The results of the Physical test come in and Lloyd catches wind of the happenings at the interview.
This chapter is dedicated to Mala, thank you for your generous support and lovely comment!
DO NOT publish our edits anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you.
Episode 44. 80kg (9)
"A Taltine Apology? This rookie never fails to amuse! Who was her opponent? Sam Maddox?"
"Yes, Your Highness, the first son of Baron Maddox."
"I see. There's an hour before the third interview starts, so I need to know all of the details by then."
"Yes... What? I just found out everything, what more...?"
"Nick. All you learned were the surface facts. Consider all the other angles!"
"Maybe he was upset because the Elias Family got special treatment during the written exam..."
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"How do I say it? You're looking at me like I'm pathetic..."
"No. Rather than pathetic, I'm thinking more along the lines of, 'Why did I bother recruiting this guy.' That's how I'm looking at you."
"Spare me the hurt look."
"Yes, Sir. Your Highness!"
The sprinting portion of the physical exam was almost over. The other interviewees currently busy taking their own physical tests kept watching Tara in action.
Her breathing appeared mostly undisturbed, indicating that she was maintaining a good continuous pace. Her expression also appeared very focused. Kyle turned away after his assessment.
"The problem is, if all four families got preferential treatment during the written exam, why is only Lady Tara Elias being targeted? That is quite another issue. She may be young, but she is still an Elias. He wouldn't mess with that family, especially since he's only a Baron. Someone else must be in charge."
"Oh... Maybe! Do you have any guesses?"
"Yes. But I need to make sure my guess is correct. Now come!"
"Yes, Your Highness!"
Finally, the physical test was over and all the results were in.
Hans Button took a closer look at the young Tara Elias, who was cooling down after her long run. She was breathing heavily, but still maintained a steady posture.
The results she had achieved were beyond his wildest predictions.
Her inexplicable confidence before the actual test hadn't been for nothing. All of the interviewees were surprised, bewildered, amazed, and resigned at the results.
Unsurprisingly, Sam Maddox's face was gradually turning purple.
Hans resisted the urge to laugh out loud at the eldest son of the Maddox family.
Instead, he looked at Jason Elias behind him, whose face had turned an equally foul colour.
'The Baron wouldn't normally rush into something like this so quickly, but if there was someone from the Elias Family behind him… Hah. And this guy’s trying to become the next family head? A family power struggle? In a place like this? How stupid is he?'
"Kekk kekk kekk!"
His sudden cackle scratched its way out of his throat and drew the eyes of the interviewees around him, but their gazes quickly dropped away. Whenever Hans came up with an interesting idea he laughed like this unconsciously.
‘House Elias has both an idiot and an overweight pig, this family is an embarrassment . Even a dog or cow could do it, or rather, a fat pig, and they'd still be praised for it, huh.’*
Hans picked up his scorecard displaying his top marks and left the rehearsal hall to prepare for the third part of the interview.
"The average score was 250 out of 400."
The gazes of the male interviewees, who had just returned after changing, and the female interviewees, who had been watching the test, were all drawn to the words of the young administrator presiding over the second test.
The interviewees’ eyes sparkled and their faces were alive with excitement, just as they had been for the entire duration of the test.
"None of you will fail this test, but it will affect your promotions. The only important interviews are the first round and third round."
"And? What about Lady Tara’s score?" A male interviewee shouted at the administrator when he failed to tell the crowd of onlookers what they really wanted to hear.
The administrator looked down at the test results in his hands with a puzzled expression, and then slowly opened his mouth.
"...Yes. Lady Tara Elias scored 347 points out of 400."
Cheers erupted in the crowd.
"How in the world did she do it with that body of hers..."
The way the interviewees looked at Tara had completely changed.
Some of them were even a bit in awe of her, as she calmly listened to the results as if she had fully expected this outcome.
Tara’s face lifted slightly, and she approached Sam Maddox, her steps neither fast nor slow, until she was standing about two steps away from him.
Everyone watched Tara with bated breath, trying to frantically guess what would happen next.
"Sir Sam Maddox."
"As a noblewoman of the Ocerian Empire, I ask that you keep your word. The time for your apology will be tomorrow afternoon at two o'clock, and I will tell you the location shortly."
Sam Maddox was speechless, his face completely flushed.
He had no choice but to honour this promise. There were more than a hundred people watching.
Tara Elias folded up her performance result sheet and strode out of the training hall with her head held high.
Shortly thereafter, Tommy Rabbie and Bob Mitchell left the room with a shaking Sam Maddox in tow, and the interviewees scattered for the third round of interviews.
Within an hour, the story had spread all throughout the Capital.
Within the hour, Nick walked up to Kyle with a sullen expression on his face and reported.
"The strange thing is that the Maddox Family has been supplying honey to the Elias Family for a long time. Baron Maddox is an upper-level member of their small business. The families of Tommy Rabbie and Bob Mitchell, who similarly protested against Lady Tara also have small businesses related to House Elias."
"...And the person in charge of managing the honey deliveries?"
Nick's eyes widened as he shuffled through the papers he'd brought with him.
‘This will force the Family Head to act. Why did he do it? Is the family that dysfunctional? It's obvious that if Sam Maddox had defeated her in an official event like this the Elias family's reputation would have suffered.'**
"Despite being an Elias family businessman, he isn't that smart."
"What should we do? It isn't a violation of Imperial law, but there could be an administrative penalty for delaying the examination and for bringing dishonour to a member of the nobility. Should I proceed with charging them?"
Nick straightened his shoulders while delivering his remark, pleased with his own cleverness. But his shoulders immediately drooped again at his Lord's response.
"You offered to punish them, but why should I order that without any reason to do so?"
"Well, you told me to go and find out, and you also have a connection with Lady Tara...!"
Nick immediately clamped his hands tightly over his mouth.
A thought flashed through his mind, he'd been spending so much time with the Second Prince lately that he'd forgotten what he could and couldn't say in his presence, perhaps because he seemed less intimidating now.
He already knew the Prince was quite averse to such personal discussions.
"I-I beg your pardon, I misspoke, Your Highness."
"A connection. How funny."
Nick had expected him to say something like, 'How dare you imply such a thing!'
His mouth dropped open slightly as he watched his Master respond so casually.
‘No way, he's smiling!'
But the smile Nick thought he saw disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, and his Master's mouth returned to being a hard, coldly inscrutable line.
‘Ah, I must have imagined that smile, I must not have seen it right.'
"She doesn't need my help. She already won her Taltine apology."
"Nick. Have you forgotten the purpose of the Administrative Exams?"
Yet again, Nick was confronted with his own ignorance.
"You're in charge of cleaning the training hall for one month, beginning today."
"Yes, Your Highness, thank you!"
There was a good reason for his gratitude in the face of this punishment.
The administrative exams would introduce new administrators who would be working for the Ministry of Security and the Second Prince's Palace.
It was the job of the heads of each department to weed out the unsavoury candidates beforehand, and it was only right they do so.
However, for a vassal serving directly under the Second Prince, the head of the Ministry of Security, to be unable to grasp such an obvious task and dare question the reason for it? It demonstrated a serious lack of understanding and negligence.
For that reason, a month of cleaning the training grounds was a lenient punishment compared to the usual ones handed down by the Prince. From Nick's perspective this was something to be grateful for.
Meanwhile, after a long, two-hour bath, Lloyd was sitting down on his couch and drinking wine.
Once he felt soothed, he carried the rest of the wine to his office.
Finally, he was able to relax and work comfortably.
Just as he was hoping the day would pass without incident, he heard the news from the interview.
"How dare Maddox mess with my family? And he was working on our family's dime? Who ordered it?"
"That's... Master Jason."
"Is he mad?!" Lloyd shouted, slamming his wine glass down on the desk.
Butlers and servants rushed into the room at the sound of breaking glass. Groups of vassals, everyone from the maidservants to his upper-level lords, peeked in through the open door, wondering what was going on.
He had gone to see the Empress as planned. And after faithfully following 'Operation Act' as Tara had suggested, he'd felt like he was going crazy with self-doubt.
So he was relaxing after an early bath with a bottle of wine when he had received the news…
Over the course of the hour-long visit, the Empress's eyes, which had once been filled with anticipation, had gradually faded into disappointment, and finally into anger.
[Meeting you today was a bit different than what I expected, hmm.... May the reputation of House Elias be long lasting, My Lord].
'With a patriarch like you at the helm of the Family, you'll quickly lose your position as the fifth richest in the Empire.' Was the unspoken implication.
But Tara's words stuck with him,
[You must drive home the impression at the end, so that we won't be drawn into this again. You must, Father!]
Lloyd wished he could erase the final part of the conversation, which had been inspired from her words, from his memories.
[What? Ah... Rumination!]
He had distinctly heard the Empress say 'reputation', but Tara's words about leaving a lasting impression rang in his ears.
[Hehehe. Yes, Mama used to say it’s good to think about things for a very long time, hehehe. I will Mama, yes Sir! Hehehe].
Lloyd would never forget the look of contempt in Empress Vivian's eyes at that moment.
But bad things always happened all at once, and that stupid child of his had managed to tarnish the entire house's reputation.
"After the interview, I want you to bring me everything that has anything to do with this!"
"Yes, Your Excellency!"
Lloyd's anger didn't subside until Dylan had left and the servants came in to clean up the mess.
‘He's a son of this family. He's competing to become the next leader who will run the business, and yet...'
He had made the Elias Family a laughingstock by publicizing a cowardly family feud.
Nowhere was trust, authority, and morality more important than in the upper echelons of Ocerian society.
They were the fifth ranked family in the Empire. Their reputation impacted their bottom line and could determine whether a large business deal would be cancelled or ended early.
He had never hated his son more for doing something without thinking about the consequences.He thought that would be the end of his anger for the day.
But hearing the news from the third round of interviews quickly switched the focus of his hatred, and, once again, Lloyd found himself trembling with rage.
Editor’s Notes -
* The idiom Hans used here was, 개 나 소나 - ‘like dog, like cow’, essentially meaning "even a dogs or cow could do it"/"anyone could do it". Hans really thought he was being clever by adding his own pig related spin on it…
** An interesting slang word that came up in this paragraph was 콩가루 집안 - 'bean flour family', which is slang for a broken/screwed up family. Bean flour is known for not clumping up when used in cooking, unlike wheat or rice flour, and is used as a slang term to refer to families that lack closeness or cohesion.
Enjoyed the chapter? Buy us a ko-fi!