Cale stared admiringly as the once evil looking tree unfurled itself and became a beautiful white tree that looked absolutely divine.
“Hmm, I guess silver is not that bad.” Cale said while appreciating the beauty before him. “I still prefer gold though.”
There’s no point in arguing with this fool. Glutton thought it was beneath her dignity to argue with someone whose aesthetics were biased.
Seeing that she didn’t reply to him, Cale rolled his eyes and decided to head back. Dusting his pants, he stood up and eyed the area one last time. The ground around the white tree still looked barren, but at least it still had a possibility to regain it’s fertility with time. However, the same couldn’t be said about the charred mess that Cale had left last night due to his momentary lapse of control.
:…..That was your doing, wasn’t it?
Glutton asked, referring to the charred mess on the ground.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Cale shamelessly feigned ignorance.
Glutton scolded him.
The corner of his mouth twitched upwards.
“Whatever you say~” He said in a sing-song tone as he walked out of the fenced area, conveniently sidestepping the black sooty mess on the ground. There. Out of sight, out of mind.
Walking out of the fenced gate, he was about to make his way back to the manor, but stopped when he caught the sight of the two kids huddling just next to the fenced gate.
“You-” he swallowed, though he wasn’t eating anything. “You were here this whole time?”
The two kids who stared at him with bright, sparkling eyes, and nodded. The packages of food that he had handed them this morning were placed next to them. Seeing the open packet made it obvious that the two children did eat the food he gave them, which settled the niggling worry at the back of his mind.
“We were worried about you, oppa,” The girl muttered quietly.
Cale’s brows furrowed at her words.
“Did you see anything?” He asked sternly.
The two of them shifted their eyes, as they looked everywhere but at him. The younger child clung to his silver haired sister
“N-No,” the girl finally replied. “O-Of course we didn’t.”
Cale sighed. It was obvious that they had seen everything.
It would be troublesome if they told anyone about whatever happened here today.
Cale contemplated half-seriously. ‘Should I kill them?’
All of a sudden his back felt cold. He felt a suffocating pang in his heart, as if someone was squeezing it.
A soft voice – as sweet as poison– muttered inside his mind,
:My dear Cheapskate~ Care to repeat that?
Cold sweat broke out at the back of his neck. ‘I-I was just joking, Glutton! Joking!’
Seeing that he wasn’t actually going to kill them, she backed off. The moment the pressure lifted from him, he took a deep breath and patted the left side of his chest, over his heart.
Scary. Glutton is so scary~
“Oppa?” The little girl hesitantly called him out in concern.
Cale shook his head and acted unconcerned. “It’s nothing.” He then knelt before them, and looked into their eyes. “Alright kids, you remember the deal right?”
The two kids nodded hesitantly.
“Good,” Cale praised them. “Good children keep their promises, you know.”
“That’s why, keep your promise and be good children,” Cale said as he ruffled their hair. The younger child flinched a bit, but the older girl leaned into his touch.
Cale lifted his hands from their heads and got up. “I should get going now,” He said and waved to them. “Take care, kids!”
Saying this, he turned around and walked down the hill, not knowing that the two kids were staring at his retreating back until he disappeared from their view.
Just as he had expected, Choi Han was still waiting for him at the bottom of the hill.
The moment Choi Han came into his view, Cale could feel Glutton stiffen.
“Looks like a certain swindler, right?” Cale muttered softly. “I think he is Nelan’s descendant.”
:The resemblance is uncanny.
Glutton agreed and quieted down at the back of his mind. He could guess what she was thinking.
Seeing a descendant of one of their old friends means that at least one of them survived long enough to have a family. And that’s….gratifying, especially after knowing that Nelan got a chance to have a family again. Family had always been a sore spot for a certain scammer. He never told them what had happened to his family, but judging by his morose mood whenever someone mentioned family, they could guess that it wasn’t anything good. Nelan was someone who cherished people, who seeked to be a part of something to ground himself. Seeing Choi Han hale and hearty made them feel happy for their friend, who must’ve survived and settled down somewhere after that mess.
They were glad to see that at least one of them got the happy ending they had envisioned.
Cale let out a nostalgic smile as he neared Choi Han, who had been waiting for him to come closer.
“Cale-nim, you’re back,” Choi Han greeted him stiffly.
Cale nodded. “Come on, let’s go. Our work is done here,” Cale said as he continued walking, and soon Choi Han followed him.
“Let’s go back to the mansion,” Cale said calmly. “We’ll talk after dinner.”
Choi Han was startled at his words.
“What are you being surprised for?” He frowned. “Did I promise you that I’d help you? I’m not a scum who breaks his promises.” As long as the transaction doesn’t involve money, that is.
Cale didn’t notice Choi Han staring at him with a complicated look in his eyes. Instead, his mind was on his starving tummy, that seemed to remind him that it needed sustenance.
‘Ah, I’m starving.’ Cale patted his growling tummy pitifully. He remembered that he hadn’t eaten anything all day. He felt stuffy, thinking about all the food he had bought was eaten by Glutton as a snack, leaving only a few bottles of alcohol for him.
Aigoo, he hoped Beacrox had prepared a feast for him, because only by taunting Glutton with Beacrox’s food would he be relieved from this stuffy feeling. Just imagining Glutton’s suffering from ‘getting to see but not eat’ made him feel much better.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice anything around him until Glutton pointed it out.
:……Hey Cheapskate, why is everyone staring at you?
Cale blinked, and then looked around in surprise. Sure enough, people were staring at him. They were pointing fingers at him, and discussing something with each other.
When Cale glanced their way, they would either avert their eyes or step back, which made him feel that it was annoying to pay attention to these people. So he ignored them and kept walking.
Choi Han’s brows furrowed as he looked at them, and then gave Cale a once over. Realization dawned on him and he opened his mouth, but then closed it quickly. Choi Han pressed his lips into a thin line, and kept up with Cale’s pace. However he didn’t say anything.
“Hmm, maybe because I’m handsome?” Cale answered Glutton nonchalantly. Glutton made a choking noise that made Cale twitch his lips upwards.
“Did you say something just now, Cale-nim?” Choi Han asked, puzzled.
“Nope,” Cale shamelessly denied, not that Choi Han believed him.
Of course, it wasn’t until he reached the Count Henituse’s mansion that he realised why those people on the streets were pointing and staring at him. And no, it had nothing to do with his handsomeness.
“Young Master-nim, you’re ba- what have you done to yourself?!” Hans couldn’t help but screech in-midst of his greeting the moment his eyes took in Cale’s figure.
Cale couldn’t help but tilt his head in confusion. He glanced down at himself and finally realized what the problem actually was.
The fancy outfit that he had worn last night was stained with dirt and mud. There was a patch of black soot on his brown trousers reminding of the lil’ fiery accident he had last night. A thick layer of mud coated the soles of his shoes of which he had been surprisingly unaware of till now. The back of his green jacket had a suspicious brown stain, no doubt from carrying those questionable sacks of food. Not to mention, now that he focused on it, he smelled an underlying stench of sweat and burnt meat from his body.
No wonder everyone was staring at him. He looked like he had rolled around in mud.
Cale glanced at himself, then at Choi Han’s prim and proper dress up. He could low-key feel the maliciousness of the universe aimed at him. To think a face loving person would one day have to face such a situation. What a crisis.
“Hans, I need to take a bath,” Cale uttered calmly without making a fuss.
“Right away, Young Master!” Hans said as he immediately went away to make arrangements for their eldest young master’s bath.
See? Cale knew he was handsome, but he also knew when to admit defeat. That is why he was quite generous in admitting that he clearly wasn’t looking handsome at this particular moment.
‘No way, I am so generous, so understanding…. I don’t think there will anybody as generous as me~’
Well, who asked the gods to make him so kind-hearted and handsome?
He turned to Choi Han and said, “Let’s talk afterwards.”
Choi Han agreed.
“Alright then, see you later.” He waved goodbye to Choi Han and parted with him. As he made his way towards his room, Cale frowned. Why did he feel like he was forgetting something?
The moment he entered his room, he finally got the answer to this ominous feeling.
“Young Master-nim, you’re late.” Ron greeted Cale with a sharp smile on his face, that for some reason sent shivers of terror down Cale’s spine.
The moment Cale saw the elderly butler, he finally remembered. Turns out, he had forgotten something. Hadn’t he promised Ron to get back to the mansion by the morning? …..But he was only returning now at dusk of the next day.
“I have been waiting for your return, Young Master-nim,” Ron said with a polite smile on his face, though the look in his eyes pinned Cale dangerously, making him break out into cold sweat. His well honed instincts reminded him to tread dangerously, which almost made Cale doubt himself. He was afraid? Of this old man? Really?
…..It must be the original body’s fight or flight instincts. It must be the instinctive fear of a child towards their parental figure when they get caught doing something wrong.
Hey, there’s no way he is actually afraid of an old man. Nuh-uh. No way.
“I hope you won’t repeat something like that again in the future.” The elderly butler’s words sounded magnanimous enough, however the look in his eyes was utterly cold, as if one wrong move from Cale and he would off him.
But isn’t that silly? How could this weak old man harm him, the Hero of Destructive Flames? Ron looks like a typical old man who would just cough over and die with a single wrong step. How can a weak old man like him have the power to defeat him?
“I-” Cale tried to say something, anything, however he was cut off by Ron’s freezing words. Suddenly the invisible pressure on him seemed to increase tenfold, almost making him suffocate.
“Is. that. clear?”
“Yes!” He squeaked out. It was only then that the suffocating pressure lifted from him, that he could finally inhale in relief.
“That’s good then.” Ron let out a satisfied smile. “Forgive me for my insolence, it seems like my temper is getting bad with old age. Hohohoho~”
“Dinner will be ready soon, Young Master. Please have a good rest,” Ron said with a sunny smile, as if the one who had intimidated Cale into submission a moment ago wasn’t him.
Cale shivered and watched with bated breath as Ron walked away. It wasn’t until the elderly butler left his room that ale finally sighed in relief.
Scratch that, Ron is scarier than Glutton. No one will be able to convince him otherwise.
:…Your new life is so difficult.
Glutton almost sounded sympathetic.
“Don’t I know it,” Cale whimpered as he sat on the bed and contemplated his current situation.
Ah, life was easier to live when he was just a cheapskate. He just had to loot idiots (cough Nobles cough) and set things on fire. Easy peasy~
But now, he was stuck here as the trashy eldest son of a noble.
He almost felt sorry for himself.
“….Well, at least I am rich,” He tried to console himself, recalling all that riches and gold waiting for him to spend. “That has to count for something, right?”
Dinner with the Henituse Family was a tense affair. Not for Cale, that is. It was for the other occupants seated across him on the dining table.
Basen and Lily sent uneasy glances his way every once in a while. Countess Volan was calmly eating her meal for now, but remembering the strange look she had given him when he had entered the dinner hall made him wonder if she had something to say to him. Count Deruth looked conflicted, as if he wanted to ask something, but was contemplating how to breach the topic.
It seemed that Cale was the only one who was enjoying this sumptuous feast. Oh, and Glutton too, he guessed.
:Delicious! This is so DELICIOUS! The meat is cooked so perfectly! It isn’t too chewy, and yet absolutely savory! I am tempted to lick my fingers to not waste even a single drop of oil, sadly I don’t have any hands…. The salad was fresh and was dressed so beautifully! The produce is of much better quality than that of ten thousand years ago!
:The bread is so soft and delicious! The wheat is definitely of superior quality, and even the baking methods seemed to have evolved! How FASCINATING! People have also thought to add vegetables, sauces and meat patties to the slices of bread to make it even more sumptuous! What an amazing discovery!
:The fish is a fresh catch and was grilled perfectly! The various spices that have been added makes it even more incredible! And to think they have also discovered a way to cook a fish after removing the bones! Really, really amazing!!!
:The wine has a rich and mellow taste, and it is so smooth! Its taste goes perfectly with the food! The fruit juices are freshly squeezed and taste absolutely WONDERFUL! The quality of the fruits is obviously better than that of the past! Humans are really such amazing creatures! The feats they have achieved in the food industry are revolutionary!
:Ahhhhhhhhhh I absolutely love, love, LOVE FOOD! Everything is cooked so perfectly! Hallelujah!!! Amazing! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!
:Cheapskate you were right! This Beacrox is clearly a godly Chef!!!! ALL HAIL THE GOD OF COOKING!!!!
As he had expected, Glutton went nuts with the food. The moment he took the first bite of his meal, Glutton went bonkers. She went on a rant and started praising the food to high heavens. Cale had no idea how she could taste everything when she did not have any physical body, nor did he want to waste time thinking about technicalities. As long as Glutton is happy and cooperative, he had no qualms about ignoring ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of everything.
With Glutton’s encouraging rants, Cale managed to finish most of the food on the table under the astonished eyes of his family. He even burped without any hint of shame whatsoever. He patted his tummy and felt like maybe he did overeat a bit –he (and Glutton, by association) momentarily forgot that he didn’t have the unending capacity to hold food in his stomach like a certain Glutton. He might end up with a stomach ache due to indigestion a few hours later, but chose to leave that worry for the future. Right now, he felt content enough that he could even doze off on this stiff chair.
“Give my regards to Beacrox,” Cale told Ron as he complimented Beacrox’s cooking, much to the puzzlement of the elderly butler. “The food today was absolutely wonderful.”
:Just Wonderful? It was more than that okay? IT TASTED ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!
Isn’t that what he just said?
Cale ignored a food-obsessed Glutton with practiced ease and turned to his family who were staring at him with gobsmacked expressions. Except Violan, because she was the epitome of grace and wouldn’t be caught acting uncouth for the life of her.
“Is there something wrong?” He asked them.
“Ah, no…” Count Deruth Henituse, his father stammered. “W-we were just surprised, that’s all. You have a good appetite today.”
“Yes,” He patted his tummy in satisfaction. “I had been quite hungry.”
“That is to be expected, after all you had been away for the whole day, Cale,” Countess Violan said as she wiped her lips with a handkerchief.
Smooth, Countess. Real smooth.
Cale really appreciated how smoothly Violan breached the topic that had made the Count jittery.
“Speaking of which-” ‘just as expected’ “I heard you have had quite a busy day.” Deruth cautiously spoke.
“Ah yes,” Cale smiled, “I had a lot of fun today while shopping. Oh, that reminds me-!” ale added, nonchalantly, “I spent all of my allowance. Father, can you give me more?”
“Of course,” Deruth agreed easily. After all, money wasn’t any issue for the wealthiest family in the Roan Kingdom. “You must’ve bought a lot of things today.” His father tried to move the conversation back to the topic.
“Yeah!” Cale agreed easily. Since he got what he came here for (aka dinner and more allowance money to spend casually) he decided to indulge these people for once. “I bought a lot of food today.”
“….And what did you do with that much amount of food?” Actually, Count Deruth was truly curious. The amount of food Cale had bought in just one day could feed almost one fifth the population of Henituse County for a whole day. He really wanted to know what Cale had done with that much food. Did he finally gain some sort of conscience and distributed it among the poor people of slums?
“Oh, that… I just emptied it in a trash can.” Cale replied nonchalantly.
Anyways Glutton’s stomach is not inferior to a bottomless trash can isn’t it?
:Pardon? That’s slander!
‘That’s the truth and you know it.’
Sadly, Count Deruth did not believe him. “Surely, you jest, Cale.”
Cale sighed. He wasn’t exactly joking now, was he?
“…I gave it to someone who was very hungry.” He decided to change his words, since almost everyone seemed skeptical of his previous words.
“Our Cale has grown up!” Count Deruth actually teared up at his words. “He has finally grown out of his shy phase!”
….What the hell.
“Of course, Cale has always been a kind child,” Violan said with a warm smile on her face.
Hey, hey, aren’t you the stepmother? Is it okay for you to break your (supposed) character settings just like that?
“As expected of Hyung-nim,” Basen muttered with a pleased nod.
“Cale oppa always thinks about others! He has such a big heart!” Lily smiled brightly.
Cale furrowed his brows. Why are their reactions so extreme?
Wasn’t OG!Cale a trash? What the hell is with these people’s over-indulgence?!
Are you sure you guys aren’t mistaking something?
And that’s how on the second day of his rebirth as Cale Henituse, a certain cheapskate finally realised something- his new family had a son/brother complex for Cale.
:…Congrats Cheap, you have quite a doting family now.
‘….Why do I have a feeling that their doting will be quite burdensome for me in the future?
Oh well, that’s a problem for future Cale. Right now, let’s enjoy the present~
Cheapskate’s mental theatre-
Cheapskate:*contemplating seriously* Should I kill them?
On and Hong: Cue pitiful kitten eyes
Cale: *unmoved* These tricks don’t work on me.
Glutton: Touch the kitties and you die. :scamsmile:
Cale: *kneels and pets the kitties* W-What kind of cruel man would dare to hurt such cute kitties! Such a person should be drowned- no, purified by my fire!