A Trap (11)
The Queen tried to push aside her discomfort and spoke, “You cannot possibly say that Dionna, the sister of Chantra who died valiantly in battle for Irugo, made up a lie to slander the Princess Consort.”
Her statement showed that she was highly aware of her audience.
Sure enough, the mention of Chantra brought trust to the eyes of the people looking at Dionna.
Dionna felt that too and swallowed dryly.
‘It’s better like this. I have to use this as an opportunity to turn public opinion in my favor.’
Imagine a scenario where she became the next princess consort after righteously reporting the evil deeds of the foreign princess who dared to harm the king of Irugo.
How perfect was that?
Dionna looked around the audience, with sorrow and agony on her face.
“Some time ago, the Silvanus handmaids told me that the Princess Consort came to Irugo in possession of poison.”
Unlike her passive behavior earlier, her attitude right now was proactive.
Honestly, she didn’t hear it directly from the handmaids. Rather, she overheard it by accident, but Dionna acted dignified, as if there wasn’t a single lie.
“Of course, the handmaids are criminals, so I don’t believe them either. But for the sake of His Majesty the King, I wanted to clear up even the slightest doubt…”
Dionna closed her eyes tightly as if the words brought her anguish.
“Honestly, I hoped nothing would be found when Her Highness’s room was searched. I only mentioned it because I wanted to prove the Princess Consort’s innocence.”
The queen almost laughed because she could clearly remember how Dionna spoke when she told her the story.
‘What an interesting girl.’
She wasn’t good enough to be kept close, but she was a perfect candidate for being used.
“But to think there was really poison; I truly believed in the Princess Consort and…!”
Dionna bit her lip tightly as if she couldn’t bring herself to continue because it was so horrible.
Aristine wondered if she should at least applaud Dionna for the show.
“Hah, how despicable,” Tarkan sneered contemptuously as he faced Dionna, “You have the nerve to utter such prattle when you’ve slandered my wife before?”
Dionna’s face turned pale.
She never thought Tarkan would bring that up.
Perhaps out of respect for Chantra, the incident back then was kept silent.
So naturally, she thought he wouldn’t mention it…
“What, what might you be talking about… Your Highness Tarkan, I swear on the name of my brother Chantra, who died with honor, I have never—”
“Don’t go swearing on Chantra’s name as you like!”
“You are the one tarnishing Chantra’s honor, Dionna!”
“Aren’t you ashamed for your family?”
The warriors, who ran over as quickly as they could once they heard that Aristine had been arrested, seethed at Dionna.
As soon as they arrived, they immediately wanted to argue and question what was being done to their Princess Consort, but knowing this was a political situation, they were barely holding themselves back.
‘What? Dionna has slandered the Princess Consort before?’
‘That can’t be…’
‘But Dionna hasn’t gone to His Highness Tarkan’s palace recently. Could this be why?’
Dionna had been allowed free entry to Tarkan’s palace along with Chantra since she was a child.
Aristine stepped forward to calm the heated atmosphere.
“Tarkan, I’m fine.”
Tarkan frowned when he saw her calm eyes gazing at him. But he withdrew without speaking any further.
People’s eyes widened at the sight of Aristine calming Tarkan with a single word.
“Dionna, thank you for believing in me. I’m innocent, so you do not need to quiver so much. Just because this is mine doesn’t prove that I poisoned His Majesty.”
At those words, Dionna strained her trembling lips. Was that supposed to be a joke?
“I say that because…,” Aristine slowly bent down and picked up the glass vial at her feet, “This is not poison.”
Her voice and expression when she said that was incredibly calm. Like she was stating a fact.
Confusion arose on people’s faces.
“That’s a lie!” Dionna screamed, “Princess Consort, just admit your crime. That will be better for you too.”
“What? How dare you…!”
Tarkan looked like he was going to grab Dionna’s throat at any moment, so Aristine squeezed his arm tightly.
Tarkan faltered and looked at Aristine.
Dionna’s eyes shook heavily when she saw this.
She placed both hands on her chest and spoke with a sad and distressed look on her face.
“I cannot believe that Her Highness would do such a thing either. But, but…if you have committed a crime, I think acknowledging it is the best way to preserve your dignity as a Princess of Irugo and a Princess of Silvanus.”
Aristine was absolutely amazed by the fact that Dionna was still maintaining her stance even at this point.
‘Well, I suppose since she hadn’t been directly exposed, she’s deciding to push ahead?’
Even while Aristine was thinking that, Dionna continued to speak.
“As someone who respected and adored the Princess Consort, I feel distressed to see her like this.”
“Well, I haven’t committed a crime so what is an acknowledgment supposed to mean?”
“Everything has already been confirmed. Do not be like this,” Dionna looked at Aristine sorrowfully and shook her head back and forth.
Aristine remarked but the response to that question came from the Queen instead of Dionna.
“The fact that it’s poison has been confirmed.”
With a glance from the Queen, a court lady stepped forward and held out her hands to Aristine.
Aristine obediently handed over the glass vial.
After removing the bottle stopper, the court lady inserted a thin silver needle and stirred the contents.
A moment later, the silver needle which came out of the glass vial was dyed an ominous dark purple.
In other words, it was toxic.
‘That’s really poison, isn’t it?!’
‘And she was saying it wasn’t poison…!’
‘What in the world…how can the princess consort actually have poison…!’
People’s agitation could not be concealed, and they covered their mouths.
The Queen raised her chin with a relaxed smile.
“Rather than insist that this isn’t poison when it can be discovered through such a basic test…you should have obediently admitted to it.”
She spoke sharply in a voice full of dignity.
“That fact that it caused silver to react like this means that it is arsenic. Arsenic causes abdominal pain. And His Majesty complained of abdominal pain!”
People looked at Aristine in disbelief. But Aristine didn’t seem concerned.
“Everyone used silverware at the luncheon. If I used arsenic, His Majesty’s tableware should have turned black. But that didn’t happen, did it?”
“What a shabby excuse. Do you think so little of this Queen? Arsenic can be put in things other than food. It can be smeared on napkins for example.”
“Come to think of it, His Majesty, royal father collapsed after eating and using a napkin.”
Yenikarina chipped in.
“Furthermore, I heard you arrived at the location of the luncheon first. Perfect timing for a foul act.”
All circumstances and evidence pointed towards Aristine as the culprit behind Nephther’s poisoning.
Tarkan stepped in front of Aristine as if to protect her, “Aristine never got close to His Majesty’s seat before the luncheon began.”
“Who knows. Tarkan, I heard you arrived early too, aren’t you an accomplice? Of course, you’ll take the side of the criminal in this situation.”
Enraged, Tarkan was about to respond but Aristine was faster.
“In other words, Your Majesty is saying that His Majesty collapsed due to an attempt to poison him with arsenic, and since I have arsenic, I am the criminal. Furthermore, the fact that I arrived at the luncheon first paved the way for my crime.”
“Simply listing the facts points to the definitive truth.”
“Who knows, is it truly a simple list of facts?” Aristine gave a smile.
“I believe I just said that this is not poison.”
Aristine snatched the glass vial in the court lady’s hand. And without hesitation, she poured it onto her hand.
Then just like that, she brought her arsenic-smeared hand to her face.
Fervent screams rang out from all over the room.
They never thought she would pour poison on her hand and bring it to her face to prove her innocence.
Arsenic poisoning didn’t only occur through ingestion. Aristine’s face could become red and swollen after coming into contact with arsenic. And if she inhaled it through her nose—.
Like Nephther, her life would be hanging by a thread.
Get advanced chapters on Patreon~