21. A Favor Received is to be Returned (3)
At first, the men were at a loss as to whom had just uttered that. Eventually, they realized the voice belonged to the empress, who was waiting beside Gaizel. They stared at their emperor, full of fear.
Luxen, who was accused, was surprised at first, but soon showed a gentle smile.
“My, my, if it isn’t Lady Tistye. What about your return to Lacie?”
“I apologize for breaking that promise. The letter you’ve given to my parents will be returned if necessary. But I want to stay beside His Majesty.”
“So, it’s like that… well, Lord Gaizel is no longer the emperor, anyway. Have it your way.”
“—Aren’t you the one who dismissed me, Luxen?”
Luxen’s eyes, which were once narrowed, widened slightly. His eyes showed a sharp glance—it was full of astounding power, one which reminded everyone of when the late Emperor Dilph still reigned.
“I can’t deny that. However, that was not the will of this person alone.”
“Lord Gaizel. No matter how many suggestions we vassals gave you, you keep rejecting them. You refuse to learn from the late Emperor, Lord Dilph, and even denied his ways. In regards of expanding your own kingdom, you’re too negligent.”
“You call invading other kingdoms as ‘expanding a kingdom’? Not to mention, every single one of your suggestions was basically robbing the territory of other kingdoms.”
“But by doing so, we’re able to grow as a nation—as we have always been. Conflict—such as war—is a necessary force to prevent other kingdoms from going against us.”
“—at what cost? I wonder how much culture and scenery has been lost because my Father kept waging wars!”
“You’re still naïve. That’s why you should just leave things to us.”
Ha, Luxen spat out.
Then, he shifted his focus to Tistye, who was watching the entire conversation. He raised the corners of his mouth, showing a grin.
“Certainly, because of the growing dissatisfaction with Lord Gaizel in the royal palace, he was dismissed—but that has nothing to do with this invasion, does it?”
Not good, Tistye became impatient.
Luxen admitted that he had in fact dismissed Gaizel from the emperor’s seat. However, he denied having anything to do with Yenzie’s attack.
What do I do? But—…
From the emotions she had just grasped earlier, there was no doubt that direction was what Luxen aimed for.
However, his voice of the heart was Tistye’s only basis. As an explanation, that wasn’t at all foolproof. Perhaps because he saw no objection, Luxen continued with a voice which incited sympathy.
“For what reason am I being named a traitor? Is there some kind of solid evidence?”
With a triumphant look, Luxen smiled.
Truly, not good. At this rate, Luxen would get away with it. Tistye desperately wondered if there was something she could use to identify the connection between him and Yenzie.
However, it wasn’t like she could just find it in any place…
“Then, next time when you’re about to speak, think—don’t you agree, former Her Majesty the Empress?”
Hahaha, with a laugh, Luxen proudly pushed up his glasses with his fingers.
Something… anything is fine—!? To route Luxen out, any kind of evidence—
As Tistye bit her lips, she glared at Luxen, we’ve come this far already, and I am just letting him get away with it?
Right at that moment, Tistye noticed the brightness which suddenly jumped into her line of sight—she was surprised to see it.
When Tistye released her hand, which was connected to Gaizel, she hurriedly looked at her left hand. Perhaps surprised because he was suddenly shaken off, Gaizel looked back, surprised.
Saying that, Tistye pulled out the ring worn on her ring finger. While holding it before her, she told Luxen while laughing loudly.
“This is the ring I received from His Majesty. It seems that the jewel attached here is a precious one, and is only traded by the Royal Family of Yenzie.”
“…Th, then what about it?”
“Luxen, the stone is the same as the one on your finger, right?”
Everyone shifted their attention at once to Luxen’s hand. There was a fine gold ring on his finger, a huge light green gem glittered on the center of it.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, this is an ordinary emerald I bought from a merchant who came and went—”
“No, that isn’t just an ordinary gem.”
Tistye reaffirmed her ring. When she received it from Gaizel during the moonlit night, and when she gazed at it during her time in Lacie, it showed the same beautiful light green color as it was today—so she didn’t notice it.
“When I first met you, the gem on your ring was red… Even during the time we discussed my separation from His Majesty, it was red.”
“…So what? Where are you going with this?”
“I didn’t realize it at that time, but… now, your jewelry and mine are of the same ‘green’—do you understand what I am talking about?”
Laughter began to vanish from Luxen’s face.
“Since the ring itself is the same, I doubt you switched rings. Therefore, the color of the gem has changed—it’s only natural to think so.”
“Perhaps this is a kind of gem which changes color depending on the intensity of the light it receives. For example, the light of the sun and moon, the light of candles.”
Finally, Tistye recognized a lead.
A ring she had been holding in memory of Gaizel. The first treasure she received from Gaizel—
—no way, for it to help me now, in Verscia…
“If you still don’t believe it, feel free to compare it with mine. My point is, there should be no jewels that change color in Verscia.”
“Why do you have such a precious thing?”
“…Y, you’re wrong.”
“Is it because you have some kind of connection with the royal family of the other kingdom, namely Yenzie?”
Silence descended into the room.
Finally, in the quiet space, Luxen’s voice spilled.
“It, it’s just a coincidence, I just happen to have this ring…”
The turmoil of Luxen, whom turned pale and started spouting excuses, was apparent to everyone. Gaizel, who didn’t believe that at all, shook his head and breathed deeply.
“Y, you’re mistaken! Your Majesty, this is…!”
Gaizel walked towards the still upset Luxen and grabbed him by the neck. His beautiful appearance was also overflowing with anger. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say his mere glance could kill.
“Do you seriously think you can still get away—!?”
Luxen finally had a change of appearance when it dawned upon him that he indeed had no chance left.
Luxen’s calm and intelligent appearance shattered, and he began to exclaim selfish words.
“—a, aren’t you all murderers, too!?”
“That’s right! Why am I being blamed!? Even though you now have an excuse to attack Yenzie back—!!!”
***T/N: Ooof Tistye my Queen hogging all the spotlight unlike stereotypical heroine who would wait for the ML to defend her and finally cornering Luxen’s sorry ass HERSELF *flying kisses *throwing roses THATS MY EMPRESS
NOW, LUXEN, TO THE CHOP-CHOP.