039 The burning capital? (Final) p.3

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The skies were covered in a gloomy gray. There were still parts of the city that were still burning. The river beneath the windows was murkier than usual and the stench of death was strong. The shores were swept up with dust and ashes. At the fire devastated areas, there were children crying for their parents and mothers looking for their children. There were people grieving for their lost ones and the anguished cries of the burned. Broussonne looked like this now. The 500 years old city had descended to such a state.
―How did this happen?

As the carriage wobbled, Marquis Lavallee lamented. He had never expected to witness the city in such a condition. Aged and exhausted, he was wearing mourning robes and was on his way to the funeral at the Pontauban estate. He acted as the matchmaker for their daughter, so he had the responsibility to attend their funeral. Also, he also had many things to discuss with Linus, the person in charge of organising the funeral in place of his wife.

Using the funeral as an excuse, he wanted to discuss the developments of the present and future, as well as the attempted assassination on Tullius. There were outrageous rumours that Marquis Lavallee was the one who sent assassins after Tullius spreading among the nobles.

The nobles were saying that Marquis Lavallee bore a grudge against the ‘Slave Murderer’ for embarrassing him during the trial and thus, hired assassins to take advantage of the chaos to strike at Tullius. In truth, there were many families belonging to the decentralist faction who were attacked during the upheaval, so many were inclined to think there was a conspiracy. Surely others would think that Marquis Lavallee would make use of the situation and deal with his enemies.

Of course, all of it was complete nonsense. Firstly, all of his plots against Tullius were mainly political plots. He was not at a level of desperation where he needed to assassinate him. Yet, there was circumstantial evidence showing that he was involved.

First of all, the 3 men that had their heads lopped off by the slave when they managed to stab Tullius were undoubtedly men sent by him. They were tasked with keeping an eye on Tullius. His plan to have them keep a closer eye on Tullius while the revolt was occuring backfired on him. On paper, these men were temporary hires for the Oubeniel family. But nobles that were politically involved against him had recognised these men as his spies. This applied to his allies in the centralist faction too.

Another pain point was that he had unknowingly spoken on the communication device without knowing Linus was on the other side. Hence, the greenhorn noble, Linus, had a strong suspicion that he had ordered it. Linus was not as foolish as to go around spreading that, but naturally, Linus would more or less reveal some parts of it through his behaviour and attitude. What would the other nobles think when they pick up on it? Just thinking about it made him worry.

And the worst part of it...was actually stabbing Tullius.

That slave maid was an adventurer famous enough to have a nickname. Anybody who had investigated would know of her fanatic devotion to her master. Even without investigation, one would have heard about it from the scandal at the Cartan family. An uninformed person might be curious after that scandal and look into it after that uproar. News about an illegitimate child of a Count family who denied status and returned to being a slave would have made multiple rounds among the gossipy city dwellers. In any case, Tullius Oubeniel was being protected by this woman when he was attacked.

People with shallow minds would conclude that this happened because Tullius was being protected by a slave, and a woman no less. And then, they would laugh at Uni, who was now infamous, while ridiculing Tullius, who was fine with being waited upon by Uni.

As for those with greater imagination or adventurers with more experience regarding matters like this, it would be no laughing matter. Even though she was ranked C, she was a special individual with a nickname. It was reserved for the very top of adventurers, the monster amongst adventurers. The assassins were able to slip pass such a bodyguard and almost managed to succeed. How many people within the capital were capable of planning such a feat?

Surely there was only 1 such person. And that had to be Lavallee.

(Hmph...only at times like do these bastards have a high opinion of me.)

Such assumptions were troubling for him and yet, many people he knew would believe it. Chambrey had approached him asking respectfully if it was true and Langogne and others were furiously saying that they would not forgive the guys who burned the capital. They were indirectly saying that he was the one who did it. Mahrbea, who was relatively closer to him, seemed to be half in doubt.

The bigshot Marquis Balbastre from the decentralist faction had also come forward asking for an explanation about it. How could he explain it?

During the last meeting, they were discussing how to deal with Tullius. He had explained to the centralist faction members that they would need some defensive measures. And he did say that he had a high opinion of that youth, so he would not kill him. Even if that was not the case, as long as he announced beforehand that it was somebody else’s deed, then he would be able to refute it later. If not for that, then in order to reduce suspicions, he might have to, for example, specifically criticise Linus.

Everything was about the flip side, the flip side and the flip side.

Throughout Lavallee’s entire life, this blunder was a rare one. The last major mistake he made was six years ago, when the crown prince Ray was assassinated. Hmm, considering the damage done to the capital and to his position, this might be equivalent to the defeat they faced 50 years ago.

Coming up with plans to reorganise themselves would take a considerable amount of time. He would need to regain the trust of the members from the centralist faction and merge the hardliners and moderates in the royal court. He would also need to cautiously pacify the decentralist faction, who are surely going to make use of this incident to attack his faction. Money is also a concern since the city needs to be reconstructed and affected nobles need to be compensated. Ah, and an investigation on why the imperial guards were dispatched late. Apparently the First Order made trouble so he needs to reduce their authority. In the first place, these blockheads were not legitimate children nor were they capable enough to work in their family business. Rather than have those idiots lead, he needs to expand the powers of the other Orders. Lastly, plans need to be made in case neighbouring countries try to take advantage of their situation…

While his hands were going to be busy, he would be giving Tullius free rein.

“Don’t tell me it was him...”

Lavallee muttered gravely.

Tullius nearly died because of the assassins and was leaving the capital under the pretext of recovering from injuries. Who benefited the most from this event?

Without overthinking, the decentralist faction would have much to gain from the cracks and fissures in the centralist faction. Next were the powers outside the Kingdom who could benefit from their chaos. There should not be a reason for either party to go as far as to burn the capital though. If it was brought to light that an external country was involved in the burning of another country’s capital, that external country would be heavily criticised. It was also meaningless to start a revolution and have the rioters target a mere Viscount, Tullius.

What about the commoners? Ridiculous. Most of the people who lost their lives or their homes were the commoners. The damage to nobles was hardly worth mentioning in comparison. The activists oppressed the commoners under the banner of righteousness but barely shook the noble society. While shouting that they were doing it for commoners, they harmed commoners and left behind a ‘present’ before leaving. Those noisy activists were real idiots. They gained nothing out of it too.

Then the only person to benefit was Tullius. He received a serious wound but survived. Furthermore, he was now escaping the hands of Linus and himself, who were targeting his life.

He was stabbed in the chest? Narrowly avoided death? Quite unfathomable. He had an experienced master swordsman by his side.

“Uni the Silver Wolf”. She was the one who claimed that she had slain the 3 spies who injured Tullius. From his investigations, he had come to the conclusion that she played a part in Tullius’ slave torturing or human experimentation. After dissecting many humans and killing them, it would not be strange for them to discover a way to injure without killing.

Additionally, the rioters' movements were fishy. Just a week prior, they were just a loud bunch of people making a ruckus. How did they expand in influence so quickly and turn into an armed uprising? The expansion in their influence and radicalisation of the members were all too sudden.

Lavallee was well aware of a similar incident. Yes, the creation of Tullius’ faction was similar.

No matter how he thought about it, he could not wrap around his head as to why that many nobles would want to have friendly ties with the infamous “Slave Murderer”. The bizarre flow of events in the creation of Tullius’ faction was eerily similar to transformation of the activists in Broussonne.

Now that he thought about it, the trial was weird too. Cartan kept saying the wrong things and Tullius was able to bring out numerous impossible evidence. Even if Josephine wanted to protect her child, it was unthinkable why she would team up with that slave, a youthful and pretty girl who was the splitting image of her old enemy. All the more suspicious if the plan would lead to her husband’s downfall. His trump card, Anrietta, appeared to have gone mad and was of no use.


A cold thought flashed through his mind.

The nobles who fell into his plans, Count Cartan and his wife, the witnesses at the trial, Anrietta, the activists and the people. All of them behaved strangely. So long as he removed the possibility of magic, they were all impossibilities.

Also, Victor. Regarding that illegitimate child, as far as he knew, he was not inclined to side with Tullius. Victor had agreed to pretend to obey Tullius and remain in secret contact with him. How could Victor have not sent a single letter back to the capital and focus completely on taking care of Marlan? It was even more absurd that he would leak information on who else were spies.

He had no evidence. This theory was incredulous. If he randomly told others about this, people might think he was becoming old and senile.

“I could get evidence by...”

He had to get his hands on that first and foremost. He might have to consult the court magician, adventurers who were magicians and possibly, as much as he hated it, the St. Gallen Magic Academy on brainwashing magic, especially the kind that relates to alchemy. From there, he would come up with a new plan, find evidence and execute him.

This would take a bone-breaking amount of effort. He might instead prefer to have him assassinated...but that was off the cards. Uni and Due acted as Tullius’ bodyguards and Tullius himself was an expert at alchemy. Moreover, the Kingdom’s nobles have increased measures against poisoning after the crown prince’s assassination. This meant that both direct assassination and poisoning were impossible.

However, if he did nothing and stood watch, that “Man-eating Snake” would devour the entire kingdom. Currently, Tullius’ faction was considerably smaller in influence than both his faction and the accursed decentralist faction. Still, their ability to grow was on another level. Before they scaled up, he had to nip them in the buds.

To Marquis Lavallee, that abnormal alchemist was now a sworn enemy that needed to be given maximum priority.

Lavallee’s carriage moved along the road by the side of the river. Along the way, two other carriages passed by. The carriage carried the crest of the Oubeniel family.


Lavallee controlled himself to not glare at the carriages. He did not want the other party, who was surely the person he had been thinking about, to get an inkling of his plans.

The nobles who passed by each other in the carriage were headed in completely opposite directions. One of them was crossing the bridge of Amon River and leaving the capital. The other was entering the noble street to attend a funeral.

“Damn snake, I will definitely catch you by the tail…!”

The Marquis muttering, not heard by anybody else, was mixed with the sound of the wheels rolling.

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