With the appearance of the Salbuveir clan’s patriarch and his wife, that shouldn’t be here in the first place, Altonius’ thought process stopped completely.
“What is it?”
Ortho inquired sarcastically from Altonius who froze in place. His question caused Altonius’ thoughts to move again.
“Ah… Lord Salbuveir… why are you here?”
Ortho grinned cheerfully at the doubtful Altonius. At the same time, his wife, Elsapia, smiled scornfully at him.
“Why are we here, you ask?”
Ortho looked at Elsapia who made a troubled expression. Their gestures seemed like a worrying teacher explaining to a student who did not understand the subject.
“The reason we are here is naturally to catch you.”
Elsapia said in an unimpressed tone.
“Stop joking with me!! I am asking you how did you find about this place!!”
The two smiled wryly at Altonius.
“What a narrow-minded man you are. Of course, we understood what you meant.”
“Geez… I thought you were a silly man, but you really are a man of a low caliber.”
The two replied softly as if Altonius’ rage had nothing to do with them.
“Well, it’s quite an obvious thing but we did not just sit on our assess during the siege.”
Altonius sensed “Don’t lump us together with you” from Ortho’s words. He felt clouded by the humiliation.
“We found out from your stupid son Altos that there are secret passages that only the Imperial family knows of.”
(So the information was leaked by Altos… that scum of a son.)
Altonius cursed Altos in his mind.
“We don’t trust Altos’ capabilities. Naturally, we didn’t believe Altos knew everything.”
Ortho’s words were spoken as a matter of fact.
“I made the undead of the capital thoroughly search the city’s vicinity for secret passages. Of course, I knew this passage was different from the others as this was the only passage that wasn’t blocked when I sent undead to investigate.”
Altonius was at loss for words. The fact that the Salbuveirs knew of his escape route was enough to give Altonius despair.
“I thought it would be either Prince Etra or Prince Shukul who would come out of this passage, but I never thought it would be you.”
Altonius was silenced by Ortho’s words. He was no longer in a mental state where he could talk back.
“This is strange. Your family hasn’t come out yet. Or are you hiding them somewhere?”
Elsapia inquired from Altonius somewhat deliberately. Both Ortho and Elsapia were aware that he was the only living person here. The question was naturally only a form of harassment.
New undead emerged through the secret passage faster than Altonius could respond.
“Huh? Father, Mother… why are you here?”
“Father, and mother too… how come you are here?”
The undead who emerged from the passage was naturally Kulm and Emilia who led a group of the Salbuveir retainers. They showed puzzled expressions when they found Ortho and Elsapia before them.
“Oh, we already knew where the exit of this secret passage was. We moved here immediately after you guys broke into the palace.”
Kulm and others were dumbfounded by Ortho’s explanation.
“Then, you knew of this secret passage beforehand, Mother, Father?”
Ortho and Elsapia nodded with a smile on their faces to the inquiring Emilia.
“Why did you not tell us if you knew?”
It was inevitable that Kulm’s voice contained reproach for his parents. Knowing Kulm’s feelings, the two’s smiles wouldn’t break. No, rather than happy smiles, they were expressions of someone who’s prank just succeeded.
“Haah… you both are evil, Mother, Father.”
“Don’t be saying that now. Altonius was able to make a fool out of himself just because you guys didn’t know.”
“Yeah, the face he made the moment he saw us just as he thought he was saved was amusing.
Ortho and Elsapia replied cheerfully to Emilia’s sigh. Inversely, Altonius’ expression was grave. He realized that he was completely check-mated.
Altonius shouted all of sudden. He had no choice but to entrust his last gleam of hope to his Knight pieces. He knew what he was doing was completely meaningless, but he still couldn’t help but shout orders.
However, the reality was far crueler than he thought. One of the knights cut down the other. Because all of his attention was on the Salbuveirs, the knight collapsed like a puppet whose strings were snapped.
“Gah… wh… y?”
The light in his eyes was doused as an expression of disbelief floated on his face for the last time.
The knight’s life was ended without being able to exert his final act of loyalty.
“What are you trying to do you bastard!!”
Altonius yelled at the knight who killed his colleague. It was Ortho who replied to him.
“Now, don’t blame that guy too much.”
Ortho rebuked Altonius. Altonius was exceedingly displeased.
“My, my, you’ve worked hard.”
The knight kneeled before Ortho. He seemed like someone who pledged his total allegiance to his Lord.
“You bastard, you have betrayed me!?”
Altonius shouted at the kneeling knight. At that moment, the noise of the gust of wind was emitted and Altonius fell to the ground. Altonius who was dumbfounded at first looked into the direction of his legs and let out a shriek once he had confirmation.
The reason why Altonius screamed in agony was because Elsapia drove a hammer into his left knee at a tremendous speed.
“My husband was trying to explain things to you just now, so shush your mouth. I will smash all your teeth out if you get any louder.”
In response to Elsapia’s threat, Altonius covered his mouth with his hands.
“It seems he’s finally ready to listen, Husband.”
“Mmh, he’s stupid beyond saving.”
“Yes, the present situation is entirely this guy’s responsibility.”
Altonius listened to the couple’s conversation in silence. He really wanted to argue, but he was guessed he wouldn’t be let off easily if he did.
“We had sent a few subordinates to the palace in advance. Although I say that, they weren’t Salbuviers, just a few random undead that sneaked in.”
“It was our countermeasure to stop the Imperial family from trying to commit suicide when the palace fell, but I didn’t think there would be one among your final followers.”
Ortho’s words let Altonius know that it was a mere coincidence that an undead was among his last handful of knights.
“It just means that even luck has left him.”
Ortho nodded to Kulm.
“Now then, let’s seize this wretched scum who had abandoned everything and proceed with the judgment.”
(Judgment? That means there’s still hope for me to survive.)
Altonius’ face relaxed after he heard Ortho. It was enough for Altonius to feel a ray of hope that he would not be killed on the spot without being able to defend himself.
… Altonius’ hope was not lost until the judgment started.