Imperial Idle Talk 2
“――――that is all. See it done immediately.”
After receiving his orders, Genan’s steward immediately left the office. After seeing him off, the head of the duke family sat back in his high-class chair, sipping on the tea his maid had just brought him to calm his fatigued and running mind.
(Each and every single one of them causes me nothing but trouble.)
Genan’s expression was fairly bright despite what he was thinking.
Over the past few months, a series of calamitous events had come rushing towards the Earlgrey family and now lay at his feet. The most disastrous of these issues involved his two sons……Alice and Shirley’s brothers.
Genan’s eldest son would be turning 33 this year while the second son would be reaching 28. …….No, it’d be more accurate to say they would have been reaching those ages.
Although not quite to Alice’s level, Genan did love both his sons. His eldest son and heir had already begun taking over for the family bit by bit while the second son had been set up in another mansion inside the territory to work as an assistant for his older brother in the future.
They were obedient boys, rarely ever arguing with him or their mother, and most important of all, they both deeply loved Alice just like their parents. You could tell they were all family.
(It would have been an ideal family if it wasn’t for that damnable daughter.)
Genan took a moment to reminisce over days long past.
Shirley was ostracized from her family because of her white hair and differently colored eyes which was an ominous symbol for imperial nobles, but it was Genan and Elena who taught Alice and their two sons from an early age that they were not to offer their sister any help.
For better or worse, Alice had been an obedient child when she was young, and having grown jealous of her older sister’s growing beauty despite the abusive environment she grew up in, she took the initiative to start abusing Shirley alongside her parents. The eldest son and second son were too afraid to go against their mother and father, so they would also treat Shirley as if she were a slave who shared the same blood and lived in the same house. As time pressed forward however their aggression swelled, and they too grew to enjoy assaulting and abusing her as she worked.
“It’s fun to hit and kick it! It makes this funny ugh and ack sounds every time it gets hurt!”
“Just looking at that woman’s face irritates me! Father, is there some kind of tool I can use to make it easier to hurt it?”
Eventually the children no longer recognized Shirley as their sister. She was simply a doll they were allowed to do anything they pleased with that just so happened to be related to them by blood. It was impossible for any of them to ever consider wanting to protect her. Shirley was powerless in every sense of the word, and she had no other choice than to try and endure the environment she was born into.
“Father, there’s no way you’re going to marry her off right? Then can you give her to me? I won’t do anything bad.”
When the eldest son reached the age where his body began recognizing its own sexual desires, he became more conscious of the girl who he no longer saw as his sister and yet had spent so much time with. To put it nicely, he saw her as a charming woman. To put it honestly, he thought of her as a whore in waiting. It was a desire grown from years of their oppressive relationship.
No servant had ever bothered to step in for fear of the harsh treatment that would inevitably fall on them afterwards. The days of the family collectively tormenting Shirley continued on until the day Albert visited the duke’s house alongside the former emperor and empress. It was Alice who was the most shocked of them all.
“Why is that woman Albert’s fiancée!? I’m the one who is supposed to marry the cool prince and become the future empress!”
Alice had fallen in love with Albert at first sight when the prince had gathered a group of noble girls together to screen fiancée candidates some time before. Genan was just about to follow through with a plan that would have made his daughter the crown princess when the incident came to pass.
His beloved daughter screamed and thrashed and threw a fit unlike any he had ever seen or would see again.
“Your Majesty. If we are talking about the future empress, then wouldn’t Alice be better than Shirley? She bears the qualities suitable to leading the nation.”
“T-That’s right. Although she is my daughter, she is quickly growing into a fine young woman I would never be embarrassed to be seen with. If she were to receive a queen’s education from this point on, I can guarantee she would become a wonderful empress for His Highness Albert.”
Pushed forward by their feelings of pity for Alice, Genan and Elena did whatever they could to try and annul Shirley’s engagement so that they could once again market their other daughter for the throne. Politically one daughter isn’t going to be worth more than the other, so they thought they could persuade Legrand to take the better one instead. However after seeing Shirley’s pitiable state that one would never associate with being the daughter of a nobleman, there was no way the former emperor would nod his head.
“The position of empress is something that can only be filled by one with acute mental and physical education. It is not so light as to be suitable for a girl who would turn a blind eye to her own sister’s suffering.”
Genan……no, the whole family had glared at Shirley, their hatred plain to see as the girl tried to hide behind Albert’s back. That insubordinate, worthless girl had told the emperor that the entire duke family had been abusing her. Whether it was true or not was beside the point. She had grievously undermined the prestigious Earlgrey family’s credibility and trust. And she was stealing away their most beloved Alice’s future of becoming the most prominent noble lady in the empire as she did it.
“…….it seems that I have overestimated the Earlgrey family.”
None of what the family said made any difference. The daughter of a duke family was dressed in rags and covered in bruises……and all it took was a glance to see Shirley’s white hair and heterochromia eyes in order to understand why. It’s even more noticeable when you compare her against the carefree and spoiled Alice.
However it was impossible for Genan and his family to understand what the emperor was thinking. From their point of view, it was all Shirley’s fault for looking the way she did.
Eventually Shirley’s engagement was finalized, and she moved into a castle so luxurious not even the Earlgrey family could afford it. It was there she would be educated on how to act as a proper lady suitable to be named empress.
It’s hard to say now, but back then Genan and the rest of the family still held hope that everything would work out. Shirley had not received any kind of education since the day she was born. It was easy to imagine that she would be soon thrown out as being unsuited for the role thus giving Alice an opportunity to rise to the throne.
However their imaginations proved to be woefully off the mark. Shirley grew into such a fine lady that she was able to single-handedly restore the Earlgrey family’s once-damaged reputation, and she gained the full trust of the former emperor and empress as well as Princess Philia.
Legrand and Elizabeth both frequently praised Shirley whenever they were around Genan or the others, but thinking back, Genan figured they might have been doing so ironically.
Shirley, who they had terribly oppressed and looked down upon was now a higher ranking noble than them. She was a splendid noble girl who would one day grow to be their empress.
“So frustrating……! Why is it Shirley instead of our cute Alice……!?”
“Father……isn’t there anything we can do!? If we allow His Highness to go through with this, Shirley will be above us in both name and reality!”
Whenever they would be out in public, they would be forced to bow to Shirley. They would need to be polite and respectful.
…….they had to avoid that somehow or another no matter what. Genan and Elena were of the same mind here. Profits and self-interest would not change their minds on this.
It turns out though that fate would side Genan and Alice in the end. Shirley was banished from the country, and Alice rose up to become a splendid empress. Meanwhile the family’s eldest and second sons began learning how to take over the territory. Over the years the two liked to play with fire and became involved in numerous minor criminal offenses, but any complaints were squashed thanks to the family’s authority.
Over the course of ten years though, the indulgence of the family’s two sons only worsened, and they have been involved in more major criminal activities for years. So between the reemergence of that abominable Shirley alongside the formation of a police force, the Earlgrey family’s situation has made a sudden turn for the worse.
“T-These are legal! Everyone’s been doing this until now!”
“Father, help me! Mother! Motheeeeeeer!”
It happened at a longstanding, secret auction where slaves and drugs, (both illegal internationally), were being sold. Both the eldest and second son were arrested for selling dangerous drugs after the police raided the auction hall.
The Earlgrey family name would have received irreparable damage if nothing was done. Genan managed to avoid the worst by openly disowning both of his sons before the results of the arrest were made open to the public however the wounds left behind were deep.
The more sensible nobles understood what had really happened, and rumors were abound amongst the commoners. But most tragic of all was that this meant that the family was left without an heir.
Alice is the empress. She won’t be able to take over for the family, and any hope of her child doing it is gone. The eldest and second sons were notorious womanizers, yet the lack of any illegitimate children proved the two of them to be completely sterile. They were both married at one time as well, but those marriages had produced no children either. Eventually their wives had divorced them both and returned to their parents’ home.
Other aristocrats might adopt someone from a branch family, but that wasn’t possible for the Earlgreys either. Genan had assassinated all of his troublesome siblings during his battle for succession of the duke family after all. As a result, Sophie, Tio, and the four children Elena had given birth to were the only people who carried the blood of the Earlgrey family in their veins. They were the only ones who had a right to succeed the family.
“I won’t let you…….I will never let you…….!”
Even if Genan were to adopt some other child with no blood connection, he could never make them his successor. That is how it is when it comes to noble pedigrees. A stranger with no blood ties as successor might bear the Earlgrey name, but it would no longer be the Earlgrey family. The other imperial aristocrats would see it as some other completely different family taking over the duke’s seat.
Just for argument’s sake, let’s say Shirley was welcomed back as Albert’s concubine. In that case, either Sophie or Tio would become the next empress because they carried the legitimate lineage of both the imperial family and the Earlgrey dukes. Meanwhile the other daughter would end up married off to a high-ranking house or a foreign nation to strengthen ties. At least, that’s how it normally would be.
However the Earlgrey family is the greatest noble family in the country and the emperor’s greatest backer, and yet they have no heir. It would only be inevitable that the second daughter would end up being chosen to take over the family. At least, that was how it is in Genan’s mind.
There were no issues in terms of bloodline, and this is the only way to keep the Earlgrey family alive. If he were thinking normally, Genan should be the person who would want Shirley back in the empire the most.
“Shirley’s daughters…….! …………….I will never hand over the family to the children of that defective daughter……!”
However that was the one thing the duke refused to do. Even if he’s been perfectly driven into a corner, it was impossible for him to divide by zero.
His wife Elena felt the same way. Any number of Alice’s children would have been welcomed with open arms, but the duchess would cry, kick, and scream before she would see any of her grandchildren from that annoying daughter in their house.
“I won’t overlook this small chance. I will not allow Shirley or her daughters to do whatever they damn well please.”
The kingdom is an unmistakably powerful nation. And the power of the adventurer’s guild that backs Shirley……more specifically, Canary, was enormous as well. The odds of Albert striking out using military force was probably slim.
Still, Genan had been kept awake night after night over the possibility that the impulsive emperor might just ignore the odds and take the plunge. It had driven him and Elena both to the brink of insanity.
Madness swirled in their minds as any thought of loss or gain was driven away. Nobody knew what was driving the couple forward anymore. Nobody knew whether to stop them or not――――
“According to the information gathered, it seems they’re holding some silly little event called a sports meet…….that should do fine. A perfect event to kill someone from inside a crowd.”
And so the plan to assassinate Sophie and Tio carried on.