Updated: Mar 17
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Hans discusses the situation with Harold, and Kyle 'wakes up'.
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Episode 198. About 10 months (75)
Harold gulped apprehensively at Hans' laughter.
"Where? Who? The timing of the 2nd Palace's investigation matches that of the private organization's investigation, which means they became interested in me around the same time... Hmm. How close are they to figuring it out?"
Unable to answer, Harold remained silent.
"Oh my, I have no choice but to rush things. Hehehe."
"What should I do, Master? Would you like to learn more about this business card?"
Hans added another spoonful of hallucinogenic powder to his lemon tea.
"No need. Nothing useful will come out of a fake business card. The private organization investigating me at the same time as the 2nd Palace means they may have joined forces, or that they've been spying and obtained intel from the 2nd Prince's side."
Hans stirred his tea and took a sip, nodding in satisfaction.
"I couldn't get the information on the 2nd Prince, but if the private organization did, that means they're pretty good. However, only investigating me, and not the other two aides, means they're just curious about me..."
Hans, who had been talking for a long time now, swallowed the lemon tea down in one gulp and set the cup down.
"They’re so eager to figure it out, so I shouldn't make any mistakes and to avoid being discovered myself. Haha."
Hans' laughter, which sounded like scratching on metal, lasted for a few seconds.
Cold sweat poured down Harold's back at the thought of his Master gaining more power.
"Well, first of all, we'll have to keep a closer eye on the 2nd Prince."
"Yes. We've currently got two more people in Baron Kezak's household. After the Hunting Contest, we also deployed two spies to House Elias, but they were unable to enter the mansion and had to stay outside. The staff management is surprisingly thorough, so it'll take some time to infiltrate the mansion."
"Really? After seeing what the eldest, Jason, was doing, I thought the family was disorganized, but I guess that's not true? Well, that fat girl...!"
Hans, who paused after saying that, abruptly jumped up from his seat and circled around his chair.
Harold stared at Hans, his body tense because of the sudden movement.
Hans Button's eyes widened and gleamed. It was as if his mind was somewhere far away. It was very strange.
Hans recalled Tara Elias' words, whom he had recently encountered at the Palace.
[In the Palace, I’m the 2nd Aide. And I don’t want anyone’s help in my work for my Family. So, I refuse your help. Goodbye.]
Hans murmured slowly, lost in thought.
"Back then, I thought she was just arrogant because she was a 2nd Aide... Being an Aide is nothing to be cocky about, but... What's going on?"
Hans, who was erratically pacing around, stopped at one point, and said in a laughing tone.
"Ho-oh... You bitch. Don't tell me... Did you fuck him?"
His eyes gleaming, Hans' smile stretched ear to ear.
Harold recoiled at the sight of his mad smile.
"Haha. Yes. It's clear what that bitch did to be promoted to an Aide while she doesn't have the skills. Yes, she did that kind of thing."
Hans suddenly stopped talking and erased his smile.
"No, it's not. The 2nd Prince has never brought a woman into his Palace before, but that fat lady has no talent..."
No one in the Imperial Family, including the extended family, was as uninterested in women as the 2nd Prince.
For a Prince who enjoyed such a high position, especially at his age, he should have had at least three or more ladies at court.
Maybe because he was a bastard and grew up outside of the Palace, the 2nd Prince was too closed off to have a mistress outside of the Palace.
That was why the announcement of the Princess Selection aroused a great deal of interest.
Hans briefly pondered whether his guess was right.
If he was any other Prince, his guess would be correct, but since the 2nd Prince was unpredictable, Hans’ worries only increased.
‘I need more information. Yes, information.’
He was annoyed by the limited amount of intel.
He shot up and poured the rest of the hallucinogen in a glass of water.
Harold nervously answered him right away.
“I must get an invitation to her birthday party.”
“Yes, I’ll definitely get it somehow, Master!”
Hans smiled again, apparently satisfied with Harold’s answer.
“Alright. What else is the Elias Family doing?”
With faint kindness in his eyes–No, with forced kindness in his eyes, he turned to Harold.
Harold made eye-contact with Hans then quickly lowered his only remaining eye.
“The fifth child, Tara Elias, is on a business trip. As you know, we don’t know where the location of the business trip is. Even through the 2nd Prince’s Palace, we couldn’t find out. The rest behaved normally. However, Countess Elias did something strange.”
A name was scribbled on the note Harold pulled out of his pocket. Hans grabbed the note and stared at it, tilted his head, and read it out loud.
“Donnie’s Gambling House?”
“Yes, the Countess visited the place a few days ago.”
Hans trembled and laughed like a child who found a funny toy.
“That a noblewoman went to such a dirty place. Hehe. This, this is something, Harold.”
“The owner of this gambling house. Look at this guy. I need to know what he talked about with the noblewoman.”
“Ah! Hasn’t the mercenary commander been sent to the Capital yet?”
“Yes. I’m just monitoring. What should I do? Master?”
Harold asked cautiously.
“You’re a quick-witted fellow. The impact would be huge if the 2nd Prince personally found a witness... Hmm... How can I solve this problem?”
Hans went to his desk and sat down. Worried, he drew a circle on the white paper in front of him. But soon, he smiled.
“He isn’t a good enough actor if the 2nd Prince finds out... Wouldn’t it become suspicious if he went to the Capital to testify?”
“I sent him specifically because he was known to be a good performer, but I misjudged the Second Prince. That’s my explanation, my Lord. It’s my fault for not making the right choice in the first place. Forgive me, my Lord.”
Harold kneeled and bowed his head.
"What? Things like that happen. What did you do wrong? It's his fault for failing to do his job. Now then, let's create some mercenaries, but not a mercenary captain. This time, they'll be real actors."
"Yes, Master. Then what about the one under surveillance right now?"
"Remove him yourself. Don't get caught. His family is in the 3rd Black Crown village, flog them."
Harold turned around in relief. He took only a couple of steps...
"By the way, Harold."
"My old friendship with you, who has been with me since I was with the Button Family, ends here. So, there should be no more mistakes in the future. Understood?"
Gulping, Harold immediately bowed. He couldn't predict the future, but he had to keep his spirits up.
"Yes, Master. I'll never let you down again."
His wife and naughty 8-year-old son flashed through his mind.
‘There's a total of three Black Crown Villages, like in Knox. Alright. I might be dragged around like this for the rest of my life, so I mustn't get caught. Carefully. I'll go through it very carefully.’
[Du Roi, Central Province's favourite inn] Kyle's room.
Kyle, awakening from the realm of the unconscious, briefly tried to assess his condition.
He couldn't hear anything, everything seemed to be far away, like it was in a thick fog.
His body felt heavy, and he couldn't lift a single finger, nor did he want to.
It was as if he had regained his awareness, but not to the point of being able to engage in physical activity.
His brain had simply shifted from a state of unconsciousness to a state of limited consciousness where he was able to perceive aspects of existence.
Kyle wanted to rest, he wanted to take this opportunity to sleep a little more. His life was like that of a racehorse, constantly running forward without ever taking a proper pause.
Ever since that day in the seaside town, Kyle had been living on thin ice, always trying to sharpen his thorns.
He never rested without keeping an eye out for his personal safety.
Therefore, it was impossible for him to rest fully. He wanted to sleep more.
No, to be exact, he just didn't want to do anything.
He wanted to return to a state of unconsciousness, where he felt nothing.
The profound regret and pain. The sadness, suffering, longing, and pity. The endless frustration and the despair. And all kinds of harrowing emotions, such as loneliness and emptiness, were rampant in real life...
He was fully aware of the feelings he had to bear again, but he wanted to put it off for a while.
Just like a single ray of light disappearing at once, Kyle's consciousness was encroaching into the boundary of unconsciousness again. But then, a quiet sound rang in his ear.
He tried to ignore it, but the noise became clearer and clearer, echoing in a corner of Kyle's mind.
At first, he wanted to get away from the annoying noises that were disturbing him.
But, as it grew louder, Kyle realized that it felt very familiar and comfortable.
He was worried. If he didn't slip into a coma now, life's pain would start anew.
‘Now... What should I do?'
Kyle, on the border of the conscious and unconscious world, listened more to the sound and finally came to a conclusion.
‘Maybe there's a meaning to life that's worth the pain.’
Immediately after that thought, Kyle quickly moved away from that liminal space and blacked out.
"[...] Did you fuck him?" In the MTL, this sentence was translated as "[...] Did you eat?" I didn't know what that meant, so I went to the raws and plucked out that particular bit and searched it up. I GASPED when I found out it was also slang or a vulgar way of saying, to screw, to fuck... Suddenly what was being said in the following paragraphs was a lot clearer and I was about to get my pitchfork ready
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