Jasper cast a sharp look over Rose.
“Are you really okay?”
“I can’t believe you. Let’s go back right now. Come here.”
“Where are we going…”
Before Rose’s question could finish, Jasper suddenly embraced her again. Then he carried her over his shoulder and started walking.
Jasper handed Rose the reins.
“Stay here for a moment. I need to talk to them.”
Rose watched Jasper awkwardly converse with the men.
She vaguely overheard that they were interrogating the captured mercenaries and conducting a search. However, Jasper had to return to the city of Brittel first to report the current situation to the security authorities. They needed to send additional personnel to this location.
After a while, Jasper returned, and Rose was given the reins. She clung to Jasper’s back with some unease.
It had been a while since she had ridden a horse, and it was a different experience from driving a car. Fortunately, the well-trained horse behaved calmly with both of them on its back.
“Rely on me.”
Jasper muttered softly and expertly guided the horse.
Soon, the two of them quickly moved away from the chaotic roadside.
* * *
Inside the security building in Brittel.
Jasper had just left the medical room, and as he closed the door, he let out a long, suppressed sigh. It was right after they arrived at the security building that he had entrusted Rose with a medical examination.
Fortunately, Rose didn’t have any major injuries, but she had numerous bruises all over her body. Moreover, once they were in a safe environment, her tension had completely dissipated, leaving her fatigued and drained.
As much as Jasper wanted to stay by Rose’s side until she found some peace, he had to deal with the Imperial Guards and the Brittel Security Bureau to manage the current situation. He had heard that the meeting room had turned into chaos.
Jasper clenched his still trembling hand into a tight fist and then headed towards the meeting room. On the surface, he appeared calm and collected as usual, but his inner turmoil persisted.
The image of Rose’s car crashing into a wooden post kept replaying in his mind. The memory of running to the car, pulling her out, and holding her in his arms was all blurry.
His mind had been in disarray at that moment.
He didn’t feel the weight of her petite body in his arms, and it was almost as if he couldn’t believe that he was holding her. It was only when Rose gently called his name that he started to regain his senses.
‘Did I cry too much?’
Upon reflection, he felt slightly embarrassed about his response.
However, the moment he looked into Rose’s face, an overwhelming urge to cry welled up. The relief of knowing that Rose was safe rushed through him like a wave, making his entire body shiver.
‘I must’ve cried a lot.’
He tried to make light of it, but he couldn’t hold back his emotions. The room, which had been filled with tension and anxiety, was now brimming with relief.
It was at that moment that Jasper realized how important Rose had become to him over the time they had spent together. She had taken up a significant place in his heart, and he couldn’t imagine anyone else filling that void.
This realization only fueled his anger toward the people who had tried to take Rose away from him.
The marks on Rose’s wrist from being tied up were prominent. His forehead became hot, and his jaw clenched with tension.
By the time Jasper reached the meeting room, he was seething with cold anger.
In the room, the Imperial Guards and Earl Hendricks were waiting for him.
While Jasper had been searching for Rose, the Imperial Guards had been keeping a close watch on the area around the coffee house.
They had noticed some suspicious movements. The retro wave young people who had gathered at the coffee house were gradually leaving one by one.
It was evident that they were moving somewhere, but they didn’t immediately apprehend them, allowing them to move freely while preparing for the final strike like a hunter throwing a net and silently waiting for the prey to enter.
They had waited for them to commit an overtly sinister act before taking action. This was to ensure that they could crush the gathered forces with certainty today.
‘Rose detonating that bomb actually helped.’
She had made a bomb and used it to escape from the underground chamber. The news of the explosion in their hideout had left the people gathered at the coffee house in confusion and chaos.
Earl Hendricks, sensing that something was amiss, wanted to leave Brittel immediately. If things were going awry, it was necessary to cut off the tail soon.
However, the road from Brittel to the capital was already blocked, and the security bureau had apprehended Earl Hendricks as a witness to keep him from escaping.
Earl Hendricks, feigning ignorance, remained uncooperative. He sat upright and exercised his right to remain silent throughout the interrogation. He claimed not to know anything about the gathering at the coffee house or Edwin.
Despite being a politician who had lost his power in the political arena, he skillfully used his status to exert pressure on the officers.
Jasper had heard that the officers were struggling to handle the Earl, so he decided to contact Ethan Conway, who was at the northernmost border, to seek help in controlling the Earl.
Jasper understood that most people would not be able to handle the Earl’s manipulation tactics.
Jasper approached the Earl, who was sitting there with a portly demeanor, and casually started a conversation.
“Long time no see, Earl.”
The Earl was momentarily taken aback by Jasper’s unexpected appearance, but he quickly composed himself.
“It’s been a while indeed. I didn’t expect to see Conway’s second son here. Why are you in Brittel? Isn’t the graduation ball taking place today?”
The graduation ball. Jasper had momentarily forgotten about the ball, but now it all came back to him. He felt a coldness settle in his heart.
‘I didn’t wish for this day to turn out this way.’
Before the graduation ceremony, he had wanted to create good memories with Rose. However, everything had fallen apart. Jasper checked his watch and realized that the graduation ball was in full swing.
‘When we arrive in the capital, it will all be over.’
He knew that Rose had also quietly looked forward to this day, so the anger within him only intensified.
Dressed in her ball dress, Rose Bell would have undoubtedly shone the brightest at the ball.
Jasper made an effort not to let his frustration show and spoke carefully.
“Someone kidnapped my dance partner, which is why I couldn’t attend the ball.”
“How much longer do you plan to stay silent?”
“What do you want?”
“Are you unwilling to talk to me? Well, I’m not thrilled either.”
Jasper and the Earl exchanged looks but were both reluctant to engage in a verbal battle. Each had their areas of expertise, and Jasper knew that when it came to verbal manipulation, he had no equal.
A police officer entered the interrogation room with a receiver. Jasper flipped it over and placed it on the table.
Just then a familiar voice echoed from the receiver.
-Oh, Earl. It’s been a while.
The Earl’s eyes betrayed a hint of tension.
-I hope you’ve been well. We’ve been hearing about some issues on your side. I can’t afford to sit on my hands, so I reached out.
“I see you’ve realized you’ve abandoned your parliamentary duties.”
-But one still hears things here and there. Lately, the young folks are talking about forming a new faction. Her Majesty is very concerned about it.
-Well, young people can sometimes be led astray by their youthful zeal. But isn’t it an adult’s role to guide them on the right path, Earl?
The Earl, who had maintained his composure throughout, showed his first sign of perplexity. Learning that Ethan, who was essentially the leader of the conservative faction, was aligning his views with the Emperor, was the cause of his bewilderment.
Certainly, Ethan wasn’t always in direct opposition to the Emperor. Still, he often played a role in hindering the Emperor’s reform proposals.
With the current uproar about the Noble’s Law reform, these were times when Ethan could most significantly oppose the Emperor.
The Earl, sounding disconcerted, asked.
“I heard you’ve been quite busy in the Atwood Estate. Do you have time to be Her Majesty’s confidant?”
-It’s all thanks to the magic of modern engineering. Truly, it’s an excellent era. Earl, you should think that way too.
“…You don’t sound like the Lord Ethan I used to know. Is stopping the Noble’s Law reform not within your reach?”
-Have you not heard the news yet? It seems you’re still in the dark. The Noble’s Law reform has passed through the Lower House unanimously. We’ll have the results in a couple of days. We were hoping for some opposing votes, but it turned out a bit ambiguous.
“Were you expecting anything different? The Upper House votes will be a different story.”
-Unanimity is beyond our expectations, but it does concern me as well.
“Even more reason for you, Lord Ethan, to stand strong. You are the pillar of the conservative faction. Are you going to abandon your beliefs?
-When you hold on to your beliefs too tightly, you might miss out on other things. I’m learning that lesson firsthand these days.
“I still don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
-It means you’re clinging to misguided beliefs, Earl. Well… considering the state of the world, it’s possible to make mistakes. Did you know that the Bluewoods have recently voiced their support for the Noble’s Law reform?
-That’s just something that people discuss at exclusive salons among those in the know. You wouldn’t have heard about it. I was only half-listening until I heard the name ‘Bluewoods,’ and that’s when I started paying more attention to the conversation.
Intrigued by the name, Jasper decided to pay more attention to the conversation.
Bluewoods, a core member of the centrist faction, was going to be the deciding vote in the upcoming regular legislative session. Ethan’s efforts to court Bluewoods and bring them to the centrist side were instrumental in securing their support.
-Now, the majority of the centrist faction is expected to favor the reform. Ever since even a noble like Count Bluewood expressed their support, the tide is set. As for the squabbling factions, it’s already a lost cause. I don’t know why you’re so proactive lately.
Jasper let out a sigh of relief. If everything went according to this information, the reform bill would pass, and Rose would no longer have to live under the oppressive constraints of the censorship law.
‘Bluewoods is lending their support… That’s unexpected.’
It was quite a twist of fate.
Thanks to the Bluewoods’ help, Ethan seemed to have no choice but to change his stance.