Chapter 40 – Checkmate (2)
Today was the Sabbath, which came around once every week. The servants went to church early in the morning, leaving the mansion incredibly quiet.
Stephan, who looked like he had spent the whole night running around, paid a short visit to Gris. He came to tell her his men were unable to find the horseman. In addition to that bit of bad news, he also added that he had lost contact with one of the spies whom he sent to the port. His last report was that his people were looking for him right now, and then he returned to his office.
When he left, Gris was buried in thoughts as she picked at the dried petals by the window.
Where was the man who went to the port? Was he discovered by Vianut’s men as he was attempting to kill the horseman?
However, since she couldn’t hear any news from outside the mansion walls, there was nothing she could do. At this rate, she believed she would first die from stress before anyone could even lay their hands on her.
At that moment, she heard a noise from outside the door, and her heart sank. In her imagination, right now Vianut was coming to kill her since he found out about everything.
“Madam, I came straight after the church service. It’s Bellin.”
When she heard it was Bellin’s voice and not Vianut’s, Gris finally breathed in relief. She then stood up, touching her lips that were as dry as a dead leaf with her index finger, and called out.
“Be-Bellin? Come in.”
Bellin cheerfully came through the door. But, she didn’t immediately greet Gris. Instead, she busily scanned the room, looking for Teer. When she spotted Teer revealing herself through the bed covers, she beamed and hugged her. Only then did she turn to Gris and inform her of some news.
“Madam Paola is on a trip. She must be feeling better now. She went on a two-day trip to the cemetery.”
Hearing that, Gris’ eyes widened in surprise and she asked whether it was the truth. She was flabbergasted since she hadn’t heard about this matter; however, it was only natural she didn’t hear about it because she had spent the entire morning fretting about her own precarious situation. Therefore, being unaware that Paola left was to be expected.
Bellin nodded at her question.
“Yes. I don’t know who she’s going for, but she always makes this trip every year around this time.”
“I think she’s visiting the grave of someone important,” Bellin kindly said as she placed Teer back on the bed, “but she always leaves quietly without letting everyone know. I think she’s trying to hide it, though. So, don’t worry too much, ma’am.”
“Now, it’s time for your doctrine lessons, ma’am,” Bellin shifted gears. “However, I think I will only escort you up to the small chapel before I return.”
While she wasn’t in the mood to learn anything, Gris didn’t have a proper excuse to refuse. So, she headed to the chapel and received her lesson from the priest waiting for her there.
Although the priest was explaining things in an abbreviated way for her to understand easily, she couldn’t concentrate at all. Right now, she felt like a large storm was heading her way. Deciding it was impossible to continue his lesson after seeing the serious look on Gris’ face, he gave her a break and left the chapel.
However, Gris wasn’t alone for long. Soon, a tall man entered the building. When Gris realized the man was Vianut, she tensed up.
She wondered if he had come to inspect his mysterious sister during her lessons in the chapel, but he turned his head and fixed his gaze on the figure of a saint, unaware there was anyone else in the chapel.
For a moment, everything was silent as Gris quietly watched his beautiful side profile. His deep eyes were magical and obscure.
Feeling her eyes on him, he turned his head. Their eyes met, his blue irises sparkling with wariness.
He looked like a wolf that had never seen a human being before, an animal that instinctively bared his teeth at the hand before it—even if it was given with kind intention.
But a wolf growls to protect itself. Then, why was this man keeping his guard up against a young lady? She couldn’t touch his hair even if she tried. So, if it wasn’t fear for his safety, then was he afraid of what she might take from him?
While she was musing to herself, Quentin rushed into the room with his short and messy hair. He then urgently whispered something into Vianut’s ear.
They looked at each other, and suddenly both turned their gaze to Gris. Though she couldn’t hear their conversation, she had a hunch that her worries had come true.
She heard the sound of footsteps echoing in the corridor. The steps sounded urgent but were not in a rush, and Gris was certain they were Stephan’s.
Gris knew it wasn’t possible to talk to Stephan with the two in the room, so she stood up and hurried out.
With the sun behind him, Stephan walked down the corridor. His black silhouette was filled with confusion, betrayal, and anger. Gris instinctively knew her life was coming to an end.
After all, Stephan couldn’t stop everything, but it was what she expected from a man who had already lost a succession battle.
Now that she was certain of her fate, her heart began to tear. She did everything she could to survive in the brothel. At last, she really thought she could finally meet Johannes, but…
“… Does he know?” Gris asked with watery eyes.
Stephan answered with silence. He then said to Gris, looking directly into her eyes, filled with resentment, “It’s not your fault. It’s mine.”
“The assassin that disappeared… Turns out he didn’t disappear. He was taken and tortured by Vianut.”
A dry laugh suddenly bubbled from his lips.
“And you know the funny part?”
She couldn’t even be mad towards this man, who was trying to make a joke, as if it was someone else’s business they were talking about. So, she only looked up at him with cold eyes, waiting for his words.
“He didn’t find the horseman in the first place,” Stephan quietly whispered. “It was all a trap.”