A Trap (14)
T/N: Big thanks to Cristina, xohakuoblossom, & Anonymous for sponsoring this chapter on Ko-Fi!
It felt even more humiliating for the Queen because it seemed like she and Dionna were lumped into the same boat and treated like some kind of bargain.
However, Aristine wasn’t done speaking.
“Even my early arrival at the luncheon hall was regarded as evidence of a crime. I was simply being courteous since that was the first gathering of the immediate royal family since I got married.”
As a matter of fact, she did that to prepare, in case Nephther got poisoned but no one knew that.
“I wanted to look good as a daughter-in-law, and I was a little excited too.”
Aristine softly lowered her eyes.
Her long lashes dropped down, adding shadows to her face, making her look sad and pitiful.
“But Your Majesty the Queen is trying to cast me as the poisoner by any means…”
Instantly, the situation turned into that of the Queen oppressing her daughter-in-law who was trying to do her best.
“Even when Prince Tarkan confirmed that I did not get close to Royal Father’s seat, he was treated as an accomplice.”
The Queen’s scalp was tingling.
She already knew that Aristine was no easy opponent, but at this point, it was to a frightening extent.
However, she couldn’t let this go on any further.
“I know, I really feel sorry towards you. I understand your disappointment too. I’m ashamed but when His Majesty suddenly collapsed, I lost my composure.”
The Queen patted Aristine’s hand affectionately.
“As the Queen, I should stand even firmer at times like this, but I was shaken. Amidst that, when Dionna came to me and told me you were the culprit…”
She closed her eyes, looking distressed.
“With Dionna’s testimony that you had poison and even the silver needle which changed colors, the lies blinded my eyes. I am ashamed.”
“Now that you say that, there is something I am curious about.”
Aristine, who had been quietly watching the Queen’s act, tilted her head to one side.
“Is poison really why His Majesty collapsed?”
The queen’s hand which was holding Aristine’s hand, instantly stiffened.
Aristine didn’t say anything and looked at the queen.
Like a hunter waiting for a trapped prey to struggle till it was out of breath.
* * *
“What is going on?”
“Why didn’t she answer?”
“Don’t tell me even his collapse wasn’t because of poison?!”
The queen’s silence caused a stir throughout the hall.
The Queen’s eyes twitched.
Without taking her eyes off Aristine, she opened her mouth to rectify the situation.
“His Majesty complained of abdominal pain before he collapsed. And he also seemed to have difficulty breathing. These are common symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning.”
“Yes, that is why I am asking if it is truly arsenic poisoning. I’m curious about the diagnosis of the royal physician.”
The Queen’s lips were tightly shut. Of course, she hadn’t heard any confirmation from the royal physician.
“Could it be that you accused me of poisoning without even having a diagnosis of poison?”
“…Since he showed symptoms of arsenic poisoning, I thought it was vital to move quickly and catch the culprit before any evidence was destroyed.”
“Such symptoms can occur without the involvement of arsenic.”
Aristine said before continuing in a clear voice, “Like an acute myocardial infarction, for example.”
Acute myocardial infarction (—Severe Heart Attack).
This was a condition that occurred when the coronary artery was suddenly blocked, causing the heart to stop beating due to the lack of oxygen.
Those words caused a commotion in the audience.
“Acute myocardial infarction?”
“Yes…the symptoms do have similarities.”
“Wait, so the Queen didn’t even get a poison diagnosis before arresting the Princess Consort and treating her like a criminal?”
“To say she accused the Princess Consort just because of Dionna’s slander is just…”
People shook their heads.
As people’s trust in the Queen fell, their gazes towards Aristine became favorable.
“From the very beginning, I suspected it was an acute myocardial infarction rather than the heinous crime of attempted poisoning. Especially because the continent has just entered an unprecedented era of peace. An assassination attempt at a time like this seems unthinkable.”
This peace was brought about by the marriage of Tarkan and Aristine. When she mentioned peace, it seemed to hold even more weight.
Furthermore, it gave the impression that the Queen did not regard the peace as important because she dared to stir up public opinion with talk of an attempted poisoning.
‘Right, a situation where the Princess Consort from Silvanus is accused of poisoning when she’s innocent can drive the continent back into a state of tension.’
‘If this is revealed, who knows how Silvanus will react…’
The Princess’ honor was also Silvanus’ honor.
Even if Silvanus formally protested, they couldn’t offer any response.
‘How can the queen be so reckless!’
‘You think it’s just recklessness? It must have been on purpose to suppress them politically.’
‘How can you do such a thing without considering the aftermath…’
‘If those bastards from Silvanus protest, we will have no choice but to bow our heads.’
The nobles whispered among themselves, and looked at the queen with disapproving eyes.
As they imagined diplomatic affairs becoming more annoying in the future, their gazes became even more unkind.
Aristine gave a sizeable amount of time for people to react then she opened her mouth.
“His Majesty mentioned that he had upset stomach before he collapsed. Acute myocardial infarction is often mistaken for indigestion.”
Many people mistake the feeling of tightness in their chest and difficulty of digesting food for indigestion and either ignore it or leisurely go to the hospital and pass away.
Through the Monarch’s Sight, Aristine saw a post made by someone who thought they was having indigestion but found out they was having a heart attack when they went to get it checked out.
So Aristine thought, ‘if it’s not poison, then maybe…’ and with that, she asked Tarkan to look at Nephther’s medical records and contacted a royal physician through Umiru.
‘Because if it’s a heart attack, then every second is important.’
Whether Nephther’s life could be saved or not, was a race against time.
‘And it was really a heart attack.’
As soon as Nephther collapsed, a royal physician entered the luncheon hall. That royal physician was the person that Aristine arranged for.
When he tapped on the floor, he was signaling to her that it was an acute myocardial infarction.
‘The treatment should be going well…’
It seems the initial response was quick enough, but she wasn’t sure if Nephther could overcome this safely.
“H-His Majesty is healthy so the chance of him being sick are low so…”
“That is not what’s important right now.” Tarkan immediately cut off the queen, “In the end, it seems Your Majesty the Queen purposefully tried to corner my wife as the poisoner.”
His voice was gloomy.
He was neither agitated nor screaming. His voice was just incredibly low, but it sounded cold and heavy, like the depths of the sea without a hint of light.
The pressure radiating from his whole body made the Queen feel suffocated, like she was being swept in a heavy current.
“Your Majesty the Queen, the fact that I was accused of poisoning is okay by itself.”
Aristine spoke quietly, “But this is matter that concerns His Majesty, Royal father’s safety of all things. If this was truly a crime targeting His Majesty, what would have happened?”
The odds of apprehending the culprit changed depending on the direction of the initial investigation.
“The real culprit would have easily escaped while the wrong person was identified as the poisoner and interrogated.”
As Aristine spoke, people grew solemn.
The fact that she was thinking of Nephther more than the humiliation she received tugged at their heartstrings.
“Before the investigation began, I asked for Your Majesty the Queen to clearly reveal what was going on. And Your Majesty promised to bring light to even the slightest suspicion and deliver punishment.”
Aristine sounded firm, without any agitation in her voice.
“I trusted you, Your Majesty. But is this the result?”
Her attitude made her seem more pitiful.
Tarkan wrapped his arms around Aristine’s shoulders and pulled her into his chest.
“Imagine how shocked my delicate and feeble wife must have been today…”
The audience unconsciously agreed with his mumbled words.
In their eyes, Aristine, a Silvanian, naturally looked weak and thin. And it seemed even worse because she was right next to Tarkan who had an especially good physique even among Irugoians.
A visible and intuitive image had a clearer effect than anything else.
Aristine was speechless when Tarkan called her feeble, but after seeing the reaction around her, she went along with it.
“I was only praying for Royal father to be safe, how could such a thing…”
She burrowed into Tarkan’s arms.
Having Aristine’s breath on his bare chest made Tarkan flinch but he hugged her tighter.
People felt touched watching this scene.
It was romantic, like a scene from an opera.
Tarkan caressed Aristine’s hair while Aristine looked up at him with watery eyes, causing a commotion in the hall.
True to their title of ‘couple of the century’, their teamwork was in perfect sync.
Hamill spoke up as if to tear down the mood between the two.
“We should summon the royal physician first. If he can’t be summoned because he’s in the middle of treatment, we should at least figure out the situation.”
“That would be best.”
Aristine nodded her head.
Tarkan wistfully looked down at Aristine as she left his embrace.
*Another bonus chapter should be coming tmrw 🙂