Chapter 90.2

“Tell me, how is Genovia faring exactly?” The Emperor of Van Yela, Noyer, inquired, his tense neck receiving the relief of a soothing massage. “Having awakened from the brink of life and death, is she displaying signs of recovery?”

The crimson veins on Duke Irrien’s fist betrayed his escalating frustration. “Is her recovery really the most critical concern at this moment?”

“I never fancied dispatching my daughter to that accursed land every year. Even if the girl insisted on going, Your Majesty could have intervened. I knew one day it would lead to this!” The Duke’s words were laced with resentment.

“It’s not my fault. Your daughter was so…” Noyer wisely halted, swallowing the words he almost uttered.

The transformation of Genovia Irrien, once a shadow following the Duke, into an untouchable figure was a widely known tale in Van Yela’s social circles. Had she been an ordinary noble lady, she might have met her demise at Rezette’s hands long ago. However, being the highest-ranking noble in Van Yela due to the absence of women in the imperial family, Genovia’s status remained. Noyer understood that Rezette’s tolerance of Genovia stemmed from this fact.

Furthermore, Genovia willingly volunteered as an envoy to Rotiara, leaving Noyer with no valid grounds for objection. Nevertheless, it was Noyer’s shortcoming not to anticipate that his younger brother’s patience would eventually wear thin.

The duke, his temper swollen like a toad, honed his words to a sharper edge. “Had I not dispatched a shipment of thorns and ivy, she might have succumbed to suffocation before reaching Norella.”

“Did you truly anticipate all of this amidst your preparations?” Noyer questioned with a measured tone. Thorny vines, renowned for partially nullifying magic, were the only plants known to possess such an effect. In response to the duke’s calm assertion, his eyes ominously widened.

“Are you saying that now? My daughter barely survived, and the visible lump on her throat will be a scar for life. Your Majesty, if not for your brother reducing my daughter to such an extent, would you keep sidestepping the issue?”

“I was merely attempting to convey that in misfortune, there lies some fortune, Duke. I can empathize with the shock you must be feeling.”

Noyer endeavored to pacify his subordinate calmly, fully aware of Rezette Kyrstan’s potentially twisted mindset. The letter sent to the lady whom Rezette had left half a corpse was undoubtedly a cruel mockery. It served as both a warning against intrusive surveillance on his territory and a clear statement that any action detrimental to his possessions would not be tolerated. Given its content, it almost resembled a grand warning directed at Duke Irrien and the imperial family, explaining Duke Irrien’s justified fury.

In the midst of it all, referring to ‘his possession’ undoubtedly meant the Princess of Argan. Despite the initially shocking world-shaking wedding and Rezette’s seemingly lenient demeanor, it appeared that, after a few months, he was asserting complete ownership over her.

Has he surrendered his heart already? This was a man who dared to regard the emperor as if he were an insignificant insect even when the subject of his heir was broached.

“I will summon Rezette Kyrstan separately and subject him to a thorough interrogation. Rest assured, I will ensure he faces a severe punishment,” proclaimed Noyer, only to receive a disdainful snort from Duke Irrien. 

“I reluctantly accepted that Your Majesty handed over Rotiara to a lowly creature. However, your consistent favoritism toward Rezette Kyrstan in every matter, while neglecting Norella and Irrien, is baffling,” he said, voicing his grievances with a pointed tone.

Silence hung heavy in the air, and Noyer found himself caught off guard. “The reason Irrien betrayed His Highness the Crown Prince to support you, who was only the 5th Prince, wasn’t to witness this outcome. Please treat Irrien fairly,” the Duke urged, his words cutting through the quiet tension.

Noyer, attempting to approach discreetly, found himself thwarted and clicked his tongue in frustration. Irrien of Norella stood as the second most significant political asset for Noyer, following closely behind Rezette, and a never-ending source of wealth. Irrien smiled patiently.

“In the end, you seek compensation from my younger brother. Very well. What is it that you desire?” Noyer inquired, prepared to negotiate.

“Please grant custody of the child born to the Princess of Argan to Irrien,” the Duke asserted, leaving Noyer momentarily stunned.

“What?” Noyer exclaimed, initially interpreting it as a misheard request. However, Duke Irrien stood resolute, showing no signs of faltering.

“I should receive, at the very least, this much in exchange for Genovia’s life.”

Initially, Irrien’s strategy revolved around securing Genovia for the Grand Duke, positioning her as both the companion of the Grand Duke and the mistress of Rotiara. This master plan aimed at gaining partial ownership of the revered land, with the stipulation that it mattered little if the Grand Duke had another successor from a different lineage. In fact, it was preferable if he had no successor at all.

The Grand Duke, an almost immortal knight resembling a half-divine being, was unparalleled in history. If such a remarkable figure were to establish a lineage, extending the Grand Duke’s influence beyond the individual to create a legacy, the resultant power, even within Van Yela, would become so formidable that even someone of Irrien’s stature would be unable to recklessly oppose it.

In light of this, the Princess of Argan and the child she bore became nothing more than a hindrance to Duke Irrien. He couldn’t simply stand idly by and witness a dragon ruling the country, surpassing a duke— a grand noble and a founding hero of the nation. Crushing the rebellion outright would have been a more favorable outcome if it succeeded.

Hence, Duke Irrien’s optimal demand to the Emperor was twofold: preventing Rezette Kyrstan’s successor from ascending the throne and, additionally, ensuring Irrien obtained a top-notch dragon.



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