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16. The New Duke of Artus

A week later, Dalia received a short letter from Beolde.

Come to think of it, this whole thing started with Beolde’s request for reconciliation with the Empress.

Dalia finished reading the letter with a slightly new feeling.

[Made up with the Siord. I’ll grant your wish as you say.

Actually, I have a secret too.

I talked to the youngest on the day you came last time, and I have already finished signing the documents. Seeing you working hard without me knowing made me happy.

P.S. It’s all good, but why are you giving her my letters as you please? If you have a conscience, you should deduct ten good deeds.]

The letter ended before the new sentiment faded. It was really a simple letter.

‘As expected because there is something that you are not being honest about.’

Dalia broke into a smile.

When she thought of the day she gave the letters to Her Majesty the Empress, she remembered Cedric who came to the window that night, and Dalia’s cheeks were burning.

Cedric’s attitude has not changed dramatically since that day. But the memory of that day remained strong in Dalia’s mind.

‘Did Sir Cedric really change because of me?’

Although she did think that it might not be an appropriate thought, she was excited at the same time. The plan to break the original flag and make everyone happy seemed to be going well so far.

‘I don’t want Sir Cedric to die like the original.’

At that time, the servant gave her another letter saying that it had been sent for Dalia. It was a letter with the imperial seal on it.

‘Is it from Sir Cedric?’

Dalia’s eyes widened when she saw the sender. It had the Empress’s name written on it.

‘The Empress?’

Dalia was bewildered and opened the letter in a hurry.

In contrast to Beolde, the letter was very long. Various rhetoric, opening and closing words, as if to show the dignity of the Imperial Family.

But in the end, the point of the letter was simple.

She wants to thank her, so she doesn’t need to contact her separately and she can go to the Empress’s Palace at any time she wants. She said she could come with Merida.

Because they went to the Empress’s Palace together, the Empress seemed to think that Merida and Dalia were very close.

‘Actually, we’re not that close.’

She was still on their side though.

According to Hikan, Merida had decided to give up on Duke Artus and cooperate with him in the meantime.

“Why all of a sudden?”

“It seems that the Second Prince had implement some techniques and fully persuaded her.”

‘Sir Cedric persuade others?’

It really doesn’t suit him.

Strangely enough, though, Dalia remembered what Merida had told her before.

“I bet everything on Miss Dalia. You can’t say you don’t know me.”

‘Why do I think that has something to do with Sir Cedric?’

So when she brought it up to Cedric, who had come to see her before, he said with a meaningful smile.

“Well, I did say that if she wanted to get something from me, it would be faster to get your favor.”

“…….”

“Perhaps now to her, you are the only plank for the drifter of a sunken ship.”

She had a hunch that it would be tiring for some reason.

Although peace seemed to have arrived at first glance, there were several problems that have not yet been solved.

Why did Aceras try to brainwash Her Majesty’s mind? And what conditions he was going to offer to Duke Artus to extract information?

Either way, they need to quickly figure it out and stop his plan.

Everyone is probably investigating in their own territories. Dalia could not stay still.

‘Miss Merida will be taken care of by others. So if I bring in a more believable element from the original…….’

Dalia immediately recalled a name.

‘……Kelsion, there’s also him.’

Someone from the Holy Empire who brainwashed the Empress to maximize her trauma.

Definitely, his brainwashing’s condition is that it will backfire to him the moment it was released. Then he must be out of his mind now.

Even in the original story, when Adrisha’s brainwashing was broken, he was half-disabled due to the aftermath.

‘Maybe we can use the gaps in his mind to find out the Holy Empire’s secrets.’

Dalia went to see Hikan.

He was signing the papers in his office, he then saw Dalia and immediately put the pen down.

“What brings you here?”

“Brother, you see.”

Dalia naturally pulled out the chair next to him, sat down, placed her arms on the desk, and looked at him.

She came to talk about something serious in her own way, but Hikan looked at her with a sentimental expression for some reason.

Then he flicked Dalia’s forehead with a smile.

“Ack. Why did you do that!”

“In the past, you used to struggle to come up here……When did you grow up so much?”

“Brother is taller than before too!”

Dalia raised her voice full of injustice.

But Hikan didn’t seem to listen at all. Rather, he looked at Dalia with a low laugh.

“So, what is it?”

“I have thought about this veeeery carefully! Just in case, this is just in case.”

Dalia talked about her hypothesis.

“Usually, if mental magic fails, it will hurt us. I think it would be the same if they used divine power, so wouldn’t it be very difficult for the person who did this right now? That……I was thinking if we can use it in reverse.”

Hikan immediately understood what Dalia was trying to say. The sentimental eyes faded and now filled with rationality.

“……Yes, it is a matter worth consulting with His Majesty.”

“Right……?”

“I had something to report to His Majesty anyway.”

Saying that, Hikan got up from his seat and put his coat over his shoulders. And he reached out to Dalia.

“Huh?”

“Weren’t you invited to the Empress’s Palace, Dalia?”

Dalia looked up at him, unable to understand what he meant.

He added, a little embarrassed.

“Let’s go together. It’s the same destination anyway.”

“So, so suddenly?”

“I don’t mind.…… I’ll buy you something delicious on the way back.”

Hikan still seemed embarrassed to make this suggestion, seeing his stuttering for a moment when he added the last word.

It was funny since saying that would only work to a 10-years-old.

“No, I’m still not old enough to not be persuaded with food.”

Dalia smiled and placed her hand on his, in an elegant manner, as if she were at a ball.

Hikan grabbed her hand instead of replying. Dalia was being nice and decided to pretend she didn’t notice that his ears were red.

* * *

After a while, Dalia stood with Hikan in front of the drawing room of the Empress’s Palace.

It happened that both the Emperor and the Empress were here. The Emperor delivered a message through the servant that both of them should go to the drawing room of the Empress’s Palace immediately.

As ordered, Hikan hesitated to ask the attendant waiting at the door in front of the drawing room to open the door.

Voices could be heard from outside. Under the circumstances, it seemed to be a conversation between the Emperor and the Empress.

Dalia and Hikan exchanged quick glances. Whether they should go in or not at this time.

The conversation went on regardless of their concerns.

“……I was sad. I’m getting older, but you’re still young…….”

“I’m sorry. I thought you’d feel happy to have a young and handsome husband.”

A half-joking answer followed by the Empress’s laughter.

It was the first time Dalia had heard the Emperor’s friendly tone. Hikan looks like that too. For some reason, she felt like she had overheard the phone call between her boss and his wife.

Hikan gave the servant a hint to avoid a more awkward situation. Perhaps the same is true of the attendant, but he announced their visit in an urgent tone. Inside, a startled cry from the Empress was heard. And a little later.

“C, come in!”

The Empress exclaimed in a slightly piercing voice.

At last the two entered the drawing room.

The Empress was trying to maintain a dignified appearance while hurriedly tidying her disorganized hair. The Emperor just smiled as if he already knew.