The Grandil family is well respected for its long history of honorable and trustworthy members. Belatrix is no exception.
Fierce, noble, and beautiful, Belatrix is only a hairsbreadth away from taking the throne herself. The Royal Duma will likely elect her to rule after Kallias. But Belatrix values her honor to a fault. Nothing matters to her so much as keeping her word and serving Kallias faithfully.
from the visual novel
Nikolaos turns to his companion. I hold back another gasp, this time of dismay. The woman next to him is large and muscular, her body draped with armor, her eyes so fierce they seem to burn me from afar. She has deep brown skin which contrasts strangely—and beautifully—with the bright red hair spiraling down her shoulders. I am reminded of one of my few encounters with a large cat in the jungle, the beauty of which is rivaled only by its ferocity. In the presence of such beings I never knew whether to bow my head in adoration or flee in utter terror.
“No one else but the god of greed himself, I imagine,” says Belatrix. Her voice is both deep and sonorous, as strong and graceful as her body.
Even Nikolaos seems intimidated by the woman’s presence. He shifts about nervously.
“So … do you want to talk to him? I imagine that’s why you came all this way from Castle Krondolee.”
The name “Castle Krondolee” makes my heart leap with excitement. I have read stories of the royal seat of Darzia in Papa’s precious books. I have imagined it so many times: its large stone towers, its cobblestone courtyards. But Krondolee has always seemed like a distant dream to me. The thought that it is real, and that someone in my presence actually traveled here from that castle, makes me dizzy.
“Talk to Arken Jeridar?” snaps Commander Belatrix. “The Grand Traitor? And let him fill my head with lies? You must be as stupid as you look!”
A flush of red goes across Nikolaos’s face. I might actually feel sorry for the fellow, if I wasn’t so distracted by Belatrix’s words.
Arken Jeridar? Grand traitor? She couldn’t possibly be talking about Papa? These people must be mistaken. His name is Arken, that is true. But I had never heard the name “Jeridar” before. And he is certainly no “traitor!”
“Traitors are the worst scum on the planet,” snarls Belatrix, her teeth flashing white in the darkness. “They have no honor. No loyalty. No principles. A traitor cannot be ‘talked’ to. The truth must be wrested out of him, but carefully, like pulling the heart from an animal before it stops beating.”
I grip my spear so tightly, my fingers ache. This woman looks strong and ferocious, but if she tries to harm Papa, I will do whatever I must to stop her.
“What sort of truth are you hoping to ‘wrest’ out of him?” asks Nikolaos.
Belatrix looks around, as if afraid someone might be listening. I resist the urge to flee as her gaze sweeps over my hiding spot. Fortunately, the shadows protect me. Belatrix turns back to Nikolaos, lowering her voice so I must strain to listen.
“If you were anyone else, Nikolaos, I would not speak of it. But you already know about her, don’t you? You know about the former queen’s daughter. You know that the heir of House Elborn might still be alive.”
They are both quiet for a moment. I don’t hear anything but the pounding of my own heart. I don’t know who this “heir of House Elborn” might be, but whoever she is, she must be important.
Nikolaos crosses his arms and looks away from the Commander. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Belatrix blinks with surprise. “But you must. Your mother was the one who saw Arken take the baby away.”
“Oh, she might have said something like that a long time ago to impress the other maids,” shrugs Nikolaos. “Then the story got passed around and exaggerated. Servants’ gossip. That’s all it was. As you may recall, when the king questioned her about it later, she denied the story completely.”
“Yes, but…” Belatrix studies him carefully. She seems to doubt his sincerity. But Nikolaos avoids her gaze.
After a moment, Belatrix gives up. Her puzzlement shifts into anger. “Is your mother a liar, then? Or are you the liar, Nikolaos?”
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