Chapter 261 – Time To Act (1)
Carlisle and Elena spent several more days in the cave to avoid their pursuers. It was humble living compared to life in the Imperial Palace, but their days were happy as long as they had each other. If it weren’t for the urgency of their situation, they might have even lingered there longer.
However, their duties called to them. Although they did not know the exact status at the Imperial Palace, they knew that all was not well.
“Are you ready to leave now?”
“Yes. I’ve cleared away all traces that we’ve been here, so no one will be able to track us easily.”
Neither had fully recovered from their wounds just yet, but they were well enough to travel. Their shabby living circumstances could not dampen the couple’s inherit beauty and charisma either—when Elena and Carlisle stood side-by-side, they looked like a painting from a fairy tale story.
Carlisle gave a small nod. Elena gave the cave one last regretful look before turning away. It was where she had her first time with Carlisle. The memory would not be easily forgotten.
Carlisle, sensing Elena’s thoughts, spoke in a soft voice.
“Are you sad?”
“For some reason, a little.”
“You don’t have to be.”
Carlisle clasped Elena’s hand and took one step forward.
“I’ll preserve this cave and turn this place into a cottage.”
As she walked behind him, she blinked her eyes in surprise. Carlisle gave a simple smile in reply.
“Of course. Who do you think I am?”
“There’s nothing that the emperor of the Ruford Empire cannot do.”
The scene where Sullivan declared that Carlisle would be crowned emperor floated back to Elena’s mind. No matter what was happening at the Imperial Palace now, Sullivan had already named Carlisle as his successor.
“There is no need to worry. The throne is mine, unless I die. I won’t give it up to anyone.”
At his confident tone, Elena gave a small smile. Somehow, her steps felt a little lighter than before.
‘I know. I won’t forget.’
There was still a long path ahead of them. What remained unchanged, however, was that Elena would be his most powerful ally in this thorny path.
“I promised to make you emperor.”
It seemed that it was time for her to play.
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Elena’s and Carlisle’s first job was to find Elena’s contact for Astar, leader of the delegation of the Freegrand kingdom. They needed information on the current situation in the Imperial Palace, but going to a noble family may reveal their activities to the Empress, and the distance was too far in any case. Meanwhile, Astar had branches in several places. It was far more trustworthy than going to the nobles, and the pair set their destination.
Soon after, Elena and Carlisle found themselves in a small parlor waiting for Isaac. Carlisle glanced around with a look of surprise.
“I didn’t realize that you were in contact with Astar.”
“I had decided I needed an independent power to move around. I had agreed to give him exclusive trading rights when I became empress.”
“Exclusive trading rights?”
He lifted his eyebrows. He was unaware that Elena had forged a secret deal behind his back. Carlisle looked skeptical, but Elena tried to reassure him with a serious look.
“I wanted as few people to know about it as possible, and so I didn’t tell you. Although granting exclusive trading rights are not easy…but I knew I would have that kind of authority if I became empress.”
Carlisle soon smiled and nodded.
“You’re right. I can even offer better terms if it’s necessary.”
“Do you understand what you’re saying?”
“I believe you made the decision for my sake. And, as you said, you get their help in return.”
That was proof of how much Carlisle trusted in her. Elena was pleased to receive his recognition, as she was a knight before she was his wife. It was a powerful advantage to have a hidden ally unknown to anyone else, especially in a situation as dangerous as now. Elena offered Carlisle a light smile.
“First, let’s find out what has happened in the Imperial Palace, then discuss our moves afterwards.”
As Elena and Carlisle were speaking, there was a knock on the door, and Isaac appeared, breathing hard. It was obvious that he rushed all the way here.
“I was surprised to hear from you all of a sudden, Your Highness.”
Isaac glanced up at Elena first, then saw Carlisle sitting next to her. After a stunned moment, Isaac hurriedly bowed his head to the prince.
“Th-the Crown Prince of the Ruford Empire—”
Carlisle held up his hand to stop him.
“I’m trying to keep a low profile, so skip the greetings.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Isaac abandoned pretense and sat opposite the two without wasting any more time. He fixed them with a serious stare.
“The two of you were missing. Can you explain how you came to see me?”
Elena nodded at Isaac’s caution. Before she and Carlisle could get the information they want, they had to explain what happened beforehand. The puzzle pieces would fall into place, and the story would be completed.
“You likely heard what happened at the meeting on the National Founding Day.”
“Yes. His Majesty the Emperor had declared that Prince Carlisle would be coronated.”
“That evening, Emperor Sullivan summoned Prince Carlisle, but we were ambushed at the Northern Palace. We barely escaped, and we went out to seek your leader Astar.”
“…So that’s what happened.”
Isaac nodded as if he understood what was going on. Elena couldn’t contain her curiousity.
“What I want to know the most is what happened to Emperor Sullivan, and what the state of affairs is like at the Imperial Palace.”
“The situation is not very good…”
Carlisle was sitting as still as a statue, and Isaac continued.
“The day after the National Founding Day, it was formally announced that the Emperor had passed away.”