Chapter 99 - Punishment
A week had passed and many things had happened,“I should have been by your side to protect you!”
“No, I was in the inner palace. You obviously couldn’t have been there.”
“If only I trained a bit more!”
“No, you’re forbidden from entering.”
Ludwig had become more of a puppy since the last time I saw him. He kept apologizing for not being by my side. Then he gave up the holy sword as his personal punishment. “I’ll train more so that I will become worthy of holding the sword!”
“No, wait…” I didn’t know why he felt so guilty when I didn’t even reprimand him.
“How cute,” Sophia gushed about Ludwig with pride. …That was cute? Sophia didn’t seem to catch my cold reaction. I didn’t know if she became attached to him because they were together for a while or if she was always like this, but I started to understand why the holy sword had chosen Ludwig. Perhaps he was Sophie’s type.
Kais’s reaction was simpler than Ludwig’s. He simply stood there, silent.
“Hey, can you say something?” I asked, but Kais didn’t say anything at all. He said everything with his eyes. I was confused; I knew he wanted to say something, so why didn’t he? Why was he so twisted? Why didn’t he have any social skills? Surprisingly, I found my answer through Harel.
“That’s ‘cause Big Bwo likes Miss Angel!” Harel, who had only been awake once an hour since arriving in Helsarose, had started to stay up longer. He was able to hold a conversation now, although only for three hours a day.
“Kais likes me?”
“Yup! Big Bwo likes Miss Angel!”
“I see. I didn’t know. But you’re not a girl.” This came as a surprise. Harel looked quite pretty, so I assumed he was a girl. ‘Kais wasn’t a sis-con.’ Wait…was it worse to be a bro-con?
“Hawel will get better. I’m gonna pway with Big Bwo.”
“Yes, yes. You should get better. Eat lots and grow tall and strong,” I replied. Harel couldn’t pronounce his words properly, but I could understand him perfectly. ‘Is it because I’m also a child?’
While I was spending my time peacefully, the palace was undergoing a major overhaul. Talk of finding an empress subsided, and a number of nobles were removed from office and sent back to their estates. Most of them had a lot of power in the capital; no one knew why they packed up quietly and left—except for one person.
“It’s all thanks to my talent,” Achillios beamed brightly. Miltiades told him to quietly cover up the incident, but only towards the public. The perpetrators had to be punished, so Achillios pulled some strings. Corruption was rampant. “Embezzlement, bribery, dereliction of duties, abuse of authority!” In addition to these offenses, they were guilty of another 28.
While these seemed like plausible charges on the surface, the truth wasn’t so simple. The nobles avoided the complicated palace accounts by using their own money when they didn’t have time and embezzled the royal funds, and the gifts they gave and accepted from each other were marked as bribes. If they changed their work hours, they were dismissed on charges of dereliction, even if they only left ten minutes early! When they tried to appeal their charges, they were rejected—for one reason.
“They’re all smart people, so they’ll know how to conduct themselves, right?” Achillios was behind the Supreme Court. In any case, the justices of the Supreme Court sentenced them to severe punishments: they were stripped of their positions and fined heavily.
“What do you think of my power?” Achillios’ eyes were sparkling as if he wanted me to compliment him. But I was shocked. He turned a blind eye to their small offenses so he could use this to his advantage in the future. He had already compiled everything and was only waiting for them to get caught.
“Well, whatever. What about Helene?”
“I’ve done everything you ordered.”
“Hohoho, who do you think I am?” Although I was suspicious of Achillio’s true nature, his abilities were beyond question. The only problem was that his actions rubbed me the wrong way. We were bound by contract, but he still had his suspicions. I felt like he’d discover my weakness and stab me in the back. Even though I’ve already made preparations in case that happens, I was still worried.
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