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Chapter 90


Where Tara and Bernard share a brotherly moment and creepy characters meet.



This chapter is dedicated to Jon ! Thank you for your monthly support!


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Episode 90: About a Year (17)


"Besides, you are my one and only knight, my first vassal, and that will remain true until the day I die. As your Master, I must inform you of the situation."


".... Why didn't you tell me sooner?"


"What?"


"It would have been better had you informed me before we left for Durben, but I'm glad to know it now. I see what you mean. Don't try to do it all by yourself, I'm here for you."


"Oh.... yes."


The tip of my nose felt tingly, so I turned my head away quickly.


A wave of emotion unexpectedly swept through me. I finally understood why people held the bridge of their nose when trying to withhold their tears in movies and dramas.


That strange feeling of simultaneously wanting to cry and not, must be for moments like these.


When he patted my shoulder and walked away, perhaps not understanding what had overcome me, I impulsively shouted at his back, "C'mon, Bernard, did you buy a book of quotes? Such a touching comment... That's cheating."


Bernard paused, looked back, sighed, shook his head and slowly left towards the carriage. His back had never looked so strong under the morning sun.


After a short rest, we were on the road again. At this rate, we should reach the Capital in two days, which would coincide with the second day of the Victory Celebration.


I spent the whole journey deeply lost in thought.


I had a lot of things on my mind. From now on, I had to stay focused. Once I got back to the Capital, I needed to start checking on my brothers and sisters while monitoring the Second Prince.


Just as the clock runs faithfully, so would the events that would lead to my family's demise, and in less than a year's time.


I reviewed my checklist in my mind.


On my side: my mother (safe), Bernard (safe), and Beth (safe).


Neither on my side nor against me: Andrei Pitt (main reason: it's obvious he'll turn on me if he doesn't find it fun or profitable).


Father (main reason: he'll throw me out if I harm the family).


Dylan (main reason: he's my father's vassal and will move accordingly to his orders).


Aria (main reason: She doesn't think much of me and is just cooperating because of Second Prince Kyle).


Not on my side at all: Chloe (main anxiety inducing reason: She's a cool older sister, but I don't know how things will turn out between us once the Head of House competition starts in earnest. She doesn't care for me.)


Jason (extreme anxiety inducing reason: Hates me to death).


Logan (total insecurity inducing reason: I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't like the way he looks at me).


After finishing my review, I went to the Capital and set out to accomplish the first things I wanted to do.


1. Get a full picture of where my siblings stand in the Palace and how that relates to the Imperial powers.


2. Keep a constant watchful eye on the Second Prince.


3. Find out the origin of the treason.


I need to do all of this within a year, or at worst within nine months. I had to be prepared.


Before that, to figure out how to turn the events in my favor, I decided to meet up with Josh first and hear about his progress.


But this was just wishful thinking on my part.


***


The morning before the Victory Banquet in the Capital.


The Palace was abuzz with preparations for the upcoming banquet, but the Treasury had already finished processing the budget for it, so it was quieter than other departments.


However, Hans Button was still there, classifying the poorly organized filing cabinets in the storage room by hand.


Most clerks at the Treasury would have an assistant to help them with this task, but Hans took charge of the large archives as soon as he joined, stating he believed that such a chore needed a full-time dedicated hand.


Prince Joseph entered the warehouse accompanied by his vassal Gabriel Rankin.


"Stay here, I'll find him myself."


Gabriel stood guard at the door while Joseph stepped inside. The smell of old paper permeating the air was quite different from outside. He wrinkled his nose at the unfamiliar scent, then pressed his hand to his mouth as he searched for Hans.


The warehouse was filled with dozens of bookshelves that reached to the ceiling, and as he walked among them, he saw Hans sitting on a chair in front of one of them.


It had been a while since Hans had arrived. Several document boxes were strewn next to him while piles of old papers cluttered a nearby desk.


"Here again?"


"Ah! You’re here, Your Highness."


Hans put down the papers he was studying, rose from his chair and bowed politely.


"You seem to be enjoying yourself."


"Yes. I am. Old documents transport me back in time and the pleasure of seeing the connections as to why they were written is indescribable."


"I fail to see it."


Looking at Joseph, who was grimacing at the musty smell, Hans explained his enjoyment very slowly.


".... From the Emperor's ambitious land reform system that ended up on a shelf, to the unprocessed paperwork related to the suicide of a Court Lady, to an Officer caught in a private palace or the list of tributes received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there is much to see, Your Highness."


"Hmph. May I take it from you that this pleasure will soon be put to good use?"


"Of course, Your Highness. My sole purpose is to serve your interests."


Joseph flipped through the papers Hans had been looking at a moment ago, feigning interest, but then withdrew, not liking the texture of the old documents.


It was the day before the banquet was going to be held for domestic and foreign dignitaries.


The man who held the title of Deputy Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, directly under the Minister himself was none other than the Third Prince, Joseph Amure.


The sudden visit of the Third Prince, who was supposed to be looking over the venue once more prior to the banquet, meant that this was something important to him. As expected, Joseph got straight to the point.


"I'm afraid my Uncle is going to be in trouble..."


Hans understood immediately.


The Minister of Finance, brother of the current Empress, Vivian of Toulouse, head of House Toulouse and Duke of the Empire. Only second in power after the Emperor, and in some ways more powerful than the Emperor, he was at the forefront of the group that supported First Prince Franz in his bid for the position of Emperor.


He was also Grafton, Duke of Toulouse and maternal uncle to Third Prince Joseph.


"Do you see this as an opportunity, your Highness?"


"Do you?"


The preparations are set. It is rare to find a nephew who lends a hand in times of need, and even rarer to find one that has the political savvy to do so. I will follow Your Highness’s wishes."


"...."


But Joseph didn't answer. Not that it mattered to Hans whether he did.


It was also his task to understand Joseph's mind.


"Do you think you'll be nothing more than the First Prince's assistant this time around as well?"


Joseph nodded briefly.


"I need to be sure. I've always been what my mother wanted me to be. That has consistently been the case. What guarantee do you have that this event will change the set image of 'assistant' that I bear?"


"Your Highness, the difference between then and now is vast. Until this point, you've moved when they wanted you to, but now, not only are you moving one step ahead of them, but also in unexpected ways they might not have even thought of yet."


There was still the dark incident related to the Empress and Kyle that he hadn't revealed to the Third Prince yet.


"Are you ....confident?"


Hans smiled thinly.


"In terms of skill, Your Highness is superior to anyone, you just haven't found the right time to shine. That time is now. You'll be seen in a new light and your uncle will begin to realize that there are other alternatives to the throne than the one he took for granted. Even if things go wrong, you won't come under fire. The First Prince will take the blow. In the end, whether things go according to plan or not, the Minister of Finance will see you differently. And..."


"And?"


"I'm here, Your Highness."


There was a moment of silence.


After a while, Joseph couldn't withhold the laughter that rose from the depth of his heart.


"Hahahahahahahahaha."


The sound of his laughter carried out of the warehouse, making Gabriel RankIn shake his head.


Joseph couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this good.


Certainly, getting Hans Button on his side had been a good decision. In the seven months they had been together, this had never once left his mind.


"When you are alone with your uncle, away from the Empress and the First Prince, start talking implicitly. Please lend me your ear."


Hans purposely leaned in close to Joseph and explained in a low quiet voice, even though he knew it was just the two of them in the warehouse.

While listening to Hans's plan, Joseph nodded thoughtfully, reviewing it in his mind. When all was said, he tilted his head and asked; "Which family is in charge?"


"Elias."


"Huh...! That easily?"


"Well, there's always a bad apple in every family."


Tsk tsk tsk. Well Mother also told me that the Count was also mentally unstable.... During the interview I witnessed one of the siblings acting childishly.... Anyway, like father, like son. I'll leave now."


"Your Highness, there's one more thing."


Joseph, who was just about to leave, turned towards Hans again.


"One more thing?"


"If you explain your plan to your uncle, I'm sure that, as Duke of Toulouse, he will be willing to repay you."


"Ah....yes, that's the kind of person he is. He hates feeling indebted. So, what price should I ask for?"


"You have to make him owe you, and he'll forever be grateful. In the end, you'll be instilling a sense of solidarity, which is what family is all about. You have to show him that you're different from the rest of them."


"How am I supposed to accomplish that? He's always repaid even the smallest favor..."


"Hmm, then do this. There is a wine cellar in the Toulouse Mansion. I know they have some very old bottles there. Ask for one of them. Nothing too expensive, not too cheap."


"Ha! How did you know? Because of prohibition even his close vassals are hardly aware that he has a wine cellar."


Hans pulled several tattered papers from a stack he had stored to one side and held them out to Joseph.


".... What is this?"



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2 תגובות


ProMama
ProMama
23 ביוני

Honestly so glad you translated these now and first because they are so relevant to the last stuff.


Also, her assessments of her siblings had me in stitches.

לייק

Rina
Rina
18 ביוני

This is one of my favourite Bernard moments ☺️. Too bad this chapter also includes those annoying schemers...

לייק
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