“I’ll have to stop him.”
Empress Lavini said to Duigi.
Duigi Angenas was more frightened by Lavini’s calm appearance.
Ever since she was a child, Lavini was someone who had a fiery personality and smashed things when she was angry.
However, now, she looked very calm.
But Duigi thought he’d rather her be angry.
It was because he felt as if a calm Lavini further proved that the situation was not good.
Perhaps even worse than Duigi could even imagine.
Lavini, who had taken all the real power and left a puppet in the Patriarch’s seat, was resentful, but now was time to leave those sort of feelings behind.
“What should I do, sister?”
Duigi asked seriously.
“Didn’t I tell you? We have to stop him.”
A blue blood vessel throbbed on the back of Lavini’s clenched fists.
“That lowly thing…”
Lavini gritted her teeth when she thought of Perez.
She had thought it was quiet for a the time being, but couldn’t believe that he had actually secretly planned this sort of scheme behind their backs during this time.
“It’s clear that the Second Prince, Brown, and Lombardy, all had a part in this, Duigi.”
The one who had held a hunting competition and attracted them to Madman’s Forest was none other than Florentia Lombardy.
“Although I’d very much like to cut off the head of that disgraceful thing.”
She was still the Patriarch Lombardy’s granddaughter, and the daughter of Gallahan Lombardy.
She didn’t know how Lombardy would react if she touched her recklessly.
Besides, the Imperial Army was not allowed to step foot into the Lombardy’s mansion.
Lavini, whose thoughts had spread to the imperial knights, asked Duigi.
“How is the issue with the Knights coming along?”
“There’s a division of them within the Imperial Knights.”
Angenas occupied the west, expanding their influence, and the Empress who was originally from Angenas would give birth to a legitimate heir.
The 40 years that Angenas had spent building up their power were enough for them to spread their people throughout the empire.
And the Imperial Knights was one of them.
“According to the report, they’re saying it’s split in half.”
Lavini raised her eyebrows.
“We’ve put so much money into the Imperial Knights during this time, and you’re telling me we only have half?!”
Lavini punched the table.
“The thing is… It should be the current Knight Commander. Tollian Buckton. It seems that the Second Prince and the Brown family are united around him.”
“If we had a little more time, we could have replaced the Knight Commander’s position with our own men.”
If only there was a little more time.
Empress Lavini kept muttering these words.
Something was strange.
It was hard for words to describe it, but the things that were definitely going to go to plan were all being dislocated.
It was a great sense of incongruity.
She kept having a strange premonition that she might have been toying with one person for too long, which was ridiculous, but she couldn’t ignore it.
The one who had found the dying Second Prince and became his guardian.
Then the one who had sent him to the Academy beyond the influence of the Empress.
The man who gave the returned Second Prince a chance to grab a position in politics under the pretext of the northern landslide, and even gave his granddaughter a boost.
And finally, the one who had set up the spectacular stage for the Brown family to draw everyone’s attention.
“Lombardy, that old man.”
In the meantime, if you looked at everything that had been in the way of Lavini and the Angenas, Lombardy was the one behind it, every single time.
Lavini tried to cool her head when she recalled dealing with Rulac.
One had to keep their head above water in order to successfully deal with him.
“I’ll leave the noble meeting up to you and Patriarch Sushou, Duigi. No matter what happens, the Browns must not be put back onto the aristocratic register.”
Duigi Angenas answered quickly.
It would have been very difficult to deal with Rulac Lombardy alone, but the odds were stacked against the Lombardy if they were acting together with Sushou.
In fact, the power of the Angenas became stronger at noble meetings after it was revealed to the public that Sushou was standing on the same side as the First Prince.
“But how do I explain what happened to the First Prince?”
In the meantime, Duigi has been spreading rumours about how Astana ‘Didn’t do it on his own, he was just high on drugs.’
Thanks to this, the ones who supported Angenas and feared that the First Prince would be dethroned and lead to something big happening had subsided, but further measures needed to be added.
“He’s being falsely accused. Someone drugged Astana. Put it that way.”
“If they ask me who drugged him…”
Of course the correct answer was Perez.
But that was not something Empress Lavini nor Duigi could say.
Perez was the investigator who was in charge of the investigation.
“Right now, our top priority is to turn the arrow away from Astana. So…”
Empress Lavini’s eyes shone ruthlessly.
“You said Bellesac was still in custody, right?”
“You’re not possibly saying…”
Duigi Angenas’ jaw dropped.
It was because Empress Lavini was clearly showing him what she intended to do.
“You can’t possibly be thinking of pinning all this on that child, right?”
“Then is there a better way, Duigi?”
“According to the knights’ investigation that you brought in, Astana clearly says, ‘Bellesac brought the canteen.'”
“But isn’t Bellesac the son of Serral?”
Serral was a cousin of Lavini and Duigi.
Empress Lavini frowned when she saw Duigi’s shocked face.
It was an extremely unpleasant face.
So she snapped back.
“Duigi. Bellesac, that kid isn’t an Angenas. He’s a Lombardy, isn’t he?”
Duigi Angenas had nothing else to say, and couldn’t do anything but stare blankly at the Empress.
[ / / / ]
At the same time.
Perez was entering the room where Bellesac Lombardy was detained with a few Imperial Knights.
Amidst the tense atmosphere, Bellesac asked.
“When can I go back to the Lombardy mansion?”
“Hmm, I’m not sure. So far, Lombardy hasn’t pleaded for you yet.”
“There’s no way…”
Bellesac’s voice stopped.
His father, Viege, had pretty much been ousted from the Lombardy family while his mother, Serral, was an Angenas and the Empress’ cousin.
He finally realised that there was no one left to pull him out of this situation.
Bellesac sank into a chair, grabbing his hair.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, so why…”
He had had a faint strand of hope earlier.
By now, the Angenas’ faction should have already taken him out, by the request of either Lombardy, or his mother, Serral.
However, the ones who came to find him were instead, Perez and the Imperial Knights.
There was no place left for him to put his hopes on.
Perez spoke to the knights whilst looking down at Bellesac’s figure.
“Give us a moment.”
“…yes, Your Highness.”
The knights hesitated for a moment, but soon followed through and moved according to his orders.
A knight, who had remained in the room until the end, alternated his gaze between Perez and Bellesac with look of suspicion, but couldn’t do anything else.
There was no other way.
The Imperial Knights had to obey the orders of those surnamed Durelli.
With a quiet thud, the door closed as Perez sat himself across from Bellesac.
The way he leaned languidly against the backrest and crossed his legs differed greatly from his behaviour and atmosphere with the knights earlier.
Bellesac looked at Perez with wary eyes.
Perez called out to Bellesac.
“Do you want to die like this?”
“W-What the hell are you…!”
Whilst he was with Astana, it had become a habit to mock and ridicule the Second Prince, so Bellesac, who had unconsciously spoke informally to Perez, shut his mouth hurriedly.
Perez, who seemed to understand why Bellesac was like this, replied in a calm voice.
“So far, there still isn’t anyone that will save you. I think you’re starting to get pretty desperate.”
Perez opened one of the boxes that were left at the table by the knights and showed him the canteen that was inside before saying.
“During the investigation, Astana said that ‘Bellesac was the one who handed me the canteen.'”
Bellesac’s brown eyes shook wildly.
Perez opened the second box.
“And this dagger that was used in the Emperor’s assassination also belongs to you, doesn’t it?”
“How do you think this would like to other people if the Angenas faction blamed this crime all on you?”
Perez continued as he looked at Bellesac’s face, which was gradually turning white.
“The Empress will accuse you as the main culprit, Bellesac Lombardy. You also know full well that she is the type of person to do that.”
Bellesac bit his lip.
It was exactly as Perez said.
Bellesac himself knew how cruel Empress Lavini was.
“I, who was the original owner of the water bottle and you, who stole it and gave it to Astana. However, I’m the investigator who’s in charge of this assassination case, so I can’t be accused. The only person left to blame is you, whose last name is Lombardy.”
At Perez’s words, Bellesac closed his eyes tightly.
Then Perez asked.
“Do you want to live?”
Bellesac lifted his head up.
His dull brain worked quickly in order to understand the current situation.
“Do you want to live?”
Perez asked once more.
“…y-yes! I, I want to live!”
Bellesac seemed to cling onto Perez’s legs.
Perez looked at Bellesac with a cold gaze for a moment, before taking out a piece of paper from his breast pocket.
It was a blank sheet of paper with nothing written on it.
“What…what is this?”
Bellesac was puzzled, as Perez tossed the piece of paper onto the table and said.
“Write a letter to your mother, Serral.”
[ / / / ]
The Empress had called the Sushou Patriarch to the Imperial Palace.
“I can only count on the Patriarch Sushou.”
Lavini said directly to Chanton Sushou.
Last time, Empress Lavini’s request for him to assassinate Perez was like a test.
It was in order for her to see whether or not she could trust the character of Chanton Sushou.
Eventually, Empress Lavini began to fully trust the former Imperial Knights Commander, Chanton Sushou, who had left evidence of his attempt to kill the prince.
“Aren’t Sushou and Angenas on the same boat right now?”
Empress Lavini poured tea for Patriarch Sushou with a beguiling smile.
“I can take care of Astana’s side, so please take care of the noble meeting’s side of things, Patriarch Sushou.”
“You mean the Browns.”
Chanton Sushou asked in a peculiar monotonous tone.
“That’s correct. It’s an extremely important issue.”
The Empress replied whilst continuing to smile.
But that smile didn’t last long.
It was because of what Chanton Sushou had said whilst putting down his tea cup.
“Then you should give us the estates belonging to Angenas.”
the way lavini’s mind works is sort of insane but i have to give it up to her, she’s rlly formidable.
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