Popcorn (Part 2)
"Ah, he's here."
How many minutes had passed?
Ian's exhausted body dragged himself back to Iris's bedroom.
Riley, who had been sitting in a leisurely manner until now, stood up to greet him, as if he had been waiting for a while.
"How was it?"
Riley asked Ian who looked as if he could not believe what had happened.
As if he was out of his mind, Ian could not muster a reply.
Both Iris and Sera who did not know what the boy was asking about, could only tilt their heads with puzzled looks on their faces.
"Ian-nim, where have you been? You left so quickly after returning with Young Master."
"Ian, are you alright? You don't look too well."
How should he explain?
Ian continued to open and close his mouth repeatedly, until he finally managed to make a sound.
"...It was Lady Orelly."
"It was all Lady Orelly's doing."
Ian covered his frowning face with his hands and continued to explain.
He did so while mentioning to himself that he simply could not believe what he had just seen.
"The 'poison' which was put inside Lady Iris's soup..."
There was only one conclusion one could arrive at after hearing this and the words that were cut off from before.
Lady Orelly…she was the one who had poisoned Lady Iris’ dinner!
Ian, who had said those words.
Iris, who had heard those words.
Both stood as silent as statues.
This was a matter that would turn the mansion upside down.
"... It can't be, right?"
"Ian, surely...Lady Orelly would never."
Iris who was tucked inside her bed firmly held onto the edge of the blanket.
Even if she had often received scoldings from Lady Orelly, as a woman who shared the same husband, Iris believed she would be the last person to be responsible for it, and thus she pressured Ian once more.
"Mother, it's alright."
Riley held onto his mother's shoulder.
She calmed down, stopped questioning Ian and bit her lip.
Riley called his butler.
Ian nodded with his jaws clenched at the call of his master.
The serious face he was making was to show nothing he had said was false.
Iris' shoulders dropped at the shocking news.
At the same time, Sera's jaw dropped.
Lady Orelly's jealousy and hatred toward Lady Iris was something all the maids in the mansion knew... but they never expected that it was significant enough to attempt an assassination.
"What about Father?"
Riley asked Ian with a calm attitude, as if he had expected it.
Since he was the first one to find out the truth himself.
"He is currently holding a discussion."
Ian's weary voice made a reply.
It had been a long time since he had last fought.
And with such shocking news on top, even the most experienced swordsman would be tired both physically and mentally.
"It was the paper. Master Riley found certain pieces of paper in the mansion and..."
Ian leaned onto the door and continued speaking.
It all started with the scraps of paper Riley had 'found'.
"The handwriting on the paper was Lady Orelly's. So, after reading it..."
"...The letter made a request for poison which could be used against Lady Iris. And..."
Sera cut Ian's words.
The cold sweat appearing on her face showed just how nervous she was.
She could guess .
What would come after that was something much worse than mere poison.
That was her expectation.
"... It's a lie, right?"
Ian fell silent.
The atmosphere in this place was as chilly as a wintry night.
Stein asked after looking blankly at the paper in his hand.
Orelly could not answer.
"Why did you poison Iris' soup?"
Count Stein asked once more, his tone condemning.
The question was not directed to Orelly this time, but rather to the hooded man.
The second question was also met with silence.
Although the hooded man's face was still hidden, considering both he and Orelly were standing close together they seemed to be on friendly terms with each other.
"I don't think there would be any reason for such an action."
As there was no answer, Orelly clenched her fists.
She seemed furious.
Finally, the hooded man spoke.
Within the voice fraught with worry, Stein scowled as the voice seemed familiar.
Realising his cover was blown, the hooded man raised his hands.
The black cloth covering his face fell back slowly.
A face which Stein knew all too well appeared.
The man who was the master of Tes Trade Guild, and his father-in-law.
Stein's face which that had been regaining calmness twisted once more.
He felt betrayed.
By the famous Tes Trade Guild....
By his family...
That they were intimately close with the much-despised Assassin's Guild...
That he was not aware of those facts...
"I feel like a fool."
A wavering voice replied after the word fool.
Orelly who had been silent until now opened her mouth.
"I'm the one who feels like a fool, me."
Stein's cold stare turned to Orelly.
Orelly slowly raised her head with tears in her eyes and looked back at Stein.
Her face displayed an aggrieved emotion as if she didn't deserve any of this.
"If you had looked at me just once...after the wedding. Was there ever a time when you gazed at me with love?"
She began to make a deluge of complaints; it was as if a dam was bursting out.
She spoke with her fists close to her chest, trembling harder than her voice.
"Not just me, but Ryan and Lloyd too! Have you ever been nice to your two sons?!"
Stein did not reply.
He continued to look at Orelly, his gaze unchanged.
"What wrong did they do to deserve it! What did I do wrong! Compared to that useless Riley, that bitch Iris! I am much more...!"
Orelly began to frantically gasp for air, as she had run out of breath, then added that it wasn’t over.
"I got everything I wanted. I could get everything I wanted. I will get everything I want. So, so..."
Orelly's eyes began to shake.
Her original message disappeared, replaced by something hideous within that had been building up since she was young.
As the daughter of the famous Tes Trade Guild, she got everything she wanted, and did everything she wanted.
The ugly life she had lead displaying her greed to its fullest was finally breaking out from its shell.
"Your heart too, I will...I will-!"
Orelly who was making a heated speech suddenly closed her mouth.
She could feel a killing intent from in front of her.
A Stein she had never seen before was standing in front of her.
"Is that all?"
The thought 'Did I raise my daughter poorly?' finally crossed Tes’s mind.
Orelly slowly stepped back, finally coming back to her senses.
With a pale face, she realized the mistake she had made in her head.
"No, no...No! No! I-!"
Then, she began to rip her hair furiously.
She grabbed at her hair with such force, that her fake fingernails began to fall onto the carpet.
"I...I never wanted this..."
Stein issued a command to Orelly who seemed at a loss.
Begone from this place.
Orelly replied with a stupid look on her face.
Stein did not reply.
He simply sent a look indicating that if she did not listen, he would kill her right here and now.
Such was the killing intent swirling all around him.
"Father! The assassins have retreated-..."
In the room which felt as though it would explode any second...
The first and second sons of the house entered the office.
They looked like they were in combat up until recently, with their clothes being in utter disarray.
"Y-, you were here too mother. But...why does the atmosphere in the room seem off?"
"It seems as though it has finally begun."
How angry must he be for it to be like this?
Even at a distance, Ian was shaking as he could feel Stein's killing intent as clear as day.
It finally seemed like the persecution for the hidden deeds of the past had started.
Where Count Stein was...
As Ian was imagining what the view was like beyond the wall, he slowly turned his head as he couldn't feel someone's presence anymore.
As there was no reply after Ian called out, Iris began to look around the room to locate her son.
He had been sitting on the bed while licking his lips just a moment before... and now he had disappeared.
Sera also realised Riley had disappeared, and opened her eyes wide.
Riley had vanished into thin air.
At a moment when assassins could still be skulking about in the mansion.
The word 'kidnapped' came into all three of their heads.