The Elias Family ponders their next move in light of the rumours and some family ghosts come back to haunt Lloyd.
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Episode 189. About 10 months (66)
Lloyd detailed the three options proposed by Andrei.
“Chloe. Logan. One of you might become the next family head, so consider the current situation as if you were representing the Elias Family.”
Chloe and Logan would provide their suggestions after each of the vassals and business leaders offered their opinions.
"Since we've already decided to take a side, we must take action to identify the rumours and dispel them. That way the Second Prince will come to see House Elias as his best ally."
“We would be making ourselves a nuisance to the aristocratic faction; wouldn’t it be better to just quietly inform him about it?”
"Ahem. Isn't it a waste to throw away this valuable information without profiting from it? We know in advance that the Second Prince's standing may be severely damaged, so we must use this to the greatest possible advantage."
Chloe, Logan, and Aria all observed silently while each of the leaders expressed their thoughts.
Chloe and Logan were considering this due to their father's orders, but Aria also appeared to be wrestling with the options. Lloyd tilted his head.
Come to think of it, she seems a little more settled these days...….'
"Um… Yes? Yes. Father."
"What concerns you these days?"
"What? What do you mean?"
"You don't laugh as much these days. Why, are you sick?"
"No, it's not that, Father. I've been contemplating the rumours."
Every eye in the conference room was now focused on Aria.
"Yes. I'm taking this issue seriously because it relates to the Family."
‘Ohh……. Is our youngest suddenly becoming invested in the Family just like Tara?'
Despite having already guessed the reason before hearing Aria's answer, Lloyd was nonetheless very impressed with his daughter.
She was his youngest daughter and was unconditionally cherished. Lloyd was deeply fond of her, even if she was lacking in manners and full of eccentricities. He was proud of her.
"Indeed. What does my youngest daughter think we should do about this?"
"Well…… I've been thinking about this very, very deeply."
"This may be considered a very disgraceful rumour for the Imperial family, but I think we should have a right to know these embarrassing things about the Imperial family."
There was still a soft smile on Lloyd's lips. However, …
“Have we considered just spreading the rumour? Then, wouldn't it be possible to resolve the injustices done to the Second Prince on a grander scale?"
No one in the conference room, including Lloyd, spoke.
If they let the whole Empire know about the rumours it could start an Imperial civil war. Lloyd shook his head and sighed deeply.
(Take with a grain of salt)
"Ummm? Why is nobody talking? What's wrong with my opinion? These days I study every week, and I've learned many valuable lessons from the books I read."
"What kind of lessons?"
Dylan asked with a puzzled expression.
"Lessons like, the more you try to hide the stain, the more likely it is to reveal itself. So, this stain on the Second Prince's past...…!"
“Enough, Aria. Stop it. I understand what you are trying to say.”
"No, what's wrong with my opinion, father?"
"Someone, please explain to Aria."
Chloe, who was smiling, stepped up.
“If the rumours of the Second Prince spread as written here, the public will be greatly shaken. At first, there will be sympathy for the Second Prince because he had to witness his blood family being slaughtered and the Imperial family will be rebuked for their cold indifference. However, at the same time, the Emperor's incompetence, in failing to protect his mistress, will be exposed. This may then spark controversy over whether the Emperor is qualified to rule such a massive Empire when he has demonstrated such a failure in trying to manage his own family."
"Isn't that good for the Second Prince?"
Logan, who had been listening to Aria's questions all along, shook his head and answered.
"No. It won't be good. Many citizens of the Empire tend to believe rumours as they hear them. According to this rumour, the illegitimate son, the Second Prince, will eventually become a tyrant."
Most of the people in the conference room nodded at Logan’s explanation.
"Even though the Second Prince is only at the beginning of his Crown Prince candidacy, the idea that he will eventually become a tyrant may stick. Even if he is considered the most likely candidate and has many supporters, the rumours will entrench that fear into people's minds. They will be afraid of what he will do if he ascends to the throne. Even if he manages to become the Crown Prince, he will still face fierce resistance from the people of the Empire."
(This paragraph was MTL hell!)
"We could tell the truth. That it's all a false rumour."
"What is the truth exactly?"
No one, including Aria, could clearly answer Logan's question. No one but the Second Prince and those involved in the scandal knew the truth behind the rumour.
The fact that the Second Prince had been born outside of the Imperial Palace was already a large blemish against his legitimacy. So, any rumours that circulated related to the circumstances of his birth would be immediately disadvantageous in his bid for the Crown Prince position.
To make matters worse, the actual contents of the rumours were also quite heinous.
Lloyd was again questioning whether it was a good idea to have sided with the Second Prince.
The more he learned about the Second Prince's circumstances, the more he realized Kyle was fighting an uphill battle in securing the Crown Prince candidacy. The Prince had little to assist him except for his own capabilities. As a result, House Elias could ultimately do little to help.
The others in the conference room seemed to be having similar thoughts.
"Ha……Nothing. He comes from humble beginnings……”
"He has nothing other than his ability...."
"In all likelihood, this road will be far too perilous."
“It could be that we have misplaced our support.”
And so on. Everyone mumbled these words.
Then Logan spoke up.
"I think...…… I think that it is best to do nothing."
Lloyd, who had been staring at the paper with the rumour written on it, slowly raised his head and asked.
"As the head of the Black Society said, it may be best to just assess the capabilities of the Second Prince. If this rumour disappears our family will simply no longer be entangled in it. On the contrary, if he identifies this rumour and handles it well, that will be confirmation of his ability. Even if these rumours damage him and weaken his status, but he avoids exclusion from the Crown Prince candidacy, that is something we should be able to compensate for."
"····· That's a good idea. I agree."
Several leaders voted in favour of it, and Chloe nodded quietly. Dylan agreed as well, he was of the same opinion.
Following Logan's opinion, it was decided that Elias would not take any action on the contents of the rumour, and the meeting was dismissed.
As everyone was returning to their respective jobs, Lloyd called to Logan, who was leaving the conference room, to stay behind.
Lloyd asked him.
"Being in the Ministry of Public Security, you must know a lot about the 2nd Prince. What kind of person is he?"
"He is a highly capable man. Undoubtedly, I believe the Imperial dignity of the First and Third Princes is lacking in comparison."
He answered without hesitation.
"What do you think about our family being on the side of the Second Prince?"
"I think it was an inevitable choice."
Looking at Logan, standing there in his security officer uniform, Lloyd suddenly realized that he hadn't spoken to his son for quite some time.
"... Do you still visit?"
He was referring to the tomb of Lloyd's first wife, and the mother of Brandon, Logan, and Aria, Elizabeth Elias.
"I haven't been going."
"Eight years ago."
Ever since Brandon came back dead.
"I'm taking a break in the middle of work, so I have to leave now, Father."
"Huh?...Of course …. Yes."
Lloyd hurriedly poured a glass of water and drank, as he watched Logan bow politely and leave.
He stared at his retreating back.
“That empty look in your eyes… I've neglected you. I've been so careless...… "
Lloyd slumped on the sofa and was briefly lost in remembrance.
[There is no cure for my illness. So, stop this, okay? Please, let me rest darling...]
A few days after Aria was born, she had gasped those words, looking as if she stood on death's doorstep.
Her pallid face was wraithlike, and her hands were thin like spindly tree branches. She smiled wanly at the sight of little Aria, glowing healthily, where she lay in her cradle.
[The merchant ship is going to make a good profit this time. Then we will have more money. There are also investments coming in from House Philippe. If you wait just a little longer, I can find you a famous doctor. I'll do whatever it takes to get you treatment, even if the medicine costs thousands. So please, don't worry and get some rest.]
His first wife, Elizabeth, the first daughter of the fallen Marquis of Langdol, grasped his hand before he could leave, leaning over to kiss the back of it. The bones of her hands stood out starkly against her skin.
[Darling! My kids, Brandon, Logan, and Aria, don't let them be lonely, okay? Please love them. I can entrust this only to you.]
That had been the last thing she'd asked of him, with a faint smile on her face.
Since then, 18 years had already passed.
Scrubbing his face with his hands, Lloyd recited an excuse to himself.
"I didn't know time could go by so fast... Yes, time flies so fast.... I was so indifferent. I didn't know that child's eyes were so empty...…. I'm sorry. Elizabeth, I'm so sorry.…”
Lloyd vowed to talk to Logan more often from now on, and summoned Dylan.
"Starting next week, Logan will also be attending the upper branch manager's meetings."
Dylan's eyes widened in surprise.
"It's been less than a year since he took over the Elias Knights for Jason."
It did sound a bit fast. Chloe had also been attending the branch managers meetings beginning three years after launching her own brand shop, when her businesses began showing a fairly high rate of return.
Attendance at the branch manager's meeting had a very clear significance. It meant that he might officially take over the top job in earnest.
"It occurred to me that he has never been given a proper job. He has been doing well in Jason’s former role. He will be ranked as a second level administrator soon, and it seems he is being recognized by the Department of Security. So maybe it would be beneficial for him to get more work. Tara too, they have all changed so much in only a year...…."
Dylan nodded silently at Lloyd's remorseful words. Looking at him, he felt as though his Lord had aged several years over the course of only a single day. Unwilling to disturb him, Dylan took care to leave the meeting room quietly.
Kyle was surveying the entire Central Castle complex on horseback. The Knights Mark and Edman followed in Kyle's footsteps, and the general manager of the site guided them.
That morning, they inspected the condition of the drawbridge, the moat, and the underground drainage canal in the castle. In the afternoon he inspected the ramparts and walls.
After checking the fortress and city walls, he was scheduled to go examine the condition of the newly dug wells in the Central Fortress town.
When Kyle, who had just climbed the castle tower, returned to the ground, Walter was waiting. He had just arrived and was waiting for Kyle to come down. He handed him the reins.
"So, what's his answer?"