In Another World With Just Monika Chapter 83
Messengers ran out with the most urgent of summons, and it didn't take long to collect the relevant nobles in the capital. These selected were packed into the side dining hall within which the King had received the Mismede ambassador's little gift that morning.
The room was primarily white in theme, with a large white-brick fireplace and a single massive window overlooking the gardens. It was accented by blue curtains, and the single long table was covered with a white tablecloth upon which were set silver candlesticks and silver cutlery. The room had been left untouched since the event and the uneaten lunch were starting to spoil on their plates. The total lockdown for the palace couldn't keep rumors from leaking out, and seeing the scene of the crime gave credence to the worst whispers.
I knew I wasn't the only one to note how some of the nobles smirked at realizing that. That alone did not imply guilt, however only delight someone else's hardship. But it was still useful, these are the heels who would try something if they could get away with it.
The Duke emerged from one of the far doors, and the opposite door brought out all others who were present during the poisoning. First, General Blitz. Then Count Balza swaggered out, three guards following behind him. Finally, Olga Strand, the ambassador from Mismede. Her arms were bound behind her, and the three guards following her were in full armor.
She looked around and almost whimpered at the hostile glances she was getting in turn. Not even the Duke was looking at her with any friendliness. Her eyes widened in recognition as she happened to see someone in a red suit leaning with crossed arms in the corner of the room. Then her posture sagged as she realized she had no friends in this room.
"Olga Strand. Let us get get right to the heart of the matter. Did you come to this country with the intention of killing my brother, the King?"
Olga knelt and began to shake her head franticall. "I swear on my life, I would never consider such thing! Please believe me! I would never think to poison your Majesty!"
"Silence, you wretched beast! Do you still intend to act innocent at this point? Have you no shame?! Everyone agrees, right...?!" He looked eagerly at the gathered crowd of nobles.
The audience looked very receptive to his words. The Duke sighed. "Still, the fact remains that His Majesty collapsed as soon as he tasted from the wine you presented him as a gesture of goodwill from the King of Mismede."
"Please! My Lord I cannot explain it but the wine I brought wasn't poisoned! At least it wasn't when I received it. I can't I can't explain but I never had any intent! Mismede only has the best of intentions for His Majesty!"
Count Balza laughed mockingly. "Her guilt is clear to see! Peace with Mismede?! This is an act of war! We should cut off her head right now and send it home! Why bother to make peace with these savages clearly they can't be trusted! For this, we should destroy their kingdom! "
Everyone else began shouting. The Duke raised his hand and called for silence.
"As the Regent to the Princess Yumina, I implore you all to remain calm. A war has more consequences than you might think. We are not ready for any such war, can you not see that? A crime requires means, motive, and opportunity. What motive could the ambassador possibly have to murder our King while standing right on front of him? My brother's last wish was not to blame the innocent for this. Wars between countries will harm too many who have never asked for any enmity between human and beastkin."
"~Duke Ortlinde! You are treating your own brother's death with too much equanimity. It's suspicious! Why aren't you enraged?! You are taking sides far too much!"
"~Yes, how do you expect us to remain calm? What did this beastkin wench offer you to protect her?!"
"~This is defeatism. This is cowardice! I expected better!"
"~You would have us look so weak, that we can't even avenge our own monarch?!"
"~Down with Mismede!"
"~I'll rally my troops now with or without your say-so! They can't be allowed to get away with this."
The Duke sighed. "Is that what you all really think? Can you not just wait?"
Apparently not. Some even started to turn around to leave, but the castle guards barred the way. "~What is the meaning of this?!" they shouted.
And then the door behind the Duke was flung open. "Then I shall not wait either!" The King swaggered out like proud lion. "Let it be known that reports of my demise have been GROSSLY EXAGGERATED."
Murmuring passed through the crowd. Count Balza's too-wide mouth hung open. " Y-your Highness! You're you're alive. It's it's really good to see you again."
King Tristwin bared his teeth in a humorless grin. "Yes, it's a miracle, isn't it? Such a potent poison it was. Poisoning is not a crime that can be done in passion it requires means, motive, and the opportunity. The head that wears the crown must always beware of betrayal from those closest to him.
"Ah, my good friends, settle down, settle down. I will excuse hearing what would have happened if my brother was actually made regent, and you all refused to hear out the authority granted by said post and my own final wishes."
That quieted them immediately. He shouted "For the criminal still stands among us!"
The King's presence seemed to swallow the room. He look tall and proud and completely untouchable.
"~Kuh..! What is this pressure?" people muttered.
Air pressure. Mixed with low frequency sounds. I raised my finger slightly and intensified the unheard infrasound that inspired terror in humans.
The King stared down at the kneeling ambassador. "Ah, Olga Strand..."
"Your Highness please. Do with me as you will, but please spare Mismede. Please spare my sister, she has nothing to do with this!" she whimpered with tears in her eyes.
"Execution is too good for the animal" said Count Balza. "Hang her upside down and bleed out her neck like the beast she is! Then dangle her naked body out in the streets until it rots, so that everyone will know this is the fate of animals that dare to hurt your body, Your Majesty!"
He nervously rubbed his hands together, and began to clamor for support. A few other nobles began to make even more bloody and revolting suggestions about how to kill Olga in the slowest and most painful manner possible. She closed her eyes and let out a shuddering sigh. She had no hope anymore.
King Tristwin gestured aside. Servants brought out a two bottles and several wine glasses, and arranged them onto the table in front of him. He picked up the deep green bottle. "This is the wine that you presented to me. A fairly rare one, isn't it? Produced in only one village in Mismede. It's a pity to ruin such a fine vintage with poison."
He poured a little wine onto a long-stemmed drinking glass. "General Leon Blitz."
"Sire!" The general of the Royal Army stepped up and saluted.
The King pushed the glass towards him. "Drink."
The General's whiskers trembled. "Y-your Highness? Why?"
"Because I order it. Obey or leave."
The general puffed out his chest and shouted "I am loyal! I FEAR NOT TO GIVE MY LIFE TO YOUR MAJESTY!"
General Leon Blitz drank from the glass. Then he fell over onto his face in a dead faint.
"~Murder!" someone gasped.
"~So it is true! These animals!"
"~But why the General? Was he conspiring with Mismede?!"
No one could see the spell circle that appeared on his caped back for but a moment. [Sleep] was such a convenient magic. It's a good thing it was a [Null] spell or else it would be hideously abusable, though I could try the same by replacing all the air in the room with Nitrogen.
Olga began to cry uncontrollably now.
"I see. Well, I guess that proves it," the King continued nonchalantly. He touched another glass. He was wearing white gloves. "And this is the one I was drinking from this morning. This wine is one of ours." He poured a little of the wine onto the glass.
"Now. Count Balza. Drink." King Tristwin pushed the glass over.
" I wait I don't"
"Do you fear that I would poison you? Right here, right now, in front of all these people?" The King put a little wine onto the third glass and drank from it. "It's just wine from the Royal Cellar. Come, drink. Drink to getting exactly what you wanted."
The King snapped his fingers. Some guards rushed over and wrestled down the Count into compliance. One of them pried open his mouth, and Count Balza couldn't try to bite their metal gauntlets.
"Hef me ghooo!"
Guards tipped the wine into his open mouth. The Count began to scream incoherently, and gagged as some of the liquid managed to get down his throat.
The guards let him go and he immediately collapsed to the ground, clutching as his throat. "Uwaaaagh! The poison! The poison! It's through my veeeeins! Someone help me!"
He began squirm and roll on the floor in anguish. "Uggh I can't breathe the poison! I don't want to die not like this! Not like thiiis!"
The Duke Ortlinde sighed and palmed his face, and General Blitz laughed as he pushed off the floor. He rubbed at his nose, which still stung a bit from landing on it in his faint.
"Could you stop now?" King Tristwin snorted. "No, I gave you a fresh glass you aren't poisoned. More's the pity, but it would be too good a death for the likes of you."
The Count blinked in confusion.
"You were going on and on so sure about the Mismede ambassador being guilty and the wine being poisoned. So why in the world would you fear to drink from the glass UNLESS YOU KNEW AHEAD OF TIME THAT THAT'S WHERE THE POISON WAS LACED?!" the King roared. "YOU TRIED TO KILL ME, YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
"~ ah! I see, it's that classic poison in the vessel trick."
"~Tch. So the beast gets away with it."
"~So she was innocent after all. This is treachery from inside the court! The conspirators would have to be one of the cooks or the maids? The poison taster for sure!"
"But wait! No, this isn't what it looks like!" the Count screamed.
The King smiled fiercely. "This is what is called Checkmate."
Count Balza let out a little squeep of panic and turned to flee. But then the air thickened to almost like soup, and he slipped. The air cleared up again with a sudden pop, and everyone winced as the pressure differential strained their eardrums. Olga Strand snarled and leaped out. Her arms were still bound behind her, but that didn't hamper her any.
As the Count tried to get up, the fox-woman kicked out at his back. The Count screamed and fell, clutching at the hot searing pain his spine and the bruised flesh right over his kidneys. He writhed in agony on the ground, and the other nobles drew back as far away from him as possible.
King Tristwin slowly walked over, his steps clacking on the floor. There were no sneers now. Those who looked at him with distaste before still had that same emotion in their eyes, but now closed off with wariness. Others had looks of pleasant surprise and admiration.
Olga bowed deeply and backed away. General Blitz waved at his soldiers to secure the room. He also ordered her bindings to be removed.
"You are a traitor thrice over," the King said with a deathly calm. "The first is from the attempt at regicide. The second is to threaten the Crown Princess Yumina and impugn her legitimacy and insult her virtue."
Count Balza's words from before loudly rang through the room.
-- "... poor sweet little Princess Yumina. Heh heh heh. I wonder what that
-- sweet young thing will have to do to get the support of the nobles
-- behind her. A good war needs a strong leader a real man!"
"~ shameless!" someone muttered.
"~There are just things you shouldn't say, idiot. Whoever that real man would be to lead a good war, it certainly won't be you or anyone near you"
/"Player, there is no need to wonder how this toad believed he could possibly get away with this. You have forgotten that the nature of the nobility as inherited power means that those with it can get by in their whole lives with shockingly low competence."/
The King waved his hand again, and air pressure in the room thickened once more. Everyone hushed up right quick. And then he continued "And the third reason is the sheer STUPIDITY of trying to incite war against Mismede. You have all forgotten why I am the King of Belfast! Let me remind you now!