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Chapter 92


Where we discover Kyle's reason for seeking revenge while the culprits are enjoying a celebratory banquet.


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Episode 92. About a Year (19)


"Ah! Now that I think about it, Uncle. If a bigger incident occurs, wouldn't the fuss over Baron Hound's case fade away?"


"......!"


Startled, The Duke froze like a statue, looking at Joseph's face in disbelief, then regained his composure and asked.


"Nephew, do you mean...?"


He had always referred to him as 'Prince'. It was so unfamiliar hearing that word come out of the Duke's mouth that Joseph had to suppress the urge to laugh out loud.


"A distraction. At least, it will buy you some time and a lot can be done during said time."


"Ha! Yes, indeed."


However, his joy was short-lived. The Duke frowned again, leaned close to Joseph and whispered in case anyone was listening.


"Can there be a greater incident than this?"


"I have an idea. If you allow it, I can proceed at once. But I'll need the opinion of the Ministers to sway in my favor after this, Uncle."


He was implying that swaying the Ministers opinions was in the Duke's purview and asked for his help. Seeing Joseph’s reaction, The Duke laughed for the first time that day.


"Haha. That's nothing. As long as you can create a big enough incident."


He lowered his voice again and asked.


"Tell me. What kind of event could be bigger than this?"


"Listen closely..."


Without hesitation, Joseph described the upcoming big incident in one short sentence.


"... What... this...does that make any sense" He spoke without using honorifics, as if he only thought of Joseph as his nephew, which was a first while they were in the Palace.


"Rest assured. It won’t harm them."


The Duke swallowed hard upon hearing Joseph's words and closely studied his nephews' face.


The alternative he offered was shocking, but also quite appealing.


This was his nephew, the angelic-faced Prince who always had Franz's back. He'd always thought of the Third Prince, who was good at obediently doing what he was told, as a nephew who knew his place well.


"When did you start thinking like this?"


"I'm also a Toulouse. My family is in danger, and I just thought about how I could be of help."


What was this look in his eyes?'


The Duke was dumbfounded for a moment, but then immediately began to weigh the pros and cons. If Joseph did as he said he would, that could buy enough time.


The truth would lose its impact if more time passed and the spread of rumors eroded public opinion.


Therefore, public opinion in the Empire could be quickly changed.


In hindsight, it would be a blow to the First Prince, but a smaller one than expected. A polite apology for the poor management of his vassals would be all that would be needed.


After he finished sorting out his thoughts, the Duke resumed his polite manner and addressed the Third Prince.


"Very well. Let us proceed in that manner, Your Highness."


As the Duke bowed politely, Joseph hinted at a different topic.


"... Is hunting season over yet?"


“......”


"Grandfather used to say at every important family meeting; 'delaying a necessary decision because you're thinking of alternatives is a sure way to ruin everything’."


Joseph was on point. The Duke’s eyes sharpened.


"Yes, the hunting dog needs to be boiled."


There was a moment of silence as Joseph watched the Duke deep in thought. Then he turned and started walking away quietly, but the Duke caught hold of him again.


Sure enough, he asked what compensation Joseph wanted. He answered using Hans's idea.


"I would like a bottle of the Barron Pommel wine that was presented to the Emperor five years ago. It would be perfect for a toast at my uncle's house after a job well done."


That wine was worth 200 gold. And only three bottles had been given away.


The Duke's expression as he bowed slightly and turned away was strange, simultaneously contorted and smiling.


***


First day of the Victory Banquet at the Capital's Imperial Palace.


Kyle entered the Imperial Palace's great hall.


As of today, the case of the leaked military secrets in Durben had been transferred to the Ministry of Security.


The first thing he did was to have Baron Hound Paliport located and put under surveillance.


The first report he received indicated that suspicious men had been following the Baron.


The Toulouse family seemed intent on boiling the now useless hound.


In response, Kyle first sent a few Phoenix Knights undercover to protect Baron Hound Paliport.


Then, he went to the Emperor for the inevitable majority vote of the Council of Nobles.


Kyle clutched the report so tightly his knuckles turned white as he slowly walked into the banquet hall.


It was a rare Imperial event, filled with both foreign and domestic dignitaries as well as scattered Imperial clan members from across the Empire.


Those bedecked with expensive jewelry from head to toe were members from the most prominent families in the Empire.


All those so-called indispensable people of the Empire were all here to take part in the Founding Day and Victory celebrations.


And, at the center of it all, seated at the highest table, right in Kyle's line of sight, was the Imperial Family elite.


This was exactly what he hated. Appearing as a tight-knit family, bonded together by blood. The sight of them gathered wearing such fake smiles made his stomach churn.


This was why he avoided Imperial events altogether...


It was then and there that the night replayed itself in Kyle's mind.


[My son... My son............ Will you smile.......? the last thing I want to see is your smile...............]


No amount of tears could make the pool of red blood disappear.


Fighting back the sobs rising from deep within him, Kyle had smiled.


He’d held her like that for several days and nights while smiling, grateful that the last thing she saw wasn't the face of the murderer that had come to kill them.


The person who had instigated his mother's death was sitting at the head table, smiling benevolently.


The person who had abetted her death, hiding behind a mask of ignorance, listened with satisfaction to the flattery of a foreign emissary.


The one who had sent the knights to kill her mingled among the ministers, recounting the Emperor's exploits to the dignitaries wearing the face of a faithful servant.


He clenched his teeth as bile rose in his throat at the memories of his mother's death.


Nothing had changed since he first had set foot in the Palace at 22. He didn't even want to glance in the Palace's direction.


Part of him wanted to immediately return the favor by letting them experience the pain his mother must have gone through, but it wasn't time yet.


He would seize the ultimate desire of those who had driven his mother to her death in his hands. So, today as well, he would wear a mask like his father. Because it wasn't time yet.


"Prince Kyle Amure, second in line to the throne of the Ocerian Empire."


His steps were as heavy as ever as he crossed the room under the herald's loud voice.


The banquet fell dead silent at the arrival of the war hero who had been conspicuously absent from his own victory ceremony.


Kyle strode unperturbed toward the podium. The dignitaries both foreign and domestic, waited with bated breath to see what the Emperor's reaction would be.


At this point, with the next Crown Prince still undecided, everyone with a drop of Imperial blood in their veins was eager to impress the Emperor, but the Second Prince stood a few steps back from the crowd.


Many in the hall had expected that the Emperor would give him the cold shoulder, given that Kyle was usually absent from such important events.


But as if on cue, the Emperor dispelled these speculations.


"Welcome, Second Prince."


It wasn't a half-hearted expression, the Emperor nodded slightly and gave a tentative smile, but it was unfamiliar.


"Kyle Amure, Commander-in-Chief of the Military, at your service. I have returned from the battlefield after defeating our enemies and reorganizing our forces.”


There was no apology.


As he took his seat at the high table, Empress Vivan congratulated him in a rather loud voice. With this, all the members of the Imperial family were gathered in one place.


On the surface, the Imperial family seemed to be doing well.


The High-Priest of the Eastern Holy Land blessed the Imperials on behalf of the envoys. Immediately after, following the Emperor's small gesture, the conductor of the state sponsored orchestra quickly began playing the 'Ode to Victory'.


Beginning with that majestic and powerful piece, the orchestra played non-stop until the banquet ended.


Sometimes grandly, sometimes softly, sometimes lightly and cheerfully, the music carried the banquet hall's atmosphere.


The three-hour event was unremarkable in Kyle's opinion.


Once the guests had all been seated, dancers came out to perform a military dance to the orchestra's music and one of the outstanding dancers was awarded a very expensive piece of jewelry as a special gift from the Emperor.


At the end of the banquet, state sponsored sculptors presented a bronze bust of the Emperor which had been carved 100 days earlier. He praised their work and, as it was customary, increased their patronage by 5%.


As they retreated, foreign envoys came forward, this time to present the Imperial family with some of their countries’ contributions to the Imperial Treasury as an expression of their will for continuous trade with the Empire.


Among the offerings, eastern cloth was given to Imperial Court ladies, and automatic crossbows were directly given to the Imperial armourers.


In addition, 'Dragon fruit' was sliced by an attendant and presented to Margrave Miller Vant’s family who had traveled from the farthest reaches of the Empire and a drummer automaton was given to the Vice-Captain of the Imperial Guard whose wife had just given birth.


All banquets held at the Imperial Palace were meant to showcase the Emperor's generosity and kindness, and this one felt very satisfying to the Emperor.


The first day of celebrations was coming to an end, and as the night wore on, the Emperor rose from his seat, feeling tired.


Kyle followed suit, eager to report the details of the classified events in Durben.


As he neared his father, crashing sounds echoed in the hall.


Crash, Clang, Thud.


And screams followed.


"Kyaaaaaaa!"


As he was about to leave, the Emperor thought it had been a pretty satisfying banquet; but then the screams started, and he slowly turned toward the source of the sound.


Margrave Miller’s son and daughter had sprawled onto the floor seconds apart.


Their distressed expressions were strikingly similar.


Bloodshot faces with bulging veins that looked about to burst. Hands clutching their throats in agony, gasping for air as they tried to breathe.


The people around them staggered back in horror.


Kyle sprang into action.



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ProMama
ProMama
Jun 23

And the wages of Jason’s folly rise anew 🤦‍♀️

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It's interesting to get some villainous exposure. You can see the 'heritage' of the Toulouse family madness and in the previous chapters Hans's manipulative, very shrewd and smart mind. But you can also see/guess the madness beneath....


On another note, Kyle recollection of his mother's death ... I just wanted to give a big hug to 15 yo old Kyle! So hearth wrenching.....😭

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