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Chapter: 356

Black Magic

That was Queen Theodora who had been watching what was going on for a while. She knew Esther was in a tight spot, and there must be something she didn't want to say in front of these officials. For Queen Theodora, she trusted that whatever information about the attack the young lady might be keeping, she must be withholding it for a reason. Esther was a special existence; it was enough that Esther was her son's saviour.

Everyone bowed before the Queen. She walked towards Esther and asked, "Are you hurt somewhere?"

With her head lowered in front of the Queen, Esther answered, "No, Your Majesty."

Queen Theodora looked at Lady Tyra who accompanied her. "Take her back to her room."

Afterwards, the Queen left with her ladies-in-waiting, while Esther left with Lady Tyra towards the servant's quarters in the Queen's residence. 

Once they reached Esther's room, Lady Tyra closed the door and lowered her head in front of Esther. "Your Eminence, you don't look good," 

Esther relaxed her expression as she looked at the older lady. "I went to deal with what was trying to hurt the Crown Prince."

"What kind of entity is it, for you to be troubled so?" Lady Tyra asked, feeling worried.

"The only thing I am sure of is that it isn't one of our kind. If it were, I would have recognized it even with a hiding spell, but it felt like the magic used is different in nature to what our kind uses. Someone capable of using dangerous spells of the destructive kind," Esther answered and she pulled her sleeve up, showing the older lady the burn mark on her skin. "I took it lightly."

Lady Tyra gasped in shock. She knew the true identity of Esther, and an attack that could hurt her…"Do you need healing, Your Eminence?"

"No need. It will return to normal on its own," she answered. 

"May I see it?" Lady Tyra asked and Esther lifted her hand and put it on the older lady's open palm. Seeing the burn mark on her hand just above the wrist, Lady Tyra silently studied it for a while. "If it could manage to hurt you to this extent, then it must be an energy attack, but I do not feel any elemental energy like fire or spiritual energy from a supernatural being. And looking at this wound, it looks like it used—"

"Black magic," Esther answered with a nod. 

"A wizard?" Lady Tyra frowned. "Those humans who practice ancient spells?"

Esther hummed in agreement. "Humans of this continent have little to no affinity with magic. At most, they could only imitate the abilities of supernatural beings, and thus, black magic is born, magic that defies nature. Only those humans with ancient lineages have abilities to wield black magic, and these kinds of people from old families are always hidden from society since they dislike ordinary people. Only someone with incredible wealth and a high position in the kingdom could afford to hire them."

"Looks like with this information, we can narrow down those who want to hurt the Crown Prince," Lady Tyra sighed.

-----

The atmosphere within the palace was gloomy. Despite the efforts of the royal physicians, the Crown Prince's health continued to worsen. 

After resting for a while, Esther had already resumed her duties as the Queen's servant. Queen Theodora skipped her meals as she was worried about her son, and even at the persuasion of her husband, the King, she could not even think about eating. 

When she saw Esther enter her chamber, she wanted to ask about the identity of who harmed her son but she managed to stop herself because she knew that it was more complicated than it seemed. Lady Tyra had already told the Queen about the situation, so there was no need to ask more. For now, all she wanted was to see her son safe and sound. 

Though Esther had resumed her work, her mind was stuck on how the Crown Prince was doing. From Lady Tyra, she got to hear about the latest situation of Prince Theron, but he had yet to regain consciousness. The fact that even with the best treatment from the palace, his health still didn't improve, it made her feel worried. 

'Using my abilities inside the palace should be safe,' she thought with renewed determination. 'However, given his situation, he must be surrounded by people all the time. I cannot sneak in easily. How can I get there without raising suspicions?' 

Just as she had that thought, Queen Theodora told her servants to prepare to visit the Crown Prince's residence. She wished to see her son after hearing no good news for an entire day. She wanted to stay by her son's side for the night.

Just as Queen Theodora was about to leave, only bringing Lady Tyra with her, Esther spoke up, "Your Majesty, please allow me to come with you to visit the Crown Prince." 

Entry to any royal residence was restricted, and as Esther was a servant of the Queen, she would not be allowed to go to the residence of the Crown Prince on normal days, much less with the situation now with the security tightened. 

The Queen nodded and both Lady Tyra and Esther followed her. Once they reached the Crown Prince's chamber, the royal physicians bowed to her in greeting outside the door. She then found that her husband,  King Esteban Ivanov, had personally visited their son as well, that was why everyone was outside. 

Inside, they only saw two men standing beside the bed, King Esteban and the Head Royal Physician. Both of them had dark expressions on their faces. Queen Theodora quickly approached her husband. "How is our son? Any improvement?"

The middle-aged man had a fatigued look on his face as he shook his head. "They say it all depends on Theron's willpower now."

"W-What do you mean?" she asked with her shaky voice as her eyes turned teary. 

The Head Royal Physician lowered his head before the Queen. "We have done everything we can, Your Majesty. We can only pray for Prince Theron to wake up on his own. If His Highness doesn't wake up by morning…" 

"W-What do you mean? What are you implying? Oh, my son! My Theron!"

The Queen went towards her son and stared at his pale face. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she gently caressed his head, no longer caring about appearances or keeping her emotions in check. No word came out of her mouth and only tears rolled down silently down her cheeks. Her husband had no idea how to comfort her, and could only silently rub her shoulders in an attempt to calm his queen.

Esther glanced at the unconscious prince and remembered the scene by the river when he attempted to save her, in effect putting his life in danger. 'This human, he didn't have to save me.' 

Unable to watch the sobbing queen, Esther closed her eyes. However, she could still see the face of Prince Theron, how annoying he looked as he demanded that she change his clothes, how he stubbornly searched for her without caring for his wounds…and  how relieved he looked the moment he saw her, as if he found something precious. 

'Why…Why did he have to do it for me?'

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