“It’s… my name.” (T/N: He stuttered to speak formally here.)
He stumbled to finish his sentence, and he looked dissatisfied.
But it was no longer cynicism, anger, or mistrust that stood on his face; it was instead perhaps a shine of hope that glimmered in his beautiful eyes.
She pronounced the name slowly.
“I’m Apollonia Alistair Ferdian.”
Like the day they’d first met, their gazes collided.
But this time, there was a sense of camaraderie in it.
After Apollonia left, Uriel flung himself back into his bed.
He took a deep sigh.
It was hard to believe what had just happened.
He’d never thought there would be a way to remove his mark.
When he closed his eyes, Apollonia’s face came into his mind.
Hers was the face he’d been fixated on for days, but seeing her again had renewed his fascination.
She was both cold and kind.
Calculated, but there was warmth at the heart of every action she made.
When she’d told him of Safiro’s death, he’d thought at first that she was cold and heartless- but he realized now that she’d been looking at him with compassion, too.
She’d cold-bloodedly threatened to kill him if he didn’t obey her, but on the other hand, it was a kind threat.
A clean death was easy; vastly different from that bastard Safiro.
If he deemed someone to be useful, he would use any foul means possible to keep them alive.
He’d work them to the bone to satisfy his own ends.
He raised both his hands towards the ceiling and gently tapped his fingertips together.
He could still feel a ghost of the sensation from when he’d grabbed her wrist.
He’d been able to pierce the enemy’s barrier, but as soon as he’d seen her dumbfounded expression, he hadn’t been able to go any further.
“Let go of me.”
The second she’d ordered him to, he’d backed away, obediently following her command to release her.
One might have even thought it was Apollonia who’d cast the mark on his neck.
Uriel laughed bitterly to himself.
He was already obeying Apollonia, even when he hadn’t agreed to.
A familiar but loathsome word.
But at that moment, the word overlapped with Apollonia’s enchanting scarlet eyes and swirled through Uriel’s head.
Those eyes, the ones that embodied both cold and warmth, almost made the word sound sweet.
Uriel wanted to see those eyes smile.
This was such an unbelievable turn of events.
The women of the Samara Empire had a coming-of-age ceremony once they reached the age of seventeen.
The coming-of-age ceremony meant they were old enough to get married, and that they could begin to interact with people outside their family.
In some cases, it meant that the woman, especially those who carried titles, could finally formally exert their authority, and escape from under the shadows of their guardians.
Just like every woman, Apollonia had been looking forward to her coming-of-age.
But it wasn’t because she dreamed of a romance with Prince Charming, nor because she wanted to be congratulated by guests and wear a splendid dress.
In the southern part of the Empire lay a territory she’d been granted by the late emperor.
Since she’d been too young, the management of the territory had previously been delegated to a local official, but after her coming-of-age ceremony, she wanted to visit the land and officially become its liege lord.
She was the only heir of her grandfather Pascal III, so she’d had many lands granted to her before he’d passed away.
Her shares of the vast expanse of land contained within the Empire were mostly in the central part of the capital and in the fertile east.
But after the death of the previous emperor, Gaius had slowly stolen pieces of her land little by little and given them to his most favored servants.
His excuse had been that she was too young, but he’d then given some of the lands to Paris, who was only a few years older than her.
To avoid public scrutiny, Gaius had left her Lishan Province in the south, which was the largest province in the empire.