Bernard and Tara continue their conversation, as do the Emperor and Prince Kyle.
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Episode 252. About 9 months (11)
Bernard was gazing into the distant sky, talking without sparing me a glance. Even when I called his name, he gave no reply and continued to speak.
"You see. Men are basically, hmm. They look different from women. Well, that's obvious. But a man's body is, hmm. Uh..."
"Fifteen, no, as early as twelve years old, mhm. They have a different body than men. A woman's... Hmm. That's what... That's why."
With a pained expression on his face, Bernard continued to act like he was very, very interested in discussing the human body. He was clearing his throat as if something had gotten stuck in it. To be honest, it was almost pathetic to watch.
I crossed my arms and yelled his name with all of my might.
"You'll have... Yes. Yes, yes! My Lady, just a moment. I'm not finished yet."
I glared at Bernard's profile. He was still staring away at the distant sky without looking at my face.
“Do you even know what you're talking about?”
"Yes! Yes, of course I do. It's a very, very important topic. Please just listen for a second. So, a man is not a person, but an animal, and his nature is, hmm. It's very different from women. At some point in their lives when they're old enough, their heads are all, no, not this, hmm. I mean, sometimes, yeah. Men are animals who look very rational on the outside, and then all of a sudden they turn around and they're wild and they want to do mean things. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"... My God."
"Oh. Were you surprised by my bluntness? I'm sorry. I've never explained anything like this before... I haven't had a reason to do so, so it might be a little awkward to listen to. But to, you know, put it mildly, men are a lot different than women. Therefore, even if you like it, it's not just about expressing it with words. I mean... that, uh..."
Bernard sat up, buried his fingers in his hair and roughly ran a hand through it.
Yuck. It looked like he was trying to pull his hair out.
I tilted my head back and glanced up at Bernard's hair.
Apparently unimpressed with his own explanation, he sucked in a breath and massaged his temples.
"Stop it, Bernard, you're going to crack your head open! Do you realize how ridiculous you're sounding right now?"
With his fingers still in his hair, he stared at me. It was the first time I had seen that expression on Bernard's face. It was the face of a tortured artist, full of anguish and pain.
"It's not ridiculous, it's a much-needed explanation. I was being a little complicated, but you're a smart person, so you should be able to figure it out... You understood me, right?"
"You're just telling me to be careful of men. Because of my relationship with His Highness, you're telling me these weird things out of caution!"
"You're right. His Highness, the 2nd Prince, is also a man!”
"Yes... He's obviously a man!"
"That's not what I mean. So let me summarize my explanation earlier...!"
I spread my palms to stop him.
"Stop! Your point is that even Second Prince Kyle is a man, a beast, and although he loves me, he won't just use words, he'll use his body and be as rough as an animal!"
This time, Bernard threw his hands up in the air.
"Ah ah ah! I don't have to elaborate further. I'm glad you got the gist of it, which is why you two shouldn't be alone until you're certain about the relationship. Of course, from now on I'll accompany you wherever I can."
"Oh, my God. Bernard, you do realize you're acting like a real older brother right now?"
"Don't know about that. I'm just a knight trying to protect my ladyship."
"No. What kind of knight would give such advice to his master? And if all men are beasts, as you say, then shouldn't we be chaperoned as well?"
"... Damn it! I'm different. Don't you know that?"
"How are you different?"
"I'm not interested in you at all! My Lady is not a woman to me!"
At the sound of his outburst, the two servants passing by the training grounds stopped and stared in amazement.
"Huh, you're right, but why am I offended?"
"Anyway, I hope you understand. You said you were going to Lady Aria's meeting after lunch, so I'll go and get ready. I'll see you in the hall later."
"Hmm... I get it, Bernard. But I must tell you something."
Bernard, who had been gathering up the newspapers and getting up to leave, sat back down at my words.
"I appreciate your concern and that you want to protect me. But don't try to restrain my freedom. I'm a grown woman who is perfectly capable of making choices and taking responsibility for my actions. And because I care about and respect you a lot more than you realize. Got it?"
"Yes. But men are animals."
Man. Like talking to a wall.
The Emperor and Kyle sat alone in the Palace's drawing room.
"Leave the position of Minister of Finance vacant for now... And choose one of these men for the position of Vice Minister below it?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
Six documents with resumes were placed in front of the Emperor.
"Two are Royalists and three are from the Aristocratic Faction. The other, not from either faction, is from the provinces. The one you mentioned in the meeting earlier, who took over the construction work on behalf of his dead brother?"
"Baron Fred Berg."
"Hmm. Did you recommend him?"
"I thought he was the right man for the job."
"And since he's the right man... Come to think of it, was your interest the reason you attended the meeting and reported on the Military construction?"
"I won't deny it."
The Emperor's one eyebrow arched.
"When you say he's the right man for the job, do you mean he has the necessary skills?"
"He's somebody who will put the people first and handle the budget."
"Yes," he answered immediately.
The Emperor's eyes flashed for a second.
The Second Prince had never recommended a position in the Palace for his own people, but here he was, asking for a major position, that of the First Prince's, for the first time.
"I thought you would take more time to prepare..." The Emperor said, hinting at the battle for the throne.
"I'm only telling you this because you asked for my opinion," Kyle replied, referring to the personnel recommendation.
He had never spoken of his desire for the throne.
Even when the Emperor had placed him in the position to qualify? him for Crown Prince, Kyle had only passively agreed to it and hadn't made any suggestions to the Emperor about it.
Of course it was impossible to figure out what he was preparing behind the scenes, but at least he'd never been as open about his pursuit of the throne as this.
The act of appointing his own subordinate as Vice Minister of Finance was a clear signal that he was going from a passive to an active stance, meaning that he would actively pursue the throne from this moment on.
The Emperor placed the bottle of heart medicine, which he had been holding the entire time, on a silver tray and leaned forward.
"To no longer be at the mercy of a hiding enemy's tricks. Besides... I decided that this is a good time, now that my brother has lost his standing."
The Emperor stared Kyle, who laid it all out on the table without reservation. He swallowed hard as he watched his son sitting still, accepting his gaze.
"It's strange to hear it from your own mouth."
"Do you not want it?"
"What does it matter what I want?"
"It is you, Your Majesty, who holds the power of life and death."
Of course it was important.
"Then why do I have the feeling like you don't care about my authority on life and death?"
Neither denial nor affirmation.
Instead, his son, the commander-in-chief of the Military and the Minister of Security, the man who had risen above all the Princes but had no power, who had no power but climbed to his position solely on his own merits, raised the corners of his mouth with a rather dry expression.
"If I may be so bold as to say so, it's because of Your Majesty's stiff attitude, regardless of your help."
Allen, who had been politely standing by the Emperor without saying a word, inhaled sharply.
This meant that even without the help of the all-powerful Emperor, he could overturn the current situation and ascend the throne.
In the Empire's history, every Prince had consolidated their position with the help of the Emperor and eventually inherited the throne. Until now, the Second Prince had safely reached his position with the unspoken support of His Majesty. However, if one had to choose a person who could take the throne without the Emperor's help, the Second Prince would be the most likely candidate!
For a moment, the Emperor's gaze sharpened, but then they slowly softened.
No matter how incompetent he was, Franz was the First Prince. It was not easy for him to give up his seat to make room for the Second Prince.
Reading the Emperor's mind, the Second Prince drove the wedge in further.
"Your Majesty is the one in charge of legitimizing the Crown Prince."
'Joseph wasn't enough to keep the Aristocratic faction that strongly supported Franz in check, so he acknowledged Kyle as a Crown Prince candidate, and now he doesn't want to give him the position of Crown Prince.' That was the euphemistic criticism.
The Emperor then glared at Kyle.
"Don't you think it's too soon?" He asked.
Kyle didn't shy away from his fiery glare, and kept his face expressionless as he calmly replied.
"There's no such thing as a right time, only people who make the right time."
"... You're right, but it makes me feel lousy. Yes. I don't think it's a good idea to start the verification process and leave it at that. All right. I'll make the architect the Vice Minister of Finance. The Empress will keel over, and there will be a few appeals from the Aristocratic faction."
"As long as the position of Minister of Finance remains vacant, and the Duke of Toulouse remains the Minister of State, there shouldn't be too much backlash from the nobility."
With that, the conversation ended.
Looking at the door through which Kyle had exited, the Emperor turned to Allen.
"Don't you think it's too soon? I know he's capable, but doesn't have too little power?" He asked.
"Even if he were to take the throne, would he be able to wield it?"
Allen's question pierced through the Emperor's heart, and he smiled bitterly.
"He's not that kind of guy, but... If he drags his feet on every single issue, he'll be able to endure it at first, but if he does it every time, he'll lose momentum..."
The Emperor swallowed the words 'like me'.
"His Highness the Second Prince said..."
"Yes. Tell me."
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