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Chapter 88

Tara theorizes about the motive behind the Second Prince's visit and we catch up with Josh.


This chapter is dedicated to the wonderful Jonadel! Thank you for your ongoing support!


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Episode 88. About a year (15)


“Yes, I'm sure.”


Kyle's gaze turned cold as he looked at the drawing in the portrait book.


‘Baron Hound Palliport. Prince Franz Amure's dog. Vassal of the House of Toulouse. High ranking official in the Ministry of Finance.'


Knowing who Hound worked for, Chris frowned hard.


“Why the hell would he do this?”


“We'll find out after we investigate, but I suspect it has something to do with me.”


“Are you saying that they hoped Your Highness would suffer a crushing defeat against Skandoa? Was it the First Prince?”


Kyle didn't confirm Chris' question. Instead he issued the following command.


“Let's go, I don't know what the First Prince has to do with it, but if we accuse Toulouse they'll kill their hunting dogs.”


After adding an order to take the witness, Hugo Johnson, back to the Capital with as much concealment as possible to protect him, Kyle and his men set out for the Capital themselves.


On the way, they passed the consulate, but Kyle only glanced in its direction for a moment before continuing to issue orders.


***


A week later, afternoon at the official consular residence.


Four days from now, the Victory Ceremony and National Foundation celebrations were scheduled to take place at the same time. The original [Ocerian Chronicles] only mentioned the Foundation Day celebrations. Perhaps they were being held together because the timeline had been moved forward. That also meant that my family's execution would happen sooner.


I had about one year left.


After the Victory Ceremony ended, the Palace would begin hosting a three day long banquet. A grand affair that would bring together a variety of distinguished guests and dignitaries, both foreign and domestic.


“Something is going to happen at that damned banquet.... Of course, in the novel, you only find out what went wrong long after the fact.” I muttered absentmindedly.


A thought suddenly occurred to me while I organized my transfer documents. The official document that had arrived yesterday caught my eye, and I immediately scrunched up my face.


[As of today, Tara Elias, Third Secretary in charge of the Ocerian Embassy of Durben Tripoint under the Imperial Military Administration, has hereby been transferred to a Permanent Secretarial Division within the Military Administration Office in the Capital.


Accordingly, Third Secretary Tara Elias will assume her duties 10 days hence. Should there be any objections to this...

.

.

.

Issued by the Human Resources Department of the Imperial Military Administration.]


“Well, as a permanent aide, I'll always be on call, and the person you're helping will often change. This basically makes me a glorified sidekick.”


"What's that? 'Sidekick'?" Bernard asked, as he passed by carrying a box of my things.


He was helping me pack while I hastily tried to finalize my work.


“Ah.... The dictionary definition is 'a person who stands by and assists someone else while they work,' but the connotation is something like a crony, a henchman, a dedicated subordinate, something like that. It's a foreign word.”


“Oh, there's a word for that.” Bernard nodded, then looked confused again.


“So what the hell was the deal with the Second Prince visiting you?”


I just shrugged my shoulders and didn't reply.


Bernard didn't usually ask more questions when I reacted like this, but he asked again as if curious.


“I understand why he came to Durben right after the war with Skandoa ended. And I vaguely understand why he made an unexpected visit to the official residence. However, visiting it in person even though he knew it was Sunday was very strange.”


I looked at Bernard, who was doing a lot of thinking today, and tried to shrug my shoulders again.


But then I noticed that he was staring at me very seriously, and I couldn't help but speak up.


“He's a Prince. Members of the Imperial family can do whatever they want.”


“... Is that really all there is to it? Don't you have any idea of what he might be thinking, Lady?”


"Ah! Bernard, you know me too well. I might have to kill you...”


“It's not funny.”


"True, it was a bit unoriginal of me. Then how about this? You're buzzing so much I advise you mind your own beeswax."*


“.....”


“Okay, I'll bury my humor 500 meters underground today.”


“What is it? What do you think is the reason for the Prince's visit?”


“Do I have to tell you?”


“No. Do as Your Ladyship wishes.”


I barely stopped myself, the words, 'Then why did you open your mouth?' on the tip of my tongue.


Beth, who had been dealing with a bundle of scrap paper next to him, was curious enough to scoot closer and perk up her ears.


The Second Prince's visit had been so unexpected, after all.


“Okay. I have three theories. The first is that he conducted an unannounced search while passing by. If I were just a normal secretary, he wouldn’t have done it, but as you know, I am also a disciple of the Black Society. It could have been simply curiosity about what part I played in this incident.”


They both nodded wordlessly. But then, as if remembering something, Beth's eyes widened and she asked.


“Hmm? So what was that gift? I mean, he gave you something, Miss. Why would he give you a present if he was only stopping by?”


"Maybe it was some kind of pretext? So he could pretend it wasn't a random inspection, but a gift? Making up the excuse that he came to deliver something."


Bernard frowned.


“Hmm. Something doesn't add up about the Commander-in-Chief of the Military, a member of the Imperial Family, going through all that trouble just for that.”


"Also true. The second reason I considered was that he was simply passing by. The gift wasn't intended to be given to me, he just wanted to show it to me. It looked like it was part of the spoils of the Skandoan war. The Second Prince is the type who's interested in that kind of thing. But perhaps he felt sorry for me since I was suffering from the poison and gave it to me on a whim."


Bernard nodded slowly, then suddenly jerked his head up.


“The Commander-in-Chief of the Military? In the midst of his busy schedule? He came to Durben to hunt down a criminal organization instead of going to the Capital where the Victory Ceremony is being held. Why would he make time to stop by? There's no way that's the case... A knight wouldn't do that.”


“Hmm... True. As a knight, you would know best, Bernard. I don't think the second theory is true either. The third one is... it's kind of silly, but I keep wondering if it's true.”


“What is it?”


Beth and Bernard stared at me with intense curiosity.


“Maybe the Second Prince is in love with me. Yes, I think that might be it! That's why he intentionally stopped by. Him picking me up and carrying me to bed is reason enough to suspect it. Not to mention he left me a present.”


“......”


“Why are you looking at me like that?”


“I think it’s number 1,” Beth said.


“Yeah, it's got to be number 1, that makes the most sense,” Bernard agreed.


Bernard and Beth turned around and went back to their work, as if it wasn't worth listening to me anymore.


"No, guys! He held me in his arms. As a member of the Imperial Family! We're talking about the cold-blooded Second Prince here! He carried me himself even though that knight, Chris, was right there! Isn't that what you told me?"


But no one paid any attention to me. I could see the words go in one ear and spill out the other.


“Beth. What did the Second Prince's expression look like? If I hadn’t been unconscious I would have been able to tell just by the look in his eyes.”


“Eyes? What kind of look?”


"You know, romantic eyes!"


“Ro…man…tic... eyes?”


Beth didn't understand. I needed to elaborate.


“Didn't you notice something about the way he looked at me, like... like his eyes were burning with passion or tenderly affectionate?... Or maybe like he felt compassion for me?”


“No.”


Beth's response was adamant. But I wasn't satisfied with that answer and demanded a more detailed explanation.


“...Not at all, Miss. His brow was just slightly furrowed, nothing more...And maybe he was acting a bit less cold than usual?”


"Tsk!" It was muffled, but I could faintly hear Bernard clicking his tongue disapprovingly.


I glanced back at him as he headed for the door.


“I absolutely hate dogs.” He said.


“What?”


“But the other day I saw a dog lying on the ground in the gutter in front of the house, gasping for air like he was dying. I felt so bad for him in that moment that I just picked him up and took him to a doctor. Jack came with me, but I was the closest to him so I carried him.”


His cold, sarcastic tone turned blunt.


“.... Am I the dog in this situation?”


“Well, I'm going to clean up.”


Bam! It was often said that vassals often reflected their Master's. Where had he gotten that metaphor from?


I quickly erased the three hypotheses from my mind.


"Yeah, I guess it probably is number 1."


***


The next day.


The Elias Pharmaceutical's Laboratory in the Capital city of Oceria.


It was late at night, many hours before dawn. At 12:40 a.m., just past midnight, a faint glow still emanated from the corner lab on the first floor of the building.


One of the lab's night watchmen walked down a dingy hallway and knocked on a door with a frosted glass the size of his palm.


Knock, knock.


There was no answer, but the sound sent a chill down his spine and made the skin on his neck crawl.


‘Agh...! What is that?'


When he listened closely, he could hear scratchy, high-pitched laughter faintly resonating from somewhere nearby.


[Hehehe… Hehehe]


In an instant, the hairs on his body stood on end. Then he remembered hearing this building happened to have been built on top of a cemetery.


He suddenly recalled the older security guards telling him similar stories about their encounters with ghosts while on patrol in the past. He quickly turned his head to look around.


There was no one there, but the high-pitched laughter remained uninterrupted and unbroken, accompanied by a faint glow.


Swallowing hard, he mustered up the courage to knock on the door harder than before, and the laughter stopped.


There was no answer. After a few seconds passed with no response, he was about to put his hand on the door again when he realized that he should knock.


Gasp!


"Aaaah!"


He jumped back, gasping.


"Oh! Sir, what brings you here?"


"Phew... Geez. It's you, Josh. I didn't see that you were staying late in the log today, but the lights..."


“Oh, sorry, I didn't realize. I lost track of time while doing my research. I'll finish up in another 20 minutes or so and then clear out.”


"Oh, you scared me. I...”


“What? Why?”


“Were you just laughing?”


“Me?”


“....!”


The watchman glanced around quickly again. Chills shot down his spine.


“Uh, no. Just a moment ago, I heard laughter coming from this room... Hehehe... That laughter... Was that... you?”


Josh shook his head, then smiled broadly as if he'd remembered.


“Ah, yes. That was me, Sir. Sometimes when I'm in such a good mood while researching, I laugh like that without realizing it, hehe.”


“Really? Ah… That took 10 years off my life!”


“Were you scared?”


“Eh. No, I wasn't scared. No, no, no. What makes you feel so good about that tedious research anyway? Is there something to it?”


“Yes. I've developed a total of three of them as of today!”


"Of what? Medicines?"


"Oh. Yes."


"What kind of medicines are they?"


“That's classified. Later, when it's on the market, I'll tell you what I've developed.”


“Right. Secrecy is important with these things. I see. I'll let you clean up, then.”


Josh turned and was about to close the door when he saw the night watchman walking away.


“Oh, Sir. Is your back feeling better? You're walking without pain now!”


Smiling pleasantly at Josh's concern, the night watchman made a big circle with his hand.


"Well. You've certainly made my life easier. The only inconvenience is that my wife is trying to keep me awake at night now, it's a big problem! Hahaha!”


"Oh... See you tomorrow then."


Struggling with the adult topic of conversation, Josh blushed slightly and quickly closed the door.


The three medicine containers were still on the desk where he had been researching earlier.


His excitement returned.


“...I must go home and write my Lady a letter, hee hee hee.”


He was unable to stop himself from laughing again as he hastily cleaned up the lab.


“How many times have I failed.... No, no. There were so many failures, but there's also today's success! Hehe. There were no side effects in the animal studies, and the first and second trials were successful, so now we just need to do the third trial. I'll need to recruit a test group! Hehehehehe.”


Josh quickly cleaned up the lab and went home, no longer caring about the difficulties he'd experienced.


It was a historic day for his research, which had finally been successful after a long seven months of failure.

_____

Editor’s Notes -


I love this part so much, hahaha! Tara is one of the only FLs who actually picks up on the romance before the ML does!


* In this sentence Tara makes a lame pun on the idiom 아는 것 많아서 먹고싶은것도 많겠네 which translates to ‘since you know so much, you must want to eat every food in the world.’ This phrase is basically a condemnation of being too greedy, similar to the English saying ‘curiousity killed the cat’ but with some Korean wordplay that doesn’t properly translate. So I took a stab at creating my own bad pun that somewhat captures the spirit of it.


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3 Comments


ProMama
ProMama
Jun 09

Watching her squad talk Tara out of possibility three even as it’s closest to right (I mean, Kyle don’t even know what’s what yet) is so dang much fun.~

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Rina
Rina
Jun 09

This scene is one of my absolute favourites and I'm so happy I got to do this chapter!

Like
Replying to

It is one of the greatest chapters in the novel, where you understand that, for once, the MC isn't the usual dunce when it come to Love. So refreshing!

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