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Chapter 87

Updated: Jun 9


While Jason gloats, Tara finally gets good news and Kyle finds a mole.


This chapter is dedicated to ck ! Thank you for your undying support!


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Episode 87. About a Year (14)


Jason decided to visit the man who had arranged the deal one last time to check out the last remaining details.


His step was lighter than ever as he made his way to the Treasury building.


“Here you go. These are the customs clearance documents and surety bonds. And the confirmation of the first payment. Please check it all, and then go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the final administrator's seal. We'll meet back at the Palace to discuss the additional budget appropriation.”


Hans Button was overly strict. Jason wanted to ask him why he was so insistent on checking the authenticity of the goods handed over from the Toulouse merchant, but swallowed down his growing irritation, knowing that this man was presently the most respected person in the Treasury.


But Jason failed to hold back his impatient nature and eventually spat out.


“I don't think it's a good idea to be so strict when a superior is pushing for something....”


"Is that how it looks to you? I'm only doing my job."


Hans, in good spirits, didn't pay attention to Jason's sarcastic remark and smiled faintly.


“Isn’t the First Secretary of the Executive Department present?”


“No, but he had this delivered to me.”


"Of course. He's not the type of person to leave such an important matter unattended, kekeke."


Snatching the envelope from Hans' hand, Jayson impatiently ripped it open. Inside was a three-year contract.


“Heh, heh, heh. What a gift!”


It was a three-year contract. A contract that gave House Elias exclusive supply and distribution rights to the Imperial Palace for three years. Enclosed was another contract with the farm in the Kingdom of Barron that was producing the supply.


Jason could only think of one thing as elation coursed through him.


‘A three-year contract for exclusive supply and distribution rights to the Imperial Palace.'


“Sounds like a good gift indeed.”


"Hehehe, I have such a good superior. It's a shame that you can't get one despite coming from the noble Button family. Kekeke. Alright. When did you say he'd be back?"


"The First Secretary has taken a leave of absence because his wife, the Viscountess, is ill. He asked me to tell you that he trusts you to handle it?."


"Certainly. The first delivery will be for the victory banquet, so I can't be negligent. Kekeke. Alright then, I'll go take care of the paperwork."


Jason threw his head and shoulders back and let out a big, booming laugh and then strode out of the Treasury.


Hans' faint smile lingered as he watched Jason leave. It wasn't much different from the first, except for one small detail; the corners of his eyes were crinkled, revealing a rare genuine smile.


***


Three days later, Durben.


I woke up in bed late in the morning. My body was almost back to normal, except for the fact that I felt a little weak. My back and sides were still sore from where Hugo had hit me during our fight in the secret room.


Late in the afternoon, a day and a half after I was poisoned, Leonard had administered me the antidote that he had fetched from the Capital.


I was told that my fever had risen and fallen rapidly after that, but I had been so deeply asleep that I honestly didn't realize I was ill.


I’d heard that Leonard had left again as soon as he had arrived. Bernard told me that he looked haggard and sleep deprived. I felt sorry and thankful towards him.


Before he left, he’d given me a letter from Andrei Pitt.


[....I heard you’re ill. Hmmm. It breaks my heart. But don't worry. With this antidote you'll be up and about in no time. Hmm.... Leonard told me that the Second Prince paid a visit? It wasn't an unannounced troop inspection, so why did he go to the Official Residence? And on a Sunday right after raiding Scorpion’s bases?


Hmm. This could mean that he already knew you were at the Club. Meaning you've been under surveillance for a long time. But what is also strange is why he bothered to see you, since you’re just one of his subordinates?


Could it be because you're my disciple? That's a possibility, but it seems a bit far-fetched that the Second Prince would monitor you just because you're my apprentice.


I'll mull over it later.


Anyway, thank you for your efforts.


Hmm.... And, one last thing. You have the ledger, right? Since my disciple is far from the Capital, shall I come to Durben?


I await your reply.


Wishing you a speedy recovery, Andrei Pitt, paragon of compassion.


P.S. I heard you've lost a lot of weight, but I hope you haven't lost those hamster-like cheeks of yours! If so, I feel very sorry for you.]


“Tsk. All he thinks about is the ledger.”


I crumpled Andrei's letter and threw it straight into the burning fireplace as usual, but it did make me think of the purpose of the Second Prince's visit.


"What was he really here for?" I wondered. "It's unlikely that he'd conduct a surprise inspection of an Official Residence where his subordinate lives. Did he already know that I had taken a copy of the ledger, so he came to scold me? No, the time frame doesn't fit. Sir Walter was the only one present at the club. Could he have reported me that fast? Hmmm... It's possible, but it wouldn't be easy, even for a Phoenix Knight...."


Muttering these thoughts, I rolled out of bed. Honestly, the fact that Prince Kyle visited the official residence still felt surreal. It had been so unexpected.


My whole body ached from lying down for so long, but the cold chill that I had felt down to my bones had disappeared, so the rest didn't matter.


I washed up, changed my clothes and ate the snacks Beth had brought me.


It was only after I had changed into my uniform that I noticed the parcel and note from the Second Prince on my desk.


This proved that he really had paid a visit.


“.....”


[You've been very busy. You’ve been doing three-days worth of work every day.Do you remember?Those who show potential and those who work hard.


I see the potential, but you don't work for me alone.This has nothing to do with your promotion.Since you caught a high-level criminal, you're eligible for a special promotion.

So, please send a report.]


"I… Did… It! It was worth getting poisoned!"


A fierce elation burst from deep within me.


Just as I was about to give up working under the Second Prince and apply for transfer to another department! And to top it off, I’d been given leave as well.


I breathed a sigh of relief and went to prepare my return to the Capital, then realized I hadn't read the full contents of the note.


I wouldn’t be able to reply to what it said.


[What happened to the guy who was supposed to visit me with that weird password the first time? Was it a joke? I don't think that's the case. You wouldn't waste my hard-earned trust on a joke. But I can't wait forever, so hurry up and send him over!]


I sighed.


“Yes. I, too, would love to know the exact timing of that visit.”


The Ocerian Chronicles said something like this:


[.....The herbalist went to visit the Second Prince's Palace, but, as always, the busy Prince wasn't there. Even if he had been present, it would have been difficult to meet him immediately. Obviously, the palace guard gave no credence to the claims of a stranger who wasn't even a noble. The herbalist was rejected at the door, and even though he knew how to cure them, he could not cross the threshold of the Imperial Palace and had no choice but to witness precious lives fade away. This was one of the tragedies the Empire suffered frequently due to the class system.]


I read the remainder of the note out loud.


"Next time I see you it will be at the Palace. I left something on your desk and look forward to discussing it with you, so be sure to read it thoroughly."


The note wasn't signed but it was unmistakably from the Second Prince.


"Discuss? Read it thoroughly?"


I immediately opened the parcel to see what was inside.


The contents reignited a long-held hidden desire.


It was a very thick and old book.


[Hamut's Manual of Tactics - By Hamut Gorr.]


Five hundred years ago, when the Skandoan nation was just beginning to take shape as a royal dynasty, a scholar skilled in the art of war was born. His name was Hamut Gorr.


Hamut's book was still widely read today and a required textbook in military academies.


And this was an original copy.


"...Did he leave this knowingly?"


But I shook my head. How could he know about my childhood hobby? And that was seven years ago. Then why would he give me this old book?


I took a good look at it.


My brow furrowed in disbelief. It wasn't just a book. It was an antique, made of old cypress bark paper.


My heart throbbed. In Tara's memory, not Yeonwoo's, her brother Brandon had died of the plague trying to get this book as her birthday present.


After that, she never took up that hobby again. It felt like a sin. She had also burned the few old books she had managed to collect despite her young age, and then locked herself in her room.


It was probably an insult to Brandon's memory to even dare look at it.


But after seeing the book I loved so much in front of me after so many years, an indescribable feeling swirled through me.


“Can I..... keep it?”


The fact that I, Yeonwoo, had become Tara didn't mean that all her past emotions had been wiped clean.


Deep down, the emotions of Tara's life were still there, clinging to my psyche.


I wasn't entirely caught up in Tara's feelings, however I didn't feel comfortable touching the ancient tome.


I instinctively reached out to open it, but I hadn't even gripped the cover when Kyle's note came back into view.


[I left something on your desk and look forward to discussing it with you, so be sure to read it thoroughly.]


“Right. Since he said we'll discuss it at the Palace, I'm guessing I'll need it for work.....”


With that thought in mind, I immediately flipped through the old pages.


The language of 500 years ago wasn't difficult to read because the word order was the same as today's, except for the newly created words or the changed meanings of others.


As soon as I opened the first chapter, I was instantly immersed in Hamut's Manual of Tactics, my eyes glued to the pages.


***


Kyle's manhunt through the clubs and the city's underground bars was reported in small print in the local Durben newspaper as a simple underworld crackdown and was quietly buried.


He interrogated Hugo Johnson, and Kyle’s first question was about what 'Dynamite' was, but he didn't know what it was either.


True to Tara's word, Hugo obediently revealed everything.


“The ledger was written by the leader of Scorpion himself. Whenever there was a transaction, he always stayed in Durben for a few days. I know the face of the official who came with him from the Capital at that time.”


“...What about the bodies of the missing persons?”


“They brought a map from the Joint Security Unit. They contacted the Capital officials in advance and made their move. I know they received a hefty allowance. However, after hearing the news that Skandoa was defeated, they no longer had a way to make money, so they used the ledgers to blackmail us.”


"Is that why you killed them?"


“I didn't kill them, their greed did that. When you enter the warehouse, it automatically emits cold poison. The bodies there are those who entered it without permission.”


The interrogation was easy, and true to Tara's word, Hugo volunteered to testify.


When shown a portrait book of people working in the Palace, Hugo immediately picked out one of them.


“Is this really him?”


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3 commentaires


ProMama
ProMama
09 juin

His name is… Hugo… Johnson…? 🤣

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Rina
Rina
09 juin

You can really feel Tara's connection and grief over Brandon so much better in the novel. It also makes Kyle's gift so much more meaningful 🥺

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ProMama
ProMama
09 juin
En réponse à

Ayyy it’s a great little moment.

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