Chapter 6. A stupid choice

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In the middle of the night, when everyone was asleep, an unexpected person came to visit El. El looked at the person standing in front of her and asked in a low voice, 

 

“I see you’re already up and about, the poison must be very mild, Lady Shanil.”

 

 “Of course. I was very careful about the dosage.”

 

At her answer, El rose from her seat and stood facing her with the iron bars between them. Shanil looked around the prison and burst out laughing.

 

“Now do you understand your situation well? That’s what happens if you don’t know the subject. It’s true, I didn’t like it from the moment Terban brought you in.”

 

“You didn’t come here just to tell me that, did you?”

 

“I’m here to kindly let you know that you don’t have time left.”

 

“I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. It was expected to some extent from the moment that the poison was found from my room.”

 

Shanil was rather angry at her calm appearance. She had come to see El squirm at the sight of her, but El’s reaction was the opposite of what she expected.

 

She was rather nonchalant, even though she had obviously informed her that she was going to die.

 

“As a knight, if you had been satisfied with your position, this would not have happened. So blame it on your stupidity.”

 

“Then why did you care about me, Lady Shanil? As you said, I’m just a knight anyway.”

 

“That’s….”

 

“What in the world were you so afraid of? I was nothing compared to you when you’re always by His Majesty’s side anyway.” (El)

 

Shanil, who was facing El’s sharp gaze, took a step back without realizing it. El didn’t hide her momentum and put more pressure on Shanil.

 

“The only thing that worries me is that there is someone like you by His Majesty’s side. I’m sure you’re the only one he cares about, since he knows nothing about you.” (El)

 

“The person who’s about to die has no choice but to talk. I wonder if you will be so confident even when death approaches. You’re making a mistake right now.”

 

Shenil’s threats were just the same. Because it was Shenil who did this without knowing anything.

 

“No, it’s your mistake. You ended up making something like this that you could have left alone. You are the stupid one.” (El)

 

Having said all she wanted to say, El turned back to her, and Shanil swallowed her indignation at the sight and left the prison.

 

‘Wait and see. You will die in pain in front of the one person you love so much.’

 

***

 

“The capital seems quite noisy.”

 

“Yes. Rather, this is a good time. They won’t be paying more attention to this place away from the capital.”

 

“You’re right.”

 

It was a dark night and the room was not lit, instead only a small light illuminated the interior. So El couldn’t see the room very well, but she could definitely hear the voices of the two men.

 

One man was sitting in front of a large desk in the center of the room, and the other man was standing in front of the desk facing him.

 

“Yes. From what I’ve learned, a knight who was close to His Majesty tried to poison Lady Shanil.”

 

The eyes of the man sitting at the unexpected name were filled with interest.

 

“If it’s Lady Shanil….”

 

“Yes, she is the legitimate daughter of the Duke of Raymir.”

 

“I feel a little sorry for saying this but if it’s the Duke’s daughter, it would have been better to just die.”

 

A sincere sense of regret oozed from his voice as he spoke, leaning his back comfortably against the chair.

 

Because they could have benefited from the unexpected event. Soon, the man’s attention shifted to the knight who tried to poison Shanil.

 

“But that knight is amazing too. I can’t believe he would do such a thing knowing who the woman was.”

 

“The atmosphere in the Imperial Palace seems to be in an uproar over that. The Duke of Raymir and even the other nobles are joining forces to insist on the execution.

 

“I’m sure they are. It’s a natural reaction. So what’s the conclusion?”

 

“It seems to be difficult to avoid the extreme penalty since the evidence and the testimony are clear.”

 

After a few moments of showing interest, or perhaps losing interest, the man in the chair got up from his seat and opened the curtain.

 

A little of the room appeared in the moonlight coming in from outside the window. However, the floor and walls were full of reddish-black marks that anyone could tell it was blood.

 

“We’ll also move quickly in the meantime, and when we’re done here, we can go and see the faces we’ve missed so much.”

 

“Yes, I understand.”

 

The man’s face, which had been shrouded in darkness, appeared briefly in the moonlight.

 

Unlike the words he wanted to see someone he missed, the man’s strange blue-green eyes flashed like a ravenous beast that had found its food.

 

****

 

Terban eventually had to set a trial date for El as evidence emerged that El tried to poison Shenil.

 

However, it was only a formality, and everyone knew that El would be sentenced to the extreme penalty. And so time passed and soon it was the next day.

 

Terban couldn’t sleep, probably because of the trial against El the next day, and he stayed up late at night concentrating on his work.

 

He was looking at the document that was filled with letters, but not a single letter caught his eye.

 

At that moment, someone walked into the emperor’s office without knocking. Terban looked at the person and said calmly, 

 

“Excuse me, Lord Bandel. What’s this about?”

 

“I was told that there will be a trial on El tomorrow.”

 

“That’s right. He’s a sinner now.”

 

“There’s no way El would do such a thing. We need to investigate again.”

 

Bandel walked up to Terban and asked him to do so, but Terban’s voice was still adamant.

 

“The investigation is already finished. From Shenil’s testimony and the circumstances, the only one who could have poisoned her  was El.”

 

“But, Your Majesty, there must be someone else.”

 

“Stop it, Bandel. The same kind of poison that was in the tea was also found in El’s room.”

 

In spite of the inexplicable evidence, Bandel never gave up. He strongly believed that El would never have done it. So he tried to convince Terban somehow. He wanted to save El.

 

“Your Majesty knows better than anyone else that El is not the one to do so. El adores Your Majesty more than anyone else. I don’t know what’s going on, but someone is plotting something behind the scenes.”

 

“Your Majesty.”

 

“It’s all over now, so get out , Bandel.”

 

Bandel clenched his hands tightly in an attempt to hold back his anger at Terban’s calm order, and in the end he was forced to leave.

 

As soon as Bandel left, Terban let go of the pen he was holding. He let out a long sigh and put his hand on his forehead. He was in as complicated a state in his head as Bandel.

 

In fact, Terban wanted to ask El more than anyone else. ‘Why in the world did you do that?’ As soon as the thought occurred to him, Terban couldn’t stand it anymore and got up from his seat and left the office.

 

In his haste he headed somewhere late at night and soon arrived in front of a building.

 

Window bars all over the walls created an unusual atmosphere, and knights firmly guarded the entrance.

 

The knights bowed their heads as soon as Terban appeared, and Terban was able to enter without any restraint.

 

The prison was almost empty for the day, and Terban’s steps took him to the innermost part of the prison. He soon spotted someone familiar inside the prison and stopped in front of her.

 

Perhaps sensing his gaze, the eyes of the person sitting leaning against the wall opened and met Terban’s gaze from the front.

 

“Your Majesty?”

 

El got up in surprise, and soon silence surrounded the two of them. Realizing that it was not her illusion, El bowed to Terban, whom she had not seen in a long time. 

 

“I am pleased to see you, Emperor.”

 

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

 

“Yes.”

 

In spite of their current situation, their conversation was unchanged. It was as if they had met yesterday.

 

Terban carefully observed El, whom he hadn’t seen in a few days. El’s face was much thinner and she looked like she hadn’t slept.

 

Actually, he still couldn’t believe it. It was this situation where he was having a conversation with El through the iron bars like this. 

 

“What brought you here at this hour? Anyway, tomorrow….”

 

“I thought we should meet.”

 

El already knew that tomorrow would be her last day. So she couldn’t understand why Terban came to see her now.

 

“I’m here to ask you something.”

 

“Please ask.”

 

“Why did you do it?”

 

“Why….?”

 

Terban asked directly the question he had been harboring. He wanted to know what El was really thinking. Why in the world did she do it?

 

It was heartbreaking for El to look him straight in the eye and tell him definitively that it was her fault now. She had really become that person in front of Terban’s eyes.

 

In fact, the question seemed really ironic to El, who had been framed. After some time passed with El’s deep thoughts, she decided to give the answer she had already made up in her mind.

 

Even if it was only this time that she had no choice but to act according to Shanil’s intention in order to reveal her true feelings.  

 

So she really hoped for it. Just for this moment, a chance to say this to him personally.

 

After that, even if everything she said would be a lie, even if this life of hers would be over.