Shirley felt a little relieved when Sophie nd Tio returned to the inn after school that day.
“…….you both appear to be in a good mood. How was the competition?”
“Mm. She won”
“Is that so……then everything turned out for the best.”
Shirley deliberately held herself back from showing too much emotion as she nodded her head.
It sounds as if Sophie managed to gain victory during her adventure board competition with Marco. It might be just a game, but knowing that Sophie had managed to reach an absolute victory after only a day’s worth of training with a pro player made her heart do a dance.
Even if she was pretending to be expressionless on the outside, on the inside she was throwing her hands in the air doing a one person wave at the news that her beloved daughter had won.
“Ehehehe…….Marco froze in place when I placed my warrior next to his dragon!”
“It was a perfect checkmate. Marco kept looking over all of his pieces trying to think up some way to change things, but when he realized his dragon was going to be taken no matter what he did, he hung his head and shrank in his seat.”
“Is that so”
Shirley gently patted Sophie’s head as her daughter’s eyes shone with the euphoria of victory rising in her chest while recounting what had happened today.
Sophie would have given almost anything to have her mother see that moment where she emerged victorious. There was a moment where she thought her mother would suddenly appear out of nowhere, coincidentally there while on some kind of business, but unfortunately, it never happened.
“By the way Mom, is it true you will be helping out at this year’s sports meet?”
“Yes, that’s right……you’ve already heard?”
“Mm. The teacher told us after school ended. They said tomorrow we would talk bout who would be participating with their parents.”
A prompt execution immediately after a decision was reached. Or more likely, Canary had already made the preparations even without hearing the parents’ opinion on it yet. Judging by how fast she’s moving, it wouldn’t be strange to think this plan had been in motion for quite some time, and Canary was only using this year’s turmoil as an excuse.
“You’re on the red team this year right? Then I’ll do my best to bring the red team to victory too.”
Saying that much, Tio climbed onto Shirley’s lap and turned her gem-like eyes up towards her mother.
“Hey, Mom. If they say tomorrow I can participate in the family events, will you compete with me?”
“Yes, of course I will.”
That’s the whole reason she went along with Canary’s suggestion in the first place. There are sure to be other parents looking to compete, but she was definitely hoping to join in by all means.
“Mm, okay. Then if you participate, do it with me.”
“Hey, that’s no fair Tio!”
After making a promise like that, this time it was Sophie who was clinging to Shirley’s arm.
“Mama! You’ll compete with me too right?”
“Of course. So please do your best to let me participate.”
Shirley did her darndest to keep her iron mask and not let her stoic appearance fall apart.
However her overflowing happiness was making it difficult. Events where children take the leading role really are the best. Shirley had begun wondering if the sports meet would hurry up and get here, quickly becoming more excited for the event than her daughters were, but then out of nowhere, a thought came to mind.
“……now that I think about it, they’ve been in the same class together this year and last year, but what if they’re in separate classes next year? And then if they do another parent competition next year, who will I support…….?”
“Eh? ……I’m sure if we ask we……o-or maybe…..what will happen…….?”
It might be a festival, but even if it’s not like the two of them never fight with each other at all, it is still impossible for them to picture themselves as being on opposite teams and competing against one another. Such an event would leave Shirley sandwiched in the middle, more upset than anyone else.
Not only that, but if Sophie and Tio were in different classes yet participating in the same event at the same time, it would make it impossible for Shirley to take multiple up-close shots of them both.
(……is persuading Canary to have them put in the same class next year as well my only choice……? Of course, using common sense to convince her.)
Shirley held nothing back when dealing with Canary.
During that same time at the police headquarters built in the imperial capital. Every day for weeks now a crowd of screaming nobles had gathered in front of the gate.
“You bastards have unjustly arrested the son and heir of my earl family! Under direct command of our earl house, release him immediately! You discourteous cad!!”
“Why was my husband arrested!? Our child is still only ten years old! Like this my brother-in-law and his wife will take over the house!”
Protestors……for how few of them there are. It’s only natural that you would see nobles as the minority when you compare them to the rest of the population. If anything, you could say this small crowd is evidence to how few people there are on their side.
If you were to take their complaints at face value, you would see these protestors as concerned family members here to fight against the unjust arrest of their loved ones. In reality, this is nothing more than them trying to save face and protect themselves.
“We have various testimonies and evidence attesting to criminal acts that lay suspicion upon your relatives. We are acting within the confines of the law and have in no way unfairly imprisoned anyone.”
A large amount of noble ‘behavior’ has always been prohibited by imperial law. Until now they’ve been able to skate past any charges by throwing around their authority, but those excuses haven’t been flying since the formation of the police. Now more and more nobles have found themselves squeezed into the prisons and detention centers located inside police headquarters.
All of this was not going over well with the families of those criminal aristocrats of course. They were being deprived of the special treatment they had been receiving all their lives. And as for those members who had made their fortunes with the sale of slaves and illegal drugs, this matter was quickly becoming one of life or death.
“T-Those accusations are all false! N-Now give me back my son!! Who do you think I am!?”
“I cannot do that. If you have no other business here then please head home.”
“Don’t you care at all what will happen to my house!? You monster! Demon!”
“It is not our job to fix whatever problems you face. If you have no other business here then please head home.”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that……! D-Don’t you know how to say anything else!? You’re just a hastily thrown together lot who can only talk like that because you have the backing of Princess Philia!”
The gatekeeper kept responding back to the cacophony of screams from the gathered nobles without ever changing their expression as if they were but a doll.
……..and that’d be because the gatekeeper really was a doll.
If you start arresting nobles, you will have those who will try and escape to protect themselves, but you will also have those idiots who will simply try and storm police headquarters without a thought. Aware of this, Canary crafted a guard golem and gave it to Philia. It was extremely human-like in its appearance, and it came equipped with a number of prerecorded responses.
So with the person they are yelling at actually being a doll with no real will of its own, the gathered nobles truly were screaming at nothing. In fact, no police officer ever passes through the front gate where the golem is set up. Everyone instead uses strengthening magic to leap over the building’s high walls or travel under a secret underpass. Any suspects on their way to jail travel this same way.
In other words, the building’s front gate is only a decoy for those annoying aristocrats. If Canary could see them right now, she’d be clinging to her sides and doubled over from laughing so hard.
Meanwhile a large number of officers inside the building were paying the protestors no mind while going over their cases files from inside their respective offices. And in one of these rooms in particular sat the police’s leader, Philia, who was going over her own case file at the moment.
“It’s all here Princess. There was a lot thrown away, but it seems that the people close to the late emperor, including my father, managed to preserve most of it.”
“Thank you Lumiliana.”
Philia picked up some of the documents spread out across her desk and began skimming over the contents. Lumiliana took a seat next to her, and after reading through some of the other documents, they both frowned.
…….it had happened around the time that cameras had just begun appearing in the world. Philia’s parents, the previous emperor and empress, had been poisoned by somebody from Emperor Albert’s faction.
The moment it had happened was burned into Philia’s mind. She could easily recall their bodies even without the photo of their corpses attached to the file.
It was during breakfast while she was still young. Her parents had suddenly started coughing up blood and collapsed down into their food. Judging by the discoloration on the silverware, it was determined that someone had laced their food with the venom of a scorpion man’s tail. It is said that even a single drop was capable of killing fifty people.
Despite having been eating with them, Philia had managed to survive either because the assassins thought she wasn’t worth killing or because of dumb luck. Either way, watching her parents suddenly drop dead had left a deep scar on her heart.
The document she was currently reading summarized the results of the investigation into the assassination. Anyone else would be paralyzed by the trauma of the past and even faint if they were to try something like this, but she pushed through and read on. She had to. To make sure their deaths wouldn’t be meaningless.
“……the chef and taste tester were found dead shortly after, most likely suicide by poison, but the truth of the matter is still unknown. No other evidence was ever uncovered, and the assassination of the emperor went on unsolved?”
“Yes. The detectives at that time were unable to hold a proper investigation because of in-fighting between the nobles loyal to my brother and those still loyal to Father.”
“Unforgivable……to be sabotaging each other even during the death their lord.”
Lumiliana couldn’t hold back her disgust.
“…..unless they were purposefully interfering with the investigation the whole time.”
He was the emperor. There were probably no shortage of people aiming for his life, but the most suspicious of all would be the nobles supporting Albert and their faction.
After all, Emperor Legrand and Empress Elizabeth were furious over Albert’s treatment of Shirley to the point that they would have disinherited him. He was to be placed under lifelong house arrest while Philia would be trained to become the next empress. This would have been a major annoyance for the nobles who had been manipulating her brother and spent so much time whispering honey into his ears.
With that being said, Albert himself was probably not the perpetrator. He’s arrogant with a real bad personality, but that was only on the outside. On the inside he was little more than a coward in addition to not being that bright. It was hard to imagine him being able to cook up an elaborate plot to kill his parents while also having the courage to follow through with it.
“By process of elimination we can guess that the perpetrator is most likely one of the nobles backing my brother…….but we can’t find any evidence.”
“Years have passed since then. It’s unlikely that there would be any physical evidence left.”
Philia had begun to believe that she would never be able to find the truth of what happened. However in recent months, a flicker of hope had begun burning in her chest once again.
“We have the police…..our methods of investigating have expanded exponentially with the wizards we have here. We might be able to finally solve this case.”
Magic could pull up residual thoughts and leftover inorganic matter, and with the spell 《Sense Lie》able to always detect if a suspect is telling the truth or not, they would be able to pick up evidence more clear and damning than any kind of physical evidence they would have been able to gather years ago.
And there is no such thing as a statute of limitations for a sin as grave as assassinating the emperor. Once the culprits have been found, their judgement would be swift.
“If the culprit is a noble supporting my brother, and we can prove that they murdered my father to see Albert ascend the throne, it will deliver a massive blow to their whole faction.”
For now, the criminal remains unknown. Perhaps it is a fallen aristocrat who has already met their end in these last few years. But as a daughter and someone looking to bring down the empire, it was well worth her time to investigate.
No other nation or noble of the former emperor’s faction had any reason to want to poison her father.