Antonio Gyerre looked around.
He could see the territory’s soldiers quickly approaching from the distance. There were citizens standing across the bridge in the shopping district as well.
Most importantly, there were the people of the slums who were hiding in their houses but had their ears open.
The Guard Captain and administrator approached Antonio. Cale handed a piece of paper to Antonio. There was a total of 10 houses marked on it.
“Those are the houses the human traffickers have people imprisoned.”
“…Thank you very much, young master Cale.”
Antonio was certain after seeing Cale looking at him clearly.
This person was not drunk at all. He had clearly proceeded with this plan with a clear mind.
Cale handed him another document.
Antonio saw the crest on top of the document.
It was the crest of Baron Chryshi, one of the vassals of the Gyerre household. Antonio’s expression turned serious. He then noticed a person being dragged over by Vice Captain Hilsman.
“This is the butler of the Chryshi household.”
“…Young master Cale.”
Antonio called out to Cale almost in a moan. A terrible thought was going through his mind. There was a good chance that this thought would become reality.
“Young master Antonio.”
Cale approached Antonio. He looked toward Antonio, who was looking at him with a stiff expression, and started to speak.
“I do not have the talent of beating around the bush.”
Antonio felt as if his mouth was going dry. The innocent looking noble, the stupid looking noble who said he was going to drink, that person was no longer in front of him.
This person in front of him was the Cale Henituse that was known to be the crown prince’s close confidant.
“I didn’t do this quietly on purpose.”
Cale made it very clear to Antonio and the Gyerre Estate.
He had done this out in the open on purpose. There was a hidden meaning underneath it as well.
If Cale had given this information to the Gyerres in advance, they would have stealthily taken care of everything.
That would have been preferable for the Gyerre Estate.
They would have been able to hide the fact that such atrocities had happened in the center of the Gyerre territory where the Gyerre Castle was located.
However, it was impossible to take care of this issue quietly now.
Antonio questioned Cale’s actions. He would have had no choice but to agree to any of Cale’s conditions if Cale had used the fact that he would keep this incident a secret as leverage.
Antonio could see Cale’s mouth starting to open as if he was going to answer this question.
Cale had done this out in the open on purpose.
There was a reason for that.
“I need the southwest region.”
The crown prince.
Antonio suddenly thought about that person. However, Cale did not explain anything else.
“I’m sure that you are busy now, so let us chat later.”
Cale walked past Antonio and leisurely returned to the castle.
Antonio observed Cale, who was walking away, before sighing and turning around.
“Some of the knights will come with me to the Chryshi Estate this instant!”
Antonio had to take care of this sudden storm first.
Cale asked Ron, who had stealthily appeared next to him.
“They’re not following me, right?”
“Yes, young master-nim. Young master Antonio seems to be focused on resolving this incident first.”
He is authoritative and puts a lot of emphasis on a person’s qualifications, but at least his foundation is solid.
Cale made a judgment about Antonio’s character before slowly walking back to the castle so that people would see him.
‘I need to do this so that more people talk about it.’
Cale was hoping that the southwest region’s influence would shrink a bit from this incident.
The north would be chaotic in the spring so shouldn’t at least the south be quiet?
The southeast would be busy because they border the Whipper Kingdom that is ruled by Commander Toonka. They are probably nervous because they were worried about if and when Toonka might do something crazy again.
‘…The fact that Toonka is quiet these days is weird too.’
Toonka had become quiet after the war with the Empire.
Cale decided not to worry about it for now.
It was because he was hungry.
He became hungry after the Vitality of the Heart was utilized. Cale started to walk a bit faster.
“Young master-nim, please make sure to have a hearty dinner tonight.”
“Yeah, I will. Too bad Beacrox isn’t here.”
Cale, who answered Ron with whatever came to his mind, looked toward Ron after hearing Ron’s next words.
“Young master-nim, I am very proud of you.”
Cale’s expression turned odd.
It was a stark contrast to the Ron who always had a benign smile on his face.
Cale had not forgotten about how Ron looked happy earlier while clenching the butler’s neck. He seemed to be the most energetic he had seen in a while. Someone might even think he had become young again.
‘What a scary old man.’
Cale slowly took a half step away from Ron and rushed back to the castle. Ron watched Cale walking away from him before mumbling to himself.
“He never changes.”
The young master who was now a full-grown puppy, no, the young master who had become a tiger still did not know how to control his facial expressions.
Ron picked up the two kittens who stealthily approached him and followed behind Cale.
* * *
Antonio Gyerre looked out the window while walking down the hallway in the middle of the night.
The Gyerre Castle. There were many people walking around with torches inside of the castle. He watched these people who were moving with urgency and thought about his grandmother, Duchess Sonata.
‘Cale Henituse. Find out what he, and the crown prince behind him, wants.’
He had seen anger in his grandmother’s face for the first time in a long while.
That anger was directed at herself.
The Chryshi Household.
The documents that Cale’s guard knight had brought over, as well as the information that they had gained by storming the baron’s estate, gave the Duchess quite the headache.
A noble was involved in the slave trade.
Although she did not have detailed information yet, that alone was enough to embarrass the Gyerre household. Furthermore, the citizens had witnessed all of it.
There was bound to be a punishment from the crown, a loss of trust with the citizens, and judgment from the other nobles.
All of this was giving Antonio a headache as well.
However, he still needed to meet with Cale Henituse tonight. That was the mountain he needed to climb right now.
Of course, the real mountain he needed to climb was the crown prince, as Cale Henituse was working for the crown prince.
Prince Alberu was the prince who was poised to become the next king. There was no way he would just let this go.
‘And Cale Henituse is a noble as well. He will try to use this to blackmail us for his own benefits.’
Antonio had seen many greedy people hiding under the title of noble. Everybody he had come across had been the same way.
That was why he had always tried his best to be a proper noble. He didn’t want to give anybody a chance to find something to use against him. This was also the reason he ranked people with his own set of qualifications. It made it easier to deal with them.
Antonio made a noise outside of the guest reception room. That made Cale Henituse’s guard knight bow to greet him.
Antonio pointed to the door and Hilsman cautiously knocked on the door.
“Young master-nim, young master Antonio has arrived.”
“Please tell him to come in.”
Antonio stopped the guard knight and turned the knob himself after hearing Cale’s voice.
“I will help myself in.”
Antonio opened the door.
This was the first time he felt nervous going into his own guest reception room.
‘Is this what it feels like to have your weakness grasped by someone else?’
‘I’m curious to know what he will demand from me.’
Just what would Cale Henituse demand from him?
That was what Antonio was curious about.
But he thought the most Cale would want is power to support the crown prince. That was why he did not seem nervous as he walked in through the door.
He noticed Cale Henituse looking out the window as soon as he opened the door.
Antonio, the heir of the Gyerre household, felt as if it had been a while since he had seen someone’s back. Frustration and annoyance filled his mind.
“Young master Antonio.”
Cale called out to him and slowly turned at that moment.
He then asked in a casual tone.
“Are the people okay?”
Antonio, who had been walking in, suddenly stopped moving. He looked toward Cale, who asked once more after it seemed as if Antonio did not understand his question.
“Are the people who were kidnapped doing okay?”
“…I didn’t think you’d ask such a question.”
Cale looked toward Antonio, who was mumbling to himself with confusion. That made Antonio sigh before closing the door.
“We managed to rescue all of them.”
“That is a relief.”
Antonio could see Cale smiling before returning to his stoic expression after hearing his words. That made Antonio start to feel odd.
Was asking about the citizens another strategic move in order to get the Gyerre household to bend their knee?
Or was Cale truly concerned?
‘I guess I’ll find out based on our conversation.’
Everything would be revealed based on what Cale Henituse asks of him.
Antonio had a lot of things to do right now, but he did not lose his calm demeanor. He sat down on a couch and pointed to the opposite side for Cale.
However, Cale did not sit down.
“I’m sure that you are busy with work for the territory, so I will keep it short.”
Cale did not want to extend this conversation for no reason.
“I already mentioned I am not talented in beating around the bush, so I will get straight to the point.”
“I am curious to hear what you have to say.”
‘What will he ask for?’
Antonio was leaning on the couch looking relaxed, but his back was stiff as he looked toward Cale.
Cale took a document out of his chest pocket and put it on the table.
It was a thick stack of paper.
‘Are these his conditions?’
Cale started to speak as Antonio had that thought in his head.
“This is a document detailing how the Chryshi household hired an assassin guild to kidnap a child in the past.”
Antonio’s face turned stiff.
The slave trade wasn’t it.
There was more to it.
Cale Henituse had two cards up his sleeve and Antonio had just found out the second one.
He could see Cale smiling at him.
“I did not share this in front of the citizens earlier. Only I know about this.”
Antonio brushed his eyes with his hands. This single day had brought him quite a lot of fatigue.
“…I am also not talented in beating around the bush. Nor do I have the time to do so.”
He asked Cale to get to the point.
“What is it that you want?”
However, another stack of paper was thrown on the table instead of a response. Antonio looked down at the stack of paper.
“This is the information about the merchant guild that the Chryshi household sold the slaves to.”
Antonio held back his groan.
He had thought Cale was famous for his just actions, but Cale was more meticulous than he had expected. Cale had information that the Duke’s Estate did not have because the incident had just occurred today. Antonio had no choice but to be dragged around by Cale.
Antonio almost blacked out after hearing Cale’s next words.
“It is a merchant guild from the Empire.”
Antonio closed his eyes.
‘…That damn crazy bastard!’
He could not help but swear at Baron Chryshi.
Not only did he enslave his fellow citizens, but he had also sold them off to a merchant guild from the Empire. It was difficult even for a person to move from one region of the kingdom to another, but he had smuggled them out to a foreign nation.
This would be bad for the Gyerre household if it was to get out.
Antonio felt gratitude that Cale brought this information to them first. However, he felt suffocated at the same time.
His weakness had been thoroughly grasped.
‘Antonio, these so-called nobles are willing to stab each other for their own greed. That is why you need to know how to wield the sword as well.’
He remembered his grandmother’s words.
A sword was at his neck right now.
He was in a dire situation.
“Young master Antonio.”
Antonio opened his eyes.
He looked back at Cale Henituse.
“Please guard the southwest region’s gate.”
An unexpected story was coming out of Cale’s mouth. He could not avoid Cale’s gaze.
“Please make it so that a merchant guild from the Empire would not dare to come over to our Roan Kingdom in order to do such terrible deeds again.”
That was all Cale wanted from the Gyerre household.
“Don’t let even one of those damn rats in.”
Cale wanted Antonio to make it so that the Empire could not strike the Roan Kingdom while the war was going on to the north.
“As the gatekeeper, please have the Gyerre household keep the southwest gate safe.”
Antonio could feel his hands starting to go numb as he was looking into Cale’s firm gaze.
“That is what I want from you.”
Cale’s request was for the Gyerre household to do their job properly.
Antonio could not help but gulp.
All Cale was asking him to do was to properly do his job as a noble.
However, Antonio felt as if those words were very heavy.
He had never seen a noble sincerely wish for something so obvious like this before.
Alcohol. Trash. Greed.
Many words floated through his mind at once. He realized that he had the wrong impression of Cale.
This person was different. He did not want power nor have any greed.
He was not a fake pretending to be a noble.
“…Young master Cale-”
However, Cale was not done speaking.
“When the kingdom asks for it.”
There was something else the crown prince wanted.
“Please open the gates.”
The Empire would not stand for the alliance of the four kingdoms and the one beast tribe.
“This is what we want.”
Cale then stopped talking.
Antonio looked toward Cale and thought this was a, ’true noble.’ Antonio, who also wanted to be a true noble, clenched his fists.