When he saw the coffin, the old duke’s second son, Peders, couldn’t hold it in any more; he fell before the coffin, crying as loud as he could.
Celder, however, frowned at his brother.
He maintained his countenance as he walked over to his brother’s side. He tapped his brother’s shoulder before turning around to Mary, saying, “Forgive him, Your Highness. Peders forgot his manners due to father’s death.”
Mary nodded without a clear remark when she saw the blood in the coffin.
The blood was fresh, no coagulation, and the joints and muscles weren’t hardened, as if the old duke had really died not too long ago.
Ellen, Mary’s mother, taught her much about dead bodies. The knowledge came afloat in her mind as she inspected the old duke. She then looked at Kieran, her eyes showing disbelief of the scene.
“Fantasies are always beautiful. Reality is always cruel. But sometimes, it is much crueller than you can imagine.”
Kieran touched Mary’s head, pointed at the coffin and continued, “A while before we came in, this person here was alive. He was walking back and forth here because of the nervousness, but it did not ease his anxiety at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, for the situation outside made him even more restless. He was a little regretful but couldn’t make up his mind to risk his life. When he saw the formless presence fall to the ground, he despaired and wanted comfort, and coincidentally… this place had it. Wine is perfect for easing nervousness, so he uncorked a bottle without a second thought and drank it all. Then his son walked in. He was still lost when he saw his son, but his son, on the other hand, had made up his mind. Other than death, what else could be considered as an important matter? Nothing. And when it concerned his own death… Staying alive was more important to this son, to the point that he would throw away his kinship.”
Kieran’s voice was calm, but the things he said were somehow unacceptable to some, striking chills without actual coldness in people’s hearts.
“Sir 2567, what are you talking about? My father died a while ago, so how could something like you said happen here?” Celder angrily shouted at Kieran.
At this moment, Celder presented himself as a warrior because he should possess courage when confronting someone that could rival an army on his own.
It would be commendable if he weren’t tough on the outside and scared on the inside. It was nothing but an act.
When Kieran’s gaze came, Celder cringed.
“I’m sorry, Sir 2567. Because of my father’s death…”
“…You didn’t have time to clean up the broken wine bottle on the floor, so you shoved all the pieces under the coffin. In order to cover the alcoholic smell, you purposely took out wine for the offering and placed it in the most obvious place so that when people came into this tent, the first thing they would see would be the wine, thinking that the smell came from there,” Kieran interrupted Celder before he could finish.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Celder shouted again.
This time, his shout made him look extra vicious.
“Don’t know? Nevermind. Move the old duke’s hand. You might have had the time to clean the broken bottle but not to change your father’s clothes. The most you could do was cover the body with an extra shirt but the stab marks in his undershirt should still be there. Most importantly, your sword. Did you make sure to clean your sword? Even if you did, do you have the ability to change the sword marks on Old Duke Will’s body?” Kieran was being calm as usual.
However, amidst his calm voice, Celder started to tremble.
Especially when Peders found the broken bottle pieces under the coffin and saw the sword marks when moving aside the old duke’s hand.
“B-B-Brother, can you show your sword?” Peders asked his brother.
His voice was also trembling and even stuttering when asking.
“You believe an outsider over me? I am your brother!” Celder shouted again.
Peders obviously jolted when his brother shouted at him, and during this minor break in his demeanor, Celder drew his sword.
After the loud unsheathing sound, the blood-stained blade was placed against Peders’ neck while Celder quickly moved behind his younger brother.
“Why, brother?” Peders muttered softly as if his soul were drawn away when he saw the faint bloodstains on the blade against his neck.
“Why? Don’t you know what father intended to do just now? He wanted to beg for forgiveness with his life and mine, and give you the entire Will Prefecture! Why? I also want to know why! I worked with the utmost effort, exhausting all my energy. And you? You enjoyed all the good things father and I gave you, living a carefree life, and even causing problems endlessly. Each time that happened, father and I had to stand up for you, cleaning up your mess! And yet, at the very last moment, he wanted to entrust to you the entire Will Prefecture!?”
Celder was shouting ferociously at his brother. He then looked at Mary.
“Your Highness, please move. Also, please restrict Sir 2567 from moving. I want to leave this place. As long as I can get away safely, I’ll let Peders go,” Celder shouted.
Unconsciously, the southerners started to open a path for Celder, who had gone awry.
Mary and Kieran didn’t move.
The young princess frowned tightly, looking at Celder with utmost disgust. Kieran didn’t alter his countenance at all.
“I think you’re mistaken with three things. First, your father bringing you to Mary and asking for forgiveness was to stabilize the situation. Mary wouldn’t really punish you two, at most putting you behind bars. After losing the two of you, Peders would be left with the entire House of Will, and obviously would be a big fat piece of meat for the other barons here, should they have the intentions. As long as they had the intentions to take over, given your brother’s character, he would surely fall and be placed at a disadvantage. He would seek help throughout the lands, yet others would nibble away at his authority and lands until things would have entered Mary’s ears. Whether it is Mary’s character or for the sake of stabilizing the south, there is a big chance that she would have released you or your father.”
Kieran’s calm voice made Celder’s sword-wielding hand tremble.
Celder never thought of all of this under his rash impulsiveness, and now that he did, all those thoughts were replaced by regret.
Clenching his teeth, Celders panted.
“What about the second thing?” Celder asked, unwilling.
He wanted to know what other kinds of mistakes he made.
“Seizing your brother as hostage… But what does he have to do with me!?”
The moment Kieran’s voice subsided, his figure vanished from the spot.
Celder panicked but before he even moved a muscle, Kieran was already behind him.
The crow feathered mantle fluttered to a slow fall due to the rapid movement.
Celder suddenly felt that his hand was empty. While he was in disbelief over his brother vanishing from his hand, a red line crossed his neck.
Blood gushed as his head flew up high before falling down to the ground.
“Third, you overestimated your strength,” said Kieran, who was already beside Mary after the kill.
As his hand swung the blade, the blood on it drew a red line on the ground.