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

The one who stole

Anastasia removed her mattress completely, bringing it down on the floor, but there was no sign of the parchments she had sketched on. Dread was quick to slither into her mind. She turned anxious, wondering who had taken it.

Did someone take it to complain about what she was doing? But then, she wasn't causing trouble to anyone. Every time she had only used just one piece of charcoal and nothing more than that…

When Anastasia stepped out of the room, she caught sight of Theresa and Charlotte talking in the corridor. Theresa explained,

"There were these colourful pieces of glass fixed into this slender pot. If you place a candle inside it, different colours of light emit out of it."

Charlotte's mouth was parted as she listened. She said, "I wish I could visit too! But my time to go to the Bazaar will come too," she nodded.

Theresa remarked to this, "Everything happens for a reason. You didn't get to go to the Bazaar, but now you will work with the other maids in the inner heart of the palace."

Noticing Anastasia in the corridor, Theresa noticed the look of worry on the young woman's face and asked,

"Is everything alright, Anna?"

Anastasia had never told anyone about her drawings or had ever shown them. Not even her sister Marianne. Slightly breathless, she moved her hands in a hurry,

'I think someone came to my room today when I wasn't there.'

It was there until last night, and after she had left this morning to have breakfast, she didn't know if her sketches had disappeared then or if it was when she went to the Bazaar.

"Why? What happened?" Charlotte raised her eyebrows in question, "Anna?" She asked when Anastasia didn't respond.

Snapping from her thoughts, Anastasia realised Theresa and Charlotte were staring at her, waiting for her to answer. She asked them, her hands moving with speed as she tried to find answers,

'Do you know if someone entered the rooms of the maids in here?'

Theresa shook her head, "Not that I know of. I was at the Bazaar with you later, and every servant cleans their own room."

"I wish I was around here, but I was in the parlour room with Princess Niyasa," Charlotte replied, with her eyebrows furrowed. "Do you think someone lost something, which is why they came to search our rooms?"

'Something of mine is missing from my room… Excuse me," Anastasia said before dropping her hands and running past the two women.

"What is missing from her room?" Charlotte asked Theresa, turning to look at Anastasia, who disappeared behind the wall at the end of the corridor.

Anastasia went to the kitchen and looked at the stone stoves where the logs of wood burned. She suspected whoever stole the parchments must have torn and put them in here to burn. Was it Mr. Gilbert or a senior maid who had come to inspect the servant quarters and found her sketches? Finding no trace of them, she left the kitchen, and stepped out of the back door.

She made her way towards the stables, where some things were being burned in a furnace. She knew it because she could see the smoke through her room's window.

Holding the front of her dress, she made her way near the stables. But before she could enter the stable, she was stopped by the two guards, who demanded,

"What business does a low-level maid have here?"

Anastasia's eyes looked at the furnace that was at the far end, and she moved her hands to speak, 'I want to take a look at the furnace. I think something of mine might have been brought here by mistake. I need to look at it.' She pointed at her eyes and then at the furnace.

The guards looked at each other's faces, and one of them suddenly burst into laughter. He said, "Did you understand what she just said?"

The other guard ran his tongue on the back of his teeth and said, "I have no idea what she just said. What did you say there, woman? Use your mouth," he demanded.

Anastasia stared at the two guards, realising her words wouldn't reach these men.

When Anastasia had turned herself into a mute, not being able to use her voice, it was her sister Marianne who had taught her how to speak sign language. As courtesans were supposed to be well-versed in the variety of knowledge of the world, so that they could match the intellect of the royal court members, they were permitted to use the library of the royal palace.

Theresa had learned it along with Anastasia, while Charlotte, over time, had watched Anastasia talk to Theresa, which was how she knew. The other people in the palace didn't care to know or learn as they only cared about the maids following their orders without question.

"It looks like she cannot speak," the second guard said, adding, "How useless." He then said to Anastasia, "There's nothing here for you to look at. Go back and do your job unless you want to be reported to Mr. Gilbert." He waved his hand to shoo her away from there.

Anastasia took backward steps, feeling her heart grow heavy, and she turned sad with every growing minute. Her hands clenched. She realised that her attempt to retrieve the sketches of her hometown was futile, so she stopped looking for them.

When she got back inside the kitchen, the head cook scolded her,

"Where have you been, Anastasia? We have a lot of work to do here."

Anastasia quietly washed the vegetables and then began to peel them. Theresa, who was kneading the dough in the big and wide container, caught sight of the dejected look on her face.

Later, when Anastasia was on a break, standing in front of the small rectangular window, Theresa offered her a glass and whispered,

"This will refresh your mind. I added the used lemon and a little sugar after saying my head was spinning."

Anastasia's eyes widened. The sharbat drink wasn't for the servants and was reserved only for the royal family, even if Theresa had used the already used lemons. She whispered, "Are you not scared of getting caught?"

Theresa pursed her lips before nodding, "A little, but they don't know I made sharbat. Take it," she said, pushing the glass into the hand of the young woman. Noticing Anastasia take two sips and relishing the taste in her mouth, the elderly woman said, "Don't let yourself feel down, Anna. Some things take time and are out of our control. You will also be a personal maid for one of the princesses one day."

"What?" Anastasia asked, not able to follow what the elderly woman meant.

"You are sad because you weren't promoted from a lower maid to a maids-in-waiting of the princess, aren't you?"

"No, it was for something else," Anastasia replied, taking another sip from the glass before handing the glass back.

"Did you finish all of it?" Theresa asked her, and when she took the glass, she felt the weight and noticed there was still half of it left in there. "You didn't like it?"

"It is the tastiest drink, but you made it for me, and it would be rude to not share. I think you should have half of it," Anastasia replied with a smile before she urged the woman to drink it.

Theresa's heart warmed at Anastasia's words, and she gulped down the rest of the contents of the glass in seconds. She said, "Imagine if you put fresh and more drops of lemon into it and not the used ones. How wonderful it will taste?" Returning to what they were speaking about, she said, "I think I was mistaken earlier. That you were sad because Charlotte will be serving Princess Niyasa and you haven't been promoted."

Anastasia had been so busy looking for her sketches that she hadn't paid attention to the news. She said, "I am happy for her. She must be excited."

"She is. She is packing some of her belongings as she will be moving to the higher room," Theresa replied. As the servants moved up in levels, rooms were allotted to them accordingly, along with better clothes. The senior maids who delegated orders and managed them had control over some of the lower maids. "It seems that Princess Niyasa wanted a maid, as one of her maids in waiting fell sick."

"I should go and congratulate her," Anastasia said, as Charlotte was always there to cheer her up for as long as they had known each other.

Anastasia made her way to the servant quarters, and when she reached Charlotte's room, she noticed a small trunk on the floor, which contained Charlotte's clothes and belongings. The maid, on seeing her, offered her a bright smile. She said,

"It's good that you are here! I am so excited to work in the inner part of the palace!"

Anastasia smiled and replied, 'I am happy for you.'

"Thank you, Anna!" Charlotte's eyes were bright with excitement. She said, "The tailor just took my measurements for new clothes; how wonderful is that! I will make sure to spend time with you during the meals, though it would depend on when the princess will let us have our food, or have us eat with her if she wants me to join her." Then, as if remembering something, she said, "I wanted to give you this," she turned to her bed and picked up her old dress.

Anastasia moved her hands, 'You don't have to do that. I have enough with me.'

"As I have no use for this now, I thought you could use this," as Charlotte pushed her old dress into Anastasia's arms. Anastasia's eyes fell on the young woman's hands, which had traces of black powder on them.

On noticing Anastasia stare at her hands, Charlotte dusted her hands against the side of her dress and laughed, "I forgot to clean my hands after cleaning the fireplace. I should probably do it before the princess notices it. I will see you later," she smiled.

Anastasia wondered if she was overthinking, but she couldn't shake off the feeling that Charlotte had something to do with her missing sketches. There were many maids with hands covered in dirt but not charcoal powder. The thought gnawed at the back of her mind now.

Wanting to ask, she raised her hands and asked, 'Did you see my sketches, Charlotte?'

Charlotte looked confused and asked, "What sketches?"

'The ones I drew...'

"I am sorry, Anna, but I don't understand what you are saying. You drew?" Charlotte asked with a frown. "You want me to see your drawings?"

When Charlotte's words turned careful at the end, with seriousness filling her eyes, Anastasia knew. A look of disappointment filled her eyes, and she said,

'I hope your hard work is worth it. Your new room, clothes, and time in the inner palace,' with that, Anastasia turned around and left the room.