A Stepmother’s Marchen - Chapter 52
Some of them would just come out of curiosity. It was a scene that suddenly reminded me of the previous hearing.
At first glance, it seemed that the pros and cons were evenly mixed, but in reality it wasn’t.
Most aristocrats, aside from those who were flashing their eyes like hyenas, as if they had waited for the day, were simply counting their own gains from the decision to be made in the trial.
After the golden lion fell, it would naturally become easier to raise their status.
Just below the insignia sat the Emperor and Empress. Theobalt was there, too. Of course. He has been looking at his stepmother all the time since he entered, but the Empress has been ignoring him thoroughly.
Unlike the Empress, who was staring at me fiercely, the Emperor was subtly frowning with a mysterious look on his face, showing that he didn’t like the situation very much rather than angry at what the crown prince had suffered.
Once the Empress takes over a trial, she could manage to cover it up. But the Empress Elisabeth I knew was by no means a good person.
She seemed to be burning personal hostility toward me on this occasion rather than angry that her stepson was beaten, or the collapse of imperial dignity.
“Here comes the sinner.”
As soon as the Emperor’s solemn voice rang, my eldest son was brought by the silver uniformed guards.
The sight of him sitting at the defendant’s seat with a frown on his face, without even showing any signs of embarrassment, in front of so many people’s cold eyes, made me want to smile.
“Jeremy Von Neuwanstein. Born in 1101, the eldest son and next heir to Marquis Neuwanstein . You are charged with assault and attempted murder of Crown Prince Theobalt Von Baden Bismarck. Do you plead guilty to this?”
Jeremy skimmed through the audience as if looking for me, and then replied in a surprisingly calm tone, “Your Majesty, with all my respect, no, I don’t admit it.”
“Then are you denying the charges?”
“What I did was to protect my mother’s honor. How can I let my mother’s honor be tarnished? I didn’t mean to hurt the Crown Prince intentionally.”
A scene of uproar spread among the packed nobles while I unwittingly covered my face with my hands.
Needless to say, Theobalt was looking at his childhood companion with a weird look.
On the other hand, the Emperor was adding to the pressure by maintaining a very plain face, “Jeremy Von Neuwanstein , according to the Crown Prince, the prince and your mother were reading and chatting together at the time of the incident. How does that defame your mother?”
“There were things that made me feel that way.”
“What do you mean?”
“While I was wandering around looking for my mother, I ran into a cardinal. He said that the Crown Prince forcibly dragged my mother into his private study and was harassing her. My mother was crushed by the Crown Prince when I went in, so how can I not misunderstand?”
Aside from the tone of calmness that made me think he sounded like someone else, my eyes were wide open to the content.
Cardinal…? Which cardinal said that…?
Certainly there was something unusual about Jeremy’s barging into our place that day. Even more, he misunderstood the situation and with such a certain air, he punched Theobalt.
But which cardinal said that?! There was only one person that came to my mind right away.
The maelstrom was growing bigger. The Emperor, who hit the baton hard once, now stared at my son with golden eyes shining with anger, “Can you remember who the cardinal was?”
“He was wearing a hoodie, so I don’t remember. Anyway, I didn’t think he’d lie. Furthermore, since my father died, it has become hard to trust anyone I’ve known for a long time.”
I turned away and looked at Cardinal Richelieu sitting on the side of the cardinals. The Silent Bell, as usual, was watching the defendant with an expressionless face.
Don’t tell me he did that..? But if he did, why did he…?
Then the Empress opened her mouth, “The defendant is so arrogant that he even makes nonsense. No matter how young you are, there is a line you can’t cross. It’s obvious how the Marquis has educated his children. It’s just… “
It was none other than the Duke of Nurembert, who was sitting on the jury, who said that. The Empress’ red lips were instantly distorted in ridicule, “Why? Did I say something wrong, Duke?”
To that, the Duke of Nurembert responded with an ice-pick-like voice, ignoring that they were siblings, “Please refrain from saying anything unrelated to the trial, Empress. Your Majesty, we request permission from the defense counsel to speak.”
The Emperor nodded silently while the Empress snorted. So I got up from my seat and approached the witness stand.
Countless expressions were directed to me while I was walking.
A variety of scoffings, pity, hatred, hostility…. or compassion and grief.
Feeling the mixed gazes, I straightened my posture. But from inside, my heart was beating too fast.
I was just hoping that the Duke of Nurembert would do me a favor.
“Your esteemed Emperor, Empress. I, Shuri Von Neuwanstein, the temporary head of the Neuwanstein family and mother of defendant Jeremy Von Neuwanstein, request witness attendance and further evidence before starting the trial.”
“We allow it.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Thank God! While I bowed my head to the Emperor, the murmur was spreading again. It would have been absurd to have a witness attendance out of the blue at a time when the crime was confirmed.
As the sound of tongue clicks and sneers filled the court, the witness, whom I earnestly asked the Duke and the Crown Prince, finally showed up and entered.
“Good evening, Your Majesty, the Emperor and Empress. May the Blessings of the Holy Mother be with you.”
There was a moment of silence.
While the Emperor was as absurd as other aristocrats, the Duke of Steel, who kept his promise to me, had an expression of disgust.
Likewise, the Empress, who was astonished, opened her mouth in a harsh tone, “Isn’t she a midwife? Why on earth did you summon her as a witness, Lady Neuwanstein? Do you intend to confirm your virginity here?”
“Empress, I’m not here to play games with you.”
This midwife’s job was to confirm the purity of a newly married Empress or Crown Princess. It was beyond me to summon her with my position. A person closely related to the imperial family, such as the younger sister of the Empress, or the Emperor, would never have been able to do so.
“How on earth did you do such a ridiculous thing?! Does this trial look like a kid’s prank?”
I turned to the Emperor with a smile at the angry shouts from the audience.
“Your majesty, I, Shuri Von Neuwanstein, am here to ask for the annulment of my marriage.”
Once again, silence came to the noisy court.
Needless to say, the Duke of Nurembert’s face, who was watching me with an unusual expression, immediately flashed a light of astonishment. Likewise, the Emperor’s stern eyes were beginning to hold the light of doubt.
“What are you talking about? You know, of course, that under imperial law a woman cannot ask for divorce. Likewise, I understand that any spouse can claim to cancel their marriage if they prove that they haven’t been in a relationship for more than 500 days.”
“Now you are…”
“Yes, Your Majesty. The late Marquis Johannes Von Neuwanstein and I have never slept together during our 800-day marriage. Your Majesty has allowed me to summon witnesses and submit further evidence, so I will immediately cancel the marriage according to the proof that the witness, the midwife, will show from now on.”
I was struggling not to look at the defendant’s seat amidst the bewildering silence that was hard to describe.
It was because I was not confident enough to check what Jeremy was looking like at this moment. If I checked that, my heart probably couldn’t stand it anymore and it would collapse.
It was then that a sharp cry broke out from the audience seat, which had become calm as if it had poured cold water on it, “What a load of nonsense, Your Majesty, she’s playing the sacred court with a load of nonsense!”
“Can you give me a logical reason why my remarks sound like crap, Lady Lucretia?”
Rising up, Lucretia’s turquoise eyes glared ferociously at me.
I can’t believe those beautiful eyes can be so horribly distorted.
“My late brother doesn’t deserve such an unjust insult! Didn’t you see his four children? He must have been more energetic than anyone else.”
“Did you have a hobby snooping around in your brother’s bedroom, Lady Lucretia? How do you know if my husband was full of energy or not?”
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