It was an insult that an aristocrat like Albus had never heard of in his life, but Albus couldn’t easily retort because his mind was in a mess.
‘Did that skill really belong to the Bellids?!”
If Zich’s words were really true, this wasn’t just any normal case. Karuwiman was an extremely influential religious group, and they were people who raised their knives and trembled in rage at the mere mention of Bellid’s name. Opposing them was, at the least, nothing less than suicidal. Of course, Albus had no intention to fight against the Karuwimans, but this didn’t mean the Karuwimans also thought the same.
‘If they judge that the Bellids are involved in this matter, they will try to get to the bottom of this case!’
Albus had to deny everything. “They are framing me! Even if Evelyn got controlled, I am also a victim! Actually, aren’t you guys more suspicious than me since the two of you appeared so suddenly and recently around Elena?”
“You make a very interesting claim.”
As Albus yelled with his bulging veins, someone responded to him. In contrast to his words, the person’s voice didn’t sound like he was intrigued by Albus’ claims at all.
“Could I interpret your words to mean that the Honorary Knight, Zich, might be a Bellid follower?” Weig’s sharp eyes glared at Albus. Beside him, Lubella also gave Albus a chilly glare.
Albus gulped his saliva down and realized that he misspoke. “Sir, I-I apologize. I didn’t mean that at all. In my panic, it was a slip of the tongue.”
At Albus’ quick apology, the two withdrew their menacing glares, but they continued to look at Albus with dissatisfaction. Albus’ head ached; even if he managed to escape this situation, it seemed as if his relationship with the Karuwimans would be negatively affected. But Albus decided to worry about that matter later and focus on the present situation.
The Crown Prince asked, “Then, are you saying that the reason why Lady Rouge attacked me was because of someone else's schemes?”
Checking up on Evelyn while standing next to her, Lubella answered, “Your Highness, we will have to investigate a bit more, but there’s a high chance that the Bellids might be involved in this case.” Then, Lubella asked Evelyn, “Did you say that you were Lady Rouge? Could I use a bit of your time after this is over? I will get rid of all the dirty Bellu’s energy still lingering inside you.” Lubella was extremely concerned about the energy still inside Evelyn.
“Ah, yes…” Evelyn answered while looking a bit tired from Lubella’s fixation.
Zich asked the King, “Then, Your Majesty, is Lady Rouge free of her charges now?”
“Yes. Since the Karuwiman Saint testified for her, it means that Evelyn Rouge was controlled.”
“Your Majesty, I suppose that also means that Lady Rouge’s words are credible now.”
“That is also true.”
“Then, shouldn’t we try listening to what the lady has to say? Your Majesty, Lady Rouge is the true victim of this incident.”
“Yes, Evelyn Rouge. Tell us what you have been through.”
At the King’s words, all attention shot towards Evelyn. Among the many gazes, Evelyn felt that some were more intense than the others. Zich gazed at her strongly as if he was trying to send her his support, and Lyla looked at her trustingly like she was trying to give Evelyn a calmer peace of mind. Meanwhile, Albus’ gaze carried a sense of crisis with his bloodshot eyes and dry lips.
“I will tell you everything I endured…” Evelyn told the Crown Prince everything that happened to her after she stabbed him. Maybe it was because she practiced, or because of the two friends who encouraged her, or even Albus who had become her enemy, but she was able to tell the whole story continuously without stopping. Finally, her words came to an end, and the ballroom became dead quiet.
“It’s a lie!” Albus said urgently. “I-I have never ever done anything like that. She is misunderstanding something or was tricked by somebody!”
However, the crowd was no longer swayed by his words. Albus’ desperate cries were useless against the great Karuwiman name that shielded Evelyn. Albus was thoroughly crushed by the ‘authority’ which he had been so passionate about. Still, no one could immediately declare Albus as the offender from Evelyn’s one testimony. For the time being, only Evelyn’s accusations were cleared, and there was no clear evidence or witness against Albus. Yet, those things could be found, and Albus could be identified as the true mastermind behind this incident.
“Then, we should hold an investigation at the Windpool mansion too.” Zich said nonchalantly like he was talking about a small matter, “Who knows? There could be clear evidence there.”
“There’s no way that…!” Albus was about to deny Zich’s words, but he shut his mouth again.
There was no evidence. He didn’t even do anything that could leave evidence in the first place, and even then, he had thoroughly erased any possible traces…if he excluded Evelyn’s journal, which he was still in the process of making.
‘I even wrote down the people I hoped they would kill...! If the guards happen to find that…’
Albus’ back became soaked with sweat.
‘Maybe I could also claim to be manipulated like Evelyn…! No, as long as the Saint is still here, I will be found out right away!’
“What is it?” Albus gained his senses again and realized that Zich was right in front of him.
The way Zich’s eyes looked at him was like a cat playing with a cornered mouse. “Is there something you are concerned about in your mansion? For example, something that could indict you as the criminal?”
“D-Don’t make me laugh! There’s nothing like that!”
“Then I guess there won’t be any problems even if we search your mansion?”
“…O-Of course.” However, Albus' eyes swam in circles without finding a place to pinpoint. If the situation progressed like this, he would definitely die. He needed to find a solution as soon as possible. It was at that moment.
He heard a low and rough voice from a distance. It wasn’t that loud, but Albus heard it clearly, and he stared in the direction of the voice.
The door of the ballroom was wide open. From beyond the door, he saw people with black robes.
“Who are you!”
In an instant, all the attention shifted towards the robed figures. Naturally, the attention towards Albus decreased.
His collaborator—the robed figures—had come for him. Since he was being driven to a corner, Albus was extremely glad to see them. However, a question also popped up in his mind.
‘Why did they come here?’
One of the robed figures raised his hand and made a sign. That hand was definitely pointing towards Albus. The figure simply said, “Escape.”
Then the robed figure pulled out his sword.
‘Did he come to save me!’
Albus hesitated for a moment, but there was not much time to think for long. He had to make his decision as fast as possible.
‘If I stay here, there’s a high possibility that I might die! And if I end up in jail, it will be hard for me to escape!’
While everyone’s gazes were fixated on the robed figures, Albus used that chance to make his escape.
He used as much mana as he could to surround his body and increase his physical strength. He rushed towards the side of the wall with no people, and in an instant, he passed Zich and his companions. Fortunately for him, he seemed to have caught everyone off-guard, because no one stopped him.
Albus stopped at the corner of the ballroom. There was relief on his face. People were surprised by the sudden change in the situation again. The knights and soldiers quickly held up their guard against Albus.
However, even in this situation, Zich calmly murmured, “I guess we don’t have to even look for evidence. He’s clearly showing us that he is the mastermind behind this conspiracy.”
As Zich said, it was suspicious as hell that Albus would run away as soon as mysterious, robed figures entered the ballroom. For that reason, Albus no longer made excuses for himself and glared at Zich.
There was no need for him to continue acting, so he revealed his true nature. “Zich Steelwall—no, you are just Zich.”
“Yep.” Zich also spoke informally to him, and Albus gritted his teeth.
“If only you hadn’t existed, everything would have turned out well.”
“I’ll admit that. If I wasn’t here, your plan would have succeeded.”
However, Zich successfully stopped Albus’ plan, so he puffed up his chest and smirked. Albus immediately wanted to run and beat Zich to death, but he had no leisure to do that. He had to escape as soon as possible. Albus turned his head and shouted at the robed figures.
“Let’s quickly escape this place! What’s your escape plan!”
“Capture those people righ—”
“Ah, it’s all right.” Zich cut off the words of a knight who looked to be the commander.
The commander asked, “What? What are you saying when there’s an intruder in the palace?”
“Because…it’s hard to even say they are intruders.” Zich shouted towards the robed figures, “It’s done! Take off your robes before the situation becomes even more complicated!”
The robed figures looked at each other and then took off their robes.
“H-Hans?” The Countess, who was standing next to Count Steelwall, opened her eyes wide.
The Count and Greig were also very surprised. Hans gave a slight nod towards the Count and the Countess, but since the situation was urgent, he did not show more manners. Hans started taking off the robe of the person next to him — Snoc.
The crowd sensed that something was off when Hans and Snoc took off their robes, but when the other ‘robed figures’ were revealed, they cried out in shock because they were not people but scarecrows covered with thick, black robes. Of course, people like Weig who had very advanced sensing ability already knew they were not real people. Hans and Snoc meekly gathered the scarecrows to one side and bowed at their waists.
The King asked, “…Who are they?”
“Your Majesty, they are my servants.”
“Then this must also be one of your plans.”
“Your Majesty, I thought this was the best way to reveal Albus Windpool’s true nature.”
Zich stared at Albus. Albus looked as if he couldn’t believe this situation was real, and he wasn’t able to move his eyes away from Hans, Snoc, and the scarecrows.
Zich slowly walked towards them. “What kind of excuses are you going to make now? Are you going to say that you were ‘controlled’ just like Lady Rouge? Or was there a misunderstanding like last time?”
“Ugh….” Albus’ eyes became red. He bit his lips so hard that blood dripped down his chin. He looked like a demon, and people felt a shiver run down their backs.
Zich was not fazed; instead, he laughed at Albus’ appearance. “Did you think you were safe when your accomplices arrived? Did you think they were a ray of light in a time of darkness? How sad. They were not on your side in the first place.”
The rose-colored world that Albus dreamed of was completely out of reach, and now his life was in danger. The comrades he thought were his saviors were actually his enemy’s servants; Zich had completely tricked him.
While watching Albus tremble from head to toe, Zich replied in a light-hearted, giddy tone, “How about it? How was your sweet moment of hope?”
Consumed by anger, Albus' eyes rolled back and he ran towards Zich. Without a weapon, he idiotically swung his fists around. Zich snorted at Albus’ ridiculous attack. However, as soon as Albus was within Zich’s reach, Zich swung his fist at him.
Zich’s swing sharply and cleanly hit Albus’ chin. Without even being able to scream, Albus crumpled down on the floor. Then Zich straightened his clothes and declared,“I’m the one who taught Lady Rouge how to throw that punch, you fucking idiot.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter