Chapter 19:

The heiress of a dark heart

Your Heart has Meaning.

Solis stood before me within the darkness of the storage room. He had been messing around with the golden-coloured snake upon his collar, as if he could not sit wholly still.

“I have a request of you, my dear Agreste.” He spoke simply, turning towards me.

“And what would that be?” I pondered in response.

Solis shuffled around the room slightly.

“There’s a woman with an air of bitterness around her.” He spoke quietly. “For the longest time, I have watched her grow up. Still, she has not been able to repair her own heart, nor have I.”

“And you wish for me to do this in your stead?” I asked of him.

“Agreste, I want you to do this for me, without further question.” Sol said softly. “To change the heart of a noble heiress is a stepping stone to repairing the bitter feelings of this world. That is all I can say to you. If you can do this much for me, then I will offer you all that you want. At least, all that is in my power to give away."

“There is no trust within me towards you. I can’t simply do as you ask without any apprehension, not fully.” I spoke in return.

I could not believe for a moment that Sol was asking such a thing of me on a whim. He, too was a man of conviction. It was painted clear onto his chest by the guilt he carried with him. It was something I had to respect at least.

“But, I can see that you carry heavy emotion in this regard.” I smiled softly. “So, I will try to do this much for you, God of the sky.”

I had made such a promise towards Solis, but I did not know truly how heavy the weight of that promise would have been.

I stood before a woman who sat perched upright upon an ornate leather chair. She had stark-white hair, and eyes as red as ruby. She wore a simple white dress of cloth, with a red brooch tucked gently underneath her collar. Her earrings were like upturned pyramids of jewels. She wore a silver headband bejeweled in similar fashion.

“Who are you meant to be?”

“Surely you’ve heard my name, young miss.” I spoke with a softened smile. “I know your cousin well.”

“You know of cousin Kitsch?” She asked with a surprised expression.

The young woman of ice sitting across from me was named Lihal Strousse. She was the heiress to the Strousse nobility family, and was close in relation to one I had met prior, the nobleman Kitsch Yulier.

“Then, you could only be the man he speaks endlessly of...” She muttered curtly. “You’re the Baron of Lilacs?”

“I’m pleased to have been able to make your acquaintance, young miss.” I bowed towards her.

The room we stood within was incredibly ornate, fit to her image as an heiress. It was unlike the Yulier manor, which had been decorated to fit himself. In comparison, it was as if the heiress had dressed herself to fit the aesthetic of the building itself.

She was the daughter of the Strousse family. As nobility, they were a quiet force. As an organisation, they controlled nearly the whole of the private commercial market of Aethine. It was opposed completely to the Grand Market of Aethine, which saw diversity within commerce. The Strousse family sought to monopolise all aspects outside of the Grand Market, and hence saw extreme profit off of everything that others failed to capitalise on.

In a way, she had been like me. My mother had been an heiress, but she was kept wholly a secret. The life that Lihal Strousse lived was one I was denied by an oppressive governmental force.

If my Father's Father had not held cruelty within his heart, perhaps that would have been my life. If my sky had not been broadened, perhaps I would have been like Lihal.

I wondered then if I felt jealousy as I stared at the life I had not been allowed to live.

I quickly removed the thought from my mind, and focused wholly ahead of me.

In that moment, I had found a reason to keep my promise to Solis.

“Your cousin was kind enough to offer me this introduction to you.” I smiled.

“What exactly are you here for then?” She asked of me, her eyes furrowed in disbelief. “You’re surely not a suitor. You wouldn’t have offered such a gentle approach. Then what is it you want from me exactly?”

“You hold a very distrustful worldview.” I laughed aloud. “I’ve been here for mere moments, and you’ve already decided to bind me to a conniving nature.”

“There is not a person without ulterior motives when it comes to me, I know this much.” She spoke bitterly.

I stood in silence for a moment, pondering the sentences that sat within my mind. There had only been so many responses I could have made.

“Perhaps you’re not too wrong, although my motives don’t wholly involve you.” I said in response. “I’ve been sent here to help you work your way through your disposition, young miss.”

“And what would you imagine that to be?” She scowled.

“I’ve been told you’ve been having trouble expressing yourself around your peers.” I smiled. “I happen to be a master at expression.”

“I need no help with such things.” She looked away from me with an indignant expression of face. “It’s them that sit a problem. They have no consideration for me, after all...”

“Is that the truth of your heart?” I asked of her.

It was a question that December had asked me previously. It was one that had shook my gaze before them.

It was one that set shock alight within the eyes of the heiress.

“What the hell are you talking about now...?” She whispered, her gaze falling towards the ground within the moment. “I’m doing fine. It’s not me you should be worrying about...”

Her expression suddenly stiffened in an instant.

“Why the hell am I talking to you about all of this?” She exclaimed suddenly, her expression turnt upwards with a callous gaze. “Remove yourself in this moment! I never had the heart to welcome you here. I am not my cousin, Baron. You should remember that!”

Within an instant, I was booted from the home of the heiress.

I let out a sigh as I stood underneath the bright-orange haze. Sol had asked me to do something so incredibly out of my depth. I could not understand for a moment why he thought I was capable of such a thing.

I began to walk through the gardens of the Strousse estate unprompted, lost within my endless thoughts.

I could tell that Lihal Strousse was not truthful within her callous nature. From experience, I could see clearly that it was a shield for her, as silence had once been mine.

Not for a moment could I even begin to understand where I had to start.

Not for a moment did I know how I could fix a heart that resembled mine.


He stood simple within the garden of thorns, a man of pearl underneath the singe of morning sun. Gold crested his very being, as if he only served to be statue topping well and beautiful a layered-cake atmosphere.

The grass crunched lightly underneath steel-toed boots, marked by scorched sunfall. Against the howl of the warmed breeze, the silver nobleman appeared before me.

“Mr. Yulier.” I greeted him plainly. “It is a pleasure to lay eyes upon you once more.”

“To you, I hope I will always be Kitsch.”

I laughed softly, for the friendliness of nobility was not something I was used to in the slightest.

“Then in return, I hope I will be Agreste to you.”

Kitsch shook his head in response.

“To me, you will always be the Baron.” He spoke softly.

We sat then upon a wall of stone-brick and mortar, overlooking the garden which had been carved into perfection, like a child's set of toys organised without that child's imagination. Everything was in its place, almost unnervingly so.

“She was one who would live openly.” Kitsch spoke, reminiscence of happiness upon his face. “Lihal would always wear her smile clear on her expression.”

“Then why now has she changed?”

“I’ve no clue as to what the reasoning for her bitter temperament is.’

“She only serves her own torment...” I bit at my lip, the aggravation of my heart apparent. "I can see that much clearly. Her heart is in pain."

I let out a softened sigh, turning towards Kitsch once more.

“How can I help her move past her apprehensions?”

“I’ve no clue why you’ve chosen to do such a thing. I don’t know why of all people, the Baron of Lilacs would choose to entangle himself with the Heiress of Thorns.” Kitsch shook his head in confusion. “If you want truly to show her a way out of her thorny path, then show her a world where one can live freely with their heart.”

Kitsch tilted his head towards me with bright, serious vermilion eyes.

He was telling me simply something I had constantly told myself. To fix a callous heart, the heiress stuck within her cage needed an expanse of her dulled sky.

“Why do you keep calling my by my pseudonym?” I asked of him. “I know I said I don’t mind what you call me, but it feels in a way as if you’re trying to distance yourself.”

“Why ask now?”

“Are we not friends, Kitsch?”

“We are.”

“Then why not call me Agreste?”

Kitsch tore his rubied eyes away from my gaze, looking up towards the window in which the woman of thorns sat gently, her quiet calm the antithesis of her presented personality.

“It’s because I have not fallen for Agreste.”

His face was bright red in hue. Contrary to his usual-calm demeanor, he now looked embarrassed to be standing so tall within the warm breeze. In such a way, he refused to look in my direction. However, I looked at him with simple amusement.

He turned towards me to meet my face of comedic disgrace, bound to the floor by the fit of laughter that hammered fatigue into my body. Kitsch’s expression only gave way to a brighter shade in turn. I fell hard against the stone wall, back against paved-bricks as I allowed my belly to bellow with amusement in the face of Kitsch’s rubied face.

“I’ve not fallen for your person, Agreste.” He shook his head, trying desperately not to trip over his own sentences. “It is your words I have grown to enjoy.”

“Oh my friend...” I sighed loudly amidst my smile, bated and exhausted breaths apparent upon the warmed air. “For having cured my stilled heart with laughter, then too must I always offer my words to you. I will always be present for the sake of your heart.”

There was silence between us for a moment, and all that stood to fill the air was the familiar whistle of the warm breeze.

“I must ask... why come forth with your heart now?” I posed, turning towards his silver-lined gaze.

“I was not going to say much in that regard originally.” He spoke with a softened smile upon his face. “To speak of my heart... it felt cruel, and unnecessary.”

“Why would you phrase it like that?”

“I have my heart set within these feelings.” He shook his head. “But the playwright, I would not choose to offend her, after knowing her so long...”

“Who is Theresia to you?”

“I am her patron. I am benefactor to her works.” He grinned, turning towards me. “Although, in speaking that way, I must rephrase that I have never greeted her formally. My grace works from the shadows.”

He met the surprise within my gaze, and quickly turned his towards the ground once again.

“I’ve seen how you look at her.” Kitsch spoke softly, meddling with the grass that lied next to his boots. “You love Theresia Hayes, don’t you?”

My heart welled up with shock upon hearing his words.

The ache had returned within its silence.

The word ‘love’ flooded my heart with clawing guilt.

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