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

One last time

Music Recommendation: Les Arbes - Thomas Newton

When Anastasia entered the rear of the kitchen, some of the servants were busy cooking food and sending another set of servants to serve the dishes to the guests all across the palace. Theresa was wiping the island slab when her eyes fell on the young woman, and her eyebrows furrowed.

Dropping what she was doing, she quickly walked outside to meet Anastasia and was about to ask what she was doing here, but instead asked,

"Is that kohl?"

Anastasia nodded. She moved her hands to ask Theresa, 'Do you know how to remove this?'

Theresa pursed her lips before nodding. She said, "Go to the stable. I will see you there."

After waiting at the stable for a while, Anastasia watched Theresa walk towards her with a bowl and the softest cloth she could get her hands on. With no one around and only a lamp burning at their side, the older woman asked,

"I thought you were going to leave, what happened? Did the guards stop you?" She then said, "Sit here."

Anastasia whispered, "What is that?" Eyeing the bowl.

"It is warm water," Theresa dipped the cloth before angling Anastasia's face.

"Mary doesn't want to come home with me. She wants to stay here, and I didn't know what else to do but stay behind for now," Anastasia answered the earlier question.

"I thought this might happen," Theresa sighed. She said, "Mary is a courtesan whose thoughts have been conditioned to make her stay in the royal palace. It would be hard to leave."

Anastasia opened her eyes wide while Theresa gently erased the kohl away from her eyelids. Once it was done, she thanked Theresa, "Thank you, Auntie," and sighed. She said, "I feel bad for not considering how Mary was feeling, going too far ahead without her. She said Prince Maxwell loves her, and she loves him back."

"Oh dear…" Theresa whispered, a frown coming to settle on her forehead. It was because she had heard such words many times before through others, words of promises that were rarely fulfilled.

"I went to the main hall today to see if it was true, but I am unsure what to deduce about their relationship. I didn't get to talk to Mary after that. Something else happened in the evening…" Anastasia drawled before explaining everything that had taken place, while Theresa covered her mouth, dumbstruck.

"What have you both done, Anna?" Theresa questioned with wide eyes. "If the royal family members or anyone else finds out that you lied! If they find out that you are a maid of the palace, they won't take it kindly."

Anastasia bit her bottom lip and confessed, "We didn't expect things to take such a turn. It was supposed to be me attending the celebration only to keep an eye on Mary and Prince Maxwell," she said in a low voice. She stared at one end of the stable passage and said, "I should have left… but at the same time, I can't until I know she is in good hands."

Theresa's stern gaze softened on noticing Anastasia's shoulders droop. She placed her hands on the young woman's shoulders and said,

"Sometimes, I don't know if it is a curse or a blessing. For you two sisters to share such a close bond. After you two were split up to live two different lives, I thought one of you would turn bitter and envy the other. Because people always find the grass is greener on another field, but you both hold such a strong bond and are so attached to each other," a tender smile appeared on the older woman's lips.

With the two girls torn away from their parents and far away from home, it was understandable to Theresa that the sisters had clung to each other for support.

"What do you plan to do tomorrow?" Theresa asked her.

"Lie some more…" Anastasia replied with a sad smile. "The prince said I would only have to show up in the evening."

Theresa nodded, "Then let us do what we did today. We managed it fine, didn't we? After all, it is only a matter of two evenings. I will tell Mr. Gilbert that you are sick if he or anyone else asks." She patted Anastasia's shoulder, "I am here with you. You don't have to worry about it all by yourself."

"I don't know how to thank you, Auntie," Anastasia was sad about losing the maid dress because it contained coins that Theresa had given her. She said, "I promise to return them to you."

"We don't have to worry about it now, when there are other pressing things that need attention. I am just glad that both of you girls are safe. I was counting every minute since you left," Theresa exhaled before she smiled, "Why don't you tell me about the celebration, as I have never had the chance to attend it?"

They went back to the kitchen, where Anastasia helped Theresa with all the work she could, as she felt guilty for losing the older woman's hard-earned money. After finishing her work, she made her way back to her quarters.

But when she opened the door, someone was already present in the room.

"Anna! How are you doing?" Charlotte asked her with a smile, sitting on her bed. "I was waiting for your return."

Anastasia carefully stepped inside her room, her heart racing a little when Charlotte stared at her. She moved her hands to reply, 'I am doing good. How about you?'

"I attended the celebration at the main hall tonight. The one which we always spoke and were curious about," Charlotte replied with a friendly demeanour. She said, "It was very grand and better than what I imagined it to be. The hall itself was like heaven, and the people wore such expensive dresses."

It seemed like Charlotte's dream of being around the wealthy had come true by promoting herself from a lowly maid to a personal maid of a princess. Anastasia stared at her before asking,

'Is there something you want? I want to rest as I am tired.'

Anastasia had a long and hard day filled with anxiousness, which was her own fault. Right now, all she wanted was to crawl into her bed.

Charlotte stood up from the bed by pushing her hands on the hard mattress. She then said,

"I wanted to apologise to you about something. Your sketches, I took them from you without your permission. You were hiding something so precious, and I wanted to show it to the princess. But then she thought I made them, and one thing led to another…" her voice lowered at the end.

So this was why she was here, Anastasia thought to herself. Her jaws clenched, but she didn't react to Charlotte's words.

Charlotte then said, "I noticed that you haven't drawn anything lately…"

Anastasia raised her hands and responded, 'You mean you checked to see if you could steal them too.'

"You are angry," Charlotte softly laughed, and Anastasia couldn't believe that there was a time when she thought this person was kind. "I understand that, but I need you to sketch Queen Sophia. It is urgent. She wants her hand un—"


Anastasia pushed the door wider and stepped aside to make way for Charlotte.

The smile on Charlotte's face slipped, andwhich was replaced by desperation. Though she walked towards the door, instead of stepping outside, she closed the door so that she could convince Anastasia.

"Don't do this to me, Anna… We have been friends for so long, and I need your help now. If I don't give Queen Sophia what she asked, she will behead me. I thought they wouldn't make me draw, but I was wrong and need your help," Charlotte quickly begged Anastasia, with terror in her eyes.

Anastasia wanted to say that it was what happened when a person lied, but then she had lied about more than one thing tonight.

Seeing Anastasia not respond, Charlotte quickly got on her knees with tears in her eyes. She beseeched,

"Please, Anna! I don't ask much! I brought you coal and fresh parchments. Only one sketch of Lady Sophia, and I won't ask anything more from you. I will do anything you ask me to."

But Anastasia didn't believe Charlotte. She also realised how easy it was for trust to be broken, and somehow, the person on the ground reflected her future worries.

Charlotte stared at Anastasia with a pleading look and caught Anastasia's feet, "Please, Anna, I don't want to die! Please help me." She cried, "Wait! I know what will help." Her hands fumbled in her dress pockets before pulling out a gold coin.

Anastasia's eyes slightly widened on seeing the gold coin.

"I will give you this gold coin. All yours, and in return, I want Queen Sophia's sketch from you by tomorrow. I promise not to take it back from you!"

Though Anastasia had nothing to lose or gain by drawing or not drawing, she didn't see why she couldn't use the gold coin, especially when she had lost the eighteen buckles that Theresa had generously given her.

Charlotte's face was smeared with tears, and Anastasia knew that the person was desperate to save her neck, which she hadn't thought about before. Even though Anastasia was disappointed with Charlotte's actions, it didn't mean she wished death upon her.

Anastasia didn't want to be responsible for someone's death and blood on her hands... She doubted she could live with it.

In some way, Charlotte was paying for what she had taken from her, and settling with that thought, Anastasia took the coin from the woman.

'I will draw it for you. Just this once,' Anastasia moved her hands while staring at Charlotte. But she didn't stop there as she continued, 'But if you steal the coin or blame me in any way, I will not protect your lie.'

Charlotte's look of worry and dread disappeared instantly, and a broad smile appeared on her face. She nodded eagerly and replied, "I swear on my life I won't steal your coin. Thank you, Anna! Thank you so much!"

'Leave now,' Anastasia turned to the door. Just because she had agreed didn't mean they were back to being friends.

"I will come to collect the sketch in the morning then," Charlotte replied, leaving Anastasia alone.