top of page
  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 89

Jason's deal goes through and Tara leaves Durben behind.


This chapter is dedicated to PetCodePeter! Thank you for your support!


Disclaimer:

DO NOT publish our edit anywhere else.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


Episode 89. About a Year (16)


Elias Business Building, the Capital.


The new contract guaranteed House Elias exclusive distribution of 'Dragon Fruit' to the Imperial Palace for three years.


Dragon fruit got its name from its scaly dragon-like skin.


The head of the Capital Branch of the Foreign Agreements Commission looked over the documents and shook his head a few times.


"This is strange....."


After finishing his review, he quickly made his way to the Elias family mansion with a serious expression on his face.


The distance between the business headquarters and the main residence was approximately 200m.


His pace grew faster and faster, and he was almost running when he arrived at the mansion.


There was no sign of Count Lloyd Elias today.


‘..... Elias is among the top tier business families, there's no way he would do something this big without a meeting with the branch leaders, right...?'


When the Trade Commission Head arrived on the mansion’s doorstep, Dixon, the butler of the house, stepped out.


"Aha. Butler. Where is His Excellency?"


"He left for the shipyard this morning."


The shipyard was located in Barrow, a port town four hours away from the Capital by carriage.


"Ah..."


"What is it, Sir Commissioner?"


“I have some documents I need to check with His Excellency, but I don’t know if I will be able to do so at present. Did Sir Dylan go with him?”


"Yes, he always travels with the Count, but it will probably be the middle of the night by the time he returns, so if it can wait you can discuss it tomorrow."


"The deadline for the approval is today...."


In most cases, documents bearing the seal of the head of the household were processed without making a fuss.


All projects were only carried out after being discussed at least once at a general business meeting with the distribution team, product team, public relations team, accounting team, tax team, and strategy team all present.


However, this project had never been brought to a meeting before. Of course, there were some projects that the head of the household handled alone, but those were limited to extensions of existing businesses, charity programs, or small-scale joint ventures with small merchants.


This contract was too big for that.


In the Empire, it was common for family businesses to strike ‘tribute’ deals with the Imperial Court in return for modest profit and credit towards the taxes owed to the Crown.


This allowed noble families to monopolize their local specialties and saved them the trouble of paying taxes. The same applied to the trade of goods from other countries.


It was a lucrative business, but there was something about this deal that made the Commissioner hesitant.


Jason Elias had been selected as the general business manager.


Seven months earlier, Jason had been removed from the business for accounting irregularities. Recently, he'd been reinstated to a smaller role, and hadn't even been in that position for a month.


Jason had only been given that small role due to the pressure from his maternal relatives, House Philippe, who were involved in several Elias businesses, rather than his own abilities.


Even as he pondered this, the deadline was fast approaching. If all went well, Elias would earn 5% of their annual budget from this every year.


But if things didn't go as planned, the upfront investment of around 100,000 gold would be wasted.


The Commissioner didn't know what to do.


"My eldest child worked hard to obtain that contract with the Palace, Commissioner!"


"Ah, my lady."


Having just descended from the second floor, Victoria Elias slowly approached the butler and the Trade Commissioner. They bowed politely to the Countess of the Elias family.


"Here's the seal," she said, "and you may proceed. If it's not done today, House Toulouse will take it from us."


House Toulouse was at the top of the imperial hierarchy, a line of Dukes who were related to the current Empress.


"Ah... But there never was a meeting...!"


"Tsk, tsk, the company leaders are too inflexible. Don't you realize that those procedures can be detrimental to important opportunities such as this? The Count approved it with his seal just before he left. So go ahead. I'll be damned if I'm going to miss out on such clear profits because of you!"


The commissioner's face turned white.


This deal involved more money than he could ever hope to see in his entire life. It would be better to go by the book, but the risk of letting this opportunity pass…


"Y.... Yes, my Lady."


Still, the commissioner was reluctant, but he had no choice. Neither the family head, nor Dylan, the general advisor were present. The only thing he could trust at the moment was the seal.


The Commissioner immediately rushed to the business building, grabbed the exclusive contract, and went straight to the Palace. He obtained the <Imperial Exclusive Distribution License> 30 minutes before the end of the deadline.


***


A week later, the Durben consulate.


After writing detailed transition documents for the newly appointed secretary, I neatly organized the desk in the diplomatic office, including the daily journals, worksheets, and documents.


I had a simple farewell party and meal with the residence's servants, guards, the cook and chamberlain, including Jack.


I would see Jack again someday, I was sure of it, but I'd been told he had been ordered to stay in Durben for the time being to tie up the mission’s loose ends.


I always knew living here would be temporary, and had been reluctant to get attached to it, yet I found it hard to leave. I promised myself that if I survived, I would definitely come back someday.


After the farewell meal, we waited only two days before departing for the long-awaited trip to the Capital.


I had never considered what I would do before I received the notice, but from the moment I saw the official letter ordering me back to the Capital, I couldn't bear to stay in Durben for even a single moment longer. I wanted to return as quickly as possible.


“Here, Miss. I mended this for you in a hurry.”


Beth gave me a blue chiffon dress, the same one I had worn when I first arrived in Durben.


“When did you have time to prepare this for me?”


"Your body has been changing by the day, so I've been making small alterations whenever I had time. You look beautiful in this dress. It would be a shame to leave it in the closet."


Beth had a good eye for detail and was also skilled at making alterations, so the dress fit my body perfectly.


A dress with a narrow waistline...


In Durben, I almost always wore my casual uniform or my official uniform. I bought new pieces whenever I went down a size, but I never bought dresses.


I'd considered going to downtown Durben to buy one, but that had felt like a waste of time.


"Thank you, Beth. I was actually worried that I would have to waste my time going out buying a dress in Durben. I'm touched."


"Don't say that. It's my honour to serve as your maid."


Beth blushed as if embarrassed and her eyes became moist.


"Oh. And this. This is some mail that was addressed to you this morning, the mail carriage arrived ahead of schedule today."


Josh had sent his long-awaited letter just in time, as if to congratulate me on my transfer. The message was simple.


[Treatment successful in second clinical trial - Josh Lucas.]


"Aaaah!" I exclaimed.


Then finally, after packing one more suitcase, this one even smaller than the last, I was on my way.


***


I travelled day and night to speed up my journey to the Capital. We exchanged coachman and carriages along the way at public stables.


"Miss. My stomach is churning and I feel like I'm going to die. I was fine until yesterday..... Are you all right, my Lady?"


"Didn't you finish the arrowroot juice?"


"No.... I only drank half of it because it was too bitter... Ugh..."


Beth looked to be on the verge of tears.


"Hey, drink what's left now. It's tolerable and it definitely works for motion sickness and nausea, as Josh said it would."


Beth, her face turning white, picked up the jug of leftover arrowroot and downed it in one gulp. She gripped the handle on the carriage ceiling as if it were a lifeline and broke out in a cold sweat.


Knock! Knock!


I banged hard on the ceiling of the carriage, and it came to a screeching halt, the sound of hoofbeats fading.


"Eh? Miss, please don't stop because of me, you said we need to get back quickly."


"It's not just because of you, we've been travelling for three hours now since we switched carriages. I just need a quick bite to eat."


Fortunately, the place where the carriage stopped was next to a small stream. My hands felt cold after I slightly dipped them in the water, but I felt like my mind was coming back to me. My spirits lifted again when a hand held out a smoked salmon sandwich that Wilson, the chef at the Durben consulate, had prepared for me.


"How are you holding up, My Lady?"


Aside from the bags under his eyes, Bernard looked fine.


As expected, a future general was built tougher than the average person.


Either that, or all the knights in this world were just used to extended marches like this one.


“Yes. I'm enduring.”


I sat down on a large tree stump next to the stream to eat. Bernard handed me a flask of water, and looked at my sandwich. He shrugged after seeing I had already started eating.


“It seems like you’re holding up well. I understand why you want to go home.”


Bernard seemed to think I was homesick, and that's why I was pushing to return to the Capital so quickly.


That wasn't an unreasonable assumption. My relationship with Bernard may have been that of a Master and her personal knight, but when you stripped back the layers, I was just another eighteen-year-old noble child in his eyes, no different from anyone else.


I was at the age where I would still be missing my hometown and my parents. It was also a given that I was at the age where I should be hanging out with my friends and engrossed in gossip in my social circle. That was probably how Bernard saw me.


But I wasn't the kind of person who indulged in such sentimentality. I considered correcting him, afraid he would generalize about me again in a similar situation. 


I decided to say something. After all, my poisoning and imminent execution aside, he of all people needed to know my current situation. 


"We're running out of time."


"What?"


"I need to get back to the Palace and start working. I'm late returning to the Capital."


‘I'm scared because I need to take charge, but I feel like I'm being dragged around instead.' 


I couldn't bring myself to say it.


"Do you realize how strange that is, my Lady?"


"Ah..."


"That sounds like what a workaholic would say. I know your job is hard, but that's way too overwhelming for my taste. As soon as you were appointed to Durben, you started working on a million different things...."


Bernard clicked his tongue and turned to leave, but didn't even make it a single step before he turned back around and searched my face very closely, as if looking for something important.


"....What?"


“What is it? Why are you so anxious? I won’t stop you from working like a woman possessed, because that's your choice to make. All I can do is obey. But at least tell me what put that anxious look on your face.”


"Hahaha. What's wrong with my face? I know isn't the prettiest...."


I shut my mouth. I couldn't joke anymore after seeing the serious expression on his face.


"Bernard, do you remember that time?" I asked, putting my sandwich down with difficulty.


"When do you mean?"


"When we were waiting for the anonymous informer, Paul, at Post 3 in Tripoint's Joint Security Area. Back then I told you, 'It's a big deal, and it might not happen and I have to be prepared for that eventuality.’"


Bernard searched his memory for a moment, then nodded slowly as if he remembered.


"Yes, I remember that, what about it?"


"I think that if I don't get there in time, I could end up dying, and so could my mom."


"....!"


Or, to be more precise.


If I didn't become Family Head, I may never find out which one of my brothers and sisters working in the Imperial administration would join the conspiracy against the Crown.


I could die without ever knowing why.


"I may be exaggerating, of course, but death or its equivalent is always the outcome for those who lose the power struggle. I'm just trying to avoid that. I've spent too little time in the Capital compared to my siblings, and now I'll be completely new to the Palace. Make no mistake, even after gaining 7 months of experience I'll still be considered a novice there. I can't afford to make any mistakes. I need to get there quickly so I can assess the playing field before I start working. I'm telling you this now, Bernard, because I think the punches are about to be thrown for real."


Bernard's face turned harder than granite.


Enjoyed the chapter? Buy us a ko-fi!


168 views4 comments

Related Posts

See All

4 opmerkingen


ProMama
ProMama
23 jun.

Okay… I had honestly forgotten that her primary mission was figuring out which sib brings down the house until it came up again in the most recent chapters.

Like

ProMama
ProMama
23 jun.

These more domestic bonding scenes with her people are truly some of my favorite moments in the novel.

Like

Rina
Rina
17 jun.

I love Tara and Beth's relationship. So wholesome 😊

Like
Thamalasca
Thamalasca
17 jun.
Reageren op

Agreed!

Like
bottom of page