Second World - Chapter 995
"Everyone agrees that you are the culprit. Are you saying that you are innocent?" Princess Sindral asked. She was wearing her usual mask.
Jack continued to smile. "There are only the three of us here. I know that I won't be able to avoid my fate. At least I want to get this off my chest before you carry out my execution. I hope you don't mind humoring me in my last moment before you take away everything I have."
"I'm afraid I can't overturn the verdict, but we'll hear you speak, Mister Storm Wind," Mason said.
"Thank you, royal advisor," Jack responded.
"Now, I have been doing a lot of thinking in that jail, and all that idle time gave me all sorts of imagination. One such imagination just sorts of stuck in my mind. So, allow me to tell you a tale."
"A tale?" Sindral asked.
"Indulge me, will you, Your Highness? It's my last moment, after all," Jack said.
Mason didn't say anything but he gestured for Jack to continue.
"This is a tale about the children of a royal family. A royal family of a kingdom that lives with patriarchal values. The king of the kingdom has four children, three sons and one daughter. Everyone understands that one of the sons will be the one who will inherit the throne one day. However, unknown to everyone, the most ambitious among the king's children is the daughter, instead. So ambitious that she is willing to live her entire life in a mask that shrouds everyone from her true intention. So ambitious that she is willing to plot the death of her three brothers. All that so that she can defy the patriarchal rule of the kingdom. Since there is no other heir left, there is no choice but to appoint her as the next in line for the throne of the kingdom."
"That is one entertaining imagination," Mason said. "But please don't insult my intelligence. You are clearly referring to Princess Sindral here. I will not stand by while you sully the future queen of this kingdom. It is indeed a wise choice that we hear your words in this secluded hall. Otherwise, it will be a problem if this nasty lie is spread outside the palace wall."
"Oh, but I know that you will be hearing me inside a secluded room," Jack said. "In her effort to pry information from me last night, the princess had instead unmasked herself before me. I'm sure she will not let me speak freely in front of a crowd."
Mason glanced at Sindral, before saying, "If that's all you want to say, then..."
"My tale is not finished yet, royal advisor," Jack cut Mason's words. "There is still more. You see. Despite her ambition and her status as a princess, she is still powerless in this patriarchal kingdom. There is so much she couldn't do without exposing herself. No. Although she had ambition, she needs a helper. Someone who is the other culprit. Who planned and was involved in all the ploys to get rid of her three brothers."
Mason's eyes narrowed to slits.
"That other culprit is none other than you, royal advisor," Jack said.
There was silence in the room before Mason burst into a laugh. "As I said, it is truly an entertaining imagination, Mister Storm Wind."
Jack laughed as well. "Well, then, since it is so entertaining, you don't mind me continuing, right?"
Although he was laughing, Mason's eyes were in contemplation. He said after a few seconds of pause. "All right. It's your last words, after all. Might as well let you say them."
"Thank you," Jack said cheerfully. "As I said, you have been planning this for a long time. Including Prince Alonzo's second attempted assassination after he returned from the expedition with Duke Alfredo. It is neither Therribus nor Rhemos' doing. It is yours!"
Mason just chuckled at the accusation.
"Remember when I said it is weird that the ploy was so well prepared that it allowed the assassin to flee and the evidence erased, yet the assassination itself failed?" Jack continued. "The reason was the assassination was meant to fail. Its intention was not to take the prince's life. At least not yet at that time. It was also not to sow hatred against outworlders. Though, I suppose you didn't mind that accidental effect. That assassination was to harden Prince Alonzo's resolve to fight for the throne. To make him stand up and fight his brothers. Because what you wanted was for the three princes to fight fiercely for the throne. Fighting until only one was left, destabilizing the kingdom in the process. When only one was left, you took care of that surviving one. At that point, the people will be so wary of the kingdom's situation that they will welcome even an unorthodox ruler. A queen, for example, which breaks away from this kingdom's tradition."
Sindral didn't say anything. She just wore a thin smile on her face while glancing at Mason.
"Honestly, during the civil war, I felt kind of weird about why we had to go full confrontation with Therribus," Jack continued. "I mean, if our objective was Alonzo's safety, Alonzo could just run around the country. This country is big. Alonzo won't be able to hide but it was also not easy for Therribus to catch up to him. In the meantime, the reinforcement army we formed could go and harass Therribus' army, giving Alonzo a better chance of escaping. I didn't think about it too much at the time. But after this incident, it kind of makes sense now. You are the one who proposed Alonzo take shelter in Fort Garadhor."
Jack couldn't point his finger at Mason, so he was doing it using an intense stare.
"After Rhemos was taken out, only two princes were left. That was your golden opportunity. You wanted the two to fight it out at Fort Garadhor. Although on the outside you seem to support Prince Alonzo, I bet you never thought that he could win. On the contrary, you were hoping that it was Prince Therribus who won the civil war. Because Therribus would have no hesitation in executing Alonzo once he won. Alonzo was different. Unfortunately, even though it was Alonzo who won, as fate would have it, Therribus still died even when Alonzo had tried to spare his life."
Mason shook his head as if he had heard the most absurd thing.
"Another reason that you preferred for Therribus to become the victor was so it would be easier to place blame when you assassinated him," Jack continued. "If Therribus won, every outworlder in this country would know that their freedom was on borrowed time. If he was assassinated, no one would think twice about suspecting that the perpetrator was an outworlder.
"However, the impossible happened. Prince Alonzo won. This caused you to have trouble trying to think of a plan. Because your original plan to blame it on the outworlder was now not so feasible anymore. Alonzo was a friend to the outworlders. People wouldn't just take your word for it. No, you needed a plan before carrying out the assassination. I heard the coronation was delayed after the civil war. I bet it was you who suggested the prince delay it. Then, when you finally think of a good scapegoat to blame for the assassination, you are unable to carry it out because the scapegoat was nowhere to be found."
Jack thought of the time when he was trapped inside Greed's sanctum.
"Then, the orcs invaded. So, the coronation was delayed even more. When the invasion war ended, you immediately called the most accomplished outworlders to the palace, to reward them. But in reality, you wanted to put pressure on one of these outworlders, who was also your intended scapegoat, so that he didn't go off again before the coronation. You also demand that he attend the rehearsal, daily, without fail. All that was to ensure that I would be there to take the fall when Alonzo was murdered.
"You have me fetch the prince, day by day, waiting in front of his bed-chamber. All to ensure I am the only person in the room when the prince was murdered. But there was another person that was possible to be inside the room as well. A person who was able to bypass the rune diagrams that prevented people from using teleportation. The one remaining royal family member, Princess Sindral!"
"Hahaha," Sindral laughed. "You are truly delusional. Even though I am a noble and heir, I am but a level 1 commoner. Can't you use your Inspect?"
"There are many instances where a disguise can fool the Inspect skill," Jack returned. "After you killed Alonzo, you waited inside the room until you heard me calling. Then you broke a vase to lure me into the room before you teleported away. All the while, Mason waited nearby so he could bring the guards when I am still shocked after discovering the prince's body."
"That is all very fascinating theory, Mister Storm Wind. But please let me assure you, I never meant you any harm," Mason said.
"You know, I probably wouldn't have suspected you if you haven't blurted when you caught me in the prince's chamber," Jack said.
"Blurted?" Mason was confused.
"The day we found Prince Alonzo's body, I mentioned someone using the teleporting skill to escape the room. Everyone else had given me a dismissing remark because they knew it was an impossibility, except for you. You instead asked me why I said what I said. You didn't know I have a tool that can detect the positions of nearby people. You were surprised that I know someone had teleported from the room. Otherwise, you would have dismissed my claim just as Emris and the guards."
Mason shook his head with a smile. "I simply trusted you, Mister Storm Wind," he said. "I don't suppose you have proof, do you? Otherwise, this is all just a conjecture."
"Why do we bother about this?" Sindral hissed. "Just execute him already!"
"Heh! Where is that gentle mask of yours?" Jack said to Sindral. Then he turned to Mason and said, "I don't have proof. Commander Quintus had gone to investigate further to help me find proof. He must have found one, but he was instead assassinated by one of you."
"Since there is no proof, then I can't take your words seriously," Mason said.
"Do you think this is one of those detective movies? Where I need proof to punish the wicked?" Jack asked.
Both Mason and Sindral were confused. 'What the heck is a detective movie?' They thought.
"All I need to do is just prove that Princess Sindral is not a level 1 commoner!" Jack exclaimed. As he did, the rope that bound him slipped to the ground. Both Mason and Sindral were extremely surprised by this turn of events.
"For Alonzo and Quintus, take this slash! Reveal yourself!" Jack shouted as Storm Breaker appeared in his hand. It slashed forward and produced a crescent light.
The Sword of Light traveled at a very fast speed at Sindral. Mason wanted to do something but crimson chains burst underneath him, locking his movements.
The crescent light hit Sindral, who wore a terrified face. Damage number appeared and she slumped to the floor. Her HP was zero.
'What...?' Jack was startled by the scene.
"What have you done...!" Mason shouted.
Another voice was heard. "No... Storm... What have you done..." Duke Alfredo appeared from the shadow in the corner. The crimson chains that bound Mason were his spell.
Jack was speechless. He was confident that he was right. 'No!' He thought suddenly. Princess Sindral was not the only remaining one. One more person inside this palace was considered part of the royal family!