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Chapter 244

Updated: Jul 10, 2023




Where Tara and her Father confront the Philippe's Household while First Prince Franz cheers to his future success.


This chapter is dedicated to Yellowmarigolds ! Thank you so much for your generous donation!


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Episode 244. About 9 months (3)


“….?”


We won't have to get blood on our hands.


When I explained the specific method in detail, the family was astonished but soon agreed.


"So, I'll go there first and then I'll see you tomorrow afternoon at House Philippe, Father."


"Yes. That sounds good."


After the various meetings ended, my father gently held my hands and apologized.


Then, he continued with a mixture of sorrow and longing about our brother Brandon. In the end, he burst into tears and there wasn't a dry eye to be seen among the family.


Afterwards, other family members came to apologize and thank me, each in their own way, though Logan was definitely blunt about it.


Finally, I caught Chloe as she was leaving the office.


"Chloe, don't resign."


"How.... Ah! the Second Prince."


"Yes, he told me that you resigned."


"Yes. You see, I wish for you to see it as compensation for the rights you haven't enjoyed for seven years."


I shook my head.


"No. Those are two separate issues. You don't have to pay for your mother's sins. You are already enduring so much from her having committed such crimes and being punished for it. I don't want you to suffer because of this and I'm not happy with you pulling out of the competition. So withdraw your resignation, or else I'll hand in my own."


My sister's eyes reddened seeing my determination. Then, without warning, she hugged me.


There were so many people hugging me without notice today.


It felt strange.


"Yes. This is so like you. I'm sorry. And thank you, my sister."


"Yes, Chloe. Thank you for being this kind of big sister."


Perhaps reluctant to be left out and wanting to feel the sisterly warmth, Aria came over and quickly hugged us both.


"Sheesh! I can do it better! So don't do it without me!"


Red eyed, we smiled at each other. It was a truly unprecedented scene in the Elias Household.


***


The First Prince's Palace.


Jim Harriet, the closest confidant and First Aide of the First Prince was having an early dinner with Franz. Of course, they were not without company.


"Hahaha. It’s almost reached the Capital. I assume it won’t be much longer? How did you come up with such a great idea? Hahaha! As expected, I have a good First Aide, don't I Jim?"


"Hahaha, you flatter me, Your Highness. I was only able to come up with this method because of what I picked up while being around such an intelligent Prince."


"True, you've seen and heard a lot of things by my side over the last 10 years. Did you really plan this yourself?"


"Of course, Your Highness! It all came out of my head!"


There was no hesitation in Jim's answer. Which was to be expected.


A person who had been stealing other people's ideas and credit for over 10 years was an expert in manipulating memories to suit his needs. It led them to believe that those tampered memories were the truth.


So, in his memory, the hint given by the Ministry of Finance had already been forgotten.


He vaguely remembered the man’s eerie gaze, but that too, was sent to the far reaches of his memory.


Such a person was Jim. He never was one to share the credit with anyone else, however small.


Besides, wasn't he about to hit a big score?


Things were going smoothly. The rumors were cruel enough to cause concern, and the First Prince would gain the Emperor's trust through them. With this, the First Prince would be able to return to the Palace and be appointed Crown Prince.


"Haha! It's amazingly clever. You are worthy of being by my side."


Franz, moderately drunk and excited, slowly poured a drink for his First Aide, Jim Harriet. He was a generous monarch.


Lifting his glass with both hands, Jim parroted his flattery as if on cue.


"All this is thanks to Your Highness!"


"Yes, that's right. I've decided! If Kyle gets kicked out, I'll have you immediately appointed as Deputy Chief of Security! For there's no one else who can make a case as well as you can, or make it to my liking, is there?"


"Aahhh! You are so kind and benevolent, Your Highness!"


The two then had a long and in-depth conversation about how to efficiently operate the military and security departments.


At first glance this appeared to be a perfect scene of a military official and future Emperor both worrying about the future of the Empire, which amazed the passing servants, who were unaccustomed to the sight.


While they were in high spirits, a messenger sent from the Palace hurriedly arrived at the First Prince's residence.


"Her Majesty has ordered you to visit Harrington Mansion immediately."


Harrington Mansion, which had been part of Empress Vivian's dowry, was situated in the Capital.


"Oh, I guess my kind mother misses her child she hasn't seen in a while. Hahaha! Well let's go see her. Come with me. I'm sure she must be curious about our accomplishments!"


Franz and his First Aide finished their drinks and climbed into the carriage heading to Harrington Mansion, grinning.


***


The next afternoon, in House Philippe’s noisy hall.


Duke Philippe, bent over his cane, flew into a fit of rage in the middle of the hall.


"How dare you act so rude and arrogant! Can you really behave this way in the Philippe Household? I took a chance and invested in you when you were in a precarious position, raising you into the top five Houses in the Empire, and you repay the favor with enmity?"


Upon hearing those words, my father's jaw hardened as he stood upright, barely holding back his anger.


I stood off to the side, silently watching the situation unfold while Bernard, three knights, and the servants who had followed us stood against the wall, focusing on the possible outcomes.


Philippe's vassals and elders were also standing behind their Lord. It felt like a standoff.


The Elder of House Philippe, Victoria's cousin, who had come to Elias Mansion during the Dragon Fruit incident also caught my eye.


He peered at us, his eyes vigilant.


"I have never forgotten your grace, Your Excellency. But am I to look the other way when that person has done something so abhorrent? She's a vicious criminal who killed my eldest son and tried to kidnap my lovely daughter!"


"Nonsense! Chair!"


When he tapped the floor with his cane, a servant quickly brought in a luxurious chair.


Today was the first time I had observed Duke Philippe.


The Duke, whose office building I had visited yesterday, was a highly respected man in the Empire.


He was especially known for his business acumen, which had led to a great increase in the Philippe Family's fortunes, granting them a ducal title. The title of Duke was also conferred by the Order of Masons, making him a man of great standing.


However, now in his 70s, Duke Mason Philippe had ceased future business ventures and seemed to struggle with mobility issues.


The Duke handed his cane over to the butler and sat down in his chair, breathing heavily.


"Yes! I can concede and admit Victoria's jealousy. Her small mind may have been blinded by envy and greed, and she may harbour a wicked heart. But she would not dare tarnish the Philippe name!"


When the Duke finished his speech, the elders, and vassals I had seen before took a step forward.


"Yes. Envy is common to women of all ages and all origins. And, Count Elias, you can't deny your responsibility in not dealing with her jealousy properly!"


Oh my God! What ridiculous sophistry....


As expected, blood doesn't lie.


My father's hands were trembling. Seeing him hiding them behind his back and squeezing them tight, I quietly went to his side and placed my hand over his.


"Father, shall I do it?"


"No, I will," he whispered for only me to hear, then he cleared his throat.


"Very well. Then this matter will be brought to trial. Since you are adamant in your denial, I will make it public so that she may receive the punishment she deserves for her crimes."


"This is foolhardy, Count. If buried quietly, this will have no effect on our respective Families. I'll give you a hundred concessions and punish Victoria for her wicked jealousy. She can stay quietly in the castle for a few months to calm her nerves. I'll admit that she unintentionally caused a disturbance, and I'll invest in your Family, an additional half as much as I have so far. So, as the head of House Elias, I expect you to make the right decision."


The Duke looked smug as he brazenly talked about reinvesting. It was surprising that his words seemed reasonable.


As if it was inconsequential, the Duke frowned and shook his head as if he pitied my father making a big deal out of this.


And with that, the Duke rose from his chair, cane in hand and turned his back on us completely.


"I knew it," I said quietly, taking a step forward.


"... What?"


Leaning on his cane, the hunchbacked Duke glanced back.


"We didn't think our Family's word would work. So, we didn't come here empty handed."


"You are the child I heard about."


"Yes. I'm Tara Elias, the one that was almost abducted that day. But you know what? Victoria said she tried to save me just before I got attacked. That it was her original intention."


"How cheeky of you! What are you getting at?"


"Oh, my God! How rude!"


The calmness of my voice was met with rousing responses.


"Yes, I've heard of you, but I did not expect you to be so rude and disgraceful. What a great daughter you have, Count."


His voice was both full of contempt and sarcasm.


I, like it or not, lifted my chin up and raised the corners of my mouth. Just like Kyle.


"By the time she would have 'saved' me, everyone would have witnessed me nearly getting raped, so rumors about me would have been all over the social scene."


"What are you talking about?"


Victoria's cousin stepped forward, his face flushed red. I shrugged and continued.


"My reputation would have been tarnished, while hers would have risen. She would have put herself out there in her frail woman's body to save her stepdaughter in a situation where she could have been injured by the assailants."


"Let me tell you, this is out of line! How dare you pass off such nonsense as fact, where do you think you are...!"


"Wait…"


The Duke stopped Victoria's angry cousin and approached me slowly, one step at a time, bent over his cane.


I held the Duke's gaze with a strongly insinuating one of my own, while he walked over to me.


"Doesn’t this sound familiar?"


"I.... don't...?"


"Yes, don't tell me you didn't catch on. Bernard!"


"At your command, my Lady!"


Bernard, who had stationed himself at the hall's entrance, replied with a bow, more politely than ever before.


"Can you bring her in?"


Editor's Note:


Thank you all for your patience! I know you've been all waiting for this chapter and the story to go forward.

Life happened which put things off. Like a life turning point birthday (mine...), health issues, I'm actually going under the knife tomorrow, (nothing major, don't worry), and also some holidays, which made things complicated.

But all these hindering factors are coming to an end, so you can expect more releases soon!


Take care and love you all!


Thamalasca


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