The End of the Earlgrey Family
In Genan and Elena’s memory, Shirley was a meek and mild-mannered daughter with a perpetually troubled look on her face. This is naturally because since the day she was born, the two of them have used their full strength as adults and the heads of their family to make her life hell. When the only thing you receive from the two people who are supposed to love you unconditionally is scorn, it’s only natural for you to constantly look like you’re afraid.
But now seeing her once again for the first time in ten years, that timid daughter from their memories was long gone, and she no longer hid her feelings with downcast eyes. Shirley’s red and blue eyes seethed with silent anger, as sharp as the swords she was gripping.
“W-What is the meaning of this!? I-I am a duke of the Empire!”
“T-That’s right! Doing this to our mansion……were you looking to create an international incident!?”
“A-And what are you doing here Princess Philia!? These invaders have commenced with a direct assault against the Empire! The proof that they have attacked the Earlgrey’s city and mansion sits directly in front of you!”
However the two of them had long gone rotten from all their years as high nobles. With the situation clear that they were the only ones to take damage and immediately recognizing that Shirley and Canary were not imperial citizens, they began screaming loudly about aggression and international affairs to garner attention and sympathy from their surroundings.
“When did you start having such insolent people in your company!? To not immediately arrest these two despite being surrounded by your so-called ‘police’, have you fallen so far as to become a traitor!?”
They also didn’t miss the opportunity to disparage Philia who was their enemy politically. The reason why they can act so shamelessly to a member of the royal family is exactly because they knew there was no way any evidence would be dug up against them later on.
After years of wrongdoing which has been repeatedly covered up with their authority, the control they wield over their surroundings is significantly stronger than any other noble in the Empire. Therefore Genan and Elena were free to play as the victims.
“These two’s actions are the direct consequence of the request I put forward. Shirley and Canary are acting as adventurers, enacting a request I made as both a member of the royal family and as head of the Empire’s police force.”
However that is only permissible if the other party does not have any evidence of their wrongdoing ahead of time.
“Did you not understand? This is not an act of aggression. It is a formal request made by the police force’s representative Philia Ragdoll to the Kingdom’s adventure guild. The contents of said request is to secure the vicious criminals lurking in the Earlgrey residence.”
“V-Vicious criminals…….? What…….What are you trying to say?”
Genan was determined to play stupid until the bitter end. Everything down from his tone to his gestures genuinely suggested that he had no clue on what was going on. He was just like a professional actor, capable of drawing in his audience, but nobody around him and Elena seemed to be buying it.
“Oh ho. Then you are saying you do not recognize this man?”
On cue, Canary snapped her fingers, and a man fell out of a whirling pool of golden magic power. While he was tied up, it didn’t seem necessary at this point. The man was holding his head between his knees, emitting a constant stream of mumbles and grumbles. It was one of the assassins who had appeared in the remote village. The thing is, neither Genan nor Elena remembered the faces of their disposable pawns, so they truly did not recognize him.
“I have no idea who this is. What is this man grumbling about?”
“No? This is one of over forty men who were ordered to assassinate two 10 year old girls in the Kingdom from outside the country……..and what he’s grumbling is the identity of those who gave the order.”
The assassination of two ten year old girls from outside the country. Those who didn’t know the details looked aghast at the assassin while Genan and Elena’s heads shot up, and all the blood drained from their faces.
“W-W-We…….have been raised by the Earlgrey family since we were young…….raised as assassins…….the family decreed……we were to assassinate……..the Kingdom adventurer…….Shirley’s daughters…….”
“L-Liar! He’s lying! Your Highness, you can’t possibly believe this man of doubtful origin! This is clearly a ploy enacted by one of the Earlgrey family’s enemies!”
Genan screamed and raged to try and cover the man’s words. He still didn’t remember this man’s face, but from what he was saying, it had become clear that he was one of the men he had sent to deal with Sophie and Tio. This man was trained to never leave any evidence behind or give out any information. He was meant to kill himself, but even if he was caught, he should never have leaked a word. Yet here he was, spilling a broken and inconvenient truth.
“I mobilized the police in order to solve this unresolved case. Coincidentally though, we have been looking into a few unsettling rumors that have been going around about the Earlgrey family and its surrounding territories for quite some time now. Over the courses of our investigation, we learned that of the five orphanages run by the Earlgrey family, one of them has had a large number of children go missing. It also had an extensive number of falsified records listing foster parents who, as hard as we looked, do not exist. The number of these nonexistent foster families happens to coincide with the number of missing children.”
Genan’s throat was so jammed with excuses he couldn’t get any single one out.
“It began a few years before the current Duke Genan Earlgrey……..before you took over the role of duke. In addition, you were named the duke’s successor around that same time. Unfortunately, this was the result of many of the other potential successor’s suddenly dying.”
“Our police have been tirelessly trying to find these missing children. Ultimately, we did find several real people who had adopted children from your orphanages only to then learn that they secretly sold those children back to the Earlgrey family.”
“And then today, Shirley and Canary came to visit me after catching forty-five of these assassins in the outskirts of the Kingdom. After magically investigating their memories…….we discovered that not only were they all from the Earlgrey family, they were those missing children from your orphanage.”
After tricking these kids into believing they were adopted by a good family, they then trained these orphans into protecting the family. They took extreme steps in order to kill the children’s emotions and train them into killing themselves should they ever be caught. Philia was directly implicating the head of the Earlgrey family, the leading family among the Imperial nobility, of these heinous crimes. The surrounding servants who had no clue about any of this watched on from a distance speechless.
“The sale and purchase of slaves is strictly prohibited by international law…….this felony applies to the heavy development of slaves as well. To have done this not just under my older brother’s rule but when my Mother and Father were alive as well, it has become clear just how much you are looking down upon the royal family.”
“What……On what basis do you make these accusations!? On the name of the Sky Goddess, we unilaterally denounce the rearing of slaves………!”
“The manager of the orphanage who oversaw the adoptions of these children has already incriminated the Earlgrey family after we arrested them a few days ago. In addition, I trust you are already aware that the testimony of a butler that has been verified by a neutral priest from the Holy Land using 《Sense Lie》 is admissible in court? ……..the priest stationed at police headquarters has already confirmed that man’s testimony before we came here as well. You’ve been checkmated.”
“Huh? What idiotic…….arrested a few days ago. I spoke to my butler earlier today……..”
Genan looked towards the butler he had spoken to that morning. That butler was guilty of many of the same crimes as him, yet instead of being arrested, that butler saluted the other police officers before transforming into a completely different person.
Seeing that, everything began to make sense to Genan. For the last several days, the butler Genan had been speaking to was actually a spy who had been using either transformation magic or illusion magic to gather inside information while also preventing Genan from growing suspicious.
“During the process of our investigation, we secretly arrested your butler and have already found him guilty. Our officer then disguised himself has been helping himself to a bounty of inside information ever since. Meanwhile, our cross-examination and investigation of your butler’s memories has unveiled some rather interesting information.”
Blood trickled down Philia’s fingers from how tightly her hands were balled into fists. She took a long, deep breath to exhale her overwhelming anger. Her tone was cold and harsh, like a judge handing down a sinner their sentence.
“The chef and taste tester attributed with the assassination of my parents……of the late Emperor Legrand and Empress Elizabeth, killed themselves with poison they kept in their back molars after perpetrating their crime. Under your orders, those criminals were taken from an orphanage and trained into disposable assassins for the sake of the Earlgrey family.”
A de facto death sentence. The assassination of a head of state would never be tolerated. It doesn’t matter how high of a noble you are, and there are no statute of limitations on such a thing. Under the current law where testimony can be used as evidence, there was no longer any way for Genan and Elena to be saved. The two could do nothing besides hang their heads down in utter despair.
“As soon as we discovered this felony, we were going to move out, but Canary visited me using space magic just before we left. She informed us you violated the non-interference agreement the Empire has with the Kingdom and attempted to assassinate Shirley’s daughters. Don’t think there is any method left that will prevent what is coming for you.”
Because of how involved she already was, the police requested Shirley, an outsider’s, assistance. She would be a great asset in dealing with any resistance the police met, but she ended up taking a much more direct role than what they had initially intended.
After bringing things to a merciless finish, Philia turned towards Shirley.
“Is there anything you wish to say at the end?”
Shirley’s glare was cold enough to freeze a person’s soul, but after being prompted, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Then, just a moment”
The parents have met their daughter once again after a long time. Genan and Elena had looked completely defeated a second before, but in front of their daughter, they instantly regained their energy as their faces twisted in anger.
“You……this is all your fault! If you hadn’t gotten in the way…… If you had never been born………!”
“You unfilial daughter!! Even after all those days we struggled because of your hair and eyes!! Just when I thought you were finally driven from our sight, you insist on ruining our lives from a nation away!! Do you enjoy tormenting us so much………!?”
Lumiliana was thrown into a rage after hearing Genan and Elena selfishly pelt their daughter with their grudges, but Philia threw out a hand to stop her.
“…….are my eyes and hair truly that disagreeable?”
“I am more than aware that my appearance is a reason for scorn from the imperial nobility. However was it truly to the degree that you continue to object to your blood-related daughter being engaged to a member of the royal family? Or…….was it all for the sake of your cute daughter Alice? Did you also play a large role in the false charges levied against me?”
An ordinary noble, no matter how displeasing they find their child to be, would take the bare minimum of effort to get along with that child if they were engaged to a head of state. And yet these two had strove to eliminate Shirley even if it meant coming into conflict with the previous emperor. What in the world drives them so far……when asked, the two glanced downward, trembling in anger.
“The way you talk……..the way you talk is exactly like that hateful woman…….!”
“The sister I killed during the dispute over my succession, Regret. That disgusting white hair and heterochromatic eyes, you look just like that odious younger sister of mine……..!”
Having never heard tell of her having an aunt before, Shirley grew a bit confused. Apparently she held a strong resemblance to this never before heard of aunt of hers, and that was the basis for her parents’ attitude.
“Regret was a perfect superwoman! Even though I was the oldest and clearly deserved to be the family’s successor, my father wanted her to be the next duke! Can you understand what that’s like!? I was the older brother, yet she constantly displayed the difference between us academically, militarily, and politically! I constantly endured my father’s disappointed looks as he continued to look over me and focus solely on her again and again! I thought I had rid myself of Regret once and for all when I finally eliminated her with one of my assassin slaves, but then you were born. You who looks exactly like her, in both looks and personality, you truly are the White-Haired Demon!”
Glancing at Elena, it was clear that she was just as angry as Genan. She must have experienced her own hardships because of her aunt Regret.
“Then why did you choose to target my daughters now? We simply wished to live quietly without involving ourselves with the Empire.”
“…….The Earlgrey family can only be taken over by somebody with Earlgrey blood in their veins. Your twin daughters would be the only two who qualify. If ever you did make the decision to return to the Empire, Sophie or Tio would end up inheriting the family.”
Philia revealed Shirley’s older and younger brother’s impotence, and so Shirley immediately understood the situation. All the skeletons in the Earlgrey family’s closet had been dug out, and while Alice was gifted with much more leniency in her life because of her position, their brothers had most likely already been arrested.
You could always adopt someone into the family and have them take over even if they aren’t related by blood, but for nobles, pedigree is oftentimes more important than rational thought.
“Even if the chances are small, I could not overlook the possibility! Why should I have to pass my house down to the disgusting offspring of the reborn White-Haired Demon, the reincarnation of my disgusting sister Regret!? It’s my title that I earned after all of my exhaustive efforts! I will never relinquish it to you or your children!”
Head of the Earlgrey Dukedom, famous throughout the Empire. That title was the source of Genan’s pride. Having someone take that away from him would be no better than death.
After spitting out all his anger and spite, Genan finally began to calm down. His breathing grew shallow, and his features became more hollow. Thereupon a crooked smile scratched itself onto his face, and he gave Shirley an incredible demand.
“Shirley…….for ten whole years we generously raised you even though we always had the option to abandon you in the woods and kill you. If it’s you, surely you would be able to break through this siege and allow us to escape from here? Come, now is the time to pay us back for everything we did in raising you.”
“……..Indeed. Let us put the past behind us. If you and your children sign a contract irrevocably giving up your rights to succeed the Earlgrey house forever, we promise to never aim for your lives again.”
With their composure regained, they hoped to gloss over the fountain of abuse they just spat out while insisting it was her duty to help them. Seeing how shameless Genan and Elena were, Shirley sheathed her swords inside the Hero’s Toolbox and walked directly in front of them.
“……..When I was a child, I always dreamed of the day you would recognize me. Alice too. I lived with the hope that someday, we could live together as sisters who truly cared for one another. I thought the day would come where I could work past the hatred and get my family to love me.”
“It’s not tool late. Make up for all the trouble you’ve caused us and do your familial duty. Just go and…….”
“No. That won’t be necessary.”
Shirley cut Genan off and continued with her soliloquy.
I received what I was looking for because of the oppression you put me through. After the incident in the palace and when I was exiled to the Kingdom, I made my way to a small inn. It’s there that I met my true parents. We may not be related by blood, but they have given me everything I have ever wanted…….so there is nothing else you people could offer me.”
Opening her Hero’s Toolbox once again, Shirley pulled out two long and heavy swords. With the flat of the blades facing downwards, Shirley swung the blades above the heads of the two people she no longer had any connection to other than by blood――――
“Instead, as a parent whose daughters you aimed to hurt……..I’ll take the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do deep inside.”
With her usual delicate yet powerful technique, Shirley swung down. *GOOOOOOOON!* Genan and Elena’s screams were drowned out by the sound of a loud bell-like sound echoing up into the air. The powerful impact aimed directly at the top of their heads ran through their entire body and down into the soles of their feet. They were like nails being hammered into a board as their legs sunk into the ground, and they were left buried in the dirt. Only their heads managed to stay above ground. Their eyes rolled into the back of their heads, and a stream of drool dribbled down the corner of their mouths.
“I’m not a child nipping at her parents’ heels in a desperate attempt at finding love anymore. I’m an adult with her own children to raise. ……so I won’t try to solve my problems by killing them. That’s what you would do. You tried to have my daughters and my parents killed, and you will be judged under the law for those crimes.”