030 The Room Without Her p.2

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He wasn’t one to fantasise about the wedding night, but it wasn’t like he had been hoping for this either. Linus Strein Oubeniel could feel a sense of depression welling inside him.

“My humble apologies for the disturbance.”

Marquis Lavallée made a smile as he made himself comfortable. He leisurely sipped his tea while sitting cozily on the sofa. He made sure to not dirty the formal clothes he wore during the banquet.

On the other hand, Linus was wearing a pair of casual pants and a gown on his upper body. It was not a fitting appearance when in the presence of guests, not to mention towards a Marquis, but it could not be helped since it was this hour of the night. Also, he had just finished making love, took a bath and rushed here for this meeting.

“If you are apologising, you could have at least waited until morning.”

Linus did not hide the stiffness on his face.

“Unfortunately, something happened at the banquet. Anyways, what do you plan to do if the other guests noticed the groom escaping from his bedroom so early into the night?”

Everything had ended and he was just about to sleep when he was called here. It was good that he was called afterwards. If he had been in the middle of it, he would feel very uneasy about it.

“And I was already chided by Simone.”

“As one would expect. That’s why I called for you at 1 am.”

The Marquis shamelessly declared.

Linus could feel an impulse to smash up his wrinkled ailing face.

“Don’t make that face, Count. It is a waste of your handsome face.”

“......It is late. Make it quick.”

He urged him to continue while enduring his irritation.
He had been joking around but for him to so suddenly call for him would mean that it was likely something that required an immediate discussion.

“It is none other than your younger brother.”

As expected.
Linus was both in name and in reality a member of the centralist faction. There were many things he could be discussing with the Marquis on such matters, but for him to call him up this late, it had to be about none other than Tullius.

“What has happened to him? Did you not witness the complete success of our plan?”

At the very least, that was what Linus was thinking.

He had no choice but to let his first slave ― a being equivalent to his arms and legs ― be taken away. And he had to personally sign off her as the illegitimate child of a Count. For somebody who lacked political power in the capital and was as hated as he is, he would never be able to find a way to break free from this conspiracy.

The plan had gone exactly according to how the Marquis imagined it to be. Still, the Marquis was currently fretting over something.

“He did not resist as much as I had expected him to.”

That was all? Linus sighed.

“That’s just by appearances. He is not one to show his emotions easily. In fact, the more his heart is in turmoil, the more he likes to stick on his friendly grin. I’m sure that is what happened.”

As far as Linus can see, Tullius had taken a rather huge blow. He managed to keep up with his fake smile even after the ceremony. However, there was not one thing that went smoothly for him. In short, his smile was nothing but a bluff.

Or simply put, if he had not showing his frustration or anxiety, he must have his emotions behind a mask.

“Hoh! Well observed. As expected of brothers.”

“......Please stop with the jokes. Besides, surely your Excellency has already foreseen such a possible development?”

Lavallée was a person who had spent more than twice the age of Tullius at scheming. There was no doubt he could comprehend the bluff of a greenhorn who had only spent a year in politics.

“Hmm...about that.”

The Marquis rarely mumbles.
More often than not, he would speak with great confidence or try to amuse himself by controlling the flow of the conversation.

“What has happened?”

“......That brat. I could tell that he was trying to hide his anger, indignation and anxieties. I could see his hostility in his eyes and mannerisms. However―”

Lavallée stroked his beard as he said.

“He was steadfast.”

“Was steadfast?”

The Marquis momentarily made eye contact when Linus parroted back.

“Exactly. Your little brother has tripped on our plan and lost his most treasured asset. Then, shouldn’t he be thinking of countermeasures?”

Now that he said it, that was certain.
He reflected back on his countless of experience with himself and this old man. He would normally think of a counter as soon as he understood the possible ways the trap could play out. And while thinking, signs of hesitations should surface. Observing the level of hesitation in somebody else was usual fare for Lavallée.

Tullius understood his defeat and started flattering Lavallée with his mask without a trace of hesitation. In fact, before the Count made any requests, he took an extreme measure of removing the collar of a slave.

That was simply too quick. He should not have had enough time to come up with a countermeasure. Indeed, it was abnormal.

“So is this what you are trying to say? Tullius might take action even after being caught in our plan?”

Perhaps a way to reverse the situation?
Which means that was what he was thinking of when he realised his defeat.

“That would be the best interpretation of the situation.”

The Marquis nodded.

“Also, your younger brother had freed his slave ― Lady Anrietta ― by his own hands. Which means the possibility of him aiming to recover her is low. Therefore, the other possibility is……you understand now?”

“......In order to escape from the next phase of our scheme, he will try to escape from the capital.”

Linus made a small moan.
It was no joke. There was no other better opportunity than now to murder Tullius. He had few people with him and was far from his stronghold. If they let him escape now, he could run back to his base and play hide-and-seek from there. If he managed to get away, he would restart his progress on forming his own faction. It would become exponentially more difficult to target him.

This was not expected. That he ― a demon who massacred all his slaves, except for her being the exception ― would abandon her and run away.

…...Seems like he would run away. After all, it was about protecting his life as a noble. It seemed  that he could not be concerned with a single slave nor his honour. If he chose to take her back, that would mean pitting against Count Cartan. Not only was it a losing fight, but it would also cost him time too. If he prioritises his own life, he would not do something as meaningless as that.

He would not do anything meaningless. Right, that was a principle of his.

“So, I believe there is a chance that the brat ― your brother, would attempt to flee tomorrow.”

Oh, so that was what the Marquis was concerned with.
If that was the case, then it makes sense that it was an urgent business. It was certainly important enough for him to call him out even though it was in the middle of the night, not to mention his wedding night. Still, it was a separate matter altogether on whether he can pleasantly receive the Marquis.

“I shall instruct my men to tighten surveillance on him. At the same time, as my right of the head of the family, I shall inspect all forms of letters in advance.”

He could easily make an excuse that he has to make contact with his fief. In fact, the wheat harvest was nearing. He could say he has gotten wind of the population rioting and escape from the capital. Even if he tried to investigate the matter later, he could report that it was resolved with a discussion.

In order to safeguard against that, it was essential that he use his authority to keep his letters and ensure he is never able to read them.

If worst comes to worst, he could fabricate a letter, but that would not work if he keeps up surveillance on him and prepares for it. In this circumstance, he could also question the origins of the letter.

Lavallée seemed to have the same opinion.

“That should be fine. I shall also send people who are good at acting stealthily.”

“......I am greatly in your debt.”

Linus lowered his head while hiding his annoyance. He wasn’t about to welcome the Marquis’ spies in his own mansion. However, if this was the price to pay for cornering Tullius, there was no reason for him to decline.

“Well, let’s go as planned.”

“Yes. Let us prolong his stay until we are ready to strike again.”

The plan was to trap Tullius until the faction he was making at Marlan loses contact with him and are alienated, while further plotting against him directly in the capital.

The doll-like maid not being able to act as shackles were beyond their forecast, but the conspiracy will proceed nonetheless.

Anrietta Pola Carta. No, the Silver Wolf.

He had sent an adventurer group called “Band of Green” to investigate and they reported that she wasn’t a threat but there was no way he would believe that. After all, she was a monster that had lived on for 11 years as a slave of the Slave Murderer. She probably knew how to conceal her abilities. The dimwits he sent must have been deceived by her acting.

Linus was fully aware that many of the things that Tullius did in the shadows were likely 80 or 90 percent carried out by her and that she was extraordinary as can be inferred from her nickname.

It was sufficient to have removed her from Tullius. All he has to do now is to make a fine meal of him, who was isolated in his territory.

The sense of victory drawing near was intoxicating enough to make up for Linus’ ruined wedding night.

Nevertheless, Lavallée had to be a wet blanket and gave him some final words,

“......Do not let your guard down.”

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