The Villainess is a Marionette - Chapter 130
Pop, pop, pop…
The sound and the world, that seemed to be covered in chaos, stopped. Cayena freezed time. The bullet stood still in front of her chest, but if it was a little later, Cayena would have been hit by it. Bael’s hand suddenly burst in front of Cayena — he gripped the bullet and crumbled it as a walnut, turning the slug into a powder.
«That was just right in time,» he spoke as if spitting a curse. His face was captured by an unbearable rage.
Cayena looked away at the shooter — he was obviously a nobleman. Nevertheless, he wore a costume with embroidery, which wasn’t in vogue those days. This might have meant two things: either he couldn’t afford buying a new banquet costume due to absence of money, or he was not sensitive to fashion. Although he looked as featly as possible, his outfit was strangely disheveled. He had such an appearance as if he wasn’t served to. It seemed like he was the head of one of those many families that had been ruined by Yester through debts.
Bael approached the man. A sensation like a light static electricity’s touch tickled his skin with the repulsive force of space-time.
«I’m sure it’s not going to end with just one shot and he’s going to continue firing. I’ll subdue it, so release the magic.»
Cayena nodded and time commenced moving again.
«Kya-ah!» everybody had bent to the floor in a hurry and started yelling.
Bang! Bang! Baang- !
As Bael had anticipated, the man was pulling the trigger back and forth in a row. However, he had already lifted the man’s hand up so only the ceiling was shooted at.
The man could not hide his embarrassment by the position of his arm, which was raised straight above. Bael seized the weapon away in one breath and knocked the man on the floor. Before he knew it, Raphael hugged Cayena and turned his back towards the shooter.
At the sound of gunfire, the knights rushed into the banquet hall.
«Arrest him immediately and put him in jail!»
«Yes, Your Highness!»
«He tried to kill me!» Yester squirmed his face like Yaksha.¹ «Put him up in my prison and I’ll interrogate him myself!»
Cayena pulled back from Raphael and looked at Yester with icy eyes.
«The culprit decided to settle a score against the Grand Duke and to perpetrate an attempt in the Imperial Palace, which happened during my Coming-of-Age banquet as well.»
«It was aimed at me.»
«The royal family’s member had almost perished, despite the Great Duke being targeted,» she said coldly. «You dared let personal revenge enter this place and then you’re acting like this.»
Yester gritted his teeth. He was furious and couldn’t hear anything from Cayena. His careless behavior almost murdered the royal scion. Thus Cayena could blame him.
«If it hadn’t been for Bael Cronos, I wouldn’t have stood here.»
«What if he pretended to harm His Grace the Grand Duke, but actually attacked me? Can the Grand Duke be freed from this responsibility?»
How can it be said that Yester was not responsible for this thing? It was fortunate that he didn’t get wrongly accused for ordering this job. Cayena was pressing him with a frighteningly grim expression.
«But you dare to bawl in front of me saying that you will take the criminal!»
Everyone gulped and flinched at such a sizzling rage.
Yester clenched his fist tightly but soon relaxed. Then he fell to his knees in front of Cayena.
«I dared to put Her Highness the Princess in danger due to the recklessness of my beliefs. Any punishment will be a blessing.»
The nobles began hyperventilating — it was the first time they watched that bastard, who was not afraid even of the Emperor, kneeling and asking for forgiveness from someone.
«The shock I received today is so great that I won’t be able to hold the banquet this way, therefore I’ll make big changes. From tomorrow, we will be conducting a more thorough inspection for those who enter the Grand Hall. You should be aware of that.»
The nobles began to babble at each other about this shocking incident. As an impact, there were a lot of things that hadn’t been figured out yet: it wasn’t known what political moves Cayena would make in the future and whether she intended to help Rezef with the succession… All thanks to the shooting spree.
Catherine, who was standing next to the Princess, was shivering with a green complexion. Though, she didn’t forget her duty.
«Your Highness, I’ll take you to the Imperial Palace.»
«No,» she replied, shaking her head. «Auntie must have been shocked, so go back,» saying so, Cayena called in the knights to escort Catherine.
«Are you all right?» Raphael asked with a fully hardened face.
«Yeah. Fortunately, I didn’t get shot.»
Despite it being risky, it was rather an opportunity. In recognition of today’s virtue, she intended to award Bael with a title.
Raphael was paler than Cayena, the one who was nearly shot. He really thought Cayena was shot and his world had already begun falling apart. No matter how fast you run, you can’t be faster than a shot. But nothing had happened until the moment he held Cayena in his arms. Only the sound of gunfire in the air echoed in his ears. The situation was sorted out as if it was bewitched somehow. When did Bael, who, as Raphael thought, was right next to him, capture the culprit? He felt peculiar but he didn’t have time to dwell on it — Cayena’s safety was more essential right now.
The Princess glanced at Bael.
«You two should go with me for a while.»
She walked towards the lounge as if it wasn’t her who was about to be assassinated some time ago. That was the room which was allocated to Raphael. As the door was closed, a tripartite encounter took place. Cayena turned around and looked at them alternately.
«So, can you explain now?»
«We’re friends,» answered Bael.
Raphael was engulfed in a new state of shock so much that he forgot about the shock of the shooting for a moment: that man was speaking informally to Her Highness.
«As far as I know, there’s no reason for you to be friends, right?»
Eventually Raphael confessed to Cayena’s interrogation.
«I went to Priest Denian to expand the Paladin’s search radius. But he showed up declaring he’s the temple’s owner,» he explained. «What’s your relationship with him?» Raphael asked her this time.
«What… a contractual relationship?»
Essentially, since they traded magical power with the lifetime, the description of it as of the contractual relationship was perfectly appropriate.
’I never expected Bael to show up out of the temple. I thought I would have to get tangled up with Olivia one day before that ever happens.
«Are you talking about the fake husband you had mentioned back then?» Raphael told with a stiff face.
’Oh, a contract might sound like that.’
«No, I’m not the one!» shouted Bael loudly.
«Then who are you?» said Raphael and warily stared at Bael.
«Firstly, he’s not the candidate for the fake husband, so just relax,» as Cayena explained it, Raphael’s expression quickly softened.
’It’s quite simple…’
«For the word, Bael is a very capable helper. It’s surprising that he made friends with you, but… Get along well.»
He didn’t want to get along very well with Bael, but he was compelled to nod at Cayena’s words.
«No way. Do you know what misunderstanding has happened between us? I’ve been treated like his boyfriend!»
These words made Cayena twitch. Even between Raphael and her, there was no scandal to be guessed this way, but all Bael did was just accompany him…
’Does it mean that Raphael and I don’t match up?’
For some reason, it felt like she was losing to Bael.
«I’m not in the mood for jokes!»
Raphael sighed deeply. Have they just forgotten what they had gone through? At this point, he was almost doubting whether to take it seriously. Khm-khm, dear readers, please, make sure you’re reading at the novelqueendom site and our credits aren’t erased!
«Be sure to receive support from the council members today,» told Raphael.
«Okay,» agreed Cayena.
«Drink plenty of hot tea, too,» he added. «I’ll lead the knights sweeping around the neighbourhood to make sure there’s no other danger.»
«Come on, why don’t you go and take care of her in the bedroom?» intervened Bael.
«If I could, I would have done it,» replied Duke.
Bael crumpled his face as if something unnecessary was said.
«Ugh, I’m leaving,» he dropped the last words and walked out of the lounge, looking excruciated by being between that couple.
«It’s really fine so you don’t have to do that,» appealed Cayena to Raphael, shaking her head. «You haven’t forgotten that I command the Central Army, have you?»
Still not being relieved, he nodded helplessly.
«I suppose there will be a lot more work to do starting tomorrow, hence I’ll have to compose myself. We have things to deal with.»
Stew soup had to be distributed to paupers from tomorrow. Additionally, the shooting incident that took place before, should have been investigated, thus the hands were full.
Cayena gave a big hug to grim-faced Raphael.
«Thank you for earlier.»
Raphael sighed softly and also hugged Cayena back.
«I’m going nuts with anxiety.»
Why are such dangerous situations going on? He was already skeptical about whether it would be best for Cayena to continue living in the Palace this way. Cayena patted Raphael on the back. Her magic allowed her to believe in her own safety… But how disturbing was all this in his eyes? Cayena smiled tenderly as if to make him rest assured.
«Don’t worry too much, go ahead and relax.»
Raphael forced his way out of the lounge.
Cayena left the room and the knights surrounded her in an instant, then she moved up the hem of her dress and said bye to Raphael.
«And so, goodbye.»
While she felt upset, as Raphael looked like a puppy watching its owner leaving, she turned away.
’I feel like I need something to get sure of its worth.’
Finally, the main character of the banquet left the Grand Hall.
* * *
1. It’s a nature spirit, but it can be a man-eating monster, a demon that eats wayfarers. Imagine its face.