Chapter 139: Sixteenth Episode: Chapter 3
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Shouted commands and the hurried sound of hooves broke the silence of the serene night. The streets of Dulin city erupted into chaos, and silhouettes of soldiers could be seen moving around every corner. Since the shooting incident that happened in mid-afternoon, the whole city had been scoured twice in search of the suspect. It seemed that the seek and arrest would continue until the impatient emperor finally obtained a result.

Cabinet ministers retreated from the emperor's sleeping quarters in twos and threes, while both sides of the streets were crowded with guards on duty. Protected by walls of shields, swords, and spears, these lords began discussing the chain reactions triggered by the shooting incident as they headed for Hamilton Palace.

"Was it you?" Alan murmured to Old Kachev and revealed a faint smile.

"No way," the Chancellor beamed in return. Unconsciously, he checked his surroundings, but no one seemed to have noticed him and Alan.

"Lord marshal, you seem like a suspicious subject to me too!" Old Kachev voiced out his opinion while simultaneously sizing up the commander of Imperial Guards.

"Haha, Kachev, you're wrong this time around! Haven't you notice that it's my responsibility to safeguard His Highness Prince all this while? It doesn't make sense for me to plan a murder on him."

The cabinet chancellor couldn't help but shake his head at Silver Fox's reply.

"Alan, some things don't have to be spoken in order to be understood. I know you were never really concerned about His Highness' life."

"Really?" Alan asked. "Then there's no need to speak of things that have been understood! But in all seriousness, I'm genuine this time, so is His Majesty the Emperor! To assassinate the empire's precious under the eyes of His Majesty, the scrutiny of almost half of the powerful officials, as well as the presence of foreign diplomatic envoys, at the most prestigious wedding of the imperial family! Imagine! This person must be courting death!"

"Exactly!" the smile on old Kachev's face didn't remain for long. In fact, he was completely confused by this incident too. Who would have done it? This was equivalent to declaring war on the Imperial Family! Alfa III would never let this off the hook even if he was buried six feet underground!

"Was it you?" Alan turned to ask the finance minister who caught up from behind.

Almodovar Godzilla, who resembled a small hill, exercised his blubbery body to immediately waved his hands in denial.

"My good God of Light! Do you even hear yourself? I would never do that to my young friend! As I've said earlier, Deiss seems to be the most suspicious! Perhaps it was those southerners?"

"Don't think that your secrets are so well hidden," Silver Fox Alan stared at the Sea Creature with evil eyes. "Godzilla, because the emperor favors you and you were a good companion during his teenage times, I didn't expose you on certain affairs when I should have. However, I shall remind you that bad deeds will be returned with even worse luck!"

"Marshal, you don't have to remind me where I stand as I'm well aware of that!" Almodovar finally calmed down.

"Forget about it, you two! Hush! The emperor is approaching!" the chancellor warned his companions and positioned himself in between the marshal and finance minister.

As he wished to take a short walk, Alfa III didn't travel by carriage. News of young Oscar having passed his critical condition didn't make the emperor feel any better, as he knew that the shooting incident was the most rigorous challenge toward his series of strategic decisions. This could possibly be the most extreme political crisis he had ever faced since he took power!

The emergence of the mini hand cannon was no doubt the most practical and efficient weapon assassins could ever dream of! A sudden thought petrified him. If it Oscar hadn't blocked the bullet with his flesh in front of Alanis and the crowd behind them, who knew which body the bullet would have headed for!

"Are you all complaining about me?" the emperor headed to the few lords who stood by the side of the street, "It was because of me that all of you have to walk instead of traveling by carriage!"

"We dare not!" Almodovar Godzilla grinned mischievously as usual and went forward to receive the emperor. "Your Majesty, we are just expressing our gratefulness for His Highness Prince's safety!"

The emperor gave a snort of disgust, "You should be! If anything bad happens to my young Oscar, my daughter will no doubt die of heartbreak! For that, I will definitely bury all of you alive to accompany the husband and wife!"

Alan and old Kachev exchanged glances when they both discovered the emperor was suspicious of them.

"I trusted all of you to manage my country, but see how much it has degenerated? Even a lone woman dared to assassinate my family with a hand cannon in the daylight! If I don't..."

"Your Highness!" Marshal Alan interrupted the emperor, "She's not just any ordinary woman! She was able to get hold of a hand cannon and pass through the heavily guarded Dulin Scott Cathedral, and besides perfectly aiming at the target, she also successfully escaped amidst the chaos. All these reveal that this woman is a well-trained professional assassin, and the deployment of this shooting incident was meticulous as..."

"Enough! I know all these!" the irritated emperor intervened the Imperial Guards Marshal who regarded himself as infallible.

"Your Majesty! The urgent matter right now is to locate the assassin and figure out the mastermind behind this motive!" the Chancellor interfered.

"Give me a more useful suggestion, will you?" the Emperor glared at Kachev. "The army forces have already turned the whole Dulin city upside down in search of the assassin!"

"No, Your Majesty!" Kachev shook his head, "I advise to reduce the search scope, as our priority is to confirm the suspect's identity, but we don't wish for the armed troop to severely disturb the public order."

Emperor gave a slight nod of agreement.

Marshal Alan didn't want Kachev to be the only one enjoying the limelight, "Your Majesty! The Military Intelligence Bureau and the Secret Service Department are experienced in dealing with unexpected surprise events, you can completely count on these two departments to handle the investigation efforts for this shooting incident."

Emperor shifted his attention to Alan. By now, he had already calmed down from his agitation.

"According to Rudolf who had discovered the weapon, there's a possibility that this incident is related to the people associated with the Southern Uprising! What do you think?"

Alan shook his head cautiously at the emperor, "Although the possibility is there, in my opinion, it seems more like the mastermind is trying to frame someone else! The individuals associated with the Southern Uprising have basically been eradicated and limited by Imperial Guards to only a couple of tiny regions, I think that..."

"Forget it!" Alfa III was easily irritated these days. "This is the seventh year since the Southern Uprising happened! What do you mean by they have basically been eradicated? As long as riots continue to break out in the south, it means they have not been destroyed yet! What have you and your army done in the past seven years? Even the crack special combat troops were defeated! Don't you feel the slightest hint of shame?"

Alan didn't know how to respond to the enraged emperor. Although the Emperor's reprimand was unreasonable to a certain extent, part of it was nonetheless the truth. The Marshal of Imperial Guards couldn't help but felt regret at the thought of this. He'd never thought that the struggle of the Southern Uprising would have lasted this long; the determination of these mountain inhabitants, hunters, merchants, and coolies were completely beyond his expectations.

The Imperial Guards' initial military action in the southern mountainous area had gone rather smoothly, but the situation changed the moment those revolutionaries had adapted to guerrilla warfare. Deep forests and complex terrains in the southern mountainous areas provided good cover and hidden base for the revolutionaries. These people appeared and disappeared like shadows, and regularly attacked small and medium-sized towns as well as main traffic routes. Due to these reasons, the empire had no choice and was forced to change the Imperial Guards from conventional warfare to special combat in order to defeat these mountain hunters.

Therefore, Imperial Guards 8431 Special Combat Brigade was formed.

This unit was an outcome of that era. While having to maintain a large number of regular army troops to ensure peace and stability within international and domestic conditions, the Titan empire also had to focus on the development of a special force with tough combat capabilities. This special brigade unit under the Military Combat Department was directly under the command of the Marshal of the Guards, who was otherwise known as Imperial Military Affairs Chancellor.

8431 brigade operated under combat platoon or combat team as their grass-roots unit. These small combat units were dispersed in various military regions and were called to action by Military Affairs Chancellor through one-way contact to deal with emergency events that threatened peace and stability of the empire. Of course, authorization of commands to the special combat troops had to be approved by His Majesty the Emperor. There was also an advisor office established in the Imperial Secretariat especially for reviewing their operations plan.

In Church's year 792, when the flames of the Great Southern Uprising were lit in the mountainous areas, the Imperial Army dispatched a large number of special combat troops to the mountains in response to the agile guerrilla warfare employed by the rebel forces. These dispersed troops of elite fighters had been active on all fronts. They employed ambushes, infiltrations and other means to strike against those revolutionaries in barren, steep mountains, and provided accurate and efficient intelligence information to the forces of the Southern Army Group.

Sacrifices were inevitable during such actions. In the first two years of dealing with the rebel forces, the attrition of the 8431 special combat brigade had not drawn the attention of the military. However, with the gradual stabilization of the areas controlled by the army forces, the 8431 brigade began to experience heavy casualties, and some combat teams even went missing or were annihilated during the process.

In year 796, the 8431 Brigade which had lost almost all of its members had no choice but to withdraw from the mountainous areas of the south. Considering the need to form a Military Intelligence Bureau, the Imperial Military Affairs Chancellor Marshal Vann Hewitt Alan had to dismiss these seasoned warriors of the special forces and incorporate the remaining personnel into International Operations Division and National Internal Security Division under the Military Intelligence Bureau International Division's Secret Operations Department. Hence, these former elite soldiers had since embarked on new battle positions.

Alan couldn't help but let out a long, nostalgic sigh at the thought of this. If he had reorganized the special combat forces back then, things wouldn't have turned out this way! The few remaining elite war resources of Imperial Guards had the convenient O'Neil Andrew Morisette, and this young man seemed to not have discovered the advantage held in his hands yet. What a waste!

***************

"If so... First Lieutenant Monia Amerson, are you going to lay down your mini hand cannon?" asked Messier as he wiped off the perspiration forming on his forehead. In all seriousness, it wasn't a simple task to handle this veteran who once used to be part of the 8431 brigade. Although Monia had joined the troop late as compared to her other comrades, her file records were filled with countless brilliant triumphs, which included assassinations, ambushes, sudden trials, and long-range raids. In short, every record showed that someone had died in her hand.

Monia's brows knitted tightly together. Although she had faith in her hand cannon, these two men who stood in front of her were not easily offended either.

The first lieutenant dropped her hand cannon. Paul and Black Devil also respectively removed their knife and sword held to the woman's vital organs.

Messier finally let out the breath he had been holding, "Alright, First Lieutenant, explain your mission!"

Monia saluted with the most immaculate military posture and walked out of the dark corner of the room. Candlelight silhouetted the outline of her face, also revealing her uniform which had faded after numerous washes.

"Report, with perfect accuracy, the bullet shot pierced through the target's armor and embedded into his inner abdomen slightly underneath his fourth ribs without injuring the heart."

"What does it mean?"

"That means he's not in a critical condition since I didn't injure his heart."

"Do you have any idea who was it that you shot?" Messier laughed maliciously.

"I only obey orders."

"Let me tell you!" Paul stepped forward impatiently. "Young lady, you almost killed the Chief of Imperial Military Intelligence Bureau, Marshal of Imperial Guards, His Imperial Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette!"

"I know!" Monia Amerson nodded with indifference. "But I received a permit from the chief and an order from my direct superior, Baron Messier De Quixote, the Head of First Branch of Military Intelligence."

"What is going on here?" Paul was exasperated, and he shifted his gaze to Messier, demanding an answer.

"Paul, First Lieutenant Monia and you are the same kinds of people, you don't have the right to know the reason behind this! Besides, as you have heard, I was also only doing my job as told," Messier replied the enraged King of Assassin's question without emotion.

"First Lieutenant," disregarding Snowstorm's ferocious features, Messier turned to Monia who had maintained a serious army poise all this while, "since you are well aware that you've injured a marshal of Imperial Guards, that means you're no longer suitable for the army."

"I don't understand!" Monia Amerson shook her head in confusion.

"Like I said before, there's no need for you to understand, just know that you've been expelled from Military Intelligence Bureau and Imperial Army altogether!" Messier threw the file titled "First Branch of Military Intelligence Confidential Record: Zero" into the fireplace as he spoke. That was the one and only concrete evidence that proved First Lieutenant Monia Amerson's existence in the world, and now it was being burned into ashes by the raging flames.

"Expelled?" Monia clenched her fists tightly until her knuckles were white. She stared at the growing flames in the fireplace. This was the first time ever she had even questioned her superior's orders.

"That's right!" Messier nodded and retrieved another document from his desk. "However, Monia, being expelled doesn't mean the Imperial Army has given you up. Here is your new identity, given by Service Management Department of Military Intelligence Bureau's Secret Operations Division. You are going to step out of your military uniform and start a new life with this new identity!"

"What do you mean?" Monia couldn't contain herself anymore. She wanted to point her hand cannon to the temple of her superior and demand him to retrieve his order, but the other two terrifying men had already come up behind her.

"It's not too bad of a decision, really!" Messier revealed a faint smile, as he knew it was a right decision to invite Paul and Black Devil. "Aren't you tired of endless missions and killings? His Highness Prince is giving you an opportunity to start all over again! To be frank, before this, your existence was nothing more than a battle resource of the Imperial Army, a killing machine! Don't you ever yearn for second chance to lead a different life?"

Monia Amerson's gaze moved in an unsteady motion. No one had ever proposed this idea to her before! A new life? To start all over again? What did he mean? She was the leader of Imperial Guards 8431 Special Combat Brigade, she was the Secret Operations Officer for Military Intelligence Bureau Intelligence Analysis Department, she was a soldier! Not a killing machine!

Paul pressed his palm into the woman's shoulder, he wasn't sure what this woman was capable of doing when agitated.

"Monia, the meeting is over! You have to find one way or another to accept this hard truth, otherwise, you'll put me in a difficult position. Do you understand?"

Messier shoved the document signifying the beginning of her new life into the woman's hand before he shifted his attention to Paul.

"Bring her back to Kenshin Palace, Captain Vick will assign her to tasks. Paul! Stop frowning, will you? Both of you will encounter each other more often in the near future!"

Dissatisfied, the King of Assassins grabbed the woman and headed for the door, "Messier! You owe me an explanation, you better pray earnestly for His Highness Prince to be safe and sound!"

"Remember to exit from the secret way and not let anyone see you!" from behind the King of Assassins came the voice of Head of First Branch of Military Intelligence.

As he watched the silhouettes gradually disappear from his sight, Messier couldn't help but shake his head and let out a sigh.

"His Highness Prince… owes me an explanation too!"

***************

Moonlight gleamed through the glass onto the deserted corridor, while the whole palace remained dead silent. Silvery light glowed onto the exquisite furnishings and gold-plated frames, the dim light making the entire space seem gloomy and melancholy.

The lights were extinguished in Tacheles Fortress at midnight. Being the sleeping quarters of His Majesty the Emperor of Titan Empire, this small fortress had as many defenses as any major military fortress. Those well-trained paladins guarding the emperor's sleeping chamber would patrol along every corner of the castle once an hour.

Something unusual had happened in the emperor's sleeping quarters. A prominent imperial family member was now occupying the bed of Alfa III, and his appearance left the emperor no alternative but to spend his night in Hamilton Palace guest room. Although the emperor's decision to locate His Highness Prince O'Neil Andrew Morisette in his personal sleeping quarters appeared somewhat unjustifiable, Tacheles Fortress was undoubtedly the safest place in the world, and the decision had been made out of safety reasons. Nevertheless, after this assassination incident, one would rather value Marshal O'Neil, who occupied a prominent place in the heart of Alfa III His Majesty. Everyone had witnessed with their own eyes how the imperial family son-in-law had taken a bullet for the princess and the emperor.

"Leave now," the Duke of Andrew waved his hands to dismiss the paladins who were guarding the emperor's sleeping quarters.

The few paladins saluted in response, but only moved about twenty steps away from their position.

Dortmund entered the emperor's sleeping chambers and closed the door behind him. He saw his son sprawled his weak and limp body on the bed, and in the air lingered the smell of medicine and disinfectant.

"You're still awake?"

"I've been waiting for you!" Oscar struggled to straighten himself, and his voice was so faint that Dortmund almost thought he'd imagined the reply.

"Haha, why?" Dortmund went forward and held young Oscar's shoulder, motioning for the severely wounded child to stay still.

"Waiting for your visit so I can explain the situation to you!" Oscar's gaze lingered on his father's face and noticed it was filled with concern and confusion. "You must be thinking the person who assassinated me in this situation is either a lunatic or a fool!"

"So how do you explain this?" the Duke of Andrew took the seat by the bedside. He didn't seem too surprised at what his son had just said.

"Ola!" Oscar blurted out his favorite pet phrase with much difficulty. "I found someone who I can trust and have manipulation over to shoot myself, what more can I say about it?"

"You almost killed yourself!" Dortmund reprimanded softly.

"I have faith in that person's marksmanship! Besides, I'm only planning for a better future!"

Dortmund gave out a low sigh as he watched the child lying on the sick bed with concern. This child could shoot himself without hesitation without a legit reason, what else would he be capable of doing next time?

"Oscar, I discover that you've changed completely since your return from Deiss. You become difficult to approach and always seem to be so distant! As your father, I can't even figure out what evil plan you're plotting in your little mind! Tell me, what is it that you're going to do? What indeed happened to you?"

"Nothing!" Oscar turned his head away. "It's just a plan that I'm developing, a plan that could grant me a safe and smooth life!"

"And by that, you mean shooting yourself with a hand cannon? I really don't understand you anymore!" Dortmund finally lost control, but immediately he checked the surroundings as the paladins shouldn't hear about this.

"Father!" Oscar sigh in impatience. "Although we clearly figured out the political situation of Dulin, you haven't fully comprehended the position I'm in!"

"The emperor still doesn't trust me truly, Marshal Alan has already kept his vigilance on me, not to mention Lord Chancellor! Although this old guy and I have reached an understanding to not betray each other for the moment, even a fool doubts the intention of this old fox! Not forgetting Almodovar Godzilla whom I had reached an understanding with, but who can guarantee the oath of the Sea Creature? As a result of disbanding the House of Lords on the 12th day of the 3rd month, and the arson case which happened on the same night, I believe more than half of the Houses in the capital noble community despise the Narcissus Knights who participated in the suppress action! At this critical moment, do you think I have anyone else to count on apart from the emperor?"

Dortmund stared at his son without a word. He knew his son was right, but he would never wish that his child would turn into one of those scary monsters.

"As you can see, my plan is flawless! I guess Alfa III must have already set up actions at various hostile forces, and he roared like a mad lion when he couldn't find the assassin, am I right?"

Dortmund sighed helplessly, "Something like that! The whole City of Dulin is now under vigilance, and His Majesty the Third had commanded the four main Houses of armed forces to turn the whole city upside down, even the posh neighborhood where the nobles live was also under the search arrest! My guess is that he's now discussing a counter measurement with a number of ministers."

Dortmund suddenly widened his eyes, "Count Rudolf Hoss from Secret Service Department mentioned to focus his initial search on the munition dealers related to the rebel army from the south, was this also a part of your secret plot?"

"Of course!" Oscar laughed proudly, but his movements aggravated his wound, which made him moan in pain.

"That's right, this is also within my expectations! The Secret Service Department's actions are as effective as I expected, I believe soon they will manage to get hold of the man who smuggled firearms!"

"What are you trying to do?" Dortmund was utterly confused. "It's far more than just looking for a scapegoat, am I right?"

"You're right!" Oscar nodded in his father's direction. "I have no foundation to stabilize my position in the City of Dulin, so this assassination has not only won me the trust and absolute support from the emperor, it also paves a new path for my way to the future. Haven't you noticed? Continuing to fight against the forces rooted in Dulin would only harm me! I need to escape from this danger zone and expand my influence in somewhere that's eager for some rectifying!"

"Why?" Dortmund spread his hands in confusion. "Dulin is the center of all politics, the focus point of all battles! How can leaving this place promote your strength? You must develop a position in the power structure of Dulin before you can grow your strength outward, that is the correct logic..."

"No! No!" Oscar shook his head at the advice. "Father, you don't understand! No matter what kind of political standing I have, in the eyes of the capital noble community, I'll always be a parvenu! Those families that have held the high office for generations will never regard me with respect, even if I have the support of the emperor and the princess! It's impossible for me to integrate into this social stratum that has been functioning for about 400 years."

Dortmund kept quiet, as he was beginning to understand now.

"Father, it's obvious when things are put into comparison! Look at what those old guys have obtained that I'm lacking! Silver Fox Alan, who has been in the military for more than 20 years, has trained countless senior officers and combat commanders in the capital and enjoys high prestige among the capital military and Imperial Guards. As for old Kachev, he has served two times as the Dean of Dulin University, one time the Secretary of State, and now he is Lord Chancellor of the cabinet of which his students, as well as confidants, have spread throughout each department of the government administration. Finally, Finance Minister Almodovar Godzilla whose House has remained the chief accountant of Morisette Imperial Family for several generations, this Sea Creature who inherited his family traditions is a fat monstrosity that commands admiration from the people with his ways of dealing with financial matters!"

"You see, father, how am I able to compete with all these people, although I won the battle once with luck! But father, I never thought I could return to Dulin safely when I was in Deiss, and this was all because of the acts of these sly men! Now is my chance to fight back!"

Dortmund had no choice but to agree, "It seems like this is the only choice. The pattern of power in the capital noble community has been unusually stable, and they completely reject residents from out of town. The Marquis of one of the provinces is always deemed one rank lower than the Marquis of the capital!"

"Exactly!" Oscar gave a snort of contempt. "This is the root cause that formed my decision to escape from this community because I realized I don't have the prestige and political capital like those old, sly foxes! Here in Dulin, I don't have any actual power and influence! Although the Military Intelligence Bureau is now under my control, to an extent, this bureau is not completely mine, because that place is filled with Alan's spies! Besides, after Thomas' fall from power in the lair, I need to find someone reliable to reconstruct my territory, that's also why I have pressing needs for a chance to rectify and establish the core members of my team!"

"You mean you're leaving Dulin to gather strength from the outskirts so you can return when the time is ripe for action!" Dortmund looked at his youngest son with doubt. If this was indeed his plan, then it would an undoubtedly long and tedious process.

"You're right! It's easier now that I've already paved my path," Oscar revealed a faint smile. "The reason for me associating this assassination with the rebel army is exactly because the three provinces in the south need urgent rectification. Using my identity as the Chief of Military Intelligence Bureau, I can easily become the master of the south, annihilate the uprising and restore the order there. I can also bide my time there to establish my own team, and even form an unbreakable connection with the southern nobles and reputable merchants!"

"The south?" Dortmund was still not fully convinced, "Will Alfa III agree?"

"Why not?" Oscar curled his lips, "He doesn't need me now that he has the assistance of Silver Fox Alan and the rest of the influential authorities. Moreover, someone needs to go put an end to the riots in the south, and my status and position make me the perfect candidate for this task. The southern nobles that are experiencing all the hardships will be elated at my arrival!"

"You plan this all out by yourself? Perhaps… perhaps things will not go as simple as you thought!"

"Father, have some faith in your child! Things will go as he planned!"

Dortmund put his son back to bed, as he needed some rest.

"Oh right! How reliable is the assassin you hired?" the question suddenly rang a bell in Duke of Andrew's head.

"That's not a problem, Paul and Black Devil should have control over her by now."

"Alright! This information can never be disclosed!" terror-stricken Dortmund looked at his own son. If Alfa III discovered that his feelings and affections had been tricked...

"Oh no! We have to take care of all the people that know the truth..."

"Father!" Oscar interrupted the Duke, "Rest assured! I've already taken care of that!"

Duke of Andrew nodded slightly, but he didn't know if he should be gratified or afraid. His son had grown up and knew how to protect himself, but this innocent child had changed beyond his own recognition, turning into someone unusually terrifying.

Perhaps Oscar sensed his father's concern, as he wrapped his hands around his father's neck, and placed his forehead against his.

"You should be proud of me, my father! This one-shot decides the turning point of my life!" Oscar exclaimed while pointed to the bandage on his chest.

"With this one shot, I can earn the emperor's trust, making my way to the three provinces in the south, leaving the others in jealousy and confusion, it can also make Alanis hell-bent in loving me! Don't you forget, that Alanis will be Her Majesty the Empress in the future! Isn't your child a brilliant one, father?"

Dortmund smiled drily, he didn't answer the question but only patted his son's cheek slightly.

"Have a good rest! Your plot has made you lose an abundance of blood! As your father, I'm not going to interfere with your plans and goals, but I want you to remember that your family will not wish for you to become a conspirator. Your mothers, your brothers, your sister, all of us just want you to be safe and well!"

"I'm doing just fine, am I not?" Oscar spread out his hands to prove his point, but the bandage around his wound was still emitting a bloody, pungent odor.

"Yes, yes, my son is doing well! Rest now!" Dortmund tucked his son into bed and only left after hearing young Oscar's even paced breathing.

The door was abruptly open and Sasha fell over to the ground!

An unbelievable expression washed over Dortmund's face. He examined the sleeping quarters but couldn't locate the paladins who were guarding the place earlier.

"Oh my God of Light! What the h... Oh sorry! What are you doing hiding behind the door?" Dortmund asked as he helped Sasha to her feet. It seemed like the marshal was truly shocked!

"I… I prepared supper for Oscar! The doctor advised to let him have his meal before bed! Sasha raised the porcelain bowl in her hand, but its contents had been spilled on the ground. The Young Lady almost teared up at the accident; she had cooked the supper herself.

"What have you heard?" Dortmund examined his youngest daughter with suspicious eyes.

"I just arrived here when I bumped into you! What's wrong with brother? You seem worried!" Sasha grew somewhat nervous.

"Oh… it's nothing!" Duke of Andrew gave out a silent sigh of relief. His conversation with his son earlier was not meant to be heard by a third person, not by the ears of his most intimate family members.

"Oh right! Where are the paladins who were guarding here earlier?"

"I dismissed them to the corridor out there!" Young Lady stared innocently at her father who appeared solemn. Had she done something wrong?

"That's good, that's good!" Dortmund felt better at the news. This was the sleeping quarters of the emperor after all, it would cause so much trouble if the conversation was disclosed!

"Is that Sasha?" Oscar's voice appeared from the room.

"It's me!" Sasha replied with delight.

"You're really such a child!" Dortmund shook his head helplessly. "Go ahead! But keep an eye on the time, your brother needs to rest!"

"Thanks, father!" Sasha sprang to her feet and planted a kiss on her father's cheek before she hurried into the room with excitement.

Duke of Andrew closed the door behind him and left without a word. It came to his realization that he wouldn't need to be concerned about Oscar anymore. Although this young man kept complaining about how much of a disadvantage he had as compared to those sly foxes, this child's wisdom and political mind were not worse than any of them. He believed a bright future was ahead of him, but he didn't know where this route would eventually lead him.

"Hurry!" with much difficulty, Oscar lifted the quilt.

"Can I?" Sasha asked, her eyes wide.

"Why not?" Oscar replied with a laugh, "This is the sleeping quarters of His Majesty the Third, we don't get this chance very often!"

Sasha laughed slyly as she crawled into the wide bed, and laid down beside her brother.

Confused, Oscar demanded his sister, "Aren't you worried about me? I was shot by such a terrifying, unprecedented firearm, father even said I lost so much blood!"

"Would you be really disappointed if I said I'm not worried at all?" Sasha teased her brother. She loved to lie beside her brother, surrounded by his body warmth and his unique scent, it was so comfortable she began to feel sleepy.

"Of course I would be disappointed! Am I only a stray cat or a stray dog to you?" Oscar pouted and pretended to be annoyed.

"Hehehe!" the Young Lady laughed and moved into her brother's arms, "Let me tell you something! The moment the thing that made such a deafening noise opened fire at your direction I thought I was going to die! Soon you fell down in the pool of blood and everyone busied themselves around you! I didn't dare to look at the blood oozing out from you, so I shifted my gaze at the statue of the God of Light, and guess what? The statue in Dulin Scott Cathedral spoke to me! He told me: 'Don't you worry, child. Your lover will be fine!'"

Oscar felt an unusual feeling of pain arose in him as he fixed his gaze on Sasha's eyes which gleamed with tears. Perhaps the God of Light was indeed playing the fool with him! It was the day of him concluding a marriage with a girl, but the one he held in his embrace right now was his one and only.

Sasha suddenly had her feelings aroused, and her kisses began to dot the man's face like raindrops. Finally, she placed her lips on his, which brimmed with equally passionate desires.

"Ola..." Oscar moaned in pain and had no choice but to withdraw his warm hand from within his sister's corset. The brewing sweetness just moments before seemed to have aggravated his wound.

"How was it?" Young Lady immediately straightened up, her face blushing with shame. "Oh my God! Look at what we've done!"

"Haha! Hahahaha!" Oscar couldn't control his laughter. "Look at what we've done!"

His Highness Prince tightened the opening of his sister's clothing, not forgetting to peek at the snow-white skin hidden underneath.

Sasha finally understood what it was like to be ashamed, but soon she fell into her brother's embrace. Disregarding both time and the situation, a delicate emotion instantly catalyzed the passion of love; perhaps it was the way for young people.

"Okay, okay!" Oscar tightened his arms around his cute younger sister, "I'll just hug you in my arms! My Sasha, I swear that I'll retain the best moment for when you walk down the aisle to me!"

All of a sudden Sasha lowered her head and buried her face in her brother's chest.

"When will that be? If it wasn't for this accident, the person you're holding in your embrace now is supposed to be that arrogant Alanis!"

Oscar was lost for words.

"You… you should have faith in me."

"I do! But that doesn't mean I can automatically ignore the feeling of emptiness that drowns me as time passes!"

"I'm sorry!" Oscar mustered all his remaining strength to tighten his arms around his sister. Was it his wound or his heart that was releasing this inexplicable throbbing pain? Perhaps this young man had already lost his ability to feel pain and understand what his heart truly wished for.

"Ah… bring me to the south!"

"You heard me?" Oscar was surprised.

"Yes! I lied to father," Sasha forced a smile. "Bring me with you, indeed we don't belong in Dulin!"

Oscar bit on his lips but didn't say anything. He was reminding himself that his legal wife, the wife that he couldn't afford to violate, was waiting for him! But he couldn't let himself to turn down Sasha!

"Alright, I promise!"

"Just hug me like this," Sasha squeezed herself into her brother's embrace. "Perhaps by tomorrow, this embrace would be occupied by another person!"

Helpless, Oscar planted a light kiss on his sister's forehead. His eyelids were becoming heavier. Maybe it was the effect of painkillers, but this young man wasn't trying to fight back the curtains of whiteness that was filling his mind. All he wanted at that moment was to just close his eyes, to escape from the reality.

The massive palace glimmered under the silver beams of the pale moon. Late night in spring was still rather chilly, and soon the fragrance of tuberose lingered in the dampened atmosphere.

Sitting alone on the new double bed, Alanis allowed herself to cry her eyes out. She hated herself for being so weak and useless, and she despised herself for having fainted in her own wedding.

"Who is it? Who could it be?"

The young princess chanted as if it was a mantra. She had to know who was the mastermind behind this incident that almost had her husband killed!

Could it be Kachev? No! Alanis kept raving like a madman! It couldn't be Kachev, this old man was too smart to perform such a reckless act. So… could it be traitors to Andrew House? Didn't seem like it! As of now, Andrew had already rooted out almost all of those who betrayed them. Perhaps… the southern rebel army? They had once assassinated myself and Oscar! Could it be them?

Alanis felt as if her brain was going to explode, and so did her heart. She couldn't understand why some people in the world would have the intention to take away other people's lives, similarly, she couldn't figure out why everyone had evil designs against her husband. Her husband was the hero of the empire, her perfect life partner! Alanis had finally discovered what she should do! She needed to toughen up in order to have her revenge on the mastermind behind this plot with the most brutal ways! Anyone that looked down upon her and Oscar must pay a heavy price!

Should she pay him a visit? But immediately Alanis dismissed that thought! Relatives from Andrew House would be there, and she didn't want anyone else to see her in a moment of weakness and helplessness, especially Sasha! She envied Andrew's Narcissus Corolla, because it was only before this woman that her husband had ever revealed his regrets and genuine affection! Oscar! Oscar! That was not allowed! Never!

A shooting star whistled across the sky! Alanis quickly locked her hands together in a praying gesture!

"Meteors, shower him with love! Forever! Remember my promise!"

As soon as the star disappeared in the vast night, Alanis Alfa Morisette jumped because she was shocked by a sudden thought that crossed her mind!

"What should I do if that doesn't happen? Do I crush him? Or do I crush away the love?"

iFiction

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