Tara takes a look at Chloe's gift, has a chat with her Father, and ends up in a compromising position.
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Episode 55. 78 kg (1)*
Chloe's personal maid, who had been standing by the door, sauntered over and set a small pouch down in front of me in a way that indicated it contained something very expensive and valuable.
"I don't know if you'll ever need this, but you can use it anywhere within the Empire if you want. As long as you use it within the year, of course."
"Ah... Thank you, sister."
"It's not a big deal."
With that, Chloe walked away, leaving a cool sparkling water scent in her wake. I opened the pouch and found a single hexagonal blue eagle emblem with two blue sapphires wedged in the centre, forming the eagle's eyes.
"Oh wow, Miss. That's a blue eagle emblem. Amazing!"
"What is this?"
"What? You don't know? Well, Miss, since you haven't been outside in seven years... Listen. It's the super-popular, best-selling, mega hit product that turned Chloe's Beauty Shop from the 10th largest beauty shop in the Empire into one of the top 3 beauty shops in the Empire in one fell swoop. Every year, only 1,000 emblems are made, and customers with a top-tier emblem can unconditionally buy any beauty product for free from any Chloe Beauty Shop in the Empire."
"What do you mean? 'Aaah... Really?' Such an unenthusiastic response is a great disrespect to this majestic blue eagle, My Lady! Even the Imperial Princess couldn't get on the waitlist for the New Year’s release day, so she had to ask Miss Chloe for it directly. It's a very rare, limited edition blue eagle emblem. But that's your reaction…?That's not the correct response, Miss!"**
Suddenly, I could see Beth as a luxury store clerk, standing there wearing white gloves on her hands.
"Yes, it is, Miss! It's priceless. All the other beauty shops are now making emblems like Chloe's, but of course it will never work. Tsk tsk. They can never match the reputation of the original. I've witnessed this personally... Ahh... It's so beautiful! I hear the chain shoulder bag in the Blue Eagle Fashion Line this year is very luxurious... Hee hee. I envy you, Miss."
Beth had both of her hands clasped under her chin and was tilting her face down at a fifteen-degree angle to avidly stare at the emblem in my hand, unable to look away.
"Oh... Really? If you're interested in that bag, let's go see it later, Beth."
"Wow! Yes. All right, Miss!"
Nodding her head so vigorously it looked like it was about to fall off, Beth replied enthusiastically, and then flounced off towards the office.
I stared at the emblem in my hand one final time and then turned my head to watch Chloe Elias walk out the door.
Hmm, even though we didn't have the same mother, had I managed to get some recognition…?
I stood in the doorway of the office for a moment, trying to decide what I was going to say to my father, before stepping inside.
"I have two things to ask, one is a request and one is a favour."
My father put down the papers he was looking at.
"Hmm... Okay. I'll hear the request first."
"I heard that Doctor Oliver is an advisor for our pharmaceutical branch."
"As I understand it, Elias Pharmaceuticals seeks out and sponsors talented individuals to develop their skills, and I'm told they're thoroughly selected and vetted."
"How did you know?"
"I was in and out of the archives frequently for the interviews, and as you know, I'm a bookworm, so when something interesting catches my eye, I can't ignore it."
My father sat across the table from me, obviously intrigued by my story.
"So what is this request?"
"Yes. I know a very talented person, and I was wondering if I could have him judged by Doctor Oliver."
"Is he majoring in chemistry?"***
"Hmm. I thought you didn't look at status or academic background, has that changed?"
"It hasn't changed, but all the individuals I've sponsored so far have been pursuing pharmaceutical education from the College of Chemistry."
"Please consider him and judge for yourself. I think he's good enough to be sponsored. I'm sure you'll like him as well, Father."
Unnerved by the way he stared at me without answering, I shifted my gaze cautiously before asking.
"Why are you looking at me like that, Father?"
"... I seem to have a completely new daughter after just a few short months. It's strange, very strange. Why didn't I wake up sooner? Then I could have given you a better education and environment... No, things are fine now. If you ever struggle in Durben, you can always come back and work in the Capital."
The tip of my nose scrunched up as if irritated, "I can't do that, how could I work here?"
"I can pull on a few strings in the Palace."
I examined my father's expression with disbelief, but his eyes said he was telling the truth.
"Don't look so worried. I won't destroy our family's neutrality."
"Even if our neutrality doesn't suffer, doing that could still be used as leverage against us in the future. Besides, even if I changed my assignment now, I'd be doing similar work in the Palace. I've only just started getting opportunities, and I don't want to do trivial work. I'll come back as soon as I can. Thank you very much for saying that, Father."
"Yes, as you should. Forget what I said earlier. By the way, is this request important to you?"
"Yes. It will help me a lot."
The words, ‘it will also help our family,’ sat in my throat, unspoken.
"Okay. I'll tell Doctor Oliver about him. If he doesn't think he's worthy of sponsorship, I'll abide by his opinion. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Sir. Of course, Father."
"Hmm... Okay. What kind of favour do you want?"
"It's a request regarding the servant named Niels who works in the annex, and the child in the story I told you last time, Peter."
"Hmm, really? What do you want done?," my father asked with an intrigued twinkle in his eye.
After explaining in as much detail as I could, I left the office.
Beth, who was walking up the stairs next to me, suddenly stopped dead in her tracks in front of the landing.
"What's wrong, Beth?"
I looked up to see Jason standing on the landing of the third floor staircase, looking down at me with a murderous expression on his face.
Ah... Of course. There was no way he was going to let things slide. What kind of day was today supposed to be anyway? A series of one-on-one confrontations?
"You! Go away!"
"Ah! Ah, My Lady!"
Jason casually shoved Beth's forearm out of the way.
How could siblings be such polar opposites…?
Beth nearly fell backwards, but managed to hold onto the railing. I grabbed her and pulled her to her feet.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, My Lady...."
I turned to face Jason on the stairwell. Beth clung to my side, helpless.
"Beth. I'm fine. Step aside for a second."
As soon as I was done speaking, Jason gritted his teeth and grabbed my forearm.
"You crude wench! How dare you play games like that behind my back!"
I grimaced at the strength of his grip, but I held back a whimper of pain.
Alarmed, Beth approached again.
"Young Master, don't do this. You can't do this."
"Get away from me, maid! Go away!"
Jason seemed to have reached a tipping point and was now spiralling out of control.
Jason pushed Beth away from us, causing her to nearly fall and roll down the stairs.
"What the hell are you doing? Beth, are you okay?"
This son of a bitch. How the hell had this asshole come from the same Father?
Strangely, there were no employees in sight. The main building had the most staff, and there were multiple people assigned to each floor, but not a single person was visible. It was as if they had all finished their work here before I arrived.
"Yes, I'm alright, Miss."
"You dare ask if I know what I'm doing? How dare you fuck with me, huh? Are you so desperate to die? Huh?"
My eyes darted from side to side.
"Miss, I-I'm going to go and get someone...!"
"Go ahead! Bring someone over, because when you leave I'll be sure to push this fat pig down the stairs in the meantime!"
Ha! Pig? My god, was he for real? What did he take me for... I wish I had my axe.
"Ha... Beth. Go to my room."
"But, my Lady."
I stared at Beth as she sobbed, I waited for her to make eye contact with me, and when she did, I blinked several times trying to send a quick signal out of Jason’s view.
Hopefully, Beth would pick up on it...
"Go, my room, in the box, do you understand?"
Beth was hit by sudden understanding. She scrambled to her feet and ran to my room.
"Do you have any idea what you're doing, brother?"
"Ha... Brother? How am I your brother? I'd never be related to a pig like you. You saying that word disgusts me, so don't ever call me that again! What? You didn’t factor this into your plans, huh?"
"I don't know. Is that really your main concern? What are you going to do about the backlash if you do this? If Father finds out about this, do you really think he'll just let you get away with it?"
"Huh, are you playing cat and mouse games with me? I've got nothing to lose, so there's nothing you can do that can scare me, you hear me?"
"Really? I doubt that..."
"Ha! What are you talking about?"
"You still have a lot more to lose, don't you?"
Jason pulled his hand away from me with a confused look on his face. Seizing the moment, I hooked his arm and jerked mine out of his grasp.
"Tell me again! Do you still have nothing to lose!"
The skin on my arm where he’d gripped me was blanched white, but it quickly reddened as the blood returned. Rubbing my throbbing arm, I took a step away from him.
Meanwhile, Beth burst into Tara's room and began rummaging through the drawers under the bed, the place Tara had told her to look.
Two days ago
[Beth, if Jason ever tries to do anything nasty to me, find that thing I told you about and bring it to me quickly.]
[What if I get so freaked out that I forget what you said?]
[Well... Then I'll blink my eyes several times, that's the signal, and you'll go to my room quickly and get it, okay?]
[What if I forget that too...]
[Then my plan won’t work.... You’ll have to get it for me.]
[No, no, no. I'll remember, Miss, just trust me. Will it really help?]
[Yes, it'll help. It's for my mom, to protect her while I'm gone, but it can also protect me. That's why I set it aside on purpose, hehe.]
Tara had smiled so brightly when she said it, that Beth hadn't thought much of it at the time. But after seeing the look on Jason's face earlier, Beth's heart had skipped a beat.
Her hands were shaking and it took her a while to find the object in the drawer.
When she finally found it, she jumped to her feet. As she ran, she realized that the object was unlikely to de-escalate Jason.
She decided that as soon as she handed it over, she would go find Count Lloyd.
Sure enough, when she headed back to the stairs, she could still hear Jason shouting venomously from the stairwell.
"... What do you mean? You vile thing! What are you talking about?"
Editor’s Notes -
I suddenly have a deep desire to cause violence…
* 78kg =~172lb
** The word used here was 황녀님 - Imperial Princess/Princess of the blood, likely referring to Princess Margaret, Joseph and Franz’s sister. I won’t get into the details here (because there’s a lot to unpack), but there are a bunch of members of the Amure family who don’t get explored much at all, including Princess Margaret and it’s all a bit tough to get straight.
*** The translation used in the manhwa is 원료학과/‘majoring in raw materials’/ ‘department of raw materials/ingredients’. As far as I can tell this is not a STEM specialization I’ve heard of before (despite sounding similar this is different than Materials Sciences). Based on context and looking this up I’ve made an educated guess this is talking about the field of pharmaceutical chemistry/cosmetics science.
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