Updated: Sep 6
House Elias is thrown into chaos when an unexpected guest makes his grand entrance.
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Episode 14. 90 kg (1)
Beth was surprised and so was I. It stung a lot more than I thought it would.
"Beth, have you gone to the newspaper room today?"
"Yes, didn't you already read it?"
"Well, I came down without having a chance to read today's paper. I might be crazy, but let's go back and get it. I want to see it."
I ran, or rather, walked, back up the stairs as fast as I could.
[The Sorbonne wine smuggling ring has been destroyed! However, only low level gang members have been arrested instead of the mysterious investors at the top. The lifting of the prohibition order was nothing but hearsay. Who could the secret benefactor of the 1st Imperial Palace be? - The Imperial Palace Daily]
[The much talked about Lackton Gang has been implicated in a wide range of crimes. Is it wise to leave them untouched? - Monthly Nobility]
[The Imperial Palace has obtained a list of nobles who participated in the smuggling. A number of prestigious aristocratic families have been implicated. - Oceria Weekly]
[A fraudster has been arrested for impersonating Duke Anton, a member of a prestigious noble house. Who were the noble ladies drawn in by the swindler's silver tongue? - The National Citizens Daily]
[How will the involvement of so many noble families affect the Palace Administrative Exams being held in 3 weeks? - Oceria Daily News]
This was truly insane.
After reading all the newspapers, I quickly went down to the hall again and saw a group of people coming up the central staircase.
A man was coming in, escorted by eight knights in shining armour.
The overwhelming energy of the knights was palpable.
Was he the Commander of the Imperial Knights? Did something happen? Had an investigation team been dispatched already?
A sleek and tall figure, with dark hair that glinted in the light. His eyes were slightly obscured by the hair that partially covered his eyebrows.
Huh. By the way...He looked kind of familiar... Where had I seen him...?
I was staring down the hall having forgotten wanting to go down the stairs. All the nearby vassals bowed to the man.
Perhaps sensing my gaze, the man turned his head and looked at me.
An emotionless expression.
Huh... He was handsome. Wait a second, that guy...!
What? Those eyes. Could it be that man?
It was. No way. He was that superior jerk, who'd felt like a dangerous predator.
Dixon, the head butler of the Elias family, rushed into the bustling office.
"Your Excellency... Hah hah, His Highness the 2nd Prince has arrived."
"K- Kyle Amure. His Highness, the Second Prince, he's here in person."
“No, why is that scoundrel…?”
"Y- Your Excellency..."
It was an outright insult to the Second Prince. The butler's eyes widened in surprise, but Lloyd didn't care.
Talking ill of the Imperial Palace was the privilege of the nobility.
"Haa... That's why the hall..."
Indeed. The tumultuous hall had suddenly gone silent as if everything had been doused in cold water, but Lloyd had missed the ominous atmosphere because he felt he could not afford to divert his attention.
Damn it. Of all people, this particular foe...
He knew he would be investigated, but he never expected the Second Prince to take action himself.
"Well... Where shall I bring him? Your Excellency...? Quickly please... I await your command."
Despite having received countless guests before, the middle-aged butler felt uneasy since it had been so long since he had been required to greet such a high-status individual.
However, the Count still did not answer.
"...Of all things. So suddenly. Haa... I knew he was clever. I just didn't expect him to move so quickly."
Lloyd glanced at the people who gathered in the office and stomped his foot.
He'd come so early in the morning that he hadn't had a chance to prevent it. No, this was because his wife had stabbed him in the back, his blood pressure rose and his head wasn't working properly.
Now he needed to get a better grasp of the situation and organize some countermeasures. But it was such wretched timing.
That sly fellow.
"Bring the lawyer to the main house immediately. Go ahead and prepare for the upcoming investigation. And no matter what happens don't let them near the main building. Tell him not come out until I find him, and to speak with no one. Go on!"
As Dylan left, the Head Butler, Dixon prompted again.
"Y- Your Excellency, the Second Prince."
"I know, Dixon. Let me think."
All of the Elias family's important vassals, who were gathered in the office, including Harrison and some other noblemen who had been present since morning, were all hanging on Lloyd's next words.
Haa... He hadn't even thought about that yet...
"Go and bring a coat of arms. Then take him to the grand banquet hall, prepare it, and tell him I'll be there shortly."
The butler, who was sweating profusely, quickly scurried out of the office.
"Harrison! Go to the aide's office and bring the record keeper for the day."
Nate was the Elias Family's Knight Commander.
“Remove all the knights from the hall. Their presence could be misconstrued.”
"Yes, Your Excellency"
"The rest of you come with me."
"...What? You mean us as well, sir?"
The vassals and other gathered noblemen asked in astonishment.
Rather than being surprised, Lloyd was slightly annoyed that they appeared to be afraid of mere sparks when there was still no sign of fire.
"Why? Are you scared? Are you afraid the Second Prince will come wielding a sword? Wake up, people! Don't you know that the more you show your wrongdoings, the more you admit your sins? Even though he has the upper-hand, at least there will be more of us! Follow me!"
That's right. Most of the gathered noblemen were also involved because their wives had also met with the Countess.
The steps he took towards the grand banquet hall were heavy. And his thoughts remained too tangled.
The 2nd Prince, meticulous bastard he was, had come directly to him.
Being second in line to the throne of the Ocerian Empire was just a formality to Kyle Amure.
He was a powerful contender for the throne, and every Imperial Citizen knew it.
"Lloyd Elias, Head of the Elias Family, humbly greets the future of the Empire, His Imperial Highness, the Second Prince."
The Prince looked down at Lloyd, from where he sat on a chair at the front of the grand banquet hall.
Next to his chair, eight knights were lined up, outfitted in dazzling golden imperial armour, with their hands on their swords.
They looked ready to pull out their blades at his command.
The atmosphere was a mix of electric tension and chilly hardness. The overwhelming sense of intimidation created the illusion that Lloyd was the one visiting the Prince's Palace, even though this was his own residence.
His sharp gray eyes and expressionless face remained indifferent.
The last time he'd seen those eyes he'd been detained for a month. Damn it.
“It’s been a while, Sir Elias. It's been two years hasn't it?"
Impudent bastard. He was constantly offended by this guy’s informal tone.
Lloyd didn't feel too guilty about cursing the Second Prince inwardly. Because all nobles spoke ill of him like he did.
It was true that the most exceptional people were often the most hated. He had to admit the man was intelligent.
"Yes, Your Highness, we met for the first time at the border."
"Indeed. The Pantheon Plain is quite troublesome. Conflicts and smuggling are all too frequent....”
When his children passed the Administrative Examination, he wanted to maintain neutrality and didn't want to get involved with him, but he also considered working under the 2nd Prince.
His skills were first rate, and anyone could tell that he would become the next emperor. Perhaps if Brandon was alive, he would have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
Even under that impudent fellow, Brandon would have done his best for the Empire, and he would have become an indispensable talent and helped the Second Prince to lead the country.
It was sad, it was so unbearably sad.
With Brandon gone, he hated him even more. When he saw the 2nd Prince, he remembered his son's lost future, and his tragic end.
Besides, if that hadn't happened two years ago. He wouldn't be cursing him so fervently.
Two years ago, he encountered the Prince while he was on a border inspection tour near the Principality of Ga'an.
He had been at his prosperous estate, which was well known among the Family elite. The Pantheon Plains. Through his landholdings on the plains he exported and imported a variety of goods from the Principality of Ga'an.
However, the strict Second Prince had held his merchandise for a whole month, claiming that a prohibited transaction had been reported.
He couldn't believe it no matter how much evidence he gave or how much he explained.
But what was even more upsetting was that a month later, the Prince actually wound up catching some smugglers.
They were part of one of the Elias Family's lower level business subsidiaries.
The fines and losses paid at the time had been enormous. But those hadn't mattered to him.
He had been boasting for the whole month, and laughed to himself, convinced that his business group had surely never had any rats. But after the Prince uncovered the smuggling ring, he had said something to Lloyd.
Words which drove a stake through Lloyd's heart.
[It is said that the quality of a leader is reflected by the actions of those below him. Is this the reason why your family is ranked 5th in the Empire?]
Forcing himself to erase the old memories, Lloyd pretended to be calm and controlled his expression.
"Yes, Your Highness. I will never forget the grace you bestowed upon me at that time."
"If your sentiment is serious you must live up to it, Count Elias."
"...I am true to my word, Your Highness."
“So you say.”
Haa... This bastard.
“The reason I visited the Elias Family today….”
The Second Prince paused without finishing the words, suddenly picked up his teacup and savoured the tea very slowly.
Everyone in the banquet hall gulped while staring at his relaxed appearance. He was acting like all was peaceful and he was alone in the world.
I know for sure he's here to interrogate me, but...
Lloyd closed his eyes in humble anticipation of his forthcoming interrogation.
"To accept your invitation."
For a second, Lloyd thought he'd heard wrong.
"Pardon? What invitation do you speak of, Your Highness?"
The room buzzed at the word 'invitation'.
'What the hell is he talking about?'
'Was there an event hosted by House Elias?'
'Did I hear him right?'
"I thought I might be late, but I believe I chose the correct date. Is that not why all of you are gathered here?”
"Please excuse your humble servant, but I don't understand. Did you just mention an invitation, Your Highness?"
"Hahaha, was what you said to me a mere joke? I thought you were being sincere.”
"Ha ha. Oh, my. I'm disappointed, Count Elias. Don't you remember what you told me two years ago?"
"What I said two years ago.....?"
[After the fine is paid, I will report this to His Majesty]
[Yes... Your Highness! I will pay gladly. I had no idea I had such a rat. Your Highness... I wish to repay you....]
[Don't you know that bribery is prohibited by law?]
[Haaa... It was simply a request. I - I was merely grateful. I'd like to invite you to a meal, even if it's a small gesture, but I apolologize. Since you are such an honest person I will instead express my gratitude. Of course.]
[Just a meal you say? Do you truly wish for me to visit your mansion?]
[...Ah...Um...We... Well. It would be an honour, Your Highness.]
[Hahaha. If I have a chance perhaps someday. Until then, mind your business well, Count Elias.]
Ha... What a rotten fellow. That wasn't a proper invitation.
Words like those were mere formalities to most people that heard them. It was a polite way of bidding someone farewell. He hadn't wanted to act too familiar, but he also hadn't wanted to have him leave without saying anything.
It was merely a common closing remark.
“I’ve been too busy all this time, but I have considered visiting. So I simply decided to come now.”
"A - A message in advance would have been appreciated, I would’ve liked to prepare...."
"I couldn't have. If I had given you a message in advance, you would have considered it a burden, and I would have also lost the opportunity to visit a friend comfortably. Don't you think so, Count?"
"Ha, ha, ha. Of course. Th - That's how it is among close friends."
Cold sweat ran down his back.
"Then I shall organize a lunch...!"
"Since it's an invitation from such a prestigious family, I thought you would be disappointed if I stayed for such a short time, therefore I have decided to stay for two days. It's a shame that I don't have the time to stay for three days, Count."
Two days. He'd stay at his house for two days.... What the hell was he up to? This snake bastard!
Editor’s Notes -
Kyle really does know how to make an entrance. This entire chapter is basically just him messing with Lloyd.
Weight conversion: 90kg = 198lb
Two interesting pieces of Korean terminology I learned from this chapter:
똥줄이 탔다 - roughly “ride the shit-line” - informal term means to feel anxious.
모난 돌이 정 맞는다 - “An angular stone is bound to be hit by a chisel” - idiom meaning that exemplary people/ or those who stand out are often hated
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