Empress of Otherverse - Chapter 108
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?”