Chapter 246 Inspection

While I finished up the aftercare, I waited for them to come back.

Defeating the Acacia troops and seizing back our government offices had cleared the tension here. Right now everything felt quite peaceful.

But we couldn’t forget my country was still in the midst of a war with the Towair Kingdom.

Even if the atmosphere wasn’t so painful as before, most of our major officials were still living through the wartime emotions.

I was the same as well.

If the Tasmeria Kingdom lost, it would be a devastating situation.

In that scenario, the Acacia Kingdom would probably act again.

“Well then, Tanya, how’s the battlefront looking?”

“His majesty is currently directing the army in Earl Monroe’s territory. But it seems like the people still maintain a deep-rooted distrust toward the kingdom, so they’re sunk in a long, bitter battle.”

My hands stopped.

“I really do not know, Tanya.”

Against my own will, I said this with a tone full of resentment.

“I’m sorry. Considering the Acacia Kingdom was top priority, I didn’t report this to you immediately.”

“No, I should be sorry for that. I wouldn’t be able to listen to you under those circumstances. But Tanya, if possible, I always want to hear new updates on what’s going on in the north, no matter how busy I am.”

I had to reflect on my own tendencies toward being emotional.

Reacting so strongly to the words “his majesty” showed I was still tender.

“A long, bitter battle. True, there’s no such thing as a battle that ends after a single victory.”

“Yes. Given how people are swaying in the direction of the Towair Kingdom, having to watch a battle play out only makes people trust us less.”

I didn’t expect him to go to the battlefield.

Things should be fine…or should I say I wished he would be fine.

Being so far apart made me anxious that I couldn’t immediately know what he was doing.

Unrest and anxiety festered within my heart.

I wanted to be by his side.

To share his fears.

Yes, I screamed this from the bottom of my heart.

My rational mind suppressed these impulsive cries.

When I’d abandoned those inner shrieks, I forced myself to change how I thought.

“Any reports from the spies inside of the Acacia Kingdom?”

“Their citizens talk of Duke Armenia’s territory being attacked, but the national military hasn’t moved out yet.”

“I see. What’s going through the king’s mind?”

The more I think, the less things make sense.

Even if it didn’t come through the king himself but from the prince, what was the intent behind proposing marriage and then attacking us?

His right hand offered a friendly smile, while his left hand stabbed at us with a knife.

“It’s good that their national military is still remaining where it is.”

After all, it was basically impossible for us to fight two countries at the same time.

No matter personnel or material resources, we didn’t have enough of anything.

Whether it was our territory or the rest of the nation.

“Indeed.”

Tanya agreed with me with a bitter look.

“Have you looked into more to do with the royal family?”

“Because they have concubines, there are five queens and five princes, ten princesses. The one who asked for your hand earlier was the third prince, Prince Majid. Now the king is older, so the battle for the throne is starting up. But some rumors have spread that the third prince has no heart for politics, which is why his front has been so quiet thus far. The prince claimed illness and withdrew from the conflict, so he seems to be furthest from the throne.”

“So any country can have a fight for the throne.”

Once again, I couldn’t help but be sarcastic.

“But saying he’s furthest from the throne…I would have to disagree with that.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Just a feeling from when I met him.”

“Intuition?”

“A little different. Beforehand when he visited our territory, he came with the reputation of his whole nation. Considering what you said and that reality…”

Tanya’s expression shifted.

A country’s representative has much bearing on their appearances. Someone with nothing to do with politics wouldn’t be chosen in the first place, to prevent anything from going wrong.

Considering he was the third prince, it wasn’t impossible that he was trying to earn some kind of credit. But when he showed up to ask for my hand, no one else by his side was available for political duty.

“No interest in politics? No movement? Seems like it’s only a red herring. He’s still carrying out political duties even without this supposed interest, meaning he has some kind of strategic play he doesn’t want to show just yet. Something like a talent who not only supports him unconditionally, but also works hard to conceal his tracks.”

Seems exactly like someone else I know, I couldn’t help but chortle to myself.

He had also hidden behind the scenes for so long to strengthen his own foundations, although his reason was his mother’s identity.

Prince Majid seemed to do so because his identity as third prince.

The earliest bird gets shot. Knowing this, he instead chooses to remain in the dark, sharpening his fangs.

“So I think there’s a high likelihood he’s aiming for the throne.”

Suddenly my thoughts scattered.

To him there wasn’t much good to be had in a marriage with me.

After all, joining hands with a family with more influence in his own nation would be more likely to stabilize his position.

As a matter of fact, if he produced a child with mixed heritage, he might even encounter opposition from influential figures in his country.

Unless he wanted me as nothing more than a concubine, so he could have children with other wives.

When I got to this point, I had to force myself to stop thinking. There was no use in continuing the line of thought.

“We need to pay attention to his actions in the future.“

“Yes, milady.”

There was a knock at the door. Sebastian had arrived.

“Ryle and Dida are back from the east, milady.”

“Great. Although I’m sorry to trouble them so and they must be tired, can I request them here for a report?”

“They said once they wrap things up with the police guard they’ll come here.”

“I see, thanks.”

Perhaps twenty minutes later, there was another knock at the door.

Dida, Ryle, and my mother walked in.

“M-Mother?”

“It’s been a while, Iris.”

I cried out when seeing the surprise appearance.

Since we were the only ones here, it didn’t matter so much.

“What are you doing here?”

Now I was beginning to remember.

My mother had brought Duke Anderson’s guard ten-some-odd days ago.

Since then, I’d had no idea where she was.

More accurately speaking, I hadn’t even thought that far.

“Mother, does that mean you traveled to the east with Duke Anderson’s guard?”

I asked an odd question.

But then I suddenly remembered what she’d said to me.

Call Mother if you need help. Even though that’s what she said…

“No, I led them to the east.”

So that was the case after all! My heart was in turmoil.

Who could expect my mother to make an appearance there herself?

“Injuries, are you hurt? And also, why…?”

Dida burst out into laughter seeing how flustered I was.

Ryle and Dida were laughing too.

I had no idea why everyone was laughing.

“Milady, Lady Merry’s swordsmanship is outstanding, far better than any of us.”

“Huh?”

“I’m disappointed about it, but it’s the truth. She’s also quite the tactical leader.”

I somehow thought what Dida was saying was a completely unrelated joke.

But what he said next made my mind stop spinning.

“I’ve said this to you before too, right? I’ve always wanted to be a soldier. So I not only trained with soldiers at my father’s, but also have some battlefield experience.”

The casual smile my mother gave me while saying this was a death blow.

Her on the battlefield? What could this all mean…

Questions appeared one after another in my mind, congealing together in chaos.

But looking at my mother’s smile, I began to think there wasn’t much meaning behind whatever I could think. So I calmed down again.

“Is that so. Everyone, thank you so much for your help in protecting Duke Armenia’s territory. I give you my most genuine gratitude.”

“Iris, no need to thank me. We’re all part of the family, after all. But if it’s you, I’ll express your greetings to Duke Anderson’s family.”

“Thank you.”

Nodding again to my mother, I turned toward Ryle and Dida.

“I also have to thank you two, the police guard, and everyone else who headed out to the eastern regions. I’m so, so happy that you all made it home safely.”

I’d already heard the news of their victory, but seeing them here before my eyes was so real I couldn’t help but tear up.

“Having you all here is amazing…I’m so thankful for your support.”

Every emotion I wanted to express to them surged into my heart, yet the words wouldn’t come to me.

Not being able to communicate what I felt to them frustrated me.

“We really don’t deserve this.” Ryle responded with a gentle smile.

“Milady’s words are the best reward for us.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at Dida’s casual remark.

“Thank you. Although I have much more to say, I also want to hear your report.”

I learned the amount of captives and casualties from them.

Even while listening to their report, I was still considering whether the supplemental resources we sent out would make it in time.

“And also, milady, we managed to capture the enemy’s leader this time.”

“The leader seems to be the first prince of Acacia.”

My mother’s words were a strong shock to my system.

“The first prince, on the frontlines?”

To be honest, I couldn’t believe it.

Even though I looked like I was doubting my own mother, it was more that I couldn’t believe this was the truth with the common sense I had developed up to this point.

How could they send a member of royalty in the initial intrusion effort, let alone a crown prince?

Without being able to help myself, I spoke the words that were forming in my mind.

“Ah, could it be…”

“What have you realized?”

Mother responded to my whisper.

“I’ve thought of something.”

“Tell me, Iris. If it’s anything related to the current incident, it’s good for you to share your ideas.”

“Indeed. The one who proposed to me was the third prince, Prince Majid. Currently the situation within Acacia seems to be similar to our previous situation: a subtle struggle for the throne. Right now should be the breaking point of the battle.”

“You really have done your homework on Acacia’s situation. But how does all that relate to what’s going on here?”

“I’ve heard that the second prince abandoned the struggle because of illness*. In other words, if anything happens to the first prince then the succession rights will fall right into the third prince’s hands.”

“Milady, are you saying the third prince designed this incident?”

I shook my head to Tanya’s question.

“I don’t know that much. Whether the current king or Prince Majid is the one cooperating with the Towair Kingdom, I’m also not sure. He could potentially win the throne or lose his status as royalty entirely with this move.”

“According to the first prince, the one working with the Towair Kingdom is the current king.” My mother responded.

“I see. Perhaps if that person could steal the throne away, they’d have more grounds for negotiation.”

“But milady, he’s been eyeing this land so strongly he even proposed to you. If that’s the case if he wins the throne he might bring the national military to invade us again…”

“Putting the current king aside, if I were Prince Majid I wouldn’t do something like that.”

“And why is that the case?”

“Whether Tasmeria or the Towair Kingdom wins…even if they win Duke Armenia’s territory, it will be quite difficult to maintain control of it. After all, they’re surrounded by enemies and other countries. Although they have an agreement with the Towair Kingdom, considering geographical conditions they’ll have to go back on their words eventually. After all, Acacia is across from the sea. If their overseas territory were invaded they couldn’t possibly deal with it immediately, and it’s too costly to ship resources and talent over here for what will probably be a very small reward. It’s probably more profitable to form a good trade relationship with other nations…at least, that’s my thought process.”

“I see. What you said seems like the most likely possibility. Even though the current king has become embroiled in this whole Towair Kingdom situation, that means we also have no way to see through what the third prince is really scheming behind the scenes. If he’s someone who can plan so thoroughly to get to the throne, I’m sure he’ll know what to do as long as someone drops hints to him where his true profits lie and demonstrate an ability to negotiate.”

“Yes, Mother.”

“So that’s the case. Anyways, the guard of Duke Anderson and I will rest here for a while. They’ll need time to tend to their wounded and observe the situation. If anything happens, don’t hesitate to tell your mother.”

I nodded quickly to my mother’s proposal. Honestly, her presence here made me quite happy.

“Tanya, prepare to interrogate the first prince.”

“Yes, milady.”

*Messed up in an earlier translation when I stated that the third prince was the one who bowed out because of illness.

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