The night was pitch-dark.
The sound of the carriage could be heard on the quiet road leading to the palace. Linley was sitting alone in the carriage, with Bebe on his legs. Next to the carriage, there were over ten knights on fine stallions, and leading them was the palace servant who had come.
Within the carriage.
Linley was frowning as he considered. “It’s quite late already. But King Clayde suddenly summoned me to his palace. What is this about?” As the saying goes, only those who were blameless would always be relaxed.
Linley had just killed Patterson, and now he was very much aware that in the past, it was Clayde who had instructed Patterson to send people to abduct his mother. In other words, there was a deep enmity between him and Clayde.
Naturally, Linley was very careful around Clayde.
“I heard two days ago, Clayde seized the housekeeper of the Duke’s manor, and has begun a wide scale investigation of Patterson’s affairs. Patterson said that he hadn’t told anyone about his meeting with me. But can I trust those words?” Linley felt uncertain.
Perhaps that housekeeper already knew about Patterson and Linley’s meeting.
If that Duke’s housekeeper informed King Clayde of the meeting, then naturally, Linley would be at the precipice of danger.
“Linley, don’t worry.”
Doehring Cowart’s voice rang out in Linley’s mind, reassuring him. “Linley, even if that Duke Patterson told his housekeeper that he was meeting with you, you would still be fine.”
“Fine?” Linley looked questioningly at Doehring Cowart.
Doehring Cowart nodded confidently. “Naturally. Even if Clayde guessed that you killed Patterson, he still won’t openly address it.”
“Because…Clayde doesn’t know the reason why you killed Patterson.” Doehring Cowart’s face was filled with confidence.
Linley was startled. Even if Clayde didn’t know why he killed Patterson…he still would know Linley was the killer, right?
“It’s simple. Judging from the conversation you had with Patterson in that underground room, his relationship with Clayde wasn’t very good. While he was the Minister of Finance, Patterson engaged in widespread corruption. In his heart, Clayde probably didn’t feel much affection for Patterson. What’s more…Clayde doesn’t know that there is enmity between the two of you. Thus, he won’t act against you without cause. Because if he wishes to punish you, or to kill you, he would have to first get permission from the Radiant Church.” His eyes gleaming, Doehring Cowart looked at Linley.
“Hrmph, can that Clayde really be considered a king? The Radiant Church has the authority to depose him from his rule. But you are someone whom the Radiant Church values highly. Would he dare to casually act against you?” Doehring Cowart consoled Linley.
He understood this logic.
Linley truly did not wish for Clayde to be on his guard against him. If Clayde became wary of Linley, how would Linley investigate his mother’s whereabouts or take revenge on behalf of his mother?
“Open the door! It’s me!” The palace attendant shouted in a shrill voice.
Hearing this, Linley immediately knew that they had already reached the palace gates. Like a giant beast, the gates squatted there, hulking. In just a half hour’s time, countless carriages had entered and left the palace.
One of those carriages was Linley’s. Another belonged to Bernard. And still others were carrying other nobles.
Within the business discussion hall of the palace.
Aside from the two guards standing at the door to the hall, everyone else present in the hall were nobles of high rank. In total, there were eight people present. These were Bernard, leader of the Debs clan. The Prime Court Magus, Linley. The Left Premier, Duke Bonalt. The Inspector General, Hampton [Han’pu’dun]…
“Linley, you came.” Bernard greeted him warmly.
All of the nobles already present instantly greeted him as well. Seeing all of these nobles, Linley couldn’t help but suddenly feel calm. It seemed that he had not been specially summoned after all.
“Milords, I wonder if any of you know why his Majesty has summoned us?” Linley immediately asked.
Duke Bonalt, as the Left Premier, knew a great deal of information.
“Most likely, this summons is related to the disappearance of Duke Patterson.” Duke Bonalt replied with a warm laugh.
Bernard, off to the side, immediately asked, “Lord Duke, what does Duke Patterson’s disappearance have to do with me? I don’t have any important responsibilities at court.”
“Today, his Majesty isn’t summoning his entire court, merely investigating a matter. Otherwise, why would I be here, but not the Right Premier, and only a single Inspector General?” Duke Bonalt saw things quite clearly.
But Bernard still felt very uneasy.
Ever since Patterson had disappeared, Bernard had been filled with unease. He feared that the involvement between his Debs clan and Duke Patterson in the water jade smuggling operation would be brought to light. If this affair was revealed, then the Debs clan would really be finished.
“His Majesty has arrived!”
Suddenly, the shrill voice of the palace attendant sounded out. From a side door to the hall, Clayde walked in, heading directly for a seat in front and sitting down, two palace attendants respectfully at his side.
“All hail his Majesty!”
All of the nobles present bowed and chanted.
Clayde glanced at the nobles. He calmly nodded, then said, “It’s quite late at night already. I originally didn’t wish to disturb all of you, but this issue regarding the disappearance of my second brother, Patterson, is too important. I was forced to summon all of you to come here.”
“Might I ask, your Majesty, what Duke Patterson’s disappearance has to do with your summons for us?” Linley immediately asked.
Of the eight people present before Clayde, perhaps only Linley would dare to speak to him in such a manner. Because while everyone else present was subordinate to Clayde, in reality, Linley was the subordinate of the Radiant Church, and was only a servant of the Kingdom of Fenlai in name.
“Linley, I just wish to clearly investigate this affair.” Clayde smiled, and then said in a loud voice, “Bring out the Duke’s housekeeper, Lodi.”
Lodi? The Duke’s housekeeper?
Both Linley and the Deb clan’s leader Bernard felt their hearts start to pound.
The entire meeting hall was silent. Everyone quietly awaited Lodi being brought forward to testify. Linley still stood there, with the Shadowmouse Bebe on his shoulders.
After a short while…
Under escort by palace guards, a middle-aged man with jade-like hair walked in. This man looked very fragile, with mussed hair and a bewildered look on his face.
Bernard recognized this man at a single glance. This man in front of him was indeed Lodi, the housekeeper for Duke Patterson.
“Lodi, explain everything in detail.” Clayde shouted towards Lodi.
Lodi clearly had already explained once to Clayde already. This explanation clearly was for the benefit of Linley and the others. Lodi said very honestly, “Your Majesty, on June 18th, when the Debs clan held that engagement ceremony, the Lord Duke also went to attend. But after the ceremony, the Lord Duke never came back.”
“Lodi, stand to one side.” Clayde said coldly.
“Yes, your Majesty.” Lodi clearly was terrified. He hurriedly scurried off into a corner.
Clayde swept the eight nobles with his gaze.
“Based on the information from my investigations, the night of the engagement ceremony at the Debs clan, you all were amongst the last to leave. What I want to ask is, did any of you encounter Duke Patterson?” Clayde’s question was very simple.
“Right after the banquet, Patterson departed.” The Left Premier, Lord Bonalt, said in a loud voice.
Linley nodded as well. “I, too, saw Patterson departing quite early.”
The others either said they didn’t see him, or that Patterson left very early.
Hearing everyone speak, Clayde smiled and nodded, and then turned to Lodi again. “Lodi, continue.”
“Yes.” Lodi continued. “That night, before going to the Debs manor, Duke Patterson told me that he was going to be meeting with an extremely important person, but to the importance of the discussion topic, nobody could know about it. Thus, he ordered me to arrange for a double to impersonate him and leave the manor. In truth, the Lord Duke would remain within the manor.”
“The Lord Duke also said that the Debs clan would arrange for a safe, secret place for his meeting.” Lodi added.
Upon hearing these words, Bernard Debs’ face immediately turned white.
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!”
Bernard hurriedly said, “This has nothing to do with me. The Lord Duke told me he wanted to meet with someone, so I arranged a meeting room for them. I couldn’t refuse him.”
“Bernard. Don’t be hasty. I won’t wrongly blame someone.” Clayde smiled.
“Thank you, your Majesty.” Bernard quickly stepped back, but his face was still pale.
Clayde turned to look at Linley and the others. “If Patterson was going to meet with someone, the person he was going to meet with should have some status. Who would that person be? I think…it must have been one of the last guests to leave.”
Linley’s heart trembled.
Duke Bonalt, Count Juneau, Marquis Hampton, and the others all stared at Clayde in astonishment. By now, they could guess why the king had called them here.
His Majesty was suspicious of them!
“Your Majesty, I definitely did not meet with him.” Count Juneau, Marquis Hampton, and the others hurriedly said.
Clayde smiled. “I only have my suspicions. If none of you did anything to be guilty of, why be so nervous? Look, Linley’s the calmest one here.”
Linley smiled but didn’t make a sound.
Clayde glanced at this group of people, laughing coldly in his heart. “I couldn’t give a damn about who made Patterson disappear. In fact, I’d rather thank that person for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to eradicate all the secret connections Patterson has built up.”
As the long-time Minister of Finance, Patterson had erected an enormous, dense web of connections. His influence was extremely large. Clayde didn’t dare to casually investigate Patterson either, as he didn’t want to cause too many problems in the kingdom.
This was also the reason why the Debs clan had decided to work alongside Patterson.
But now, Patterson had disappeared. The group of dragons no longer had a leader.
Acting as fast as lightning, Clayde used various ruthless techniques to quickly clip off Patterson’s wings and shatter the web of influence which Patterson had spent so long building up.
Without Patterson’s guidance, those collaborators of his naturally would be in for a terrible time if they resisted. There was no way they could resist the pressure exerted by King Clayde.
Clayde looked at Linley and the others. Laughing, he said, “The disappearance of my second brother, Patterson, is something I must look into. But what surprised me was, I ended up discovering quite a few things. Lodi, in particular, spilled many secrets.”
Linley couldn’t help but look at Lodi.
“Lodi, tell them.” Clayde smiled at Lodi.
Right now, Clayde was feeling extremely satisfied. The death of a brother, to Clayde, was no big deal at all. More importantly…all of the power within the Kingdom of Fenlai finally rested with him again.
Lodi respectfully said, “Your Majesty, that day, when Duke Patterson attended the engagement ceremony at the Debs clan, the reason he needed to meet with that mysterious person was that he wanted to start a relationship with the Dawson Conglomerate. Thus…the person he went to see absolutely has to have some sort of connection to the Dawson Conglomerate.
“The Dawson Conglomerate?”
Linley felt his heart shudder violently.
“Does everyone want to know why it was that my second brother wished to start a relationship with the Dawson Conglomerate?” Clayde laughed as he looked at the people present. “Lodi, continue.”
“Yes.” Lodi clearly had been totally cowed by Clayde, saying whatever he was told to. “Over these years, Duke Patterson had betrayed his country in many ways for his own profit and for his own selfish motives. In these past few months in particular, he initiated a large-scale water-jade smuggling program with the Debs clan. In the entire history of our kingdom, this is the largest water-jade program that has ever existed.”
The leader of the Debs clan, Bernard, immediately knelt down, his knees smashing into the ground. He hurriedly said, “Your Majesty, I am being framed! Our Debs clan has always operated our businesses in an open, aboveboard manner. We’ve never acted in a way which was against the best interests of the kingdom. Our Debs clan is being framed!”
“Framed?” Clayde flicked a cold glance at Bernard.
“Bring in the Lanseer brothers!”
Upon hearing the words ‘Lanseer brothers’, the face of Bernard, clan leader of the Debs clan, lost all blood.