Chapter 44 – Why Did He Choose Her?
The court lady, whose body was inevitably weaker than a duke’s, was forced to the ground. Patrizia calmly watched to see what Duke Ephreney would do.
“Your Majesty, this wench is the one who dared try to assassinate the Emperor and queen.”
“Heug, euheuheug.” The court lady started to cry, and Patrizia turned back to Duke Ephreney.
“What do you mean, Duke?”
“This wench impudently went against Lady Phelps will, and arbitrarily started this, Your Majesty.”
“Duke Ephreney, what are you saying? How can a court lady have so much money to hire assassins?”
Duke Witherford looked at Duke Ephreney incredulously. However, Duke Ephreney calmly had another man brought into the room.
“Bring him in.”
At the Duke’s words, another man was marched awkwardly into the hall and forced to kneel by Duke Ephreney.
“Who is he?” Lucio asked.
“He is Baron Daiwadi, Your Majesty. He is a close acquaintance of Baron Darrow, Lady Phelps’ father. Baron Daiwadi believed that Lady Phelps would become queen if Her Majesty was killed, so he set up this atrocity,” Duke Ephreney said.
“False, Your Majesty!” Duke Witherford cried. “Baron Daiwadi is rumored to have a lot of debt. How can such a person afford to hire assassins!”
“He confessed that the money he used for hiring was, as expected, also debt money. If everything had gone as he desired and Lady Phelps became queen, then he could pay that sort of debt off in an instant.”
When Duke Ephreney finished speaking, Duke Witherford glared at him with murderous eyes.
Patrizia couldn’t hide her own look of dismay. Damn it, if this happens…
“Then there are two witnesses saying different things now?” Lucio said, and the room suddenly quieted. The choice was up to him now. He would either raise Patrizia’s hand or Rosemond’s hand. The answer was already set.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“There’s nothing we can do about the conflicting testimonies. I’ll have you take over this case and investigate.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. I will do it to the utmost of my ability.”
Patrizia’ heart fell to the floor. Damn it. The longer this investigation took, the harder it would become to pin down Rosemond. Patrizia instinctively felt she was losing control.
Standing in the center of the storm was, of course, Rosemond. She was sitting in her cell, drinking tea gracefully as if she had not a worry at all. Her face was relaxed as she sipped her favorite rosemary tea and envisioned her plans for the future.
Perhaps by now, everything was all sorted out. She hoped that Lucio would take her side and end the investigation with a simple happy ending—but it didn’t matter if it didn’t. Duke Ephreney was not stupid, and she was confident he would give his full material and mental effort.
What was there for her to worry about? She wouldn’t die, and even if she was hit, the worst that could happen would be to lose her title as baroness. That did not matter to her potential future as queen. Although she was confined in prison, her mind was already at Bain palace.
At that point, a guard approached her cell and reported her of the situation.
“Lady Phelps. The meeting has just ended.”
“What are the results?”
“There were conflicting testimonies, and His Majesty deferred the sentence. Duke Vasi will pick up the investigation.”
“Hmmm.” Rosemond nodded, and the guard returned to his post. She knew that things wouldn’t go wrong. She had far more cards in her hand than one initially thought, and her work was never sloppy.
If she died by guillotine, she would make sure she wouldn’t go alone.
When Patrizia returned to the queen’s palace, her mask of calm crumbled, revealing an expression of fury. Petronilla looked at her sister, noticing that something was wrong.
“Did something happen, Rizi?” Petronilla asked carefully.
“Duke Ephreney is dead set on making me lose. I can’t do anything because of him,” Patrizia muttered in an angry voice. Duke Ephreney must have recruited, or threatened, a lower class noble who would cause no trouble even if things went wrong.
If this continued, Patrizia would continue to see her efforts backslide. The Emperor loved Rosemond, and with an ambiguous result, he would invariably tip over to her side.
Patrizia’s face crumpled in frustration. Her life had been in danger, and yet she would come out losing.
Petronilla’s forehead wrinkled, and Patrizia noticed. “What is it?” Patrizia asked.
“I’m worried. Why did he choose her?”
It was a reasonable question. Why did Duke Ephreney choose Rosemond? She may be favored by the Emperor, but she was the daughter of a lower noble. The Duke surely valued bloodline more than anything else. It was not clear why he chose Rosemond over Patrizia, and Patrizia doubted she would ever find out.
“I don’t even know,” sighed Patrizia.
“Perhaps they have a physical relationship,” Petronilla suggested.
“That’s too extreme,” Patrizia said with a shake of her head. If that were true, Duke Ephreney would be severely punished for touching the Emperor’s woman. Rosemond’s status was not so high that he would be destroyed, but given the Emperor’s affection for Rosemond, there was a high chance that severe punishment would be imposed.
Patrizia rubbed her forehead a few times. “I wonder what happens now,” she murmured.
“Nothing can be done now, Rizi,” Petronilla said, much to Patrizia’s dismay. “We’ve done everything we needed to do. You can’t introduce more evidence now. You just have to leave it to the will of heaven.”
The will of heaven. Patrizia thought it was a reassuring notion, and sighed briefly. But what made her sigh even more was reality. She had no choice but to leave it to the will of heaven, just as Petronilla said.
Patrizia asked Mirya to bring a glass of her favorite strawberry juice to cool her overheated mind. It was time to think with a calm head again.
He was forced to realize it that day. The woman he knew so far didn’t bare to him her full side, and she wasn’t as kind and gentle as he thought.
He was the emperor. His Queen could have laughed at his stupidity for being swayed by a concubine, but he didn’t think she would do that if she knew what it was like to be in his shoes.
For him, his lover was everything in life, a pillar that supported him, his nourishment that made him last. Even a being such as an emperor could not help but fall in love. The queen, despite her aloofness towards him, would have to say the same thing.
It was a concept beyond good and evil. Survival took precedence in any situation. Furthermore, he was the only direct descendant of the royal bloodline. He had no choice but to fall for her. She would catch him.
It became clear, however, that there was a veil he hadn’t noticed before, and a different woman was standing behind it. She was dirty and ugly, but presented a face of beauty and good.
When he looked at Duke Ephreney’s eyes at the council hall today, he had no choice but to confront the fact that he was wrong. He had to fully acknowledge that day. The woman he had known was only an illusion. He didn’t know if it was his own mistake, or if she deliberately misled him, but what he knew was that she was complete fiction.
Of course, he didn’t intend to hold his concubine responsible for this. He didn’t intend to condemn her. She was not a person that he could judge in the first place. He just came to the realization that she wasn’t exactly the kind of person he thought she was.
He sighed. So this is what it had to be…
Under Lucio’s orders, Duke Vasi sought to investigate the matter and reveal the truth. Since all the evidence set forward by both sides were falsified, hunting for the truth was just the same as hunting for fish on dry land.
In the end, Duke Vasi had no choice but to report “Insufficient evidence” to the Emperor. Treason was a powerful crime that could destroy up to three generations, and punishment was only carried out after adequate presentation of proof. Any evidence put forward would also increase the likelihood of political exploitation.
In the end, the investigation collapsed. Lucio withdrew the charges against Baron Daiwadi and Baron Phelps, then expelled the two court ladies who testified. It was the cleanest result, and everyone agreed on it.
Patrizia suffered the most damage from the incident. She decided to settle on calling the concubine just by Rosemond, not Baroness Phelps anymore. That alone was a good result.
Rosemond had to give up her title of baroness, but she was not forced out of Bain palace. She replaced all the servants there and reduced their numbers. Rosemond realized that having too many maids and ladies-in-waiting left her vulnerable to traitors, and took decisive action.
Glara, meanwhile, looked relieved. “Lady Rosemond, I’m so glad you were acquitted.”
“Acquitted?” Rosemond snapped. “The surname Phelps was taken away from me. Do you think that’s good?”
Glara wanted to say that it was fortunate Rosemond lived, but she kept her mouth shut in fear of punishment. She was still impressed that even though Rosemond had her title taken away from her, she was still the Emperor’s concubine.
“But Lady Rosemond, you are His Majesty’s only beloved. Don’t be discouraged. When you become queen, what use is a low noble title?”
Rosemond ignored her. “I was stupid to hire those fools. Next time, I’ll need to find more reliable assassins. My god. I can’t believe they withdrew without confirming the death. They were a waste of money,” Rosemond ranted angrily, but Glara thought Rosemond should be happier to not be found guilty of treason. Wasn’t this a huge achievement? It was bad enough that she attempted to kill the Queen, but she had hurt the Emperor as well. Rosemond, however, wasn’t satisfied with her narrow escape.
“Haaah…at least I’ve reduced the amount of unnecessary disturbances,” Rosemond murmured, then fell into more silent planning.
Glara wondered what she was plotting this time. Although Glara participated in all of Rosemond’s conspiracies, the lady-in-waiting had been frightened by the recent events. The interrogation alone had caused her to develop a terrible anxiety.
Rosemond opened her mouth to speak, and Glara looked on nervously.