6 – 1
The daughter of Count Storm, Camilla Storm, is a villain.
A hateful and faithless wench who tried to tear apart the Second Prince Julian and his one true love Liselotte, the daughter of a baron. She was a detestable woman, stubborn as a mule and malicious as a snake. Now, that most dangerous and calamitous of all women still vied for power, even ensnaring a duke in her wiles.
– To think that such a ridiculous thing would end up happening. Has there ever been such a perfect irony before?
He had been taken in by her words. That was the first mistake they made.
She should have been disposed of straight away before she even had the chance to open her mouth.
After all, Camilla Storm had to be the villain.
“…Gerda has escaped!?”
The uprising had started three days ago.
Alois, who was buried in written reports that piled up on his desk, heard the last thing he had wanted to hear.
The new report said that the residence she was being held at in the capital had been attacked and Gerda had been freed. The senior maid and manservant who had been imprisoned alongside her had also gone missing. It was safe to assume they had gone with whoever had freed them from their captors.
“Didn’t I specifically order the number of guards to be increased!? I said that she would be an obvious target!”
Alois yelled at the servant who had entered his office to deliver the message.
The supposed reason for the rebellion was dissatisfaction with Alois’ rule. In particular, he was said to be unfair in his dealings with the family members of prominent houses.
He had treated Gerda, an elder member of the Lörrich family, as a criminal despite a distinct lack of conclusive evidence. He had also treated a senior maid in his employ, a cousin of the head of the Meyerheim family, in the same way. What’s more, Alois had also dismissed a lot of servants who had been devoted to the Montchat family since his father was the Duke.
But the worst crime of all, it seemed, was his firing of Vilmer, who was the second son of the House of Meyerheim. The Meyerheim family had always insisted on Vilmer being involved in Alois’ administrative affairs, as a way they could influence his policy decisions.
That’s why he thought Gerda would be an obvious target, considering she was ‘unfairly detained’. Even though the duchy’s capital was still loyal to him, he had still insisted on doubling security in the case of an emergency.
“Ah… y-yes, that was c-certainly the case, however…”
Alois noticed how the young attendant trembled after he raised his voice at him. He may have spoken louder than he realized. Taking a deep breath, he made a conscious effort to calm his voice as he called out to him again.
“…Gerda was supposed to be detained in one of the residences in the capital. I specifically ordered a guard set around it, and I hadn’t heard any word of an attack in the town, have I? So just how did they spirit Gerda away?”
“Yes… That is… well, it appears to have been an inside job… Several people who worked at the residence have also gone missing since the incident…”
Alois crossed his arms. He didn’t answer him back straight away, but he chewed his lip in obvious frustration.
Gerda and Vilmer had been the two senior most servants of the Montchat family. There must be a number of people, even in the capital, that sympathize with them. Despite the news of Gerda attempting to poison Alois being widespread at this point, there are still some who refuse to believe it.
They say that the real culprit had to be Camilla. Camilla had poisoned him, then pinned the blame on Gerda. Ever since Camilla came to Mohnton, Alois had slowly begun to lose his mind. So, perhaps if Camilla was driven out and Gerda was returned to her rightful place, then all this unrest could be fixed? That wasn’t a rare opinion, even in the capital.
But, it wasn’t one he could ignore. Even though he had expected some form of a backlash, he naively thought that he could find an understanding with those that opposed him. But, in reality, a revolt had risen up across the Duchy and even people in the capital, which was under his direct rule, had begun to suspect Alois.
Good lord or not, he had been made painfully aware just how fragile a reputation that was to sit upon.
In the minds of many of his people, Alois was inferior to Gerda and Vilmer. Thinking about his failure to earn that trust and respect he sorely needed in a situation like this, Alois was disappointed in himself.
Just as Camilla had always said to him, Alois was a man who was insincere, always hiding his feelings in masquerade. He wasn’t the sort of person who could move the hearts of others. Even if he let Camilla into his heart, even if he said he wanted to change, it wasn’t a thing that could happen overnight. What’s more, it’s not as if everyone could suddenly see the effort Alois was making either.
It was incredibly frustrating, but there was nothing Alois could do about that now.
“Lord Alois, is there something wrong?”
His attendant spoke out, concerned with just how silent Alois had become.
“You must be tired after all, my Lord? It would be better if you were to take some rest…”
For the past few days, ever since he received word of the rebellion, Alois hadn’t slept a wink as he attempted to tackle the issue. He couldn’t deny that he was physically and mentally exhausted.
Yet, Alois was still the Duke. Shaking his head, Alois smiled as he tried to reassure him.
“No, it’s nothing.”
He couldn’t allow what he had changed to regress back to the status quo of the past.
The rebels’ demands were to restore all those servants he had dismissed, as well as to clear Gerda of any guilt and have her also return to her position. What’s more, to hold a trial for the ‘true culprit’, that being Camilla.
To get straight to the point, what they wanted was to dispose of Camilla and have Alois once again living with Gerda’s hands around his throat. Their demands weren’t something Alois could even entertain. The messenger whom the rebellion’s conspirators had sent to negotiate with him had also been rebuked.
With that bridge being burned, the only thing that could be done was to face it head on. If Alois lost this battle, the one who would be in the most danger was Camilla.
“In any case, about Gerda. They can’t have gone far in such a short time. Send out riders to find out where she is. After that, we need to figure out exactly who the missing servants are, then…”
Alois worked without pause. He had always been a hardworking person, but these past few days he barely left his office at all.
The reports came in an endless stream, and he was constantly asked for new commands. There was no time to eat or sleep at all. Of course, that naturally meant that he hadn’t the time to see Camilla either. The situation being as it was, that was understandable.
– I want to help him.
Was there anything that she could do for Alois’ sake? She had been constantly thinking about it.
But, Camilla’s wish would be granted in a way she could least expect.
It was the same night that the news of Gerda’s escape had broken, as the urgently dispatched messengers of the royal family arrived.
Final arc time (´･ω･`)