The scream did not originate from just one person.
Rose's heart thumped violently at the piercing screams.
“What is going on inside?”
She speedily entered the banquet hall.
No one paid any heed to Rose Honeywell, who had shown up late.
The faces of the attending aristocrats were already occupied with something full of surprise and interest.
Rose slowly turned to face the direction in which their gazes were focused.
At the center of their attention were two tall men.
The man with blue hair had blood spilling from his shoulder, while the blond man standing opposite had a sword in his hand.
The former was Rose's fiancé, Duke Elliot Proud, and the latter was her brother, Duke Wells Honeywell.
“What is this…
My brother, using a sword…”
When a banquet was hosted within the Imperial Palace, it was forbidden to enter with weapons, let alone swords, unless you were a knight belonging to the Imperial family.
Besides, Wells wasn't a knight, so he would have never been able to enter the hall with a sword.
It was then that Rose became aware of the knights surrounding her brother.
One of them was missing a sword.
It appeared Wells had taken the sword from that knight and swung it at Elliot.
Whatever happened, you need to stop, brother! You cannot wield a sword in the Imperial Palace!
Please let me pass.”
The girl squeezed her way through the crowd of noblemen.
As she headed to the center of the commotion, Rose did not remove her gaze from the two men.
She watched the shape of Elliot's lips as he spoke to Wells, though she was too far away to hear his words.
Wells reacted to Elliot and ran at him as though he were a stranger.
She pushed her way through the crowd, leaving behind words asking for forgiveness, and eventually made her way through.
Rose popped out of the crowd.
She forced her weak legs to support her and stood strong, lifted her head, and looked for her brother.
She was afraid to raise her head, as blood as red as her eyes splattered at her feet.
Surprised, she focused on the blood and then slowly looked up.
Her shrieks echoed throughout the silent banquet hall.
It was clear that Wells was the first to attack, so why was he the one bleeding and falling?
She rushed forward, bending her knees to grab her brother before he collapsed completely on the floor.
“Brother! Brother, are you alright?!”
His blood flowed from the spot where the sword passed through his shoulder to his waist.
Rose, who pressed against his wound with trembling hands, stared at Elliot.
He, too, held a sword stolen from a nearby knight.
Rose struggled to speak.
What happened? Why…
Even though her fiancé had been aware she would not be in attendance, he didn't appear all that surprised to see her.
Rather, he wore a calm expression that seemed to have expected her there.
“What are you doing?”
Elliot lightly flicked the sword in his hand, causing the blood staining the sword—Well's blood—to splatter against the stone floor.
He looked at the blood soaking the floor and tilted his head.
“That is what I would like to ask Wells.
Why did he suddenly attack me? You tried to harm me, Duke Proud, in the Imperial Palace.”
my brother would never do such a thing.”
She turned to Wells, his wound was pretty deep, and he was having trouble breathing.
His head rested heavily on his sister's shoulder.
“Brother! Doctor, member of the legislature! Please call a doctor, hurry!”
Rose looked around for a doctor as she sobbed.
She looked earnestly around for help, but no one stood up to help the Honeywell siblings.
It was unlikely that the aristocrats around them would offer their support, so Rose decided to ask for help from someone else.
Wells was the emperor's closest ally.
Now that his subordinate was being subjected to such a situation, where was the emperor? What was he doing?
Rose searched through the crowd, but no matter how hard she looked, the moonlight silver hair of the emperor could not be found.
A harsh voice was weakly heard in Rose's ear.
“Brother! How are you? Hold on, the doctor will be here soon!”
Rose used force to press against her brother's wounds, her dainty white hands stained in his blood.
Wells struggled to wrap his large, bleeding hand around his sister's.
“Rose, listen up…”
“Don't speak now, brother!”
His head, which rested on her shoulder, slowly shifted.
Unlike Rose's gaze, Well's slightly dark red eyes stared at someone else.
His sister knew who was at the end of his gaze without having to look.
For her brother, his relationship with her fiancé was not as close as his relationship with the emperor.
There were no personal encounters between the two.
It was just public affairs between two dukes.
…Was it because I wanted to marry Elliot?
At that time, she had fallen in love with Elliot, so she requested marriage.
Her brother hadn't raised his voice at her, not once throughout his life as the Duke of Honeywell or as its predecessor.
Because to him, for his younger sister, it was more than enough to protect her rather than to scold her.
Tears dripped from Rose's eyes.
I was right here, so how did this happen?
After clenching her teeth and fighting to hold back her tears, Rose noticed that her brother's body was getting heavier as he leaned on her.
His body is losing its strength.
Rose hurriedly turned to Elliot.
“Elliot! Please, I will take on any punishment for the unfortunate events that have just happened.
So please, help my brother!”
She begged him, and yet, Elliot's body did not move.
Rather, he took out a pocket watch from his bosom and checked the time, as though his entire being was serene at that moment.
One by one, voices began to murmur around the banquet halls, which up until that point had remained silent.
“What is going on”
A dignified voice that brought about cringes sounded.
Rose watched as the nobility parted and a man entered the hall.
Silver hair soaked in moonlight, with elegant amethyst-colored eyes.
The emperor appeared with a handsome, upset face.
Rose had never been properly introduced to the emperor, even at the debut and coming-of-age ceremonies attended at the Imperial Palace.
As such, this was the first time Rose had seen the emperor's features in detail.
Her voice called for the emperor pathetically and was then cut off by Elliot Proud.
While Your Majesty was absent from the hall, the Duke of Honeywell stole the sword of a knight and swung it at me.
It was clearly a sword aimed at me and was intent on piercing flesh.”
The emperor's cold eyes lay upon Elliot, who held his ground.
Instead, it seemed as though he had waited for that moment and began to speak confidentially.
“Your Majesty, he intended to kill me, the Duke of Proud.
You wouldn't think that I would just hand over my neck to Duke Honeywell after he had already tried it on my shoulder.”
The emperor did not reply to him.
Rose waited for sympathy for her brother from the emperor.
However, contrary to her wishes, the voices of the aristocrats clamored for Elliot.
“I saw it too, Your Majesty! Duke Honeywell suddenly rushed at Duke Proud.”
“Yes, they quarreled at first.
Then the Duke of Honeywell stole the knight's sword and swung!”
“Duke Proud had no choice but to protect himself!”
One by one, the voices siding with Elliot grew.
The girl looked at the nobles.
They were once aristocrats who were close to the Honeywells and would never side with Elliot.
Yet they also did not side with her brother.
They did not defend Wells because they witnessed the incident firsthand.
Rose looked up at the emperor with a face full of despair.
The emperor held his forehead as a heavy sigh escaped him.
“Capture the Duke of Honeywell.
Let the verdict on the attempted murder of Duke Proud be made once the New Year comes.”
Knights came and took Wells away from his sister.
They grabbed his collar and prepared to drag him away, as his sister had no choice but to let him go.
The spot where her brother had once laid was covered in blood from his body.
As Rose stared blankly at the bloodstains, the emperor's voice resounded throughout the banquet hall.
“This year-end banquet shall end here.
Unlike in previous years, let us welcome the New Year in the comfort of our own homes.”
Gazing upon the nobles, the emperor decreed the closing of the celebrations.
With that said, he gave Elliot a glance for the last time.
“Let Duke Proud return as well.
The Duke of Honeywell's case is not an easy one to decide, so there should be a discussion about the punishment.
Let us continue then.”
“As you wish, I look forward to your response, Your Majesty.”
Elliot quietly backed away as he wrapped his blood-stained shoulder to stop the bleeding.
Even as he left, he did not give even a second of his time to Rose.
The nobles who had been observing the situation left the castle after paying their respects to the emperor.
In an instant, they disappeared, leaving behind Rose and the emperor in a splendid and empty banquet hall.
Rose was in the middle of losing her mind when she heard the emperor call for her.
She slowly turned to him and found him crouching on one knee before her.
If it had been at any other time, Rose would have been surprised and embarrassed at the fact that the emperor knelt in front of her.
However, at that moment, she was not in the right state of mind to properly grasp such a situation.
She was having a hard time concentrating on the man.
“For now, you should return to Honeywell's manor.
I am going to send Wells straight to the infirmary.
Don't worry, Wells will not be severely punished at the nobility council.”
As she focused on his words, she watched him.
It was the first time Rose had been so close to the emperor.
At the Honeywell Manor, she would briefly hear from Wells about the emperor's news, but she had no further connection to him.
Maybe it was because she was the only sister of his loyal friend, Wells, but the emperor's eyes as he gazed at Rose were filled with concern.
She wanted to cry as if she were still a little child as she was watched by eyes that were so tenderly soothing and comforting.
No, I can't get close to this person.
He's not my brother.
Rose shook her head and swallowed her tears.
She raised her unsteady body as the emperor also rose.
“I will take my leave, Your Majesty.
Please help my brother.”
Although her body wobbled as she moved, she still greeted the emperor with courtesy.
Turning around, she left as though walking on a tightrope, with her mind full of worry for her brother.
Hardly noticing the worried eyes of the emperor as they followed her.
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