“T-Talk…talk about what…?”
“Of course, about the crimes you’ve committed.” Zich marched towards the knights and soldiers until he stood right in front of their spears. The knights and soldiers fumbled around without knowing what to do.
“Your Highness, could you get them to put these down first?” Zich asked the Crown Prince, and the Crown Prince nodded.
“Put them down.”
The soldiers put their metal spears down, and the knights and soldiers backed away a couple of steps. However, they didn’t let their guard down and were prepared to swing their weapons at any moment.
‘How effective.’ Zich stole a glance at Lubella.
Zich had expected her to come. As someone who was guaranteed to be the next Saint, Lubella needed to meet high-ranking officials from many countries. Plus, there was no better place to accomplish that responsibility than at the Cronon King’s 50th birthday celebration.
Albus came up closer to Zich and asked, “…Who are you?”
“Ah, now that you mention it, I forgot to properly introduce myself. This is who I am.” Zich took out a brooch and hung it on his chest. There was no one in the room who didn’t know what that brooch symbolized.
Someone murmured, “…Karuwiman’s Honorary Knight.”
It was the title only given to those who accomplished many great deeds for the Karuwiman. If a Karuwiman Honorary Knight gained faith in Karuna, they could immediately be accepted as a Karuwiman high-ranking Holy Knight. In terms of honor, a person with this title could gain the same respect as a high-ranking noble in a kingdom, especially in places where the Karuwimans held great influence.
Count Steelwall had rejected his connection with Zich, but he muttered in a hushed tone, “An Honorary Knight…”. His voice clearly expressed confusion and even embarrassment. The Count’s wife and his son, Greig, were also speechless. They didn’t think that Zich would reach the esteemed position of Karuwiman’s Honorary Knight after leaving the family scornfully.
“How is it? Aren’t I at a level to talk to you now?”
Albus couldn’t retort.
In short, ‘authority’ was the power to control another person however they wanted. The foundation for it could be one’s status, honor, charisma, wealth, eloquence, and so on, but depending on the source of the authority, there was a clear difference in power. The source of authority that Zich had just pulled out was one of the strongest ones: religion.
When Zich hung his Honorary Holy Knight brooch, everyone looked to Weig and Lubella. They didn’t show any response.
The silent responses of the Saint and the Karuwiman’s strongest Holy Knight Weig clearly testified for Zich’s status; it was the same as publicizing the authority that Zich held.
“Then, let me first explain what is going on.”
People began to pay attention to Zich’s words. So, Zich was about to officially explain the situation when—
Someone stopped him. The ballroom door opened, and a group of people came in. A couple of knights exuded out a sharp, heavy air that overwhelmed their surroundings while guarding a man and a woman. The man and woman’s fancy clothes and elegant movements indicated their high status; and most noticeably, the man held a royal scepter and wore a crown on top of his head.
“Father, Mother!” At the sight of them, the Crown Prince moved, and everyone bowed towards the King and Queen.
“Don’t trouble yourselves.” The King gestured at everyone in the ballroom to stop their greeting.
The Crown Prince asked, “Why did you come so early, Father?”
It wasn’t time for the King and Queen to appear yet. Furthermore, the party was in a mess right now. The Crown Prince had planned to converse with Zich and Evelyn for a bit in consideration of the Saint and quickly wrap up the situation before the King arrived; thus, he was surprised that the King and Queen had arrived earlier than planned.
“Please wait for a few more minutes, Father. Since there is a small disturbance in the party, I will quickly resolve the matter and accompany you.”
“It’s fine. There’s no need for you to do that. I came early because I was curious about the events taking place here.”
The King marched towards the Crown Prince, and his guards followed him with great force. He passed through the crowd and went to the center of the event.
The King struck the floor with his scepter. “I haven’t seen you in a while, Evelyn Rouge.”
As a high-ranking noble lady, Evelyn had met the King before. However, while she stood behind Zich after pointing Albus as the mastermind, she was surprised that the King even addressed her. She soon gained her composure and greeted the king.
“It’s been a while, Your Majesty.”
“I heard that you are claiming to have been falsely accused of attempting to kill the Crown Prince. Is that true?” The King’s gaze didn’t necessarily look amiable. It was the same for the Queen next to him. No parent could think well of a person suspected of trying to kill their son. However, Evelyn repressed her anxiety and nodded.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Was he impressed? Or was he sighing? Evelyn wasn’t sure and clutched her dress tightly.
Somebody placed their hand on her shoulder; it was Lyla. Since she hadn’t dispelled her cover yet, Lyla still had an unfamiliar face, but she tapped on Evelyn’s shoulders like she was trying to give her some strength. Evelyn loosened up a bit thanks to her encouragement.
“I will give you the detailed explanation, Your Majesty.” With Zich’s intervention, Evelyn managed to completely calm her heart.
“Zich Steelwall. It’s been so long. I remember seeing you when you were as tall as my waist.”
“I’m extremely honored to hear that Your Majesty remembers me, but I threw away the last name of Steelwall. I am just Zich now, Your Majesty.”
The King stole a glance at Count Steelwall. The Count’s expression was a sight to see; it wasn’t every day that the rough Count would wear such a helpless expression. The King kept this thought to himself and tried to not show his amusement as he stared at Zich.
“All right, Zich. Should I address you as Karuwiman’s Honorary Knight Zich then?”
“I’d appreciate it if you would, Your Majesty.”
“Then why don’t you start your explanation.” The King crossed his arms and continued to stare at Zich.
“Your Majesty, I want to first say that the instigator for this whole event is Albus Windpool who is standing in front of us.”
“What nonsense…!” Albus was about to shout, but he quickly closed his mouth.
Zich was currently speaking by the King’s orders. If he cut Zich off right now, it would be the same as ignoring the King’s order. As expected, the people around him, especially the Crown Prince and his guards, didn’t look pleased. Albus immediately put his head down for his impudent behavior. Fortunately, the King easily accepted his apologies with a nod.
“I will continue my explanation. By using his position as Lady Rouge’s fiancé, Albus Windpool made her his puppet. Essentially, Albus Windpool ‘controlled’ her. His goal was to make Lady Rouge attack His Highness, the Crown Prince, and then jump in front of His Highness to ‘save’ him. He did this to obtain the Prince’s favor and the power that comes with it.”
“Hmm….” The King put his hands on his chin and fell into thought.
“Albus Windpool. What do you think about his accusations?”
“They are all nonsense. It’s nothing more than a crudely written sham. Hasn’t it already been revealed how Evelyn planned to kill His Highness and why she wanted to kill him? It’s already been found in her very home!”
“He also planted those pieces of evidence.”
“It’s all lies.”
The two sides fiercely competed with one another. The King frowned.
“Zich, I fully understand your side of the story, but I’m afraid you have no evidence for me to believe your words. Regardless of what you say, it doesn’t change the fact that Albus Windpool saved our Crown Prince.”
Seeing that the King seemed to side with him, Albus smiled. He did not forget to bow his head in gratitude to uphold the perfect image of a well-mannered, young noble. It was an extremely despicable sight.
Zich replied to the King, “As you know, Lady Rouge’s attack did not kill Sir Windpool. Coincidentally, he was injured just to the extent where he could survive if he received treatment.”
This was true. Even though Albus survived by drinking a potion, it took a while for the potion to arrive. If he had been stabbed in any critical areas, he would not have been able to survive.
The King shook his head. “You can’t use that as evidence. We can’t conclude that he is the suspect just because he didn’t die on the spot.”
Zich stared at Albus. As Zich failed to provide concrete evidence, Albus’ expression grew more and more relaxed. His expression now seemed to say, ‘Yeah, try your hardest but you can’t hurt me.’
Zich smirked. Albus’ confidence was absurd. ‘That guy probably doesn’t understand what he did wrong.’
Then it was Zich’s duty to teach him step by step—with a lot of kindness and patience. “As I told you before, Your Majesty, Sir Windpool ‘controlled’ Lady Rouge.”
“Yes, you said that.”
Zich stared at Albus. “Hey, Sir Windpool. You probably learned that ‘control’ ability from some weird people wearing black robes, right?”
“That never happened.” Albus calmly denied Zich’s words, but on the contrary, his heart was rapidly beating.
‘This bastard, he knows the situation too well!’
Albus felt a sense of crisis as Zich accurately described his plans and even knew about his connection with the mysterious robed figures. Anxiety began to fill up Albus’ heart. Since he now realized his opponent knew almost the whole truth, there was a need for him to be a bit more cautious.
“Of course, you will deny it. What made you trust those guys so much that you would follow their teachings and use them against Lady Rouge?” Zich clicked his tongue. “That’s why some evidence was left behind.”
“…Evidence?” A slight frown appeared on Albus’ calm expression.
“I keep saying this, but Lady Rouge was ‘controlled.’ There are many terms such as brainwashing, lying, and other words I could have used to describe what happened to Lady Rouge, but I specifically used the word ‘controlled.’ Is this word not familiar? The word controlled can mean turning people into puppets.”
Zich put his hand on his chin and exaggeratedly tilted his head towards Lubella and then hit his palm with his fist as if he just realized something. “It seems like I heard this word somewhere when we first met.”
Lubella was quietly watching what Zich was doing, and Weig was excitedly watching the situation in front of him, but they both stiffened. Lubella stepped forward to move next to Evelyn and reached out with her hand.
“I apologize, Lady Rouge. Could I investigate your body for a bit?”
“Y-Yes? Yes, do what you need to do.” Evelyn placed her hand on top of Lubella’s hands.
“Thank you.” Lubella used her holy powers to scan Evelyn’s body. A frown appeared on her forehead. Lubella’s holy power detected a faint, dirty sensation in Evelyn’s body. Lubella immediately let go of Evelyn’s hand and then walked towards Weig.
“How is it, Lady Lubella?”
“Sir Zich is right.” Lubella scrunched her face, and said with a voice full of disgust, “It’s Bellid’s dirty energy.”
This was enough to make everyone tremble in shock. The King, Queen, and Crown Prince were also all shocked, and Albus was so shocked that he even forgot to act calm.
“With this, I think it’s enough evidence that Lady Rouge was controlled against her will.” Zich looked at Albus and mocked him. “Did you not realize that the ability you used was from Bellid? Didn’t your mom tell you when you were young to not hang out with weird strangers? That’s why I said you were an idiot.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter