Tigris, sitting in the home office with his younger siblings, had a deeply worried expression on his face. It was because of the head of Inola, Iveth, had died in prison.
Unable to bear the prolonged silence any longer, Tavian was the first to speak.
“Hah, Gladwin’s name will surely be dragged through the mud. How can a beastmen die in Gladwin’s underground prison?”
Razvan clicked his tongue in retort.
“Well, it might be more than just being dragged through the mud. He’s dead, but we still don’t know why.”
“That’s right. They say Gladwin’s security team is the best in the beastmen realm, but is this all they can do? Everyone will be uneasy.”
Tigris raised his head in response to the worried words of the twins.
“It’s not a good situation, but let me be frank. It’s not like there’s no evidence.”
“Do you really think such words are appropriate in this situation?”
“What does some powder have to do with being evidence?”
Narrowing his eyes, Tigris lightly tapped the lid of a small glass bottle placed on the table.
Inside the tiny glass bottle, about the size of a child’s thumb, there was white powder.
Tavian, staring intently at the glass bottle, pursed his lips.
“Could it be dandruff caused by stress?”
“Even with stress, you wouldn’t develop such large and abundant dandruff in just a few days.”
“Then maybe it’s soil that got stuck on his clothes?”
“That bastard hasn’t been anywhere in the beastmen territory.”
“No traces of the powder were found in the reception room or the corridors. Besides, the particles are too fine to be dirt.”
“Argh! Then what the hell is it?”
“I don’t know for sure. But handling it carefully shouldn’t do any harm. It could even be something poisonous.”
“Well, that’s true, but…”
Tavian kicked the leg of the table and leaned against the back of the chair, crossing his arms nervously. Just then, someone knocked on the office door.
“Brother, are you inside?”
It was Sisthia.
The three brothers, their faces previously contorted, brightened up and turned towards the door.
“Yeah. Come in, Sisthia.”
As Sisthia opened the door and came in, a warm scent of sunlight wafted in. She had been having a picnic in the garden and had come straight from there when she heard about Iveth.
As Sisthia walked, a nameless wildflower attached to a large headband on her head swayed gently. It was the flower Karin had secretly placed on her head.
Unaware of the flower swaying above her head, she came trotting in and placed her hands on the table, looking up at Tigris with a determined expression on her face.
Their expressions were serious, but in the eyes of Tigris and the twins, there was a glimmer of excitement, like a tiny hamster gathering its front paws together and sparkling.
“I just heard the news. Is it true that Iveth is dead?”
“Yeah. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.”
“From the Gladwin underground prison? What happened?”
“I won’t tell you. Even though you’re Gladwin’s successor, don’t forget that you’re only ten years old.”
Sisthia lowered her head with a gloomy expression, and the flower attached to her headband bent downward along with her. Whether it was due to distress or sadness, Sisthia’s cheeks puffed up.
The twins, who were watching from the side, nudged each other and smirked.
“Isn’t it cheating to be cute while talking about a murder? Did you buy that headband, Tavian?
“It wasn’t me. Razvan, wasn’t it you who bought it?”
“I see. Who thought of putting flowers on Sisthia’s headband? Did Sisthia do it?”
“I don’t know who, but it was a good idea! She looks so cute with it!”
“I regret not being able to plant flowers in the garden because they smelled bad. We should turn Gladwin into a flower garden.”
After a while, Sisthia raised her head, and the twins who were admiring her plump cheeks let out a sigh of disappointment. Sisthia pointed her finger at a small glass bottle on the table.
“But what’s this? I’ve never seen this powder before… I won’t ask about anything else, just tell me what this is.”
Tigris grimaced, realizing his mistake.
The fact that he had died in the prison where he was being held would have been quite a shock for the still young Sisthia. Tigris had tried to avoid talking about him to prevent the child from becoming even more startled. But now, she had inadvertently caught sight of the only evidence of the incident.
He should have cleared it away in advance. He didn’t expect Sisthia to show interest in such a small object.
Should he just lie and brush it off?
Hesitating, Tigris finally spoke up.
He didn’t have the confidence to handle Sisthia’s hurt feelings when she found out the truth, and there was no reason to hide the evidence even if it meant enduring that kind of pain.
“This is the powder found in the prison where he was held. We are investigating it thoroughly with the Gladwin Guards, but we haven’t been able to determine its identity yet.”
“…Did it have a smell? When you opened it?”
“Smell? No, not at all.”
Everyone, including the twins who were observing the situation, was taken aback by Sisthia’s focused expression and the threatening gaze she directed at the glass bottle on the table.
It was the unmistakable glare of the dignified and fierce Gladwin.
* * *
The moment I heard that it was the powder found in the prison where Iveth was held, I could guess what it was and how he had died.
Clearly, it was murder.
However, I still didn’t know who and why someone had killed him.
Hoping that Tigris would reveal more information, I glanced at him discreetly.
Perhaps my desperate plea was answered because Tigris opened his lips.
“…Sisthia, you just…”
Before Tigris could say anything, his voice was cut off by the sound of a knock at the door.
“Sir Tigris, it’s Constance. I brought the tea you requested.”
Constance, Tigris’s aide, entered the room and smiled brightly when he noticed me. Pushing a tray, Constance elegantly placed a teapot and some snacks on the table in the study.
I blinked and asked Constance, “Why did you bring the tea? Where is Iona?”
Iona, who usually handled the tea tray in the reception room while he was busy with paperwork, was Tigris’ personal maid. She was known for her calm demeanor and efficient work, making her one of Tigris’ cherished attendants. Iona belonged to the esteemed Trinil family, renowned for their lineage of Gladwin’s attendant, making her an exceptional servant.
Constance looked at me with a kind smile and replied, “She accidentally spilled hot water on her hand yesterday and sustained a minor burn. I gave her some time off to recover.”
“Really? Iona spilled the tea? Is her hand okay?”
“Fortunately, it should heal in a few days with proper treatment. It’s quite unusual for someone who never spills a single drop of tea to make such a mistake.”
“I see… Oh, wait a moment.”
Concerned about Iona’s injury, I suddenly realized something and widened my eyes.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just suddenly remembered the snacks I left behind while coming here.”
I mumbled vaguely, but it wasn’t nothing.
Thanks to Constance’s answer just now, I had figured out who the culprit was.
* * *
[Flower Moon 16th, Today’s To-Do List]
☑ Enjoy a variety of fruits.
☑ Try some peanuts.
☐ Investigate the Iveth incident.
I understood the full story of the incident, but I still lacked concrete evidence.
As a young tiger, I couldn’t roam around the crime scene myself, so I had asked Karin to keep an eye on the situation. I tore my eyes away from the books on the shelf and looked out the window, muttering to myself.
‘…I hope everything’s alright. Karin is certainly good at taking care of the tea and grilling meat, but I’m not sure about handling situations like this.’
I remembered Karin’s face as she smiled at me, telling me to leave it to her.
I don’t know if she realized that her smiling so brightly made me nervous.
I was about to take a bite of the snacks Karin had prepared on the table when the study door swung open without a knock.
Finally, the one I had been waiting for had arrived. I completely forgot about taking a bite as I widened my eyes.
Karin’s flushed face burst through the door, her feet shuffling anxiously.
“L-lady! Something terrible happened!”
“Why? What’s wrong? What happened?”
“It’s Winnie, Winnie…!”
Why was Winnie’s name suddenly being mentioned here?
My heart raced as Karin, her face burning red, shouted with her eyes tightly shut.
“They say Winnie is the one who killed Iveth!”
Read ahead here.