The conclusion of Tara and the Grand Duchess' game and a conversation between Kyle and Nick.
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Episode 119. About 11 months (11)
"Now, let's move on to the next question."
I was trying to control my anxiety as I watched her choose the next book. This time, the Grand Duchess picked the one that she had used as a textbook, [Women's Progress in Society and the Perspectives of the Family and Nation - Multiple authors].
Now that my prediction had come true, I sighed in relief, but the Grand Duchess wasn't called eccentric for nothing.
She picked up the book, smiling meaningfully, and her expression overlapped with the Joker for a moment.
The Grand Duchess caught me off guard by asking a question that I had never thought of, just as she had also tricked my father.
The Grand Duchess patted the book [Women's Progress in Society and the Perspectives of the Family and Nation] as if it was very precious.
"I've read this book to my heart's content. Well, it is also the first book to officially claim that women's social status should be guaranteed, even though the content is a bit dry. So, my question is..."
I gulped. If I won this round too, I wouldn't be put in such a position again.
Since I had already escaped the arranged marriage I didn't have another wish that I wanted just as much, but who would refuse a free wish?
I could get a blank check from a person of such a high status.
The Grand Duchess, who had paused for a moment, swept the cover of the book and opened it.
"This book was co-authored by a group of sociologists. Now then, how many authors are there in total?" She asked.
For a moment, I thought I heard wrong. Otherwise, she really did ask such a question at a time like this.
"Is the question too easy?"
"No. It's that this kind of question is so unusual..."
"There were no conditions for the difficulty of the questions, were there? Haha, the conditions are simple. I give you a question, you answer it correctly, and I gave you a very standard question in the first round while I didn't have to be so nice if I want to win. Isn't that right?"
I nodded with a bitter taste in my mouth. Not a single word was wrong.
"Since it's an easy question, I'll give you 1 minute."
The Grand Duchess' lips twitched like she was getting ready to laugh a lot.
I clasped my hands and began to tap my index finger. That was my habit whenever I got nervous.
Ha. It was said she wasn't the easiest person when asking these kinds of questions. She was like Andrei Pitt, grandma version.
I closed my eyes and frowned.
"Well, how many are there?"
Let's take a guess.
"It's four... teen."
"Did I get it right?"
Her positive exclamation raised my hopes, but it disappeared when the Grand Duchess burst out in laughter.
"No, you're completely off the mark. There are 10 co-authors. For your information, my name is on there as well. Look."
I couldn't have known how annoying it would be to see the Grand Duchess pointing at her own name with her index finger.
"Hoo. I'll surrender. What is your wish?" I asked carefully.
"Now that the discussion of the arranged marriage is over, I won't bring it up anymore, and instead, you're going to have three official dates with my grandson."
"Since you don't think my grandchild is good enough for you, I want you to judge for yourself whether that's really the case."
"But the arranged marriage has already been withdrawn..."
"It's not possible to get married just because the arranged marriage has been withdrawn? Sometimes, the children of prestigious aristocratic families meet in society and get married, don't they?"
Ah... Her plan was to hook us up.
"Ha. Ha. Ha. You believe Lord Theodore and I may fall for each other."
"Isn't it obvious? I could fill a carriage with noblewomen from the Capital who are dying to date Theodore. Even this old lady gets flustered when she sees her grandchild. Ahahahaha."
"Lord Theodore might not like it."
"It's only natural to marry someone who was chosen by the family, but you're different."
Her words were full of annoyance. Heh.
"Alright, I have nothing to lose. Wouldn't it be better to meet unofficially though? Official meetings will spark rumours."
"Hmm, most women dislike rumours about themselves. Well, maybe my Theodore will boost your reputation. Hehe."
Even a hedgehog would say they have beautiful children. Was this the kind of affection my mother felt when she looked at me?
In the end, her wish wasn't all that disadvantageous to me, so I left my discomfort behind and signed the wish certificate right away.
"You said you would choose the last game, Your Grace. What will it be?"
At this point, I was starting to feel a little uneasy. I was sure her game was going to be something I would've never thought of. Besides, the fact there was one more wish made me anxious.
"Hehe. Since this is the last round, why don't we say our wishes beforehand? It will be more exciting and fun, don't you think?"
"Haha... Yes. I–I'm fine with it. Please go ahead."
For some reason, it felt like I had opened Pandora's box.
"Shall we, then? If I win this round, you'll give me eight hours of your time every month."
For a moment, I thought I was facing an NPC in a fantasy game.
Not knowing what to say, my eyes widened.
"What? Did I hear you wrong? Are you asking for eight hours a month?" I asked.
"You heard me right."
"Why do you...?"
"I don’t have long before I die. I need to revive a dead hobby of mine."
"Oh, I'm going to be your playmate each month?"
"Exactly! Ahahahahaha. What about you?"
Without hesitation, I put out the wish I had in mind.
"If I win, I want House Stuart to support House Elias whenever we ask."
"Hmm, you're asking for a lot over a game."
Helen was overcome by a strange feeling as she saw Tara staring straight at her after having wished for a very big favour.
She once had many students at the academy, but none were like Tara Elias.
'She has a lot of faith in herself, even though she's 18 years old. She's also much more cautious than her peers... Cautious?'
Right after the dinner, she had believed her to be a very impulsive child. It wasn't surprising, since Naviene had been like that as well.
However, when she thought about it, she realized that perhaps all the provoking she thought Tara had done impulsively was part of her plan.
It wasn't just her intelligence, but she was using the knowledge she had at the right time.
Moreover, she didn't exaggerate or flaunt herself.
She'd have to wait and see, but it didn't seem like she was bluffing. She was acting with confidence, trying to prove herself.
Her bold attitude and extraordinary mind resembled Naviene, but her sincerity at proving herself and her quick situational judgment was something Naviene didn't have.
She became somewhat impatient.
'This child is going to stand out soon. If so... I can't sit still.'
"You have to seize the opportunity when it comes."
"I think so too. All right! Let's do it that way. Now. The last game is..."
The last game was really unexpected.
"We're going to open the parlour's door in a bit. Then, anyone can enter the parlour."
"And whoever correctly guesses the gender of the fifth person to walk in wins."
"Ah... It's futile."
"It's a fair game, isn't it? Ahahahahah."
Right. There was no such thing as winning by chance.
I had to bet my previous 8 hours a month on this.
My head thundered. I wondered how such a grandma could exist. I was the director and the main character, but she was already taking over the story.
There were no easy people here, Andrei, Kyle, my father, and so on.
"Now, shall we start? I bet it'll be a woman."
"Alright, then I bet it'll be a man."
"Let's open the door."
The last game began like that, and the fifth person to enter was the Countess, who always got me into difficult situations.
The next afternoon.
"As you ordered, we've set up an investigative team. We have also adjusted the hired knights' schedules so they can go as soon as the hunting forest is decided."
Kyle, who was reviewing the month-end reports from each military department, nodded in understanding. His eyes were still on the report.
"Check the number of guards accompanying His Majesty and request additional troops from the Military for support. The captain of the Royal Guard is..."
Nick stared at Kyle with anticipating eyes.
"This time, not even God can stop me!"
"You left me out of the war with Skandoa and other plans!"
Nick frowned heavily, doing his best to make it clear that it was extremely unfair and unjust.
"Walter and Chris recommended you, so you're in charge this time."
'Oh. They did that for me!’
Nick, having answered with confidence, realized that he was completely blindsided by Kyle's following words.
"If you're more than 10 meters removed from his Majesty, you'll be beheaded. Understood?"
Only then did Nick remember the work environment of the Royal Guard. They had to stay close to the Emperor whenever he went out.
'How could you forget about that trivial work situation? Nick Bright! Damn it. It's going to be tough.'
But Nick didn't want to be caught.
"Yes, yes! Of course I know. Beheading... Ha. Ha."
"What happened last night?"
"... Huh?" Nick asked.
He was still in a daze, so he didn't immediately understand what Kyle meant.
Then, the now familiar cold eyes met Nick's.
"Uh... Ah! The report hasn't come yet. Should I tell them to hurry, Your Highness?"
Kyle tapped his desk with his index finger. Nick looked at Kyle's pensive expression and suspected House Elias had done something wrong.
'It must be pretty important since he added one more spy, so we should hurry.'
But Nick's thoughts were glaringly wrong.
"Alright. It's none of my business. Get out."
Nick tilted his head. Yesterday, His Highness seemed about ready to storm into the Elias Mansion. But today, he was saying it didn't matter anymore.
Nevertheless, His Highness' perpetually expressionless face was the same as yesterday.
"Yes, Your Highness."
Then, Nick thought about how he never understood his Master properly, and decided not to think about his psychological state anymore.
Nick entered the Commanders of the Knights' office and found an attendant.
"The 3rd Aide's wife gave birth, so he's been on leave for two weeks since yesterday," the attendant, who was organizing goods, said back questioningly.
"Oh! That's right indeed. Hmm. I think everything will be decided and we'll leave for the hunting forest in about a week. I'm accompanying His Majesty, but if I don't get his schedule right, I'm completely screwed... Ugh. I can't keep my mouth shut. I would've been better off if I had stayed quiet. Ha..."
The attendant, who was watching Nick muttering to himself, couldn't resist.
"What do you need? I've organized all of Third Aide Andrew's documents," he asked.
"Hmm. It's not that, I have field duty soon. Wasn't it the secretarial division that dispatches temporary aides?"
"Yes, that's right. Shall I ask them to dispatch one tomorrow then?"
"Oh, yes. Request an aide for a business trip when the schedule is set. You can cover for Andrew here."
Nick swore to himself he wouldn't volunteer until his Master ordered him to do so next time.
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