Moonlight Ball - Chapter 168
Elena raised her head at Iris’s command, her tone soothing.
Elena’s face was filled with an awkward smile. With that kindly face, Iris lowered her head.
“If I were the Queen, you should heed my words. Leave. If you still think I’m not the Queen, you’re welcome to stay.”
A slow smile disappeared from Elena’s face. She glanced at the Queen for a moment. On the Queen’s face, she could see the sharp thorns of guardedness. Just like when they first met, or rather, even more than then, she had completely closed the door to her heart.
She had a rough idea of what she was thinking. Some of it was misunderstanding… Some of it was true. Elena recognized Iris as Iris herself. It was Iris herself who didn’t acknowledge Iris as Iris. Iris had already changed. She had transformed. She had become a butterfly. Did she want to claim she was still a caterpillar? Unfortunately, even if she were an accomplished magician, she couldn’t turn back time.
Wanting to be a caterpillar and not knowing she’s a butterfly—how pitiful.
But soon, she would understand. She was wiser and nobler than Rosemary. Elena had faith and had no doubt about that.
And so the day of the trial arrived. The courtroom for En Letaire was filled with an enormous audience. It seemed that all of En Letaire’s nobles had gathered. Well, except for the three Surah brothers, who were still on their sacred mission. Unfortunately, the saying holds true that even a witch’s corpse rots. As time went on, that place turned into hell. Life was hell not only for the Surah male members but also for the women, including Margaret, in the Surah family. She was genuinely relieved that it was winter now, as she stepped out of the house after a long time. She pulled deeply on her pitch-black hood and staggered as she walked. Her legs had no strength. She couldn’t even lift her head, and when she did, she could only see the crooked branches of the trees lining the street. They were like her arms and legs—twisted, feeble, and dying branches.
Even the short distance from the carriage to the courtroom was a struggle, step by step. She was out of breath. The stairs were particularly difficult. She climbed each step painstakingly, without any handrails. People pushed her as they passed, and each time, she almost fell backward.
Each time, she realized she was dying. Despair was dark and profound. It wasn’t just dying; it was growing old and dying. Could it even be called growing old when one was dying at twenty-six? But now she didn’t have much time left. At the current rate, it could be tomorrow or the day after. She couldn’t guarantee her life anymore.
And she didn’t want to live any longer. With this face, and this body, what good was it to continue living?
Margaret trembled as she held a dagger hidden in her bosom. She had never killed a person before. She had suggested killing, but hadn’t she killed herself? She had merely given the order. She hadn’t killed anyone.
But this time, she was going to kill someone herself. Who would kill the Queen? It was an impossible task to find someone who could kill the Queen and who had the King’s favor and the love of the people. It required a tremendous amount of money and connections, neither of which Margaret had.
“You insect-like wench. I won’t leave you be,”
Margaret muttered as she laboriously climbed another step when a group of people in black cloaks brushed past her. Eventually, she stumbled and fell several steps down.
Among the crowd that had passed by her, a man, Count Samain, frowned and glanced back. There was a young, trembling servant girl looking daggers at him.
“Should I kill her?”
A knight who stood behind Count Samain asked. He knew well of Samain’s cruelty. In situations like this, Count Samain would quickly kill servants like this without hesitation. Whether it was in front of many people or in front of the courtroom, it didn’t matter. However…
“No, just go.”
Count Samain was standing with his back to her. A knight behind him inquired,
Fortunately, Count Samain turned his body after barely brushing aside the servant girl, who managed to preserve her life by luck. He wasn’t in the mood to spill blood right now. He was curious. He was immensely curious about the woman with Railan’s face—the other woman. He didn’t want to taint his focus with that curiosity. It was a harmless emotion that he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“There’s a more exquisite prey.”
But he was a malevolent human, and that wouldn’t change. He had been that way since birth.
However, two hours later, he was standing in the echoing courtroom, chuckling softly. There was only one person laughing, but his laughter didn’t stand out amidst the various reactions. The laughing man, Kurlan In Samain, Lady Surah, and Margaret with her mouth opened in disbelief. Duchess Elena of the Sethang ducal family had a stone-cold expression on her face. And there were the ominous premonitions—the husband and ‘father-in-law’ standing in front.
Seated at the witness stand, Iris asked, “Why do I have to choose between the Queen and the sorcerer?”
Befuddled, the judge stammered, “W-well, Your Majesty. Allow me to explain the purpose of this trial. This trial is—”
“Are you going to choose between a man and the judge, Your Honor?”
Iris asked. Her face showed genuine curiosity. The judge’s expression contorted. Just then, the courtroom door swung open, and a woman burst in.
“Oh my, I’m so sorry for being late. I am Ruth Da Rossa, the defense attorney for Rosemary En Letaire – Iris Elaine.”
A thunderous shout erupted from the direction of the upper seats. Ruth glanced in that direction and beamed brightly.
“Oh my, big brother. Long time no see. Has it been ten years? You’ve gained some weight. Shouldn’t you lose some? Oh, and don’t shout in the courtroom. It’s impolite.”
A petite figure with an average build, or rather, a slightly chubby one, displayed a very likable appearance. However, it was clear that she wasn’t of average temperament. Her brisk, chirpy voice burst forth from her diminutive frame like a sparrow’s. And despite speaking another dialect from Delter, not Letaire, her pronunciation was unwavering. She was truly famous as the continent’s top defense attorney.
She was Ruth Da Rossa.
That’s right, Iris had freely hired her own defense attorney. And she had officially declared, “Why can’t I have both?”
The trial was now spiraling into an abyss of uncertainty. Count Samain continued to chuckle, leaning on his cane with a bowed back. Oh my. Was that woman like this? Oh my. She looked just like –
Count Samain’s eyes flickered as he lifted his head.
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