Translator: Latte Editor: Adulldoll
Tristan pressed the end of a cigarette to his lips.
“Haa…” He sighed while exhaling a puff of smoke.
The basement was filled with cold air.
The Grand Duke of Valentine usually used this place to interrogate suspects or criminals.
He leaned back on a chair and put back the cigarette into his mouth.
The smell of cigar smoke filled the room, and the place became nothing more than a smoke-filled haze.
“So, have any of you ever seen his face” The Grand Duke said as he pointed to Vincent.
The young lad was paralyzed to the spot, the menacing aura holding him in a tightening grip as he bit his lips out of sheer panic.
There were two men lying flat on the floor in front of all the important people present in the interrogation.
Both of them were prey of the rats.
One was captured by Count Beauport, while the other was captured by the Grand Duke himself.
‘Bloody hell, I can’t believe he actually caught one,’ Count Beauport, who had been watching from the side, thought as he broke into a cold sweat.
Although the man he caught had been proven as an actual prey of the rat, the Grand Duke of Valentine still held many doubts.
Thus, Tristan went out of his way to capture one on his own.
And he himself might have even personally gone to the gutter as well.
If the statements of the two prey differ from one another, it will be them, not Vincent, who would be having knives on their throats.
What if they didn’t get their money’s worth
Count Beauport glanced to his side.
The vassals, including Rosen, shook their heads with resolution in their eyes.
‘Everything should go according to plan.’
All of them smirked.
It seemed that they were sure of their victory.
Seeing their determined expressions, Count Beauport felt a bit relieved and decided to relax his mind.
“If you don’t tell me the truth, I will intercept your master’s hard-earned spices distribution rights.”
“Still thinking of lying”
Even after being threatened and tortured, the prey did not talk at all.
The prey’s tongue had already been cut off, it was to prevent them from exposing their masters.
They would only open their mouths if the gutter rats were harmed or killed.
Only then did the prey captured by the Grand Duke opened his mouth.
The Grand Duke threw him a mana stone that enabled him to use telepathy.
—I’ve seen him before.
The prey’s message resonated in everyone’s minds through telepathic magic.
Count Beauport sighed out of relief.
He smiled as he began to feel more confident.
On the other hand, Vincent couldn’t help but feel more and more anxious.
“When did you see him”
—When he was nothing but a mere child.
He had a striking appearance.
So he had always been famous in the gutter.
Tristan narrowed his eyes.
He suspected that the prey was just spouting nonsense, but he had nothing to benefit from doing so.
Rather, he should know that doing so could only lead to raising the Grand Duke’s anger.
Surely, the prey of the rats wouldn’t be willing to make such a risky decision.
That should have been his last choice if he actually wanted to safely get out of this dilemma.
Tristan was convinced.
Without a doubt, Vincent did come from the gutter.
At that moment, his expression hardened.
Tristan briefly recalled the old days.
A lone child who crossed the Ingo Mountains without a single weapon on him.
His face had no trace of life other than not being blue.
He was injured, and was wearing nothing but rags on his frail, skeletal body.
It was like he was breathing without really being alive.
The child proved in front of the Grand Duke and his vassals that the blood of Valentine was flowing within him.
But that was not the only thing he was able to prove.
He showed the Grand Duke that he was a genius of the century that will never come forth again from this earth.
“Your Majesty, please adopt me.
I promise Your Majesty won’t regret it.”
His bold words were ridiculous and absurd.
Yet, it was so daring, so conspicuous and cunning to the point that it caused the Grand Duke himself to accept his proposal.
Tristan briefly turned his gaze to Vincent.
“I don’t care where he is from,” he said in a sharp tone.
The Duchy of Valentine’s heirloom has confirmed that Vincent was indeed of royal blood.
It didn’t matter where he was born and raised.
“What I want to know is whether Vincent is a spy or not.”
—I don’t know…
“You do not know”
—The master’s right hands, whose tongue has not been cut off, are much more knowledgeable than lowly prey like us.
There’s no way we’d know anything about that.
It was a dead end.
The Grand Duke laughed while shaking the cigarette he held in between his fingers.
His gray eyes reflected a blaze-like madness, representing the discomfort in his heart.
“Then, I’ll just capture them all.”
He was on the verge of starting a war with the gutter rats right now.
The prey continued.
—I don’t know if he’s a spy, but I’ve seen the boy in the feeding den.
The feeding den.
It was a place where many of the prey’s activities were held.
A place that could never be visited unless the person had connections to a rat.
Count Beauport immediately cried out as if he had seized his victory.
“He was in the feeding den!”
The testimony came from the prey that the Grand Duke had caught.
This meant that Count Beauport couldn’t have meddled with the prey in advance.
Making his words more precise!
This was absolutely irreversible.
The count was convinced.
The Grand Duke stared at Count Beauport with a cold gaze and spoke to the prey, “Do you have anything else to say”
The Count trembled back in fear.
He had nothing to be afraid of, but the Grand Duke had the scariest expression he had ever seen.
The prey shook his head.
The Grand Duke of Valentine could only do so much to protect his adoptive son.
Tristan thought that it was impossible for Vincent to be a spy.
Even if he was one, he couldn’t get anything out of it.
Rather than having something to gain, Vincent would only lose everything he had acquired and just fall into hell.
But it seemed that Tristan had misjudged him.
“Is it true”
Anything related to the gutter was an extremely sensitive matter.
He had no choice but to interrogate Vincent.
The boy parted his lips, “…It’s true.”
“Why were you in the prey’s feeding den”
There was no answer.
He avoided his gaze and bit his lips.
Silence is an admission of guilt.
He might have thought that he would fail to escape even if he desperately tried to explain himself.
Although Vincent was adopted, the Grand Duke did not discriminate against his sons.
He treated them the same and loved them both equally.
If the vassal claims were true, this was the most bitter betrayal that the Grand Duke has ever suffered.
He was angry and his heart was shattered to pieces.
“Are you a spy”
“Then why were you in the feeding den”
“Because I made a foolish judgment.”
He admitted his sins.
‘Even though I gave you a chance.’
“I hate answers that would only lead to more questions.
This is your last chance.
Answer me truthfully.”
He had been very considerate of Vincent.
The moment Vincent became a suspect, Tristan did not immediately cut off his head or imprisoned him in a dungeon like what he usually did to the others.
He did not even summon the vassals to hold a meeting.
Before the trial was held, only the five vassals and scribes, Vincent, and the two prey were summoned to the basement to be investigated.
That alone showed how patient Tristan had been.
He tried to give Vincent a chance to redeem himself.
It was a special treatment.
The boy didn’t even open his mouth.
So that was how it became.
The vassals exchanged glances and smiled at one another.
“…Lock him up and put him in jail,” Tristan ordered.
As if he didn’t want to see him anymore, he looked away from the regretful scene.
As soon as the words fell out of the Grand Duke’s mouth, the Black Falcons moved in unison.
They grabbed Vincent and dragged him away.
At that very moment, Aria’s words quickly passed through Vincent’s mind.
[If you survived because you are a genius, then you’ll also die from the same cause by the people who considered you a genius.]
Her prophecy became a reality.
The boy gritted his teeth but didn’t say a word.
As his shaking eyes slowly turned dull, he closed his eyes tightly.
Suddenly, the basement door slammed open with a large thud.
Someone had just grabbed his hand.
The hand was small and soft.
Startled, Vincent slowly opened his eyes.
In front of him was a girl wearing a cute rabbit mask, her ruby eyes staring deep into his soul.
“Why are you here…” Vincent muttered, confused.
He couldn’t believe it.
The Black Falcons could not forcibly remove Aria’s hand.
However, it would be cumbersome not to violate the order.
“…Refrain yourself from unnecessary contact,” Lloyd said as he took Aria’s hand away from Vincent’s.
He was the one who opened the basement door.
Tristan furrowed his eyebrows in annoyance.
He spoke, “I’m sure I told you not to let anyone in.”
Count Beauport joined in.
“I apologize, Your Majesty.
Your Highness, I’m afraid you must leave… Of course, I understand that you must be concerned about your younger brother…” he said, staring at Lloyd and Aria alternately with an irked expression.
“Who’s worried about who” Lloyd snarled as he cut the count’s speech and stared back at his father.
“I am not here because of him.”
“Then, is there anything more important than that”
If that was not the case, then he would have to pay the price for interrupting such an important moment.
Lloyd silently grabbed Aria’s hand and lifted it into the air.
Everyone’s eyes turned to Aria and to the object she was holding in her hand.
She was holding a branch.
‘…What the A twig’
It was dried up and looked like it could crumble in a single hit.
The scribes and the vassals were confused beyond reason.
However, the expressions of the Grand Duke and the Knights changed in an instant.
Because they could feel the object’s energy.
“It’s a holy relic!”
“What A relic!”
“Wait, a holy relic!”