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Chapter: 353

Are You Poisonous

Esther sat on the floor in front of the young prince with a resigned expression. 

With exaggerated slowless, she picked up the spoon and stirred the hot porridge to cool it down. She even blew on the spoon full of steaming porridge before feeding him like a nanny feeding a young child. However, Prince Theron received her mocking actions with a grin, and he too opened his mouth with exaggerated slowness, making sure he kept eye contact with her while doing so.

Contrary to what Esther was feeling, Prince Theron was enjoying the situation. He himself didn't know why he was acting like that, but he was happy to watch her struggle to keep her composure.  Perhaps he truly did not want to let her be away from his sight, but annoying her ought to be the largest factor for his actions. 

After eating a few spoonfuls, Prince Theron asked, "Are you not going to eat?"

"I am not that hungry yet," she replied calmly and held the spoon in front of him, urging him to continue eating.

The Crown Prince held her hand, causing her to be puzzled. She opened her mouth to ask what his problem was, but the next moment, it was stuffed shut with porridge as Prince Theron put that spoon into her mouth. 

"You should still eat. I don't want you to complain of hunger and then say you won't be able to take care of me because you feel weak."

Esther frowned inside while gulping the food down her throat. 'You are just worried about yourself!'

Although she did her best to keep hold of her expressions, the flash of annoyance in her eyes could never go undetected by him. He smiled, knowing she must be definitely cursing him for being self-centered.

Esther then looked at the spoon which entered her mouth a moment ago. She could not feed the Crown Prince with the same one anymore; after all, she was just a servant and a commoner. 

"I will get another spoon, Your Highness." She was about to get up but Prince Theron held her hand. She gave him another tired look, but this time, his question stumped her. 

"Are you poisonous?"

Puzzled, Esther could only shake her head. 

"Do you have a contagious disease?"

Again, she shook her head.

"Then it's fine as long as you are not. As someone said before, we are not in the palace so there is no need to keep up appearances. There is no one to impress here, and it's troublesome to waste the owner's limited supply of water by washing two spoons."

Just then, the door leading to the tunnel opened. The old woman returned home, and at the sight of the uninvited guests, a frown formed on her wrinkled face. "Indeed, only this young man has a conscience. You two have troubled me enough."  She was carrying a bag with her and emptied its contents in one woven basket. "I have brought fresh fruits. You can have some of them."

"Thank you," Prince Theron said. 

Esther glared at the prince. 'I have been taking care of him since last night but not even once had he thanked me. Ungrateful human!' Then, she looked at the old woman.

The old woman sensed the deathly glare coming from her direction, and instead of ignoring it, she levelled Esther with a glare of her own. "Finish that meal before it gets cold. I don't have more rice for you two here." Afterwards, she took some items into her bag and went back inside her own room.

Prince Theron looked at Esther. "The owner is right. She doesn't have things in abundance here like in the palace, so we must not impose on her kindness."

'Kindness? With that attitude? You even gave her your ring! You can feed an entire household for a year if you convert that into gold coins!'

Suppressing her anger, Esther could only keep her grumbles to herself while she continued to feed him and herself, in turn, using the same spoon.

Once they finished the porridge, the old woman came out of her room and tapped the cane she was holding on the wooden floorboards. "Unless you people are criminal fugitives of the kingdom, there doesn't seem like there is anything dangerous outside for you. There are royal soldiers in the forest and they seem to be searching for you two."

It was given that when the Crown Prince himself was missing, search parties would be sent out to look for him everywhere. Perhaps, not only the royal palace but even private soldiers of the noble households in Blackhelm were being mobilized to help. 

Esther stood up as she knew what was in Prince Theron's mind. "I will go out and bring them here."

He was not sure if he should let her go. "No, I will go with you."

"It's not good for you to move your body, Your Highness."

"It might be dangerous—"

Before Prince Theron could say more, the old lady spoke up, "Listen to her, young man. What, you think with your body's condition, you are fit to move around and protect her? You can't even stand. You will be a burden." Her wrinkled face was grumpy. "This young woman has managed to bring you here on her own while you were unconscious. She is much more capable than you think." 

Prince Theron didn't mind her words and looked at Esther. "Will you be fine?" His eyes showed worry in them.

'Is he worried for my safety or worried for himself about who will look after him? Does he think I will leave him behind?' Esther smiled and replied, "I have been living in the forest all my life, and I can easily find the traces of the royal soldiers. Don't worry, Your Highness."

Prince Theron reluctantly permitted her and she turned to leave for the door.

"Don't use the tunnel where you came in. There is another way next to it to go up easily," the old lady informed her.

With a nod, Esther left.

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