How to Hide the Emperor's Child - Chapter 134
There was a heavy silence between the two of them for a moment.
The Duke was the first to open his mouth.
“What is this?”
The Duke of Reston looked at the document and asked.
“Please read it.”
The Duke quickly scanned the document with an anxious look.
The contents of the document are about estate taxes.
The Reston family’s territory in the west is enormous.
Most of the western part of the country is the land of the Reston family, thanks to the succession of territories over several generations. Land obtained through marriage or trade is everywhere.
Since the income of the estate is large, of course, the taxes are also huge.
Large estates are taxed according to the laws of the Empire.
On the other hand, tax reductions are provided for small estates of a certain size or less.
This is because lords of the small estates who maintain a village find it difficult to maintain old castles with the income of the estate.
The Reston family’s estate income increased significantly after Astelle’s father took over the title.
Her father came up with an unusual way to reduce taxes by distributing the income of the estate to the surrounding small estates.
Most of the lords of the small estates are vassals or relatives of the Reston family in the past.
Of course, whatever the Duke ordered, they followed.
Unlike other nobles who openly manipulated the ledger and left loopholes in the document, her father never made such a mistake.
He didn’t even have to be careful.
Because on paper, it was a tax that other estates had to pay.
There was no problem at all if they summarized it and reported it.
The previous emperors were indifferent to the affairs of the local estates.
As long as there are no major problems, they lightly overlooked the tax issue.
In that way, the Duke earned much more than other nobles during the reign of the previous emperor.
All the money he had collected became his private fund.
Of course, when Kaizen ascended to the throne and the political world became unstable, all illegal activities were quickly sorted out as if it was when.
The Duke looked at the document for a moment, then looked at Astelle and asked, “Does Fritz know about this too?”
“Yes. Brother Fritz also wants Father to step down.”
That one sentence gave a greater effect than the document brought before his eyes.
His eyes trembled greatly in shock.
Duke Reston gritted his teeth and asked again, “Does Fritz agree to this?”
“It was Fritz who brought me this document, which was hidden in the estate.”
The Duke’s face turned pale.
He never imagined that Fritz would betray him and side with Astelle.
The Duke tossed the document in his hand and back to his seat.
“Are you asking me to give him a title just because of this?”
“I have work to do today.”
“May I inform His Majesty the Emperor that Father framed the Minister of Home Affairs?”
Astelle added, “Oh, you also stole the seal of Marquis Croychen.”
It’s a felony to touch the seal of another family without permission.
“I did it for you and for the prince…..!”
The Duke of Reston, unable to bear it, raised his voice, but Astelle looked at him without shaking the slightest.
“Do you think you will be safe if this fact becomes known?” The Duke shouted like it was ridiculous.
“It’s not treason, and I won’t lose my position as the empress.”
If the plot to kill the emperor is revealed, it will endanger Astelle as well as Theor.
Only her father will be executed, but like the Croychen family, the Duke himself will stumble, so Astelle will also suffer a lot of damage.
“That’s why I’m asking you to do it. Please pass the duke title to Fritz. Even if you don’t have a duke title, you can still live comfortably.”
“Is this a request?”
“Let’s call it a deal.”
The Duke looked at Astelle and stood up from his seat.
“I’m going back to the mansion.”
“Yes, go to the mansion and discuss the succession with Fritz more.”
Astelle replied calmly. The Duke stood staring at her as if to kill her.
“Do you think you’ll be fine with this?”
Astelle remained calm as she heard a voice full of resentment from her father.
“As Father always wanted, Theor will become the Crown Prince, and our family will be the house of the emperor’s mother in the future. What’s the matter? It was all your dream.”
As Astelle said, it was her father’s dream.
“It’s just that Fritz will be the duke instead of you.”
It was what Astelle longed for.
The Duke glared at Astelle.
“You will surely regret what happened today.”
Astelle remained silent.
The Duke turned around and went out.
After her father left, the Empress Palace became quiet again.
“Your Majesty the Empress.”
Hannah, who was waiting outside, approached her carefully.
She seemed to have heard all the conversations inside.
“It’s all right. I have to finish my work today.”
When she is dizzy, she feels comfortable hanging on to her work.
Astelle finished the remaining work in an hour or two.
It’s time for the sun to set.
After finishing her work, Astelle opened the terrace door and went out to the garden to cool off.
She saw Kaizen playing with Theor on the other side of the garden.
A number of difficult events have passed.
Seeing Theor and Kaizen playing peacefully, she felt an unknown relief.
Theor ran up to her and fell into her arms. She embraced Theor affectionately.
Kaizen approached the two.
Astelle kissed Theor’s soft cheek and put him down.
“Theor, would you like to visit your grandfather for a moment?”
Theor looked back at Astelle and Kaizen, and then nodded.
Then he ran with Blynn to the other side of the garden.
Astelle wanted to play with him, but now she has something to talk about with Kaizen.
As soon as Theor disappeared, Kaizen asked, “Your father came, didn’t he?”
Astelle walked on the garden path with him and replied, “Yes, he did.”
“Did your father say he would step down?”
“He went back to the mansion and met Fritz first, then he will step down.”
Fritz won’t stand by his father either.
When the Duke finds out that he is not on his side, he will choose to step down for now.
‘I’ll try to get revenge later.’
There’s no way Father will just step down without doing anything.
“Good. I’m sorry to say this to you. As long as I can’t see the Duke, I’m in favor of any method.”
Listening to Kaizen’s calm voice reminded her of the past.
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty.”
Astelle bit her lip.
Astelle couldn’t keep her mouth shut forever. After all, it was something she had to say someday.
“The assassination in the forest–”
A low voice interrupted her.
When she looked up in surprise, red eyes were staring straight at her.
“Never mind the past. To me, the most important thing is that you and Theor are safe.”
That means he will cover up everything in the past for Theor and Astelle.
Astelle suddenly recalled the memories in the forest.
Kaizen was wounded and bleeding in the dark and dense forest.
But he said that he would cover it all for her and Theor.
Along with relief, guilt came to her.
Kaizen changed the subject as if to evoke the atmosphere.
“Anyway, there are two empty seats now.”
After the overthrow of Marquis Croychen, the position of Minister of State was vacant, and now the position of Minister of Home Affairs is also vacant.
“It would be great to give one to the new Duke.”
Astelle looked back at Kaizen, surprised.
“He is old enough for that. He also did a very good job cleaning up the West.”
If it had been in the past, Fritz would have reached that level by now, even if he hadn’t inherited the dukedom.
But it was different then and now. The emperor himself said that he would give the position of prime minister to the new owner of the Reston family, whom he had been hostile to until recently.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Astelle sincerely thanked him.
The two walked in the garden without saying a word for a moment.
The sun is starting to set and the leaves of the garden are dyed red.
The red sun shines on the pure white petals blooming on the flower bed.
A low voice stopped her footsteps.
When she stopped and turned around, Kaizen was looking at her.
“I have something to give you.”
Kaizen pulled something out of his pocket.
It’s a small ring. Intricately crafted ring with a dazzling blue jewel on it.
Astelle knows what the jewel is. There’s no way she’d forget it.
It was the blue jewel she received on her engagement day when she was ten.
Wasn’t it a necklace before?
“I made it for you.”
“Your Majesty, but this is……”
Astelle pondered for a moment.
This blue jewel was given to the bride by the imperial family. So when she divorced and left the Imperial Palace, she also left this jewel behind.
Kaizen handed the ring to Astelle. Instead of putting it on her finger, he just put it in her hand.
“Five years after you have this……” He paused for a moment, as if holding back his emotions, and then continued, “If you want to return it, just do it.”
The contract period set by the two is five years.
Kaizen’s words mean that she can leave after five years.
“Are you going to let me go?”
He replied without any hesitation. “I promised to let you go.”
It was a calm voice, but there was deep pain in those short words. Astelle realized that this is why Kaizen recommended Fritz.
So that Astelle can leave safely even after five years.
Kaizen grabbed her wrist again.
His dark red eyes stared straight at her.
“I will never let you go for the rest of my life if I can do it my way.”
Astelle remained silent.
She stood silently, looking down at the ring in her palm.
In the garden where the sun was setting, the blue jewel lit up with a clear light.
Can I leave this man?
She swore that she would never give him her heart again, but now she wasn’t sure about that either.
The Duke of Reston entered his mansion.
He didn’t even care how he got back to the mansion.
He was so shocked that he couldn’t even feel his anger.
The more he thought about the conversation he had with Astelle, the more ridiculous it was.
‘How dare you threaten me.’
After she became empress, gave birth to a prince, and monopolized the emperor’s favor, she became insolent to her father.
How dare you look down at me and tell me to step down?
Still, the Duke could not hurt Astelle.
Theor is still young and he has only one daughter.
‘Fritz must be in his right mind.’
The Duke of Reston had such a glimmer of hope.
“Where is Fritz?”