16 Acme Flow

It would have been impossible not to recognize him. Just by looking at his appearance alone, one would instantly know that they are in the presence of the Male Lead.

Tall, muscular frame – an indication of great health and impeccable strength, accentuated by the custom-made black formal attire, adorned with gold details that went perfectly well with the slightly tanned color of the skin, a testament to his frequent exposure to the sun.

His raven-black hair was neatly styled back, with a few stray strands falling over his perfectly-shaped black eyebrows. His captivating golden eyes were carefully framed with naturally thick lashes, the ones that evoke envy in both women and men; the high bridge of his flawlessly sculptured nose was the epitome of a "sharp symmetry", while his sensual lips bloomed with the enviously natural softness.

In the novel, Grand Duke Damien Dio was portrayed as the epitome of perfection, as if he had been gifted to mankind by a divine force itself. And indeed, he lived up to that description.

As she caught a glimpse of the Duke, Rosalie instantly recalled what had transpired between him and the original Lady Ashter. The Imperial Banquet was the time when the readers first learned what happened to Damien during the fit of his Fever. Right before the presentation of the prey, overwhelmed by an intense surge of body temperature and excruciating pain, Damien broke away from the company of guests, seeking refuge behind the dense foliage of the wild rose bushes, afraid that his episode would escalate into a tumultuous display of madness.

Rosalie observed Damien's distressed state and, without fully comprehending the consequences, approached him recklessly. Unbeknownst to her, her own Acme Flow reacted to his condition, overwhelming her ability to maintain control. In a desperate attempt to alleviate his suffering, she impulsively sought physical contact, unknowingly triggering his deeply rooted and horrifying trauma. This ignited a surge of anger within him, leading him to lunge at her with violent intent, nearly bringing about her untimely demise.

That encounter was her first and last attempt to approach Damien Dio as what followed afterward eventually lead to her tragic ending.

'I don't know if I will be able to control my Acme this time, after all, I have absolutely no idea what it does to my body, however... If I want to succeed, I have to be extremely careful. There is no room for even a single mistake. This is my only chance.'

Rosalie anxiously observed Damien's behavior, desperately hoping that the unfolding events would align with the original novel's plot. To her amazement, as if guided by magic or an incredible stroke of luck, her prayers were answered. Duke Dio's complexion turned unexpectedly pale, his forehead glistening with tiny beads of cold perspiration.

He shielded his eyes with his right hand, while the other hand clutched his chest in an attempt to alleviate the evident agony coursing through his body. Oblivious to the world around him, he hurriedly fled towards the refuge of the wild rose bushes, seeking solace in their secluded embrace within the vast expanse of the Imperial Gardens.

'Now, this is my chance!'

With a resolute voice, Rosalie briefly yet politely excused herself from her current company, effectively interrupting Young Lord Amado's still-ongoing meaningless prattle, and followed after Damien, ignoring William's vigorous verbal attempts to make her halt.

At first, Rosalie feared that she had taken a wrong turn and lost sight of him, as no matter how many times she circled around the small rose bush garden, the Duke was nowhere to be found. However, her determination had finally paid off, as a familiar black jacket peeked from behind one of the thick shrubs and Lady Ashter heard a loud, heavy groan that reminded her of the desperate cry of a fatally wounded wild beast.

The girl slowly approached Damien with quiet, feather-light steps, clutching the hem of her skirt in her shaking hands, trying to avoid any unnecessarily startling noise. And what she witnessed as she stood before him, shook her to the core.

The man was sitting on the ground, drenched in profound sweat, his large hands were desperately clutching the grass beneath them, its sharp, thin green blades cutting through his skin, smearing it with both blood and dirt. His eyes lost their golden spark and were now mudded with a dirty mixture of black and red, and his massive strong body was shaking as if subjected to an internal earthquake.

He was engulfed in pain. He was miserable. It was a pitiful display.

Suddenly, as if enveloped in an invisible but suffocating veil, Rosalie felt her head grow cloudy and her chest tighten, vigorously refusing her attempts to fill her lungs with air. Her whole body turned hot and heavy, and she felt a strong, uncontrollable urge to get closer to Damien, as if she was being pulled toward him by thousands of invisible strings.

Scared and confused, Lady Ashter nearly lost her balance, seeking rescue by leaning against a tall birch tree that was standing conveniently nearby, and, after a dozen of failed attempts, when she finally managed to take control of her breathing, the girl wiped the cold sweat off her forehead and swallowed dryly, pushing down the hard lump stuck inside her throat.

'So this is what it feels like... This is the reaction of the Acme Flow.'

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