Chapter 275 – The New Emperor (1)
Paveluc’s current place of stay was at the very edge of the Imperial Palace. It had been assigned to him by Sullivan, and even then the tensions between the two brothers was evident. Ophelia hadn’t been concerned about Paveluc’s whereabouts as she focused on the power struggle with Carlisle. Now that she required his help, however, she needed to seek him out immediately. She wished she didn’t have to stake her life on him, but there was no time for regrets.
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Ophelia nodded reassuringly to herself, remembering the respect that Paveluc had always shown to her. No matter how much she considered it, Paveluc was the only one she could depend on now.
Finally, Ophelia and Redfield arrived at the building Paveluc was staying. Fortunately, Cassana seemed to be familiar with the geography of the place, as she had worked in the palace for many years. The three discreetly maneuvered their way through the chaos of the fighting and reached their destination.
Cassana went up to the guard stationed outside Paveluc’s quarters and whispered to him.
“Tell him Her Majesty is here.”
The knight glanced at Ophelia and Redfield standing behind Cassana. Ophelia’s face grew hot at the callous behavior of the knight. She was used to standing in the center of attention in splendid appearance, but she suddenly felt a sense of embarrassment at wearing such ragged clothes. Usually when people looked at her, it was either one of two emotions—fear or awe.
Now the guard was looking at her as if she were something trivial, and for the first time in Ophelia’s life, she learned what it was like to be unimportant.
“Wait here. I’ll report it to the Lord and let him know.”
Not so long ago, the knight would have let Ophelia inside first and then would go to Paveluc. Now, however, the knight left them waiting there.
Ophelia clenched here teeth in anger. She could not stand such disrespect. Power was a terrifying force; she had soared to great heights as empress, but then overnight she had become not much more than a fugitive.
The knight reappeared and spoke in a curt tone to Ophelia.
“The Grand Duke has allowed you to come inside.”
Cassana smiled in approval then turned to Ophelia.
“Thank goodness. Please enter, Your Majesty.”
Ophelia walked inside, the servant outfit she was wearing somehow making her feel smaller. Redfield silently followed behind her with a terrified look.
When the door opened, the first thing one noticed was Paveluc seated proudly at the head of a table. That position was normally reserved for Ophelia. However, Paveluc did not show any signs of giving up his seat to her.
‘So it’s like this…!’
Ophelia inwardly seethed with fury, but she could not critique Paveluc’s disrespectful behavior when she was the one coming to ask him for help. She schooled her features as much as possible, then spoke in an unassuming voice.
“It’s good to see you again, Grand Duke Lunen.”
“…I’m in a very bad mood. Tell me what you came for.”
Ophelia flushed. Never had Paveluc acted so arrogantly towards her before, but she was unable to voice her displeasure. She was in a more disadvantageous position before him. For the first time, she realized what it was like to be at the mercy of another person.
Ophelia continued, her lips slightly trembling.
“Yes, I apologize for the inconvenience. I’ll not tarry long here, so I’ll get to the point.”
Paveluc didn’t answer, simply looking down at her with his black eyes that were as deep as an abyss. However, Ophelia did not come to this place without any hope.
“I ask that you get Redfield and I outside of the Imperial Palace. If you keep us safe for a while, I will give you whatever you want in the future.”
“…Why would I listen? You have nothing to give me.”
Anyone would think so, but Ophelia had a secret weapon.
“If you give me a little time, I have a way to keep Prince Carlisle in check.”
“By what means?”
Ophelia didn’t want to reveal every single one of her intentions, but it was crucial to keep Paveluc satisfied. She needed to do whatever it took to get out of the Imperial Palace, even if she had to throw away her entire hand.
“I had requested assistance from the Kelt Kingdom to deal with the soldiers from the Crown Prince’s palace. I didn’t know it would turn out like this, but…if they join up with your forces, we will have a good chance of victory. If Redfield becomes the Emperor—”
Paveluc’s snort of laughter stopped Ophelia dead in her tracks. She blinked in shock at his reaction, and Paveluc spoke in her place.
“Is using the Kelt Kingdom the only thing you could come up with with that head? If you win that way, you’ll only be left with half the empire. You foolish woman.”
Kelt Kingdom soldiers demanded a steep price, and even if Ophelia used them, it would not be a perfect victory. Not only had Carlisle brought the late Emperor’s allies together, but he also had the highly coveted Krauss family on his side. Logistically, it was impossible to completely take back the Ruford Empire from Carlisle’s hands, even with the help of the Kelt Kingdom. To Ophelia’s frustration, however, she saw no other way.
“If you had acted competently in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened. Shouldn’t you at least have dealt a lethal wound to Carlisle? And now you come here to beg and expect me to patronize you?”
Paveluc was acting like a completely different person from what Ophelia knew of him, and she intuitively sensed that something was wrong. She took a hesitant step backwards, when the door suddenly slammed close behind her. She whirled around reflexively, and saw Cassana standing by the door so no one could leave.
Ophelia stared at Cassana with a look of shock. Not once in her life did she doubt the lady-in-waiting’s allegiance. Cassana had served her for many years after all. For the first time, however, Ophelia was suspicious Cassana’s identity.
An amused smile played on Cassana’s face as Ophelia glared stiffly at her.
“Ho ho ho, have you noticed now?”