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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 63


Tara says her final farewells before leaving for Durben.


This chapter is dedicated to RedPeony, thank you so much for your donation!


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Episode 63. 77kg (7)


***


The same time, at the Second Imperial Palace.


"Josh Lucas, the assistant chef at [The Kingdom]. The conversation took place in the staff break room, so I didn't hear it. She spoke with him for about half an hour and then left. Should we look into him?"


"Hmm... Put him under surveillance on the third repeat exposure."


“Yes, Your Highness. I briefed the Durben team to take over as instructed. Should we still keep an eye on her?”


"Yes. Her reports will be important, but so will the reports from the observers. Tell them to keep an eye on her."


Nick usually didn't pay too much attention to such things, as it was part of his job to keep tabs on the people in the Prince's orbit, but Tara Elias, the secretary, had remained on his mind for a while now.


“By the way, Your Highness.”


"What?"


Kyle didn't look up from the book he was reading.


"Lady Elias, I'm concerned..."


"She's a Third Secretary now, address her as such."


"Ah, yes, Your Highness, I'm not sure the Third Secretary can handle..."


"It's little more than the basics. All the men employed by the Order of the Phoenix, the Security Department and the Military branch start by doing something like this."


"But she's still a woman, and her physical cond...."


Thump!


"Nick Bright."


The sound of the book closing was unusually loud, and Kyle had called Nick by his last name again.


‘No, why this again...?'


Nick straightened up instantly. His Lord calling him by his last name like that meant he had something else to scold him for.


"Yes, Your Highness!"


"Get a grip! We're hiring people to work for the Military. Just as we don't select people based on prejudice, we don't assign jobs based on prejudice. We only care about talent, and that's the only thing that matters. Do you understand?"


"I will keep that in mind, Your Highness!"


"Six hours of basic training."


Nick swallowed hard, and immediately ran out of the study at Kyle's merciless words.


It was called basic training, but it included an intense level of difficulty that required knight trainees to spar against over a hundred different opponents for about six hours. In reality, it was punishment.


In the quiet of his study, Kyle recalled the conversation he and Tara had yesterday as they left the teahouse.


[...Aren't you discussing other people's domestic affairs too casually?]


[I apologize if you were offended. But then again, is there anyone in the world who doesn’t have similar circumstances?]


[Ha...]


[It’s true. Your circumstances are in proportion to the life you have lived. I, too, my circumstances might be just as remarkable as Your Royal Highness's.]


[Oh? You're a woman of complex circumstances?]


[Yes, there's no end to it, honestly.  My appointment to the military is quite unusual. They say a female secretary has never been assigned there before. I was so caught up by the transfer that I never considered the accommodations Your Highness must have made, and I was rude. I'll do my best to complete the mission you've given me. Goodbye then!]


Kyle smiled in spite of himself as he watched her bow quickly and go join her people.


‘Hah... What should I do with her? I never made any special arrangements for her, but... I don't intend to correct that assumption either.'


***


The same evening.


"Now, Niels, this is your permit, and I want you to learn diligently while I'm gone; and Peter, in the future, you will learn from Sir Mark Grant. He, too, is a master of the axe."


"Yes!"


"What?"


In contrast to Peter's eager answer, Niels looked at the permit in her hand blankly, as if he had no idea what it was.


It was a permit to take basic Ocerian classes at an academy for commoners south of the capital.


‘To think that there's a noble lady like her...'


Tears filled Niels's eyes and he could feel something welling up inside his heart, but he bit his lip tightly and replied.


"I'm a servant, I have a job to do, how could I...?"


"Hmm... You're a servant, yes, but before that, a citizen of Oceria. Any citizen of Oceria can enrol in an academy.”


“I chose the closest one because of your profession. His lordship has already given his permission and will pay for your tuition. It's a two-hour class three times a week, and it's in the morning. You must not neglect your duties at the manor. Do you understand?"


"But Miss... This is too much for me...."


"Ah! Well, it's for you, but it's for me as well. Why do you think I'm asking you to learn how to read, Niels?"


Niels stared at Tara with a bewildered expression on his face. After a long moment passed, an answer slowly emerged in his mind.


“Because you'll be away from the mansion for a long time.”


Tara's eyes sparkled for a moment.


"And why is that an issue?"


Niels swallowed hard.


‘It can't be... Such a big task....'


He couldn't bring himself to say it, but that was the only thing he could think at the moment.


"Because you want to know what's happening here."


"That's right, Niels, I need someone here to give me news, someone who isn't a family member. I need an objective observer to record what's happening within the Elias family while I'm gone."


"....."


Silence descended on the parlour for a moment.


"...Do you really think I can do that?"


“Niels, I think you could learn to read and write in a month. But don't push yourself too hard. Wait at least three months. After you've learned enough, send me letters from then on.”


"You...trust me enough to leave this task in my hands?" Niels asked. He couldn't believe this was happening and simply blurted out the question.


"If I can't trust someone who was willing to take a punishment for me and cover up my sins, then who can I trust? And didn't I tell you? You're already my person."


"Ah..."


"What about me?"


Peter, who had been standing nearby and quietly listening, threw his hand up in the air in anticipation. Tara thought about it quietly, then smirked.


"Hmmm... Well..."


Rolling her eyes and feigning deep thought, Tara propped up her chin up with one of her hands.


Peter swallowed hard in anticipation and nervousness. After seeing him react, she smiled broadly.


"We share the same teacher. I'm the reason Bernard is leaving, so until we get back, you're going to learn from Sir Mark Grant, and you're not going to go around fighting the leader of the alley kids. Do you understand?"


"Well, if you tell me why you're going away, I'll listen."


Peter's rather arrogant words brought smiles to everyone's faces again.


"But what's wrong with your eye? Can you see?"


"Oh, it's a glorious battle scar! Voilà, here's the axe Bernard gave me as a gift, though the pink colour is a bit weird..."


Niels stared at his Lady, who was chattering like a cheerful child. None of the words being spoken in the parlour felt like they were reaching his ears.


He couldn't believe his good fortune. It was something he had always wanted to learn. He very much wanted to read, and to learn more.


The tip of his nose tingled with oncoming tears, but he forced himself to hold it together. He was afraid that, if he cried, his Master would notice and feel apologetic about it. Beth narrowed her eyes at Niels, as if she had noticed how he felt.


Tara told Niels in great detail about how he should send her correspondence after he learned how to write.


Niels memorized every word Tara said in his now familiar way, much to Peter’s astonishment, who had never seen such a thing before.


When they had departed from the parlour, and Beth and Tara were alone, until the last person they were meeting before their departure for Durben came through the door.


***


"I have business to attend to, why did you call for me?"


As expected, Aria came in already complaining.


“As you can see, I'm not in a good state to be wandering around the mansion carelessly.”


"...Ahahahahahaha. Why? Hahaha. Your face! Look at you! Wahahaha. I heard it was unique but- I want to draw your face and stare at it whenever I'm depressed. Ahahahahahaha."


"....."


I stopped pulling out the items to give to Aria and glared at her. She was bent over, laughing maniacally.


"Oh... I just.... I'm crying. What? Is this a surprise for me? Some kind of event to entertain me? This is hilarious. It's so swollen. You were ugly before but now you're even uglier! Hahahahaha!"


"....Stop it. I’m just pulling out a gift for you."


“Huh! A gift?”


Her laughter stopped as if it never happened.


And for a moment, I thought she might actually be as tricky as a fox, but then I pushed that to the back of my mind, and flung that idea far away. Far enough to reach the Andromeda galaxy.


...She was pretending to be a fox, but was ultimately just a naive bear cub.


"Thank you for looking out for me at the interview, and thanks again for letting me know the interviewers were bribed beforehand. I was sorry that you alone failed, so here's something small I prepared for you."


"Hmph. So you have a conscience, huh? Wait... You're not just using this gift as a smokescreen to weasel out of helping me with Prince Kyle, are you?"


At times like this, she really was like an adorable bear cub...


"Well, what can I even do? I've been transferred to Durben. If I come back and get assigned to the Palace instead, I'll see what I can do for you, okay?"


Satisfied, Aria sat down across from me at the table.


"Okay. Let's see what you got for me, then."


So cute.


"You're supposed to call me big sis, little sis. If you're in such a bad mood today, how about we pretend this didn't happen and I leave the gift for another day? Now, try saying it again."


"...Hmph. No matter how I look at it, you're mocking me! How is it possible for someone to change this much? Come to think of it, you don't stutter much anymore.”


I felt an internal pang of guilt and immediately dropped the older sister facade.


"That's... right. I guess it's because I've been meeting a lot of people and talking more. Do you want me to show you or not?"


"Well. Okay. Show me... big sis."


Phew. Relieved, I held my gift out in front of Aria.


[The Ocerian Men's Manual Volumes 1, 2, 4, Author - Woobong.]


"This... What is this?"


Aria frowned, her eyes darting to my face suspiciously.


"These are a rare books that can't be easily obtained, even for a fortune! Of course, I didn't get them myself, Master Andrei got them for me. But it's said that any woman who reads [The Ocerian Men's Manual Volume 1] can learn about the most desirable men in Oceria, and by reading [The Ocerian Men's Manual Volume 2] can gain the favour of the desirable man of her choice."


"... Why is the 4th book there and not book 3?"


"Hmmm... [The Ocerian Men's Manual Volume 3] is the part about body language you can use to make the man you like more attracted to you, but... I don't know what the problem is, unfortunately Master Andrei left it out. It must be R19."


"What? R19? What is that?"


"Oh, you really don't know, do you?"


Aria's eyes were glassy and her expression insisted, 'I have no idea what you're talking about.'


Oops, this place didn't have specific age restrictions on books, certain books were simply forbidden.


Oh, did this mean I needed to give her a lecture on sex education? Hmm... I guess I could just give her the R15 explanation, right?


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4件のコメント


Indomitable Jewels
Indomitable Jewels
2023年12月19日

Aria already showing some character growth, love it! And the sister banter, so funny, but not as funny as Tara comparing her situation to Kyle's 😁

いいね!

ProMama
ProMama
2023年12月15日

I really liked the bit from Niels POV— reinforces the impact Tara has as a secretly cultural outsider who is inside the lanes of power.

But also, Tara as indulgent big sis and the dynamic with Aria is simply adorable~

いいね!
Thamalasca
Thamalasca
2023年12月17日
返信先

I'd like to thank you @ProMama for always being so active and participative on our site! Your comments really make my day!

Also, still waiting on you to write a fanfic for us to publish! Don't hesitate!

いいね!

Rina
Rina
2023年12月15日

Tara and Aria's sibling relationship really cracks me up.

いいね!
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