Episode 31: A Trap (5)
* * *
The meal proceeded in almost the exact same manner that Aristine saw in the Monarch’s Sight. The Queen praised Hamill’s achievements while Nephther nodded and commended him.
“I was thinking, it is about time for Hamill to get married too,” the Queen began.
“Hamill?” Nephther replied.
“Quibbling about marriage sequence is a matter of the past, but even Tarkan, who is younger than Hamill, is married.”
“I agree. It’s time for Brother Hamill to start a family together with a clever and beautiful young lady. Yenika can’t wait to see my sister-in-law.”
While Aristine was keeping her eyes trained on Nephther, she felt an intense gaze directed at her.
She could tell who it was without even looking back.
It was Hamill.
His stare, which had lessened after the king’s appearance, was back on Aristine again.
Aristine felt a little annoyed. What reaction did he want from her after finding out about his identity?
‘Come to think of it, they’re talking about his own marriage, but Prince Hamill is silent.’
He wasn’t just staying silent but staring at Aristine. She didn’t know why he was acting like that when even Yenikarina had stepped in to help.
Aristine ignored the stare affixed to her face and opened her mouth to speak Nephther. And she said it exactly like she saw in the Monarch’s Sight. Because she didn’t want to create even a single variable.
“Royal father, is the food not to your liking?”
“You don’t seem to have eaten much.”
“I know you like this, Royal father. Should Yenika give you?”
Like the future she saw, Paellamien and Yenikarina also spoke one after the other.
Nephther shook his head, “My stomach is a little upset, that’s all.”
“You don’t feel well? Let’s summon a royal doctor right now and…”
“No need for such a fuss. It’s just indigestion,” Nephther spoke firmly and rose from his seat.
Aristine got up almost at the same time and walked towards him.
Aristine supported Nephther as his body collapsed without strength.
“Call a royal doctor…!”
Just as a servant was opening the door to call a royal physician, a royal doctor rushed into the dining room. Their pace was incredibly fast, as if they had been waiting.
When the royal doctor saw Nephther unconscious, he was startled out of his wits. His eyes met with Aristine, who was supporting Nephther’s body.
It was merely for a brief moment before their eyes averted.
Neither of their expressions changed as if they just happened to meet.
“Check everything His Majesty ate!”
The Queen ordered gravely, and seeing that, Yenikarina sucked in a breath.
“Is it poison…?”
At her words, the court ladies fell on their knees and bowed their heads.
Everything was unfolding as Aristine saw in the Monarch’s Sight.
Apart from the royal doctor who seemed to have already arrived at the dining hall.
Aristine saw the royal physician tapping the floor a few times with his finger at regular intervals.
At that information, Aristine’s purple eyes flickered for a moment.
Nephther’s face was blue, and he was breathing heavily. The royal doctor laid him down and spoke urgently.
“We need to move His Majesty to a treatment room immediately. Please contact the palace chief too.” 
“Is it poisoning?”
“Right now, it is only a possibility.”
The doctor replied with a stiff face.
He said it was just possibility, but it sounded like he was almost certain. Like he couldn’t give a definitive answer carelessly, so he just answered like that.
The queen staggered, and some of the still young princesses were holding back tears.
Even after Nephther was transported out of the dining hall, the panic did not die down.
“Royal father will be fine, right? He can’t leave Yenika behind.”
Yenikarina hugged Hamill and cried.
After staring at the open door for a while, the queen turned to the court ladies with an icy gaze.
Even though she was worried about Nephther, she was a ruler of this nation. She was also a fierce fighter in the political battle for the next heir to the throne.
The uncertainty of the supreme commander’s status was both an enormous crisis and an opportunity.
She has to take the lead in this situation.
“Arrest everyone involved in today’s luncheon. If you dared to aim at His Majesty’s life, I will make you regret it.”
“Y-Your Majesty the Queen, we have done nothing.”
“We are innocent…!”
“If you are truly innocent, it will be found during the investigation.”
After resolutely dismissing the cries of the court ladies, the Queen looked around the royal family.
“Even though you are His Majesty’s children, those in this luncheon today cannot be completely absolved of accountability.”
The queen’s sharp eyes were directed straight at Tarkan.
“Until we get to the bottom of this, everyone must remain in their respective palaces.”
This kind of treatment was excessive. However, the princesses and princes bowed their heads without a single word of defiance.
Because they immediately knew who the Queen was targeting when she said those words.
Even if things go wrong, the anger wouldn’t be directed at themselves.
‘So this is why Tarkan and I went back to my palace.’
It was as expected.
Aristine took a step forward and the Queen turned to look at her.
Naturally, she was obviously thinking that Aristine would defy her order.
“Your Majesty the Queen is right.”
The queen, who was about to confront Aristine by saying, ‘Are you defying my order because you have something to hide?’, was taken aback and stared at Aristine.
“I said, what Your Majesty has said is correct. Whatever the case, there should be no exceptions. I believe that Your Majesty will clearly reveal the truth behind today’s matter.”
The Queen gazed at Aristine with discomfort on her face. But she couldn’t say anything to that.
In the end, she could only give Aristine a nod.
“Do not worry. Anyone with even the slightest suspicion will be exposed under the sun; no one shall escape the sword of retribution.”
When the Queen said ‘anyone’, her gaze was sharp, like she was giving a warning.
Aristine bowed her head obediently.
Just as she did to her father, the emperor, when she was ordered to get married.
* * *
Dozens of court ladies were suddenly caught and arrested. A storm of fear and anxiety blew through the palace.
The news of Nephther’s collapse and his possible poisoning quickly spread, following the storm.
Perhaps the king was still in a critical condition, but the palace chief was yet to step out of the treatment room.
In the meantime, the interrogation of the court ladies and servants began.
The Queen took command of this situation, examining everything that Nephther had touched at the luncheon.
“We must expose whoever is behind this.”
“Is there any chance that this is from an illness that Royal father suffers from?”
Hamill asked and the Queen shook her head.
“He has no illness that would cause him to collapse so suddenly. If there was, the palace chief would have told me.”
He would have either told a servant or a court lady before he entered the treatment room.
“But I have heard nothing till now. They must be testing methods of detoxification. I am certain it is poison.”
However, no circumstantial or tangible evidence had been found so far.
Then again, if a trail could be found so easily, this poisoning attempt wouldn’t have been successful in the first place.
The Queen furrowed her brows. Aristine’s attitude from earlier was strangely bothering her.
Right then, a loud commotion could be heard outside the door.
The Queen, who was already on edge, irritably stepped outside.
“What is this racket!”
“Y-Your Majesty the Queen!”
The court ladies turned to the queen in surprise.
The Queen saw a woman in the midst of them and narrowed her eyes.
The woman who caught her attention knelt down in front of the queen.
As she bowed her head deeply, her deep blue hair cascaded down her shoulders.
At the Queen’s call, Dionna bowed her head even deeper.
“I apologize for the disturbance. I will gladly accept any punishment you deem necessary. But before that, I implore you to listen to what I have to say.”
The Queen looked at Dionna, who was prostrating on the floor, without saying a word.
She thought of kicking her out right away, asking her how she dared to come here without permission and disturb her at this urgent time when the nation’s fate was at a crossroads.
Even more so since she knew that Dionna was one of Tarkan’s people.
She was even considering how to use Dionna to claim that Tarkan was interfering with her investigation.
However, her intuition as queen was calling out to her. Telling her that this child brought her a present.
“You say you have something to tell me.”
“Yes, there is something that I must inform Your Majesty the Queen about, so I came here in spite of my rudeness.”
“If it is nothing, you shall not escape my wrath.”
“I am prepared.”
As Dionna spoke, she raised her head and met the Queen’s eyes.
Then with a solemn look on her face, she opened her mouth, “
“I would like to tell you the identity of the wicked poisoner who dared to harm His Royal Majesty, the King.”
 I translated 궁의장[gungui-jang] to palace chief but if anyone knows a better title, please let me know.