Chapter 184 Negotiations
…Sunlight at dawn was so very beautiful.
It was as if even if I admired it for days on end, I would not tire of it.
I don’t know how many days I had seen dawn break in a row now.
There was nothing more troubling than being in the capital.
If I am giving instructions from the political heart of this nation, I can respond quickly to anything.
But even though being in the chaotic capital means I can obtain information more easily, there are both pros and cons to that as well.
Sebastian, Moneda, and the officials seem to have immediately started their work according to my instructions.
Every other day I received reports, queries, and proposals.
To respond to those, I delivered more and more instructions to my subordinates.
When Tanya finally walked into the office, her expression was one of plain concern.
“Milady, night should be a time of rest. I understand the gravity of the situation, but if you fall ill then we’ll lose more progress than we might gain. When I come to call you to bed, please take the time to rest.”
“After I finish this up, I’ll go to bed. Have there been any reports back from home?”
“No, not yet.”
“Is that so…there’s still more time before the time agreed upon. I’ll go to bed for an hour. Please wake me in an hour.”
There was a simple cot set up in my office. It was far from fancy, and stood out against the backdrop of the rest of the ornate furniture.
This was because I felt wasteful even when taking time to return to my bedroom, so I prepared something like this for myself.
Although the fact that I was willing to sleep was good, she still wished that I could return to my room and sleep comfortably…so on and so forth. I could read it from the expression on Tanya’s face.
In exactly an hour, Tanya came and woke me.
“…Are there any reports?”
“Is that so. Speaking of which, Tanya, did you hear anything from Priest Ralph?”
“No, nothing from that side either. It seems that they’re delayed as well.”
“I see. What about investigations into Count Luberia’s family?”
“…I apologize, we’ve made no progress there either.”
“Is that so…if Mimosa could abandon her engagement with the family due to some kind of scandal on their part, that would be best. Please continue investigating.”
It seemed like we had to start from Count Luberia. Even if we wanted to rely on this as a final resort, if we didn’t know our enemy then we couldn’t do anything. Our top priority was gathering information.
Although the lists that Moneda and Tanya produced both had his family’s name on it, it was still far too early to be accusing him in public.
“Thank you…please, it’s time to get prepared.”
Today was the day that we were paying a visit to Earl Sagittaria.
After that, we would report to the queen dowager.
I also told my father about everything, from beginning to end.
“Leave it to you to think of it…” I could only imagine his response.
Anything more specific, I couldn’t say, only guess.
Because after that point, my father’s health worsened. He caught a cold.
A cold was something that seemed minor, but was not.
Since he was already injured, his resistance to illness dropped.
A fever, constant coughing…perhaps he also had pneumonia.
It was difficult for him to even talk to me.
In that state, his suggestion of “Go visit Earl Sagittaria” came through as a whisper.
And that was why I was in my swaying carriage, on my way to see him.
My first words to him when I arrived was a summary of what had happened.
“Quite impressive, that you’ve achieved all of this on your own.”
“Thank you for your kind words. If I may ask, what are your plans?”
“Nothing at all.”
I had no intent of concealing my shock.
“More accurately, everyone I can trust I’ve lent to Prince Alfred.”
“Hm…in other words, Prince Alfred also knows what’s happening?”
“Since it’s you, Miss Iris, I’ll tell you upfront. We weren’t the ones who noticed any of this going on, it was Prince Alfred. His people have already started to act. But even so, it’s still too late…that’s what he said.”
It was just like the first prince had speculated.
The first shipment of false currency was already on the market.
Right now, the fuse had already been lit.
How large would the explosion be…depended on how much we could limit it. That was the key to our victory.
“If that’s the case, then why do both you and Father…ah, I see. So it’s all to prevent the information from leaking.”
Earl Sagittaria nodded.
“Just as you have noticed, Yuri has already established herself as the wife to the second prince. This nation’s young nobles rush closer and closer, like cod seeking out food in a pond. If we do anything rash, the matter of the golden coins and false currency will spread and become public knowledge. In that moment, there will be chaos.”
“Quite a kind enemy, if I may say so myself.”
Earl Sagittaria responded with a small smile.
“You are Ms. Mellice are really quite similar after all.”
“Where did that thought come from?”
“Even in a situation like this, you had no intention of admitting defeat. It’s better to say that the fire inside of you is showing through your gaze.”
It was true that thinking about what Divan had said made my heart burn.
Intensity, pride, not wanting to lose…wanting to win.
It was almost like wildly falling in love.
“That aside, just as Miss Iris has noticed, this country is in a dire state right now. In addition, Prince Alfred is still out of the country.”
“What? The queen dowager, why would she…?”
“That’s what she said beforehand. What I’m about to say is something not to be shared. The king won’t last much longer. With the current situation in the palace, the second prince has the upper hand.”
“I see. If the first prince stays within the country, that would mean losing the final straw of hope. That’s why the queen dowager made him leave the country to steer clear of danger…”
“Although the queen dowager didn’t tell me directly, that’s what I’ve gathered. The fact that this was decided when Sir Louis was attacked is the best proof.”
“I see…for the people, this would be something difficult to accept.”
The queen dowager seemed to have abandoned her hopes. It seems like things have reached a point of no return.
“The first prince seemed intent on refusing at first. But after some persuasion from her, he eventually left. From my understanding, this incident is an amazing opportunity to eradicate this country’s ills. If the first prince wants to be king, he must shatter the second prince’s alliances completely. Leaving the capital right now, he might be planning to wait until they are in a more opportune position before attacking. But in this case, if he loses then all is lost…from another point of view, I think that this is all a necessary process. By the way, I don’t know where exactly he went. It’s very likely that only the queen dowager and Sir Louis know.”
“Is that so. Father…”
That meant that Father knew everything.
…If only had just told me.
In that case, we could think of a better defense strategy.
No…Father was perhaps afraid that I would act out.
If I came up with a perfect strategy, there would be plenty of doubters pointing the finger at me, thinking I was the suspicious one.
In the worst case scenario, I might be treated as a criminal, or a sacrificial lamb.
Even so, inaction out of fear was not an option in my book.
I didn’t know what would happen to this country. But to me, protecting my territory and my people was the top priority. I would never lose sight of that mission.
“Thank you for your advice. I’m sure you also plan to return to your territory after this social season has concluded.”
“Preventing even one territory from sinking into chaos is a good thing. Hopefully Duke Armenia’s territory will be able to see your capabilities.”
“That would be quite a difficult task to accomplish.”
Earl Sagittaria smiled, an exasperated look on his face.