Ch. 188 The Choice Is Yours (2)
Helen was locked away in a shadowy and dreary dungeon. The interrogator was ordered not give special preference even if she was a noble, and treated her the same as other criminals. Attempting to kill the Crown Prince was a severe felony.
As Elena descended the basement stone stairs, various thoughts passed through her mind.
Elena and Helen had never been entangled in their previous lives, and Elena could barely recall the other woman. Mirabelle claimed that Helen had harassed Elena several times, yet Elena found it perplexing, even after having lived through the future. How did Helen come to bear such a grudge against Elena?
Elena finally stopped in front of a cell with cold steel bars. Inside was a woman, chained, her once-beautiful looks spoiled and disheveled. Her dress had become frayed and her hair matted from her time in prison.
Helen lifted her head when she heard Elena’s footsteps, and their gazes met in midair. Helen’s glare turned venomous as soon as she recognized Elena.
“Hoho, did you come here to laugh at me?”
Helen disregarded any pretense and taunted Elena openly. Elena paid no regard, however, as she hadn’t come here expecting to be treated with any formality.
“You look like you’ve gone through a lot.”
“Hmph. Can’t you see it with your own eyes? You’re the one who put me through this, Elena Blaise!”
Helen screamed at her furiously, but Elena didn’t so much as blink.
“My name now is Elena Ruford, not Elena Blaise. No matter your crooked words, you’re the one who put yourself through this.”
“I gave you a final warning at the wedding reception to never cross my path again.”
Helen’s eyes widened as she recalled the conversation that day. Elena continued in a calm voice.
“I am not one to tolerate ill actions towards myself. Did you expect me to be gentle when you provoked me?”
“What the hell is wrong with that? You’re the one that started this!”
Helen screamed at her in bitter desperation. This was what Elena was curious about. Why did Helen hate her so much?
“What wrong have I done to you?”
She didn’t know how Helen would reply, and in truth Elena was so busy defending her family that the other woman hadn’t entered her mind. Helen replied immediately to Elena’s question.
“You’ve always stolen away everyone’s attention even in southern society. If I hadn’t suffered so much from the start, I wouldn’t hate you as I do now. I’m the daughter of Marquis Selby! I’m not like you, a daughter of a count!”
Elena didn’t expect this to be the only reason, and answered Helen with a look of surprise.
“Is that really it? Lady Selby, what reason is there to envy me? Not only do you come from a good family, you are a beautiful woman.”
“Yes! I deserve to be admired everywhere! But you dare stand in my way! If you had left the Crown Prince alone, he would have loved me!”
The iron chains jangled as she struggled against them.
Elena didn’t reply. She couldn’t make heads or tails of Helen’s reasoning. Helen had wealth, a family who loved her, and could have married into a good position and lived a happy life. And yet, she couldn’t stand Elena being ahead of her at all.
‘ I’ve never thought of her name in the future, but now I understand why…’
Helen would have been jealous of anyone who had more than she had, regardless whether it was Elena or not. Elena only happened to be the target of her envy in this lifetime.
“…For the first time, I feel sorry for you.”
Helen’s eyes flashed daggers at Elena’s expression of pity. Helen had been the envy of many, but no one ever told her they pitied her. She lashed out in rage.
“You think you’ll be safe treating me like this! It’s easy to think you’re the princess, but I have the Empress and the Selby family behind me! If you think this ends here, you’re wrong! Do you understand?”
The chains clanked noisily as Helen pulled against them even harder. Elena stared silently at Helen’s struggle and immediately turned away. Helen screamed at Elena’s retreating back.
“If I get out of here, I’ll destroy you somehow! Don’t you dare think you can do this to me and think you’ll be safe! I’ll make you crawl under my feet!”
Elena exited the dungeon without looking back. All she felt was pity.
The same time in the Empress’ palace.
Oswald’s face was haggard. He knew the odds were against Helen so far, but the further he dug the more he realized how severe the situation was. No matter how much gold he offered, no one would dare to help him. They saw the situation was hopeless.
When Oswald spoke, it was with a grim look on his face.
“Isn’t it too harsh to accuse my daughter of attempted murder when she simply used an aphrodisiac?”
He was clearly agitated, but Ophelia lay comfortably on a long sofa with a pipe in her mouth as usual.
“She had done so without fear.”
Oswald clenched his teeth. He knew that Ophelia had plans to make his daughter Carlisle’s wife, but he couldn’t antagonize her now. At the moment, he needed Ophelia’s help more than anyone else’s.
“Your Majesty, set aside the punishment for later and save my daughter first. Is she not beautiful?”
“She is indeed, and I took her in as my lady-in-waiting, but how has she served me? Your daughter would make a fool of me.”
Oswald had already come to the palace earlier in the night, then returned again when he found no other way. In his desperation, he hurriedly pulled out a check.
“Please reconsider, Your Majesty. The Selby family will never forget this grace.”
Ophelia snorted as she looked at the amount written on the paper.
“Did you think you could persuade me with only that?”
Oswald’s offer was by no means small, and could support a family for several years.
“It’s not that I don’t wish to help you, but she doesn’t have a hope in hell. How can I save a tiger that is already caught in a trap?”
Oswald’s face darkened at the continued rejections. Ophelia gave him a glance and continued.
“There is only one way. Get rid of the root.”
A smile sprang up on the corner of Ophelia’s mouth.
“Bring me the Crown Prince’s head. When Redfield becomes emperor, you will be appointed as the first official.”
Oswald’s eyes widened at the shocking suggestion. Ophelia casually drew a breath from her pipe and blew white smoke into the air.
“Make your choice. Let her die.”
Ophelia’s eyes flashed like a snake’s.
“Or…give me the Crown Prince’s head.”