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Chapter 272

Kyle continues his hunt for Palace spies and while Tara attends an event with Logan.


This chapter is dedicated to Katsiaryna! Thank you for the wonderful comments!


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Episode 272. About Six Months (2)


One of them was a servant who was responsible for delivering fruit to the Imperial Palace.


He had been spying on behalf of House Toulouse for less than six months, and the only information that he had leaked was a log of the meals conducted at each Palace and a record of the visitors who dined there.


Another spy, a maid at the Emperor's main palace who served under the head butler, was a member of the Empress's household and had been spying for three months.


The butler's papers were strictly managed and protected so the contents hadn't been leaked, but information about many of the people the Emperor met with in his office had been revealed. However, the Emperor's meeting schedule was public record, so there had been no significant damage.


Finally, a servant in the garden department of the Second Prince's palace had been placed there by the Empress's household and had only been spying for a month. He hadn't gotten much information yet, and hadn't reported any of it to his handlers.


On Kyle's orders, the crimes of the three spies hadn't been publicized. He wanted to avoid tipping them off about the fact he was searching for moles.


It has been two months since the joint operation had begun, and considerable progress had been made.


Andrei had discovered two more Black Crown villages in the Empire bringing the total to five. He had just sent Leonard to Kyle while he was on a business trip a fortnight ago to inform him that an underground prison was being constructed in one of them.


The communication of the operation’s progress was always made via personal messenger rather than by a letter to reduce the risk of spies hiding in the vicinity discovering it.


Inside the village was an underground prison that led to a thick iron gate, where the families of the mastermind's disloyal subordinates were being held hostage.

.

The families of those loyal to him lived in the villages, forming gated communities.


The underground prison included not only the families of those who had been disloyal to the mastermind, but also those who had been captured for other means.


As a result, it was difficult to discover the identities of many of them.


The son and daughter of the gardener who had disappeared after the Dragonfruit incident had been found in the southern Black Crown village.


The owner of the blacksmith shop in the village near Tandra Forest who had been linked to the assassin hired during the Winter Hunting Competition Incident had been located in the western Black Crown Village.


Lastly, Donnie, the quick-thinking fixer of [Donnie's Gambling Parlor] who had been hired by Victoria to organize Tara's birthday incident had also been found there.


The man who had built these horrible towns seemed to be the architect behind the whole series of recent events.


Kyle had been forced to leave the Palace for another short business trip. An inspection of a military base near the Capital was his primary intent, but he had also scheduled a meeting with Andrei during that time.


Kyle arrived at the military base first and then headed straight to the blacksmith shop located in the unit.


He handed over his great sword, and the skilled blacksmith examined it to see what he could do with it. But the well-maintained blade didn't require any repairs.


In the end, he sharpened the blade a little more and politely handed it back to him.


"Your Highness, there is nothing more this humble servant can help with."


"The handle feels empty."


The roughened hilt was constructed of iron. It was a far cry from the flashy, ornate swords typically wielded by princes. Like many swordsmen of high calibre, Kyle's sword was unadorned and plain.


It didn't even hold a basic decorative birthstone.


"It is customary to inlay the birthstone of the sword's owner, Your Highness. Shall I do that for you?"


“Sure.”


The blacksmith tried to recall the Second Prince's date of birth, but he had no idea. Unlike the other princes, the Second Prince had never officially celebrated his birthday.


"Then I'll place an order in advance with the jeweler we trade with. What is your birth month, Your Highness?"


“No need to order specially, just use this.”


The Second Prince retrieved a handkerchief from within his armor and held it out in his palm.


The blacksmith's eyes widened as he saw the object revealed in the Second Prince's palm.


"This is...?"


"Is it doable?"


"Well, of course I can do it. I'll just have to make a setting for it and attach it. Shall I take the hook off?"


"No! Leave it intact and flawless. You can charge whatever you want for the work."


With that, the Second Prince gave the handkerchief to the blacksmith.


The blacksmith carefully held the item on the handkerchief and watched the Second Prince's retreating back.


"Hmm. He has unique taste....” He muttered to himself.


***


May 10th. Afternoon.


Except for the occasional time when Aria left the academy early because of an illness or when Chloe came home early in the morning because of work at the family business, my siblings' movements remained the same without much change, with no signs they were meeting anyone out of the ordinary.


With their permission, I attended their gatherings under the pretense of making friends prior to my social debut.


Aria's History club, Chloe's Social Club, and, most suspiciously, Logan's 'Enlightened Young Lords Society', had never raised any red flags. So far, of course.


Instead, I'd been able to talk more with my siblings. Aria said she was delving deeper into History and was now on the hunt for old books.


Chloe was active in meetings, keeping up with industry trends and managing connections with young ladies who might become business partners in the future. Her business-centric mind was different from that of our other siblings, and she seemed to have been working even harder since the incident with the Countess.


I had received offers to properly join both Aria and Chloe's groups, but I had waved it off, saying I would think about it.


This was my fifth time attending a meeting with Logan.


I didn't have high expectations for today's meeting because I'd only been getting a lot of boring information so far.


But that wouldn't stop me from attending.


Since I had no other options, I decided to continue participating in hopes of finding some clues.


I hadn't spoken to Logan much.


When I first heard from Aria that I could join him, I went to find Logan and had my first real conversation with him.


It was a simple conversation about the details of the club meeting, but it felt awkward because it was the first time I had ever spoken to him one-on-one.


Nevertheless, the tone of his voice and his manner of speaking were familiar. I wondered if it was because he looked so similar to Brandon, or because he wore a similar uniform. It was a strange feeling.


After Logan had said all he wanted to say, he'd added one more thing.


[I misunderstood you this whole time. Let's both try to get along for the sake of our family from now on.]


[Oh.... Ah. Yeah.]


I understood that he wanted to get along, but I wondered for a moment about why he said we should do it 'for the sake of the family', but I didn't ask about it.


I didn't feel comfortable extending the conversation.


After attending a few more meetings and talking to him a bit more, it became clear that Logan took the honour of the Elias family quite seriously.


Today was one of the bi-monthly gatherings open to family members.


We were at an exclusive club for aristocratic men located on the outskirts of the Capital. I'd heard that this location had been provided by one of the club members.


So far, the location of the meetings had changed every time. Today's venue was the largest I'd seen so far, and the auditorium was quite impressive.


I quietly looked around the venue, thinking that as we became closer, long conversations wouldn't be as hard.


Among the crowd of young people, their families were gathered together waiting for the next speaker, holding beers in their hands.


There were no chairs in the room, just round, waist-high tables spaced at regular intervals, each filled to the brim with glasses of beer, apparently available to anyone who attended.


“Huh? It’s a lot different than before, isn’t it?”


"Every once in a while, we have a get-together like this."


Logan casually picked up a mug of beer and offered me one.


Onlookers sipped their drinks as they listened to the speakers.


"I'll be right behind you, but if you need to go somewhere, just let me know in advance. There's a lot of people here, and you might get lost." Bernard's blunt words came from right next to me.


I immediately covered my mouth with my hand and whispered so that Logan couldn't hear.


"Yes. Understood. The atmosphere is a bit strange today. It seems like there are twice as many people as usual. But the contents of the speeches are very boring. Let’s just listen to the next speaker and then move toward the door. It's a bit stuffy in here."


"Okay. Let's do that."


I nodded, then grabbed Bernard's arm again at a sudden thought.


"It's being announced tomorrow, right? The results of the exam for the Imperial Military Department Special Weapons Force Intermediate Commander job."


There had been a written exam on April 15th. After some serious persuasion, Bernard had taken it.


“… That's right. Thank you for lending me [Hamut's Basic Book of Military Strategy and Tactics]. But is it really okay for me to do the practical assessment? If I go into military service, I won't be able to return to you, my Lady, for quite some time. Of course, that is, if I pass.”


"Yes, that's fine. It's more than okay. Just take the practical test first and then we can talk about it."


‘You're destined to become a general anyway. But, it's my fault you can't leave my family and become one.' The words were at the tip of my tongue, but I held back and said something else instead.


"Yes, well, I might have failed the written exam.”


"Ugh, I don't like that idea. I'm praying with the energy of the whole universe..."


"Good evening, I will be your final speaker today."


"Huh...?"


I stopped mid-sentence and turned slowly in the direction of the voice.


"What's up with you?"


"Shhhh...!"


I lifted my index finger to my mouth and stared at the podium in front of me. With a half-full glass in one hand and a white rabbit mask on his face, the final speaker began with a speech similar to the one given by the previous orator.


“You’ve waited a long time for this. I waited until the last turn, and while listening to the previous participants’ speeches, I reflected on my own narrow-mindedness.”


Bernard stared at me. I was particularly focused, and Logan and the people around him were also more engaged by the final speaker.


"I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the previous speakers for their valuable words. For my contribution to this gathering, I'd like to discuss...."


Where had I heard that voice before?


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10 Comments


Kaiju Ricci
Kaiju Ricci
7 days ago

Thanks for the chapter! Also, Kyle is so down bad. I love it ❤️

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ProMama
ProMama
Jun 07

…Hans Button, dat you…?!


He’s the only only in something called “The Black Map Arc” that I can think of who would get her attention like this. I is escared. 😭

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Replying to

I think it's the 3rd prince. In a previous chapter, Logan mentioned someone occasionally speaking at these events that would lead the empire....

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Liza
Liza
Jun 07

I love how passionate Kyle is under all of those steely glares 😏😍

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i bet y’all it’s the birthstone on tara’s lost earring :)

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ProMama
ProMama
Jun 07
Replying to

Ooooo I knew it had to be linked to Tara—has to be her earring, and only SHE would recognise it. This boooy….🥺

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Laralee
Laralee
Jun 07

I am loving all these chapter releases. Thank you! 💝

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Replying to

Welcome! Still more to come soon!

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