Silence filled the guest reception room.
Antonio looked down at his clenched fists before slowly unclenching them. He could see his empty palm.
He had realized something about himself through this chat.
Why did he think that Cale Henituse was looking to get something for him or try to take advantage of him when all he did was ask for a chat?
Antonio felt as if there was a mask in his empty palm. The name of that mask was, ‘noble.’ He too was wearing a fake noble mask.
He started to speak.
“What do you mean by open the gates?”
Antonio’s nervousness showed as he asked the question.
‘Open the gates to the Empire when the kingdom asks for it.’
It was a pretty dangerous proclamation if you understood it in the wrong way. It could be interpreted as the Roan Kingdom raising their sword against the Empire.
“Young master Antonio.”
However, Cale just responded back with a question.
“Are you worried that his highness the crown prince would want to wage war against the Empire?”
This was indeed the case.
The crown prince might desire to go to war against the Empire or another foreign nation. That was what Antonio was worried about.
Antonio could see that a corner of Cale’s lip had gone up a bit.
“I thought I was very clear.”
Cale repeated his words once again.
“When the kingdom asks for it.”
Not the crown prince but the kingdom.
There was a big difference between the two.
However, Antonio did not realize that difference until just now. Cale added on after realizing that Antonio had caught on.
“The Gyerre household that works for the kingdom should know what I mean, right?”
‘Works for the kingdom.’
Those words lingered in Antonio’s mind. His expression turned serious at the same time.
A situation where the entire Roan Kingdom would want them to open the gates to the Empire.
That would mean that the Empire did something terrible that the Roan Kingdom could not simply brush aside.
The kingdom meant that the crown, the nobles, and the citizens all wanted it.
‘…What did the Empire do?’
The Gyerre household was responsible for the southwest region that was the closest to the Empire. Although he was the heir of the family, Antonio could not figure out what the Empire could have done in order to cause such a situation.
He called out to Cale after realizing that his lack of information was a more serious issue.
“Young master Cale-”
“Figure it out yourself.”
Antonio could not ask about what the Empire did after hearing Cale’s response that drew the line.
He could not say anything about it.
With his weakness in Cale’s hands, he had to do whatever was asked of him without asking any questions. Furthermore, it was only proper for the Gyerre household to figure it out on their own if it was something the Empire did that was related to the kingdom.
It was either that he investigate it on his own, or, there was another option.
“…I will ask his highness, the crown prince.”
He needed to go above the Duke level to ask.
Antonio looked toward Cale, who accepted his response as the obvious answer and made up his mind to stealthily investigate the Empire and go through the southwest region’s defensive maneuvers once more.
That was the response that Cale had wanted.
He wanted Antonio to be wary.
He also wanted Antonio to stealthily investigate the Empire. In addition, Antonio would be interested in the flow of events in the kingdom without only seeking power.
It would be beneficial for Cale if a noble who held power in one region of the kingdom held such a demeanor. Cale sat up on the chair and made eye contact with Antonio.
“I hope that you make the right decision after thinking about it.”
Cale did not want to talk anymore.
All requests were best if they were presented in a short manner.
Of course, he didn’t forget to threaten Antonio in the process.
“These documents are all copies. I have the originals, so I hope that you make your decision without forgetting that your weakness is still in my hands.”
Antonio let out a sigh and smiled.
That action made Cale start to frown. Antonio was smiling after being threatened.
‘…This is weird.’
He thought that Antonio had understood him, but rather than frowning, Antonio had a smile on his face.
‘Why is he smiling?’
Antonio was relieved while Cale was confused.
‘Not everything grandmother said is correct.’
A noble who uses your weakness in order to request something on behalf of the kingdom is a, ‘true noble.’ Antonio felt as if something in his mind had cleared up after meeting such a, ‘true noble.’
“You are a noble, young master Cale.”
But Cale could see that Antonio had understood him properly.
‘I guess I meet his criteria.’
The fact that Antonio had called him a noble meant that Antonio had a very good impression of him.
‘The crown prince will take care of the rest.’
The crown prince would know how to keep Antonio in check as soon as Cale handed over the documents.
Cale felt satisfied that things went as planned.
However, there was something that went a bit different than he had expected.
“I know you are busy, so I will be on my way now.”
Cale heard Antonio’s voice as he was about to walk out of the guest reception room.
“Thank you very much, young master Cale.”
Cale turned around in shock.
“Thank you for many things.”
The smiling Antonio seemed to be giving off a sense of vitality. Cale started to feel odd after seeing Antonio looking happy, contrary to his expectations.
‘…Should I have properly threatened him and taken something in the process?’
He had not requested any material goods from the Gyerre household in order to act like a proper noble. He felt a bit disappointed, however, Cale forced a smile toward Antonio before walking out of the guest reception room.
He was pretty much done with his tasks for the day.
However, there was still one task remaining.
But that was for tomorrow. He could not do it until after midnight.
The largest guest bedroom. Cale leaned back on the comfortable bed and looked toward the video communication device.
– I connected it!
The screen turned on and Raon flew over to the corner where On and Hong were sitting. There was a lot of food in front of the three children.
Cale observed Raon quietly chewing on some meat before turning his gaze toward the screen.
– Young master Cale.
He was naturally talking to crown prince Alberu.
The last task he had was to report to the crown prince. It was always necessary to report in after creating a mess.
Crown prince Alberu was frowning.
Cale understood that Alberu would find it disrespectful that he was leaning on the bed. Who wouldn’t be angry after seeing someone relaxing on a bed when they had been working frantically until now?
Cale, who had filled his stomach with food, felt bad for Alberu.
That was why he started to speak first.
But Alberu cut him off. Alberu was frowning as he started to speak, almost in agony.
– You really are not the kingdom’s star but the kingdom’s light.
Cale’s expression stiffened up.
Alberu did not care as he used his glib tongue for the first time in a while.
– With a light like you, our Roan Kingdom is not even afraid of the darkness. You are not just a star, but the brightest star in our kingdom.
‘…Why is he acting like this?’
He started to get annoyed even though he was full and relaxed.
“Your highness, shall I sit up?”
Cale tried to stop leaning on the bed and sitting up.
– No, no need to do so. I heard about it.
Alberu no longer seemed to be in agony as he started to smile brightly. Someone might even think that he was out enjoying a beautiful flower field or something.
However, Alberu was feeling as if he was somewhere even better than a flower field.
– You coughed up blood and almost fainted while trying to capture human traffickers in the Gyerre territory?
“…A part of it is true.”
He did not cough up blood or almost faint.
– You used amazing charisma in order to capture the human traffickers, destroyed their buildings with the silver shield, and rescued the imprisoned citizens?
“…I suppose so?”
That was indeed what had happened.
However, it seemed to be a bit exaggerated.
– You pretended to be drunk and observed the human traffickers through a restaurant window before confidently taking them on with just one knight by your side?
“…Could you please stop?”
Cale started to frown while Alberu started to smirk. Alberu seemed to be feeling good even though his face looked tired.
That made Cale realize that there was no need to go into details about today’s event with Alberu.
“It looks like you’ve already heard about most of it, your highness.”
He knew that one of the crown’s informants would be in the Gyerre territory.
The crown prince was a meticulous person after all.
However, he had not expected that much information to be delivered so quickly.
– Yes. My informant told me about the rumors spreading through the territory.
The exaggerated version Alberu discussed was what was quickly spreading throughout the Gyerre territory. The Duke’s Estate had no way of stopping the rumors from spreading.
Alberu had come to a conclusion after hearing the rumors.
– A good crazy bastard.
Alberu did not enjoy seeing Cale smirking at his words.
The other information he had received said that he did not cough up much blood but that there was only a bit of blood.
That would be why he was laying down to recover.
Then he could have rested and reported to him in the morning, but he was uselessly proper and waited until past midnight to report.
That was why Alberu found Cale to be the easiest to work with, even if he didn’t like the bastard.
It was because Cale was similar to him.
– What is it you need to report?
He was not the cruel type to hold up a recovering person. Furthermore, this bastard was the one who would soon go to the Caro Kingdom’s auction house in his stead.
“It is just a short report. I will send you the documents soon, but the merchant guild that traded with the Chryshi household is from the Empire, and there is also evidence of the Chryshi household hiring an assassin guild in order to kidnap a child in the past.”
Alberu suddenly felt a headache coming on.
– That is a short report?
“Yes, your highness. The Gyerre household will contact you soon. I put the chain on them so that you can use them as you wish.”
– …I suddenly feel tired.
Cale could see that Alberu was brimming with energy, contrary to his words. When he thought about it, the crown prince seemed to be the happiest when he could use people to his advantage.
– I will hold on to the chains tightly.
“Yes, your highness. I’m sure that the wise star of our kingdom will be able to properly handle any issues that come up.”
Cale felt odd after finishing his sentence. He soon realized why he felt this way.
It was because Alberu did not hang up even after he was finished with his report and started to flatter him. Cale stiffened up while wondering if Alberu had something else to say.
‘Is he going to put me to work?’
The satisfaction he had felt from throwing the Gyerre territory issue over to the crown prince slowly disappeared.
He heard Alberu’s voice at that moment.
– Sleep well.
Alberu hung up.
The crown prince had a look on his face as if he was being forced to eat something he didn’t like as he hung up.
‘Something feels off.’
Cale quickly pushed the video communication device away.
He then made a request to Raon before laying down.
“What is it, human? Sleep well as the crown prince said!”
“I will. Ignore the calls from the crown prince for a while.”
Cale looked at Raon’s front paws that were pulling the blanket up to his neck before deciding not to pick up any of the crown prince’s calls for a while.
He then firmed his resolve once more.
‘Within this year, no, by the end of next year, let’s deal with the North and the Empire so that I can relax in the villa.’
Cale had such a simple desire as he fell asleep. The children averaging nine-years-old left him alone as they chatted quietly on the side.
“We only got to see the desert last time we went to the Caro Kingdom! We will get to see all of it this time!”
“I really like traveling!”
On quietly finished eating a slice of cake while listening to her younger siblings chat. Raon and Hong could not hide their excitement about their next destination.
“Our house is good, but traveling is nice too!”
“I agree! It’s fun traveling together like this!”
“Yeah! I’m curious about the Eastern continent too! Let’s travel everywhere! We are great and mighty, so we can do it!”
They were saying things that would make Cale faint in shock. On peeked toward the sleeping Cale before shaking her head. However, she kept her mouth shut as she wanted her younger siblings’ desires to become true.
Hong and Raon started to discuss their plans to travel the world while On just sat there in silence.
Cale had a nightmare that night.
* * *
“Young master-nim, you don’t look too well.”
“I had a nightmare.”
Cale shivered as he recalled the terrible nightmare.
His dream was one where he was traveling the world with multiple baggage-like people. The Vitality of the Heart could not heal mental damage, so Cale looked pale for the first time in a long while.
The person who came to see Cale cautiously started to speak as he looked toward the pale Cale.
“The Paerun Kingdom’s capital was a nightmare.”
It was the Flynn Merchant Guild’s Billos. He could see Cale smiling for a moment at his comment before returning to his usual stoic expression.
Bago City, the capital of the Paerun Kingdom. The location of the God’s Tears Lake.
That lake was still on fire and the citizens of the Paerun Kingdom were talking about how this was the god’s rage or the god’s will.
Although nobody was hurt nor suffered any damages from the fire, the fear and uncertainty continued to develop in the minds of the citizens.
Billos was half certain that Cale’s group was responsible for the fire.
“The fire is still not out?”
Cale’s response made him become completely certain.
‘Young master Cale Henituse did something big again!’
“Young master-nim, just what did you do?”
“Why do you ask?”
Billos started to get frustrated with Cale’s casual demeanor.
“The north is a mess, a mess. It is a total mess!”
“Ho, my goodness.”
Billos sighed in front of Cale for the first time. Cale ignored him and got on the carriage.
“Billos, let’s head over to the Caro Kingdom right away.”
He needed to go to the auction house in order to hook a person instead of any item in the auction.
He also needed to get some money in the process.