Chapter 22

Aghast, the Empress glared at the necklace.

How could that be in the hands of the Duke? She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Everything was falling apart in her perfectly designed scheme.
She believed that the prickly Duke of Reinhardt had finally been put to eternal sleep.

She thought the Duke of Reinhardt was a great threat to the Imperial family.
The knights under him had been the royal family’s armed forces for decades.
He even owned half of the candidates of the Swordmasters.
If Ian had a bad heart, he wouldn’t have been able to predict the winner.

The Empress of Iassa was blinded by Ian’s influence.

Then, the Emperor fell into a terrible sickness while the Empress came to rule the country.
She had been enjoying this power for a long time.

“…….”

This was the perfect plan.

Well, at least, it used to be.

Oscar seized her elbow as the Empress stumbled and fell when the reality became vivid in her mind.

She cried out.

“C-Crown Prince…!”
“Mother, calm down and compose yourself.”

Oscar’s low mellow voice reached her.

That’s right, she shouldn’t just back away like that.

She screamed.

“Don’t speak nonsense! A-Are you just going to stand around?! Get that criminal on the ground this instant!”

But there was no one who dared to face him off.

The lowly guards hesitated, while impatience grew in the hall.

“There are only two men in the world who possess the tears of a dragon.
I’ve heard that one was carried by the Duke.”
“His crime of treason is not really true, is it?”

“What is going on……?”

The nobles began to be swayed by Ian’s calm attitude.

The Empress roared.

“Be quiet, you lot!!”

After all, all this rumpus was due to those tears of a dragon.

Her eyes shone at the necklace.

‘Everything will calm down once it disappears! I will break it to pieces!’

However, it might arouse the suspicion of the nobility…….so it should be done after the execution of the Duke.

It was a crazy idea.
But the panic-stricken Empress seemed to have found no better path.

But, Oscar was one step ahead of her.

As the Empress was about to shove past him, he walked past her and stood in front of Ian.

Now, it was Oscar’s turn to help Ian.

His soft voice echoed through the central hall.

“Duke of Reinhardt.”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness, the Crown Prince.”
“Are the tears of a dragon that you’re holding, genuine?”

Ian held out his necklace.

“Please prove it yourself, Your Highness.”
“…..Very well.”

There was something special about the royal family of Iassa.
The founder of this dynasty was born with the blood of a dragon running inside his veins.

It was true that half-dragons always went berserk, unable to control their strength.

However, Frederick, who was the first Emperor, could survive as a human being.
And that’s how the blood of a dragon had been passed down to his descendants even though it’s very feeble.

Thanks to it, Prince Oscar had special abilities.
The ability to check if an object made from a dragon’s body was “real”.

The civil defense of the imperial family was under the Reinhardt family, but the Emperor and the Crown Prince were the only ones with the characteristics of a dragon.

Oscar took the necklace and poured a few drops on his palm.

Soon, the droplets gave off a golden gleam.
It turned into gas that was golden in color and swirled up in the air until it disappeared with a poof.

“…..!”

The crowd gasped at the beautiful sight.

Oscar’s brown eyelashes shook as he looked up at Ian.
He felt pathetic and sorry for his friend.

His mother conspired against Ian, but there was nothing he could do.

Still, he was the one who advised Ian to carry this necklace before going into the battlefield.

Oscar wiped his palm with a handkerchief he received from a maid.

“Yes, it definitely is authentic……”

He declared as he returned the necklace to Ian.

“Drink it.
I’ll have to ask you a few questions to check if it really–”

But Oscar couldn’t finish his sentence as the Empress had forcefully turned him around.

She whispered.

“What are you doing, Prince? Why did you say that they are actual tears of a dragon?!”
“…..Mother, please calm down and think.”

Oscar knew she’d panic like that.

He leaned in and spoke with a voice that only she could hear.

“How can we entrust him without the interrogation? I’m saying, we should make a deal.
The royal family will order the Duke to keep it a secret.”

“Then, does everything I’ve done mean nothing to you?! Besides, I’ve already spent a lot of riches on his property!”
“That can’t be helped.
Who knew that he had a dragon’s tears with him….?”

Even if he didn’t have the tears of a dragon, he would have still survived with his own skills.

The Empress murmured.

“Certainly, it is weird…..Why would the Duke carry his heirloom on a battlefield?”

She glanced at the Duke, her face with a look of suspicion.
Then she asked, tugging at Oscar’s overcoat.

“Crown Prince, my son, you didn’t provide the Duke any support, did you?”

Oscar blinked.
His face was so calm that no one could suspect him.

As a matter of fact, it was right that he had secretly told Ian to be cautious.
And it did help Ian.

Now that the Emperor was lying on his bed, the supreme power of the Iassa Empire belonged to the Empress.
And she was crazy about protecting her power.
She was arousing a dictatorship.

“Answer me, Prince.
Answer me….for my sake.
Did you communicate with the Duke?”
“I could never do that.”

Oscar carefully removed her hand, clearing his throat.

Even if she gazed at Oscar’s eyes, she couldn’t tell whether he was speaking the truth or not.

Feeling her gaze on him, Oscar, too, tried his best to stay as calm as possible.

“How can I lie to my beloved mother? The Duke might have been cautious.
We all know how unpredictable he can be, do we not, mother?”

And with that, the Empress’ fear returned to grasp her soul again.

“…..O-Okay, let us go along with the Crown Prince’s words this time.”
“Thank you, mother.
Well then, let’s begin the interrogation.”

But, he already knew what the results were going to be.

The Duke would be free of all his false charges!

His property was constantly being strewn by the Empress.
Some of them were left under the possession of the royal family, so it would be a great loss if they were all taken away by the Duke.

As she thought of this, the Empress’ stomach lurched.

‘Either way, the Duke will die and disappear again.’

It was only delayed.

She gritted her teeth.

“Lord Bartolt was the only one who could face the Duke.
You know that even a candidate of a Swordmaster possesses tremendous power, right?”
“I understand.
That’s why I will interrogate Lord Bartolt so that it would not be revealed that he tried to eliminate the Duke.”

Oscar walked over to Ian.

Ian was already prepared to drink them.

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Oscar asked in a solemn voice.

“Ian Reinhardt.
Are you ready to answer only the facts to my questions?”
“……Yes, Your Highness.”
“This day marks the sacred day of the foundation of our Empire, and I believe all of the respected aristocrats present here will remember this as a witness.
So, answer me only with a yes or no without any pretense, but if I speak something wrong, declare it at once.”

Ian nodded while Oscar continued.

“The first question.
Did the Duke plot any treason?”
“No.”
“Second.
Did you see those men who conspired the treason?”
“Not that either.”
“Third.
Have you ever suspected anyone?”
“Yes.”

More questions followed.

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