When Yuusuke returned to the Palace, Violet, accompanied by Sun and Krielov, were already waiting for him in the meeting room where they usually held their most secret meetings. The three of them were visibly relieved seeing Yuusuke being only lightly wounded and slightly limping despite taking Glacial Spear – a water type offensive art – at point-blank range.
“Yuusuke-san… I am glad that you are safe…”
“More importantly, how could you even survive that?”
“Ah, you warned me to be careful before, so I created additional defense-increasing enchantments on my equipment. I was saved by them.”
“Still, for you to be actually attacked like that…”
It was up to the King to decide whether to make this incident public. Until that happened, Krielov proposed to keep the city-wide hunt for the assassins that Yuusuke’s corps were executing with the aid of Fire God Corps under wraps.
“Return to the mansion and rest for today. Sun, I want you to accompany him. Krielov, come with me, I have something to tell my father.”
Violet barked these orders with a stern expression on her face and left the room with Krielov in her wake. Yuusuke was not entirely sure whether returning home was a good idea, but decided to give in and follow his superior’s orders.
“Sun, let’s go home?”
They contacted the carriage parking place to prepare the carriage, Yuusuke exclusively used to travel between his mansion and the palace and set on the journey.
A few days had passed after the attempted assassination. A duke’s heir was set to visit Yuusuke’s mansion today, hence all the staff were in the heat of the reception’s preparations. The lord of the mansion himself, however, did not show a hint of tension. He received the guest in his usual relaxed demeanor and escorted him to the meeting room.
“This reminds me, this is the first time that I have visited your mansion. Quite a cozy place you have here.”
“There is no way that this could compare to your castle.”
The four most important people in the meeting room were: Hivodir, Yuusuke, Vermeer, and Darkness God Corps special servant Sun. Then there was Sorzak, a specialist adjoined to the Darkness God Corps, Rashanasha, a former slave and a Singing Princess. Including the 5 others, there were 11 people in the room.
Today, the Darkness God Corps was holding a catch-up meeting after the interrogation of the apprehended culprits behind the assassination attempt. Hivodir was participating as the witness of the interrogation.
Violet had talked with her father and had coerced him into naming Hivodir as the official witness for this interrogation. Krielov was assigned as his escort, mainly because with him as a guard, Yuusuke would be able to discuss the issue without hiding anything. During the interrogation, the two had also discussed the present situation.
The assassins were quickly found. It seems that the street-singers from the commoner’s district slums had reported a pair of suspicious characters hiding there.
The blue haired man was carrying fake information about the Darkness God Corps acts in Nossentes, and the earth arts user was a friend of one of the casualties of the special task force. They apparently were approached by a like minded soul in one of the bars. This new person had suggested them to assassinate the Hero of Fonclanc…
“So, are you telling me that this is all the evidence that you have?”
“You mean the evidence is false?
When I looked into it, there are no doubts that the blue haired person is a Nossentian, however, the soldier in the Earth God corps who lost a friend in a punitive force did not exist. That would mean that the confession was forced by the overly harsh interrogation about the ties to the anti-Darkness God Corps faction.
“So you are saying that he created this story to avoid questioning?”
“Even if he said that, there is no way anyone would simply believe that.”
Hivodir nodded, agreeing that Vermeer’s doubts weren’t baseless, however his expression was meek. From their description, the one who suggested to them the assassination seemed to be Reifold, a spy in direct contact with the king. However, this person was supposed to be dispatched in another country on an intelligence mission.
“Do you mean…”
“The King?! It can’t be!”
The silence in the room was deafening. The silent question that Aisha and Isotta had muttered were shocking. Hivodir, who had become the center of attention, heaved a sigh and said that under even more severe interrogation the two assassins had confessed that the third man looked like he was a part of the King’s invisible life. This would explain why the assassination attempt had not been made public yet.
“Well, the king will definitely deny that.”
They are currently trying to confirm the identity of the man who requested the assassination. Additional interrogation was scheduled to be held in a few days.
“To give time for the commanding officer and the Marquis to prepare their parts, right?”
“If the King is truly behind this, then this reason seems sound.”
“This is too sudden; it is hard to believe this.”
“I can’t believe it either.”
Everyone fell silent as the mood became desperate. They had come here to discuss the measures to take in the future, but it looked like there was no future for them at all. It was not certain yet, but remembering the Driadria incident, the possibility was there.
“Excuse me, can I say something?”
“Hmm…? Please go ahead.”
Usually silent, Razshia was not used to speaking to people of such social standing. Although she got to know Violet through Yuusuke’s connections, she still raised her had to ask for permission to speak in front of a Duke’s heir. A black bracelet shone dully on her slender arm.
Hivodir was astonished, but quickly regained his composure, relaxed, and urged Razshia to share her opinion.
“Uhm, if it is possible, I would like to know how did these assassins give their testimonies.”
“Their attitude was the same during both, the initial questioning, and the subsequent interrogation,” answered Hivodir, not quite understanding the intention behind Razshia’s question.
“Their voice didn’t waver, and I don’t think that they were tortured or abused.”
“Then, why do you give so much credibility to their testimony about the King’s secret life?”
“There were no contradictions or ambiguity in their testimony throughout the interrogation.”
“… that doesn’t feel right to me.”
Everyone was now focused on Razshia. In the past, she was working as a spy, whose primary task was to spread corruption amongst her masters’ opponents. If she said that the confession of them belonging to the anti-Darkness God Corps came so easily was unsettling, that meant that something was off in the testimony of the two convicts. The testimony seemed too coherent and too perfect, and on top of that, all the leads linked towards the King.
“This… which part of the testimony don’t you trust? I certainly don’t want to believe that the King would want to kill Yuusuke off, but if you look at it objectively…”
“That’s not it. Why would the King need to hire such unskilled characters for such a task?!”
Finishing her explanation, Razhia lowered her voice and feeling the guilt of shouting in front of the son of a Duke, explained her reasoning in a quiet voice.
“Even if the King was behind this assassination, I would still expect some ambiguity and contradictions between their testimonies.”
Anti-Darkness God Corps faction attempted to settle their differences in one clean sweep, but even if the King was standing behind them, Razshia expected the planning and preparations to be more through. On the contrary, the King had no reason to assassinate Yuusuke, and the method used for the assassination was too inexperienced and too rough for that kind of man. The true culprit had to be someone else. Reifold did not resemble a trusty person at all, but if the King was as a loving parent as he looked like to be, he would have never had exposed his daughter to such danger – anti-Darkness God Corps faction directly opposing Yuusuke during the Festival of Creation.
These were the conclusion of her reasoning.
“Wouldn’t it be perfect for the anti-Darkness God Corps if the King was to be seen as the one who wanted Yuusuke gone.”
Silence engulfed the room once again as everyone exchanged glances. Razshia’s logic was infallible, and no one else in the room expected that Marquis Vordat would go so far to remove Yuusuke.
The next moment head butler Zafys interrupted the meeting, informing them that a new visitor had arrived.
“Yuusuke-sama, Princess Violet-sama has arrived.”
“Violet? Lead her here immediate… ah, you’re already here.”
“Everyone’s here, perfect! I have something important to tell all of you!”
Violet appeared from behind Zafys, who was holding the door. Violet was wearing her usual clothes, but Krielov had exchanged his educator’s-palace official’s uniform for the Fire God Corp’s armor. Violet quickly surveyed the room, walked towards Yuusuke, who was sitting in the most honorable place, took a seat, and spoke without wasting any time.
“All of this mess is a ploy to frame my father.”
Everyone gasped in surprise. The tension was so thick, one could almost slice it. Krielov stood behind the Princess with a stern expression on his face.
“Why are you sitting on my lap?”
“Forget the minor details.”
Violet motioned towards the table as is to say [“There was no other place to sit so I chose your knees.”] Sun jumped out of her seat, Violet’s actions reminding her of the duties. [“It’s all right, don’t worry,”] the Princess waved her hand, ordering Sun to sit back and calm down. Apparently, Violet preferred the feeling of Yuusuke’s lap over the chair that was prepared for the meeting.
Finally, the tension within the room has dropped and seemingly scattered in all directions. Yet Krielov’s forehead had become even more wrinkled and his face – even grimmer.
Razshia’s conclusions had come before Violet had repeated the same thing, but…
“How did the two of us reach the same conclusions?”
Princess suddenly spoke again, carelessly shrugging her shoulders. Violet tightly pressed herself to Yuusuke’s body and didn’t seem to be the very least interested in Razshia’s explanations.
“So, you also think that your father had never tried to kill Yuusuke?”
“Of course, do I look like an idiot to you?”
Violet then explained, with one eye closed, that this morning she had received an anonymous letter describing the means that her father could undertake to deal with the construction of the fortress that the Darkness God Corps had completed in an instant. Part of the plan was to publicly support the corps in front of the masses. Violet jumped down to the side of the table.
“Those bastards thought that it would be that easy to trick me!”
“Yuusuke, AGREE WITH ME!” shouted the girl and kicked her Captain in the shank. Everyone hurriedly turned their eyes away from the two as princess took over the explanation from Krielov.
Their aim was to make Violet confront her father under these assumptions. Then the anti-Darkness God Corps faction could oppose Yuusuke, claiming that he was using the Princess to stage a rebellion against the Royal Family.
The relationship between the father and the daughter was well known to everyone, but they had bet on a childish recklessness that the princess still had in her. The fact that the captain of the Fire God Corps had his hands full keeping his student in check only added to the chances of success of this ploy. Violet had also acted like that during the meeting after the defeat of the Special Subjugation Force, where she went completely over her authority to protect Yuusuke. The anti-Darkness God Corps also knew that she liked traveling incognito around the capital and used the rumors to plant the suspicions in her mind.
“They were correct that I would not be able to stop the Princess once she set her mind on something.”
They could assume that Princess might listen to the Darkness God Corps’ Captain, but the other members of the corps were not a threat. Therefore, if they could announce far and wide about the “attempted coup-de-tat, staged by the Hero”, there was no way for Yuusuke to avoid the punishment.
“Why do they want to remove me so much. Do they really cling that much to their hereditary rights?”
“That is part of it, but they would not go so far just for their traditions.”
Violet, her face looking grim now, answered to Yuusuke, who was pondering over this question for a long time.
“Perhaps those guys are in a rush, perhaps they fear the abolishment of the caste system. With all these things, together those guys became terrified of their own standpoint.”
“Ah, I see…”
“What do you mean?”
Aside from Yuusuke, who understood the meaning behind the explanation, others had to ask for an additional explanation. Violet looked at Krielov, and after receiving his approving nod she had revealed the five-tribe unity plan to everyone in the room.
“…and thus, my dear father is supporting the five-tribe unity plan and …”
The plan would abolish the Great Four God’s faith and the caste system, destroy the inequality between the divine arts users and the artless, and would make those, whose position was decided by their divine art, lose their status and influence. King Esvobus was supporting such a threat to the divine arts users.
It could also be that the anti-Darkness God Corps faction suspected Yuusuke to be the Evil God, and thought that the King was acting under Yuusuke’s influence.
“You mean that they want to save the King from the God’s influence?”
Yuusuke did not even want to think how those guys could come up with such conclusions.
“I can understand this, but… how is it that we have no evidence that this group is behind all the recent incidents?”
“True, I agree with both, the Princess and Razshia-chan, but we have no decisive evidence.”
Vermeer and Fonke voiced their doubts, both folding their hands in defensive positions. Shaheed also suggested that they should increase the guard around the two perpetrators.
“That is already taken care of.”
“I have gone to the prison before coming here and left Vermeer’s subordinate to guard them.”
This was the reason that Krielov was also wearing his corps armor today.
“Hmmm… proof, eh? Do they really need to remove the two witnesses if they had already told us everything they know?”
“Well, we are not certain if they have already told us everything they know.”
Violet argued that the investigation should be as thorough as possible, and proposed the plan to track the anti-Darkness God Corps faction’s movements within the palace.
Rashanasha, who silently observed the meeting until now, humbly asked to speak.
“May I say something, Violet-sama?”
“Go ahead, Yuusuke’s Singing Princess.”
“Oh please!” It was hard to tell whether Rashanasha’s shyness was real or faked. The girl asked to let her and her sister meet the two prisoners. She was sure that there was no way that the two guys would be able to hide anything from the two girls’ observing eyes.
“Hmm, what are you then? Yuusuke’s slave?”
Yuusuke pulled Princess’ hair from behind her, nudging the cheeky girl to stop calling names. Seeing the two fight together boosted Razshia’s confidence.
“I will do my best,” she finally said.