Tara is suffering, everyone is worried, and a certain someone visits her.
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Episode 242. About 9 months (1)
'The moment you use this fact as intel, you die.'
'Oh dear. No way, Your Highness. I would never dare to use you.'
'Well, that's not what the head of an intelligence organization that uses everything and everyone would say. Even so, I believe and trust Tara, who chose you.'
When Kyle tried to move after that, Andrei widened his eyes so that only Kyle could see, and slightly shook his head. That meant that there was still something he wanted to say.
After catching Kyle's eyes again, Andrei neared the terrace, shivering.
"The air is cold, but the terrace is still open..."
Andrei, who had quickly approached as if he wanted to close the terrace door, handed over a rolled piece of paper from his bosom.
In a quiet voice, he whispered, "It's a souvenir, Your Highness."
Then, Doctor Oliver rushed in and examined Tara.
"She's fine. It seems she's fainted from shock, but both her pulse and breathing are steady now."
While the family expressed their relief, Kyle took Andrei's gift, looked at the bed again, and then climbed the terrace railing and disappeared into the darkness.
As soon as he was out of sight, Andrei shut the terrace door, sticking out his tongue.
Andrei was struggling because his cheekbones kept lifting from his overflowing glee, even though he was worried about Tara fainting.
Hmm. It was good to see his hypothesis being confirmed, but... How could he comfort his disciple, who had fainted because of that snake-like woman...
A week after the fifth daughter's birthday party.
Along with the preparations for the social events that would start in March, the streets of the Capital were lively and full of various social gatherings in February.
During those gatherings, trivial stories were exchanged, and the most discussed topic was the events of Lady Tara Elias' birthday, which had been celebrated in a grand manner.
Tales of the commotion caused by the late night escape letter had been spread amongst young ladies at dawn the next day. It was accepted as a cute incident, because it lessened the distance between them and Lady Tara, who had been promoted to the position of Second Aide of the 2nd Imperial Palace.
She was acknowledged as an innocent young lady their age, no different from them.
In addition, they discussed the amount of compensation offered to the guests who had to leave in a hurry, making up for the cancellation of the scheduled outdoor birthday plans the next day due to the heavy rain.
It was known that House Elias had provided the departing guests with many gifts. Their products were as good as those from the Empire's best merchanting group, Toulouse, which earned the envy of the people who couldn't attend.
"Hmm. But why did she take a leave of absence from the Palace?"
"Well, I heard that she had a terrible cold after the heavy rain from that day."
"Oh! From what I've heard, just like in the letter, she wanted to quit because the job was really difficult."
"I heard from my father before, who attended the Hunting Contest, that she complained that His Highness the 2nd Prince made her work too much."
"As expected, the 2nd Prince is very thorough in his work. I don't think he went easy on her because she's a woman. I feel a little sorry for her."
The second topic was about the trial of a nobleman from the Central Province. Members of aristocratic men's clubs were especially interested in newspaper articles related to this trial.
[- Criminal Case Trial Record, Ministry of Public Safety and Security - 'A Wake-up Call Regarding Fair Punishment for Sexual Abuse.'
The Central Court conducted an unusually fast trial and punishment, and informed this newspaper about the case.
Initially, the case was investigated at the request of Count Philip Reese, a respected figure in the Central Province, and the Ministry of Security was immediately dispatched to launch an investigation.
The crime was revealed following just two hours of interrogation, puzzling Security Forces.
The Ministry of Security has requested more personnel for the Security Department in the Central Province region in response to their findings leading to more crimes being unearthed, like the endless roots of a sweet potato.
At the same time, Count Philip Reese asked the Central Court for a special judge to expedite the trial for the crimes currently revealed. The investigation and trial took place in just three days, which is unusually quick for court cases in the Empire.
John Hutt, the eldest son of Baron Hutt, was found to be a serial rapist who sexually assaulted a large number of women.
Shockingly, John used his position as vice-commander in Count Reese's knightage and his status as a Baron from an aristocratic family to lure and sexually assault multiple women.
Five victims came forward shortly after the festival hosted by House Reese, the Ministry of Security actively investigated the suspect's other crimes, and as many as thirty-two victims came forward regarding incidents from the past five years. An additional three victims are missing.
The Ministry of Security has immediately dispatched a team to find the missing people, and secured about ten witnesses for the first trial. The prosecutor demanded a sentence of castration and life imprisonment without parole. The Court initially accepted the sentence of castration, and announced that it would further review the life sentence without parole as soon as the results of the missing persons investigation is released.
Baron Hutt demanded leniency, claiming he would come to an agreement with the victims, but the Imperial Court refused, stating they would never accept a reduced sentence for a crime against humanity based on an agreement with the victims.
This is the first time in 120 years that an aristocrat has received the sentence of castration, and with this, a great stigma has been placed on Baron Hutt's name.
February 5, 1816. Imperial Central Daily.]
After finishing her class with her teacher, Givenchy, Beth hurriedly returned to the mansion, listening to the stories about Lady Tara through one ear as she passed through the streets.
Tara's room on the third floor.
The occupant, unaware that the newspaper had fallen to the floor, was sitting in a chair, blankly staring out the window.
When Beth picked up the newspaper, it was a news article about the castration of a hated nobleman.
Beth put the newspaper aside and cautiously approached her, suggesting that they go on a walk.
The answer had been the same for a week already.
Her dear young lady, a bright and intelligent woman, had done nothing for a week for the first time ever.
She just kept sleeping. Even when she was awake, she stared blankly out the window like a person who had lost her soul, and then she'd eat a simple meal and fall asleep again.
[She seems to be recovering. It would be better to leave her be until she wants to be active.]
Following Doctor Oliver's advice, nobody disturbed Tara.
A one-month leave of absence had been submitted to the Palace and approved the very next day.
Beth replaced the half-empty glass of water, finished organizing the newspapers, and fixed the half-fallen blanket.
The Lady didn't say anything, even after reading the newspaper. The person who usually explained interesting articles to her with shining eyes whenever they appeared had disappeared.
That was not all. She didn't ask a single word about the condition of House Elias. Like someone who was unaware of such a thing. No, like someone who had no interest at all.
The air in the mansion was stuffy enough to choke on. The only sounds inside were the noises the servants made as they worked, or the opening and closing of doors.
Countess Victoria, the reason for the incident that day, was temporarily confined in the northern wing.
Lady Chloe came to the room every day, looked at Tara’s face, and went back to her room. Count Elias was either drunk, in front of Brandon's grave, or stuck in his office.
Master Logan was the first to return to his daily routine and work, and Lady Aria ate every meal with Lady Isabelle in her Lady’s room.
Today as well, Lady Aria was casually chatting away about the events of that day.
"How did you know that the people involved on your birthday were going to fail? It just gave me goosebumps when it all started to pour from the sky! Even the Mistress got goosebumps. It must be because Brandon was watching and helped out."
"... Yes, so it seems," Lady Isabelle answered and looked at Lady Tara, but she still didn't say anything.
Squeezing the tip of her own nose, Aria curtly repeated her apology from the previous day.
"Are you trying to make me feel guilty for blaming you for Brandon's death back then? Right? I'm really sorry. I'm sorry. So say something!"
But she never got an answer.
At the end of the meal, Dixon, the butler, visited.
"Mistress Isabelle, Lady Aria, His Excellency wants to meet in his office in half an hour for the decision."
Everyone turned their heads towards the door in surprise.
After a week, the Head of the Elias family’s decision regarding Countess Victoria had been made.
"Tara. Tara? You should listen as well. You should go and give your opinion!"
Lady Isabelle asked anxiously, but her Lady still remained silent.
So they went back to their respective rooms, and her Lady went back to bed and laid down.
Her eyes were closed, as if she didn't want to hear Beth calling.
"I'm going to sleep... Please leave."
After drawing the curtains so she wouldn't be blinded by the afternoon sun, Beth carefully left the room.
Even with the curtains drawn, the dim afternoon light could not be blocked.
"Should I get you a darkening curtain…?"
I quietly opened my eyes.
I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to sleep.
Even now, after getting to this point, it was hard to tell which member of the Elias family, which had abandoned me, was going to ruin us. I was sick and tired of trying to save them and struggling in this Empire, where I had to live and sleep.
"Let it be..."
When I closed my eyes again, I could feel his presence.
I pretended not to notice. Then, I heard his voice.
"Are you feeling better now?"
He was back.
I turned my back on the terrace and laid on my side.
"Are you uncomfortable with me here?"
I squeezed my eyes shut.
"Can I stay if you're not uncomfortable?"
"I can't... stay long today. I have to meet with the Empress."
I slowly opened my eyes.
"Should I just go?"
He seemed to be leaving. I slowly spoke.
"... Come now."
"I'm going to see the Empress. Aren't you curious?"
"Hmm. Aren't you going to the meeting?"
"What's it got to do with me? I don't want to do anything now."
I closed my eyes again.
"... I see."
"Lady Chloe has submitted her resignation."
In a flash, I opened my eyes.
"The Count... Yes, The Count sent divorce papers to House Philippe."
"But House Philippe is suing you."
I had no choice but to jump out of bed.
This chapter just breaks my heart for Tara. She must've under so much cumulative stress...
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