Eventually, Rui let out a small sigh and raised his head.
“While the period when it would’ve been found would be different, eventually Alf’s protege would’ve discovered it…….he is, after all, concealing himself in the shadow of the Nord Firm to collect information.”
“……you’re quite calm, considering this is a crisis for your bride’s family.”
“Like hell I am……”
He quietly murmured in a voice coloured with impatience.
“……my apologies. So, Alf. If you’ve discovered that link, then does that mean you’ve found the whereabouts of the iron that Wiel embezzled in secret?”
“Yes. We now know the identity of his trading partner, so it will soon be revealed.”
Compared to searching with absolutely no information at all, it was natural that the investigation would go faster after knowing of the transaction and the trading partner.
It was the same as when Earl Talbot’s involvement in human trafficking came to light as well.
“Then, search for it urgently.”
Stopping me, Rui turned a suspicious gaze towards him.
“Ahh……with regards to the whereabouts of the iron, gather the information from Nord’s side. And at the same time, confirm whether or not Wiel or someone close to Wiel is currently communicating with Nord.”
“Father……don’t tell me, you’re doubting Gazelle-dono?”
“You can’t say that the possibility doesn’t exist, right? ……naturally, I don’t think that he’s involved in this, and I want to believe that is the case. However, I have to obtain firm evidence that isn’t just my assumption to crush that possibility…….and the ones that I’m actually doubting are Wiel’s wife and children. The subordinates of Wiel’s retainers are also suspicious.”
Even if he is my best friend, I cannot allow my eyes to be clouded by emotion.
As long as that possibility exists, I must continue to pursue the truth without running from it.
This was the very thing that I told Gazelle would happen in such a scenario when I spoke to him in the past.
“Leaving that aside, we must make Wiel and Nord split apart. While having their paper exchange completely rewritten, have him believe that one of your subordinates is Nord’s messenger. After that, I’ll give you further orders. At the same time, have one of the people infiltrating Nord’s side destroy all of the exchanges they’ve had with Wiel up until now, confirm that Cordis* isn’t in possession of any evidence of it, and if he is, maneuver so that all his evidence is destroyed as well.”
“Understood. I will have them start immediately.”
Hearing my command, Alf lowered his head and promptly left the room.
“……Wiel and Cordis might be pretty similar.”
Around the time when Alf’s figure could no longer be seen, I silently murmured thus.
“Similar, you say?”
“Yeah……in terms of their circumstances.”
That is true, Rui nodded to himself internally.
Wiel was overlooked due to Romel’s talent in the sword, while Cordis was overlooked due to his younger brother, Miles’, natural temperament.
……the both of them were not recognised by their blood-related family.
Just how sad did that make them?
Just how vexed did that make them?
No……it was precisely because they were related by blood that it may have been all the more saddening, and all the more vexing.
“They accumulated so much hatred that they wanted to destroy the very world that did not recognise them……I suppose…….while I sympathise with them, I cannot overlook their deeds.”
“Well, of course. [Let your feelings grow deep. But……]”
“[Do not allow them to sway you], right?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Those were the words that I told Rui when he started working as my aid.
Let your feelings grow deep……otherwise, nobody will want to follow you.
However, you mustn’t let your emotions sway you.
Becoming swayed by emotion and moving impulsively as a result was the same as abandoning all thought.
And when the least desirable result comes about as a result of that……the one who will end up regretting it the most is yourself.
“So, will you tell Mellice-chan?”
“……yes. After the doubts on Gazelle-dono are cleared.”
“Oh……how kind of you. Or perhaps, how unrelenting?”
Either could be said of Rui’s decision.
If he were to tell Mellice before the doubts on General Gazelle were cleared……then Mellice would have to bear the burden of such a heavy secret.
And, the degree to which she believes in her father……is how much her heart will be hurt at the fact that he is being doubted, despite being a victim himself.
On that point, the consideration for Mellice’s feelings could be said to be kind.
But on the other hand, so long as there are doubts cast on General Gazelle, there’s no way he could afford to tell a relative of the General about those doubts……if by any chance General Gazelle happened to be guilty, then he would definitely move to hide that fact.
In addition, even if the General didn’t make a move, from the moment Rui spoke of the doubts to Mellice, it is possible that people would think that perhaps it was Mellice that made the move, causing questioning gazes to turn to Mellice herself.
In that aspect, Rui’s decision was unrelenting.
“What a mean question.”
Rui used a neutral tone of voice, so that his internal thoughts could not be read, and answered in neither the negative or the affirmative.
“……leaving that aside, Father did once say that Wiels’ handiwork was rather ingenious.”
“Yeah……it was the same with the whereabouts of the iron, but it has caused Alf quite a bit of trouble to find his connection with Count Rumell, the perpetrator of the Serial Daughter Kidnapping Case in the Capital.”
“In other words, he’s had connections with Cordis through the Nord Firm ever since then.”
“Yeah……it will depend on the results of Alf’s investigation, but 8 or 9 cases out of ten it should be like that…….and it is likely that the reason why the attackers during the ‘Attack on the Important Persons of Rinmel Principality’ were wearing the Army’s uniform was also……”
“Probably due to someone close to Wiel using the Anderson Marquis House’s name to obtain the uniforms, and then sending them through the Nord Firm.”
Hearing my words, Rui’s face grew pale.
Although my face also had a similar expression.
“Just revealing information would be plenty to have them seen as possessing the intent to alienate the kingdom……but if they were to carry the title of a co-conspirator for this time’s incident then…”
“It’s not just that…….most importantly, there is the possibility that their swords were made of the good quality iron from the Anderson Marquis Domain…….which means this is already-”
“Yeah. If this is revealed, then in all probability the Anderson House itself will be destroyed……in the worst case scenario, the entire family and its vassals will be executed.”
For a moment Rui’s body trembled……and then, he hung his head, casting his eyes downward.
“Naturally, this will mean that your engagement with Mellice-chan would be nullified…….there’s no way that the wife of the next head of the Armelia Ducal House could be someone from a house accused of treason by the Kingdom……it couldn’t possibly be approved.”
In a rare instance, Rui raised his voice against me.
“Calm down…….this is only if this is revealed to the public.”
“……yes, that’s true. In other words, Father doesn’t intend on having this incident go public?”
“We haven’t yet ceased hostilities with the Country of Towair…….in this sort of situation, what do you think would happen if we kill off our hero? ……but naturally, this is only if we can be sure that Gazelle isn’t involved in this matter.”
Hearing my words that responded to his question with a question, Rui wiped away a cold sweat and laughed.
“The reason why Father spoke to me about this now……is because you want me to cooperate with you, is it not?”
I simply smiled at Rui’s words.
……originally, this would be something that I’d have to report immediately.
If the fact that I abandoned my duty……were to be discovered, naturally the Armelia Ducal House would also not be let off lightly.
“By all rights, this is something that I should shoulder by myself.”
“That’d be overdoing it. Even now, Father’s current duties have increased because of diplomacy with the Rinmel Principality…….you told me this because of that, right? And……”
Rui stared fixedly at me, head-on.
There was not a trace of fear or impatience in his eyes.
“I swore that I would protect her. Even if that means that I would have to go against Father, I planned on doing that from the start.”
“I see…….that’s quite an ardent confession of love. Well, putting the jokes aside……first we’ll need to specify who smuggled the Army uniforms out into illegal channels that were used by the perpetrators of the Rinmel Principality Important Persons Attack. At least until we can get an additional report from Alf.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I’ll take care of that, so Father can continue the correspondence with the Rinmel Principality.”
“Yeah, I know.”
After that, Rui promptly left the room, returning to his own room to do his work.
The author keeps getting the names “Kurtis” and “Cordis” confused. To clarify, “Kurtis” is the current head of the Sligar Ducal House. “Cordis” is his eldest son, whose sickly countenance and personality makes him not as desired to become the next head of house. Miles is the second son, and the one who is favoured by the retainers to become the next head of the Sligar House. I’ve taken the liberty of fixing some of the confused “Kurtis” and “Cordis” names in the chapter.