4 (3) – 10
Just as expected, a trap had been laid.
It was easy to assume there were one or two people who had betrayed them. Ever since the vigilante militia had foreseen their trip to the florist, he had made that prediction.
Judging from the timing of the information leak, it had to be one of the musicians or Mia. Even if it was someone out of the six, they were acting on someone else’s behalf.
He still wasn’t sure if they had been betrayed by multiple people or just one person alone. Or perhaps Franz’s hands had already reached all of them?
He had enjoyed his time spent in that cellar, but he had never let his guard down. He hadn’t feigned his interest in the young musicians’ dreams or his admiration of their passion. But still, he always held onto his suspicions. Perhaps that was just the nature of one born to the House of Lörrich?
But whilst he had suspicions of the others, he trusted Alois and Camilla, as well as her maid Nicole.
That’s why he always made absolutely sure that when he went out, one of those three would be by his side.
Klaus had been proceeding with caution for some time.
He made sure he was never completely alone. Avoiding taking on any work or responsibilities that would leave him isolated, he favoured going to places with as many people as possible. What’s more, he never accepted any of his uncle’s invitations. Even if he was directly invited to his study, he always found an excuse to decline.
He’d had conversations with Franz. However, he had flat out rejected the offer to ‘talk alone’, always bringing a guard or two with him.
Eventually, he knew that his uncle would grow impatient by how stubbornly he was defending himself. But, there was no way they could have let the festival go off without a hitch. It was being held in the name of ‘Celebrating Klaus’ appointment as the successor’, after all. Their pride and honour wouldn’t allow Klaus to make such a conclusive statement in so public a manner.
The reason why Klaus had proposed a festival in the first place was that he knew that something ‘bright’ and ‘fun’ would more easily provoke his uncle’s short temper.
He had to have hated it. It must have been like an itch constantly crawling under his skin. He must want to dispose of Klaus who was so stubbornly opposing him as quickly as possible.
Eventually, he would have reached the limits of his patience.
That time seemed to have come.
The sounds that resounded from the plaza were angry yells alongside the sounds of things toppling over and crashing to the ground. Victor and the other young vigilantes rushed back out of the alleyway in a panic.
Klaus also turned to follow them back to the square. Being one of the first ones to enter the alleyway, it made sense he was one of the last to leave. Camilla must have been the same.
When Camilla saw Klaus behind her, she called out to him in sheer worry.
“Do you know where Lord Alois is!? I haven’t caught sight of him this whole time! He wasn’t with this group either, perhaps, do you think he got caught up in the…!?”
Camilla’s complexion turned pale as her words trailed off. The thought that Alois might have come to harm left her speechless.
Thinking back, he had seen Camilla looking all over the square for Alois earlier. It wasn’t as if they were always together with one another. What’s more, they had different jobs to do today. It should have been fine if they were apart for a while… But, he didn’t expect to see that look on Camilla’s face.
“Camilla, that guy is-”
Despite his jealousy towards Alois for being so fortunate to have Camilla worry about him, he felt a sense of guilt as he heard Camilla’s words as well, so he turned around to say something to her.
As he turned, he wasn’t particularly looking at anything. His eyes simply wandered.
But, the words Klaus wanted to say stuck in his throat. He took a deep breath and then sighed, pretending as if he hadn’t noticed it.
Klaus didn’t look at Camilla as he spoke. His gaze was fixed behind her, in the shadows of the vacant lot.
“You should go ahead.”
“There’s something else I want to look into here.”
He tried to hide it, but Camilla noticed just how serious Klaus’ tone was. She didn’t go back down the alleyway, instead, she eyed Klaus dubiously.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s nothing. You should just go ahead and see what’s happening in the square. It sounds like something troublesome is going on there.”
This time, Klaus’ serious gaze centred back on Camilla as he asked her.
“Settle the problem in the square, Camilla. You’re the only one I can rely on.”
Klaus knew that putting it that way was unfair. If he said it like that, it was as if he was forcing Camilla to assume responsibility for whatever happened.
But despite how thunderous her face looked, Camilla bit her lip and nodded.
“I do not know what you’re thinking, but… I understand.”
As Klaus thanked her so sincerely yet so hastily, Camilla frowned. But, deciding not to press him on it further, she ran past him back towards the square, not once turning back around.
Klaus did his best to suppress a smirk as she rushed past him. As she proudly held the ends of her skirt to move as fast as she could, her running form was quite funny looking.
Klaus breathed out as he smiled softly to himself.
Then, he took a deep breath.
“Hey, Franz, this plan of yours wasn’t half bad.”
Klaus shrugged as his voice changed back to his usual frivolous tone. One by one, Franz’s vigilante militiamen stepped out of the shadows of that cluttered lot.
Simply put, Klaus was the one they had wanted to lure here. They needed to pull Klaus away from the very public square to somewhere with far fewer eyes. They wanted him all alone in this deserted place. So, in order to do that, they had to make two distractions.
Of course, there was another reason for the ruckus going on in the square. By no means could Franz allow the festival to go on.
But, ending this festival wasn’t the only aim. With sufficient uproar and a show of force, it would be possible to instil a sense of fear into the townspeople. It would be a bitter pill to swallow for everyone who participated, to see all that preparation come to naught. After this, no one would try to organize another festival.
He was angry. But, the situation being as it was, there wasn’t much he could do about it. Or maybe he was simply satisfied with ensuring Camilla escaped?
“Usually you’re honest to a fault. I can’t say I hate the idea of you scheming outside the box a bit.”
For now, he would put up a front.
With a malicious grin on his face, Klaus looked around at the people who were slowly surrounding him.
There were only five men who surrounded Klaus.
Was it because most of their manpower was being used to break up the festival? Or, were there still more of them hiding somewhere? It was hard to say which it was.
But it was all the same to Klaus. He was no warrior, so fighting against five people was utterly hopeless. It was impossible for him to win in any honest tussle and being confronted like this, it would prove incredibly difficult to pull off any clever trick. It didn’t take long for his only exit from the lot to be cut off behind him. It didn’t seem like even fleeing would be possible now.
Klaus looked around at the faces of the five men around him. One of them who caught his eye was a man he had known for many years.
A man with curly light brown hair, similar to Klaus’. But, he was taller than Klaus with broader shoulders. That expression of nervousness that he stubbornly tried to hide with a frown perhaps revealed his contrary nature.
“Brother, that mouth of yours never changes, does it?”
Franz said that as a grin came to his face. Then, he slowly walked towards Klaus.
Klaus stood on the spot. Was it because of his faith in their blood relationship that he believed he wasn’t going to be immediately murdered? Klaus didn’t shrink back at all even as Franz came eyeball to eyeball with him, though he wondered just what he was going to do.
It wasn’t anything good.
“I’ve wanted to shut it closed for the longest time.”
After letting out the breath he had been holding, Franz slammed a fist into Klaus’ cheek.
Klaus couldn’t stay upright due to the force of the sudden sucker punch. As he fell down, Franz followed and straddled on top of him, grasping the nape of his neck.
Then, turning him over, he forced him to look up at him, into those eyes that were filled with hatred.
“Why couldn’t you have just died back then?”
“Who else would harass you if I was gone?”
As Franz spoke those cold words to him, Klaus laughed mockingly in his face.
It had been nineteen years since Franz was born and it had been a decade since Klaus had failed to die.
The first time these two brothers had openly come to blows was a truly terrible sight to behold.