Cedric didn’t come home that night. Only one letter was delivered.
[I was prevented from leaving the palace because of an urgent message from the Duchy of Riagan. More details tomorrow. It’s going to be a long day, so I hope you get a good night’s sleep.]
Artizea folded the letter and brought it to the candle. The short letter quickly turned to ashes.
“The same news came through the military intelligence network today. The messenger went to the Imperial Palace with the urgent message.”
“Perhaps the news came a few days ago to the conquest army going down south. It is still a military secret.”
“What about Grand Duke Roygar?”
“He doesn’t know yet. Even if his people were planted in the army, I think it would take a day or two.”
If Artizea had not ordered in advance to keep an eye on the movements of the Eimmel Kingdom Army, the news would not have come to her so soon.
It was that night that the second report arrived.
Queen Eimmel was assassinated 16 days ago. She was poisoned by Terry Ford, Mrs. Lexen, who was introduced by the Duchess of Riagan and had an audience with the Queen.
Two days later, Cadriol, Prince of Eimmel, rose to power. His intention was to ask the Duke of Riagan why he sent the Queen an assassin.
As if preparing in advance, the Eimmel Kingdom army occupied two ports in the southern part of the Empire with lightning speed.
From the beginning, the navy of the Krates Empire did not come close to the Eimmel Kingdom’s navy.
If it is an all-out war, the size of the countries matters, so even if the Empire cannot win, it will not lose.
However, if it was a short-term naval battle, it was an unconditional victory for the Eimmel Kingdom.
Prince Cadriol pushed his momentum to advance into the Duchy of Riagan. The Duke of Riagan was surrounded by news that the ports had been taken away, without any time to respond.
It is at this point in time that a wave of urgent news emerged. It was almost the same time that Artizea’s intelligence network collected and sent information from the Eimmel Kingdom and the Duchy of Riagan.
“Do you regret it?”
Artizea repeated Freil’s question.
In her hand was a letter from the second messenger. It contained a little more detail about the death of Terry Ford, Mrs. Lexen.
Terry died on the spot where she poisoned the Queen.
She drank another cup of tea from the same teapot before the Queen died.
She was already vomiting blood and dying when the guard who was waiting outside the door came running in when they heard the maid’s scream.
And it was the impression received by the servant who leaked that information that Terry was very calm until the moment she stopped breathing.
In fact, Terry drank the tea first, so the Queen also believed it was safe and drank it.
Artizea let out a small sigh.
“I am sorry. It is difficult to find a person with such wisdom and courage. She wasn’t the kind of person to be spent like this.”
Artizea thought she had judged people too much based on past memories.
The only reason she used Terry Ford as her consumables was because Terry had never stood out in her previous life.
“It’s a waste in many ways. Had she been alive, there would have been a chance to mediate with Skyla.”
Artizea muttered as if to herself.
No. Terry was in the right place at the right moment. When she sent her orders, Skyla had not yet obtained the title of ‘friend’ from Artizea.
“Would she intend to get back at you instead? I know you told Terry Ford that you can’t promise anything.”
“And didn’t Terry Ford say that the downfall of Grand Duke Roygar was enough?”
“I know that the Marchioness Camellia is included in the subject of revenge, so is it not shameful to pretend not to know?”
Artizea was silent for a moment, then she spoke slowly.
“A bookkeeper must have credibility.”
Undoing what you said or breaking a promise and betraying, is a secret plan that can only be used once.
Such a thing is not for subordinates. It is something to target the most threatening allies.
“If she were alive, I would have taken her out. She could have been persuaded to accept other rewards instead of revenge on Marchioness Camellia.”
“But Terry is dead. She risked her life to fulfill her mission, and I cannot help but pay the promised reward.”
Artizea always paid the price promised to her subordinates exactly.
If it was money, she gave money, and if it was to treat a sick family, she would give the medicine at all costs.
That is how the organization is maintained. There are people who continue to sacrifice their lives and keep secrets.
Punish one, deter a hundred* ; the right reward must be shown to create solidarity and loyalty within the organization.
They didn’t do it because they particularly value her promises.
“It wasn’t that Your Grace commanded her to die.”
“When I ordered the assassination of Queen Eimmel, it was no different than telling her to die.”
Terry has no connection to the Eimmel Kingdom. She didn’t even have the time to make any. To assassinate, she had no choice but to attend an audience and do it on the spot.
“Did she even count her death?”
“Even if she didn’t die, Terry would have been caught. Then they would dig her up and connect her to the next step.”
And to be caught after assassinating the Queen is no different from telling her to die.
Perhaps that’s why she chose to die together. Terry is not a professional spy who has learned to endure torture.
She has no reason not to confess. Above all, there is no way she can stand the pain.
Terry said she would sell her life to Artizea. And since she died, Artizea had to pay the price.
“Actually, I thought Terry might run away.”
“Because you gave her a lot of money.”
“Money and fame dull decisions. Besides, Terry seems to have a talent.”
Artizea said in a sentimental manner.
Freil hesitated a little. He didn’t know if it was the right thing to do or not to keep talking about this.
But he had something to ask beforehand. Artizea was not someone to rest just because she wanted to rest.
“Then, what are you going to do with Lady Skyla?”
“I’ll use her as a knife.”
Artizea said in a low voice.
“Terry didn’t become a stabbing dagger to Grand Duke Roygar, so wouldn’t it be good for Skyla to be like that?”
Without saying anything else, Freil simply nodded his head.
Hearing this news, Gayan was the first to act.
He immediately turned the army around. The place where the knights who received Gayan’s order headed to was Lawrence’s barracks.
Lawrence asked in dismay.
“What is this, Sir Gayan? Dare to attack me now as I go down as the Southern diplomat? Are you going to commit treason?”
“This is not treason.”
Gaya said sternly.
“I have the authority to immediately arrest and investigate any crime that may threaten the security of the Empire, without waiting for His Majesty’s orders.”
“I remember the name Mrs. Lexen.”
“Viscount Hoden once went to the South on an errand for Lord.”
Lawrence widened his eyes. He doesn’t know why the story is coming out now.
“Have you forgotten why Viscount Hoden went down south? Didn’t you say that you would bring down the Duchy of Riagan and release the wrath of the previous Riagan Ducal couple? On the contrary, he seemed to have been well received by the Duke of Riagan.”
“Wasn’t Sir at the meeting too?”
Lawrence asked, as if exasperated.
“It doesn’t matter. I didn’t make a decision; I didn’t do it; I didn’t even advise on the job itself.”
Lawrence’s complexion turned pale.
Gayan said without hesitation.
“At the introduction from the Duchess of Riagan, a woman who had an audience with Queen Eimmel assassinated her. But how could the Riagan Ducal couple make such an assassination in such a public way when it is not by His Majesty order?”
“Of course, someone designed this to trap the Duke of Riagan. And I know that Sir Lawrence had such a plan, and you even sent people.”
“As a subordinate of His Majesty, as a guard knight commanded to protect the foundations of this Empire, can I pretend I don’t know just because I was there?”
“Aren’t you afraid of the aftermath?”
“Don’t worry. It would just have good effects on His Majesty. If you did no sin, there is nothing to worry about. Like you said, it’s just something I have to worry about.”
Gayan said so. And he ordered the knights to arrest Lawrence.
Although Lawrence was the commander-in-chief of the Southern Conquest Army, he had no real power. The knights followed Gayan’s words without hesitation.
Gayan turned the army back to the capital.
At that time, the southern conquests had not yet left the central region.
Contrary to the fact that the preparation took a long time, it would take less than a fortnight to return the army as they are and return to the capital.
Gayan, as he himself said, was completely unaware of the before and after of the incident.
But the remarks made at that meeting were very well remembered. Because he knew that Amalie had turned to Cedric.
And that, for some reason, Amalie gave cleverly twisted advice.
Gayan knew neither the purpose nor the outcome of the advice. However, he remembered vividly because he was only guessing that there was something hidden in the plot.
[If you dig into Viscount Hoden, you will find a link to the assassin.]
He had no idea it would be connected like this.
He admired it in his heart.
Amalie had said that Artizea had told her not to worry and to wait. She said they would be able to turn around while obeying the Emperor’s orders.
And this must have been what Artizea had told her to wait for.
This opportunity should not be missed. To get off the sinking boat, you must first get on the boat.
Gayan flew a communication pigeon toward the Imperial Palace. He then sent an envoy.
It was on the same day that Duke of Riagan’s appeal from the south arrived at the Imperial Palace.
A suffocating silence floated through the terrified conference room.
The Emperor clutched the letter he was holding in his hand.
[…… This old servant really knows nothing. It is true that the Madam had a personal acquaintance with Her Majesty the Queen of Eimmel. However, it was just that they were building friendships by talking about women’s accessories and clothes. Who would have imagined that the person whom she introduced have had an unseemly heart? The woman is a sericulture farmer who is acquainted with a textile trader and was only introduced by her to Her Majesty the Queen of Eimmel because the Queen was interested in the silk business. This is, indeed, so unfair and unbelievable that I only ask for mercy and salvation from His Majesty…….]
He tossed the letter on the desk.
*) 一罰百戒 (ichibatsuhyakkai): to punish one and to make an example for others