I heard a faint clattering sound. The window was forced open from the outside and I could feel someone creeping into the room. Peeking through a small gap, I saw an unknown man who was obviously not a servant of this house, carefully observing his surroundings.
I just silently dug my fingernails into the peel of the fruit in my hand. A faint sweet scent spread around the room.
… I shouldn’t have gone into a small cabinet in summer. It was hot. My body was sticky with sweat, and the air was stuffy and stifling. I shouldn’t be playing hide-and-seek at my age.
The man who was outside of the cupboard left the room; his footsteps were quiet and careful. My sharp ears, which I had inherited from my father, picked up the faint sound of him closing the door tightly.
I bit into the soft flesh of the fruit that I had just peeled, and its thick, sweet nectar overflowed. I spat that out into my palm which filled the air with a thick, sweet scent.
Finally, I crawled out of the cabinet.
The small parlour in the rundown mansion remained quiet as it was when I went into the cabinet.
… I looked through the open window and saw that the furniture was still in place.
I looked up at the upper floor. I didn’t have anything to worry about since I trusted them. I can just go up slowly when I hear the commotion.
I took a bite of the fruit in my hand with that in mind. I quenched my thirst with the sweet fruit which had the same texture as a peach.
――― There was a clattering noise mixed with a scream and a snarl of a beast.
I got off the sofa after making sure that it had turned completely silent.
Finally. I don’t know what kind of person he is, but the intruder seemed to be very careful. It took me almost half an hour to get to the room I wanted in this small mansion.
I had already eaten the fruit and wiped the nectar from my hands.
The mansion was completely silent even after I had left the parlour. There weren’t many servants in this mansion to begin with, but they went out to buy groceries or work in the kitchen during the day, so the number of servants in the mansion reduced even further. Especially today, since ‘I’ was going to be at the House of Lords, the servants prioritized their tasks outside of the mansion.
I walked up the stairs to the second floor. The door of one of the guest rooms which was located directly above the parlour was left open. It was the room I had assigned for Feyria since she would be absent from the Academy for three days.
I stepped into the room. The teacup that I had lent Feyria was broken, and the fragments were scattered on the floor.
Feyria was curled up at the edge of her bed while trembling in fear and the intruder was struggling silently on the floor in front of her bed. There were two people and one animal pinning down the intruder.
“… Hey, the cup is broken. I’m sure I told you not to let anything break.”
“We didn’t break it, he did.”
Gunter said with a displeased expression on his face, then he put more weight onto the man who he was pinning down. The man rolled onto the floor and his mouth moved painfully. The man breathed unsteadily, and drool dripped from the corner of his mouth. I could tell at a glance that he couldn’t catch his breath.
He wouldn’t bite his tongue to commit suicide this way, and his actions and thoughts would be much more restricted. Not being able to breathe is a very painful thing, and your body won’t even let you think about death.
“Strip him naked and tie him up before he suffocates, and stuff his mouth so that he can’t commit suicide.”
Theo, the other person who was pinning down the intruder, began to tie him up as he had done before with the bandits.
Finally, Rashiok, who was crushing the intruder with his huge body, looked at me proudly and barked. He swept his tail on the floor, but he was a draconis, not a dog, and his tail was more like a snake, so he didn’t sweep any dust around. He had been able to sniff the fruity scent that had told him that a man had intruded and passed this message onto Gunter and Theo. Draconis are really smart creatures.
Theo and Gunter didn’t usually come to this house, so they didn’t know who the servants were, therefore it was possible for them to make a mistake while seizing the intruder. I came up with this solution and informed Rashiok about the intruder with fruit. Rashiok was able to smell the scent from the second floor and together they caught the intruder.
“I’ve shown you something unsightly, Lady Feyria. May I pull down the curtains of your bed?”
When I spoke to Feyria, who was still pale and shaking, her shoulders jumped in fright. She hadn’t been told about the possibility of an attack, so she seemed very surprised. She didn’t seem to have been involved in the fight, and she looked pale at the sight of the seized man.
Then, she asked in a thin voice, “Hmm, is it possible… for me to move to another room?”
“It would be better for you to stay close to us. I’m not comfortable with leaving you alone under these circumstances. I’ll pull the curtains down. This isn’t something an unmarried woman should see.”
I quickly pulled down the curtains, not caring that Feyria still looked like she had something she wanted to say. At the same time, the sounds of Theo mercilessly tearing and removing the clothes from the intruder echoed through the room.
A small scream sounded from inside of the curtains. Well, an ordinary noble woman wouldn’t hear sounds like this. The man, who was being mercilessly tied up by Theo, seemed to be gasping under Rashiok’s weight. But even though he was dazed from the lack of oxygen, he stared at me with confusion and astonishment, wondering what was going on.
He probably saw me departing for the House of Lords with two prominent escort knights in tow.
A child with black hair and red eyes. It must have matched exactly with what this man had been told about ‘my’ appearance beforehand… Well, of course, that child was an imposter, and I hadn’t actually left the mansion.
Anyhow, the mission went well. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for them to do something to Feyria with the master, guards, and servants out of the house, but… too bad.
“Milord, look at this. There’s something that looks like a family crest on this man’s clothes.”
Theo tossed me the intruder’s clothes. I nodded at Gunter and Theo after confirming that the lining was indeed embroidered with the Agren House crest.
“Indeed. Throw him into the winter preparations rooms when you’ve finished tying him up. All that’s left is for Freche’s son to get his act together.”
Gunter handed the man over to the military police for questioning.
The intruder was wearing a standard uniform supplied to servants in lower class noble homes in case he was spotted by another servant.
It was impossible to tailor an outfit for the intruder since the attack was unplanned and sudden. They probably made him wear that outfit to increase his chances of successfully completing his mission, fully aware that the chances of failure were high.
The Agren crest sewn into the lining of the intruder’s outfit was treated as conclusive evidence, and Viscount Agren was accused of attacking the Kaldia House and attempting to assassinate a noble on the same day.
In the evening the next day, Earl Kaldia, Viscount Agren, the daughter of Viscount Roguesia, who was thought to be the target of the intruder, and her father, Viscount Roguesia, were summoned to the church located in the noble district, where a trial would take place with the judiciary members and priests.
In just a few days, through this dispute amongst the lower nobles, the number of people involved with the trouble was discovered. This large-scale event became the impetus for a crackdown on illegal acts committed by nearly 100 nobles.
The priest, who was acting as a judge, noted down in his record that the Earl and Viscount were each looking very grim.
On the surface, Viscount Agren, who had been forced from the side of the hunter to the side of the hunted, was trying to keep his composure. However, his eyes were filled with hatred, ――― unexpectedly, his hatred was directed at Viscount Roguesia.
On the other hand, Viscount Roguesia, was also staring at Viscount Agren with an extremely cold expression on his face. I couldn’t grasp the relationship between them and could only look at them while feeling out of place.
Well, it was actually Feyria who was the target of the attack, and I was merely someone who got dragged in because I had provided her with a place to stay.
As I watched sparks secretly fly between these two viscounts, I wondered how things would turn out. I remembered these past three crazy days and got caught up thinking about the future.
When Feyria heard that her friend, Earl Kaldia, had developed a high fever on her way home from an outing, she rushed out of school and went to visit me. But unfortunately, my illness had passed onto her, and she also caught a fever, so it was decided that she would stay at the Kaldia mansion since I couldn’t let her go back to the Academy with a fever.
Firstly, that was ‘why’ Feyria was staying at my mansion. I told both the Academy and Roguesia House about this on the same day she had come over.
I sent my messengers to five places on that day.
One of them went to the House of Lords to inform them that I wouldn’t be attending the meeting that was happening on the following day.
One went to Earl Thelesia to report the current situation, my predictions about what was going to happen and the actions that I would be taking based on those predictions.
The last one went to Kaldia fief to summon Gunter, Theo and Rashiok to the capital. Rashiok and his sweetheart, the white draconis, brought the three of them to the capital within a day. The wings of a draconis are really powerful.
“――― So, when Earl Kaldia returned from the House of Lords, the intruder had already been captured by her fief soldiers who were staying at the mansion.”
I nodded even though the judge was just confirming the contents of the report.
“I was at the House of Lords during the day, so I wasn’t directly present at the time of the attack. The servants were attending to business outside, so there weren’t many people present at the mansion, but I’m glad Lady Feyria is safe.”
I said calmly, but of course it was all a lie. Radka was the one who had attended the House of Lords meeting, not me, and I was the one who had directly given the order to capture the culprit.
Feyria, who was standing at the corner of my eyes, knew the truth, but she looked down. Yes, that’s right, keep quiet and don’t say anything unnecessary; that is if you want to annul your engagement with the Agrens and marry Corneille Freche.
“If you have any excuses, then let’s hear it, Viscount Agren. The assailant wore a servant’s uniform that had the Agren House’s crest on it. I have also confirmed with the heraldry department that the crest was made for the Agren House. That is enough to prove that you are responsible for the attack.”
“… It is true that the crest worn by the assailant who attacked the Kaldia mansion belongs to my house. However, I don’t remember hiring such a person at all. You will find that I’m telling the truth if you check my family’s employment logs.”
Viscount Agren said with a pained expression on his face.
“I see,” the judge muttered. I was a little impressed with how they were able to prepare for a search in one day. So, nothing unsavoury would be uncovered even if the whole house is searched.
Viscount Roguesia glared at Viscount Agren provocatively. He is also a noble, the unusual calmness that he had shown in our first meeting had completely vanished and it made me think that he was a different person.
“Also, why must I have my son’s fiancée killed?”
“… I don’t know what you were going to do to my daughter, but you can’t say that you don’t have a motive, Viscount Agren.”
Viscount Roguesia’s cold voice interrupted Viscount Agren’s theatrical defence.
“I’m planning on suing Viscount Agren for another matter. There’s a serious problem with the business we’re running together, a problem that Viscount Agren had deliberately created, and he must have thought he could stop me from prosecuting him if he threatened my daughter.”
Viscount Agren laughed off Viscount Roguesia’s words. He must have finished cleaning house and was confident that there would be no proof even if he was accused. He looked down on Viscount Roguesia who was glaring at him sharply.
“What are you accusing me of? I’ve been supporting your business for many years with devotion, and now your accounts are in the black―――…”
“Viscount Agren, would you refrain from speaking? I want to listen to Viscount Roguesia’s statement.”
The priest interrupted Viscount Agren who kept on talking. Viscount Agren choked on his words and glared at the priest in annoyance. The military policeman who was standing behind the Viscount thrusted the end of his weapon onto the ground and he finally stopped talking.
“Now then, please continue with what you were saying earlier, Viscount Roguesia.”
Viscount Roguesia, who was prompted to speak again by the judge, seemed to think his accusations were truly frightening. His face quickly paled, and his shoulders slumped down. Feyria, who was standing next to him, anxiously grabbed his arm while confused, then Viscount Roguesia finally opened his mouth.
“Yes… Simply put, I want to accuse Viscount Agren of causing people to become addicted to the beeswax we produce in the business that I co-own with him.”
“Addiction? Are you… sure?”
I guess the judge didn’t expect to hear such a word in such a small trial. His face twisted in surprise and suspicion.
“Yes. It was Viscount Agren who brought in the beeswax manufacturing method. He signed a sales contract for the process, guaranteeing its safety.”
After glancing at Viscount Roguesia, who had begun to stammer, an attentive military police officer gently offered me a cup of tea since I was now an outsider. He dropped a few drops of the tea onto the saucer to check for poison, then withdrew smoothly. The capital’s military police are excellent. They’re well-disciplined and slick.
While I was elegantly sipping on the tea, Viscount Roguesia’s statement had caused both the judge and the priest to pale.
According to him, they started producing that addictive beeswax five years ago, and the wholesale route was entrusted to Viscount Agren. They also produce normal beeswax, and although there isn’t much different in the way the two types are made, there weren’t any addictive components in the normal beeswax.
“What exactly is the difference between the two types of beeswax?”
“Well… roughly speaking, the wax is refined by adding the rembia juice.”
“Rembia juice? That can’t be. Rembia flowers are supposed to be non-toxic.”
The priest frowned. It’s true that the flowers themselves aren’t toxic. It would have been well-known if it was, since the flower is a garden species.
“However, when the dehydrated juice from the ripe fruit is mixed with honey and burnt, then the fumes become poisonous.”
“I’ve never heard about that before…”
“When the rembia fruits are ripe, they give off a strong odour that stings the eyes and nose, so basically all cultivated plants are plucked at a certain time.”
“Oh… I see.”
The judge, who probably left all plant management to the gardener, nodded uncertainly. The priest, on the other hand, probably took care of the plants at the monastery since he nodded in agreement.
“Certainly, if the addictive properties of the beeswax and the sales contract of the manufacturing method are admitted as evidence, then Viscount Agren will be charged with defrauding Viscount Roguesia and trafficking drugs into the kingdom. I’m sure you will be accused of being involved in the drug trafficking as well, but…”
“Wait, I’m not involved in that! All that is just Viscount Roguesia’s nonsense. I don’t know anything about plants. How could I possibly come up with a way like that to produce poison?”
Viscount Agren raised his voice because he couldn’t bear with it anymore.
“You already know that a few days ago, I confessed in private that I suspect that Viscount Roguesia is evading tax. He’s trying to frame me in order to cover up his own wrongdoings!”
Viscount Roguesia, who had remained calm until this point, finally stood up because of what Viscount Agren had said.
As I sipped on the delicious tea that had been provided by the military police, I waved my hand at Claudia, who was standing behind me, to signal that it was time to end this confusing situation.
Adults are full of lies. I was appalled.