The Emperor contemplates the implications of his meeting with Kyle, while Tara continues to investigate her siblings' activities.
This chapter is dedicated to the lovely KT! Thank you so much for your support!
DO NOT publish our edits anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you.
Episode 253. About 9 months (12)
"He said that at the peak of his power he will be able to nip any opposition in the bud. He implied he is already capable of disrupting the factions that have already formed against him."
"Oho. Is that so?"
The Emperor's eyes widened slightly at Allen's words, and he looked back at the man behind him.
"I dare say, Your Majesty, that the Second Prince can accomplish it if he sets his mind to it. Perfectly. That's my assessment, so you need not worry."
The Emperor smiled, and asked meaningfully, "I'm surprised to hear that from you! Am I mistaken that you’re implying you will choose to serve the Second Prince in the future?"
"If His Majesty permits it, I will."
"Oho!" The Emperor slapped his knee.
Then he clicked his tongue and shook his head.
"You speak of your plans to leave this Emperor's side so easily, but because you're being so honest about it I can't harbour any resentment. Fine, I'll let you go when the time comes, but until then, keep an eye on him and assist him when needed."
The Emperor gently stroked the cold vial of heart medicine as he gave the stern command.
Upon receiving his orders, Allen slowly knelt, conveying all due respect.
The Emperor's casual words strongly implied the Second Prince would be the next heir to the throne, and Allen couldn't help but feel nervous.
"I shall do my best, Your Imperial Majesty."
As Kyle exited the Imperial reception room, Walter, who had been waiting for him, immediately questioned him.
"Shall I contact Baron Fred to make arrangements, Your Majesty?"
"Do it. Have you heard from Chris?"
Some time ago he had received a report from Chris about the existence of multiple towns named 'Black Crown' in the southern and northern parts of the Empire and had ordered more of his men to investigate further.
"Not yet. It seems to be taking some time."
"What's the rest of my schedule?"
"In half an hour, you’re scheduled to attend a top-secret briefing at the Central Security Office. After that, at six o'clock, you have a meeting with the Military's Armory Department at the Administration Building about how to manage the arsenal in preparation for the summer rainy season. After the meeting, you'll be having dinner with the Armory Department's Administrative Team."
"I see. And the Third Palace?"
He wanted to know what was happening in Joseph's palace.
"We're keeping an eye on it. We've attempted to plant people in the Duke of Toulouse's residence, but they've failed to gain access, so they're waiting for an opportunity. We're keeping a close eye on those three people you mentioned as well, but nothing out of the ordinary... Ah!"
"We have records of all of them attending Lady Tara's birthday banquet not too long ago. I saw that Bradley Hound, Tom Gary, and a man named Hans Button were all invited and attended, but does that qualify as unusual, Your Highness?"
The Prince paused, thoughtful.
"They may or may not have wanted to witness the outcome of their schemes... I see. From this day forward, you will report to me on their behavior daily."
"Yes, Your Highness. I'll pass that along to the undercover crew. Oh, and you told me not to schedule anything other than the fixed schedule for the 21st, so I did, but I was wondering if there was anything else I should prepare for."
"There isn't. But, Walter."
"Yes, Your Highness."
"I don't recall you being quite this meticulous when scheduling appointments."
"Haha. I learned from watching the Second Aide. She was always prepared in advance of Your Highness. I finally realized that's what a true aide should be like, and I'm sure that's what drew you to the Second Aide.... Hahahahahahaha. The latter was nothing of note, Your Highness. Hahahahahaha."
"Are you insane!"
Kyle hissed in a suppressed tone. His gaze had iced over, and Walter knew that His Highness was well and truly angry.
Walter froze for a moment, before immediately realising what he had done wrong.
He tried to kneel right away, but the Prince grabbed his shoulder before he could. His tight grip hurt terribly, but Walter gritted his teeth.
No, he had to withstand it.
"Your Highness.... I–I made a slip of the tongue," he stammered.
"This is the Central Palace, Walter."
This wasn't the Second Prince's Palace, but the Central Palace, where the Emperor held court. You never knew what eyes and ears were listening at any given time or who had rats lying in wait. You needed to be as vigilant as possible.
"Something must have happened to my head after the trip, Your Highness."
Kyle leaned in close and whispered in Walter's ear.
"This is a place where thoughtless words get people killed. Be careful."
"Yes. I'll accept my punishment, Your Highness. And I will never do anything like this ever again."
"... One week."
Whatever punishment he received would last a week. Walter followed in his Master's footsteps, holding his head in his hands.
Elias Mansion, Hallway. Evening.
As soon as we got out of the carriage, Aria asked for my opinion.
"How was it?"
"Hmm. It was deeper than I thought it would be, so that was nice."
I had asked Aria if I could accompany her to her history club this afternoon after lunch.
I was worried that it would be awkward if I visited so suddenly, but I was surprised to learn that attendees often invited outsiders to the meetings, similar to a church recruiting new members.
So attending the meeting had been easier than I thought it would be.
Most of the members of the history club were my age, but I saw a few younger members. And two others had brought guests as well.
The point of the club was to discuss specific historical events that had been decided on the week before. It was a lot of fun. Perhaps because I was a bibliophile, I thought the historical documents that everyone had brought were interesting.
I’d met some interesting people and was open to attending another time when I was free.
I also planned on visiting Chloe's group on Friday the 19th, but Logan's club wasn't open to female attendees and I found it hard to ask him about it directly.
I'd never had a real conversation with Logan. He seemed to talk quite often with my other siblings, but he also never seemed to have deep conversations with anyone. It was the same with my younger sister, Aria.
"Hmm, I'd like to participate in those meetings at least once..."
As we entered the hall, Aria handed her cloak to her personal maid.
"I'll ask our brother about it. He once asked me to go with him."
"Are women allowed to attend?"
"Uh, yeah. There's some kind of special event once a month and they can invite family members. But what would you expect him to say if you asked to attend with him all of a sudden? I’d also be a bit curious."
She tilted her head and asked with a twinkle in her eye, but there was a hint of suspicion behind that seemingly innocent expression.
At times like this, I needed to be bold.
"Well, I should probably start looking for a club myself. I don't know what my options are so I'm trying to find out. I'm about to make my social debut and I don't have any friends to chat with, so I need to find a group of people my own age."
"Ugh... I guess you were stuck in your room and now you're working to be the next family head. I get it. As for Logan, I'm sure he's sorry for what happened with Brandon, so I think he'll do this much for you," she said coolly, shrugging one shoulder.
For a moment, my fingers itched with the urge to pinch her cheeks, but I held back.
"It seems like just yesterday you were trying to push me down the stairs... And now you care about me?"
In an instant, she was yelling, "When did I EVER do that!" She whined.
So cute! She was driving me crazy with her adorableness.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for caring. Aria."
"Hmph. It's nothing much. I'm just paying you back for Brandon's sake, and I owe you, so if you want another favor, just ask. I'm a virtuous woman now, so you can forget about the stair thing."
Aria raised her chin and proudly thumped her chest.
"Oooooh, is that meat I smell? Meat!"
She used the smell of dinner as an excuse to run off to the dining room.
When did Aria become such a cute little sister? She was so cute when she was angry like she was a moment ago.
As I watched her disappear into the dining room, I called out to Dylan, who was just exiting the main office.
"Is Father back yet?"
"He should be any minute now. And I'm not sure what he said."
"That's true. But even if the majority of the nobles are against it, the Emperor could have been swayed."
"No. I meant to His Highness, the Second Prince."
I stopped climbing the stairs and looked back in surprise.
"Why are you suddenly bringing up His Highness the Second Prince, Sir?"
"Hmm. It's just that... Right before this he said he was definitely going to... Make it his mission to nail His Highness the Second Prince."
"He said he was going to firmly remind him not to disrespect our family as his allies, and censure him for disrespecting the young lady in particular."
Dylan and I seemed to be thinking the same thing.
I knew Kyle well enough from work to know that he could be a cold, arrogant asshole, and I was secretly worried my father might come home hurt.
Dylan seemed to be thinking something similar.
When I saw him on the 21st I'd have to put in a good word for him to be gentle with my father. Ugh. I just couldn't imagine Kyle going easy on my dad.
No, but we were together now, weren’t we? Doesn't that mean he should try being nice to my dad?
Well... It would be weird if their public relationship suddenly changed.
While I was contemplating it, my father returned from the Palace. Speak of the Devil…*
After giving the coachman a nice compliment, he came in smiling with a cheerful expression on his face.
Apparently, things had gone well with the brand trademark.
As he entered, he saw Dylan and me and paused.
But he paused only long enough to tell Dylan to prepare an advertisement for tomorrow's newspaper, then headed straight for his office.
"About the Second Prince... Did you speak to him?" Dylan, who was just as curious as I was, asked.
My father simply laughed, "Hahaha."
That was right. He literally just chuckled and smiled like a fool.
"Hmm... I saw him... Haha, but we didn't have time for a conversation. I was going to say something firm, but it was a day for business. Also, now that I've thought about it, I wonder if Tara's transfer was truly offensive, or if it was only a matter of him conducting public business with his Aide's father. Perhaps he was concerned it would be troublesome for her, hahaha, hahaha, hahaha, hahaha."
Editor’s Notes -
* The Korean version of the idiom 'speak of the Devil' that was used here is 호랑이도 제말하면 온다 - which directly translates to ‘speak of the Tiger and he shall come’ (which is actually pretty cool sounding IMO)
Enjoyed the chapter? Buy us a ko-fi!