Chapter 46: A Precarious SituaA Barbaric Proposal

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Chapter 46 | A Precarious Situation (2)

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There was a strange air running through bedroom, and with Rienne left alone there with Black, she felt as though she was about to suffocate with every breath.

[Rienne] “……Thank you for your concern. I’m sure you have business you need to attend to, so I’ll be fine here alone.”

[Black] “If you were me, would you be able to just leave, Princess?”

[Rienne] “. . .”

Black took the quiet expression on Rienne’s face as her answer.

[Black] “Lie down. I’ll watch over you from the side.”

After saying that, Black went to the fireplace and pulled out the chair from in front of it, dragging it to the bed and sitting down.

Rienne sat in bed, idly fiddling with the edge of the blanket.

Honestly, Rienne probably could’ve argued more, even if it roused suspicion from him.

She could’ve said, I have a lot work I need to do, so I don’t have the time to worry about the child in my womb right now.

He was not someone who had the right to stop her. Or was it normal to monitor other people under the illusion of worrying for them?

Even then, she could’ve argued that she was the de facto ruler of this place, with the crown presently sitting atop her head and no one else’s. He might be her fiancé, but she was her own person.

But Rienne couldn’t bring herself to say any of that.

Because his worry felt very real.

This man……..didn’t doubt her about this in the slightest.

When confronted with a woman’s bloodied sheets, anyone would automatically suspect it was simply that time of the month.

But Black genuinely believed it to be a problem with the baby.

And that just confused Rienne terribly.

How was he doing that? For her part, she couldn’t stop these incessant doubts that plagued her every moment of every day for even the smallest things.

So how was he able to trust so easily?

[Black] “………….Is it difficult for you to talk about your child with me?”

Watching Rienne’s expression getting darker by the minute, Black suddenly asked a question.

[Rienne] “……Sorry?”

[Black] “Were you worried I’d be reminded of the child’s father if you mentioned it? To the point where you didn’t even tell me you were sick?”

[Rienne] “I………I don’t know.”

[Black] “If that’s the case, that’s not necessary. The child is mine.”

[Rienne] “. . .”

When he said things like that, it was too suspicious.

Why did he think like that? If their positions were reversed and he had a child, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to accept it so readily.

[Rienne] “But we both know it’s not. You can’t do that.”

Her answer was very pointed and direct.

[Rienne] “Truly…..you can’t. Because you’re only human.” (1)

[Black] “I’ve already decided to do that. And I’m trying.”

[Rienne] “But is that something you can do just by trying?”

And not just that.

He said that his blood was all dead. Was that something that one could just forget simply because a long time had passed?

He didn’t forget they were engaged when they were young despite it being from a time she couldn’t even remember, so how could he forget the death of his family?

[Rienne] “There’s no one who’s that generous………I can hardly believe it.”

[Black] “I wouldn’t say I’m doing this out of generosity.”

[Rienne] “Then what is it?”

[Black] “I think this might be the best way to get you to accept me. Without hating me or resenting me in the process.”

[Rienne] “. . .”

[Black] “What can I do to get you to believe me?”

This was why she was struggling to believe his words. They sounded so wonderful, as if they were ripped directly from a novel. There was nothing in this world that worked out so nicely like that.

If this world taught Rienne anything, it was that.

[Rienne] “Does that mean you’ll do anything I ask?”

[Black] “……If it gets you to trust me, Princess.”

Black’s remark exhibited such blind faith, it was hard to believe he just said that. He was an apex predator—the kind of person one could never lower their guard around.

So why was he acting so blind around her? It didn’t make any sense.

[Black] “But in exchange, I want you to offer me something, Princess.”

[Rienne] “Something….from me?”

[Black] “Make a promise, a resolution—whatever it may be. Something that says the child in your womb will definitely be mine.”

[Rienne] “. . .”

[Black] “Can you do that?”

[Rienne] “Prove it, first.”

Finally, Rienne laid down the edge of the blanket and faced Black.

[Rienne] “Prove to me you’ll do anything.”

[Black] “What do you want?”

[Rienne] “I heard Lord Phermos detained the old man that was begging in front of the Temple. I want to meet with him.”

Black immediately frowned, but it was only for a moment before he answered.

[Black] “That has nothing to do with your child.”

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[Rienne] “No, but it matters.”

It mattered a lot, actually.

[Rienne] “I should also listen to what others have to say about the man who seeks to be the father of my child.”

[Black] “. . .”

It was then that Black finally realized why Rienne still didn’t trust him.

[Black] “It appears that your heart has gone back to what it was before I announced the truth behind the proposal, Princess. Back when my identity and intentions were questionable.”

Rienne couldn’t deny that.

[Black] “Alright. I’ll do whatever you want. But…”

Black’s lips slightly parted. Seeing his white teeth visible felt like a knife touching her heart.

[Black] “You can’t break your promise, Princess.”

And then Black persistently stared at Rienne, pinning her in place until she eventually nodded.

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She couldn’t spend all day in bed.

But just as Black told her, Rienne was forced to remain in her room until the medicine arrived. Once she got it from Mrs. Flambard, she quickly forced it down and headed for the King’s Office.

The medicine was so bitter, she felt as though any child inside of her would be more surprised than anything after taking it. Still, Phermos assured her it was safe after carefully checking what ingredients were used when making it.

[Rienne] “There has to be something left.”

What Rienne was looking for was the royal records from twenty years ago.

[Rienne] “It was twenty-one years ago that my father had his coronation. That means what happened to his family occurred after my father became king.”

If this was a childhood betrothal they had discussed, then they must’ve been a well-known family.

Rienne’s eyes darted across the page, looking across all the families that participated in the coronation ceremony.

[Rienne] “Did she say she saw the letter ‘P’?”

But none of the thirteen families invited to the coronation had such a character in their name. After spending so much time searching through the heavy royal records that were covered in dust, her arm started to feel numb.

[Rienne] “Did he lie about the engagement?”

Rienne bit her lip as she stared at the letters that didn’t change no matter how much she looked at them.

[Rienne] “No, she may have seen wrong. It could still be any of these.”

Rienne carefully examined the thirteen families.

Six of them were part of the nobility of Nauk and the ones responsible for the Treaty of Risebury. The other three were ones who lost their status over the years, and the final four had left Nauk at some point over the course of twenty years.

[Rienne] “The timing doesn’t make any sense.”

However, none of the families who were no longer present in Nauk matched what Black said.

Looking at the old letters for so long, breathing in all that dust made her dizzy.

[Rienne] “Maybe he just got the time wrong.”

If Black wasn’t lying, then he may have gotten the number of years wrong. Usually, when talking about a long period of time like twenty years, that usually means it’s difficult to recall the exact number.

[Rienne] “It could’ve been more than twenty years in the past.”

Rienne pushed through, starting her search for records before the coronation.

[Rienne] “…….What’s this?”

And she discovered something odd.

There were no records left of the period before the coronation.

To be exact, all records from the period of twenty-one to twenty-five years ago were missing.

[Rienne] “What’s going on?”

Though it was shocking, she could clearly see the visible traces of where someone had cut out portions of the record with a knife.

It was appalling to her that someone had touched the royal records, but now it was suspicious that there was something someone was trying to hide from her.

[Rienne] “It can’t be…..”

But at this point, she had no choice but to doubt.

[Rienne] “Lord Phermos…….”

Despite having never given him access, he was hiding in the office. And she didn’t know how often he had come and gone before that.

[Rienne] “Did he do so on that man’s orders?”

Among those five years of lost records, was there something about Black written in them? Did he know Rienne would one day look, so he had them gotten rid of in advance?

[Rienne] “Well then……..I suppose I was right to be suspicious.”

The hand she was resting on the records with missing pages trembled.

[Rienne] “He’s far too strange.”

Smack—!

Rienne stood up, leaving behind the record.

Even if she looked for the missing records, they wouldn’t come out on their own.

[Rienne] “I’ll have to check his room.”

If Phermos was the one responsible, the records would’ve met one of two fates: They were either hidden or destroyed. All she could do was depend on luck for this one. If she were lucky, then he would’ve hidden the records away before getting rid of them.

Rienne lifted herself up, heading off somewhere.

Across from Mrs. Flambard’s bedroom was the room Rienne once used as a child. Now, Phermos was using that room like his own office.

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Smack—!

The door wasn’t locked. Though, even if it was, Rienne was prepared to break it down if need be.

She had no intention of hiding her search for the records. The royal records were owned by the royal family, which of course meant that unauthorized people could not carry or damage them.

So this time, she was thinking of charging Phermos with a crime.

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She didn’t wish to flex her status, but what Phermos did was dishonorable and an insult to the royal family.

[Phermos] “What…..? Princess? What brings you here?”

But she didn’t expect Phermos to be here at this time.

Rienne, who was almost flustered by his presence, quickly straightened out her back.

[Rienne] “I have something I wish to ask of you.”

[Phermos] “How did you know I was here?”

[Rienne] “……I don’t think that’s important.”

[Phermos] “Oh um…..You’re right, you just surprised me. Though, shouldn’t you be lying down, Princess? My Lord wouldn’t be happy seeing you walking around like this.”

[Rienne] “I won’t beat around the bush.”

Rienne cut off his useless small talk.

[Rienne] “What did you do with the royal records you stole?”

[Phermos] “…….Pardon me?”

Phermos opened his eyes wide, pushing his monocle further up his face.

[Phermos] “I’m sorry, the royal records I what?”

[Rienne] “I don’t want to talk more than we have to. If you have them, then give them to me. That won’t absolve you of your crimes entirely, but your sentence will be lighter.”

[Phermos] “No, what are you talking about? The royal record? What did I steal? And when?”

[Rienne] “……Are you going to try and talk your way out of this?”

[Phermos] “Goodness, no! Why would I steal the royal records? I would only need to look at them once before memorizing it entirely.”

Phermos jumped around in a panic, with his face screaming how unfair he thought this was. It would appear as though he really didn’t know anything.

….No, I still can’t be certain.

She knew this man to be an incredibly sly person. There was a chance being a skilled liar was but another part of his repertoire.

[Rienne] “You must’ve known I was going to look eventually.”

[Phermos] “Hm? There are parts of the record you haven’t seen yet, Princess?”

[Rienne] “. . .”

The question made her speechless.

[Phermos] “I know you have reasonable cause to doubt me but I swear to the God of War, I never stole the royal records.”

After seeing Rienne make a disbelieving expression, Phermos held out both his hands with a harmless smile.

[Phermos] “For those in the Tiwakan, do you know who the God of War is?”

[Rienne] “…..No.”

[Phermos] “It’s Lord Tiwakan himself.”

[Rienne] “I see. So why…….”

[Phermos] “To swear on the God of War is to swear on our Lord’s name. There’s isn’t a single person within the Tiwakan’s ranks who would dare us our Lord’s name so carelessly.”

[Rienne] “. . .”

Phermos’ face was filled with so much confidence and pride that it was hard not to believe him.

Even mercenaries who used war as a means of earning money required faith. No, perhaps it was because they were mercenaries that they needed something like that.

For them, living a life that forced them to face death for the sake of money, believing in something was what made them human.

And for the Tiwakan, that something was Black.

[Rienne] “…….If you say that, then I won’t force my doubts on you any longer. I pray your words are true. For the sake of your Lord’s name, if nothing else.”

[Phermos] “I would die before I tarnish my Lord’s name. Such a person would not deserve to carry the name of the Tiwakan.”

…….Yes. I can see that now.

Rienne swallowed a sigh.

Then who could’ve done this?

[Phermos] “Will you search for the culprit?”

Phermos asked, the concern evident on his face.

[Rienne] “Yes.”

[Phermos] “Then I will help you. After you gave me a clue about who killed the High Priest, I’ve found myself with a bit of time to relax thanks to you, Princess.”

[Rienne] “You’d do that for me?”

[Phermos] “Yes. On one condition.”

……Whether it was the Lord or his aide, everyone tried to get something before giving something. It was inevitable, considering how they worked in unison.

[Rienne] “What is it?”

[Phermos] “Return to your room and please lie still. The Lord told me you wished to see the old man who knew the whereabouts of the servant, correct? I’ve given the order to have him brought to the castle, so I will send a message to you once he arrives. Until then, please rest well.”

He was trying to get something, but it was something more beneficial for Rienne to give than for him to receive.

[Rienne] “That won’t be too hard.”

[Phermos] “I’m not saying this for you, Princess. This is for my Lord. If you want me to be of any help, then you must do this. If anything were to happen to you……..Ugh, I don’t even want to think about it. Point is, the aftermath would be very bad.”

[Rienne] “. . .”

What Phermos said hit her somewhere in her chest.

Talking about that man like that, he made it sound like he cared about her so much.

But why would he do all that for?

[Rienne] “Is it enough to say I’ll try?”

[Phermos] “No, it isn’t. You absolutely have to lie still.”

[Rienne] “Then promise me. Promise you’ll find the real person responsible. Swear by the God of War.”

There was still the chance Phermos could create a fake culprit in order to cover for his master. She couldn’t rule that out just yet.

Phermos readily held up his hand, swearing a vow.

[Phermos] “If that’s the only way to get you to rest, I’ll happily do so.”

[Rienne] “……..Thank you.”

It was still very uncertain. Was it possible for people carrying ulterior motives to act this way?

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[Phermos] “Hurry and get back, now. Once you’ve returned to your room, I will begin my work as well. By the way, have you finished taking all of your medicines?”

In the end, Rienne was escorted back to her room by Phermos. Phermos even set up a mercenary outside of her room to monitor her condition thoroughly.

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