Tara presents her solution to the family, and Kyle reacts to the response.
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Episode 27. 86kg (3)
It was similar to what I had been discussing with Producer Park back then.
"I dare say, that guy... Well… Pardon me for saying it, but it's no coincidence the Second Prince selected these specific families to send these messages to. He's never acted like this before."
"And?" Dylan asked curiously.
"I wondered why he sent them so suddenly. The Second Prince doesn’t typically seek out power, because his abilities are already exceptional."
"Well that’s obvious..."
Jason acted like he was trying to ignore me, but he also stared at me as if he couldn't bring himself to look away. His words and actions contradicted one another.
"Yes, that's why it's so strange. No matter how much I think about it, it's difficult to determine the intentions behind his message. It could be a trick as Chloe said, or, an attempt to find families willing to support him as Logan said. But there's no way to figure out which, unless we get official confirmation about the succession. The outcomes are hard to predict, and the risk is high. I think it's better to minimize the risks than to try to predict the intentions of the unpredictable Second Prince."
"So what? All of this is obvious! What should we do about it?" Jason screamed in frustration.
I continued, despite his rude interference.
"The Prince has a shortage of knights under his command, so we should oblige him."
"Ha! What? That's stupid!" Aria laughed as if she found it ridiculous.
“Sheesh, do you know what you're proposing? We have no idea how our family will be treated if we send knights to the Second Prince! Have you even been listening up until now? You're an idiot!" Jason scoffed sarcastically, as if he knew better.
According to the novel, Kyle Amure would become the next Emperor as long as there weren't any major surprises.
However, in my current situation I couldn't just tell them we needed to ally with the Second Prince because I had knowledge of the future.
So, there was only one solution.
"Jason, stop it! Is that your final suggestion, Tara Elias?" My father asked.
His question raised the expectations.
"Instead, we should send knights to all of them."
That was what they had done back then.
[There's a variety show that's officially being broadcasted on KNBC. K Motors decided to sponsor it during the re-organization of SBN.]*
[It seems they’re trying to hit three birds with one stone. They’re distributing their publicity across various networks, and widening their market share in the industry from their current outsider position... It's brilliant. All three entertainment companies also target overseas Korean Wave fans.]**
Everyone was bewildered by my words.
Jason was the first to break the silence.
"What? What the hell are you talking about?"
"Send knights to serve directly under the First Prince, Second Prince, Third Prince, and His Majesty the Emperor. The more knights we send, the easier it will be to accumulate influence. Send knights to all of them so we can demonstrate our loyalty as servants of the Empire. We'll lose money of course. But no one will be able to blame us for our actions. It will establish our neutrality and sincerity, while also showing a willingness to comply with the Second Prince's request."
"Ha! Interesting!" My father slapped his knee. “As an added bonus, the influence of our Knight Order will also increase!”
There was a moment of silence after my father finished speaking.
Then Logan responded cautiously in a quiet voice.
"But the Second Prince might think we’re making a fool out of him," he said carefully.
Was he really that kind of person though?
“If you look at it that way, then we don't have much of a choice. But there will be no going back from something like this.”
"Why? If he thinks we're mocking him, he might hold a grudge against our family."
“That would be the case with the other princes. However, this message was sent by the Second Prince. He isn't the type to involve his personal feelings or act without a valid reason. He wouldn't move to blame us for something like this. He just isn't that kind of person. Don't you agree?"
The meeting room was empty. Lloyd Elias sat alone with Dylan, drinking chrysanthemum tea, but he could hardly taste it.
"...So, do you intend to go through with it?"
"What do you think? It seems more viable the more I consider it. We have this option only because he's the person we're dealing with. No matter how often I curse the Second Prince's name, he does his job fairly and approaches things in a straightforward manner. I know that. He's such a fair person that it's a shame he's also a complete bastard."
“...Then it would be a good idea to take the hand he is currently offering us.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
"No matter how good he is, the nobility are the ones who lead this Empire. Do you really think it will be easy for him to achieve such a great feat alone, without the noble support? Why does our family have to take such a difficult road? It makes sense to postpone that kind of decision as much as possible. The next Imperial ruler is a matter for the Imperial Palace, not for our family. There's no need for House Elias to lead the way down such a thorny path. Besides..."
"Our letter will probably give the Second Prince one hell of a headache! Hahaha! That man will feel like he just shot himself in the foot! Hahaha! I'd love to see the look on his face when he reads it! Hahaha!"
Dylan groaned internally, but tried not to show it.
Lloyd Elias slowly smirked, mumbling to himself in an excellent impression of a madman.
The 2nd Imperial Palace, belonging to the Second Prince, Kyle Amure.
As Kyle looked at the message Nick had just received from the butler. He expressed neither surprise nor annoyance, and his face showed no trace of concern or a frown.
He only laughed.
His expectations for Lloyd Elias had clearly been misplaced.
"...Ha. This is honestly quite interesting. So, he's sending some knights to everyone?"
"Yes, I just confirmed that letters were delivered to the other Prince's Palaces as well as the main Imperial Palace. What shall we do?"
Anxiety was evident in Nick's expression.
"What do you mean? I'm going to accept their offer since they are willing to send knights to me. Not bad, rookie!"
“Still, won't this cause a misunderstanding? Are you really going to accept their knights to serve under your direct command?"
"Yes, Your Highness."
"Misunderstanding? What kind of misunderstanding?"
Nick gulped, his voice low. "Yes. Well, won't it cause the other princes and His Majesty to misconstrue the situation? If it's known that you're personally gathering troops, that could be interpreted as a challenge to the succession for the throne."
Kyle stared at Nick for a long moment.
"What? Why are you staring at me like that, Your Highness? Did I make some kind of mistake?"
"You deduced that more accurately than I thought you would."
"Huh. Is that so? Haha. As expected, I'm becoming more and more like Your Highness, so I must have been right!"
"Stop it. That's enough."
"Yes, Sir." Nick stood up straighter.
"I did it on purpose."
"Pardon? What do you mean?"
"When I sent the message to those five families, I already knew the other princes would hear about it. I also wanted them to think I’m planning on challenging them for the Emperor’s position. Whether the Elias family responded the way they did or not, it was always going to be known."
"Huh? Why did you do that, Your Highness? They already despise you and want to drag you down, this is like adding fuel to a fire."
"Stop making such a fuss, Nick."
He needed to get back on track.
When Nick stood there and his Master didn't open his mouth to explain further, he widened his gaze in an expression of rapt curiosity.
“Why are you staring at me like a helpless puppy?”
“…I'm just… I’m curious, Your Highness.”
"Fine, if you are truly that curious. All right, Nick."
"Yes, Your Highness?"
"Do you think I've been hiding it?"
"What do you mean?"
"My interest in becoming the next Emperor."
"Well... You've never said it out loud…”
“There are some things in this world that do not need to be spoken aloud.”
"Ah... Kind of like the body language you use when you’re trying to seduce a woman?"
"Yes, Your Highness!"
Nick stared at him clear-eyed.
"Yes... Well, that's one metaphor you could use... That being said, they already know everything. I made my intentions clear from the moment I accepted the position of commander-in-chief of the Military and Imperial Security department, and chose to serve as the vanguard in the three-year war against Skandoa. I just never said it out loud. They fully expected I would send those messages. They just didn't know when."
"Then, are you serious? About the letters you sent?"
"Nick Bright. I don't stamp my seal on any message unless my intentions are sincere."
Nick's eyes widened in momentary surprise.
"Why... Why now?" He asked cautiously.
"It's all thanks to my brothers, of course. They've begun to sneak around. They've also started working behind the scenes and are more closely guarding their secrets. It starts now. The fight begins when your opponents decide to make themselves clear."
“Does that mean you’re going to start battling in the open…?”
"Ha, yes. All of us will start showing our true colours, and the fight will get intense."
Nick went rigid, in contrast to his Master’s casual reply. Cold sweat trickled down his back, and drops of perspiration formed on his forehead. Heat came over him and it felt like something hot and electric filled his chest.
‘Kyaa... He's so cool! As expected of His Highness. And I get to be a part of it!'
His thoughts crystallized into a firm mental vow.
‘I will dedicate myself to helping His Highness accomplish his grand purpose, even if I break my bones in the process.'
Nick looked at Kyle with a piercing gaze.
"Your Highness! As your humble servant, I will do everything in my power to serve you. You can put your faith in me!"
"Alright, but please do so moderately."
The Imperial Palace. The Empress's reception room.
"... So, he just moved past the wine case as if nothing had happened?"
"Yes, Mother. Precisely. He's a snake. So, it’s anyone’s guess what he's doing behind the scenes, but I know he's been reporting privately to the Emperor on a daily basis."
The Third Prince, Joseph Amure, and Empress Vivian of the Ocerian Empire were speaking in private.
"That man is slowly stepping out of line. He’s becoming very bold indeed. The wine incident aside, putting pressure on aristocratic families by using his personal seal? Isn't that a declaration of war? How dare he! He's acting like he's going to be the next Emperor! Don't you see?"
"It will never happen."
"Yes, of course it won't. He wouldn't dare to try and ascend the throne in defiance of such opposition. How brazen of him when Franz is the true heir!"
Franz was the Emperor’s eldest son, and the first-born Prince of the Ocerian Empire. He was also Joseph's brother.
"If I had known this would happen, I would have nipped that lowly bastard in the bud back then!"
‘Back then? Lowly bastard? Who? Don't tell me...!'
Editor’s Notes -
* These acronyms seem to be referring to fictional Korean broadcasting companies and TV networks. As far as I can tell there are no real TV companies called KNBC or SBN but there are popular Korean channels and news agencies with similar names.
** This is a bit of a meta reference. The Korean Wave refers to the massive increase in worldwide popularity Korean culture has experienced since the 1990s. This includes the worldwide domination of K Pop, K Dramas, Manhwa, and yes, Korean novels like this one. The Korean media industry has increasingly been considering worldwide audiences when it comes to sponsorships, ads and product placements.
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