Chapter 435: Disturbance in Chrona
Leana was rubbing her temples in annoyance. Things were going according to plan. Fin was in Chrona and she had taken care of that stupid fair folk prince in a fabulous manner. The path was cleared to spend some fun time with Fin.
How much she wanted to spoil the little cutie once she was done with her duties that had accumulated in her absence. The princess blushed, thinking of all the things she wanted to do with Fin.
Watch her eat cake. Watch her eat ice cream. Watch her become fascinated by the cool stuff she was going to show her in the city. She had even rented a private booth for her and the fairy at the arena.
This and much more, the princess had everything planned out.
She had withstood the harsh days in court and the hours of paperwork, thinking of this, so why did this have to happen now!?
Leana was suddenly called to an emergency meeting when she was about to spend a day with Fin. It was just heart-wrenching, to have her hope be taken away just like that. How was she supposed to go on, if she couldnt recharge her Fin-gage?
She entered the meeting room. Seated at the round table were Hardwig and another 6 of her siblings with similar standing to hers. All of them, except Hardwig, had a team on Keväti Kuinen.
Hardwig was 7th in the line of succession, while everyone else were rivals trying to get a noble title in one of the provinces. As the highest-ranking sibling in the room, he was the one leading the meeting.
“Hardwig, what is going on?” she approached him directly and whispered-
Leana got along with him rather well, since their mothers were good friends and they had grown up together. However, her childhood friend and half-brother only shook his head seriously.
“Sit down. I will explain everything once the rest arrived.”
Seeing him this seriously meant something grave had happened. She let go of her grievances and obediently sat at the table, waiting for the rest of her rival siblings in the evaluation to arrive.
“Good, since everyone arrived, I will now explain the reason why you were called,” Hardwig stated once the last member arrived.
“You all know about the team that vanished without a trace.”
A thrifty-looking brother of hers reacted with an ugly expression. It was his team that had gone missing in action and with it, his chance for a good score was also gone.
“Another team has vanished.” he paused to give everyone a moment to process this information.
Leana too made her own conjectures. One team vanishing could be a malfunction or a peculiarity of the world they knew nothing about. Giant beasts like the Koor Worm had the potential to cause these accidents.
But a second team going missing? The suspicion that someone was aiming for their teams became hard to avoid. The question was who. Everyone in this room had a reason to cheat in the evaluation, but they didnt have the means.
The technical means aside:
Interference with the evaluation was also punished with the death penalty. It didnt matter whether the perpetrator was a royal. Every team was made up of some of the brightest stars of a province. Harming the future potential of a province was the same as high treason.
“However, this time a single survivor managed to come back some hours after her group went off the radar. Unfortunately, she dealt herself a vicious blow and was still asleep. “
Whispers and exclamations filled the meeting room. People demanded an interrogation and a thorough investigation.
“This is why we are all here. It seems obvious that someone is targeting the evaluation teams using unknown means.”
“Maybe its the Theocracy? They probably want revenge for what happened between them and Leanas group.” one of the princes said.
“Then why would they aim for other teams than the one from Urth?” Leana scoffed at him.
“Maybe they can differentiate the teams with the method they use, and our fosterlings die because of your-“
“Silence. We can only speculate who is behind it. However, Father is sure they have insiders on our side. The great Chancellor even assumed the involvement of Spatia. So, hold back with your unfounded sentiments.” Hardwig called the prince to order.
“If its that serious, wont the information my team brought back be quite valuable. I hope this will be considered in the evaluation.”
Leana could only shake her head. All of his team, except for Hannigan and the survivor, had perished. But he still had the nerve to only think about his own benefits. She could understand it. None of them had a bright future in Chrona and could only hope for a piece of land of their own to rule. However, it seemed tasteless to bring it up this quickly.
Hardwig ignored his plea and continued.
“The reason for this meeting is to talk about our future actions. The emperor had conferred the task of finding the traitors to you. You will be given some authority about over the shadow guard, but it is expected for you to rely on your own means on the surface.”
“Why did fa- the emperor give us this task? There are more qualified people in Chrona.” one of them asked.
“If the officials make a move, it will become obvious that we suspect something. The spies will just hide deeper, and we wont have a chance to find out what or how they managed to accomplish these crimes. But if you move with the hidden help of the shadow guard, giving the image of personal suspicions, they will underestimate you and we might have a chance to catch them.”
Leana nodded understandingly. Since there was a possibility that they were up against Spatia, it didnt make sense to try and deal with it in secret. Sometimes it takes a fool to defeat a wiseman. If your enemy was too good in what they did, you would have to lower their guard by being openly incompetent.
Lowering the other sides guard and making them underestimate the royals, would enable to shadow guard among them to find clues easier. They were simply a faint to attract attention, so the hunting dogs would have it easier to sniff out the hidden enemy.
The princess understood the intention and she saw one or two of her brothers who seemingly understood it too. The rest were clueless, and it was better this way. If they tried seriously, unknowing that nobody had expectations for them, it would make the charade much more believable for their target.
Each person in the room was given an official paper that enabled them to investigate, as well as a team of guards and five members of the shadow guards, specialized in investigations.
She left the room together with Hardwig.
“I want to talk with the survivor.”
“I already said she is unconscious. Okay, stop looking at me like this. You can come with me; I was about to look for her anyways.”
Leanas objective was clear. Her day was already ruined but if she could do some obvious things today, she could make tomorrow free to go on a date with Fin! Being among the first to talk with the survivor would look good on paper.
She wasnt worried about her group at all. They had a hero after all. Although the team did not get along internally, they might very well be among the top three in strength, just considering what Leana knew about them. And she was sure she knew far from everything.
On their way to the medical wing, they came past the research institute. It reminded her of the item Seth had given her after he collected his sword. It reassured her again, that she might only know the tip of the iceberg.
When they reached the medical wing, the Doctor informed them that the woman had woken up a while ago. They had prepared her a meal, but the woman refused to eat or talk to the staff.
Hardwig only nodded before entering the hospital room together with Leana.
“Im the 7th Prince of the Chrona Empire. I am here to ask you about what happened to you and your team.”
She looked at him with suspicion, then looked over to the Princess.
“This is my sister, princess Leana.” he introduced her.
“Send out the doctor and close the door.” were the womans first words.
They followed her request. Now only she, Hardwig, and Leana were left in the room.
“You cant trust the people here. They poisoned my food,” she stated the moment it seemed safe.
The two royals were stunned. It was not the last time during this conversation.
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