"ALPHEUS! WATCH YOUR MOUTH! How can your sister be of any connection to this matter? Shes only thirteen." The Grand Duke roared in anger. Veins are visible on his forehead and on his throat.
Alpheus click his tongue and scoff, "maybe she doesn have any connection yet knew about this conspiracy. Niahari informed me that every time she didn finish her food, Ophelias servant would bring her snacks with the butlers permission; however, the butler only listens to mothers words. Not even you could make him do things. And I know mother never let us eat anything after dinner. Am I right mother?"
Alpheus turn to his mother, the Grand Duchess.
Despite the calmness in her face, the Grand Duchess was boiling with frustration deep inside. Witnessing the child in the doorstep of death proves how she had become too lax with employing their servants.
"Mother?" Alpheus called out.
The Grand Duchess was quick to nod in agreement. She straightens her posture and startle Alpheus and the Grand Duke when she yelled, "Guards! Inform all servants to line up at the hallway, leave no one out of sight. And with Prince Alpheus, you all have my permission to search their quarters as well as their belongings."
"Eurania!" Grand Duke called out and the Duchess only stared at him with bored and unaffectionate eyes.
"What kind of a father are you to not even feel any pain at the sight of your weak daughter. It was your fault in the first place why Niahari was born."
The Grand Duchess scorned and stride, ready to leave the chamber however, before she had completely got out from the door, she halted and turned to face her son. "Would you like for Niahari to occupy the bed chamber next to your room?"
Alpheus quickly agrees to his mother. If the duchess did not ask, he would be the one to ask her to relocate Niahari to a different chamber. "Alright! Ill inform the butler before I retire for the day. You can take the lead in the investigation as I don have any confidence in your father."
Alpheus quickly stood up and followed his mother. The Grand Duke was left mesmerized by his wife and son. He knew well how incompetent he is when it comes to Niahari, yet he did not expect Alpheus and his wife, Eurania, to be this affectionate to a child who was only a mistake for the night he gave in to temptation.
The Grand Duke stride lightly as he went closer to the bed and saw a child sleeping with a frowning expression. Never once he took a longer gaze at this child of his. His memory never remembers how this child smiles, run or talk. No, he doesn have that kind of memory as his mind and attention was always with his daughter, Ophelia.
But after seeing Niahari earlier, Caelan felt his heart pierced by thousands of needles and his guts twisted by thousands of people. The fragile state of the child who resembles him made him realize how unfair he is towards her.
Grand Duke Caelan sat on the chair his son Alpheus has used. He lifts the thick blanket covering the childs body and when he found her hand, he quickly grabs into it and gently raise it higher.
Her hand was small and Caelan thought that if he exerts a little strength, he might break her bones. The childs arm was also thin, yet no one would notice it from a far or when she would wear dresses with long sleeves.
With Caelan was examining his second daughter, Niahari. At the hall of the Alderidge Castle, all servants were lining up with their heads bowed down.
At the same time, their quarters is being turned upside down by Alpheus. From wardrobes to the smallest possible corners that can hide anything was investigated. No space was left unchecked.
"Sire!" Alpheuss attention shifted at one of the guards who called for him. He followed the guards gaze.
In the guards palm is a small vial full of green liquid. Alpheus did not hesitate and quickly grabs the vial. He stormed out from the quarters with eyes burning with pure anger. His pace was fast and with his slender legs he quickly reaches the hallway where the servants line up. Alpheuss guard quickly stood behind him.
"Ill ask this once." He lifted the vial. Enough for everyone to see it. With his eyes, he silently watch his fathers subjects. Their every move was on his grasp. "Who owns this? And have no fear in poisoning the 2nd princess of Alderidge duchy!"
In everyones eyes, Alpheus was a gentle child yet now, that gentleness is nowhere to be found. The child in front of them is a devil reincarnate. A monster filled with anger and bloodlust.
"If none of you steps forward and admits the ownership of this vial. I would gladly behead all of you and send your heads to your families. Dead bodies to the east.
With quivering bodies, all servants steps forward. No one was left behind. The sight of the servants faces made Alpheus burst into laughter.
Except for the butler, he witnessed all of them treat Niahari unfairly, yet he remained tight lip as he doesn have the authority to put them into punishment…it was all in the hands of his mother, Grand Duchess Eurania. Yet, right now, witnessing their quivering body and faces pale as a linen cloth gives quite a satisfaction for the young prince…
And with the Grand Duchess permission, he won waste the chance given to him. He will give them punishments they deserve. A light one, different from the servant who tried to kill his younger sister.
"Ill give you all a second chance. If one of you steps forward and admits the ownership of this vial. I will spare your life but of course with a light punishment. Only one of you needs to step forward. One." Alpheus repeated.
He waited for the servants who owns the vial to step forward. His gaze, with the pretense of staring at every servants standing before him, is only eyeing one servant. She was short, had a brunette short hair, just like what Niahari describes.
Her body was relaxed yet her hands were trembling, and expression filled with anxiousness. Her lips drained of blood.
Alpheus halted in front of the servant and draw his sword in front of her. "Aren you the servant of my sister, Ophelia?" The young successors voice was void with emotion making it more deadly.
The servant slowly nods her head as she tried to calm her trembling hands that didn escape from Alpheus gaze.
Alpheus leaned forward and whispered to the servants ear, "what did my sister bribe for you to obtain this vial? Jewelries? Gold coins? Or a promise to be wed to a noble man once she officially becomes the crown princess?"
Alpheus knew how rotten Ophelias personality is even though shes just thirteen. But he couldn blame anyone but his father for spoiling her. He didn say anything to anyone after witnessing Ophelia stabbing the gift his highness, the crown prince had gifted to her. She even blamed Niahari when their mother looked for the gift.
The servant who was ready to confess was interrupted by the shrill pitchy voice. "What are you doing to my servant, Brother Alpheus?"
Alpheus turned to face his sister, Ophelia was glaring at him. "Making her confess of her sin." Alpheus uttered lightly as he draw his sword closer to the servants neck, making it bleed.
Ophelias expression turned white sheet at Alpheus words but regain her angry expression. "And what sin did she made? I will be the one who will punish her."
Lifting his hand on air, Alpheus at his sister, "You will confess your sin as well?" In a calm tone he questioned.
Yet his question must have hit the rock bottom of Ophelias ego as the young lady started yelling at her brother. "What sin? I have done nothing for you to accuse me of such preposterous lie!"
Alpheus sometimes wonder why on earth Ophelia was chosen as the crown princess. The young lady could not maintain her temper at any situation shes been put on. What would happen to the imperial castle if she seats on the throne? Blood will surely shed.
"It either you ask her to slowly poison Niahari or you complained to her on how much you despise my younger sister and she suggested that she knows how to make Niahari disappear…and is through poisoning the innocent child."
Alpheus had thought about it while he made his way towards the servants earlier. No one but Ophelia hated Niahari the most. She despise the child the moment the duchess showed nothing but gentleness and kindness to Niahari while the opposite to Ophelia.
It was envy that drove Ophelia to become like this. Its characteristic that a future empress must not possess if Alpheus may say.
"Princess, please save me. I didn do anything." The servant called Ophelias attention. Her voice was shaking and expression that shows pain and anxiousness.
"It was her idea. I didn even agree to it." Ophelia quickly stated without even blinking nor feeling any guilt.
Gasps and screams filled the hallway. The metallic smell of blood slowly envelopes the surrounding making couple servants gag and vomits their dinner.
In horror, Ophelia drop to her knees as she gazes with wide eyes at the dead body and a detach head of her loyal servant. The butler quickly attended to the princess and lifts her out from the scene.
Alpheus gaze at the stiff body on the floor, beside it is the servants severed head. Her eyes were still open in shock. Blood still gushing from the womans neck.
His eyes emptied with emotions and tone cold as the glaciers of the north, he ordered, "all of you, clean this mess and pack all your things. Once daybreak arrives, I must not see anyone of you roaming around the castle or near the estate. Guards! Send her head back to her family and body to the monster of the east. They might want to have a feast on this sinful woman."
With that he strode towards his room and was greeted with his fathers broad stature, staring at him with burning anger.
"You don have to blow a fuse on me for killing your precious daughters servant. I have mothers permission."
"You could have spared her life. You have spilled blood inside the castle." Despite the Grand Dukes anger, he still calmly spoke to his son.
"Hah! Spared her life and for what? For Ophelia to be in contact with her and purchase more of those vials without your idea? It could be jus next, Father."
Alpheus left his speechless father and went to attend to Niahari who is now sleeping soundly. Her pale complexion had slightly resembled to her original complexion. Her frowning face was also replaced with peacefulness.
He held the small hand of his sister and brought them closer to his forehead, with regretful voice he spoke, "if only I had become a more responsible brother, you will not be in this state. Forgive me, Niahari."