Tara confronts Kyle, and Olive is confronted by someone nasty.
This chapter is dedicated to Lell, thank you (again)!
DO NOT publish our edits anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you.
Episode 129. About 10 months (6)
Kyle's temporary office in Tandra Mansion.
She had always seemed older than her age. However, Tara, who had defenselessly fallen asleep, now looked like the young lady she was.
He could see her pale, thin neck past her open shirt.
"Why do you keep losing weight?"
Her tie had been loosened, and she breathed shallowly and steadily through her small, parted lips.
"Don't ask for me until I call you," he said in a hushed tone to the knight waiting outside of the door and then closed the door with a quiet 'click'.
Kyle went to the shelves displayed on the wall, rubbing his stiff neck, and he poured himself a glass of cognac from the Ga'an, the strongest of the sort.
Everytime he saw her, he had to acknowledge something new. She had dared to fall asleep in his—the Second Prince’s—own office while waiting for him as well.
"That can't be comfortable... Is she unafraid? Or just indifferent?"
She briefly grimaced at his low whispers, but she didn't wake up. He had no intention of waking her up on purpose.
If a subordinate had entered his room and fallen asleep, he would've usually woken them up right away, quickly finished any business, and sent them on their way, but he didn't feel like doing that.
No, he didn't want to wake her.
Strangely, the tension he had felt until this moment vanished upon seeing her sleep defenselessly, as if it had never been there.
As such, Kyle also made himself comfortable in her presence.
He sat across Tara with a glass of cognac. He also took his jacket off, unbuttoned his shirt, and picked up one of the papers from the thick stack on the table.
The night grew darker and darker, and only the crackling of firewood and the sound of papers being turned regularly could be heard inside the office from time to time.
The lounge in front of the Grand Banquet Hall.
Olive was an aide who worked at the full-time Secretarial Office in the Palace. And this time, she had been dispatched as an aide to the Empress' chief lady-in-waiting.
The lounge was filled with quiet chatting and laughter. Near 11 PM, the noblewomen of the Empire lined up to greet the Empress, who had returned from taking a short break. They were currently occupied with showing their support and praising the Empress.
At the question of the Countess, the lady-in-waiting, Olive approached her and whispered again.
She had already approached her and whispered like this over 30 times today. Of course she had. It was Olive's job to compile and coordinate the list of ladies who wished to meet the Empress through her lady-in-waiting.
So, naturally, Olive had to memorize the list and answer whenever the lady-in-waiting asked.
"Yes. It's the Duchess of Anton."
After whispering quickly and accurately, she returned to the wall and stayed there. She took a deep breath and watched the interior.
The 'haha', 'hihi' and squeaking sounds echoed in her ears, making her dizzy.
Olive's heart was pounding. The symptoms were about to act up again.
Cold sweat ran down her forehead and back.
'Ah. I can't wait to leave. I want to go back and rest.'
But, as always, her wish did not come true.
"Oh my! There she is again. Hey! Hey! Wake up! If things go wrong because of you, I'm not going to let you go!"
At that moment, Angela, a Third Aide to the Palace's Financial Officer, approached her and whispered sharply.
"Ah, uh, I’m sorry. I won't be in the way."
"Pretending to be nice! Just like a vixen. Be honest with me. You knew that the man you were meeting with was Alice's fiancé, didn't you? Because of you, Alice is even talking about breaking off the engagement!"
She hadn't known until recently that Angela's sharp eyes could be so fierce.
"Pretending to be surprised. No matter how humble Alice's family is, was stealing her fiancé that easy? Who knows? With that gentle face, you approached Alice and I, pretending to be friends so you could lower our guards. Did you steal him on purpose? Ugh, how despicable."*
Determinedly, she closed in on Olive and whispered to her. They were colleagues who had been hanging out together until a month ago, Alice and Angela, and Olive thought they were quite close. But in a heartbeat, she became their enemy.
The maids and the aides in the parlour looked towards them and started giggling, the ladies whispering with interest.
Everyone looked like they thought Olive deserved to hear it. She had been receiving similar looks for nearly a month, but she still hadn't gotten used to it.
She wanted to hide, but she could hardly breathe.
‘I'm not like that. It's just that I met my childhood friend and talked to him after a long time. I didn't know he would do that either.'
However, the words that were now stuck in her throat couldn't come out.
About a month ago, the Palace aides and maids began gossiping about Olive.
She thought it would calm down over time, but on the contrary, the story had spread and spread to the point where it was impossible to rectify it.
The incident had been simple. A month ago, she’d gone to [The Imperial Palace's Favourite Teahouse, and More] with Angela and Alice after work.
The three were drinking tea there when a man approached them. That was when the incident started.
He was Alice's fiancé and he had casually joined in. He hadn’t realized it at first, but after talking to Olive, he found out that he, the son of a Baron, had lived in the same neighborhood as Olive when he was young, and that he had often attended her family's banquets and hung out with her before he moved.
The man had been overjoyed. But that was the problem.
Since then, he had frequently been spotted at Olive's way to and from work, and eventually started to meet her by chance in front of her aunt's house in the Capital.
Two weeks after the several accidental meetings, he confessed to Olive, "I love you."
Olive was taken aback, and naturally she refused because it was nonsense. She thought that would be it. However, when she went to work the following day, Angela and Alice's attitudes were unusual.
At first, she had explained the truth about Alice's fiancé. But they didn't listen. Alice could only cry, and Angela just scowled at her with narrowed eyes.
Then, their bullying started, and it had been that way ever since.
It was Olive's misjudgement that it would really get better with time. Now, the entire Inner Palace was aware of the incident, and every time Olive passed by, people made a fuss.
It was bearable at first, but over time, she reached a point where she couldn't stand it. And then, the symptoms started.
It was cold sweat at first, then heart palpitations. Then dizziness, and then difficulty breathing. At last, she came to the conclusion that she was going to die of suffocation soon, so she decided to quit everything and leave for the countryside, where her parents lived.
‘I should've just listened to my father when he tried to stop me from taking the Administrative Exam...'
She could do nothing about her regret now. It had already been done. Olive decided that she would somehow survive this Hunting Contest, shaking off the crowd's gossip and biting her lip.
Kyle's temporary office in Tandra Mansion.
I opened my eyes, stretched vigorously, and stopped just as I was stretching my arm.
What... was this situation?
Why was I here, what was I doing here, why was that man over there with his shirt unbuttoned, sitting across from me and reading documents? For a moment, I didn't understand.
Moreover, what was he trying to do with such a disheveled appearance? Oh my god. He was hot... crazy hot... Whew.
A few seconds passed until my brain stopped short-circuiting, my eyesight slightly blurry.
"Shall we start if you're awake?"
"Didn't you come because you wanted to see me?"
It was then that I instantly understood the situation. I looked at the clock and it was 11:30.
Argh... How long did I sleep?
Woosh. I quickly closed my mouth, which I hadn't even realized was open, and quickly poured myself a cup of water and drank it in one go.
The cold water running down my throat and into my stomach woke me up.
If it hadn't been for dinner. The banquet, which I thought was going to end around 9 o'clock, took longer, and I ate the late dinner that Beth had packed for me because I was hungry. And basking in the warm fireplace, I loosened my stuffy necktie...!
I then remembered the two buttons and the tie that had been loosened, so I quickly fastened the buttons and returned my tie to its original state.
"Alright. What's going on?"
"Hmm. I don't practise black magic, so how would I know the intentions of a subordinate who suddenly wants to see me?"
"Are you teasing me?"
"Which part is teasing?"
He took his eyes off the documents entirely and looked at me in amazement.
Hmm. The corners of his mouth are twitching right now!
"You're smiling right now. I've been watching you so far, Your Highness, and you make that expression whenever you're trying to tease me."
He raised his voice as if he were really surprised. The corners of his lips were still lifted.
"Yes, Your Highness."
"Don't you think that's a big leap?"
"The fact I'm here is proof of it."
"You already knew I would come here, Your Highness. So, when you say you don't know why I'm here and bring up dark wizards or something, you're making fun of me."
"I don't quite understand."
He shrugged as if he really didn't know. But the corners of his mouth were still raised.
I took a deep breath and opened my closed eyes.
"At noon today, Viscount Allen Godfrey visited in person and left our family with only the words, 'set an example' at the second banquet."
"So, that's what happened."
Tapping on the armrest, he responded as if he was hearing my story for the first time and was uninterested in it.
"Were you unaware?"
He only shrugged, no reply.
He was so mean!
I had to try to speak as logically as possible, and pushed down my increasing aggression.
"This is an order to follow the Emperor's plan without questions. The most important thing here is that our family has to do something the nobility will dislike, and what they dislike is being challenged, but His Majesty has never been one to strike against the nobility first."
"Hmm. Is that so?"
"Yes. So, this isn't the Emperor's plan, but someone else's, and if it's not the Emperor's plan, that person must be someone who can order the Consul with the Emperor's tacit consent. At the same time, they must be someone who can freely have enough discussions with the Emperor to know what will happen at this second banquet in advance."
"That sounds accurate. So, who is it?"
Ha! Amazing. Should I just attack and kill him?
"Thus! I think that you here, Your Highness, are the one who is trying to use our family as an arrow and as a target. So, of course, I came to visit you, Your Highness, and you already knew that I was coming to inquire about this matter, which is what you wanted me to do. You told me right away that you'd meet me and to wait here. Therefore, you're making fun of me when you say you don't know why I'm here, Your Highness. Isn't that right?"
I spat it out without blinking an eye and waited a moment for his reaction.
He briefly stroked his chin with his index finger, and then his smile slipped away.
"... I see. But when you visit, I should ask why."
I paused for a second as I watched him instantly radiate a cold energy. Then, he took a deep breath.
Whoa. The difference in temperature. What was he going to do?
* In the raw, it says ‘Angela and I’ instead of ‘Alice and I’ but that seemed a little strange to us, since only Angela is mentioned as having approached Olive and talking to her in this scene, which means she’d be talking about herself in third person pov. For now, we’ll assume Munirang just made a typo or something, so we’ve changed it to ‘Alice and I’, which makes more sense to us.
I also have some further notes on Angela which I’ll put in the comments, but that does include some spoilers for future chapters. If you haven’t read up to ~210, I wouldn’t scroll down to the comments.
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