Chapter 250

Despite the distance, Max could clearly see her father’s jaw stubbornly stiffening, it was an expression he used to make to suppress his temper when his anger peaked. The Duke of Croix glared at Riftan with hostility, directing his eyes towards him as if he wanted to kill him. He was holding the cane in his hand so tightly that it seemed as if his veins would burst.

“His Majesty does not have to make this matter problematic… I have said that many times. I did make that clear, to remind you. “

Max noticed her father’s speech indeed became slightly slurred, but not enough to sound ridiculous. His sense of authority, arrogance, and pride were etched deep in his bones to the point that he appeared overbearing even in front of the king. However, the Duke of Croix himself appeared aware and humiliated of the slurred speech that was the aftermath of the incident. Every time he spoke a word, anger flared in his eyes, he glared at Riftan with such hatred that it made everyone in the hall discreetly nervous, but Riftan’s anger and hostility were no less than the duke’s. The king swept an annoyed look at the two people who were at the verge of attacking each other right then and there, he then clicked his tongue and turned to Count Robern.

“After we rest for a couple of hours, we should start these talks immediately. Before my beloved subjects stick knives into each other’s chests, I must take the necessary measures.”

“I will accompany you, Your Majesty.”

“No, I want the count to watch over them in my place so they don’t end up tearing each other apart.”

Count Robern smiled bitterly and instructed the nearby butler to take the distinguished guests to their rooms. When the king led the princess and the attendants like a sole general, climbing the stairs covered in the shadow of gloomy gray, the people who were kneeling in respect all stood up at once. Max watched in confusion as the Duke of Croix hurried to retreat behind the knights. When she saw her father’s malevolent expression, an abominable premonition came over her that nothing would change her father’s mind.

Riftan looked at the duke with deep contempt, then turned his head as if he couldn’t stand the sight of him. “Maxi, come this way.”

Together they walked towards the annex. When her husband’s large, trustworthy body completely blocked her father’s hateful gaze, Max managed to release the breath she had been holding. Riftan led her to an empty room and began to convince her again.

“As I already told you several times, you don’t have to enter the conference room. This is not a formal trial. It is just a meeting that King Ruben made to mediate between the Duke of Croix and myself.”

Max shook her head firmly. “No matter what you say… this time I will not step a-aside. My father will sue Riftan for invading Croix Castle… and attacking him. When the fact is that Riftan… all he did was to save me.”

“I always wanted to beat him to death!” Riftan snapped harshly and Max released a weary sigh.

“Riftan… t-thinks that attacking my father is a reasonable retaliation. If-if you exclude me from the story, could you continue to claim that your actions were fair?”

Riftan gave her an expression like he was cornered. Max took his stiff hands and gave him a sincere smile.

“I… I’m not the kind of l-lady you thought I am. Now Riftan knows it too. That I had a difficult childhood… I also survived a j-journey through the middle of the continent. I have been through… a horrible w-war. Testifying to this point wouldn’t hurt me.”

Perhaps those were words that were preferable not to say because Riftan’s face turned grim and a sharp pain could be seen in his eyes. He seemed determined to speak until they heard a firm knock on the door.

“Commander, His Majesty would like to speak with you for a moment before starting the meeting.”

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It was Uslin Rikaido’s voice. Riftan looked at Max in anguish and reluctantly left.

“Don’t let anyone get close.”

Riftan, standing in front of the door, gave this stern order to the knights who were there and crossed the hall quickly. Max sat in front of the fireplace and waited impatiently for the meeting to begin. A second felt like a minute and a minute like an hour. A long time passed, she began to bite her nails and her mouth felt dry until she heard a knock on the door again.

“M’lady, the meeting has begun.”

“W-wait a moment.”

Max stood in front of the mirror and looked at herself. There were several fine hairs sticking out of her carefully braided hair, but she managed to look elegant. She carefully put her cloak over her shoulder and left the room.

“How about Riftan?”

“He went to the conference room first with His Majesty”.

Uslin answered as he led through the hall and then to the stairs situated in the middle.

“Don’t worry, Caron and I will be in the meeting room as well.”

“Besides you… who else will be there?”

“About ten people, including His Majesty’s attendants and escort knights… the duke will also bring about five or six people.”

Max was relieved that there would be fewer people than she had expected, but when she saw the huge number of people following the duke, she felt a bit daunted. The knights led her to the conference room located on the second floor and she looked around with a tensed gaze. At the farthest side of the spacious conference room, King Ruben took a seat with dignity as if he were a judge, on the right was Princess Agnes and on the left was Count Robern, both of them had solemn expressions.

Riftan and the Duke of Croix were sitting on either ends of a long table in the middle of the room, both turning their heads the opposite direction as if they despised seeing a glimpse of each other. Max was stiff and frozen as Elliott led her to the end of the room, to the side where Riftan was sitting.

“Please come this way.”

Max sat in one of the long rows of chairs that were propped along the walls. Elliott and Uslin sat on either side of her. The king, who was looking at a long scroll of parchment, raised his head and asked.

“Did all the people involved in this matter attend?” The king leaned an elbow on the armrest of his chair and tilted his chin, waving the parchment.

“Before starting this meeting, I was reading once again the cryptic demand that the Duke of Croix has sent me. In it, he states that last fall, my most esteemed knight caused a very unpleasant incident.” He glanced mockingly at the parchment and smirked as if the whole thing was amusing. “In conclusion, it says that Whedon’s number one knight infiltrated Croix Castle and tried to kill the duke.”

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Uslin rose from his seat furiously as if to protest, but before he could say anything, King Ruben calmly continued.

“In the same period, Calypse declared war on the duke with the intention of exercising ‘his just right to retaliation.’ I don’t know what the hell happened, but one decided on war and the other on trial.”

“Your Majesty! This is not the place to talk about his illegal declaration of war, is it not?!” The duke banged on the table and quivered as he retorted, his face turning a reddish color. “That beastly man… he dared to infiltrate the Castle of Croix and try to harm me, the duke! Despite the high priest treating me urgently, I barely awoke and suffered in unconsciousness for four days. Anyone who dares harm a nobleman must pay the price accordingly! Isn’t that the right thing to do for a subject who is utmost loyal to His Majesty?”

“Your majesty! The Duke of Croix is ​​giving one-sided, biased claims!” Uslin, who had lost patience, raised his voice.

One of the attendants tried to warn him about his rude action, but King Ruben raised a hand and clenched his chin as if to speak. After ignoring Riftan’s warning look, Uslin knelt on one knee before the king and began to speak rapidly.

“That day, we went to Croix Castle to meet with Lady Calypse. However, although the duke had no right, he locked the lady in his quarters and treated Lord Calypse with contempt. No man in this world would remain silent if anyone had taken his wife away! The commander had no choice but to break into the castle to claim his wife. Technically speaking, the one who has committed offense is the Duke of Croix. “

“H-how dare you… where did you fetch such lies to speak?!” The duke screamed as he slammed the table. “It was mere probation! My own daughter staying in my castle is not locking her up, it is not an illegal act! Don’t you know that well, Your Majesty and the Princess? My daughter returned to Castle Croix out of her own free will!”

“My ears hurt.” King Ruben frowned and he muttered. “I did not come here to discern what is right or wrong. What my ears want to hear is what in the world had occurred between the two of you and try working out a mutual compromise. So, considering my extensive efforts, please refrain from yelling at each other.”

At the king’s cold warning, the duke closed his mouth with an expression of dissatisfaction. King Ruben paused for a moment with a thoughtful expression and opened his mouth again.

“Unfortunately for the Duke, Sir Rikaido’s arguments, to my deduction, make complete sense. The wife belongs to her husband. If Calypse wishes to see his wife, you have no right to stop him.”

“But Your Majesty, I just wanted to protect my first-born daughter”, he said naturally without blinking.

Riftan, who was sitting quietly and had maintained a calm temper, suddenly froze. As if he couldn’t believe what he had heard, he looked at the duke with stern eyes.

“Did you just say… protect?”

His gaze was so fierce that the duke’s body stiffened and his face paled. He stirred like he was seeing his worst nightmare, turned his head, and appealed to the king.

“My daughter had lost a child and was left completely alone in Drakium Castle. What do you think I thought when I saw her like that?! I was just trying to protect my daughter from the palace rumors and her husband’s cold treatment.”

“How dare you tell such a blatant lie!” Elliott screamed as he stood up and glared at him.

Uslin and Elliot stood from their seats and glared at the duke with such hostility in their eyes that the knights by the king’s side felt the fierce momentum from the two and they quickly drew out their swords.

“For the safety of His Majesty, moderate your attitude!”

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As they reluctantly sat back down, the king shifted his position and heaved a long sigh. His indifferent eyes then turned to Max who had stiffened.

“It seems to be that you are at the center of this conflict. What do you think of the arguments of both parties?”

“Your Majesty, my wife…!”

“I wasn’t asking you anything at the moment, I was asking your wife.” The king sternly stopped Riftan’s intervention.

Max tried to smile at Riften to comfort him when she saw him so stiff and began to stand up slowly. She felt her fingers tremble slightly at her father’s intense gaze. She grabbed the hem of her skirt to grasp out her nervousness and straightened her posture.

“My-my father…” She swallowed dry saliva and tried as hard as she could to refine her trembling voice. “He did not stop me from meeting my husband to protect me. My father… was just worried about whether I would be subject to a divorce and become an embarrassment to the family. And to tell you the truth, Your Majesty, I too believed for a while that a divorce was imminent. I had no confidence to see my husband… I feared that I would be c-criticized, and I foolishly followed my father. But upon reaching the duchy…”

Her voice cracked slightly. She took a little pause and looked at Riftan’s face. When she saw his pale, weary face, her chest ached. She just wanted to get him out of this place and embrace him tightly against her chest. Max licked her dry lips and desperately spoke the words out of her lips.

“I.. I… wanted to meet my husband to talk to him. But my father wouldn’t let me, so I tried to go against his will…” She hesitated for a moment, then exhaled laboriously. “My father locked me up and inflicted severe co-corporal punishment upon me. My husband… witnessing me being punished, was furious to see it.”

“How dare you…”

The duke was so tense that a vein protruded from rage. He opened his mouth wide, as if he were about to vomit profanity, then clenched his teeth as if swallowing a ball of fire. He had an expression of disbelief, he looked as if his slave rebelled against him, the master.

Max lowered her eyes to avoid that look full of anger. After a moment of silence, the king opened his mouth to speak again.

“I think I understand now how things happened.” The king sighed and burrowed his back into the leather-covered chair. “Duke, if what they just said is true, you too cannot escape responsibility. Maximilian Calypse belongs to Riftan Calypse. From the moment their marriage started, you lost all your rights over your daughter. Naturally, you have no right to confine or inflict any corporal punishment on her.”

“That girl, unfortunately, now takes the side of her husband and exaggerates banal things! Preventing her from seeing Calypse or the little corporal punishment was an act for the future of my daughter and the honor of my family!” The duke rebutted desperately. “When I saw my daughter alone in the palace, I really thought that Calypse would abandon her. Is it such a big mistake trying to do my best to prevent my daughter from being insulted like that and suffer?”

Max was completely overwhelmed by her father’s impudence. He had such a calm, insolent expression and it manipulated even her to believe his words. The duke lifted his chin proudly.

“In the process… I will not deny that my behavior was excessive. If I have to take responsibility, I am willing to give compensation. But I don’t care what His Majesty says, I have no intention of forgiving that person’s actions.”

He turned and looked directly into Riftan’s fiery eyes. Apparently, the hatred that welled up in his gut gave him the courage to look at Riftan and he continued.

“No matter where you see it, Riftan Calypse’s behavior was exaggerated. If it offended him that I didn’t let him see my daughter and that I placed her on probation to correct her vulgar habits… then he should have protested on the spot. But what did he do? He tried to kill me right there and there! And as if that has not been enough, he even threatened my land with a war. He could hardly be defined as a sane human being. His majesty must immediately withdraw his title of being the commander of the Remdragon Knights, revoke the Knighthood, and take control of his territory!”

Hearing the duke’s roar, Max held her forehead with her hand and staggered, Elliott quickly held her up, but his face was just as pale as hers. As if already prepared for this outcome, Riftan sat silently with an expressionless face.

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Note – LF: I can’t describe the hatred I’m feeling right now >:(

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