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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 35

Updated: Sep 30, 2023


Lloyd struggles with the unexpected consequences of his maneuverings, and Tara is put on the spot.


This chapter is dedicated to lola_theshowgrl, thank you so much for your support and lovely comments!


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Episode 35. 85.5 kg (8)


Ever since the Family Head had first decided to send his children to the Palace as administrators, a small question had been nagging at Dylan's mind.


He couldn't understand his reaction. When Count Lloyd first made his children his unusual offer and asked them to take the Administrative Exam, didn't he want all of them to enter the Palace?


[If you pass the Palace Administrative Exam and rise to the rank of First Secretary, I will give you one third of the shares in the Elias family business and also bestow the Elias Frontier Estate located in the Western part of the Empire.]


That had been his clear declaration. He said he hoped they would become the next Emperor's closest confidante, and that the Elias family would regain its former prominence as a great pillar of the Empire, instead of focusing solely on lucrative areas of commerce.


If so, it should be cause for celebration that all of House Elias's children had passed the exam....


So why was the Count's reaction so grave, as if he was witnessing a portent of his own doom?


The small questions in his mind grew like snowballs rolling down a hill, until eventually, he couldn't stop himself from sticking his neck out to ask about it.


"... Your Excellency, why do you have such a dark expression? Isn't this a good thing? Why are you worried when the goal you set for your children that you've longed for so much is just around the corner?"


"You don't understand. They need to get in through the process fairly, so there's a lesser chance of them being exploited in a power struggle. That way, there will be no trouble in the future."


"....."


Count Lloyd's explanation wasn't sufficient, and as a result, Dylan's expression remained inquiring.


"... Even if Empress Vivian stepped in, can I not expect a proper procedure? What kind of expression are you talking about?"


"Haha... Yes. Well, it's a good thing that House Elias has caught the Empress's eye, isn't it? Besides, although you didn't say it, I know you must have expected this kind of thing would happen when you offered the position of the next Family Head as a reward..."


"I didn't expect it."


"What?" Dylan asked.


He was genuinely surprised and unable to hide his expression.


"What do you mean...."


"To be precise, I didn't think my children would attract attention from Imperial powers.... I just wanted to see their potential. I thought this would be a good opportunity to test them. That's all."


"Ah...."


Dylan suddenly understood the grim look on Count Lloyd's face. He hadn't expected this outcome at all.


Minimizing risk had been Lloyd's mantra for all his years at the helm of the Elias Family and their businesses.


So more than anyone else, Count Lloyd Elias desired political neutrality.


That was why he accepted Prince Kyle's request for knights but also sent knights to the other Imperial Princes and the Emperor.


But now his political neutrality was about to be severely compromised.


"... Is this because we sent those knights?"


The Count tried to keep his expression serious, but he couldn't hide the heaviness in his voice.


"... I think so.”


"It was said that the Empress was very satisfied because of that. So...”


Count Lloyd's head snapped up at Dylan's ambiguous conclusion.


"So?"


"She also sent you a message asking you to stop by the Empress's Palace after the Interviews, saying that she had something she wishes to discuss."


"Oh, my God. To make matters even worse... Go... Go get Lord Andrei."


Now Andrei Pitt was the first person the Count thought of when something like this happened.


***.


An hour later.


Dylan entered the office again with a heavy expression.


"Why are you alone?"


"Well, he–It appears he is terribly busy at the moment... He says he's been so tied up with House Elias these days that other matters have been pushed aside."


"So he can't come?"


"Yes, he delivered this message instead, 'The person who presented the answer is in the house, so why not find them instead?' Your Excellency."


"Ha! Of course!"


Lloyd smacked his knee. Indeed. Wasn't it Tara who had suggested sending the knights in the first place?


"Oh, yes. Tara, it was Tara. Butler!" Lloyd shouted loudly, calling for Dixon.


***


I had spent the last three hours in the office building's archives reviewing interview questions.


My head was throbbing and dizzy, so I picked up my glass of water only to find it empty. When I looked over at Beth, she was sleeping soundly on her desk with a stack of newspapers beside her.


[I want you to collect all the newspapers with articles about other countries, because there may be questions about foreign affairs.]


[Yes, Miss, leave it to me!]


That conversation had happened only an hour ago. I smiled and reached for the jug of water near Beth's hand.


"Oh... She found some."


My eyes naturally wandered over the neatly categorized newspaper pages. I was trying to find something, anything, but then my eyes landed on a pair of words that stopped me dead.


"... What’s this? There's something funny about this... Here. Here, here, here!"


There was a phrase that kept appearing in the newspapers from the past year or so with unusual frequency.


The words, 'mercenary recruitment'.


Several articles flashed through my mind. I quickly skimmed through the newspaper articles Beth had collected.


It wasn't enough. I began to sort through the papers that hadn't been sorted yet.


"... Miss?"


"....."


"Miss? What is it? What are you looking for?


Startled awake by the rustling, Beth stretched and looked at me with wide eyes.


"I'm not sure, but there's something, and I need to find more of it."


"Oh... I'll look as well. What are you looking for?"


"Well, I don't know. Start by packing up all of these newspapers. I'm going to bring them back to my room and look at them some more."


"Yes, Miss."


I continued to search for more newspapers. The more information I had, the better, because it would be the proof to back up my words.


"Hello, Miss. His Excellency wishes to see you."


As if on cue, the head butler was standing in the doorway.


"Ah... Is that so?"


"Yes, Miss. His Excellency wishes for you to come to his office at once."


"Hmm. I see. Okay. I'll follow you. Beth, please move these papers to my room."


As I followed the head butler out of the office building, an idea began to take shape.


And then I had a fleeting thought.


In addition... The 2nd Prince had requested more knights for military service, regardless of the controversy. Nothing was certain yet. But all the information I could find pointed to the same thing.


It also confirmed that the plot of the novel was definitely progressing faster.


At this rate our destruction was more imminent. Soon, even the matter of the next Emperor... Ah, but when exactly would that happen...?


My head spun. It was times like these that I wanted to rage at my past self who had dismissed The Ocerian Chronicles as boring and uninteresting.


***


Tara followed the butler into the office, her eyes glazed over.


"... What's wrong?"


"Oh... Nothing, I've just been training a bit more lately... Hehe...."


"Alright. Don't push yourself too hard before the interview. By the way, the reason I called you in is...."


Tara listened to Lloyd's explanation.


"Providing the Emperor and First, Second, and Third Princes with knights was a gamble, Father, a trick. I knew there could be other consequences, but I didn't expect this outcome."


When Lloyd heard her answer, his face turned red and he tore off his jacket.


"A gamble? And you choose to mention that now? That's how you suggested we solve a problem involving the survival of the family?"


"I'm sorry, Father, I thought it was the best thing to do at the time."


"Ha... Oh, my... It appears I’ve placed too much faith in you."


Lloyd was speechless. He slumped in his chair, his face a mask of despondency. Dylan, who was standing next to the Count, was also dumbfounded by Tara's words.


Was she really so unprepared?


Dylan's eyes narrowed at the thought and he stared at Tara, who sat there calmly.


Wait a minute...?


He suddenly remembered the word that had slipped by him the first time. ‘Consequences’.


"Lady Tara. What were these other consequences you mentioned? The ones you thought might change the result from your maneuver?"


"Other consequences?"


Lloyd's head whipped around and he looked Tara squarely in the eye.


He wore a look that said, 'What’s this nonsense?'


Despite her father's expression, Tara's gaze was steady.


"Yes, there were other consequences. Of course there were. But I didn't mention them at the time."


"Ha... You decided that on your own?"


"I didn't want to make you worry. I thought it would be fine to tell you after I passed the interview... I wasn't thinking clearly."


Unlike Count Lloyd, who was frenzied with anxiety, young Lady Tara Elias was far too calm.


"You dare! Did you really treat me like some powerless old man?"


Despite the Count's ranting, Tara stepped closer and replied with a concerned expression on her face.


"What do you mean, powerless old man.... Father, I wouldn’t dare think such a thing. As your daughter... Nevermind. I'm sorry, I'll think and act more carefully from now on."


“.....”


Tara knew that would be enough. She had quickly realized her mistake as soon as she had spoken those words. Count Lloyd slowly calmed down from his erratic rage.


Dylan could hear the sincerity in Tara's voice when she spoke to her father. If he could sense it, there was no way her father, the Count, couldn't.


A young lady who could calm a raging lion with a few words...


Dylan marveled anew.


This child was capable of this? This child? He knew she was gifted, but he hadn't expected her to have that kind of look in her eyes...


Her gaze was clear-eyed. It was obvious that despite her awkward position, Tara Elias, the fifth child of the Elias Family, was the one who was truly in command of the room at the moment.


"... Um, well. Please explain the consequences first. Let's hear it."


The Count took a deep breath to calm himself and focused on Tara's words.


"The first move we made, sending troops to all the Imperial family members.... Yes, it was a deception, but it was also worth doing because it was a ploy that would benefit our family. But with every trick comes an inevitable weakness."


"....?"


"Tricks like this work on servants, but some people are immune. Clearly, Prince Kyle is clever enough to be immune, but he still accepted this ploy of ours. Do you know why?"


Tara lifted her glass of water and took a small sip. She looked back and forth between Dylan and Lloyd.


"... Because of the variables at play? Perhaps there was a consequence that was in the Second Prince's favor..."


Tara nodded at Lloyd's answer.


"Yes, there was a consequence in the Second Prince's favor. I'm sure he considered all the factors."


"Then what consequence was advantageous for him?"


Tara swallowed hard at Lloyd's inquiring question.


"It's... Because of the knights."


"....?"


"Why would the knights be such an advantage?" Dylan asked, scratching his head in confusion.


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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Jul 10, 2023

The count had to mitigate risk for his sanity—bro is way too high strung for an actual gamble. 😅

Like

Thamalasca
Thamalasca
Jul 06, 2023

The Thama's Edits Team is on a roll! Let's see how long we can keep it up! Yet another release for you all!


I love how the Count's plan backfired against him, especially because of the Empress's political manoeuvering....

Like

Laralee
Laralee
Jul 06, 2023

I'm loving the flurry of chapters - thank you so very much. I love the additional detail that comes from reading the novel.


With how volatile the Count is, I'm surprised he's still healthy, he certainly isn't a calm person.

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