Chapter 156

Updated: Sep 16


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In which we Tara gets a Black Society upgrade.


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Episode 156. About 10 months (33)


[The Ocerian Man Manual 1, 2, 3 & 4].


[A good day to be chosen: a cloudy day, a sunny day].


[The prince depends on his young girl 1 & 2], [Daily habits to lose, nightly habits to gain 1 & 2].


[Social Skills to get a Prince: Outdoor Edition, Indoor Edition, Extra Bedroom Edition].


The originals, which were difficult to obtain to begin with, had run out, and the price of the manuscripts soared to thousands of dollars.


The scribes shouted joyfully that they were all overbooked and overworked.


Just a year ago, many families were reticent towards the Second Prince, but now the situation has changed quite a bit.


Having climbed his way up to becoming one of the Crown Prince candidates, he then showed his abilities and power by supressing the Toulouse Family after the Military information leaks to Skandoa.


Opinions from the families present during the Hunting Contest began pouring in, mostly stating that he was worthy of competing with the First Prince.


Not only that, but also had a good chance at winning the position of Crown Prince.


The public cited his outstanding practical skills and leadership, which he consistently showed, as the reason for his increase in power.


There was a widespread theory that The Empress and the Toulouse Family were trying to suppress the Second Prince’s rise to power by deliberately pushing the Crown Princess Selection decree.


Due to all this, a common joke was circulating that aristocratic families were 'creating daughters' to have a chance making ties with the Second Prince through the Crown Princess Selection.


Thus, more and more nobles were contemplating ways to tie themselves to the Second Prince, strengthening his position even further.


***


The next morning, in the Elias mansion.


For the first time, I rode a horse under Bernard's guidance.


A cross between an Arab and an Ocerian Dutch Draft, gifted by my father, the horse was full of energy.*


After all, shouldn’t its name be different? Take these words, Ji Yeonwoo, you have succeeded.


“Wow. Cheese. Not now. Wow.”


"I think its name is too lightly chosen. To call such a famous horse 'Cheese'…”


“Look, I don't like horses very much."


Bernard's horse was called Thunder.


“Aren’t more than a third of the horses in the mansion stables called Thunder? Really! I mean… How lovely is it to call my horse Cheese in comparison?”


Bernard was still disgruntled, but he kept quiet. Instead, his training became rigorous.


I was sweating profusely, thinking how this was effectively a work-out, even though I was only sitting on a horse.


When I finished my training, I approached the servant who handed me a towel, and I was taken by surprise when I realised who that servant was.


“Oh! Leo…!”


I covered my mouth with the towel. Leonard was dressed as an Elias Family servant bowing politely.


“It’s been a while, Disciple. Upon hearing that you had returned, Master Andrei sent me to report the investigation.”


"Oh… Master! You usually seem like a useless meddler, but when I see you like this, you do a really good job! Master has chosen well, hasn’t he?"


As I squinted at Leonard, he turned his eyes away, uncertain.


"…"


“Usually, you talk with Bernard. Why do you wish to talk to me now?"


“The knight doesn’t need to hear this. Can he survey the entrance?”


“Huh… It's such a nonsense, you should go to a crowded place… This is a croc of shit.”


He shook his head and spluttered as Bernard walked away.


Leonard heavily cleared his throat and immediately explained the purpose of his visit.


“In the future, I will oversee collecting the external information that you need. This guy will report on the happenings inside the mansion from time to time, and I will pass on all the information I know through him starting tomorrow.”


A good servant right behind Leonard greeted me, handing me water. He was a servant I had seen several times as he passed by, but I did not know his name.


"It's an honour, disciple. I'm Victor, a servant of the main building's facility management department and a member of the high-risk information gathering organization. I will mainly report incidents and accidents that occur within the Elias Mansion. When is it convenient for you to receive it? Disciple… No. Miss?”


I gazed at Victor. He had a deep articulate voice and clear eyes. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties and had a slender body of average height built with agility in mind.


I had already guessed that there was a Black Society informant inside, but meeting with him now put me in a foul mood.


It was a shame that he had watched my every move so far.


“Since when did you infiltrate the Elias family?”


Naturally, my tone was blunt.


"…"


Victor looked at Leonard with a slightly bewildered face, Leonard nodded briefly.


“Master said it was okay to disclose information now. Don’t forget the Disciple has the right to access intermediate level information.”


The immediate answer put my mind at peace.


"The infiltration began last April. And please stop asking."


It was right after I first visited Andre last year.


"Phweeee!" I whistled briefly.


"As expected of the Black Society. Of course, I thought there would be a plan, but not so quickly. Whatever the case, I'll take care of you."


Victor, embarrassed, looked at Leonard again. He nodded.


"Yeah. My Lady, I will complete the report by tomorrow."


“Report every Sunday after dinner.”


"Yeah. My Lady, I will report to you as I come to fill the oil lamp."


“Okay. Leonard… Ah!"


I was about to ask Leonard a question when an idea suddenly struck me and I turned to Victor.


"Are there any other informants in the mansion?"


“There are no more agents from our side. One belonging to the Second Prince’s was identified.


"Do you know who it is?"


“Toby, from the gardening team.”


"Oh my, God… A gardener, since when?"


"Yes, Miss. He came to the mansion last May.”


"Does Master know this too?"


"Yes."


“Seeing that both of you informants know of but still hide from each other, I can consider this as common courtesy among professionals. Are you saying the Second Prince’s informant isn’t hostile?


"Yes, Miss. Still, if the young lady wishes for it, I can search for other informants belonging to the Second Prince."


I waved my hand.


"Do it. Find out who they are but leave them alone or else they will be replaced. It's better to know who you are dealing with. Instead, keep a close eye on what kind of information they have and let me know."


“Yes, My Lady.”


"Is there anyone else?"


"As far as I know, none. If we discover suspicious people, we will report it immediately."


I immediately nodded and looked at Leonard.


"So, when can I see Master?"


“The Master told us to come back after tomorrow morning, and to visit by 3pm that day.”


"Okay. What did you find out?"


"There is nothing special about Lady Chloe, Lady Aria, and Sir Logan. Neither Lady Chloe nor Sir Logan have bad relationships in the palace, and I didn't see them getting along with other people outside of work. All I had to do was go to the mansion, the academy, and the library. One thing in common is that all three of them go to social gatherings."


"Meetings?"


"Yes. Lady Chloe’s is a gathering of upper-class ladies. Lady Aria meets once or twice a week at a gathering of nobles who record history and Sir Logan at the 'Awakening Gentlemen’s Club'."


"Ah. Then, find out in detail the people who attend the meetings and the details of the meetings.”


"Do you have any other questions?"


“Can you find out about my siblings’ money flow over the past two years?”


"That is a bit tricky and will take time. I'll do my best though."


"Yes, I'll wait. Well, even if you're inside the mansion it’s a one-man operation, I suppose that you're not doing the outside work alone?"


“Twelve people are assigned to this case. See you later at headquarters."


“Oh, how can you give me this kind of manpower? Master Andrei, how much are you trying to rip off me!"


“Hmm. Discipleship class starts this Sunday. Starting by classifying the information from the provinces.”


I was only one person and there was a lot of work to be done.


"Ugh, can't you delay it any longer?"


"No."


Why was my life so hard?


“He said the class you’ll learn in the Black Society would be very useful in becoming the First Assistant.”


'I’m the Second Assistant, and you're already aiming for the First Assistant position... Does he have just one oar in the water after all?’'


I pursed my lips and nodded slowly.


"Ah! Leonard, there is a man, Hans Button, a Third Aide,who passed the Treasury Exam last year. Find out more about this person as well."


Leonard immediately took out a notebook and wrote it down.


"Very well. Disciple, as soon as the information is gathered, I will pass it on to Victor."


As Leonard and Victor left at a brisk pace, Bernard approached and asked.


“What happened?”


"The Black Society assigned dedicated agents under me."


"Ah. Those two?"


"No, 14 people in total."


Bernard frowned.


"What's your plan?"


Again, Bernard, did not believe in unreasonable favours.


“Is it because of my increased value since I went up the ranks faster than he thought? “


“If the value drops, it sounds like the Master is going to you throw out immediately. Or the contrary…”


“Originally, that’s what human relationships are. To be honest, up to now, I've been blown away by the Black Society, haha… Haaa."


'I was looking for a reason, but I didn't give you anything…


… Ah! You already have a blank check.'


My laughter echoed hollowly in the auditorium.


“I can only trust God.”


For a moment, my heart tightened, and I looked at Bernard.


“Don’t look at me with those eyes. It's burdensome."


"No. It's burdensome to spout such a moving comment. Bernard, what kind of moving comment did you…? Bernard? Bernard. Ugh!"


I wanted to lean on Bernard's back, who had already left at a fast pace, and called out his name sadly, thanking him for his service.


***


The next day, on the morning of January 16th. The Second Prince's Palace.


The 2nd Prince's Palace was a three-story building. The first floor was used as a workspace, the second and third floors were used for personal space.


However, the Prince, always short on time, commonly got things done in his private quaters as well.


Today, Kyle was eating breakfast while looking at the Military journal.


Kyle, who had been away from the capital for a week, returning from the hunting grounds, didn’t take a single day off to handle the overdue work.


He was already accustomed to such situations and proceeded with the work, the servants under him were also accustomed to his working pace.


As a result, there was always a shortage of manpower, so they asked for more, but the talent worthy of catching the eyes of the Second Prince was extremely rare, leaving some positions unfilled.


While the Second Prince's breakfast was underway, Chris rushed into the dining room and walked over to Kyle.


"Your Highness. The report on the 28th arrived from the reconnaissance team."


----


Editor's Notes:


* Dutch Drafts are massive and powerful draft horses that span 16 hands +, 170cm at the shoulder, or more and weigh an average of 750-750kgs. Mix that with the nervous but smart Arab breed 14.1 to 15.1 hands 140-150cm that weigh 300 to 400kgs. What a powerful mix!


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