Roxana walked past Charlotte, who remained seated on the floor, stunned. Her younger sister’s cheek was stained with blood, and her foot continued to throb from Roxana’s assault.

Roxana had already dismissed her siblings from her thoughts, even as Jeremy’s figure briefly accompanied her as he approached Charlotte.

Her footsteps led her further into the castle, descending towards the dungeons.

Cassis POV

His previously lowered head snapped upright as soon as he caught the faint sound of footsteps resonating through the corridor.

The cell door opened gradually, intentionally minimizing the loud creak emanating from the rusty hinges.

Once again, he scrutinized Roxana intently from his position on the floor.

“You smell of blood,” Cassis remarked.

His wrists were now restrained, chained to the prison walls as if he were about to be crucified like Jesus Christ. His legs were uncomfortably bent to accommodate a short chain that bound his ankles together and connected them to the ground. It was a remarkably submissive posture, rendering Cassis unable to kick, grasp, or strike anyone who approached him. Pink rope marks encircled his mouth, leaving him with a perpetual and grotesque smile. He had been gagged the last time he was beaten. 

Roxana cast her gaze downward, noticing the blood stains on her dress and shoes, as if she had passed someone bleeding on the floor.

He observed a faint wrinkle forming on her nose, a sign of slight confusion caused by his comment. It appeared that she hadn’t realized the evidence on her own attire.

She looked at him, clutching her wrist with one hand. “It’s not much. You wouldn’t really care anyway,” she said. Her words, typically polite and well-spoken, now stumbled from her lips. Her tone mirrored the same sincerity and vulnerability as when she had expressed her desire for him not to die.

Cassis furrowed his brow in response to her remark but refrained from arguing.

Roxana’s tone conveyed annoyance towards him and a slight distraction from their previous encounter. She didn’t appear to be injured herself, and the blood seemed to have originated from her opponent. It was unclear if she was the victim or the perpetrator….

“I should have cleaned up and changed before coming here. I didn’t expect you to notice,” she said, averting her gaze. She appeared frustrated with herself for being careless once again. “I won’t be able to return for a while.”

His gaze narrowed.

By now, they had encountered each other numerous times in the dungeons. His vision was imperfect, and Roxana stood too far away for him to see her clearly. However, he observed the contour of her figure and the vivid contrast of blood against her pale attire.

“I won’t be gone for long, just a few days,” she added.

What did she mean by a few days? Had he misjudged the situation? Was she truly injured?

Cassis was not in a good relationship with her and lacked the means to offer any help, but the sight of those dark stains on her dress,her own blood… It made him feel uneasy for some reason. The damp and putrid scent evoked memories of decaying fish at the fisherman’s wharf, and he recalled how he had coldly glanced over lifeless fish with vacant eyes.

Feeling frustrated, he attempted to once again focus on her face, struggling to discern her expression clearly.

“Stay safe. You should be fine until we meet again,” her tone reverted back to that of a gracious and refined noblewoman. It was as if she was conversing with him as a hostess would at a social gathering. “I’m just a bit concerned that I won’t be here to assist you if the need arises.”

Cassis held the hope that the next time they crossed paths, he would be able to see her face clearly.