Ch. 165 Knew It Would Happen (2)
Elena replied with a nonchalant look.
“Oh, this flower is from a rare plant that grows only in the Sibena Kingdom. Her Majesty the Empress recently sent one to me as a wedding gift, and I loved the aroma so much that I had to have it at this party.”
The audience all nodded.
“It smells wonderful.”
However, whispering broke out from those from the Sibena kingdom, dark expressions on their faces. Elena deliberately turned towards them.
“Ah, yes, there are ambassadors from Sibena. What is the exact name of this plant?”
One of the ambassadors frowned in contemplation. Elena gave a surreptitious glance towards the nanny before turning back.
“Oh, the flowers are so torn up that it’s impossible to identify even by a Sibenian. I’ll show you the actual plant given to me by the Empress.”
As soon as Elena finished, the nanny approached the ambassador with the potted plant. It was all according to plan. The closer Manera plant came, the darker the expressions from the ambassadors from Sibena. If the ambassador said the wrong thing, the Empress would be in an unstable position. However, if he lied in open view of the others, it was tantamount to taking the blame.
Although it was not hot in the hall, the Sibenian ambassador was sweating as if it were in a humid summer. He closed his eyes, then spoke.
“W-well, it’s called the Manera plant. It’s difficult for many to distinguish it from its twin, the Vanera.”
“Then, among the twin plants, the Empress gave me the Manera.”
“Y-yes. That’s right.”
Some of the people began to murmur among themselves. Elena pressed the ambassador again.
“I have heard that the flowers bring harmony and fertility, correct?”
The ambassador of the Sibena Kingdom, while he did not wish to reveal as much as he could, realized that there was no way out. He had a defeated expression on his face as he spoke.
“Not…not at all. If you inhale this fragrance over a long period of time, it can cause infertility in women.”
“What? What are you saying?”
Elena turned to Empress Ophelia with a startled expression. Elena wasn’t the only one, as the entire party looked at Ophelia with amazement. Sending a plant that caused infertility to the Crown Princess was obvious in its intent to harm. Elena spoke with a look of disbelief.
“Your Majesty, what is the meaning of this?”
This was the conclusion of Elena’s carefully prepared trap. It had already been confirmed that some of the ambassadors to the Sibena Kingdom could distinguish the Manera and Vanera plants, and she had staged a performance that would draw attention to the flowers. The nobles of the Ruford Empire may be under the Empress’ influence, and so she filled the hall with envoys from other kingdoms. Under this plan, Ophelia would suffer a severe blow to her image.
Ophelia’s completely calm demeanor caused a sinking feeling in Elena’s stomach, however.
But she couldn’t figure out what on earth it was. Elena quickly recalculated everything in her head, when Ophelia’s voice rang through the hall.
“Please don’t misunderstand me, Crown Princess. Someone must have manipulated this to defame me.”
“Yes, I sent you the sweet Vanera flowers, not the Manera. And I can bring a scholar from the Kingdom of Sibena here to prove it.”
From the start, Elena thought it was strange that there were twin plants. She frowned.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty, it would be difficult to confirm the situation with only one witness. How much can we trust one scholar?”
“Don’t worry. Someone must be playing a trick to separate us, and I’ll make sure to find out who.”
Ophelia spoke in a confident tone and called her lady-in-waiting, Cassana.
“Cassana, quickly bring the Sibenian scholar staying in the Empress’ palace.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Cassana rushed out of the party as the ambassadors exchanged disturbed looks among themselves. Elena wanted to speak more, but she couldn’t ignore Ophelia’s promise to bring a witness, as if the Empress had prepared for this exact situation.
Before long, Cassana returned with a middle-aged man.
“Hail to the Empress. Hail to the Crown Princess. Eternal glory to the Ruford Empire.”
The man approached and fell to the floor in a deep bow. Ophelia spoke in a displeased tone.
“I ordered you to buy a Vanera plant to send it to the crown princess. Now the others say it’s the Manera plant. What happened?”
“Your Majesty, it can’t be. What I sent was clearly the Vanera plant. I swear my life on it. Can I see the plant myself?”
Elena was forced to nod, and the nanny approached the scholar with the plant. As soon as the scholar saw the Manera, he shook his head and spoke firmly.
“I didn’t send this, Your Majesty. Was there any opportunity for someone else to switch out the plant?”
Empress Ophelia pretended to think.
“No. There’s no one in the palace who could…”
Her words trailed off, and she looked at Elena as if she realized something.
“Who delivered this plant to the Crown Princess, by any chance?”
” …It was the maid Asabe.”
“Then let’s bring the maid here. You, fetch the maid Asabe from the Crown Prince’s palace. Search the maid’s room thoroughly for anything suspicious.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
The palace guards left the hall. Whatever trap Elena had woven, the Empress’ was far more elaborate and difficult to break.
‘It was as if she knew it would happen.’
Anxiety started to gradually squeeze Elena’s mind.