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

Persuasion of the pin

Music Recommendation: Someone- TSS

When Anastasia had slipped into the emerald and beige gown, she had expected to stay in the corners of the main hall and not be asked for a dance. At least not by Prince Dante. But even though initially it sounded like a request, it was a demand.

She noted how the loud voices of people had reduced to a murmur, and she could feel people's eyes on them.

Aiden, who had finished coughing, said, "Brother Dante, I didn't know you knew Tasia."

"You don't mind if I borrow her, do you?" Dante's eyes briefly moved to look at his younger brother before his gaze fell back on the young woman.

Aiden was still wrapping his head around the situation, and he replied, "A—ah I guess not."

Even though many eyes were on them, Anastasia and Dante stared only at each other. She noticed him slightly tilt his head, which was when she finally raised her hand forward, placing her hand in his gloved one.

Anastasia felt Dante wrap his fingers around her hand before he led her across the marble floor and towards the centre of the hall.

Feeling the softness of the velvet glove on her hand, Anastasia realised that Prince Dante always wore his gloves. She was thankful for it because she didn't have to worry about him finding out about her calloused fingers and palms. Just because Aiden was gullible, she doubted Dante would be easy to fool, even though he hadn't figured out she was a maid. But then again, she was only a maid, one of many who worked in the Blackthorn palace.

Dante stopped right under the chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and he turned to look at Anastasia. There was nervousness in her brown, doe-like eyes. He questioned her,

"Do you know how to dance?"

Anxious about whether he was trying to catch her in a lie, Anastasia answered, "It would be considered a flaw if I didn't know, Your Highness."

"It seems like you have trouble only when it comes to tying the belt," Dante remarked, his midnight eyes moving to look at her waist.

Upon looking down, Anastasia noticed the belt she had earlier fixed had loosened. When she tried to pull her hand away from his to fasten it, the prince's grip around her hand tightened.

Anastasia's lowered eyes quickly looked up to meet Dante's eyes and heard him say, "Allow me." He tugged on her hand that he was holding, bringing her closer to him.

"Y—you don't have to do that."

Standing so close to him in front of everyone, blood rushed up Anastasia's neck and moved up to settle on her cheeks. She was slightly breathless, and her eyes had turned wide. If he wanted to help, he could have offered it when they were on the garden balcony. Why the sudden interest? She asked herself.

Dante took a step forward with their heads beside each other, and he spoke next to her ear,

"You said you were trying to evade the suitors with whom your family is trying to set you up. I will help you with it, provided you return the favour." His hand let go of hers, and he settled his hands on both sides of her waist. He continued, "While you are here, which I believe is for the remainder of the two days of the celebration, behave as if you are interested in me, and I will do the same so my family will stop sending women to me. It is a win-win for both of us."

Two days… Two days was too long, Anastasia thought to herself. Once the sun rose tomorrow, she would have to return to her work. It would be impossible to skip work and spend time with him.

"Ouch!" Anastasia's hand quickly fell on Dante's chest when she felt a pin prick her waist.

This man's hands were trained for the battlefield; she doubted he kne—her thoughts stopped when her brown eyes met his black ones, and she saw her reflection in them.

Dante's intense gaze was enough to tell her that the pinprick wasn't accidental and that it was meant to bring her attention back to him. This man… he wasn't what he appeared to be. She had spent eight years in this palace, and she had never seen this side of him. She softly gulped and answered,

"I don't think I will be staying until tomorrow, Prince Dante."

Dante unwound the soft belt from her waist and said, "If it is a matter of your stay, I will be happy to convince your parents to extend your time in the palace."

Anastasia wished she could disappear right this instant. This was what happened when a person lied! And if her lie was caught, neither she nor her sister would have their heads intact after that. She replied,

"I don't think they would object to my staying. But I already have plans in the morning till night—"

"Cancel whatever is there from the evening onwards tomorrow." Dante's words held no room for discussion, and he started to wrap the belt properly back around her waist.

Anastasia's mouth became dry when she felt Dante's fingers graze around her waist before he tightened the belt. A gasp escaped from her lips as he pulled the belt along with her, bringing her closer to him. Their eyes met again, and he asked in a low voice, "You will cancel it, won't you, Miss Flores?"

The people around the room watched Dante talk to a young woman from a wealthy family, helping her with her dress, which left most people's mouths hanging open in surprise. Princess Niyasa, who wasn't standing too far from them, said to her sister,

"I don't think I have seen her before. Who is that young woman?"

"She looks lovely, doesn't she?" Princess Emily, who was Lady Sophia's daughter, remarked with a smile as they watched their eldest brother share his space with a pretty woman. On noticing her younger brother Aiden make his way towards them from the corner, she asked him curiously, "Do you know who she is, Aiden?"

Aiden had taken some time to clean the front of his coat and apologise to the guest on whom he had spat his drink. He responded, "That's Tasia." Turning back to look at his brother and the woman he had befriended.

"What an unusual name," Emily said, smiling. "I wonder where she is from..."

"I wonder who invited her," Niyasa's eyes narrowed as she stared at the young woman in the emerald dress. "Isn't Brother Dante being a little too intimate with her?"

"It looks like he is smitten with her," Emily whispered to herself.

In the meantime, King William and Lady Sophia stared in the direction of the dance floor. King William asked his wife in a low voice,

"Do you know who Dante is dancing with?"

Lady Sophia shook her head, and said, "I am not sure. I don't know her. It must have been the Mother Queen who invited her and her family." The old queen liked to do things like this by inviting people without consulting her or her husband, whom they had never met before, and it wasn't the first time.

On the other hand, Mother Queen Ginger Blackthorn was standing and talking to Minister Aziel with her head turned away from the dance floor. She was on her second glass of wine, and she said,

"Every year around this time, I miss Johnathan more than I usually do. If only he hadn't gone hunting and been eaten by a tiger," she sighed and shook her head, "I told him not to. Of course, it is another matter that I hunted the tiger and had it hung in the bedroom." The Mother Queen said, "I should go find that girl, Aziel."

Aziel politely replied, "My Queen, we looked all around the hall, but haven't found her." Was she imagining people now?

The Mother Queen narrowed her eyes at him after noticing her minister's expression, "I don't believe in ghosts, and I know what I saw. She had beautiful, expressive eyes. My ears seem to have gotten better suddenly," she said thoughtfully, because she could hear the music being played better than before.

It was then that she noticed the minister's eyes transfixed elsewhere, and she turned her wise self to look in the direction, when her eyes widened. Her grandson was dancing with a woman, and not just any woman, but the one she was looking for!

"There she is…" The Mother Queen whispered, as a wide smile appeared on her lips. She said to her minister, "My grandson and I seem to have the same taste, Aziel. He found the young woman before I did!"

The minister's eyebrows rose in surprise. He then heard the Mother Queen murmur, "My son and Sophia did well by inviting the right attendees," and she nodded in approval.

Back at the dance floor, Anastasia's eyes fell on Dante's lips, which wrapped around the silver pin between his teeth. The one side of his hair that was tousled in front of one of his eyes created a shadow on his face while his eyes were on her belt.

"Have you decided?" Dante questioned as if he was giving her an option. He took the pin from his lips, and when he pushed the sharp end into the side of her belt, Anastasia quickly answered,


Dante brought the end of the pin through the fabric before he secured it, "Great. Then we have a deal."

'What have I gotten myself into…' Anastasia questioned herself, but the question quickly evaporated when Dante placed one of his hands on her waist and brought her near. When he took her other hand in his, she politely returned his earlier question,

"Do you know how to dance, Prince Dante? We could go slow…" Her eyes were on his, which looked right back at her. For a fleeting moment, she noticed a faint smile on his lips that disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, making her question if she had imagined it.

Instead of responding to Anastasia, when the music shifted from a slower to a faster tempo, Dante stepped forward, which had her step backwards. When he moved back, she followed him. Before she could step back, he stepped forward, bringing them closer to each other, and she had to crane her neck to not break eye contact with him.

The next moment, Dante took a swift step away from Anastasia before releasing her waist and having her twirl to return to his arms.

Anastasia's heart pounded, breathless over his actions. She heard Dante ask her, "Slow enough?"