HCM – 86

Neither evidence nor witnesses were difficult to manipulate. The criminals who gave false testimony would have already been imprisoned in the dungeon of the imperial palace by now.

The Duke of Atreille would insist on interrogating them with the investigators he had sent.

The imperial family would have slain them all at the right time and would claim they were murdered by the Duke of Atreille or the Duke of Tintalion.

Because they couldn’t risk them confessing the truth after being interrogated by someone sent by the Duke of Atreille, who uses torture.

The death of a witness did not make the evidence disappear. There would be the confession and suicide note, and eyewitnesses who have heard and interrogated the testimony of the witnesses.

Frisia knew that the imperial family would try to torment her as persistently as possible. In the worst case, they would kidnap her and drag her to the underground dungeons of the imperial palace.

‘I don’t know what the imperial family wants.’

Even if she was charged, she would be eventually released. The authority and honor of the imperial family were already lost, and lingering around and trying to take a bite out of the duchy of Tintalion was only unsightly.

Nevertheless, the emperor sided with Julien. Why?

Even if they kidnapped Frisia with difficulty and put her in prison–even if they got her confession, Duke Atreille or Tintalion had an excuse.

The Duke of Atreille would easily forsake Frisia, and the Duke of Tintalion… … .

‘They don’t know that Aslei loves me.’

In an instant, a certain realization came: Frisia knew this was a foolish fight for the imperial family to try and regain even half of their fallen honor.

Because the only one who was suffering was the imperial family.

The nobles were already laughing at the emperor. Mocking sneers would follow that when the emperor dared to kill Duke Tintalion, he lost his last semi-decent prince instead.

Commoners did not know this far, but this idea was spreading among the nobles.

In reaction, the imperial family had to take a bite out of the Duchy of Tintalion, which was nearby.

Because… … .

‘Because everything that is noble or imperial are all illusions.’ [t1v: anarchy!]

The only reason the nobles were nobles and the imperial family could be regal, and rule was the ‘belief’ that they were noble. Otherwise, the commoners would not allow aristocracy and royalty to govern.

You and I are the same human being. So why should I allow your domination?

Those who had ridiculed the imperial family a few days ago had now shut up. Instead, they closely monitored the situation, paying keen attention to the confrontation between the imperial family and the two dukes.

What would happen if the main suspect, the Duchess of Tintalion, came to the capital and was murdered?

The imperial family would not be the only one who was hurt. The nobles would say in unison that the imperial family killed the duchess but… … .

‘Would my father really mobilize the military for his dead daughter?’

Frisia knew the answer. The Duke of Atreille would try to conclude the case in a way that appropriately placated and moderately conciliated with the imperial family for political gain.

‘Aslei… … .’

He might be hostile to the imperial family until the end because he loved Frisia. But ultimately, she thought that he, too, would eventually bow down to the imperial family.

Treason was too great a risk. The Duke had people to protect besides Frisia. All his vassals would oppose it even if he tried to go to war.

He may harbor hatred for the imperial family in his heart, but Aslei would eventually keep his silence too.

‘If I die, the imperial family can regain face and finish this job.’

It was just a guess, but her body trembled when she thought about it this far. Frisia checked and corrected the phrase on her stationery again.

Clever Clarisse would have understood her coded words.

‘I could be overassuming.’

The imperial family might have other plans in mind. However, Frisia thought all other methods would only damage the imperial family.

‘What do I say to Aslei?’

Aslei, who loved Frisia dearly, was against her going to the capital from the beginning. He would forbid her and become obsessed with her protection just because of this ‘guess’ of hers.

They could not refuse the emperor’s order to come up to the capital just by enduring. Because it was the law and duty of aristocracy.

It would give the emperor another excuse to attack the Duke of Tintalion.

‘… … It’s still all speculation.’

Frisia rolled up her stationery. When she held it out to the robin, the paper turned golden and became a small iron ring wrapped around the robin’s leg.

The robin spread its wings and flew out of the window. She watched the little bird until it disappeared out of sight.

❁ ❁ ❁

She knew that Aslei would accompany Frisia to her capital. So, naturally, Marianne felt sick to her stomach. No, she was infuriated and queasy.

‘I’m furious and upset—it’s unfair!’

It was mine! Even though she caught her lost love and made it her own, that1villainess changed. Now, what she had missed, that wicked woman was about to take.

She is a dirty and filthy woman—a vile, despicable villainess.

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