The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 68


Chapter 68: The Banquet of Blood (1)

In the Great Chamber on the third floor and the west end of the imperial palace, Arin’s face was quite tense as she was unable to take her eyes off the mirror. Her silver hair was neatly smoothed out. Her skin was evenly powdered to a pale white. Even her lips were brightened with the white of crushed lily petals.

Clearly, she went through great lengths with her appearance today, and anyone could tell she had put extra effort into looking beautiful. She was thirteen years old and right in the midst of puberty, a time of significant change when a young girl’s interest naturally drifts towards beauty.

Despite having attended this annual banquet every year, she had never been so preoccupied with her makeup before. It was as if she was trying to impress someone in particular.

“How do I look, Resimus? Do I look alright?” she asked nervously.

“You’re beautiful, Princess! In all my time serving, I’ve never seen you look more stunning. You can stop looking now!” assured Resimus, trying to ease her nerves.

“No, I need to check just a little more!” Arin protested, dissatisfied.

One had to wonder why she even asked in the first place. The same scene had been repeating for hours now, and Resimus, along with the other handmaidens, couldn’t help but sigh.

Of course, this was the imperial palace, home to the emperor and the imperial family. And why was Resimus here, despite not being of noble birth? Simply because Princess Arin wished for it.

Their relationship was that of master and servant. If Arin desired, she could bring Resimus anywhere with her. At first, many opposed her presence in the palace due to her commoner status. However, it was not uncommon for a father to indulge his youngest daughter’s requests. The emperor himself recognized and permitted their relationship, allowing Resimus to continue her life in the palace alongside Arin.

“Too much makeup can be a poison, you know? Based on Sir Cyan’s personality, he likely won’t appreciate all this extravagance,” Resimus suggested cautiously.

Startled, Arin retorted, “Wh-What are you talking about! I’m not dressing up to impress Cyan!”

“You should only make excuses when necessary, Princess! Even after you’ve sent the invitation directly,” Resimus teased.

“A-Actually, it’s… that is to say… I never thought he would actually come!” Arin’s face reddened like a girl experiencing her first love.

“I just felt sorry that Cyan had to stay at the academy even during the holidays… and I was wondering if he had ever experienced a banquet like this, so I just…”

Although the excuse was plausible, Resimus wasn’t convinced. She had long noticed Arin’s growing fondness for Cyan. The nervous princess only looked pitiable now, unable to sit still.

Knock, knock.

A knock sounded from the door; it must have been the royal guards in the halls. But Arin, consumed with her own reflection in the mirror, paid no heed. One of the handmaidens approached the door to check who it was.

“Princess Arin. You have a visitor from Prince Luinel!” the maiden called.

“Hmm?” Arin’s head spun around instantly, blinking in surprise, unsure if she had heard correctly.

“P-Prince Luinel has sent someone?”

“Yes! It seems to be the prince’s personal handmaiden. Should we let her in?”

This was a completely unexpected situation. The first prince, who normally didn’t even give her a second glance, had unexpected sent someone to her. Arin’s eyes were wide with shock.

“L-Let her in…!” She gave the order despite her surprise, as it wouldn’t be proper to turn away the prince’s handmaiden.

Upon entering, the handmaiden immediately beamed at the sight of Arin.

“My goodness, Princess Arin! You are absolutely stunning! Like a young goddess,” she exclaimed, not hiding her admiration.

Anyone with a sense could detect the flattery in her words—and Arin was no exception.

“Th-Thank you for the kind words… but what brings you here?” Arin inquired.

“I came to deliver this!” The handmaiden placed a small jewel box on the table in front of the princess.

“Prince Luinel told me to give this to you! He said it would suit you, Princess Arin!”

“He sent a gift for me?”

“Yes! Please, open it and see for yourself!”

Arin cautiously opened the golden box and everyone present couldn’t help but admire the contents.

“Wow…!” Inside was a beautiful pendant, studded with small gems and centered with a red stone that could have been a ruby or garnet—it captivated all who looked upon it.

“It’s so beautiful… Is it really okay for me to accept this?”

“Of course! It’s as if the jewel has found its rightful owner. Please, try it on!”

So Arin did, clasping the pendant around her neck.

“How does it look?” she asked nervously.

Everyone in the room showered her with compliments.

“It suits you wonderfully, Princess! Surely Cyan would approve as well!”

“That’s right! With this, even Cyan would… Wait, no! I didn’t get this to show to Cyan!” Arin’s face flushed with embarrassment once again, and the jewel pendant around her neck sparkled with a crimson light in response.

* * *

The Grand Hall of the imperial palace was the largest venue within its walls. Crowds of nobles gathered under the gleam of dozens of chandeliers, intent on enjoying the banquet.

It was time to assess the attendees. There were roughly 60 in total, guarded by twice as many protectors—about 120 knights. Including the maidservants and various attendants, the number was close to 300 people occupying the hall.

Among them, about 10 members of the Mist, including myself, were infiltrated. The rest awaited outside the palace.

Adaptation to such an environment was never easy, especially with the continent’s elite present, all boasting their pretenses to the extreme. How easily they disguised their true selves behind masks of laughter and smiles, their concealment skills rivaled that of the Mist’s own secret techniques.

[You seem quite busy scanning the crowd. Looking for someone, perhaps?] someone observed telepathically.

“Less of looking, more of needing to keep tabs on everyone,” I casually responded.

[That doll’s words seem to be bothering you.]

It would be a lie to say they weren’t. I did not believe that Kellin would intentionally lie to me without cause. There must be some basis for her warning: the assassination of Lunab Rainriver.

In the midst of this assembly, a hit was intended on her? Was the first prince already preparing for war with the Kingdom of Garam?

This was a scenario absent from my past life. Was it an instance thwarted in previous attempts, or was it a new initiative brought on by the changing tides of this life?

It looked like further investigation was necessary.

“You shouldn’t wear such a grim expression at a banquet,” remarked a familiar voice behind me.

Turning around, I was greeted by the sight of a woman with lavish crimson hair accentuated by a flowing long wave, cinching a slender waist and ample figure with a blood-hued silk dress. Her mature poise was undeniably alluring.

“The dress looks great on you, Instructor Sirica.” I complimented her, offering a smile.

“Your eyes are rather dangerous. Be careful where you let them wander, lest you be misunderstood,” she replied, elegantly swirling her wine glass as she sipped it.

[Hah…!] The disapproving snort probably came from Keiram.

It seemed the clan leader noticed his disapproval, smirking defiantly.

Sirica Negriti, a scholar from the Royal Academy and the leader of the Mist. However, she also held another title unspoken of until now: the eldest daughter of the Negriti House of Counts, a noble lineage with prestigious scholarly repute throughout the empire.

In other words, she was of nobility herself, hence fittingly present at the gathering under the guise of a guest.

For me, she was the most convenient ally to have here. But unlike the other nobles, I had no time to indulge in gossip behind smiling masks.

Turning away discreetly, I spoke quietly to her, ‘There’s no time for pleasantries, so I’ll keep this brief.’

“You appear puzzled,” she noted.

‘Delay the cleansing operation. Just give me some time.’

‘Why is that?’

Despite my sudden telepathic message, the clan leader responded without missing a beat.

‘The first prince is planning to assassinate Lunab Rainriver.’

“…!?” Her pupils slightly fluctuated with surprise.

‘Are you certain?’ she probed.

‘It’s a fifty-fifty chance. I have no solid evidence as of now, which is why I intend to find out more. Until then, please postpone the cleansing.’

Without hesitation, she made her decision.

‘Fine. But I can’t give you much time—only an hour from now. If a conclusion isn’t reached by then, it will be problematic. Is that enough time?’

‘More than enough.’

‘Don’t push yourself too hard, Cyan. If it’s really concerning, we can hold off on the operation altogether.’

‘That’s not an option. For the clan leader’s sake, Dreinian must be dealt with today, wouldn’t you agree?’

‘What are you implying?’ There was a hint of annoyance in her tone.

‘Dreinian Nephalis’s engagement ceremony is coming up soon, isn’t it?’ I pointed out.

She frowned, a clear sign of discomposure.

“Where did you hear about that?”

“Shouldn’t a student be concerned about their mentor’s future?” I shrugged with feigned nonchalance.

“Well, I shall meet you again shortly, Instructor Sirica.”

With a brisk exit from the encounter, I could feel the blazing gaze of the clan leader on my back.

It seems there will be a lengthy discussion after this concludes. But that concern can be addressed later.

Exiting the hall and entering the corridor, Bryan awaited me.

“How’s Lana?”

“She’s in the guestroom. She said she wouldn’t take a step outside, so she should be fine.”

Let’s hope she keeps her word.

“What’s your assessment?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary so far. I didn’t detect any suspicious movements or intent while outside the hall.”

With so many eyes within the palace, surely no one would boldly announce their intent to kill.

“The thought still seems unbelievable—an assassination attempt within the royal family… against the person we saw yesterday.”

“Keep your voice down. Too many ears around.” I quickly warned Bryan, who clasped his hand over his mouth.

“For now, I’ll keep looking around. If anything happens, contact me immediately and discreetly.”

“Yes. Understood…”

Footsteps suddenly approached from around the corner. Bryan and I promptly ceased our conversation.

The light, unburdened steps did not belong to a noble but seemed more like those of a maidservant in a hurry.

We waited silently for the owner of the footsteps to pass.

The moment the servant caught sight of a dressed noble and his guard, she quickly averted her eyes and continued on without a moment’s pause. Her attire did not match that of the palace maidservants, suggesting she was privately employed.

Just as we expected her to leave without incident, she surprisingly turned around and stopped in front of us once more.

Our eyes met, seemingly drawn together by a familiar aura, and after a couple of seconds of intense staring, we both realized.

“Y-Young master?”

My already convoluted thoughts became even more muddled. Why was she here of all places, in the palace?

My defiant handmaiden, the only one I ever had, whose gaze hadn’t changed in the two years since we last saw each other—Emily.

(To be continued)


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