‘What in the heavens happened!?’
Later that day, Firman reported to Rev. Robert that Aileen was missing. They both searched the entirety of the church to find her together, but she was nowhere to be found.
Soon they received a report regarding a bouquet of Marguerite daisies found in the church’s back garden bringing to them the possibility that the lady was kidnapped. Firman promptly returned to the ducal country house but for some reason, Maynard was there together with the vice-captain of the 2nd Brigade of Knight Order, Sir Berland, and upon reporting the incident to the prince, Maynard grabbed him by the collar. ‘Your highness, please calm down.’
‘Your highness, please calm down.’
Berland who tagged along with the prince pulled him off the holy knight, but the glare of the prince remained stingingly sharp.
‘I understand being flustered by the orphanage fire, but your utmost priority should’ve been Aileen!’
Firman couldn’t refute the prince’s howl. The prince was perfectly right.
Aileen’s personal attendant, Selma, stared blankly in the air, her face severely pale.
‘Have we any leads?’
Berland calmly asks as he put his hand over Maynard’s shoulder, yet his facial expression severe facial expressions puts all his wrath open bare.
Firman threw a fleeting gaze at Rev. Robert’s way, and the reverend responded to him by shrugging his shoulders.
‘I believe we can no longer keep it within ourselves. We do have a lead, sir.’
I’m not fond of the idea of talking about it though—or so the reverend prefaced before he spoke.
There’s a reason why Firman had been coming and going on church’s business.
Rev. Robert received reports of suspicious maneuvers within the associates of the church, and orders from above had him investigate it.
Under normal circumstances, Firman is ought to prioritize guarding Aileen, but because of Rev. Robert’s misapprehensions that dispatching a new holy knight would raise suspicions, he had settled on Firman instead, who came to the territory as the ducal lady’s guard.
After all, Firman had accomplished all sorts of missions in his long service of the church. This makes him much more efficient to use than a newly dispatched holy knight, and since he originally came to the land out of a different mission, he would raise relatively less suspicion if he moves around. The circumstances have made him practically the man for the task.
Sure enough, he was able to narrow down the suspicious individuals to a certain degree within the last two weeks, but they are still short of figuring out their principal objectives.
They considered the possibility of them aiming for the saintess, but then saw no merit in the deed, domestically. Kidnapping a saintess for those within the country would only result in severe criminal charges, and the only value of securing her for those who do not know her circumstances is the label of ‘having made the saintess one’s wife’ and nothing else. There is no meaning in locking them away in one’s home at all.
She brings no reward in comparison to all the risk it would require to brave to secure her, so there is no good reason for kidnapping to happen. If one wishes for her hand in marriage, it would be more practical for them to court her boldly rather than by underhanded means, which brought them to the conclusion that the possibility of kidnapping is low.
But of course, it was still not completely ruled out.
There are still those who stubbornly aims to raise their influences and may conspire to secure Aileen through all sorts of means. While Rev. Robert and Firman conluded kidnapping to be unlikely, they expected them to plot something to make any sort of contact with the ducal lady.
However, because they couldn’t figure out their exact motives, they couldn’t do anything decisively either. Instead, they judged it better to watch as the fishes swim for the time being.
‘What of the bazaar’s security?’
‘We prepared well in that regard, sir. We strictly controls whoever enters the chuch grounds, and there’s no record of "him" entering either.’
‘Then why was Aileen kidnapped?’
‘…I believe it was either someone else’s hand, or there was an inside job involved.’
‘Enough of this!’
Maynard promptly rose and was about to leave the room in a haste but Berland stopped him in his tracks.
‘Wait! Are you planning to just waltz in there?’
‘Are you stupid!? Think about what will happen if a prince recklessly marches in there? You were already put in severe disadvantage due to the selection debacle! Any further mess than that and you’ll—’
‘Aileen is more important than my affairs.’
‘Argh, you dolt! Just calm down for a moment, will you?’
After Berland forcefully put the prince in a chair, he turned his severe glare towards Rev. Robert.
‘I imagine the holy knights will not stay put, are they?’
‘…They cannot mobilize at this stage yet, sir.’
‘Don’t screw with me! Whose fault do you think this is—’
‘I shall move.’
As Berland howled towards the reverend, Firman calmly interjected between them.
All the eyes in the room went to the holy knight and beckoned him to continue.
‘Miss Aileen’s kidnapping is my responsibility for having left her side. I shall move, sir.’
Berland responded, sending a cold gaze at the holy knight’s way and continued,
‘I’m afraid I cannot trust you, holy knight, or should I say, Firman Adler, the church’s loyal dog.’
Firman swallowed his breath at the unexpected response.