She and the Foreign Minister’s Betrayal
After the name Duke Pellegrini came from Freed’s mouth, we left the Japanese café and returned to the castle. The reason was simple. We couldn’t leave out Duke Pellegrini’s sons, Will and Glenn, out of the conversation about him.
For that reason, we went back to the castle, but before that, Freed asked Cain for a favor.
He had something he apparently had to obtain no matter what. Of course, he had my consent.
“Cain, sorry, but could you break into Count Viran’s residence and search for the evidence of him attending masquerade balls? It’s probably a mask that served him as participation credentials. I want solid evidence that he met with Abel at a masquerade ball.”
Cain made a doubtful face to Freed’s request.
“I don’t really mind as long as Princess doesn’t, but isn’t that man dead? Hasn’t his private belongings been cleared out already?”
“Not much time has passed since he died. Even if they have been cleared out, there’s a low chance that they’ve been thrown away.”
Cain agreed after hearing that guess.
“Hmph… Well, fine.”
“Please. It’s fastest and most reliable if you go. I understand you’re Lidi’s escort, but…”
“You’ll protect Princess, right? I don’t mind. Besides, it’s not that far, so I’ll fulfill my objective immediately and come back. It seems Princess is involved, so I’m willing to cooperate.”
Because of that conversation, Cain came to act separately from us.
Be that as it may, using his secret art, Cain will be able to return within a few days, so it’s unlikely to impact my bet with Abel.
We need to investigate who Abel is pretending to be, but we can’t disregard the problem of Duke Pellegrini either.
“In the end, it feels like we’re led by the nose by Abel’s parting gift…”
Everybody gathered in Freed’s office.
Glenn and Will also came in response to his summons.
“Your Highness, you called for us…?”
Freed nodded to Will’s words and, first of all, had everybody sit on the sofas. I sat next to Freed. On the sofa in front of us, Brother, Will, and Glenn were lined up.
When everybody calmed down and were in the state to listen to the story, Brother summarized what we’d talked about until now. Will and Glenn’s complexions were pale after listening to it.
“No way, Esteemed Father did?”
Glenn too silently nodded to Will’s words to show his agreement.
Brother looked at me with a complicated face.
“It’s incredibly disappointing, but come to think of it, this too is ultimately your achievement. If you hadn’t come up with going to a masquerade ball, Duke Pellegrini’s name would have never come up… Haa… Why do you always naturally find yourself in the middle of a turmoil?”
“How should I know that?”
I truly have no such intentions. Even this time it was a complete coincidence.
Brother breathed a sigh then told Will and Glenn.
“Will, Glenn, what I’ll say is a general opinion, okay? That’s how it appears to the world, so listen to it with that in mind.”
Although both of them tilted their head to Brother’s preface, they nodded. Having confirmed that, Brother slowly said.
“… It’s well known that Duke Pellegrini hates my father, Duke Vivoir. You know that too. Having said that, I don’t doubt his loyalty either. His loyalty is real. That’s why, this time too I didn’t put his name on the list I made, and nobody imagined he could betray Freed and the Wilhelm Kingdom.”
Everybody nodded, and Brother continued.
“But, that’s how it had been until now. What if Duke Pellegrini’s hate for the Vivoir ducal house exceeds his loyalty for the Wilhelm Kingdom? The Duke surely dislikes her, Lidi marrying Freed. The daughter of the man he detests entered the Royal Family he pledges allegiance to.”
Nobody said anything.
“In truth, nobody knows how much he hates the Vivoir ducal house. But, the possibility isn’t zero. It’s really trivial to cross such a line. What he’s just barely held within until now might burst with just a little push. It’s possible. Duke Pellegrini looked after King Maximilian when he came to Wilhelm, so it’s not like they haven’t had contact. It’s easy for the topic to advance. And think about it again. What is Sahaja’s aim? It’s Wilhelm… and according to Freed, Lidi. They will tempt the Duke, who must be fed up with the Royal Family after the daughter of Vivoir ducal house married into it, to become a traitor. And so, in exchange, they’ll take the loathsome Vivoir Crown Princess into their care. In which case, Duke Pellegrini will get rid of the irritating Crown Princess. The best choice for Duke Pellegrini is to willingly cooperate with Sahaja and offer Lidi to them. It makes me wonder why we didn’t think about it until now. No, even if I say until now, there have been no signs of betrayal though.”
Brother said what he had to say and shut up.
Nobody said anything.
Freed, me, Duke Pellegrini’s sons Will and Glenn, we all fell silent.
As for me, I don’t know what Duke Pellegrini is thinking or what he will do.
Even if he hates Father, I know he’s a loyal retainer who doesn’t mix public and private affairs.
However, I think what Brother said has a point.
The instant a certain line is crossed, you won’t be able to endure anymore.
Brother’s metaphor was easy to understand. What if it happens to Duke Pellegrini?
What if when Sahaja tempts him, he accepts?
“… Even so, I trust Duke Pellegrini.”
After a while, Freed spoke. Everybody looked at him in surprise.
“His loyalty is real. I don’t think it would waver with me and Lidi marrying.”
Hearing Freed’s answer, I unconsciously broke into a smile. Then, I gave my own opinion.
“I… think that there’s no problem with Duke Pellegrini either.”
Brother stared at me.
“Yup. After all, he treated me normally.”
I remember talking with Duke Pellegrini a little while ago. At that time, he had a proper attitude towards me. I didn’t see anything suspicious about his attitude.
He was happy for Freed, and I could acutely feel his loyalty for the King. I don’t think it was a lie, and I don’t want to think that.
That’s why, I clearly said.
“I don’t know what Sahaja is thinking, but I guess he’ll refuse their temptations.”
That’s the conclusion I reached.
Hearing my and Freed’s opinions, Will, Glenn, and Brother made complicated faces.
Brother scratched his head and spoke first.
“I understand you both want to believe him, but… I don’t know him enough to be able to declare it like you, so I think the possibility of his betrayal isn’t zero.”
Will also said.
“Your Highness, Lidi. I apologize, but I agree with Alex. My father’s hatred for Duke Vivoir is abnormal. Having watched it for years, I can’t deny Alex’s opinion.”
Glenn also agreed with Brother.
“Neither can I. I’m not certain, but I can’t think that ‘there’s no problem’ like you two. Esteemed Father really hates Duke Vivoir… I didn’t say it until now, but I’ve always been worried whether my father was all right with Lidi marrying Freed. There’s a limit to anyone’s patience. How would my father react to Sahaja’s temptation after his patience is tested again and again? I can’t assert that he’d refuse.”
After hearing everyone’s opinions, Freed nodded.
“Everybody has their own opinion. I won’t deny them. Although I said that I trust him, I won’t let my guard down. I intend to report everything to Esteemed Father and investigate whether Marquis Westin of Sahaja is approaching Duke Pellegrini. And, I’ll place him under watch.”
“Your Highness. If you want to have him watched, please let me and Glenn do it.”
Will raised his hand. Glenn sitting next to him also nodded.
“We can’t trust our father as much as Your Highness does. Even now I’m suspicious of him. That’s why, I want to make sure of it myself. What is my father thinking? If anything happens, I’ll contact Your Highness telepathically. That’s why――.”
“Got it. I leave it to you.”
Freed accepted Will’s proposal. Will and Glenn thanked him in unison and immediately stood up.
“We will return to Pellegrini residence. For a while, either I or Glenn will always remain in the mansion. Is that fine?”
After confirming that Freed nodded, they quickly bid farewell and briskly left.
When they left and the door closed, Freed told me and Brother.
“Then, shall we go report to Esteemed Father? Alex, you’re naturally coming, but Lidi, you come to. You aren’t unrelated, and I’ll be relieved to have you on my side.”
I nodded to Freed’s words and stood up.
Duke Pellegrini might be being tempted to become a traitor. Same as Freed, I don’t think he’ll do that no matter who tempts him, but his sons’ opinion seems different.
I don’t know what conclusion he’ll actually come to, but for the sake of his sons and for the sake of his loyalty, I hope he won’t be rash.