Updated: Jul 9
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Andrei decides what to do with his new intel, and Tara makes a family decision.
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Episode 177. About 10 months (54)
Andrei, who was about to leave with a load of papers, did not open the door, but slowly turned to Curtison.
Seeing Andrei's face, Curtison stepped back without realizing it.
"Yes, she said she was going on a business trip. But why are you smiling like that?"
His eyebrows were strangely contorted, and the corners of his mouth twitched. To put it simply, Andrei's expression was complicated.
The best word to describe it was "bizarre."
At Curtison's question, Andrei huffed, mumbled, and shook his head.
"Hmm... What should I do with this information? How can I use it? Oh, my. I'll have to think about it tonight."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Hehe... I'll tell you when I’ve verified it. Until then, you’ll have to imagine it yourself. Hehe."
The Chief uttered a strange snort and left the warehouse with glistening eyes. Curtison, who had given up trying to understand how his master’s head worked, just shook his head.
In the evening, we ate at the mansion as scheduled.
After the family meal, my father asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday.
"I haven't made my debut in society yet and I don't have any acquaintances to invite, so I just want to keep it simple."
"But baby, now that you’re older how about spending your birthday on a larger scale this time before your social debut next year?"
My mother, who sitting next to me, gently clasped my left hand on the table as she said it. I smiled and shook my head.
"No, mother. I don't really have anyone to invite. I would prefer to spend it casually with my family...!"
"... House Elias can't celebrate a young lady’s birthday like that!"
The sudden voice that interrupted me made me doubt my ears. Not just me, but the rest of my family, directed astonished looks towards the Countess.
No matter how much I analysed the content of the words, I thought I must be mistaken.
Did I hear her wrong?
"Mother, what did you say...?"
At Chloe's surprised question, the Countess looked at me with a cold expression and said:
"What, am I wrong? Ha... Tara is an Elias, so she should spend her birthday accordingly. She was confined to her room until last year, so we had no choice but to celebrate it privately. However, we should not celebrate like that this time. Everyone in the empire has heard that child has changed a lot. They would especially criticize me, as the mistress of the family. I can't tolerate that!"
"Uh... Mother, are you serious?"
"Why? Are you saying that I'm lying? However hateful that may be, Tara is still young noble lady. It's terrifying to think that my reputation may be tarnished because of her birthday celebration! Just the thought of it makes me sick! That's why Tara must celebrate her birthday like a proper noble lady!"
No one spoke readily at the Countess’ words. After a brief silence, my father asked.
"Do you really want me to do that, ma'am?"
"...Yes, I would like to have a birthday party on the scale that Chloe did just before she made her social debut."
"Tara, what do you think?"
I frowned, listening to the Countess, and pondered momentarily at my father's question.
"My thoughts remain the same. I wish to have a simple birthday with my family."
"As expected, she's selfish! Don't you care about the family dignity? Who will be blamed if you spend your birthday like that? The Imperial nobles will think I'm humiliating you. They will say you mean to curse me for giving you a birthday that's shabbier than Chloe's! Are you doing this on purpose to insult me? How dare you try to be generous with me!"
The Countess gulped down her water with a red face.
"I agree. Moreover, since all three siblings have been promoted, I think it is good to invite the nobles now to strengthen the position of the family."
Logan, who had been listening the whole time, agreed with the Countess.
It was true. I wasn't the only one who was being promoted.
Logan, who worked for the Security Department's Leadership Training Special Administration team, said he would soon be promoted in recognition of his ability.
Chloe also told our father recently that she was promised a promotion next month for her steady monthly support to Princess Margaret.
I got promoted first, but by next month all of us would be second-class administrators.
"Well, I agree. It's true that Tara is a daughter of the Elias family."
Having been lost in thought for a while, I concentrated again on Aria's words.
"I think so, too. It's true that you have to make your social debut eventually. I think it's a good opportunity to expand your network."
This was Chloe.
"The Countess has a point, dear. We just pass your birthday every year, and as a mother, I want to make it right from this birthday on."
This was my mother.
Everyone's opinion was against mine. Well, their reasons were acceptable enough, but I was reluctant because it was the Countess who initially expressed this idea.
Is it really for the sake of decency?
Everyone's eyes were on me. Suddenly, I saw those gazes anew. Until June last year, my opinions were never listened to. However, now I was allowed to judge the situation according to my own will and decide this event.
Of course, it was my birthday.
Even so, them giving me the right to make this decision was proof that I had been accepted as a member of this family.
I deliberately cleared my throat because something was about to fill my chest.
"Everyone’s opinion is the same, so I will follow it. I am also a member of the Elias family. I will do this for our honour."
"Well thought out, baby. Then I'll handle preparations. Tell me in advance if you have anyone you want to invite."
"Yes, I'll think about it, mother."
"...I'll give you a list of family acquaintances, so prepare well, Isabelle."
With the words of the eldest wife, dinner was over, and the mansion started preparing for my birthday party this Sunday.
Monday at 11 a.m.
Andrei, who stayed up late yesterday thinking about all kinds of things, had overslept, which was unusual.
Having only laid hands on his stack of papers after taking a shower, Andrei frowned an hour later with a document in his hand.
"Oh, no. This is serious…. I wish my student knew about this before she went..."
Andrei pulled the rope.
“Tell the agent at the Second Palace to find out where the Second Prince is going."
The first-class messenger who received the order left immediately, and about two hours later, the messenger stood in front of Andrei with a telegram given by an agent stationed in the 2nd Imperial Palace.
[Cannot confirm business trip location. It is assumed that the party is small, but the exact number of people is not known.
I didn't see them leaving, but I heard from a stablehand that they left early in the morning.
The Second Prince’s carriage remains untouched at the Imperial Palace.
Unable to enter the Palace under risk of being discovered.
It has been more than four months since the Scorpion information was leaked, and I have not been able to enter the Palace of the 2nd Prince.
I'm going to die of cleaning up horse shit.
Chief, I think I've been caught, so please put another person in and take me out. Why? Even when I’m eating, my whole body smells like poop, so I'm dying of nausea! You’re the Chief!]
"If I put someone else in, they'll get caught and fired quickly. You're the best I can do right now. Hang in there, you scoundrel!"
Is what he said, but Andrei raised his pen and wrote a mild reply.
[You won’t get kicked out even if they find out because it’s you. There must be a reason why the Prince left you there on purpose, so wait a little longer. It doesn't help much in this situation, but I'm grateful for you because I can get at least this much information. So be a little more professional and have a sense of duty, huh? Don't send me any of your perfume.
Chief Andrei, who cares about you and your amazing talents]
‘By the way, what should I do about this?’ The worry did not last long. The Second Prince likely also knew the same information the Black Society did.
Of course, it would take some time depending on his information network.
Andrei decided to visit the Elias family after a long time to emphasize that the Black Society was laying a tremendous foundation for Tara’s future.
So that their contributions would not be forgotten when House Elias received glorious acclaim.
We travelled to the Central Provinces on Monday
The sky was thick and heavy with clouds as if it were about to rain. However, even as the sky became darker and darker, it hardly rained.
[I despise those who don’t keep their word.]
I thought about what I said countless times throughout the ride, ‘I should have been honest!’
Why did I answer so bravely?
[I’ve been practicing two hours a day for fifteen days now. I can do it.]
My horseback riding practice started right before leaving for the hunting grounds. Still, compared to the first time I rode, I was able to sit on the horse much better and gallop in moderation.
Just before our departure.
[I don't know when we will be able to rest. Are you sure you’ll be okay?]
When Walter asked me, I should have just said, ‘It's going to be too much. Just go without me.’
But I blew my last chance.
[Yes, I'm confident.]
“The weather is unusual. So, we will ride without a break!"
"Yes, Your Highness!"
The Second Prince galloped on without mercy.
There was no way to slow down, even if I fell behind. I pulled myself together and held the reins tightly.
Even though I was struggling not to lag behind with all my might, I was able to hold up until the end of the line.
And exactly two hours later, when it felt like my hips and thighs were gone, I desperately regretted it.
Damn this promotion.
After riding for three full hours, the party stopped for a while in front of a stream and settled down.
I felt like my butt was going to rip.
I forced myself to put strength into my trembling legs and struggled to the side of the stream where I sat on a rock.
"Ah ah ah ah ah… Haha… my ass…”
(As a former equestrian myself I understand Tara’s pain here…)
"Are you all right, Second Aide?"
Mark, a first-year knight who had been selected from the Order of the Phoenix, asked brightly with a look of great concern. It was impressive that his hair was thinly shaved like a bald chestnut.
"Ha ha... This... Well, horse riding you see, no, well I am an aide... no. It's just that. Ha, ha, ha."
Due to the cold wind that had pummelled me for the past three hours, I couldn't pronounce words properly with my frozen lips.