Count Elias and the other siblings meet Andrei, while Tara has a special task for Niels.
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Episode 16. 90kg (3)
Andrei Pitt was quite familiar with that gaze and it mattered little to him.
"Nice to meet you, Sir Pitt. I am Lloyd Elias."
"I've seen you a few times from afar."
"Is that so? What an honour. I can't believe a man with such a high reputation is personally teaching in my mansion. I never would've even considered it."
"You have an interesting daughter."
"Hahaha. She's a funny one."
Unaware that it was his first laugh of the day, Lloyd approached Andrei Pitt and held out his hand.
The hand that shook back was quite strong.
"I was surprised that you readily accepted my terms and allowed the notarization. I thought there would be some hassle, but you answered faster than I expected."
"Ah... Notarization. Hahaha. Well, there was no reason to refuse potential talent."
"I heard that the Second Prince is staying."
"Word travels fast! As expected, the Black Society's news network is quick. Yes, it's become a headache.
"I see. He's quite a difficult person. There's probably nobody in the Empire who can keep up with him. Hahaha."
"I'm aware. I figured, but with Sir Pitt saying so as well, the future is bleak. Anyhow, you can start your lesson then."
"Hmm. Before that, as the teacher of House Elias, I can't just stand by and watch. I'll give you a gift."
"A gift? What?"
"Nothing grand. It's just to put the Count's mind at ease. He's dead."
"What? What are you talking about..."
"He hung himself. That man. Gehrig Anton."
"Would you like to come with me? Today's class will be interesting for you too."
The Count's eyes quickly followed Andrei Pitt as he strode out of the office as if it were his own home.
He was dead. The witness. The witness was gone.
"Miss, I brought him."
The boy Beth brought in was Niels, a servant who had just turned 16. Niels was calm, only a little nervous.
Oh oh. Did he have a thing for Beth?
I winked at Beth for her good work, and called Niels closer to me to hand him the pouch and explain what he had to do.
“Yes, Miss. I will.”
"It has to be exactly in the place I told you about."
"Alright. And take this."
I put 1 gold in Niels' hand.
"What is this, Miss?"
"What do you mean? It's compensation for the work. Why? Is it not enough?"
"It's not that. This is my job..."
"Just take it! The Miss is unique," Beth intervened and cut Niels off.
"Unique? Is that a compliment?"
"Hehe. It's a compliment."
"It's okay. I might need your help again next time."
Niels' eyes, which had been calm this whole time, widened and he stared at my face, his cheeks flushing.
"... Okay. Then I'll take this gold after I've completed the task you gave me, Miss."
Ha. It was really hard to give this guy a gold piece.
A little puzzled, I watched Niels bow deeply and quickly leave my room.
"Beth, what was it that I said that made him blush? Or am I too pretty? Does he have a crush on me?" I asked.
“Don’t look at me like that! It's covered by my fat, but if you look closely, I have a beautiful face."
"When it comes to that, everyone is pretty on the inside."
"Wow. Beth. That's very poignant, don't you think?"
"Poignant? What's that?"
"It means that it's very painful and harsh..."
"What are you talking about... Niels was probably surprised. Just like me."
"That's right. You treat us a bit like colleagues you work with, and not as people below you, Miss."
"Oh. Hahaha. That's a good thing."
"It sometimes feels as if you're from a different world, Miss."
It felt like I had been pricked with a needle, but I pretended to be calm and smiled.
"I've always been this way. I just didn't show it."
"Ah. You should've shown it to me earlier."
"Huh. Beth, is this the kind of person you are?"
"... Hmm... Hmm... I don't know. You don't behave like a lady. Should I be... careful?"
"No. Just be yourself. I'm comfortable with this, too. It's nice."
"Hehe. Yes! By the way, what was in that pouch? Can you find my 6 gold with that?"
"I won't be able to find it with that. Instead, it will open the way for you. And it's better that you don't know what's inside."
"If you know, everything will be obvious. Come on. Shall we head to the parlor? But before that, one more cookie!"
I quickly grabbed two cookies and left the room. Since I was walking on the thin ice just before a battle every day, sweets were a must.
Could I lose weight like this?
When I went down to the parlor of the main building, Andrei Pitt and my father were there together.
With them were Jason, Chloe and Aria. Logan appeared to have taken a brief absence from military school.
I expected his arrival, but him teaching all of the Elias siblings was entirely unexpected.
I struggled so much bringing him here, and now he was going to teach all of my siblings.
There was a saying that the bear did the somersaults while the rich man kept the money. This was just as unfair.*
"... There are three weeks until the exam. The student with the best results on the weekly homework assignments will be given the Administrative Exam preparation material! And of course, if you pass, you'll officially become my disciple. By the way, I'm Andrei Pitt, the head of the Black Society. I'm sure you've all heard of me, right? That's all for now. Any questions?"
His eyes turned to me, but I sank into the armchair and watched the rest for a moment.
The siblings were looking at each other, quite surprised.
At Andrei's second urging, Jason spoke.
"It is an honour, Count Andrei Pitt, no, Master. I will do my best to serve you."
As expected, he was a bootlicker.
"You don't have to serve me. Showing me your abilities as a disciple is enough."
Jason's cheek twitched for a moment at the sharp remark, but he soon masked his face with a faint smile.
"But don't we already have the previous exam papers?" Aria asked, smiling brightly.
Andrei's expression turned sharp.
Whoa... There were people who remained unfazed by Aria's smile. His expression was like the line from that one movie.
It was this, 'You insult me!'**
"Tsk, tsk, how could you compare that crap to ours! The Black Society is unmatched. This is past exam material put together by the Black Society. The people who made it are first-class instructors who have retired. They're all senior administrators, veterans amongst those who have closely served the previous Emperor. These first-class instructors put the material together over the course of 100 days. Even if you study for only three days, you will pass the first written exam. And no matter how stupid you are, if you study it for only a week, you'll get a passing grade. It's the Capital's, no, the Empire's best past exam prep material!" Andrei exclaimed.
Wow! I thought I was looking at a home shopping channel.
"I've only shared this material with one person, during the Administrative Exam of five years ago."
"To whom?" Chloe asked, having listened to Andrei's explanation as if she was hypnotized.
"The current Emperor's first Aide, Viscount Allen Godfrey."
The parlor turned a little noisy after Andrei finished talking.
"I must have it."
"I'll get it, no matter what."
And so on.
My siblings were fixed on Andrei Pitt's past exam material and unable to let it go.
“Are you only giving it to one person?”
"It will be given to everyone who successfully completes the assignment. Any other questions?"
Andrei Pitt's gaze often went to me, but I just watched.
"What is this week's assignment?"
Everyone's eyes lit up at Chloe's question.
It was the topic everyone was curious about. My father, who had been quietly listening so far, also let go of his leaning posture and sat close to the edge of the chair, as if wondering what the assignment would be.
"It's simple. You just need to find out the purpose of Prince Kyle's visit."
"... How do we do that?"
No one could hide their surprised expressions at the unexpected assignment. That was also the case with my father.
Soon however, my father forced himself to change his expression and glanced at my siblings' faces.
Realization struck me when that gaze rested on me.
He was looking forward to it!
"If you're to become an administrator of the Empire, isn't it natural to figure out the motives of someone who may inherit the throne? Don't you think so, Count?"
"... I agree."
I could practically hear the thoughts of my siblings from here.
This was unexpected, but not all that bad. I also had to figure out the Second Prince's intentions anyway.
It was something I had to do no matter what, but if I could solve the homework, I'd get a reward. The icing on the cake.
"How much time do we have?"
Another question from Aria. Her voice was trembling bashfully.
Huh? Why was she blushing?
"You have until he leaves this mansion tomorrow, of course. By then, the purpose of his visit will be clear. Any other questions?"
Tomorrow. Something was off. Why tomorrow? The Countess and my mother could be arrested right now, but the deadline was until the Second Prince left?
It was really weird. I already knew I had to prepare, but was it okay to only have it figured out by the time he left tomorrow? Then, this was...
His gaze slowly returned to me. My father's as well. It looked like Andrei was expecting me to say something after I'd been quiet the whole time.
Well, then I'd have to satisfy him.
"We have until tomorrow? Not today?"
I didn't answer my father's question and just looked at Andrei Pitt. He smiled when he saw my eyes.
"That's correct, until tomorrow. Now, shall we begin?"
"I would like to ask one more thing."
"What is it?"
"How far should we go?"
The gazes focused on my last question were beginning to sting. The only one smiling was Andrei Pitt.
"Ha. Of course, you shouldn't offend him, right? Unless you want to be arrested for sedition."
The impact of those words was quite large. My siblings were all aware of how difficult this homework was.
But while I was listening to Andrei Pitt, I had only thought about the purpose of the homework. I hadn't thought about the subject of the homework.
The power of words was amazing, and the moment this word was said, anxiety arose in all of my siblings.
If we did something wrong trying to solve one homework assignment, we could offend the Prince and be punished for sedition.
A small shudder ran through all of us as we resolutely tried to solve the homework.
This fear would naturally impact our behaviour and determine whether our work would be a success or a failure.
My siblings, who had lightheartedly entered the parlour, sank into their own thoughts.
'Damn. How am I supposed to convince that arrogant bastard to reveal the purpose of his visit? Do I have to do that much to get the past exam material? Should I just steal it? Or spend money?'
These were Jason's thoughts.
'What's with Tara? I have a bad feeling. It's like she knows something... What am I thinking? She's only bluffing. She's just good at talking. Anyway, what method should I use? Ah! Knights. There were knights.'
These were Chloe's thoughts.
'Hmm... What should I wear? Ahhh! I wish I could have a private meeting. I heard that they're also picking Crown Princess candidates, but I'll have to find out what the conditions are. That way, I can pass the exam and become Prince Kyle's fiancée. Hehe.'
These were Aria's thoughts.
When all the sons and daughters had left, Count Lloyd Elias asked Andrei Pitt a question.
* More explanation on this metaphor here (Thank you for finding this, Rina)
** This the line and facial expression Tara is talking about, from the movie 달콤한 인생/A Bittersweet Life
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