Chapter 257 – Die Together (1)
The next day, everyone in the Crown Prince’s palace was confined to the place. Everyone had been excited by the prospect of Carlisle becoming emperor, but the mood had taken a sudden turn. Zenard, who had belatedly found out about the Empress’ soldiers, attempted to resolve the situation, but was faced with only threats when he tried to leave. His expression turned grave, and he murmured to himself.
“Where the hell is he?”
Carlisle and Elena had disappeared overnight. A maid had confirmed to him that they both went to see Sullivan, but there had been no news of them since. Furthermore, all the entrances to the Crown Prince’s palace were completely blocked, and no outside information was available. Zenard stared at Kuhn in frustration before opening his mouth to speak.
“How do we get out? We need to know where His Highness is.”
“…It will be difficult.”
Although Kuhn could move by stealth, there was no means of escape when soldiers surrounded the entirety of the grounds and watched every conceivable exit. Anyone leaving would become a pincushion of arrows from the archers stationed around the place. A deep frown crossed Zenard’s brow.
“Damn it. We may have no choice but to wait.”
Without Carlisle to give them orders, it was impossible to conduct a counterassault, and the palace remained in a state of confusion. As they waited, however, they did not realize that Ophelia was slowly seizing control of the palace.
Outside, the death of Emperor Sullivan was officially announced to the empire. With his last will, Redfield’s succession to the throne was restored. The noble families allied with the emperor were deeply suspicious of sabotage, but without Carlisle, there was nothing they could do.
Ophelia planned to make Redfield emperor as soon as possible. The balance of power within the palace was changing rapidly.
Inside another room in the Imperial Palace.
Paveluc had not yet returned to the Duchy of Lunen after the tournament, choosing instead to remain in the capital. He had quickly learned what happened at the National Founding council, and knew that Carlisle was the final victor.
But in the space of one night…the victory was overturned.
Carlisle and Elena had suddenly disappeared, and Redfield’s succession, which was once considered a dead hope, was revived.
‘…What an amusing turn of events.’
His eyes gleamed brightly and a grin spread below his beard. The servant before him continued to relay his report.
“It is possible that Crown Prince Carlisle has fallen by the Empress’ hand. Batori may have more information, but the Crown Prince’s palace is completely blocked.”
“Yes. Well, if the Empress still hasn’t released Carlisle’s body, it’s likely that she hasn’t confirmed his death for herself.”
“Yes. I also have a request from the Empress that you provide support troops for her. How will you respond?”
“I refuse. Tell her that I only brought a few soldiers to the capital with me. That’s excuse enough.”
Although Ophelia was the dominant chess master in this game, it didn’t mean that Paveluc would bow so easily to her will.
“I expect that the Empress will elevate Redfield to the throne, but we must not relax until Carlisle’s body is found.”
“I understand, My Lord.”
“The balance is as delicate as walking a tightrope. One must be patient to find weakness, and one wrong move can irreparably ruin years of planning.”
If Carlisle was indeed dead, then the soldiers in the Crown Prince’s palace were needed to suppress Ophelia’s power. On the other hand, if Carlisle was alive, then it was wisest for Paveluc to simply wait until the prince took down the Empress himself. In either case, Sullivan was still dead. That meant the throne was empty, and it was ripe for the taking.
“…My brother’s death has left me despondent.”
The unexpected news of Sullivan’s death left had changed Paveluc’s mood. The servant looked up at him carefully.
“Are you sad about the death of the Emperor, My Lord?”
“Of course. I wished to have killed him with my own hands, but he selfishly left this earth first.”
The servant widened his eyes in surprise, but he soon blinked and quickly recovered.
Paveluc had never considered himself to be less than a ruler, but Sullivan was the first person to give him a taste of humiliation. Paveluc desired to prove himself by killing Sullivan before their father’s eyes. That would prove who the true emperor was. But now, all of his objects of resentment were all dead, and not by his hand. Paveluc held a deep regret for it, but fortunately he still had some victims to play with. Carlisle and Redfield both had their eyes on succeeding the throne.
“Yes…I hope that this terrible fighting is over as soon as possible.”
Paveluc didn’t care who the winner was; he would grant them all a miserable death anyway. The time was drawing near for him to reveal his hidden ambitions.
Due to Sullivan’s unexpected death, Empress Ophelia, Archduke Paveluc, and Crown Prince Carlisle were all moving towards the throne in earnest. All their forces were anxiously searching for Elena and Carlisle for their own self-serving reasons.