“About last year, there was a sudden fire in the house where the mother and daughter lived, and the house collapsed without a chance to escape.”
“Did the house collapse?”
Anastasia asked, doubting her ears.
“Then the priestess and her daughter…”
“It was a situation that couldn’t even be rescued.”
Wilhelm shook his head with regret.
“They are dead, probably. Everyone in the village thinks so.”
“But then, Lady Hazel…”
“There are two cases. First, Lady Hazel survived the fire.”
“… Maybe Lady Hazel is not the real High Priest’s daughter.”
Anastasia questioned with an absurd expression.
“Then who is Lady Hazel? If she isn’t Hazel’s family, or the daughter of the dead High Priest, then…”
Her identity fell into the labyrinth. Anastasia was confused for a moment, then opened her mouth.
“For now, the only answer is to interrogate Count Hazel.”
“We need a good reason…”
“There is. Count Hazel fabricated her birth when he adopted Hazel.”
Anastasia shared what she had been told by Mrs. Rochester.
“Of course, it’s not that big of a problem, but you can catch any number of mistakes.”
“Okay, leave the interrogation to me.”
“Are you going to do it yourself?”
“That way, Count Hazel will know the seriousness of the situation.”
Wilhelm concluded with a meaningful smile.
“… So, you dare me to punish you for lying about the birth of an adopted child.”
Count Hazel, trembling with fear at his solemn voice, sat still, unable to hold his head properly. Wilhelm, who was staring down at him in front of him, continued.
“You don’t know how absurd it is to cheat and adopt someone who is not your relative, and say she is the real one chosen by the Goddess.”
“You’re wrong, Your Majesty. I just… I hated seeing a child wandering the streets…”
Count Hazel, trembling with his pathetic face, begged for forgiveness, but Wilhelm was expressionless.
“If that was the case, it would have been better to clearly state the identity of the child. Why didn’t you?”
“If you can’t answer clearly, you become very suspicious. It even raises suspicions that the Count may have used Lady Hazel to do something unsavory.”
“Wait, it’s nothing bad. Absolutely not, Your Majesty the Emperor!”
“Then you have no choice but to answer honestly. Why did you lie and adopt a commoner child with no ties as a distant relative?”
Count Hazel’s lips closed like a conch. In fact, his revealing the full story of this case was nothing more than allowing Avelin to reveal his secrets.
‘I know that the Count is embezzling the subsidy from the northwest region.’
Because of the geographical conditions in the northwest region, families regularly entered, and the imperial family had been sending subsidies every year through the Hazel estate in the middle of the imperial capital and the northwest region.
It was a method of first sending subsidies from Hazel’s estate to the northwest and then charging them to the imperial family.
The Hazel family had consistently fabricated the amount of support, but has so far survived periodic audits thanks to artistic levels of accounting manipulation and bribery.
It was like that’s what happened..
A commoner girl who came to him a few months ago saying she had something to say shook his rich life.
“What would happen if His Majesty knew about this?”
“Hey, you’re a commoner. Who are you to dare to threaten me now?”
“Of course, but I’m not saying this without evidence.”
“What evidence do you have?”
“Well, wasn’t there a thief in the office where Hazel’s accountant worked a while ago?”
“What? How can you…!”
His bones shriveled. However, it was true that an important secret ledger was missing due to a sudden theft, and the Hazel family was turned upside down.
Rosenberg was particularly sensitive to embezzlement of public money. If the crimes committed so far were discovered, the entire family’s property would be confiscated and his life would end on the guillotine.
The mere thought of it made Count Hazel swallow his silence without realizing it. He soon came to a quick conclusion.
“What do you want?”
“Now we understand each other a bit.”
Avelin smiled and nodded quickly.
“Please adopt me as the Count’s adopted daughter.”
“You can hide my identity. A distant relative of the Count living abroad lost her parents and was adopted by the count.”
“What you want… That’s all?”
Count Hazel, who naturally thought she would ask for gold and silver treasures, became puzzled. Avelin nodded.
“Please do so without complaining. Well, you better not think of hurting me. I made arrangements so that, if there was a problem with my safety, the ledger would be sent to the Emperor as soon as possible.”
In fact, he hadn’t even thought about it, so the realization stabbed Count Hazel who sunk without realizing it.
Seeing this, Avelin smiled and said.
“I promise. If you accept me as a true new family member, the Count will enjoy greater glory than he is now.”
Those words became reality. Not long after his daughter was adopted, the empire was shaken up by Avelin suddenly claiming she was the woman of the new oracle…
‘But, according to the maids who were taking care of her, there were no signs of the rose…’
But he couldn’t help but question it. It was because Avelin quietly pressured him and only thoroughly enforced the crackdown on the tenants of her mansion.
In any case, as Avelin drew attention, the Hazel family also gained a higher status in the social world, but Count Hazel, who knew the truth, was simply anxious and trembling.
“I didn’t think you would want to say anything, so it would be quicker to research your family thoroughly.”
Wilhelm’s words that he heard at that time broke his thoughts. Count Hazel fell flat on his knees in front of Wilhelm with a ‘huh’ sound.
“Sir, please save me, Your Majesty…!”
“Why are you doing this? When did I say I was going to kill you?”
Wilhelm inquired naturally, but to Count Hazel the words of a thorough investigation of the house sounded like a death sentence.
In any case, to concentrate on one family and turn them into an imperial family that did not normally personally carry out investigations meant they would search every corner. The fact of his own embezzlement will surely be discovered.
Count Hazel, who was suffering from a situation where he couldn’t do anything, soon opened his mouth with a determined expression.
“If I confess… Are you going to be generous?”
“Only you confess.”
Wilhelm nodded his head, thinking that he would spare his life.
“You shall be rewarded for that.”
Count Hazel’s expression brightened, who misunderstood that he would protect his life as well as his property.
“I have something to tell you about my adopted daughter.”
At that time, the atmosphere at Anastasia’s annual meeting was extremely ferocious.
“Why the hell is Lady Hazel here?”
“I mean. Anyway, Her Majesty is kind. If it were me, I would have told her to go away.”
“Hold it, wait. Anyway, isn’t this situation itself, that Lady Hazel, gave up on being Empress and came to do so?”
“Of course she’d fold! The Empress is still alive and well.”
It was a small voice, but it was so sharp that she could hear everything.
But Avelin smiled calmly and spoke to Anastasia.
“Thank you for the invitation, Your Majesty. I’ve always wanted to attend Your Majesty’s tea party, and it’s an honor.”
“It’s alright, Lady Hazel.”
“Oh, I brought you a thank-you gift for the invitation…”
Anastasia looked suspiciously at the box Avelin was offering.
It was an amethyst necklace. Recalling what happened at Wilhelm’s last birthday, Anastasia laughed involuntarily.
“It seems that the Lady really likes purple.”
“I thought it would suit the Empress. I was sorry that I couldn’t wear the necklace well even though the necklace was beautiful.”
Avelin added with a grin.
“Oh, if you don’t mind, I’d like to put it on for you.”
At the same time, Avelin drew close to Anastasia’s back with the amethyst necklace.
Because the dress covered up to the collarbone, it was not so easy to find the necklace inside.
‘But who am I?’
After all, it was a body that once made quite a savory profit by pickpocketing. She was confident in stealing.
‘Pretending to hang a new necklace on her neck, I can secretly take the Goddess’ necklace.’
At last, an amethyst necklace hung over Anastasia’s neck. As she slowly pulled out her hand, Avelin slid the unclasped Goddess’ necklace through her long sleeves.
“Wait a minute.”
It was that moment. Avelin was frozen, startled by the strong grip on her wrist.
Then, taking advantage of Avelin’s inability to move, Selene pulled Anastasia’s necklace from the sleeve on the side of her wrist.
But the reason that shocked Avelin now was not simply the dismay of the revelation of a petty crime.
Even this situation facing her now didn’t feel so serious. Compared to the fact that the voice she just heard belonged to someone she knew.
“What are you doing, Lady Hazel?”
Avelin slowly turned her head, looking as pale as a sheet.
She could see Selene, still holding her wrist, staring fiercely at her.
At that moment, Avelin was in shock as if her mind was convulsing, and as a result, her lips twitched like a goldfish that came up to the air.
“Uh, uh, uh, uh…!”
“Your Majesty, she dared to…”
Eventually, the fear reached its limit. Avelin lost her mind on the spot at the end of the final scream.