***The Holy Palatial Gardens, at the Saint’s Throne Room***
“And that’s what I was able to gather from my expedition, Your Holiness.” Lady Sylvia, the Duchess of Henristone, never moved from her kneeling position, even as she finished her report on the failure of her mission to the Cherwind-Chersea crossing. Deep inside, she felt bad about what happened; she wouldn’t want to tell it to the Saint if that would only be possible.
Maddie remained in her seat. Her hands were visibly quivering, and her eyes were getting wet. Lily and James stood and flanked her, unsure of what to do with their friend.
“A-And what…what about your investigation as to the circumstances of Sir Kuro’s disappearance?” she asked.
The Duchess sadly shook her head, “My apologies Your Holiness, I failed in that as well…”
At that moment, Maddie was unable to control her emotions, and she bawled like a child while on her throne. Lily and James quickly moved in to console her, but her weeping went even louder and echoed across the entire throne room.
Lady Sylvia Henristone could only look with despair at the situation. She wanted to disappear at that moment; for no vassal wanted to see her liege suffer if she could help it, “Your Holiness…if only I could—”
“Cease your words, Lady Henristone!” it was the king of Nerfes, “Her Holiness has had enough of hearing about your failures. We believe that it’s to her personal interest that you refrain from speaking any further.”
“But Your Majesty, I only ask but another chance to redeem my name…”
“You as the Paladin Corps’ captain should be made aware of how disappointing your service to Her Holiness is!” James rebuked her, “As her personal guard, you should know what’s to her best interest! However, you even caused her even more pain by bringing in bad tidings.”
“Your Majesty, I plead to understand!” Lady Henristone defended herself, “My ladies went to great lengths to investigate, and I won’t tolerate anyone belittling their tireless efforts!”
“Still, no one would deny your results are dismal, and that’s what matters!”
“Preposterous!” the Duchess was unable to keep her anger within her and pulled out her sword.
“What is this? Do you dare to stand against us, against a king, Lady Henristone?” the king of Nerfes asked while also drawing his sword, “Pray do tell, milady, are you really sincere about what you are doing, or just simply following your liege’s wishes?”
“What are you implying?”
“Your failures are doubtful enough.” James explained, “While we can’t do anything about the closed-off crossing, your investigation, however, is a different matter. Surely, with the vast resources at your disposal, your investigation could’ve made progress by now. Are you trying to sabotage us?”
“Is His Majesty accusing me of disloyalty and lying to Her Holiness?” Lady Henristone was fuming red in anger that she already pointed her sword at the king, “This is the greatest insult I ever received!”
“Come at me to prove your point then!”
Everyone froze when Maddie’s voice echoed throughout the entire room. With all attention focused on her, the Saint wiped the tears from her eyes and stood.
“I do not wish of you to fight, nor dirty the floor with blood because of your arguments. Lady Henristone, please sheathe your sword.”
At once the Paladin Corps’ captain obeyed without any further incident. With the tense atmosphere diffused, Maddie continued on what she was about to say…
“While Lady Henristone’s loyalty is not to be questioned—for I can read minds, I am beginning to see the wisdom in His Majesty’s argument.” she explained, “Indeed, given the resources that were available, why is Her Excellency haven’t made much progress in her investigation?”
“Your Holiness, allow me to—”
“You never need to explain to me, Lady Henristone. One look at your heart and mind, and everything becomes clear!” the Saint bluntly told her, “You simply lack the capability and competency to do my bidding.”
“…” the Duchess remained silent while her liege made the pronouncement. However, one could tell that she was shocked at what she was hearing, and could only shake her head in disbelief. Despairing, she turned her eyes towards the head maid, Lily, yet the latter remained cold and distant.
“And because of those reasons, I hereby relieve you of your duties as my paladin corps captain. Lady Atkins would take-over the leadership starting this moment. You may now leave, Your Excellency.”
Lady Henristone was still in a state of disbelief; nevertheless, she didn’t dispute Maddie’s judgment and simply bowed before her liege.