Updated: Mar 17
Where Kyle shows Tara that "It's all just a game".....
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Episode 19. 90kg (6)
The gaze that followed me still stung, but it wasn't too burdensome since I was getting used to it.
As expected, humans were animals that adapted to their environment.
"At first, I thought it was just spying."
"The reason being?"
"Here is the substance of the case. Extensively smuggling Sorbonne wine while spreading rumors that the ban will be lifted, thus immediately increasing the smuggled wine's value. The swindler makes a huge profit in a short amount of time. Countess Elias is the one that heavily invested in this fraud. Many businessmen throw huge amounts of money in the beginning to deceive other investors, which also brings a lot of small investors."
I thought he was going to react, but he didn't. He just stared at me as if he already knew everything.
"... So, most investigators will start inspecting this with the tentative conclusion that the upper echelon, who invested large sums of money in the early stages, are the fraudsters. So, I deduced that the Second Prince, as former commander of the Ministry of Public Security, thought that Elias was the instigator of the fraud , and visited the mansion to finally confirm this information. That is, 'spying'."
Without realizing it, the corners of my mouth went up. Shortly after that, the words: "Time's up, should I leave?" came to my lips, but I swallowed them quickly.
This kind of mockery wasn't something I could say when I stood to lose more than my opponent.
Had I said that now, I would have been kicked out immediately.
Instead, I wanted to hear his reaction to what I had said so far.
I didn't even want him to say that I had good insight or that I understood the essence of this case well.
Just a smile that made me feel that I went beyond expectations. Strangely, I wanted to be recognized by this expressionless Prince.
"That is a long introduction, and I don't have much patience. Time is running out."
Again, this jerk ruthlessly crushed my expectations.
Afraid of being kicked out, I continued.
"But all this happened in the beginning when the fraudsters weren't caught. That's because it takes time to investigate. So, I thought it was spying at first, but not anymore. Your Highness is using our Family as 'bait'."
"Hmmm.... Bait. To whom?"
"Of course, the unknown forces that have led this fraud."
Looking at me intently, he uncrossed his arms and came closer.
I held my breath in surprise at his approach.
Why.... Why is he coming closer?
But that was my misunderstanding. He walked right past me and opened the door wide.
"It's not worth listening to anymore. Time's up."
I jumped off of the sofa as if I had been shot at and stood up.
I was feeling a bit annoyed and irritated.
"Am I wrong? Besides, I didn't even get to ask my question!"
"It seems overconfidence is a habit. And it's been less than 10 minutes. Have you forgotten?"
"I never consented to answer your question."
Ah.... He's right. He never mentioned answering my question. Damn, I got overexcited.
How embarrassing. Should I just leave? I can't....
“Are you going to just stare at me like that?”
What's with that question? Was he telling me to leave or was he saying not to give up and keep going?
My head was going to break!
Nearly desperate, I decided to do whatever it took.
"Please. The part I got wrong, the one I was overconfident about, I wish to know."
And I bowed deeply as best I could.
Blood immediately rushed to my face. There was nothing to be ashamed of. After all, he was a Prince.
No matter what anyone said, I was currently an underdog while he had a lot going for him. So, it wasn't a big deal to bow down to someone who might hold the highest seat of the Empire in the future.
But then why was my face burning?
"Are you stalling for time?"
"It's not like that. I'm asking you politely because I'm really curious."
"Hmmm... Why should I? The allotted time has passed."
Oh! I desperately wanted to blurt something like, "You're so handsome!" or "The Empire's top dog!" But I had to hold it in.... Again, I had to remain extremely polite.
".... Isn't it your duty to enlighten the ignorant people of the Empire? As a Prince, don't you feel pity for this ignorant fool?"
He laughed for the first time. Or course, it was more of a sneer.
"Will you be able to handle it?"
What? I didn't understand what he was implying, but I had to answer that I could unconditionally handle the situation.
"Of course, I can handle it, Your Highness!"
"No matter the outcome?"
"... Yes, no matter what the outcome is."
The office door closed with a sense of dread. Leaving me frightened.
With a smile - of course it was a smirk - the Prince strode and sat on the sofa opposite from me.
Then he nodded, indicating to me to sit down.
I sat down, looking comfortable, but my back was stiff.
"What word did I use the most today?"
"Shall I set a timer again?"
"Oh, no! Hmmm... Ah... um... Time out?"
A disappointed look in his eyes. Why was he playing the 20 questions game all of a sudden?
".... Is that the best you can come up with?"
"Leave?" I asked with a stunned look.
I grabbed the armrest. No way!
Think about it! Think!
"You're not a complete fool."
"I'm not sure I understand, Your Highness."
"Sometimes people put infinite trust in what is familiar. Whether it is their possessions, knowledge or family."
"The lady made three mistakes. The first is overconfidence in your knowledge. The second is overconfidence in your family. Finally, overconfidence in your servants."
"What are you talking about?"
I thought the first one would be mentioned, of course. But what about the second? More importantly, what did the third mistake mean?
"You said you could handle it. There's a sense of responsibility for every action."
"I stand by it. I need to understand."
"You must be well aware of the first mistake, and the second one as well, even if you deny it. How dare you be so overconfident? Who's completely cleared of charges in this investigation? On what grounds did you conclude that Elias is not behind the fraud? Spying? Bait? You sounded so sure. There is no such thing. How dare you make me look like a trickster? If you really wish to know, I shall enlighten this ignorant fool. This is merely a game!"
"A … Game?"
I felt as if I had been doused in cold water.
Right... Why did I think my family was innocent? On what grounds? Game? A game means you were having fun playing around. Was he saying that this was child's play for him?
I was out of my mind. My head was spinning as I was putting together all the information that was coming in. But it wasn't over.
"And the final mistake. You had no qualms using any means possible to solve your problem, without thinking of the consequences."
"Why do you think I allowed you in here? Because of your ruse saying you were looking for something? Or that I was just wondering what this item was? Or maybe that I was curious about you after our encounter on Lackton Street?"
There wasn't a question I hadn't considered. Everything the Prince said were combined pretexts to bring me in the office.
The atmosphere was unusual. My heart rate kept gradually increasing.
I was much better off with his aloof and cold expression. The energy he was emitting now filled the office and weighed down on me. I felt stuffy, anxious, and scared.
For a moment, I hoped he wouldn't open his mouth.
"You aren't a complete idiot. I loathe those that cannot think more than one step ahead. Many subjects lose their lives in vain because of such stupid nobles. But do you know what I loathe even more?"
I wanted to avert my eyes. The next sentence was only too obvious. My face was burning hot. I had goosebumps and wanted to hide. And I was so anxious.
I prayed my prediction would be wrong, but the more the Prince spoke, the more it became a fait accompli.
"After looking one step ahead, those who act rashly based on the little knowledge they have. And then don't take responsibility for their actions. I really despise those who arrogantly do things without taking all variables into consideration. Just like the young Lady did today."
"Don't tell me... No. It's not his fault, Your Highness!"
I sprung to my feet at the sight of the slowly rising Prince.
"I did ask if you could handle it, didn't I? The Lady answered yes. You blew the opportunity I gave you. Nick! Bring him here!"
As soon as the Prince's order fell, the door opened, and the servant brought in was Niels.
Niels, whose hands were tied, and his arms held by knights, looked at me in contemplation then quickly lowered his gaze.
I immediately looked back at the Prince. His expression was cold as ice as he looked at me with his arms crossed.
"... Niels isn't at fault here."
"Lady, I wouldn't...."
"Quiet!" The Prince interjected with an even but heavy voice.
A moment's silence passed....
"Do you know what crime you committed ?"
"...Yes, Your Highness, I..."
"Oh, no. This child is innocent. He just did it because I asked him to. So, please let him go."
As Niels replied, I stepped forward. My admission of guilt and his were two different things.
Niels was a commoner, and I was a noblewoman. Under the Ocerian Imperial law, the aristocracy was punished with much more leniency for the same crime.
And the fault was mine. Like an idiot, I failed to think about the consequences in case of failure, but I would not stoop so low as to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of my actions.
I was angry.
In this shitty situation, I was angry at the Prince who didn't even know how to make excuses, but I was most angry at myself, who, because I was overconfident, as the Prince said, proceeded without thinking and took the Prince too lightly.
But I couldn't dwell on the matter. I had to save Niels first.
"All right. I can't believe you admitted it so quickly. Bring him forward."
At the Prince's command, Niels was led by the knights and knelt before him.
The Prince sat back on the sofa, looked at Niels kneeling for a moment, then turned to me.
"So, what crimes have been committed?"
"Sigh.... The crime of trespassing into Your Highness's room without permission. And the other one is..."
Oh... Why couldn’t I stop talking....
The moment I said this, my father's expectations for me, let alone the possible position as heir, would be blown to the wind like an escaping balloon.
"Sigh... The other one is sedition against the Imperial family."
I heard the loud bangs of a hallucinatory gavel echoing in my ears.
I thought, with this I had admitted all my wrongdoings, but it wasn't over yet. There was more.
"That servant is not yours."
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