Chapter 49: What Started It All
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Translated by lacusky.
“This whole thing happened because Thor wanted to punish Duke Lindell and have his sister Martina removed from the roster of queen candidates.” It was beyond Nora’s expectation right from the start.
“As a matter of fact, Thor was doing it to uphold justice for everyone, but that’s not the only reason he’s kept Duke Lindell on his watch.
Five years ago, when he was still the second prince in line, he was almost poisoned.
They suspected that Duke Lindell was behind it.
At that time, he was still the duke’s son.” The words that followed were far beyond her imagination, but she was unable to make any kind of response so she simply listened quietly.
“He was close with the older prince, who saw Thor as his archenemy.
The bottle of wine he had opened turned out to be poisoned.”
How remarkably similar to Martina’s case.
Is it such a popular modus among the upper nobility?
“Ever since Thor took over the throne, he stayed quiet and lay low, and even nominated his sister to be a queen candidate.
But the other candidates strangely withdrew one after another.
Upon investigation, the names of Duke Lindell and Rebecca came up.” At this point, Elias glanced at Nora.
He probably wanted to check if she was still following his story.
She wasn’t really sure if she was following along, but there was no point in interrupting him, so she nodded and encouraged him to continue.
“Now the only remaining candidate is Lady Andrea, the daughter of Marquis Melnes, whom the king had known since childhood.
Her family is lower in status than that of Duke Lindell’s, so they weren’t able to do anything to them right away.”
Oh, so the beautiful lady is also a childhood friend of Thorvard? She was the king’s childhood friend, a stunning queen candidate, and a secret lover.
In Nora’s eyes, Elias seemed more devilish than ever.
“Thor couldn’t indict Duke Lindell because he appeared upright and flawless… So he resorted to revising a quick way to obtain evidence and punish him.”
According to Elias, the singer, Rebecca, sponsored by Duke Lindell, was likely his mistress.
She was jealous of her popularity as the “Azure Nightingale” and her reputation as the “Pure-Hearted Nightingale,” so she had begged Duke Lindell into raising the toll fee for the Kranz estate.
“I understand your sentiments, but can you let me finish talking first?” Elias tried to appease Nora, who had raised her voice unintentionally.
She wanted to air out her grievance, but decided it was best to hold it in and kept her mouth shut.
“But that wasn’t grave enough of a malfeasance; it didn’t warrant any serious charges.
Hence, Thor decided to use you as bait to provoke Rebecca and expose Duke Lindell.
Being the singer at the founding ball was Rebecca’s pride and joy, so when she was replaced, she took immediate action.
She started that rumor of you being ‘dirty’.”
So the nasty rumor was her doing? The matter was even more complicated than I thought.
“It was around this time that I was alerted to Thor’s plans.
I was against it, of course.
I didn’t want to put you in danger.
But news of you being the singer for the ball had already spread and it was obvious that Rebecca would still do something even if you withdrew.
Thor had already assigned knights to protect you from any untoward incident.
It was his long-cherished wish and royal command as well.
I had no other choice but to relent because I had no power to stop it even if I wanted to.”
“Knights?” She tilted her head in confusion as she had no idea about it.
“You weren’t aware of it, were you? There were always knights on guard outside and inside the restaurant, and around your manor.
And even during today’s ball.”
This was a bolt from the blue to me.
She never imagined that such things were happening around her.
“Thor said that you’re not good at the art of deception, and if you knew what was going on, you’d up your guard.
Keeping you in the dark was better for your protection, and he also didn’t want Duke Lindell to get wind of his plans.
So he told me not to tell you, and I decided that it was better that way for everyone.”
I don’t know what to feel to have the king personally stamp his seal of approval for my lack of skills at the art of deception.
It might be good to not have such a trait for a person, but for an aristocrat, it’s an invaluable asset.
“I heard that being the singer in the founding ball is of the highest prestige, but I didn’t realize it was that important.
I was perturbed when Rebecca came to complain… I didn’t realize the matter was so serious that His Majesty even assigned knights to protect me in secret.”
“It isn’t normal to attack someone just because they replaced you as the singer.
But for her and even the aristocrats who patronized her, it was a jab at their ego, having her long-held position snatched, especially since such prestigious roles are few and far between.
Her pride wouldn’t let her give up without a fight.”
So Thorvard used Rebecca’s enormous sense of pride to his advantage…
Nora rarely attended soirées so she didn’t fully understand the value of being a singer at the founding ball.
She should’ve been more cautious and vigilant.
But, in order to prevent her from danger, Thorvard kept the matter from her, and his plans were successful.
“Thor’s knights kept a good distance so that Duke Lindell wouldn’t realize their presence, but should something go wrong, they would be able to take action right away.
We’ve already had that arrangement of either Allan or me picking you up to and from the restaurant after I heard that someone was eyeing the Pure-Hearted Nightingale strangely.
So, we just continued that, and made sure to keep you out of danger, along with the knights assigned by His Majesty.
Duke Lindell was likely to use poison, so I made sure to check your food and drink.
As for the unreasonable toll raise on the Kranz estate, I had already secured the evidence and submitted it to Thor.”
Nora was stunned by how thorough they were with everything.
He said “secured the evidence” so lightly as though it was something so easy, whereas the entire Kranz family was at their wit’s end, trying to resolve the matter.
Is it the power of Marquis Callum? Or just Elias? Either way, how terrifying.
“Duke Lindell had been using the trick of making it seem like men from the queen candidates’ families were enamored with Rebecca and pursuing her.
I knew he’d use that kind of underhanded trick to taint your reputation, so I had asked Duke Enroth for help… It’s not exactly honorable, I know, but I was in no position to go fight Duke Lindell head on.
There were certainly other ways to do it, but we went with the quickest and surefire method this time.
And if we showed the public that Duke Enroth was on your side, it would also help clear your reputation.”
He said that so lightly again, but what really is the best method to deal with dukes?
…Er, no, I don’t actually want to know.
Nora was just but a poor baron’s daughter.
Not knowing about such things about upper class nobilities would make her life easier and happier.
“And since there was a high possibility that they would use poison at the ball, I made sure to have an antidote ready just in case… But I didn’t anticipate that Martina would approach you directly.
If a queen candidate, who’s also a duke’s sister, opens the bottle in front of you and offers you a drink, of course you wouldn’t be able to refuse.
It was my mistake to not consider that she might make her own move in public.
And as for the piano and the sheet music, I didn’t think Duke Lindell was stupid enough to mess with the stuff at the royal castle.”
I thought the piano and the sheet music were Rebecca’s doing, but I suppose Duke Lindell was involved too.
…That was such a lot of shocking information for Nora to digest.
“I couldn’t tell you right away because it was a royal command.
But I did agree to it so I was partly responsible for putting you in danger.
I’m really sorry.” Elias bowed to Nora apologetically.
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