26. The Returnee Noble Lady (25)
Jill was suddenly embraced from behind by Hadith.
“Are you hurt anywhere, my Amethyst Princess?”
“N-no, how about you, are you well, Your Majesty?”
When Jill looked up, she was worried because Rave was nowhere to be seen.
Hadith happily answered.
“I’m glad that you’re concerned about me. By the way, what happened to the naval port?”
Jill swiftly tried to jump out of Hadith’s embrace, but his arms persisted, thus she failed.
Hadith’s smile only widened—it didn’t appear that he would release her soon.
Reluctantly, Jill reported while within his hold.
“…Alright, I shall tell you. By spreading false information, the enemy managed to capture the naval port. Once the Northern Division discovered that Sufia and I had been abducted by the enemy, they set up a rescue operation and reclaimed the naval port while protecting us.”
“Your Majesty! Why won’t you understand—!? That girl is our enemy! In fact, she teamed up with those raiders who occupied the naval port!”
Marquis Veil pointed at her. He wasn’t tied up yet, only being seized by Zeke.
…what a vain struggle.
At first glance, looking at Marquis Veil pointing at her, she was astonished. However, when she saw his sarcastic smile, Jill bit her lips.
Marquis Veil’s head was at stake there.
If he managed to frame Jill as a spy, he would get to keep his head, even if temporarily.
If Jill didn’t offer any further profit, the Mercenary Leader suddenly accusing Marquis Veil wouldn’t make any sense either.
Albeit his lower body was currently crushed under a dragon, and his appearance was utterly pathetic, Marquis Veil maintained a proud face.
“There’s still enemies inside the naval port. Believe in us, Your Majesty, please, return to the castle. We can instead just explain to everyone that this pitiful child was merely being used by the enemy. No one will question a thing!”
He was basically offering to ‘cover’ for Jill in exchange of the Emperor turning a blind eye to things.
As Jill tried to yell at the figure, Hadith uttered.
“At this point, it’s still not too late to execute a politics of fear…”
“Your Majesty, what are you saying—”
“Ah, nothing. I understand. I’m about to go back.”
Hadith suddenly released Jill with a reason that she couldn’t quite comprehend.
He then went straight to Zeke and the others.
She didn’t know what Hadith was planning to do—she had no choice but to watch.
“You’ve worked hard—Zeke, Camila, and also Mihari.”
Zeke and Camila, whose names were called, looked down. Mihari’s voice trembled.
“The Emperor remembered our names, us, commoners—!? But why…”
“Why, you say. The Northern Division is part of the Imperial Army. It’s crazy not to remember the names and faces of the people employed there.”
Hadith’s gaze moved from the gaping Zeke to the Mercenary Leader, whom was wriggling around.
“How about you? You’re one of the Northern Division, too?”
“H, huh!? This guy is—!? O, oi—“
Hadith took the Leader from Zeke, precisely by grabbing his collar.
“Due to the suddenness of your ‘assignment’, it’s natural for you to not know my face. Hello, I’m your Emperor, y’all.”
“Wha, I—I am…”
An unpleasant sound come from his throat. Hadith continued refreshingly.
“The uniform of the Northern Division suits y’all well. It must’ve been hard to be assigned to a mission as soon as you enrolled. Y’all survived well. Now, report on the enemy you and your squad have seen and heard.”
“U, uhm, Your Majesty the Emperor, what exactly are you—…”
Responding to the panicked Mihari, Hadith threw the Leader to the ground. The Leader looked up at Hadith, coughing and wheezing.
“My wife appears to want to help everyone—including some abandoned peons and everything.”
Jill looked up at Hadith, while the Leader turned blue.
“After all, I’ve decided to kneel to my wife.”
Hadith looked down at the Leader with a cold gaze. His hand rested on top of the hilt of his sword.
“But, you also have to know that I’m capricious. I can change my mind on a whim, so you better decide quick.”
“Huh, Your Majesty, what are you talking about!? You can’t be thinking to—“
“…I’ve officially been assigned to the Northern Division today. Name’s Hugo.”
The Leader—Hugo—knelt before Hadith, to the utter shock of Marquis Veil.
“I’ll report to you in any way, Your Majesty the Emperor.”
Hugo was basically stating that he would become Hadith’s peon. Hadith smiled faintly.
“Alright, that’s one thing taken care of—now it’s your turn, Marquis Veil.”
“A, as if this kind of thing would be allowe—!!”
Marquis Veil’s words ceased halfway when his head was trampled. Hadith, who deposited his sole onto the back of Marquis Veil’s head, spoke in a tone akin to scolding a child.
“You’re as good as dead—and the dead don’t talk.”
“F, for you to treat this Marquis me in such a manner… even if you are the Emperor, it’s still—“
“I seem to recall having said that if my wife is proven to be innocent, you’ll compensate accordingly—now,” Hadith tilted his neck.
“What kind of execution method shall we use? It’s hard to think of a way to torment a father who especially offered his daughter to be the Emperor’s tea friend just so he could kill her later to tarnish the Emperor’s reputation. Or, maybe I should start with your current wife and other daughter?”
“Oh my, look at how pale you’ve become. It seems that no matter what kind of person they are, humans inherently still have compassion. I’m glad that no matter the kind of person, they can still feel despair. Alright, shall we decide, then? To be burned alive? To be tortured?”
“However, I aspire to be an Emperor that is loved by others. Hurting people isn’t my hobby. So, how about this? In exchange for your life, forfeit Veilburg to me.”
Hadith laughed mercilessly, his face was that of a dictator.
Camila who saw that stroke the goose bumps on her arms.
“As I thought… you’re the type of person who’ll crush someone’s heart thoroughly, huh, Your Majesty?”
“Isn’t it sweet, though? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
“Eh? Uh, uhm… in short… what will happen to my father from now on?”
“His Majesty the Emperor is saying that he’ll pardon him if he accepts all his crimes and offers Veilburg.”
Towards Jill’s whispered explanation, Sufia clasped her hands together in a prayer.
However, she was interrupted by Marquis Veil’s laugh.
“So you’re trying to show me mercy—!? You, a monster wearing human skin—!?”
The entire surrounding froze at the cry of Marquis Veil. Hadith became expressionless.
“Tell me, how much did you kill to become an Emperor—?! I did the right thing—!! I tried to protect my kingdom and territory from monsters like you—!! Otherwise, I would also be killed by the curse—!!”
“There are those who sympathize with me, but who would defend the likes of you—!? No one in this kingdom wants you to be their Emperor! Dying sounds a hundred times better than being ruled by you—!!”
The laugh of Marquis Veil resounded. Everyone gulped, searching for a trace of change in Hadith’s countenance.
‘The Cursed Emperor’—
—it was as if the silence was attesting to said rumor.
However, when Jill tried to step up, Hadith replied calmly.
Jill was astounded by his incredible response.
“Despite so, I have no choice but to be the Emperor—Zeke, Camila, take Marquis Veil away.”
Zeke and Camilla obeyed Hadith’s order despite their puzzlement.
While being dragged, Marquis Veil kept laughing. When the voice could no longer be heard, Hadith turned around. His gaze passed Jill and stared at Sufia. Sufia, whose face turned pale, went forward while trembling.
“U, uhm… Lord Hadith, my father, I apologize in his stead…”
“…don’t worry, I won’t take his life.”
Sufia knelt down and, again and again, thanked and apologized to him.
Hadith smiled and shook his head.
Jill stared at his profile.
Jill expected his face to reveal his true feelings someday. However, even after the clean-up, Hadith didn’t break his composure and countenance of an Emperor.
**T/N: That’s the end of the long battle *smirk satisfiedly Hugo GET–!!!!
Also, also, check out my new projects, guys!!! One is an immersive tale about a Duke’s daughter that is about to be killed by her asshole ex-fiancé of a prince, and the other about a Duke’s daughter that wants to break off her engagement because a pest keeps trying to snitch her fiancé!!!