming smile and responded, "Mr. Sinclair wanted to take a look at the books in here, and we spent a little time together." Which she had done, but only for a brief moment in the corridor before she had stepped inside the library.

"And why is it that I don't see Mr. Sinclair here?" Mr. Gilbert questioned her. After what happened recently with the courtesan Irene, the people in charge had become more strict so that the incident wouldn't repeat itself.

"He left me by myself… to fix my dress and my appearance," Marianne gave a believable lie, and she smoothened the front of her dress.

On the other hand, Anastasia could feel sweat trickle down her spine. She quickly peeked through the gap between the books, noticing Mr. Gilbert continue to question her sister and not budge from there. One evening was all it took for them to build a castle of lies, and she was worried it would blow apart at any moment.

Now in a complicated situation, Anastasia wondered how she was going to get to the servants' quarters if Mr. Gilbert escorted Marianne back to the main hall. Both the sisters' hearts dropped when Mr. Gilbert stepped inside the library.

'Please, God, help us,' Anastasia's lips moved without her voice spilling out. 'If only my earlier clothes hadn't gone missing.'

As the thought crossed Anastasia's mind, she felt a little tickle on her shoulder and looked down at the green gown she was wearing. Her eyebrows furrowed, and her eyes then widened when she saw the colour beginning to change from green to brown. It stopped changing when it turned to a faded maroon. The dress's material changed from expensive silk to worn-out cotton fabric.

It took Anastasia two seconds to realise that the gown was transforming into her maid attire, with a white full-sleeved inner petticoat over the sleeveless maroon dress.

Not knowing what and how it happened, at the same time, Anastasia heard Mr. Gilbert and Marianne's footsteps getting closer to where she stood. Standing between two racks and the wall obstructing one side, she did what she thought could save their skin. She removed the hanging earrings and slipped them into her dress pocket. She quickly untangled her hair and braided it before pinning it into a bun.

Wetting her lips, she rubbed the colour off them before she brought the fringes of her hair forward to hide her eyes.

Marianne, who followed Mr. Gilbert was more than stressed. She cursed herself for thinking that she and her sister could get away with their little dress-up. When they reached the rack where she had left her sister, her heart thudded loudly in her chest.

Her eyes then fell on her sister, wearing the maid dress, who had her back turned and was cleaning the floor with a rag. Did Anna find the dress?

Mr. Gilbert noticed the back of the lowly maid, who was cleaning the floor and demanded, "Don't you know that the lowly maids are not allowed to step foot in here or anywhere near the inner heart of the palace unless asked to?"

"Mr. Sinclair spilled something on the floor earlier. The spot needed a little attention, so I asked the maid to come and clean it. Forgive me," Marianne apologised with a bow before raising her head.

Mr. Gilbert knew the business that took place between the courtesans and the guests in closed spaces. He could only guess that the 'spilt' here belonged to Mr. Sinclair. He stated,

"The maid will take care of cleaning it. I will escort you back to the main hall where you will be needed." He then turned to look at Anastasia and instructed, "You. Once you are done, go straight to the servants' quarters. You won't be needed for the rest of the night."

Anastasia bowed her already lowered head without raising her face to show her eyes darkened by the kohl and the makeup Marianne had put on her. She waited for the two of them to step out of the library, and once they were out of sight, she released the breath that she had been holding until now.

Standing up straight, she then looked down at her dress, touching it in awe and whispering, "You are no ordinary dress…"

Back in the main hall, where the celebration continued with the royal members of the Blackthorn family and their guests, delicious delicacies of food and drinks were served on the tables under the smaller chandeliers. The hall appeared to be illuminated in gold because of its decorations. Hookah pots were placed at the tables, where the pieces of coal burned brightly while the water at the bottom of the pot gurgled with bubbles.

King William, Lady Sophia and the Mother Queen sat at one of the tables. Lady Sophia noticed Princess Niyasa walking around the room and called her daughter over by raising her hand.

"Yes, mother?" Emily asked by coming to stand next to her mother.

"What is Niyasa doing?" Lady Sophia asked.

Emily turned to look at her sister, who was one year younger than her, and answered, "She wants to show the artworks made by one of her maids, mother. They are exceptional and very otherworldly. She was preparing them for your birthday."

Lady Sophia looked pleased on hearing it, but the next moment she asked, "And what about you, Emily? The maids you pick seem to possess no talent, like you, or are you planning to keep it a surprise?" Her words were harsh towards her daughter, whose smile faltered. "Your brother gave me a piece of rusted metal as a gift. I am not sure what to do with the two of you."

"The things I am skilled at are not the ones you approve of, Mother," Emily politely replied with a smile.

Lady Sophia sighed, which was when the King interfered, "Don't be hard on Emily, Sophia. Once she gets married to an amiable man of our choice, there won't be any need for her to be adept at such things."

At the same time, Niyasa appeared at their table, and she offered a deep bow. She spoke to Lady Sophia, "Queen Sophia, I would like some of your time if you allow me. I would like to show you beautiful sketches of landscapes."

On the other hand, the Mother Queen muttered under her breath, "Some of my grandchildren fell short of talent."

Lady Sophia smiled at the mention of her new title, and she stood up from her seat before walking with Niyasa to where the sketches were displayed. The guests stared at and praised the sketches that were on display. The recently elevated lady remarked,

"These are indeed eye-catching. I don't think I have seen anything like them before."

Niyasa smiled and said, "I prepared them especially for this night. I hope it pleases your eyes."

"Aren't you thoughtful, Niyasa. You have a good eye," Lady Sophia praised before questioning, "And who is this talented artist?" Charlotte came forward and offered a bow. She was giddy from all the attention and praise she had received. She couldn't be any happier to be among the wealthy men and women. Lady Sophia remarked, "So it is you that Niyasa has found. A hidden gem in the dirt."

Charlotte didn't respond but continued to bow with a smile.

"It must be nice to have a maid who can draw this well," one of the guests, who stood near them, commented. Maids were nothing more than accessories to the wealthy, who liked to show off their servants as if they were pets or things to flaunt.

Lady Sophia slipped her hand into her dress pocket and took out a single gold coin. She stretched her hand forward and dropped the coin into the eager maid's palm. Staring at a sketch of a bridge, she stated, "I would like to have a sketch of me made by tomorrow."

Charlotte's smile immediately fell. Her voice shook a little as she said, "Forgive me, milady. These are my old drawings. I stopped drawing three years ago."

Lady Sophia ignored the maid's words and claimed, "Talent is not something you lose with time. Make sure I am sitting on a couch with my hand resting below my chin. Your fare has been paid, it should be enough motivation," she smiled slightly.