48 A deepest, darkest desire

They said their goodbyes and split up. Whit, the man following them was somewhat surprised, but after thinking a bit, he followed behind Eliseline and Savine.

The pair, alongside Zuri, tried out Erst duchy's delicacies and afterwards, made a few rounds around the entertainment district.

When they reached a jewelry store, Savine noticed that Eliseline's eyes lingered on the accessories a few seconds longer.

Savine was about to pass it, but she decided otherwise.

"Let's check this store out."

Eliseline was surprised. "I didn't think you were interested in jewelry."

"Why can't I be?" Savine smiled and entered the shop.

"Welcome, customers! Oh! An exceptional beauty has come to our shop!"

A chatty woman manned the store. She did not hide her sparkling eyes as she observed Eliseline from top to bottom.

"It's a crime you're dressed like that, a crime!" she suddenly said.

Eliseline was in a long brown dress with no notable anything. She had no frills, no extra embellishments, and for jewelry, she didn't even carry a portrait pendant with a grandfather's portrait.

Of course, she still looked attractive, giving off the simple charms of a simply countryside wife. But that was all because of her unnatural beauty. It wasn't wrong to say that everything looked good on beautiful people. Even if Eliseline was wearing a torn, soot-covered dress and had splashed mud all over herself, doubtless, she would still look better than half the people of the world.

But since the beauty preferred discreet looks, Savine could only work with that.

"Do you have anything small or low-key?"

Unless they were willing to buy Eliseline more clothes as well, there really was nothing else they could buy that fit with her current outfit.

The shopkeeper stared at Eliseline a bit more before bringing out a diamond necklace on a silver chain. The gem was tiny and the chain was thin. But it was definitely better than nothing.

The shopkeeper wasn't satisfied though.

"Miss, I know the clothier across the street. If you want to, I can introduce you to her. She's sounds somewhat vain, but she's definitely a good clothier. Miss, please, I'm sure we'll be able to dress you better."

"No, no. It's alright."

"At least see if these rings and bracelets fit you, please?"

Eliseline found herself in a tough spot. She awkwardly put on the items, while the shopkeeper whispered to someone in the backrooms to call for the clothier.

Soon enough, a sharp-eyed woman came into the store and exclaimed loudly.

"Ohoho! What a divine beauty! Even the gods must feel regret for creating you so perfect! But we mustn't bow to the gods, dear! We must spite them! Make you even more beautiful so they'll die from regret!"


"Dear, go call my little assistant here!"


"Shush, shush. All is well."

Eliseline, flanked by the two women, looked troubled. However, she also looked guiltily happy, so she allowed the two women to shower her with praise and beauty.

Savine rolled her eyes and looked through the accessories. Eliseline was right, she was past yearning for beauty. But she wasn't someone who didn't understand its uses and the importance of appearance. Unfortunately, Savine had no beauty of her own, so she only strived to keep her appearance clean and simple.

She stole a glance outside and saw the lanky man sitting outside, staring into the shop. He really wasn't doing a good job of discreetly following behind them.

"Young lady, that man seems to be following us," Zuri whispered. "A tall man with dark brown clothing."

It wasn't even a challenge for Zuri to notice him.


"Should I go talk to him?"

"Eh. Looks like the type to just deny everything and laugh it off," Savine said. "Maybe brush past him and drop these coins?"

Savine gave Zuri a bag of coins and gestured at a store on the other side of the street. Zuri nodded and ran out. Skillfully, when she neared her target, she pretended to dodge a passerby before bumping into the man.

Coins clattered on the ground, drawing the attention of everyone. Everyone looked over and saw that someone had dropped a bunch of silver coins.

Before the man could understand what happened, Zuri slapped him loud on the face.

"The fuck, bitch!" the man got up, his hands reaching into his pocket.

"Trying to steal in daylight?!" Zuri snorted.

"You're the one who bumped into me, bitch! Who are you trying to blame?"

"Look at this shameless man!" Zuri said to the onlookers. "He tried to pick at the coins in my pocket but now that he failed, he's trying to act like nothing happened!"

"Make up a better story, you fucking delusional whore!"

The man got up and grabbed Zuri by the collar, but a passing man intervened. He grabbed Whit and shoved him off Zuri.

"Damn lowlifes, find your own kin to steal from!"

"Yeah, yeah. Someone call the guards!"

Naturally, when Zuri and Whit's words were pitted against each other, people naturally believed Zuri more. That was just how things were.

Amid the crowd's jeers, Zuri bent down and picked up her coins. She gave one silver to the man who helped her, thanked the crowd and went on to the shop that Savine specified.

"What's going on?" Eliseline asked.

"Nothing. Zuri noticed the man and wanted to drive him away."


Outside, Whit was being shooed away by the gathered people, some even picking up rocks from the ground. Savine kept part of her focus following him, but otherwise kept her mind around herself. She looked at Eliseline, who was holding a bag full of clothes and jewelry.

"Happy?" Savine asked.

Eliseline looked down at the bag and blushed slightly. "I won't be wearing these as much, so I feel somewhat bad."

"But it does make you happy, right?"


"Ah, since you're a warrior, a priest, a member of the ducal family, with all these great responsibilities piled on your shoulders, it's unbecoming of you to enjoy feeling beautiful?"


"Since you kept asking about what I should feel about people whose only desires are to rape and kill, I was wondering what your deepest darkest desires were. Never did I expect it'd be to buy clothes and jewelry. Should I expect you to implode from happiness if you eat sweets?"


Eliseline turned redder and redder.

Savine stopped teasing her and the two walked out of the store.

Zuri came back from the random store and gave Savine a small box.

"The box was another accessory store," she explained. "Since I thought I should get something, I brought this for you, young lady."

It was a small pair of hairpins with no decorations on them. Savine shrugged and clipped her hair on both sides.

"Oh yeah, you said that noble daughters keep parts of their hair done in twin buns, right?" she asked Eliseline.

"Yes, for teenage girls. After 15, they can do whatever they want."

"Zuri, go get a couple hairbands."

"Yes, young lady," she said and hopped back towards the store.

With the hairbands, Savine gathered parts of her hair into two buns and stared at herself in a mirror. She smiled, not the wry and almost smirking type she normally made, but a much more lighthearted and purer smile that reached all the way to her eyes.

There was definitely a cute girl on the mirror. However, Zuri and Eliseline stared at her as if they saw a ghost.

"How do I look?" Savine asked, turning her voice cutesier and more high-pitched.

The two flinched.

"How rude, hmph!"

Eliseline closed her eyes tightly shut and Zuri cringed back.

Savine wanted to tease them more, but she heard a voice in her head.

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