Chapter 250 – Feeling Trapped (2)
The witnesses stood behind the partition and recounted their stories from Redfield’s party hall.
“At one point, my mind became fuzzy and I couldn’t keep my balance. Then, as if the Second Prince was waiting for the opportunity, he r-raped me. He even passed me around to other men…”
Redfield turned purple in the face.
“Lies! This is a conspiracy by Carlisle!”
The woman replied with a noticeably anger-hardened voice.
“Don’t you remember? You told me I should be grateful to accept the seed of the Second Prince.”
The testimony caused the room to fall into shocked silence, as if everyone had been doused with cold water.
“Th-that’s false. It’s meant to trick all of you.”
Redfield continued to claim innocence, but everyone in the room was not eager to defend him from the accusations. The evidence Carlisle presented was too clear to be able side with Redfield.
“The reason an official investigation was not conducted was because the witnesses were reluctant to reveal their identity. I was forced to hold the Second Prince in custody until all would be revealed.”
“No matter the excuse, one cannot allow an arbitrary investigation!”
Cesare attempted to find fault with all of Carlisle’s words, but the prince continued calmly with not a hint of a tremble in his voice.
“The opinion of Lord Anita is not important. I’m sure none of the victims here are your family.”
Redfield could not touch his relatives, so the victims were naturally from other noble families. Carlisle lifted his eyes towards the nobles, his voice carrying strongly across the room.
“I would not advise just standing by and seeing these victims as someone’s else’s daughter. One of them behind this partition may be your own.”
The nobles who had sided with Ophelia suddenly became mute. Because the faces of the victims were not revealed, the nobles were forced to use their imagination. Every man may be indifferent to another man’s suffering, but when it came to their own family, they became protective. It was because of this that Carlisle decided to obscure the victims’ faces. A few courageous women wanted to step forward to ensure the Redfield was punished, but it was decided that it was more favorable for the victims to remain unknown.
There were a number of reasons why Carlisle detained Redfield in his palace. One was to distract Ophelia and have her obsess over the condition of her son. Because Carlisle intended to attack her by multiple angles, he needed to draw her attention away from his other plans as much as possible. Redfield’s detention was also a clear message to the nobles that Carlisle’s position was far stronger.
And…Carlisle’s plan worked. Ophelia’s blood drained from her face. It was not possible for her to claim Redfield was innocent.
‘…I was struck.’
Ophelia lacked a counterattack to Carlisle’s words. She knew in the worst case, witnesses would appear, but she did not anticipate that they would cover their faces. By doing so, each noble was inflicted with doubt, fearing that one of the victims was their daughter.
Sullivan, who had been silently watching the proceedings, finally spoke in a low and strong tone.
“Needless to say, the Second Prince’s crime is clear.”
“No, Father! I didn’t do anything wrong—”
Redfield tried to restate his innocence, but Ophelia signalled him with a small shake of her head to stop him from talking. It was disadvantageous to insist that he committed no crime at this point. Now it was important to lighten Redfield’s guilt somehow. Ophelia lifted her head imperiously and prepared herself for what was to come next.
“Your Majesty, no matter the severity of his wrongdoing, Redfield is the Second Prince. Why don’t you take the time to consider his punishment instead of deciding what to do here?”
At her words, Carlisle let out a sharp bark of laughter.
“I believe you just said that not even a prince was above the law.”
Those were Cesare’s words. His face turned red in anger, but he stood there without saying a word.
Everything had gone according to Carlisle’s plan, and he played his final card.
“Your Majesty, do you remember what you told me the other day?”
Sullivan gave him a questioning look.
“What do you mean?”
“You said that if the culprit who sent assassins after me were caught, then I could cut their throats.”
“Kollog. I did.”
“The prime suspect in the incident is Her Majesty the Empress.”
Everyone’s eyes turned towards the Empress at the same time. Her eyes widened in stunned disbelief.
“What on earth are you talking about now, Crown Prince?”
“You know that Marquis Selby was named the mastermind of the plot. But recently, someone attempted to poison his daughter, who was being held in prison at the time.”
Ophelia remembered a conversation she had with her lady-in-waiting Cassana.
— We plan to take care of her with poison. Any connection to you will be completely cleansed, Your Majesty.
— Well done. Once the hunt is over, we eat the hounds.
Ophelia naturally assumed Helen had been removed from the picture by now. But…
‘…Did it fail?’
She never imagined that Carlisle knew about it.
“The investigation regarding Lady Selby’s attempted poisoning has already been completed. We discovered what the poison was, and traced it back to its source. Everything points back to Her Majesty the Empress. If the Empress was not connected, she would not have tried to poison Lady Selby.”
Carlisle smirked lightly. He knew Empress Ophelia better than anyone else. He used bait to distract her from knowing that he had amassed a mountain of evidence before her, before using the opportunity to strike.
Ophelia began to panic when all her schemes began unraveling before her. She was already accused of attempting to destroy Flower Bridge. To make matters worse, she was suspected of being involved in Carlisle’s assassination. Redfield was also in trouble for serious charges against him. She could not respond to the wave of accusations levied against her.
Ophelia was mute, and Sullivan made his final decision.
“Begin an investigation regarding the Empress today.”
The nobles gathered there were astonished at the unexpected turn of events. Most had bet on Ophelia’s victory today, but Carlisle had neatly drawn her into his surprise trap.
When Carlisle spoke, it was with a solemn expression.
“As the one who has investigated these matters so far, I have a favor to ask of Your Majesty.”
“Speak, Crown Prince.”
“There are many things that will need to be discussed before justice can be administered. However…”
Carlisle’s eyes gleamed in triumph, like a predator close to its prely.
“Please remove Redfield’s right to succession today.”
Ophelia, who had kept her mouth firmly shut, suddenly burst out into rage.
All the nobles stared at Sullivan with stunned eyes. Although the formal investigation would take time to be conducted, the sins of Ophelia and Redfield were already certain. Sullivan nodded, then spoke with a firm voice as if he already made his decision.
“As of now, all claims to succession held by Second Prince Redfield are no longer valid.”
Small, stunned gasps rippled across the room.
But that wasn’t the end. Sullivan’s words continued.
“We will soon have a coronation to formally pass the throne to Crown Prince Carlisle.”