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Episode 174. About 10 months (51) Afterwards, a volley of sharp questions was asked, and Kyle answered each one calmly. I missed my laptop more than ever as I wrote down each of the points brought up in the meeting. "In paragraph 5, the proposal states that family recommendations would be excluded collectively, but I think this is a bit out of date, Your Highness. Prestigious aristocrats deserve respect...” Ugh, I missed it. One of the Royalist lawmakers was a fast speaker and it was hard to follow the way he spoke. I wrinkled my forehead and moved my body a little closer in order to follow along with the lawmaker’s rambling speech. "This is a new system, so approaching it too theoretically will create a huge gap between practical application and reality." Prince Kyle paused and then went on when the lawmaker was finished. "You are suggesting that each family should receive a letter of recommendation." Thankfully, I had a moment to underline the unfinished sentences and correct them bit by bit. "What do the other members think? I'll tell you my opinion after I've heard yours." Kyle proceeded with the meeting at a moderate pace, and this helped me a lot with writing the minutes and simplifying the complexity of the matters discussed. It might be an illusion, but it certainly seemed he was being considerate of me. Argh. He shouldn't keep acting like a good person. I was starting to feel touched. After the meeting was over, Kyle had a quick chat with each member of the committee. The unsmiling expression he had leading the meeting a moment ago disappeared, and instead, the polite and relaxed Second Prince stood in his place. I stopped organizing the meeting minutes and stared at him. That was how he smiled at the elderly lawmakers. How should I put it? He gave off the feeling of being a very polite grandchild? He looked like some idealized paragon of competence.* Suddenly his eyes briefly met mine, his smile still facing toward the elder lawmaker. Then he turned his eyes away again as if he had never glanced in my direction. I had to swallow for some unknown reason. Seeing him smile like that, when I usually only saw his expressionless face, it was very noticeable... Damn it. Why was his smile so captivating? I couldn't stay there any longer, so I quietly left the meeting room and waited in the hall. I clasped the meeting minutes to my chest and leaned against one wall. Unconsciously, I tapped the cover of the meeting minutes rhythmically. My head was a mess of thoughts. Wasn't this dangerous? I was so overly conscious of him. You said no. Are you faltering now? Why was he so handsome? Why was he so well-mannered? It was driving me crazy. No, that wasn’t it. Someone in his position was bound to attract plenty of interest and attention. It was just a natural reaction. Yeah, that was it. I had been trying to find answers and working a lot the last few days. I thought of Prince Kyle’s situation. No matter how busy Prince Kyle was, he only kept me until six o'clock. When I stayed and did more, he called Bernard to come pick me up. The Second Prince was a boss who did the work of ten people. I had no idea how he handled all this alone. [… Thanks to you, he can sleep for another hour and now has an average of 5 hours of sleep a night.] [When did he start getting only that amount of sleep?] [Since he first came into the Palace, Second Aide] I suddenly remembered the words of the butler of the 2nd Imperial Palace, who I spoke to just before I left work yesterday.
To think, he operated on only four-hours of sleep before I came in. Was he Napoleon or something?** I had to assist a person who only slept four or five hours a day. There was only one of me… My future looked bleak. Well, I would only get access to first class confidential information if I became a First Aide, right?
I had such a strong urge to open the confidential desk drawer in my office, which was currently locked with a key. With that information, which included details of previous assassination attempts against the Imperial family, it would be possible to roughly predict what could happen and how my family’s punishment could proceed in the future when the incident occurred. And how I could investigate it, etc… It hadn't been that long since I got promoted.
"Besides, I've been confessed to twice... Oops!" I muttered in a low voice. I recognized I was speaking aloud too late and covered my mouth with my palm. I glanced around. There wasn’t anyone in sight who could have heard me. I felt a rush of relief and continued to think again. I just couldn't stop the thoughts from digging in. If you were a Prince, you would have a lot of pride and be unaccustomed to unsavory feelings. So, you might be initially upset by the rejection of a person like me, and then would dismiss it as if it never happened. Yes, yes, that was quite possible. It was good to be able to just work as his Aide as I wanted, but on the other hand, it was a little disappointing that the Second Prince had cut off his emotions like this and seemed to have returned to his former cold, rational attitude. He looked a little different today, but… Eh, what would I be missing anyway? Maybe he only wanted to get close but not really date me? I was his Aide for a year.***
Whoo… It was time to stop thinking about this. I pulled myself together, slapped myself and waited for Prince Kyle to come out. He was the last to leave the chamber after patiently conversing with each of the royalists. I tightly held onto the meeting minutes as if they were a lifeline. As soon as Kyle emerged, I bounced off the wall I was leaning on. "Second Aide." "Yes, Your Highness!" I took a step closer, answering loudly and trying to forget my nervousness. "I'm sure Walter told you about my business trip to the Central Province." "Yes, Your Highness." "Did you organize the schedule?" "As you instructed, after arriving you are scheduled to meet with Central Axis project architect, the general manager of construction, workforce manager, and the materials manager. I sent out the official notices in advance." "Really? The timeline must have been tight.” "Yes, I sent the official letters as soon as I heard from Walter. In addition to that, the accommodation... Oh! I should tell you this at the office." "It's alright, go ahead." He stood still, staring down at me, looking intent on my explanation. At first glance, there seemed to be a smile lingering in his eyes and mouth as he looked down at me, but it disappeared quickly, so I wondered if I was mistaken. He stood with his arms folded and one hand on his chin, and never took his eyes off me. "Here?" I looked around and saw that many passersby had glanced at the Second Prince and I at least once. In particular, the eyes of the noblewomen who visited the Palace lingered on him for a long time, but the Prince acted as if this was a normal occurrence. But I felt uncomfortable under their prickling gazes. After staring at the Second Prince, their gazes would shift to me. ‘Who is she? What has captured the attention of the Second Prince?’ were the kind of whispers that followed. "Yes, I'm curious. Explain it to me." Yes, I was working. I shouldn’t be worrying about my surroundings. At his prompting words, I immediately focused and organized my thoughts. "Yes. The southern central part of the castle seems to have begun construction and you cannot stay there, but they suggested you could use the temporary barracks they had made for the construction. If you don't want that option, you can also stay at some of the accommodations closest to the castle. So, I looked those up separately." "Did you investigate that?" He asked with his head tilted. “Yes. Is there something wrong?”
“No, go ahead.” "Yes. You will need alternate accommodation. There are two options for nearby lodgings, and both are about 2km away from the castle. One is called [Du Roi, Central Province’s favourite luxury inn], and the second is called, [De Louis, Central Province’s favourite luxury inn]. The names of both places are very similar, right?"**** I looked up at him with a silly smile, but he just stood still. "..." Yeah, I was the only one who thought it was funny. I quickly erased the awkward smile and pouted my lips. He raised one eyebrow. "Do you have any more information?" He asked. I cleared my throat again and explained what I had learned in advance. "Yes, there are two roads to the Central Province, one is well-paved but circles around to reach the interior. If you go that route, it takes about 8 hours to get to the Central Province on horseback and about 14 hours by carriage. Depending on the horse or carriage, you can expect to add or subtract an error of 2 hours from that estimate."
"And?" "Yes. The second option is a mountain road through Mount Berquinn, it's relatively well paved, and it's a 5-hour route on horseback or an 8-hour carriage ride to the Central Region. The approximate plus-minus deviation from the time estimate is similar. However, this road has been managed by the Military for about six months and the public has been prohibited from entry." "Why is it being managed by the Military?" "The carriages of nobility were frequently being looted in that area, and we are currently tracking down the bandits." "Really?" His eyes widened slightly then narrowed. The Prince smirked, stroking his chin. What, did I eat something wrong today? Why are you smiling so sweetly? "Do you know why we haven’t caught them yet?"
After staring at his face and needlessly drifting off, I quickly came to my senses and concentrated again. "Yes. The reason we haven't caught the bandits yet is because Mount Berquinn may not be high, but it's the largest mountain in the central part of the country, so the search area is too wide and the mountain geography is steep. In addition, it has been reported that our forces have been unable to catch them because they move around frequently." After I finished my report, he stared down at me from the same position. "Why are you staring at me, Your Highness?" "Because, you know too much about it. There was no record of looting at ‘Mt. Berquinn’ in the business trip records at my Palace. How did you know?" A question of pure curiosity, without a hint of criticism. "Oh... I read it in the warehouse, Your Highness." "The storage room?" "Yes. When I was in the full-time Secretarial Division, I saw a record of looting at 'Mt. Berquinn' in the division’s shared documents section."
After hearing my explanation, the Second Prince slowly curved his lips in a smile. Huh? Again? When I looked at him in surprise, he returned to his normal cold expression, as if he had never smiled.
"You remembered that and put it all together. Good job. Very meticulous." "Wow! Woo!" I blurted out the exclamations, both quickly and slowly. "What was that reaction for?" "I'm surprised because you just complimented me so openly." "You did well, so I'm saying you did well. You did a good job in finding the accommodation, estimating the travel time within a margin of error, and by linking the lootings on Mt. Berquinn to this situation, Second Aide." At that calm compliment, it felt like something was coming from the depths of my heart.
* This last sentence about Kyle being a “paragon” was my interpretation of a Korean phrase, 'Mother's Friend's Son', which refers to a fictional idealized person who is good at everything. This term is typically used by parents in Korea when they are trying to push their children to do better. https://en.everybodywiki.com/Umchina.
** Another France reference! Apparently, Napoleon is famous for having slept only 4 hours each night.
*** This section included an interesting Korean slang term, ‘fishery management’ which confused me greatly until I figured it out. According to a Korean dictionary it means, to pretend to date someone with the intention of using them or ‘keeping them on the hook’ - http://naver.me/53XKxHgJ
**** Went back and revised these names. The joke is that both of these places claim to be the best and have an identical tagline. Also 'Du Roi' is French for 'the Royal' alluding to the king, and the second one, 'De Louis' refers to the reigning Emperor. Both are essentially calling themselves 'The King's Inn'
The tricky thing about editing a French inspired Korean fantasy series is that sometimes you miss things! In this case I didn't understand the inn names until 20 chapters later. It blew my mind when I realized the romanization of 'Druwa' was actually 'Du Roi' (thanks Thamalasca!). The second inn name, 'De Louis' is a bit more uncertain. Either way we are sticking with this interpretation and will be correcting the name in other chapters on this site. - Rina