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The truth about the Baron is revealed and Tara is hit with some shocking news.
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Episode 194. About 10 months (71)
The Baron's disease was called 'progressive dyskinesia'. After I first heard about it, I searched the Elias library and looked it up in our medical books.
I quickly recognized the symptoms. Shaking and stiffening of the limbs and body, resulting from a decreasing amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine being produced in the brain. What modern medicine calls "Parkinson's disease."
In the past, when I was in charge of a liberal arts TV program called [Celebrity Invitational Seat] a renowned professor of neurology at the National University gave a lecture on the prevention of Parkinson's disease.
As a constituent writer, I was involved in researching Parkinson's disease in order to recruit the neurologist we intended to feature on the show, and I still remembered the typical symptoms because of the lectures I attended.
It was thanks to Tara's good memory that I was able to accurately remember the medical information from my life as Ji Yeon-woo.
In the severe stages of Parkinson's disease, your lower back, hands, and legs become bent. This means that it becomes more comfortable to walk with your waist bent in half than it does to walk upright.
"That's ridiculous. Of course it can be cured...…”
"How can you cure a disease that slowly paralyzes your muscles? Obviously, Parkinson's, or motor dysfunction doesn't directly lead to death. It's just that the complications are terrifying. Perhaps he fell down and got struck by an object. Or fell from a high place after losing coordination. Or he could have died of a pressure ulcer, a urinary tract infection, or medical complications from pneumonia."
The man's expression trembled slightly as he stared back at me.
His eyes remained fixed on me. After a while, a quiet laugh escaped him. As if this was funny.
"I didn't know that the noble administrator was also studying medicine."
“I am Tara Elias, the Second Aide to the 2nd Imperial Palace.”
"I knew it!"
"And who are you?”
The man laughed and leaned against the back of his chair.
"As expected of a close aide to the Second Prince. His Highness knows everything, however, I can guess why you were sent here regardless. It's amazing how he nudges you towards making choices."
"What do you mean by nudging towards a choice??"
"His Highness seems to be attempting to hit two birds with one stone. Now I understand why you were sent here."
I didn't quite understand what he was saying, but I could vaguely infer it.
Prince Kyle gave me a task and made me solve it. And through me solving it, he sent some sort of signal to this man.
What kind of signal was it?
Damn. This was complicated. How the hell does that man's brain work to come up with such elaborate schemes?
"About three years ago."
I raised my head at the man's sudden remarks.
“You asked who I am. Listen."
"Ah..... yes. Please go ahead."
"Three years ago, the aria singer Colette Mooneran, who sang 'Aria of the Night', made the front page of the newspaper."*
As soon as I heard his brief explanation, I understood the implication.
"Do you understand?"
"Let's hear it."
"She was known as the best opera singer of her age. And then an article was published claiming that she had been using a 'shadow singer' for the past five years who sang backstage while she stood in the spotlight. This caused a big stir. After the article, she was eventually expelled from the industry. So, what does this have to do with Baron Berg?”
The man nodded and slowly began his story.
“My name is Fred Berg, Charles Berg was my older first cousin, on my paternal aunt's side. We lived together ever since he was based in the Capital as an architect of the Imperial Palace. We were both single, so I depended on him. Of course, I was also very interested in architecture, but my family didn't educate me the same way they did my older cousin."*
“Then you are the Baron's cousin?”
"Correct. My cousin taught me. I must have displayed some talent, because my cousin began entrusting me with more and more of his work as I grew older, until I had taken it over from him completely. I loved it. It was amazing to see my projects coming to life before my eyes."
"Then that was… ”
“That happened before my cousin passed away. Even before he came down to live at Central Castle I had already begun taking care of all of the administrative procedures on his behalf. My older cousin eventually suffered from cognitive impairment as well, and died of complications from pneumonia, just as the Second Aide guessed. He died just two weeks after coming here."
"Why didn't the townsfolk suspect?"
“Before I came here, I already acted as if I was my older cousin. I simply became him, acting on his behalf behind the scenes. This was my cousin's idea. It wasn't difficult to imitate him. I just needed to walk around with his cane, have my hands shake, and sometimes act as if I had a difficult time walking, just like an old or ill person...…."
For a long time after Fred Berg's story ended, I was still lost in thought, thinking about it.
"His Highness knows about all of this?"
"Indeed. It is also thanks to the Second Prince’s consideration that I am able to stay here. Go tell him this. Now that I have fully understood His Highness's will, I will gladly organize a dinner...…!”
Before he could finish speaking, the front door swung open and an old man, who seemed barely capable of opening the front door himself, entered the house.
“There is a knight standing outside…… Ah! You have a guest? Please excuse my rudeness, Ma’am? By the way, Baron, the square is in chaos and a crowd has gathered. I saw it on my way to find myself some wine."
The old man, his head shiny and bald, poured out the words without pausing.
"I see you’re in the middle of a conversation. I will bring tea."
The old servant, appearing to be on the verge of falling over, rushed back into the small kitchen. As I watched him rustle around and prepare the tea, I was organizing the information Fred Berg had just given me in my head.
Not only did the Prince already know that this man was not the real Baron, but he also helped him live like this.
He led me towards finding this man, and on top of that, also sent him a signal through me.
If so, the Second Prince's intentions must be connected to this. Wait a minute. His Highness's intentions!
"May I ask what you have learned of His Highness's intentions?"
“Come tomorrow. After dinner with His Highness tonight, I will let you know once everything has been decided. Of course, I will do so only after obtaining His Highness's permission."
"After the decision? No. By then it would be too late...…!”
The man turned his head completely towards his servant, as if he would not accept any further questions, and asked.
"What’s the matter with the gathering in the square?"
At Fred's question, the servant was bursting with excitement.
Meanwhile, my thoughts were heavily occupied trying to piece things together based on what he had just told me.
"Yes, well, the drunkard, you know, the drunk who lives over there, at the end of town."
"Yes. What's wrong with him?"
"His granddaughter, Katie, was it? She fell into the newly dug well. Remember that young nobleman? The one who came down to the Central Provinces to inspect the well? The ambitious young gentleman I said must be on his way to success? Anyway, apparently he leapt into the well, catching Katie in his arms as they fell. I heard that he got himself a head injury or something. So...!"
Alarmed by the servant's words, Fred sprang to his feet. Simultaneously, there was a nerve grinding screech, as if a chair had been hastily pushed back.
The old servant stopped mid-explanation, and turned around at the sound of the suddenly slammed door. Neither his master nor his thoughtful guest remained.
Central Province's Favourite Luxury Inn, 'Du Roi'.
If it wasn't for the white bandages wrapped diagonally across his naked torso, I would have thought he had just fallen into a deep sleep.
I sat down next to the bed and watched him quietly. Five hours had passed since the incident, but he still hadn't moved.
Misuse of Aurore. That was the doctor's explanation.
"Your Highness, this situation should have been as easy as lifting a spoon for you, so why did you use your Aurore...….”
In order to protect the girl, Katie, Kyle had curved himself around the girl's body and formed a protective shield within a matter of seconds.
This technique was known as an Aurore Shield. At the same time, Kyle had also attempted to cast a second flexible barrier, Aurore Armour, around himself.
However, while casting both of these at the same time, he'd miscalculated, and had now fallen into a state where he had no Aurore left to protect himself.
“Maybe he tried to cast an Aurore Shield and Aurore Armour at the same time. Perhaps this time he overestimated how much Aurore he had left. But that's not like him...… There hasn't been a recent battle that would have depleted his Aurore to this extent, and it isn't as if he would have given his Aurore to anyone... … .”
Looking down at his Master worriedly, Walter shook his head.
“What if he did transfer some of his Aurore?”
"No way. It requires a great amount of effort and training. His Highness probably would not grant you any even if you asked him. Hmm. Maybe, if it was for his cousin.… “
I closed my eyes tightly and then opened them. I couldn't bring myself to tell Walter that he had given some of his Aurore to me.
I had no idea that it was so precious.
“When will he wake up?”
“According to the doctor, a day or two. Or it may take a week. But he also said that he may wake up tonight because he is very healthy and in good physical condition. He is probably sleeping so deeply right now because his body needs time to recuperate and regain control over his Aurore."
Hearing this, I felt relieved. I resolved to present my findings when Kyle eventually woke up.
(Tough MTL here)
I wanted to hear from Fred again, but he refused to meet with me a second time.
Instead, I visited the workers who received the increases in the labour budget, and compared and recorded the construction completion rates before and after the increase of funds.
Other than that, I went to the places where the rest of the redirected funds had been allocated and double-checked everything, but one indelible question still remained.
Why had Fred avoided Berg mansion as soon he came down to live at Central Castle? Why did he decide to stay in that small hut?
Because his cousin died there? Because he didn't want to use the mansion when it did not truly belong to him?
That question was quickly answered after I saw the blueprints of Baron Berg's mansion.
This was not an ordinary mansion structure.
This structure was like.... Yes. It reminded me of that type of building!
After this revelation, I returned to the accommodation immediately, but Kyle was still asleep.
“You will wake up tomorrow morning. You are so strong.”.
My anxiety had been lessened somewhat after hearing the doctor's diagnosis, but it was not completely relieved.
The day passed and the next morning when I woke up, Kyle was still in the same state. And the doctor had left.
"What a charlatan!"
Editor’s Notes: Buckle up for this next arc everyone...
* Here he calls Charles his '고종사촌 형님' literally 'cousin brother'. 사촌 is the word for cousin and 형님 is older brother. The word used here for cousin 고종사촌 even specifies Charles is Fred's first cousin via his paternal aunt (you have to admire Korean for having that much specificity!). Both Fred and Tara proceed to call Charles Fred’s 'older brother'/’heong-nim’ 형님도 for the rest of the conversation despite them actually being cousins. Apparently it is pretty commonplace to address first cousins the same as you do your siblings in Korea. Kyle and Diane, who are also cousins, also often refer to one another using brother/sister pronouns for this same reason.
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