“Speak, what do you have to say in your defense?” The emperor asked in an ice-cold tone. At the same time, he released his aura to pressure us.
I frowned briefly and grabbed Dina’s hand. Although this pressure is nothing to me, Ysnay, or Evelyn, Dina is just a sixth-layer practitioner. She will find it hard to endure the pressure of an eleventh-layer practitioner.
As soon as I held Dina’s hand, she felt the pressure attacking her to vanish. Surprised, Dina looked at me and smiled gratefully. She then grabbed my hand tighter and spoke up calmly to the emperor.
“Your Majesty, what do you mean?”
The emperor raised an eyebrow surprised. He never expected Dina to take the initiative to speak.
He expected Evelyn or me to speak instead, and he was the wariest of us. After all, it was in front of the emperor and several powerful ministers facing a possible death penalty. A normal person would be so frightened that he would have pissed his pants.
But Dina did not cower and instead acted as though nothing was wrong.
Even Evelyn and the ministers in the hall were slightly surprised by Dina’s calmness.
Involuntarily, my lips curved up in a soft smile.
This sister of mine has grown a lot.
She has gone from being an unfortunate princess to a strong woman able to stand firmly in front of the emperor.
Unfortunately, now was not the time to reminisce about my sister’s growth.
Although the emperor was slightly surprised by Dina’s calmness, he narrowed his eyes and harrumphed when he heard her question.
“Dina Quintin, don’t you already know what happened? Or are you going to evade your responsibility in the two thousand deaths?”
Dina frowned and did not reply immediately. She had noticed the emperor directly asked us to take responsibility.
It was outrageous! He did not even know the details of the situation!
Dina knew that if we were declared responsible for the deaths, our lives were ended. Two thousand deaths were something that not even the emperor could shrug off easily.
Moreover, it was obvious the emperor wanted to put these deaths in our heads. He did not care if we were the culprits or not. He wanted to use us as scapegoats!
We had long become a thorn in his side after all.
Aware of the graveness of the situation, Dina looked at me as though asking for help. But I just smiled and said nothing.
In fact, I stopped Evelyn from talking.
This is a good opportunity for Dina. Although it looks like we are in deep shit, the truth is that I already prepared a countermeasure for this.
Thus, to me, this was just a play.
But if my sister performs outstandingly in this play, perhaps we can gain an unexpected reward.
Therefore, now that my sister took the initiative to step forward, I’ll let her continue facing this alone. The rest of us will be just supporting characters in her play.
Seeing that none of us replied, the emperor frowned.
“It looks like none of you wants to admit it, huh. Well, I’ll speak then. This morning, Headmistress Evelyn together with Prince Claus and Princess Dina started an operation so eliminate the so-called ‘seeds’ that someone was using to manipulate several citizens in the capital to perform crimes. I personally gave permission to start that operation.
“However, I don’t remember telling you to kill two thousand citizens!” The emperor slammed the arm of his throne. “Two thousand citizens! Two thousand citizens that were killed in the Imperial Institute! Moreover, we received information about thousands of animals dying at the same time. Do you know what that means?”
“… I know, Your Majesty.” Dina frowned and said.
“But it looks like you don’t!” The emperor growled. “Do you know how big this problem is? How are we going to answer the citizens for these deaths? Many of the citizens in the capital lost their loved ones today. What if they ask for an explanation from us? How are we going to answer them? We could have a rebellion in our hands! Do you understand!?”
“I understand, Your Majesty.”
The emperor looked at Dina and then at us and sighed ruefully, as though he was feeling disappointed.
However, I could feel he was inwardly excited.
He could care less about the people that died. Certainly, some of these people would demand an explanation, and there was a risk of a rebellion.
But at the same time, this was the perfect excuse to order our execution.
And once we were executed, the emperor could use our deaths to appease the citizens, calming the masses.
In other words, he exchanged the lives of two thousand commoners for our deaths.
For the emperor, it was quite a good deal.
Thus, he feigned an expression of pain and spoke up.
“… Someone will have to take responsibility for this. Everyone, what do you think?” He asked the ministers in the hall.
“Your majesty, the situation is very grave. I’m sure the citizens of the capital will not be satisfied unless we give them an appropriate answer.”
“It’s obvious Headmistress Evelyn is at fault here. As the person that proposed this operation, she must take responsibility.”
“What about Prince Claus and Princess Dina? I think they are also partially responsible. After all, despite being part of the Imperial Family, they did nothing to stop the atrocities of the Headmistress.”
“You are right. They should be exiled at the very least.”
I heard all their words with a smile.
Nobody here was an idiot. They all knew the Emperor wanted to take this opportunity to get rid of us.
After all, although most commoners knew nothing about the problems in the Imperial Family, it was not exactly a secret for the nobles.
Thus, many nobles wanted to use this opportunity to ingratiate with the emperor.
In fact, a normal prince would have escaped this situation with a slight admonishment and a mild punishment at most.
And even if someone needed to take responsibility, nobody would dare to use a prince for this.
The fact that so many people dared to suggest punishing us showed our precarious position in this empire.
But the worst had not come yet.
Someone had not spoken yet.
And now, my father-in-law, Earl Carson Riea, took a step forward.
“Your Majesty, you must be a virtuous king. A blood debt shall be paid with blood!”
Several of the nobles gasped.
Not even the craziest of them dared to suggest killing a prince.
After all, the emperor was our father in the end. Even if our relationship was bad, killing us was too extreme.
But to the surprise of many, the emperor did not hesitate to nod.
“You are right, a debt of blood must be paid with blood. The responsible for this must will receive the corresponding punishment.”
I smirked inwardly. Hypocrite.
… How many innocent people have you not killed in your entire life?
Your words are nothing more than shit.
But although I was in the mood to curse my father in my mind, Dina was in a panic.
Although she did her best to not show it in her face, I could feel the hand grabbing mine trembling slightly.
Glancing at me, Dina bit her lips and sighed.
“Your Majesty, if someone needs to be punished, it must be me. I was the one that directed this operation. The others were only following my orders.”
These words of Dina surprised the people in the hall.
“Dina, you–!” Evelyn tried to talk, but Ysnay stopped her with a glance. She then looked at Dina with interest.
‘… What a cute girl.’ I heard her voice in my mind.
The emperor frowned. “Do you mean that you admit this is your responsibility.”
“I see… How admirable, but it’s not enough. The others must pay too!”
“Stop Dina.” I interrupted her and smiled. “You don’t need to beg him.”
What a joke. It’s obvious the emperor will not let pass this opportunity to bury me seven meters under the ground.
Dina still wanted to talk, but I stopped her with a soft chuckle.
Before Dina could understand my meaning, a voice came from the entrance of the hall.
“Your Majesty, you should investigate the situation before making a decision, don’t you think?”
I curved my lips up. She finally arrived.
The emperor frowned. He immediately realized that something was wrong.
“… What are you doing here, Saintess Safelia?”
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