Chapter 248 – The First Trap (2)
Ophelia was determined to have the showdown at the National Founding Day today, as Carlisle continued to refuse to release Redfield. Public opinion favored Ophelia. However, no one had the ability to forcibly disperse Carlisle’s soldiers—no one except for the Emperor of the Ruford Empire. And so, Ophelia planned to pressure Sullivan at the National Founding Day, where many nobles would gather.
Cesare followed behind Ophelia’s footsteps, and murmured to her in an urgent voice.
“Sister, I have been informed that the Crown Prince will be present today as expected.”
“Yes. He wouldn’t miss this.”
Each year on the celebration of the nation’s founding, the Imperial Family and numerous nobles would come together to have a discussion on the state of the nation. Since Redfield’s detention, Carlisle had been absent from public appearances, but he would be unable to avoid facing the judgment of the people now. Ophelia’s eyes gleamed like a venomous snake.
“…I must clearly show who has the advantage in front of everyone.”
She was determined to make Carlisle pay the price of taking her son. As Ophelia approached the conference hall where the ceremony was to be held, she covered her true intentions with a benevolent smile on her face.
“All hail Her Majesty, Empress Ophelia of the Ruford Empire!”
The herald at the entrance loudly announced Ophelia’s arrival. All the nobles in the hall bowed to her and greeted her with one voice.
“Hail to Her Majesty the Empress! Eternal glory to the Ruford Empire!”
Immediately behind her stood a procession of her followers, headed by her brother Cesare and her head lady-in-waiting Cassana. Numerous other prominent ladies-in-waiting were filed behind them, giving testament to the power and dignity of the Empress.
Ophelia grandly took her seat next to Sullivan, who was sitting at the head of the table.
“Kollog, kollog. You’re here?”
Sullivan had a pallid complexion, and Ophelia furrowed her brow in false worry.
“Your Majesty, you look unwell today.”
However, she smiled inwardly. Sullivan’s condition may get even worse if she went through with her plan today. He would be forced to watch what she had planned for Carlisle.
A wide smile spread across her lips, and she looked straight ahead and watched the vast array of nobles arriving. Among them, a few nobles had given her a secret nod. Many who had already gathered here were on her side.
It was then.
“Hail to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of the Ruford Empire!”
Ophelia’s eyes naturally moved to Carlisle’s and Elena’s entrance. As soon as she saw who was following them, her expression hardened.
‘How can this be?’
The women who stood behind the Crown Princess were all well-known celebrities of high society. The first to appear was Margaret of Count Lawrence’s family, who had been serving as Elena’s lady-in-waiting. She was followed by Yulia of Marquis Necrensi’s family, the flower of society and the trendsetter of the capital.
That wasn’t all—Countess Stella Viviana was there was well. When the young women who admired Yulia and Stella were put together, the procession behind Elena was quite impressive.
‘…When did this growth happen?’
Elena’s position in society was considerably stronger than Ophelia guessed. Even the Empress, who had lived in the capital far longer, could not attract those women to her side, yet somehow they were following the Crown Princess. Ophelia’s eyes narrowed.
‘I have to remove her before it’s too late.’
Fortunately, she would be able to destroy Carlisle at the National Founding Day, and then she could set her sights on Elena.
When everyone was seated, the time for the meeting began. Despite the Emperor Sullivan’s obviously sickly pallor, he spoke in a strong, dignified voice.
“Kollog, then let’s start the meeting.”
The first issue on the table would normally have been concerns about the lives of its citizens or recommendations about neighboring countries. This time was different however. A nobleman opened his mouth to speak.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty, I’d like to say something.”
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss state affairs openly and honestly, and Sullivan answered without hesitation.
“You may speak.”
“Are you aware that the Second Prince is currently being detained in the Crown Prince’s palace? Surely laws must be followed in the Ruford Empire, and this is going too far.”
As soon as the topic was brought up, other nobles began to add their words as if they had prepared it beforehand.
“I agree. I don’t know if the allegations are true, but this is a matter of fair investigation and due process.”
“Even the Crown Prince is not above the law.”
Cesare, who was keeping a watchful eye, exchanged glances with Ophelia. She gave him a slight nod, judging that it was the right time, and Cesare himself spoke up.
“The nobles have given numerous complaints to Your Majesty concerning the Second Prince. Why have you not responded?”
Sullivan coughed roughly into his hand before replying.
“Kollog, kollog. I have been investigating what has been happening.”
“Are you trying to protect the Crown Prince? No matter how formidable he may be, if one breaks the law, one must pay the price.”
In response to Cesare’s words, the eyes of the knights of the Anita family began to burn with the spirit of determination. In an instant, the mood inside the hall changed.
For his finishing act, Cesare pulled out a sheet of paper. It was a petition signed by other nobles expressing the same sentiment, all of them agreeing that they wanted Carlisle to be punished.
“Here is a petition demanding the Crown Prince’s punishment. Please do not ignore it, Your Majesty.”
Cesare did his task as he promised Ophelia, and proudly walked in front of Sullivan and offered the petition. Given that it was the National Founding Day, the issue was impossible to ignore. Cesare turned to throw Carlisle a triumphant grin, but then he stopped.
Carlisle was watching the proceedings with a languid expression, even as the tide was turned against him. Anyone who saw him would think that he looked…bored.
Cesare glanced backwards to Ophelia, and ominous feeling rising in him. Ophelia watched Carlisle with a grave expression, as if she sensed something was wrong.
“Crown Prince, explain yourself.”
There was a shrew glimmer in Carlisle’s eyes. He gave a low chuckle and spoke in a mischievous tone.
“A petition…I was looking forward to seeing what you would do, and I have to say that I’m a little disappointed. Is that all?”
Cesare’s face flushed red in embarrassment, while Carlisle continued to gaze around in a relaxed manner.
“Is it my turn to show you what I’ve prepared?”