In which the Elias Family discusses the liquor business, and Tara gets called for a private conversation with her father.
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Episode 11. 89kg (1)
"I heard that the prohibition will be lifted within the next 15 days and that His Majesty has already issued the decree. They're merely trying to find the right date to publish it. We should look for importers and rebuild the alcohol storages in our trade ships before their next departure."
Everyone in the room stirred at Chloe's declaration.
Although this society was supposed to offer equal opportunities, discrimination was rife. Despite that, she had opened and established many shops throughout the Empire, making a name for herself as a 24-year-old woman.
She was Chloe Elias, and received full recognition for her skills.
Of course, the huge amounts of money backing her decisions made it easy, but she did quite well compared to her peers who weren't able to stand out.
Therefore, the impact of her words differed from those of her peers.
"Where does this information come from? If it isn't accurate, we'll have to suffer huge losses. On top of that we won't be exempt from the law either."
When a business leader with a cautious expression voiced their opposition, the room became noisy again.
No conclusion was reached and the opinions were strongly divided, making it hard to find a compromise.
Wait? Prohibition order?
There was definitely talk about the prohibition.
[The Ocerian Chronicles] listed the events that occurred in the Ocerian Empire from each year, so the big events were memorable.
I had definitely heard of it, but not that it was supposed to happen now.
The part where the prohibition was lifted took place more than 30 chapters in, after the Empire's great victory in a follow-up war.
This wasn't the right time. The Empire's war hadn't even started yet.
So where on earth did Chloe's intel that the prohibition would be lifted come from?
At that moment, the question that cleared my doubts came out of my Father's mouth.
"Chloe Elias. What is the source of this information? Did it come from the Palace's Minister of Finance? Or from the Minister of War?"
Those two ministers must have a connection.
He spoke softly, but the decisiveness in his voice indicated he wouldn't tolerate even the smallest lie.
"It's from the Ministry of Justice."
"The Ministry of Justice?"
"Yes, my mother recently made ties with the difficult Duke Anton. As you know, House Anton has been serving in the Ministry of Justice for generations, and the Duke is the current Minister of Justice. That's where my information came from."
"Really? Did you contact Duke Anton's family? Or was it with House Philippe's help?"
House Philippe was Chloe and Jason's maternal family.
"Yes, my mother said so."
"Hmm... I see. It was Philippe..."
Then, Jason, who had been quietly listening, came forward.
"Father, this has been a great deal of work for my mother's family. You can't let their efforts go to waste. I'll step up and handle the liquor business. I'm already in charge of distribution anyway. I'm the perfect person."
"Yes, if you leave it to me, I'll strengthen our liquor business."
'What will you strengthen? It's easy to talk.'
If the ban was finally lifted after two years, the no.1 player in the industry would take the lead as long as they secured and distributed the alcohol properly.
Not to mention, having access to intel beforehand and making decisions based on that could grant one an advantage over your competitors that wouldn't be easily taken away. So, it was clear that with a hold on the liquor industry, one’s position could grow significantly.
However, if the information was fake, all the preparation work funds would vanish into thin air.
Vanish into thin air? That wasn’t right. Obviously there was a reason why this particular information was leaked.
The people who benefitted from leaking this, that was where the 'vanished' funds would go.
["Nice to meet you, Lady Elias. My name is Attorney Gehrig Anton."]
A week ago, I was introduced to Gehrig Anton in the drawing room.
Was he Duke Anton? Was that where it came from?
["... Indeed, the lawyer is a very famous person in the area and the Countess went to great lengths to invite him. As for me. I don't have a lot of money, while they are all prestigious noble wives, I am only here as a courtesy."]
Yes, they were definitely investing in the Sorbonne wines.
Even though the prohibition wasn't yet lifted, wine investments were encouraged. Of course, that made sense if you already knew the ban would be lifted.
A vague memory seemed to sway far away in the hazy fog, fragments of thoughts that were hard to catch.
"Jason, are you sure?"
"Yes! Leave it to me."
Jason answered with more confidence than ever, his chest puffed out. He looked as proud as a peacock too.
"Alright. But Jason, if this information turns out to be false, what are you going to do about the damage that will befall the Elias family?"
"We'd need to secretly operate an illegal distillery, make contracts with importers, and secure a distribution network in advance. That takes manpower, time and money. Don't you think the risk of investing is too great to believe the words of just one family?"
"Huh, but the source is so reliable..."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk. How could you do such an important task with just one piece of information?"
"Y–Yes, Your Excellency!"
This wasn't just a family meeting. It was a meeting for all the business leaders of each branch. Chloe, the third daughter, who had been humbled by Father's yelling, also stilled.
The children of the Elias family could be evaluated for their promotion at any moment.
They were in a position in which an enormous sense of responsibility and pressure rested on every action and every word.
Therefore, Jason's words had quite an impact on his evaluation for becoming the next Head of the House.
"We have to make a careful decision in this kind of situation. Joining the liquor business is a good move. However, it's a matter of national legality. If it's false information, the loss of money is not that important. Rather, the Elias family will be seen as having broken the law, and naturally lawsuits will follow. Now, do you think you can trust that information and start a liquor business?"
Jason's face, which had paled, turned sour.
He was 27-years-old. He thought he'd obviously become the next successor after the death of the first son.
Father's gaze went from Jason to Chloe, and then from Aria, who couldn't hide her wide eyes, to Logan, with a serious expression.
And then to my face.
I wanted to avoid his piercing stare, but I didn't. There was no reason to do so.
After a fairly long period of silence, when the rest of the attendees and siblings followed his gaze, Father turned his eyes away.
Why were they looking at me like that, like they were surprised?
"Yes, Your Excellency."
Harrison was the business leader in charge of House Elias’s general business affairs.
"Find out if House Anton's information can be trusted. Also go to our legal team and House Philippe to find out what happened there, and if everything is determined to be true, we'll discuss this again."
"Yes, Your Excellency."
Oh. As expected, his charisma made it clear he wasn't the Head of household for no reason.
When the discussion was over, my Father left. Inside the still cluttered conference room, the visitors, having not seen each other in a long time, continued to chat,
Some of the attendees seemed to be consoling Jason, but he just sighed and left.
What a punk.
While I was thinking of leaving the conference room, Chloe approached me.
She lowered her head and stared at my face.
"What the hell were you doing?"
"I didn't even realize you were here until I could hear you all of a sudden."
"You could hear me? Oh..."
"Oh? A child who could hardly speak properly spoke her mind in front of her father and mother. And even at this official meeting... What do you think you're doing? Have you been acting sick just for show?"
Did she want me to say that I shouldn’t have changed? My change was probably a surprise. I'd have to do better in the future.
I felt dizzy from the amount of her perfume that fluttered off of her fan.
"... Ah... No, I'm just trying to live decently now. I've been stuck in my room for too long, without doing anything..."
I meant it. I was trying to live.
"... Well, you did live like a shut-in. But don't act out, okay? I don't care about what you do inside this mansion, but I won't stand for it if I hear you're disgracing the Elias' name outside. Understood?"
It was obviously meant to make me feel bad, but I wasn't upset at all. Could I say it was actually cute?
"Y–Yes, sister. I'll be careful."
"Yes, you're my sister. Shouldn't I call you that?"
"... No. Call me sister. But I'll keep an eye on you."
Perhaps she didn't refuse me calling her 'sister' because of the other people in the conference room, although she grimaced.
To be honest, she didn't seem to care that much about me. She just wanted to threaten me.
It was as plain as day that no matter what I did, Chloe would always keep me on my toes.
Should I leave the conference room now? Father would handle the case with the lawyer, right?
Sir Dylan approached me as I stood up thinking about this.
"Follow me. The Count is looking for you."
"What? Oh... Yes."
I would probably be asked two questions when we were finally face to face.
Answering those questions was fine because I had practised in advance, but I was quite nervous because this was the first time we would be speaking alone.
I secretly wiped the sweat from my palms on my skirt.
Whoo... I'd do it right. To prevent our destruction, getting the full support of my father was an absolute must.
"... I have three questions for you."
As we sat down on the sofa in the office, Dylan and my Father sat face-to-face.
"I received a telegram from Andrei Pitt. How did you convince him?"
I gulped. It was time to answer the questions I had been preparing for all morning. One shot, two kills.
I had to give two answers to one question. No, I had two replies for this.
Looking at him was extremely taxing. Being relaxed was of the essence now. I had to be calmer than ever.
"Uh, not too long ago, the 8-year-old son of a stableman, Peter, was practising alone with a wooden knife at the training grounds where I'd been exercising for the past few days."
Sir Dylan's eyes widened at my sudden story. My Father also lifted his teacup and paused.
"Will you hear me out to the end?"
At my calm words, Dylan and Father glanced at each other. Soon, my Father nodded.
"... I will."
I really wished I had a cup of cocoa in front of me
Instead, I took a deep breath and continued telling my story again.
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