HCM – 79

The day of the banquet dawned. Frisia remained at the Duke’s residence on the grounds she was not feeling well, but Aslei announced his intention to attend, so he was busy preparing. The banquet began at sunset.

‘I feel an ominous foreboding.’

She told Aslei everything she knew from the novel. So he also learned about the future where Julien assassinated Aaron.

‘But maybe it’s not today.’

The Duchy of Tintalion was not the right place to assassinate Aaron. There is no proper target to cover his crime.

Aslei? With that enormous power, there was a high possibility of him being able to find the true culprit. On top of that, if the Duke was accused of being a criminal, the Duke’s vassals would rise up.

He couldn’t arrest the Duke as a criminal without engaging in an all-out war. This was not the capital but the Duchy of Tintalion, and the capital of the dukedom was Mulia.

There were vassals of the Duke, but blaming them was the same as blaming the Duke.

Duke Tintalion could boldly abandon the nobleman, but on the contrary, he could dig up his sins and reveal that Julien is the culprit.

Instead, it would serve as an excellent opportunity for the two families, the Duke of Tintalion and the Duke of Atreille, to join hands. Although the imperial family could overwhelm individual houses, the power of the two families was equal to that of the authority of the imperial family.

If it was clear that if Julien framed Duke Tintalion that the other families would support the duchies.

In that case, it would be possible to overturn the imperial family.

It would be possible not only to overwhelm the imperial family with military force but also to abolish the current emperor and appoint another emperor.

‘… … So he won’t kill Prince Aaron here and now.’

Aslei had come to the same conclusion as Frisia.

In the original novel, Aaron attends a party held at a villa near the capital and is poisoned. He wandered between life and death but eventually came to his senses and sided with his mistress, the Countess.

If they weren’t trying to kill Prince Aaron, they had to be careful of the safety of Aslei, the Duke of Tintalion.

Aslei was confident in this. He was a person who could not be overwhelmed by swordsmanship, and he could suppress magic to some extent with his own mana.

The most likely weapon used against him would be poison, so he prepared for poison, thinking with this, he would be safe.

“I will return safely to my wife’s arms. Do not worry.”

Before leaving, he told Frisia that. Aslei, this evening, in his formal attire, looked as wonderful as ever.

Frisia looked at him, regretting the fact that she couldn’t accompany him. She wished she was stronger and could help him.

“Don’t overdo it… … .”

As she motioned him to lower his stance, he lowered his head to match her height so Frisia could whisper in his ear,

“In case of emergency, think of only your Excellency’s safety first and run away.”

At her words, Aslei laughed. Frisia looked at him, wondering what was funny.

“I will. I put my body first.”

Saying that he pressed his lips against her forehead.

He knew how strong he was. He knew an assassination attempt could not even inflict a scratch on him.

“… … I’ll be back before the night gets dark. Don’t fall asleep.”

Frisia’s face turned red at his subtle words, with a strange smile in his eyes. It was because she noticed what Aslei meant by not sleeping.

One of his lieutenants cleared his throat and urged him to part. Aslei took a last look at her with a face full of regret and turned his steps away.

Aslei climbed into the carriage, and his lieutenants, secretaries, and vassals mounted their horses.

She felt an overwhelming feeling that something would happen today. Frisia pressed against her unrelenting thumping chest. Her heart was pounding ominously.

❁ ❁ ❁

As he watched the brilliant lights of the banquet hall draw closer, Aslei’s countenance stiffened. He was in a neutral position where he had nothing to gain or lose, no matter which of the two princes became the emperor. But, if possible, he also wanted to find an emperor among other members of the imperial family beyond the fourth degree.

‘No prince is sufficient to ascend the throne.’

The deceased crown prince was somewhat impatient, but he had been at least better than them.

Aslei developed the Duchy of Tintalion, but that was all. Other parts of the capital were not under his jurisdiction.

Even if a fool ascended to the throne and ruined the country, he could not completely stop it.

‘Maybe it would be better to hope that someone from within the 4th degree has an illegimate child raised outside because the conduct of the imperial family is so immoral.’

While pondering, the carriage arrived in front of the banquet hall. When Aslei’s attendant disclosed his master’s identity and revealed the invitation, the soldier became contemplative and let the carriage in.

Now was the time to face those sickening princes.

Aslei got off the carriage, thinking of Frisia waiting at the Duke’s residence. Now it would be like entering a battlefield.

‘I’m glad I didn’t bring Frisia.’

It was a place where it would not be bizarre even if a knife flew. Aslei watched his uneasy escorting knights surround him as he walked towards the banquet hall.

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