This time, Flora didn't even want to go in. From outside she heard the voices and knew that her brother was alive and well.
Another deception orchestrated by her mother; some kind of stratagem in favor of her own interests, whichever they were. What did it matter?
She was tired. Suddenly, she couldn't remember why she had returned to the palace. Had she really felt the need to help Kasimir? To find out if he was really dead? Why?
She stood there, in the corridor, next to the door, that door she hated, waiting for a servant to walk by so that she would have to hide herself.
It all happened in an instant.
Detlef arrived, also as a mouse, and before either of them had time to notice, the duchess of Bosfor appeared and threw with her arm an attack, which once again, was stopped by the protective spell Flora had cast upon herself and her three friends. A spell that required a greater amount of personal energy than usual. Large enough to become a sacrifice: that of her capacity to ever have children.
But how could she ever look at any children of hers in the eyes if the lives of three very dear persons had been in her hands and she had not done everything in her power to save them? No. She'd rather not be a mother than carry that burden in her conscience for the rest of her life.
Even though the duchess’s attack was unsuccessful, her intention of harming them was more than Flora could endure. How many times had she already suffered or been witness to her mother's rage, wickedness, ambition and envy? How can a soul stand the fact that the person who should love her the most tries once and again to make her disappear and to hurt those people who do make her part of their lives?
She couldn't stand it anymore.
After turning human again, she sent a lethal beam that instantly killed that woman of dark hair, white skin and piercing eyes. Her mother. The duchess of Bosfor. The mother of the man who could have been king. Wilhelmina.
As it often happens, the denouement was disappointing.
But that is quite usual.
This could have been the moment when Detlef made up, with a mere hug, at a moment when it would have been much appreciated, for mistakes of the past; mistakes he had been regretting just before.
But it wasn't.
What Detlef did was leave. He didn't even turn human before leaving. He left as a mouse. And Flora watched him go while a strange, dark calmness overcame her.
She couldn't think. Nor did she want to. She felt that her whole body and soul had atrophied. Unable to move. Unable to feel anything.
That's why she did not react in any way when, seconds after Detlef's disappearance along the corridor, Oda materialized next to her.
’It wasn't you. It was the enormous pain you have inside you,’ she told her, as if they were best friends.
Flora raised her head to look at her, with slow, very slow it seemed to her, movements. She felt as if even blinking had turned into a task that required a few seconds.
‘Were you here?’ she finally asked, still floating in that strange calmness.
‘I followed you from Sonlagarb. I knew that, one way or other, sooner or later, justice would prevail.’
Flora began to understand.
‘You killed the king,’ she stated, with no hint of any kind of emotion.
‘Of course,’ the old woman answered proudly. ‘And I'm sure you of all people can understand my reasons.’
Flora reflected on this. She felt the cold wall on which she was resting her back and the cold tiles under her legs. She was sitting on the floor. She hadn't even noticed. She didn't remember sitting down.
She was staring at the nursemaid, trying to see herself in her as the woman seemed to suggest.
‘Resentment?’ she guessed.
‘You could call it that way. For many years I had been in the belief that I was somehow valued. But it turned out I wasn't.’
‘That's why you killed the king, but... Adalberht? I find it hard to believe that you could feel looked down on by him.’
Oda almost replied that to Adalberht she had not done anything, but she didn't. The duchess's dead body on the floor reminded her that she had brought about this removal of masks. She needed to say the truth. No one like Flora and no moment like the present.
‘Things with Adalberht are different. He has let the kingdom down, not just me. He had the power to change everything and he chose to run away like a coward. I didn't raise him to be like that.’
Flora's eyes were then filled with rage.