Her arm was bandaged, and the bandage was soaked in blood.
Gaius leaned towards her to grab her arm, and quickly unwrapped the bandage.
Apollonia flinched from the pain, but didn’t try to shy away from him.
Gaius, Petra, and Sid all stared at Apollonia’s left arm.
“Ah…!” As soon as Apollonia groaned, a flash of embarrassment flushed across Gaius and Petra’s faces.
There was a jagged wound on her arm, obviously from a sharp object.
The wound was spoiled and dirty, as if it hadn’t been treated properly.
Even looking at it was painful.
“Ugh… it hurts, Father.” Blood began to gush from the open wound.
Apollonia couldn’t bear to see her bleeding wound any longer, and covered it with the bandage once again.
Gaius grudgingly slackened his grip.
“Your Majesty, Her Highness needs to rest.” Sid interrupted anxiously, worried about how much she was bleeding.
Gaius released her arm.
“Take the princess back.
And don’t let anything like yesterday happen ever again.”
The two of them alone in the study once again, he turned towards Petra, frowning.
“Uh…” Apollonia groaned again as they were leaving the emperor’s palace.
“Be patient, Your Highness.
You’ll feel better once you go to your room to wash the wound.”
Apollonia sighed deeply, and gently poked her brand-new wound.
The wounds she’d received on the day of the banquet had healed in less than a day, then disappeared as if they’d never existed after another half a day.
So she’d smashed a vase a few hours ago, and sliced her arms in the same spot with a piece of the broken vase.
In case the emperor had called a doctor or examined her arm for a long time, she’d even applied a poisonous herb to prevent her wound from healing.
It was painful enough to make her head spin, but at least her ploy had worked.
And thanks to that pain, she’d been able to perform a realistic charade in front of the emperor and Petra.
Now, for the time being, she’d be able to avoid their scrutiny.
If her acting had been as convincing as she thought, the fact that she had the assassin in her pocket would remain a secret.
“You are strong, Your Highness,” Sid hissed in a low voice as they passed through the corridors of the emperor’s palace.
He’d reluctantly agreed to hurt her arm again, but had strongly opposed the application of the poisonous herb.
He’d feared the pain would be too much for her.
“Are you disappointed I’m strong”
“Not at all.
I’m rather proud of you.
You’ve become more and more like the late emperor.”
It was a blunt answer, but Apollonia smiled, forgetting her pain.
She didn’t care about the opinions of most people.
Only Sid’s praise was precious.
She didn’t mind being compared to her tough grandfather.
The two of them left the palace feeling relaxed, and encountered a lone maid at the entrance of the palace.
She was Petra’s young maid, who Apollonia had seen before.
Normally, Apollonia would just ignore her, but the maid’s appearance, alone and with her head down, was a little strange.
Apollonia stopped next to her.
“You’re my aunt’s maid.”
“Y-Your Highness, The Princess..”
“Would you raise your head”
The shiny-haired maid didn’t look up, even when Apollonia asked her to raise her head.
“Didn’t you hear the princess Raise your head.”
She hesitantly lifted her gaze when Sid beckoned her.
Apollonia thought that somehow, the maid’s demeanor resembled her own.
To be exact, it resembled Apollonia’s act.
Once she saw her face, Apollonia immediately understood her attitude.
She looked to be about Apollonia’s age, but her face was covered in bruises, and blood was crusted on the edges of her mouth.
Apollonia raised an eyebrow.
She’d heard rumors about this maid.
This was the girl who’d been tasked to serve her cousin, Gareth Liefer.
She’d been ordered by Petra to accept her son’s affections but had refused.
She was now practically a slave.
“Let’s see how long she can endure it.” The previous month, Gareth had gathered a group of young noblemen and told them of his intentions.
And at the banquet two days ago, he’d said something even worse.
“No matter what she does, she can’t escape.
She won’t last long.
I’m sure she’ll surrender very soon.”