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Chapter 74


Where Tara show her managerial chops and Beth understand her mistake.


This chapter is dedicated to Brittney ! Thank you so much for your very generous donation and kind words.


Disclaimer

DO NOT publish our edit anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you.



Episode 74. About a Year (1)


The rules of war were simple. In exchange for the safe return of prisoners of war, the defeated nation gave the victor a corresponding amount of spoils.


Usually it was money, gold and jewelry. But it could also be valuables such as rare books, ancient documents or artifacts.


"I've set it aside, Your Highness."


"Good. Let’s go!" Kyle ordered."


As he turned his horse towards Durben in the Hellarion Mountains, Nick hastily dismounted, dropped to one knee and bowed his head in respect.


"Your Highness. I, Sir Nick Bright, have only been to the Capital and back, unable to participate in the war, as it has already ended. I feel embarrassed to face my comrades, so please let me serve you this time. I assure you that I will do my best."


"... I’ll think about it. If you use that mouth of yours in moderation…” *


Nick glared at his fellow knights as they chuckled, then bowed again.


"Yes, Your Highness, I, Nick Bright, will support Your Highness, the future of the Empire, better and swifter than any other knight in the world, I will...!"


"Only Walter and Chris are going."


"Yes, Your Highness!"


"Ah... Your Highness..."


If it was clear that information had been leaked to the Skandoans from higher ups in the Empire, the culprits had yet to be caught.


The evil of sending loyal subjects to their deaths for political and personal gain, would have to be exposed and paid for.


The war had just ended, and everyone was exhausted, except for Kyle and the Phoenix Knights that followed him.


As if intending to reap the last of the war's bounty, Kyle and his Knights quickly rode to Durben in the Hellarion Mountains with a renewed sense of purpose.


***


The next day, at dawn, in front of the Durben Consulate.


Leonardo arrived in Durben, Hellarion Province, only 2 days after the Chief had sent him out with his letter.


It had only been possible by traveling without rest. Normally it took ten days by carriage and five on horseback.


October in Hellarion was much colder than in the Capital, and Leonard unconsciously raised his hands and breathed hot air over them. 


Sitting on his horse, he looked up at the buildings still shrouded in dawn mist. The Durban Triangle Ocerian Imperial Legation came into view.


Leonard, who had been part of the Black Society for 15 years, was a first-class messenger and one of the key members of the organization.


The Black Society had created many subdivisions for various fields and at the core of it, the intelligence gathering was divided into four levels.


The omni-directional information gathering level contained the most members, then just above it was the high-risk information gathering.


Then there were the messengers, who were responsible for relaying information from each region to the appropriate place. Finally, there were the ultra high-risk intelligence operatives, who were the infiltration and surveillance experts.


He had started at age fifteen and been promoted to the messenger corps for his tenacity, agility, and endurance.


That was why this mission had been assigned to him.


During the fifteen years he had been working for the Black Society, only three of Andrei Pitt's disciples had followed his teachings to completion and become candidates for successorship.


Many others had ran away, and three had created criminal organizations instead of following the Chief's teachings. A bitter pill for Andrei Pitt to swallow.


"I've heard rumours that she's the first disciple he’s accepted in three years... What does he like about her?"


Of the three disciples who had completed the training, one had died in the Skandoan war five years ago, and another had joined a maritime reconnaissance team traveling to the East to gather vast amounts of information about the region.The last one, Cézanne Miller, a bartender at the Drunken Dragon, was now one of Andrei's closest confidantes and was taking over everything.


All three were excellent, but in different ways. The apprentice who had died in the Skandoan war had been just and fierce.Caring for his men more than himself, he had led by example, thus bringing forward his own demise.It was said that he took his last breath while defending a young soldier.


When the Chief had heard the news, he had stopped all operations and relieved Black Society members from working for a week to mourn him.


Leonard briefly mourned the lost disciple.


The second apprentice joined the Black Society late in life. He was a thirty-five year old Baron who had inherited a small manor in the Provinces, but he was poor.


He couldn't enter the Palace because he had no lineage, and even if he could have, he’d been told that, at the end of the day, he would only ever be able to attain the position of Secretary, recording the words and orders of the Emperor.


He’d understood the political scene as well as the Chief did, but his field of vision had been narrowed by his position.


That was why he had been sent to the East as soon as he had finished his apprenticeship. It would probably take another three years before he returned.


Leonard briefly prayed for the apprentice's safe return.


Finally, Cézanne Miller, 28 years old, had good intuition and judgement. She had a great ability to understand problems and had a sixth sense on how to use information to make money.


Even when the line between good and evil was blurred, she was able to walk it. It would not have been an exaggeration to say that she resembled the Chief the most.


While she was just as good as choosing and focusing, she still needed to improve her strategy and planning.


The members of the Black Society would often jokingly make bets on who would be the next in line for the throne. Cezanne was slightly in the lead, and Leonard supported her.


So, he gave her a brief blessing, wishing her to continue to grow and thrive.


Still, he tilted his head, remembering the words the Chief had said before he left the Capital.


[...This disciple is not aiming to become my successor. If she gets her way, we'll have an assistant with a huge clout. The problem is she may not have the Black Society's best interests at heart.]


[Are you saying that she might use the Black Society and then betray it?]


[Something like that, but I'm a good judge of character, and I'm sure that's not the case...]


Leonard almost replied: "Are you saying that the people who ran away or formed criminal organizations halfway through weren't also picked by you?" But he held his peace with supernatural will.


The Chief had hurriedly made up an excuse to avoid criticism.


[Hahaha, I'm not omniscient. I was going to officially start her apprenticeship training when she returned to the Capital, but since she's in Durben, I might as well get a head start on it. Since it's her first time, watch her and see if she's doing what she's supposed to do to the best of her ability or if she'll run away from her duties. I'll advise depending on her actions and judgments].


Whoosh.


As soon as the chilly breeze passed, a young man opened the side door to the Official Residence, looked left and right, glanced at Leonard, then carefully skipped out the door.


Closing it silently behind him, he approached Leonard quickly without skulking.


"Well, this is the designated meeting place, so let’s get on with it."


"Yes, Sir Messenger."


Jack, a member of the omnidirectional information gathering crew, bowed stiffly, quickly took the letter and shoved it in his pocket.


***


At the same time, in Tara's room.


My head throbbed like crazy, and I woke up with a start.


Ugh... Even Somaek never gave me such a hangover.**


As it turns out, drinking too much is bad for you. It was hard to remember that I once was a 33-year-old who had a steel liver.


I had been so frustrated that I had a whole bottle of whiskey from the Capital mixed with a liter of beer and drank it all.


But my frustration wasn't alleviated. I sat slumped over on the veranda table, breathing in the early chilly wind. 


Whoosh.


The wind seemed to clear my mind, but I had a splitting headache, confirming the old saying about not mixing alcohols.


"Haaa... This is crazy. If I resign now and go home, I'll never be able to enter the Palace again... So that means I'll have to find another way to discover who's going to screw up my family, but is that even possible?"


I sighed heavily as I lay on my stomach.


"I'm going to have to stay close to the Second Prince in order to find the culprit. But I don't know when I'll be reassigned to the Capital, so all I can do is wait...!"


"Kyaa!"


My mutterings were interrupted by Beth's screams from behind the door, which was immediately flung open.


"Miss, look at this! Phew. Surprise!"


It was a black envelope with the words -Black Society- written in gold ink.


"No. Couldn't they have delivered it in a normal way? It was in the pocket of your favorite cloak!"


Beth draped her blue cloak over her arm and held out the envelope to me.


"Really? But when did you discover this?"


"Just now. I found it sticking out of the pocket. I'm surprised as well because it certainly wasn't there until this morning."


"....."


I looked Beth up and down.


"Why...? Why are you looking at me like that?”


I decided to correct Beth's slack working attitude.


So, I tried to utilize the seldom-used muscles in my face to look as stern, serious, and authoritative as possible.


I lifted myself up from the table and spoke as slowly as I could in a low, deep voice.


"My enemy was here!"


I sat back down in my chair and jerked my head up at Beth, armed with my 'eom-guen-jin' expression.***


"What, Miss, what do you mean by that?"


Bam!


"I put so much faith in you, as my personal maid, and this is how you repay my kindness?" I said slamming down hard on the table at the same time.


My whole palm hurt, but I held in the pain. Beth took a step back.


"... Miss?"


Beth scrutinized my face, thinking I was joking at first, but then she grew thoughtful as she realized that my face was a combination of ‘Strict, Solemn and Serious.’


"What do you mean, not repaying your kindness? I wouldn't do that. Why are you like this all of a sudden, Miss?"


"What if there had been a poisoned needle in the pocket instead?"


At the mention of the poisoned needle, Beth jerked, clearly offended.


I shot her an even sterner gaze.


"What? That's ridiculous, Miss. Poison? That's impossible? How could someone put a poisoned needle in your cloak? ...Oh..."


Beth's voice was slowly mingling with tears.


‘Hmm... Was that a bit too much? No... No.’


She had no idea what was going to happen in the future, so this much warning wasn't excessive.


"Yes. You might not have heard, or you might have. From now on, I won't accept any food or clothing from you."


"That... What do you mean? I'm scared, Miss. I'm scared. I really didn't touch your cloak. Why would I do such a scary thing? You have to believe me, Miss. Please?"


Beth's eyes filled with tears. I sharply lowered my gaze, deliberately avoiding looking at her poor, distraught face.


"Beth, did you take it as a sign that, because I have been so easy with you, and have taken you as one of my own, that you can neglect your duties?"


"Of course not, I would never neglect...!"


Beth, who now understood why I was angry, slumped to her knees.



Editor's Notes -


*"... I’ll think about it. If you use that mouth of yours in moderation…”

The bromance people, the bromance! Had to leave this sentence as it was! LMAO.


**Somaek is a mix of soju and beer. Click on the link to see how it's done!


*** 'eom-guen-jin' is an expression that means 'strict, solemn and serious'. Normally we would edit these kind of references except that this is also a pun that only works in Korean. Since it's a play on the name of the person who inspired this expression 'Eunjeong Kim'. Click on the link to see that strict solemn and serious face!



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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Mar 24

…in all seriousness, I wanna know how Nick Bright ended up as one of Kyle’s people. Like, I want that story. 😅

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Replying to

Ohhhh! that IS a story I'd like to read! Really! I wonder how they met as well....

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