Updated: Sep 8
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Where Count Lloyd show all his 'love' for the Second Prince and the Hunting Contest comes to a close.
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Episode 155. About 10 months (32)
I supressed the laughter that was bubbling up and coughed instead.
"Ah… Yes. Hmm. Hmm."
“There will be more work in the future, but first of all, I’m glad that I finished this hunting contest without many problems.”
Due to the long line of carriages at the entrance of the mansion, the procession went much slower than usual.
A curse came out of my father's mouth.
"The rotten bastard."
The curse words came out again. That ‘damn man’ and ‘rotten bastard’ my father spoke of was the Second Prince Kyle, and the number of curses attached to him was only increasing.
In the past, I would’ve stopped my father from angering Prince Kyle, but I didn’t have any desire to scare my father, so I didn’t say anything.
“In the end, we protected our family. Just thinking about how much money it will cost is terrifying. Besides, now you must work for him too! Ha.”
However, my father certainly knew that the Elias Family would gain immense wealth and power if that ‘shit’, no, ‘damn and rotten bastard’ sat on the throne.
Not to mention, he had a high chance of becoming the Crown Prince.
“No matter how much I try to put myself in a good light, there’s no way I can do that! Will you do it next year instead? No, why is it even necessary at this point? Huh?”
“I will, Father.”
“Right when there’s talk of you marrying into the Stewart family, he’s called forth the Golden Spirit, just because of the princess selection! Fiddlesticks!”
"Father, I never promised to get married. And the conversations weren’t very good."
I corrected my father's mistake while joking around. But my father ignored me and altered his words quietly.
“I hate this, I hate this, no, I hate everything. Why is it that the government has issued a decree now? He said he was busy every day, so why did he quickly accept this decree when he used to ignore it every year? And why is it that the Stuart family is suddenly interested in you and all these occurrences are happening? I know, yes…”
As my father's voice grew louder, I gestured at Beth.
Beth quickly poured my father a cup of water.
“Father, your blood pressure will rise. You need to calm down…”
A knocking sound came from the carriage’s window.
As my father opened the window, we noticed a rider looking down at us.
Squinting because of the blinding winter sun, I suddenly realized it was Kyle.
What was he doing here!?
“I, Your Highness, uh, how… Everyone… No. What happened?”
The person that my father had passionately been cursing about a minute ago was right next to the carriage. My father instantly paled.
“I have a message for the Second Assistant, Count.”
"Ah. Oh, is that so? Tara, let me give you space."
Father bowed politely and backed away from the window. He breathed out in relief as subtly as possible.
‘Ugh. Without notice?’
I sat right down by the window and asked him as normally as possible. In hindsight, it was the first conversation we had since we had been at the temporary barracks at the hunting grounds that day.
"Sir. How can I help you?"
My voice cracked at the end, which was awkward, because it didn’t feel like my own.
He was slowly riding alongside the carriage on his horse, while keeping an eye out on the road ahead of him.
“You’re busy, so let’s get to the point.”
"Yes, Your Highness."
His face was hard to read. Probably because we were in a procession with many nobles, who were all paying close attention.
Maybe that was why he was in his armour, imbued with the brutality one would have just before a battle.
Or was he just wearing armour, which looked stifling as usual?
His side view made him look rigid. In particular, the breastplate that covered him from chest to shoulder, dazzling in the winter sunlight.
"Do you remember what I said back then?"
I startled and pulled my gaze away from his chest to look at his face.
Which ‘then’? There had been so many times where he and I talked.
‘You’re not trying to bring up the situation in the barracks again, are you? Yes?’
I swallowed and asked carefully.
“Back then… Your Highness?”
It caught my eye that he was holding the reins with only one hand and the other hand was naturally placed on his sheath. It looked as if he was ready for a fight.
"What I said before we were drinking Cognac."
I sighed in relief. At the same time, his eyes flicked to my face for a moment.
‘But why suddenly that day?’
“I remember, but… What situation are you talking about exactly?"
I stared at him without hiding my confusion. He was still looking straight ahead.
"Well, there were several situations."
“Yes, I recall.”
The words came out more bluntly than I expected, perhaps because of the tension. His gaze came to rest on my face.
Kyle tilted his head slightly and replied seriously.
“On that day, besides the Talent Training System, there was a discussion about taxes.”
"Ah… Yes. I remember."
“I would like to keep it simple. It will be used, not right now, but soon."
“Are you planning to run them together?”
“Do you think it’s beneficial to run them together, 2nd Aide?”
It was the first job I’d ever gotten from him. It was new. And I felt the weight of it again.
"Yes, Your Highness. But preparing them in a hurry is detrimental.”
“Even if we thoroughly prepare, the resistance will be huge at this point. The Talent Training System could also be hit. So, just start making plans for it. It's not too late to think about its use later."
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Why was it that I felt relieved by his attitude now that it was no different from usual? Perhaps it would be easier to refuse him in the future.
‘It seems like it will be, especially when you’re feeling such relief because of it.’
“Have you thought about it?”
“That day, in the barracks”
He dropped a bomb on me again. Just like that day in the barracks.
His eyes were sharp, and he glanced at me during his question. My brain stopped again.
"No. Your Highness. That is…"
Like an idiot, I couldn't get the right words out.
‘Isn't it against the law to ask such a random question? And didn’t you announce the decree? What the hell?’
“Looks like you still need more time.”
"No, that’s not… That’s not it."
I shut my mouth without mentioning the Golden Spirit. My father was with me, and I was going to turn down his confession regardless, so what was the point if I asked him?
"I decided to wait anyway. I'll listen to it on your first day at work."
“I’ll think about it, Your Highness."
“And be careful, Count Elias.”
The Prince tugged at the reins.
As if there was something he forgot to say, he came back.
As I was still at the window, he signalled me to leave.
I stepped back from the window with wide eyes, not understanding what was going on, and the Prince lowered his body and said to father.
“Count, when an accident strikes, people who are waiting for discord may think they’re smart and take advantage of it. If you wish, tell me who the culprit is when we meet later, and I’ll take care of it.”
‘Huh, I heard everything.’
"Ah! It's not like that. I… Ha?"
Seeing him move away before my father could even finish his words, he clenched his fists tightly.
“I somehow attracted that guy’s attention…”
But my father's voice was so quiet that I could barely hear it.
I closed the carriage window and watched his horse retreat for a moment. My mind was still reeling, but not as much as before.
But why did you say you liked me when you were going to announce the selection?
‘No. No. Stop thinking about it.’ I angrily shook my head.
I decided to erase his confession from my mind, which felt like a dream, like shaking it off my body.
The wagon exited the Tandra Forest, and like that, the week-long 'Winter Forest Hunting Contest' ended.
15 January 1816.
The Empire, which had just finished the Winter Forest Hunting Contest, was shaken by the news of the 2nd Prince’s Princess Selection.
That was because the day after the Hunting Contest, each newspaper immediately reported about the upcoming selection of 2nd Prince Kyle Amure's wife and the subsequent Golden Spirit.
[This year, the first ceremony of the Amure Palace was attended by Second Prince Kyle. And finally, the long-postponed Selection process has finally been implemented. As soon as the Imperial Palace finished the Hunting Contest, it announced the Selection decree of His Highness, the Second Prince Kyle Amure, as well as the Golden Spirit. The following is the official proclamation by the Imperial Palace:
<Proclamation of the Amure Imperial Palace’s Official Selection Order>
To solidify the foundation of the Amure Empire, in this year, 1816, the Second Prince Kyle Amure has agreed to the Selection. 2nd Prince Kyle Amure’s Princess Selection schedule will be announced separately, after further discussion. I hope that the reputable noble families of the Empire will prepare thoroughly and contribute to building on the foundation of the Empire. Also… (continues below).
January 16, 1816. – Palace News]
[The Crown Princess Selection, as well as the Golden Spirit, were proclaimed at the banquet immediately after the Hunting Contest. Thus, no family can hold a wedding until the end of the selection. The daughters of the families who meet the conditions by the palace have begun to prepare. The Empire is currently engulfed in excitement because of the proclamation of the selection, which last took place six years ago for the 1st Prince… (continues below).
January 16, 1816. - Monthly Nobility.]
[Second Prince, Kyle Amure, who chosen as the ‘best groom of the Empire’ by newspapers every year, is finally off the market. The hearts of many women were set aflame with resentment, so I have no doubt that the Second Prince’s decree will capture the public’s attention more than any other Imperial event… (continues below).
January 16, 1816. - Imperial Citizen Daily]
Shortly after the newspaper articles poured in, related phenomena began to occur throughout the empire.
First, fortune-telling stores run by astrologers began to explode.
Noblewomen who possessed the qualifications required to be selected wanted their futures predicted by fortune tellers and bought amulets to receive good omens.
Another phenomenon was the shortage of dresses. It became difficult to make a reservation at any famous dress shop in the Empire.
The shops were stormed by customers, eager to purchase the best dresses first. And everyone wanted to purchase the adornment that best matched their dress, so the accessory shops were overjoyed because of the increasing number of customers.
In addition, several books gained further attention on the black market, earning them more money. These books were not officially published by the Empire, and most of them had the following titles.