Release that Witch Chapter 849
When Edith returned to her abode, she took off her coat and casually tossed it on the hanger at the door.
She could not help taking in a deep breath of the rich fragrance which pervaded from the living room, and her dry mouth welled up with saliva at once.
She had not felt any hungry during the meeting at the Ministry of Defense, but she now realized that her stomach was growling terribly.
"Why so late today?' Cole's voice was heard before he stuck his head out from behind a doorframe, visibly holding a spoon in his hand.
"The war will start anytime now, and naturally, the Ministry of Defense has more work to do. In particular, the circumstances of the Kingdom of Dawn are making things more complicated." She took off her leather boots and replaced them with a soft pair of socks before she entered the living room. "If I return late next time, you should go ahead with dinner."
"Nah, I'm fine with this." Cole twitched his lips. "But, isn't it that His Majesty has yet to decide what to do regarding the King of Dawn? If he employs the strategy offered by Barov's side, won't the plans you're making now be a complete waste?'
"Do you really think he doesn't have his own ideas?" Edith patted her younger brother on the head as she walked past him. "Roland Wimbledon isn't the sort of king who blindly goes by his subordinates' ideas."
"What've you found out this time?" Cole put on a curious look.
"I can tell you, but then I may have to kill you." She swept a glance at him which caused him to quiver and not speak another word.
On the dining table were placed two dishes and a soup, all of which the main ingredient was Neverwinter's specialty - Bird Beak Mushrooms. Recently, either because there was a growing number of hunters who gathered these mushrooms, or because a new source had been discovered, a large supply of mushrooms which were exceptionally fresh, delicious and juicy was being sold in the Convenience Market, and at a lower price than before. As such, the sale of these mushrooms was on the verge of surpassing that of meat products.
It was a pity that the plump feature of the mushrooms was difficult to preserve for long, or otherwise they would sell excellently outside of the Western Region as well.
Edith placed a grilled mushroom in her mouth. The slightly burnt flavor of the mushroom cap blended together perfectly with the melted butter, and after a satisfying crisp sound, she felt her entire mouth filled with mushroom juice, causing her to croon in delight.
She realized she had belittled her dear younger brother all this time.
Although he was not good with the sword and possessed an indecisive character, his talent for learning was far greater than what she had expected. Take cooking for instance - he had learned how to prepare these mushrooms simply by eating them once or twice at banquets organized by His Majesty, yet the taste was almost identical. This would not be possible without an ingenious mind. It also applied to his clerical work at the City Hall. He had been on the job for merely a few months, but had already served as the official scribe at important meetings held at the Lord's castle. This speed of promotion far exceeded that of people of the same age group as him. Even the bunch of young nobles from the Northern Region, who considered themselves to be peerless in their excellence, might not have been able to do better than him.
Of course, what Edith appreciated most was that he always listened to and obeyed what she said.
As she thought about this, she felt the dinner taste more delicious than ever.
After all, the greater the ability of the people under her charge, the easier it would be for her to get certain things done.
"Sis..." Halfway through the meal, Cole could not resist speaking up once again. "Why have you stayed silent for the past few meetings?"
"Uh?" She placed her spoon down and visibly raised her eyebrows.
"The questions which His Majesty asked were all within the realm of your expertise, no? Since you were able to read his intentions, why didn't you speak up for him?" Cole grouched. "Did you not see the way Barov was looking at you... he was nearly bursting with delight."
"This is also a secret. According to conventional practice..."
"Ugh..." He lowered his head and revealed a distressed look. After much hesitation, he shook his head abjectly as if to suppress his inner curiosity.
"But, on account of this delicious dinner, I'll take it that you've paid up." Edith began to smile slightly. "How much do you know about Andrea of the Witch Union?"
"Andrea?" Cole thought for a short while. "Her name has never appeared on any scheduled plan, and her ability is meh..."
"Her ability is irrelevant." The Pearl of the Northern Region snapped. "It's normal that you don't know much about her. She's a combat witch, and rarely shows up in public. Only a few people know of her background. From what I've gathered, she's a noble from the Kingdom of Dawn, and her family's a highly honorable one. She's also an old friend of Otto Luoxi. You can more or less infer the rest of the secret from these details." Subsequently, she provided a simple outline of her own speculation. "Do you now understand why I didn't speak up during the meetings? Had I revealed the favoritism involved, some things that could be achieved would no longer be possible. His Majesty might even have held me responsible!"
Cole's eyes widened. "How did you know all this?"
"Did you really believe I offered to go to the Great Snow Mountain simply to back up what I'd said, that 'only people who've served on the front line should be eligible to become key officials?' That's only one of several reasons." She shrugged her shoulders and continued, "Had I not made this trip, it would be difficult to make close contact with the witches."
Cole strained his brows and contemplated for a long while. "No, that's not right... granted that the news you'd heard was accurate, how could you be so certain that His Majesty would choose Andrea as a quick fix for the problems in the Kingdom of Dawn? There's absolutely no relation between these points! Couldn't he have made it a priority to recapture the kingdom and organize an ascension ceremony?"
"There's certainly no necessary relation. However, His Majesty's behavior during the meetings makes it hard for me to believe otherwise..." Edith responded assertively. "During three days of meetings, he'd glanced at Andrea a total of 17 times. She's neither a City Hall official, nor a key decision-maker, and as such, unless they're having an affair, this should be the secret plot."
"You... even noted this?"
She raised her bowl of soup and reenacted her posture during the meetings. "By sitting like this, I can observe His Majesty with the corners of my eyes. He certainly wouldn't expect that while he was watching Andrea, someone else was constantly observing him."
"..."The younger brother puckered his lips into a peculiar expression and muttered something inaudible.
"What did you say?" Edith questioned icily.
"No, erm... nothing much." Cole hastily waved his hands in denial. "But I would like to ask - when you spoke to Andrea after one of the meetings, was it also because of this? What if your guess was wrong?"
"Oh?" She arched an eyebrow in amusement. "You saw that?'
"I wanted to ask you what time you would return home that day. But... you seemed to remain in front of her for only a very short while..."
"I didn't need to divulge all of the conjectures in my head. Because it's a matter of favoritism, all I had to do was to give her a gentle nudge on the back," Edith calmly replied. "I simply said to her, 'His Majesty is a very benevolent king, and besides, he has met Sir Otto briefly before. As long as you speak up, he'll almost certainly agree to save the latter.' This way, if my guess was correct, I would have served to help His Majesty, while if I was wrong...," she paused briefly before finishing her sentence, "Who actually cares if the Kingdom of Dawn's nobles are dead or alive?"
The next day, the routine meeting lasted for only half its usual duration.
Roland Wimbledon, who had been quiet for the past three days, figured that he had heard enough of the ministers' discussion, and therefore announced his decision at the start of the meeting - in Neverwinter, the First Army would split up into two routes; the first route would be to enter Hermes Plateau through Coldwind Ridge, while the second would be to cut through the Eastern Region directly towards the border of the Kingdom of Dawn. The aim was for these two offensives to link up in the City of Glow by early autumn.
After Roland had issued his decree, everyone at the meeting discontinued their arguments and acknowledged his orders in unison. Even Barov, who was the leader of a group which held a more conservative opinion, bowed in agreement as though he had not said what he did previously.
The entire Western Region became busy in the blink of an eye.