Count Deruth Henituse looked up from the paperwork he was reviewing and saw his eldest son standing at the doorway.
“Father, may I come in?”
“Of course!” Deruth said as he placed down the pen. He then gestured for Cale to sit. “Are you here for your allowance?”
Cale, who was about to sit down on the chair, paused and stared at Deruth with a starry look in his eyes. “Yes, of course!”
Glutton was rendered speechless by his actions.
:….Cheapskate, you get distracted way too easily.
Deruth laughed when he saw Cale’s beaming expression. He hasn’t seen Cale this enthusiastic for a long time. “I will hand it to Ron. You can take it from him later.”
“Yes! Thank you very much!” Cale exclaimed as he finally sat down on the chair, and daydreamed about spending all that money.
:Aren’t you forgetting something?
Feeling Glutton getting irritated by his lolly-gagging, he shook his head. You’re no fun~
“My Lord,” He said in a serious tone, “There is something I would like to discuss with you.”
Seeing Cale call him by his title, Deruth Henituse became serious. “What is it?” Right now, he wasn’t speaking to Cale as his father, but as the Lord of this territory.
Cale’s eyes flashed in appreciation. Count Deruth is unlike the nobles whom he had the misfortune of meeting in his past life. This was a noble who took his duty to his people very seriously.
“I would like you to meet a friend of mine. His name is Choi Han,” said Cale. “He has brought news about Harris Village.”
It was late at night, and after the hectic day he had, Cale should’ve been sleeping. Keyword: should.
Even though he was exhausted, there was no sleep in his eyes. Instead, his mind raced with thoughts that scared away his sleep.
It has only been three days since he woke up as Cale Henituse. The morning of the first day when he woke up in this body, he met Choi Han. Choi Han, who resembled his former swindler friend. He had come here from Harris Village to inform about the brutal massacre that had happened in that rural village.
If Cale was anyone else, he would’ve chalked it up as a coincidence.
…But as a former hero who had been pitted against such ‘coincidences’ again and again, he would rather believe that something else is going on. Either it was an act of God (those shitty idiots were up to something crazy again, weren’t they?!) or the will of nature.
Cale hid his face behind his palms and groaned.
‘If it’s that plant’s fault I swear this time I will burn him down such that not even his ashes remain,’ He thought viciously.
:You are thinking too much.
“Yeah?” Cale muttered. “I wish it’s just me overthinking,” He sighed. “But looking back at our track record, I don’t think things are that simple.”
Glutton thought back to their past life and couldn’t refute his words. Considering that ten out of ten times their group of friends used to get into some sort of trouble, she couldn’t really disagree with him. Those situations tended to escalated further with their participation.
He pulled his hands away from his face and sat up on the bed. “Look,” He started explaining, “Isn’t it strange that I woke up in this body just three days ago? And with my memories intact too?”
“Isn’t my reincarnation weird?” he muttered suspiciously. “When normal people reincarnate, they wake up in an infant’s body with no previous memories to not affect their new life. But what about me? I woke up in a seventeen year old’s body with my memories and a part of my powers.”
“What kind of bullshit reincarnation is this?”
‘Is this a fake reincarnation?’
No way! If it’s fake, he needs to get a refund, Dammit! And the refund better be shiny and valuable, or he will give a bad review!
….Why was this Cheapskate’s thought process so strange?
:Well, even if there is some conspiracy brewing somewhere, what has it got to do with you?
“But what if I get dragged in it?”
:it’s not a matter of if, but ‘when’
:A-Ahem. As I was saying, even if you get dragged into some conspiracy, all you have to do is to face it like you usually do –headfirst– and then blow it all away.
“Like the Castle of Bellonia?” Cale grinned.
:….Yes. Just like that.
He couldn’t help but chuckle when he heard her reluctant voice.
“To be honest,” Cale whispered, “I’m so glad that you are here with me, Glutton.”
:…Just go to sleep, you idiot.
(It wasn’t until her cheapskate friend finally fell asleep that Glutton thought back on his words.
Act of a god? Will of nature?
Remembering the dark times of their past lives, Glutton couldn’t help but worry.
:….I hope things are as simple as that.)
Two days later….
The sun was shining~ The birds were singing~ It was a beautiful day!
…..And a certain reincarnated cheapskate was under house arrest.
“This is unfair!” Cale whined. “How come Father took Choi Han with him- but not me?!” He puffed his cheeks in mock-offense.
After learning about the situation of Harris Village from Cale and Choi Han, Deruth Henituse immediately made arrangements to go to Harris Village at once to pay proper respects to the people who had died and to investigate their murders. Cale had also wanted to go, but was denied by the Count -well, it was Ron’s suggestion; and the Count agreed because Ron had been taking care of Cale for the past decade or so, so of course he must know Cale best, right?
Wrong! That sneaky old man took this chance to punish him for his previous stunt! Damn, what got his knickers in a twist this time? It’s not like the original Cale never snuck out at night? What’s the big deal anyways?!
Dammit, he wanted to use this opportunity to sneak into the Forest of Darkness to look for a certain Rock’s hometown. Considering how attached that Rock-for-brains was to his hometown, he was sure he would’ve gotten some clues about his death there.
Now he’ll have to look for another opportunity to visit the Forest of Darkness. Among all his friends, he was only sure about that boulder-head’s whereabouts, and maybe that crybaby’s. But then again, that crybaby could’ve spent his life in any cave or hole if it guaranteed him safety.
Cale slumped on the table. “They should’ve taken me with them!” Then he wouldn’t have been lamenting about missed opportunities right now.
Lily giggled. “Don’t worry, oppa!” She tried to console her older brother, but ended up laughing when she heard his exaggerated whines. “I will keep you company!”
“I’m really glad for that,” he agreed with Lily and smiled at her, which made his sister blush shyly. “But it’s boring to stay in closed quarters for so long!” He then lightly banged his head against the table surface, making Lily jump in surprise. “I’m so booooooored!”
:You have only stayed indoors for two days and you’re already complaining.
‘Those were two VERY long days, okay?’
:You just want to get over your upset mood by splurging money.
‘…How did you know?’
:I know you better than you think I do.
“It’s okay, oppa!” Lily patted her brother’s fluffy red hair in sympathy, but the grin on her face betrayed her actual feelings. “This too, shall pass.” She nodded sagely.
Cale peeked up at her face as she looked over his form that was half-sprawled on the table and snorted, “Who are you quoting now, you little rascal?”
Lily smiled, “I saw that in a book Basen oppa was reading some time ago!”
…..What kind of books did Basen read to have such heavy weight words in them?
Cale sat up and stared at her doubtfully. “Really?”
“Uh-huh!” Lily nodded.
Cale folded his arms and leaned against his chair. Should he be worried about his younger brother’s tastes in literature? He won’t turn out like Rock-for-Brains, right? A fool who is wise beyond his age?
“…Oppa?” Seeing Cale’s impassive look, Lily got worried. “Is Basen oppa reading something bad?”
Seeing that he scared a li’l kid for no reason, Cale tried to smile amicably at her. “No Lily, not at all.” He ruffled her hair and said, “I am just surprised, that’s all.”
Lily unconsciously placed her palm on her head where Cale had just ruffled a while ago. Even though her hair style was now messed up, she didn’t care one bit. Instead she smiled brightly at him.
Not that Cale saw that, since he was lost in his own thoughts.
“You know what,” Cale declared. “-if I stay cooped up any longer, I’ll grow mushrooms.” He then stood up and gave Lily a dramatic bow.
“Come on, my lady, let’s go on an excursion!” He said exaggeratedly as he held out his hand to her.
Lily lapsed her seemingly tiny hand into his larger ones, and with a giggle, jumped off the sofa. “Where will we be going, kind sir?” She played along with him with a sparkle in her eyes.
“Why,” he smirked, “We’re going shopping of course~”
Cale adjusted the thing on top of his head, then turned to Lily and posed. “How do I look?”
Lily burst into laughter. “Ahahahaha! Oppa you look so silly!”
Cale scowled in mock offense. He sniffed and said haughtily, “I will have you know orange looks fabulous on me.” He then turned towards the mirror and stared at his reflection. He once again adjusted the orange wig on his head and nodded. “I am so handsome that everything suits me.”
Hearing his narcissistic statement, Lily couldn’t help but pound her fists onto the table, unable to stop herself from laughing even harder- as if that was even possible. Tears of laughter escaped her eyes, and her tummy hurt from laughing so hard, but she cared naught for that.
This was so fun! She hadn’t known shopping with her Cale oppa would be such a hilarious experience!
Cale oppa really was the best!
:….Please drop that atrocity right now.
‘Why?’ Cale asked, confused, as he posed before the mirror. ‘It’s quite good.’
:It’s blinding, is what it is.
Cale scoffed mentally. ‘You won’t know fashion even if it looked you in the eye.’
:It’s neon orange, you damn Cheapskate. It’s not a fashion statement, it’s a disaster!
Hearing her words, he decided to do something very opposite from that she wanted him to do.
Cale pulled out the wig from his head. He then turned towards the shop owner and threw the orange wig at him, who caught it with fumbling hands. “Pack it up.” Glutton’s aggravated growl was honestly music to his ears. With a grin, he then pointed to the other stuff he had dropped in a towering pile to the side and ordered, “along with all that.”
The shop owner immediately gave him a bright smile and saluted him, “Right away, Young Master Cale!”
The deputy butler Hans –who had been sent to chaperone the two siblings on the Countess’ request– glanced at the strange items in the towering pile, made up of different styled wigs and robes (Was that a make up box he saw?). He muttered under his breath, “What is he going to do with all these strange items?”
“This is preparatory stuff for my future robbing expeditions,” Cale answered offhandedly.
Hans almost did a spit take at his words. He broke out into a cold sweat and forcibly chuckled. “Surely you jest, Young master.” He reminded himself again and again that his young master is a humorous person. Of course, he won’t do something like robbing people. He is an upright noble -who had a tendency to be violent when he was drunk. But he doesn’t steal.
The Henituse County was wealthy anyways, why would the Young Master need to steal? He was surely joking.
(Sometime later, Hans would watch his Young Master loot a noble’s mansion with his own eyes and resist the urge to scream.)
“Come Lily,” Cale gestured to Lily to follow him. “Let’s go buy something for Basen.’
Lily, who had finally stopped laughing, cheered and jumped off the sofa. “Yes Oppa!”
Lily sneakily grabbed Cale’s hand, who just glimpsed down at her, but didn’t take his hand back. Her smile brightened and she happily moved their joined hands to and fro. Hans immediately paid for the purchase, and the Vice Captain Hilsman and other knights added the shopping bags into their already growing pile in their hands. .
One big and one small figure got out of the shop and walked leisurely in the streets.
“What do you think we should buy for Basen?” He asked her, ignoring the entourage following them.
“Books!” Lily immediately exclaimed. “Basen oppa likes books the most!”
Cale nodded and tried to remember the path to the bookstore. He also recalled a famous tea house that had some amazing poetry books. He should visit there too, just in case. After all, he had money to splurge, and a lot of time in spades since he didn’t have anything to do being the trashy Young Master he was. Since he wasn’t the original Cale who wasted money on alcohol, he should find other alternatives to use this money, right?
Ahh, this is probably what it means to live a fulfilling life~
He was so lost in his thoughts, Cale didn’t notice a familiar figure nearing him until they bumped into them. Cale was startled as the child who had bumped into him grabbed a bit of fabric from his pants and cried.
Cale looked down in astonishment when he saw the red haired boy from the slums clinging to him.
Hans immediately came forward and tried to let the scruffy child release his young master, worried that Cale’s temper would flare and would accidentally hurt the child.
However, to his surprise, Cale kindly grabbed the child’s hands that fisted the fabric of his pants and gently unclenched them. He then knelt down before the boy, not caring whether his overcoat was being dirtied with it’s hem touching the dirty ground.
Lily grabbed the sleeve of Cale’s overcoat and hesitantly pulled it. He quickly gave her a reassuring look, before turning to the pitifully sobbing child before him. Seeing the tears leaving clear tracks down his dirty cheeks, cale pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and gently wiped them.
His actions only made the child sob even harder.
“P-Please-” He sniffled. His tear filled eyes stared at Cale with desperation and panic.
“Noona- My noona is hurt real bad!” He rubbed his eyes with the back of his fists and wailed. His tear stained hand then grabbed Cale’s hand and he stuttered in a panicked tone, “Please, save my noona, or- or I’ll-”
“I’ll tell everyone your secret!” The moment those words left his lips, the red haired boy looked equal parts sad, guilty and resigned.
The child still remembered how happy he had been when this nice person shared a secret with him and his noona. He had given them food, gave them head pats, and talked to them kindly! This nice person even called them good kids! Noona had strictly told him to keep the promise in return for the kindness shown to them by this warm hearted person.
….But Hong was not a good kid. He broke their promise, and even tried to threaten this good person! Now this nice man will think of Hong as a bad kid, right?
(Would this kind person –whose smiles made them feel the warmth of an adult for the first time in a long time– also look at him in scorn from now on? Would he also shun them, scorn them, like his fellow tribe members did? Would they be hated by this person who smiled at them like they weren’t worthless cats on the roadside, but just normal children?)
Seeing the man’s expression change, he immediately squeezed his eyes shut, thinking he would get scolded for breaking the promise.
“What are you talking about?!” Cale asked worryingly. “What happened? Who hurt your sister? Is she okay?”
Hong’s eyes snapped open when he heard the concern-filled words of the nice man before him. The man who hadn’t even panicked when they had admitted to knowing his secret regarding that man-eating tree (that wasn’t a man-eating tree anymore), looked very anxious at the moment. For some reason, that sight made him feel a lump in his throat. More tears welled up in his eyes, and rolled down his cheeks as he jumped into this nice man’s arms, feeling warm and safe for the first time in so long in the embrace of this stranger who showed them more compassion than their own family did.
Cale let his arms gently hold the crying child in his embrace. He patted the back of his head soothingly and spoke, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright. This Hyung will not let your sister be hurt anymore.”
Ignoring the shocked eyes of his entourage, Cale stood up with the red haired boy in his arms.
“Come on, lead us to your sister.” he coaxed the child in his arms. Hong clung closer to ale and whispered the directions to him, which Cale followed without any further delay. The rest of the entourage who were left scrambling after him. After many twists and turns, Cale and the others ended at the entrance of a deserted alley located at a corner of the residential area, and was also near the city gates. Cale walked to the corner where Hong pointed him to,and saw the boy’s silver haired sibling huddled up against a corner of the alley.
He gently put down the boy, and walked towards the girl, who was shivering as she slept fitfully. Her body was burning up with a fever. Her brows were scrunched up, as if feeling pain even in her sleep. Her whimpers made his heart ache. Her right hand was bent at an awkward angle, which might be a fracture. He frowned when he watched her tiny form lying on the cold, dirty ground. This unhygienic environment would only make her condition worse.
“How did she get hurt?” Cale asked with a frown.
“Someone pushed her,” Hong answered vaguely. He was very reluctant to tell him the whole truth, especially with this many people listening in.
Cale didn’t force him to explain in detail. Instead, he bent down and carefully picked the silver haired girl in his arms. He then turned to his entourage and commanded, “Let’s go.”
As they headed to the Henituse mansion, Cale gently held her loser to him. He then spoke softly to her, as if to reassure the child who was tense even in her sleep, “You will be fine.” He spoke to her in a soft tone that he had only reserved for his precious pet, “Both you and your brother will be fine. I will make sure of that.”
After making that promise, he quickened his pace, not knowing that the child in his arms momentarily opened her eyes to glance at him, before falling into a sleep that was no longer tense. What this child needed was a sense of safety, and this oppa, even with his unreliable personality, provided it in spades.
Cheapskate’s mental theatre-
Cheapskate!Cale: My reincarnation is sus.
Glutton: You sus everything except gold.
Cheapskate!Cale: …… Fair enough