Empress of Otherverse - Chapter 107
“Y, your highness!”
Samantha looked up at me nervously. Agnes was so shocked she almost fainted. When they also learned the fact that we didn’t know whether Lucretius was safe, they started to pant in panic.
Agnes reacted the worst. She was in such a shock and grief she needed to be helped by other maids. She was the stepsister of the dead Empress Beatrice. I knew how she cared for her stepmother, who was Beatrice’s birthmother.
It made sense for Agnes to react this way, Lucretius’ safety was the priority at all times. He was the only living child of her beloved Beatrice. Not knowing what had happened to him would have been dreadful indeed.
I always thought she was one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Thus, when I saw her collapse, it reminded me again how serious this situation was. We were all in grave danger, and this wasn’t the time for me to just sit and be idle.
I needed to take care of the situation or else, it would be game over. Even if Lucretius came back safely, it would be pointless if the dowager empress successfully took over the castle. She could easily marry off Liliana to a man she chooses and placed him on the throne.
The royal seal felt heavy in my hand.
Lucretius probably thought of many different possible situations and planned for them, but I wasn’t sure if he predicted this particular scenario.
On the other hand, the fact that he left me the royal seal must have meant he did expect some sort of danger to himself.
I needed to get going. I needed to move fast.
The news of the Senate meeting spread throughout the castle fast. I already sent the defense team to Lucretius and instructed the royal guards to protect the castle. However, I needed the Senate’s official acknowledgment of the rebellion to be able to send other military forces to help Lucretius.
“Your highness?” Yulia asked for my order.
I put as much force as possible into my voice and requested.
“The dress… The violet one I wore at the ball… Please bring me that dress. The blue diamond tiara as well.”
I needed to look regal.
A Senate meeting called by the emperor’s wife. This was the very first time it had ever happened in Cransian history.
The room was filled with tension as all the noblemen gathered.
The men argued nervously with each other as to what should be done.
How would they fight against the rebels?
Was the emperor even still alive?
Did we have his body?
Should we send the scouts to find out what was happening?
However, these rebels are well-trained military men. They would spot scouts and had them killed immediately.
What about the castle?
What about the situation with Genoa…?
So many questions and unknowns. No one could come up with a logical solution.
The one who needed to decide was the emperor, but he wasn’t here.
Someone asked carefully, “This meeting was called by her highness, yet why isn’t she here?”
Someone shouted, “It shouldn’t have been called by the wife of an emperor in the first place! She doesn’t’ have the authority! This isn’t how things are done!”
“Perhaps it’s the chancellor who is conducting this meeting in place of the emperor?”
“But even the chancellor doesn’t have the authority! In the past, an empress or the heir to the throne were given the power to call such meetings. Not a chancellor and definitely not an emperor’s wife!”
“And what are we going to do about the situation with Genoa?”
As people continued to talk on top of each other, the chancellor slapped the table loudly.
“Stop this immediately!”
A silence fell.
The chancellor raised his voice and announced, “How dare you suggest the emperor has passed! How disloyal! This is treason!”
Suddenly, someone from the far corner sneered.
Everyone turned towards the rude sound, which came from a man who held his head up high.
It was the dowager empress’ brother, Marquis Toruka.
The dowager empress and the princesses hid as soon as the news of the rebellion reached the castle. However, her brother didn’t need to do so at this point. There was no solid proof the dowager empress was involved in the rebellion.
Marquis Toruka asked sharply, “Don’t you think it is most likely that the emperor is dead?”
The chancellor warned him, “You should think carefully before you speak.”
“On this table, everyone has an equal right to speak. It has been so since the time of Emperor Kentius.” The marquis stood up dramatically and added, “Besides, what is the point of this meeting? We don’t even have a figure who has the authority to rule us.”
The chancellor smiled confidently and replied, “Oh, but we do.”
Before the Marquis could say something, the chancellor moved quickly.
He walked to the door and opened it elegantly as he announced, “Let’s continue our discussion with the lady who has the authority over all of us.”
The door opened to reveal a majestic woman in a deep violet dress.
The first wife, Sa Bina le Cransia.
The youthful woman walked inside with the elegance of a real empress.
Everyone seemed shocked to see me. Marquis Toruka looked especially tense.
I stood straight and walked slowly towards them. It seemed like Marquis Toruka was about to say something, but the chancellor spoke first.
“Greetings to your highness.”
He sounded too happy to see me, which made sense. We had already gone over what would happen at this meeting.
“I apologize for being late to the meeting I called myself,” I said to the chancellor nonchalantly as if this was an ordinary day. I continued respectfully, “I admit that as a woman, I may not be the best person to stand here, but there is no other way. This is for the good of the emperor and the kingdom.”
The Marquis interrupted me.
“Your highness, unfortunately, the wife of an emperor doesn’t have the authority to call a senate meeting. I would like to ask you why you would do this.”
Fortunately, I didn’t have to answer him since another nobleman answered instead, “Her highness technically does have the authority.”
“What do you mean?”
“Currently, we do not have an empress. In such cases, the first wife legally has the same authority as the empress.”
The chancellor added quickly, “That is very true. Without the emperor in the castle, the empress can act in his place temporarily. Therefore, it only makes sense that her highness has the authority of the emperor at this moment.”
The marquis argued, “How could you say a mere wife can act in place of an emperor!? That has never happened in the entire history of Cransia!”
My heart pounded hard. I had never been more anxious in my life.
However, I put on a confident smile and looked around the room. I then raised my right hand so everyone could see it clearly.
“I am indeed qualified as Sa Bina LE CRANSIA. On top of that, his highness has left me this in case of an emergency.”
Marquis Toruka’s face crumpled in anger. “That is… the royal seal!”
The noblemen murmured among themselves in shock. Everyone could see the golden ring on my finger. They knew what it meant for me to possess it.
It was a heavy ring. It felt even heavier knowing the responsibilities I gained from it.
When I was sure everyone had a good look at it, I lowered my hand and smiled. “Now, can you all acknowledge that I am qualified to stand here?”
The chancellor smiled and answered for everyone, “Even without the seal, you were qualified, your highness.”
Some clearly wanted to argue, but they didn’t dare.
Finally, the question of whether I could call this meeting was shushed. Now, the real fight would begin.
I swallowed hard nervously.
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The chancellor laid out his plan based on logic and years of experience. I could see why Lucretius valued him so much. All I had to do was to agree with him and thereby giving him the royal permission to carry out his proposal.
“We need to mobilize every imperial army and place an official subpoena for the rebels. To do these, we need permission from the Senate.”
Those noblemen on the dowager empress’s side didn’t seem to agree with the chancellor, but they didn’t dare to oppose him openly.
What the chancellor proposed was a standard procedure. There was no reason to disagree with him.
The chancellor turned to me. “Your highness, I require your royal seal.”
I nodded and raised my hand towards the document.
Just then, Marquis Toruka’s voice stopped me. “Wait! We need to confirm something before we continue.”
“What do you mean? Our priority is to stop the rebels and search for the emperor.”
The chancellor glared at the marquis, who didn’t seem to care.
“I agree that we need to stop the rebels and find the emperor. It is a very obvious next step. I am sure the chancellor will do a good job carrying this plan out.”
The chancellor looked confused. I felt the same way.
The marquis continued, “However… Shouldn’t we also consider and plan for other possibilities too?”
He sounded hopeful and expectant.
“We need to discuss what we will do if his highness does not return.”
A heavy silence fell in the room.
Marquis Toruka wanted to discuss the possibility of Lucretius’ death. He most likely hoped for it with all his heart.
I couldn’t stop feeling anxious, especially after looking at the marquis’ confident face. It also bothered me that I didn’t know where the dowager empress and her princesses were. Things were not quite right.
I knew she was planning something, but I just couldn’t tell what it was.
My heart felt tight and hot. I kept imagining Lucretius getting hurt, or worse, dead.
However, I couldn’t let my fear get in the way. If I showed any weaknesses now, I would make everything worse.
I closed my eyes.
The heavy ring in my hand calmed me down. It felt as if Lucretius’ hand was holding mine.
I couldn’t help but think he left me the royal seal because he expected something like this to happen. Why didn’t he tell me in detail before he left? I felt angry at him. When he returned, he would never hear the end of it.
The important thing was that Lucretius probably had plans in place in case of situations like this. I had to believe this.
Just as I believed in him, I knew he believed in me to take care of the situation.
I opened my eyes. I knew what I had to do.
I turned towards the royal guards and ordered, “Please arrest Marquis Toruka.”
“Pardon? What do you mean, your highness?!”
The marquis protested. Many other men also seemed shocked.
I continued, “Until we are certain Marquis Toruka is innocent of this rebellion, we need to have him in custody.
The marquis raised his voice. He seemed shocked, but also seemed overly confident I couldn’t do what I was about to do.
“Please show me the proof. Even the emperor himself cannot accuse someone like this without evidence.”
I didn’t have any proof, but I knew I had a shred of solid circumstantial evidence.
“After hearing the news of the rebellion, I visited the dowager empress’ room this morning to discuss the situation. However, when I arrived, she was gone. Her three daughters as well. The exact same time his highness was attacked by the rebels, the dowager empress and the princesses left without a trace.”
Marquis Toruka protested strongly, “Are you suggesting the dowager empress was somehow involved in this rebellion?!”
I kept my voice even.
“It is unclear at this point, and therefore we cannot rule out this possibility completely. With that possibility, you need to be detained until we know for sure you are innocent.”
The chancellor agreed with me vigorously, “Her highness isn’t saying with certainty that the dowager empress and the marquis are involved. She is only suggesting the possibility based on what we know so far. Therefore, we need to follow her command.”
Marquis Toruka screamed, “Duke!”
The chancellor replied calmly, “If you are innocent, Marquis, this will be a short-lived detainment.”
When the chancellor nodded, the guards grabbed the marquis’ shoulders and tried to drag him out.
Loud cries of men were heard from nearby. Sounds of weapons and fighting also came from the outside.
It seemed like they were coming closer when it suddenly stopped.
“What is happening?!”
“Is it the rebels?”
“That can’t be! We still have a part of the defense team protecting the city from the border and the outer wall of the castle!”
Marquis Loman, who was the chief of the defense team, shook his head and made a request.
“Your highness, I will go with the guards to find out what is happening!”
I nodded. “Of course.”
“Yes, your highness!”
Marquis Loman left with the majority of the guards, leaving only a few for our own protection.
However, even after much time has passed, the noise wouldn’t stop.
“What is happening out there?”
“The rebels couldn’t have entered the castle. We have plenty of the defense guards in and out of the castle…”
Suddenly, the chancellor flinched as he realized something.
“Unless… The rebels have been hiding inside the city or even inside the castle…”
I shook my head.
“That can’t be. Perhaps inside the city, but where would they hide inside the castle?”
The chancellor answered with a pale face. “The two northern wings.”
Girand and Lonez.
The two secluded wings were connected to the main castle and they were not monitored closely. In addition, the dowager empress stayed in Girand for almost a month.
My voice trembled. “Could it be…?!”
The heavy footsteps got closer and closer. The noise was actually coming from the opposite direction from the two wings. Marquis Loman took the guards towards the north. It was very likely that they didn’t know what was happening right now.
I couldn’t help but think of the worst scenario.
When I was about to say something, the sounds of fighting were heard from right outside the door.
“How dare you!”
Suddenly, it became quiet. The royal guards, who were inside with us, surrounded the chancellor and I, facing the door. The guards who were holding Marquis Toruka also joined to protect us.
The door ripped open and a knight covered in blood came in.
He shouted desperately, “Hurry! Hurry up and run!”
The chancellor, who looked shocked, recognized the knight and asked, “What is happening there, Chief of security?!”
It was the man who was responsible for the security of this hall and the outer wing.
The Chief of security was about to answer, but he didn’t get a chance. Someone, who followed him from behind, stabbed him in the chest without mercy.
Blood sprayed everywhere.
The man who slew the Chief of security walked towards us confidently. When the chancellor saw him, his face crumpled in anger.
“How dare you, Marquis Galisia!”
The marquis approached the chancellor quickly and placed the sword on his neck.
“You better shut up if you value your life, Chancellor.”
The chancellor couldn’t continue as the marquis’ sword cut into his neck.
Thankfully, it wasn’t deep enough to kill him, but Marquis Galisia clearly wasn’t giving an empty threat.
As blood dripped from the chancellor’s neck, more knights covered in blood stormed in.
This was their plan. The noise far away was a distraction to get the majority of the royal guards out of this room. In fact, I realized that the rebels attacked Lucretius because they wanted as much of the castle defense team to be away from this place and sent to help the emperor.
They wanted us to be vulnerable. They wanted the castle.
I began to sweat in fear.
Just then, a familiar woman walked in slowly.
‘The dowager empress!’
She approached us as if she owned the entire castle.
The chancellor looked frantic and devastated.
“… Your highness the dowager empress!”
Marquis Toruka quickly walked towards his sister and bowed deeply. He acted like he was her servant and the dowager empress seemed used to it.
She looked around the room and announced dramatically, “Oh my, I’m afraid I am very late for this meeting. I heard something bad has happened?”