20 Broken woman with a glass hear
Elise walked confidently through the castles gates and entered into the halls of her ancestral home, the Blackwolf manor. Ashley stared in amazement at the classy interior of the castle, the halls were heated with small fire stones embedded within tiles of the floor.
They illuminated the rooms with a warm comforting orange glow which made her feel very comfortable. Suits of armour and ancient paintings lined the walls with elegant curtains covering the windows. It was a remarkably different change from the bare bones look of the castle's outside.
Elise handed over her daughter to Elena and ordered the servants who were following them.
"Escort my daughter to my room and then go to the town and buy every toy that is popular right now."
"Also, she should have at least twenty personal maidservants."
The crowd behind her: ??????????
Twenty maidservants for one person? The old butler sighed to himself and hurriedly picked out twenty girls to serve as the little duchess' personal maids.
He was going to select a few gentlemen as well but the look in Elise's eyes made him quickly change his mind. Who told him to serve such an overprotective mom.
Ashley was then escorted away to her new room while followed by a crowd of twenty servants all cheerfully talking and laughing with her. Elise smiled and waved goodbye before turning to Gerald with a serious look.
"I need to see you in the study immediately."
Gerald nodded and dismissed the rest of the servants as he followed Elise into the study room.
(In the study)
Elise opened the door with a flourish and stepped inside, the old room stayed exactly how she remembered it. A bookshelf lay on the left side of the room with a cozy fireplace warming up the study to a pleasant temperature.
The desk at the back of the room was cluttered with papers strewn about in a haphazard manner. Elise walked to the seat behind the desk and sat down. She would often be struck with a wave memories of a little girl playing with dolls on her father's lap as he dealt with issues that popped up around the dukedom.
They were fond memories and a small wave of nostalgia brought a tiny look of pain to her face. Gerald followed her into the room and closed the door to prevent any sound from leaking. Instantly the look of pain vanished from Elise's face and a cold mask took its place.
"What noteworthy events happened in my absence?" Elise questioned with a commanding tone.
"My lady, none dare to create any problems in the dukedom after you destroyed the underworld gangs five months ago. There have been a few minor racial tensions between the demonkin and the mermaid tribes over land disputes, but it has all been settled by the peace corps without the need for violence."
Elise leaned back and sighed slightly, despite the atmosphere of equality and peace present in the dukedom. There would always be minor problems that would rear their ugly head due to the differences in the culture of the dark races with each other and humans.
The problems had to be dealt with swiftly to avoid potentially bigger or violent acts from occurring. This led to the establishment of the peace corps by her grandfather.
The peace corps were built from strong warriors from every race and tribe in the dukedom who were trained as the personal guards of the people. They dealt with minor and major crimes and were responsible for arbitrating arguments between citizens in a public setting.
Of course, they were no match for the monster extermination squad or Elise's personal guards, but their strength was not to be underestimated. Each member was required to swear an oath of fealty to serve both the dukedom and the people within.
Only then could they wear the infamous black armour with the symbol of a wolf printed onto the capes of their uniforms.
Elise pursed her lips together and her eyes flashed a dark violet as she asked in a quiet tone, "What is the status of the shipments from the merchants?"
"There should be a fresh batch in roughly a fortnight, we have located and bought from the Ottones kingdom and the Fernatea empire. The merchants will deposit the goods at the harbour and are forbidden from entrance into the city. We may need to pay an extra fee to buy their silence," Gerald spoke in an equally hushed tone.
The goods he was speaking of were slaves mainly from the dark races, collected from various kingdoms and empires throughout the continent.
Elise was unable to stand against the might of the powerful leaders by herself so she was determined to rescue as much people as she could using another method. Although she outlawed slavery in the dukedom, Elise made connections with foreign traders who dealt with people.
Elise was prepared to pay above market price for dark race slaves and was willing to offer monster cores and parts for them. It was not a wise move from an economic standpoint, but the military benefited greatly during the spring months when there was a great deal of pressure from beast attacks.
Of course, not all slaves would choose to join the military but after a few weeks of mandatory education they would be considered free citizens of the dukedom.
"Thank you. You are dismissed for now." Elise replied calmly. She wanted a few moments of quiet to contemplate how to raise Ashley and start magical training. She would need to summon for a rune seer to analyse what mana circuit Ashley had been born with.
Gerald headed for the door then hesitated for a moment and against his better judgement he decided to speak again.
"There were reports of a crow sighting above your envoy when you entered the city gates," he said in an almost fearful voice.
The room instantly stilled, and Gerald could hear his heart thumping in his chest as if it were going to burst. Elise stood up and peered out of the window with her back facing the old butler, her body seemed frozen in place and there was a dangerous air around her.
"Leave now before I lose control," Elise finally muttered.
Gerald quickly bowed then ran out of the room and made sure to lock the door on his way out. He would have to order the maidservants not to approach close to the study from for the rest of the afternoon.
The last thing he needed on his conscience was yet another accident where an innocent servant boy had entered a room when Elise lost control of herself.
His body was found outside the door of the room ripped apart and tossed on the floor in pieces.
Inside the room, Elise gazed at her shaking hands with breath coming out in frantic heaves, goosebumps rose across her arms and she fought the urge to throw up.
The dark tendrils began to spread from her feet and danced around the walls of the room. The shadowy marks on her body started to shift and grow restless.
"Track down that woman and make her pay for what she did to you," a demonic voice echoed in her head.
"No… no…. no. My father did not kill her, so I won't," Elise gripped her head with pain and staggered out a reply.
Ever since that day, Elise would lose control whenever the mention of that woman came up. It was part of the reason why no one in the castle dared to even say the name of the Duke's former wife.
Her father had tried to hide the fact that her mother was still alive by faking her death, but Elise knew the truth. When she saw the body in the casket, she knew it could not have been that wretched woman. How could such a powerful woman die in a peaceful way?
Her fears were confirmed when she saw crows gazing at her from a distance as she grew up, they would always stay far away from the castle only daring to peer at her from a distance.
Her father dismissed her fears as mere worries, but Elise knew the truth. Her monstrous talent in dark magic was inherited from her mother, a woman who at her peak was unrivalled among magic warriors of her age group.
Luckily it appeared that her mother had no desire to initiate contact and would be content to just observe.
Elise's vision started to blur, and she collapsed onto the ground with her limbs shaking and thrashing. The voices in her head started to sound louder and louder until she began to scream to drown them out.
Eventually she could not tell if the noise in her head were the voices or the screams of pain tearing out from her throat.
Her sight soon slipped to black and she fell unconscious with a loud thud as she hit the floor.