Chapter 35 - A Gift for My Father
“Do you plan on keeping him in the palace for much longer, Your Majesty?” the prime minister asked.
The emperor raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t it obvious? There is no one more skilled than him for the job.” His fierce voice revealed an underlying resentment toward Duke Floyen.
The prime minister sighed. “Of course, Your Majesty. The duke’s presence will scare these scoundrels in advance and put their efforts to waste, but…” ‘You are belittling his reputation as a national hero,’ he thought to himself, then he spoke again. “If you continue to keep him in the palace, the people’s resentment will only increase. I believe it is more important to devise a plan to identify the mastermind behind the assassinations, rather than order the duke to stay.”
The emperor glared at the prime minister, displeased by his unwelcome advice. “I will make the right decision. You don’t have to be so concerned,” he said stubbornly.
“But…” The prime minister tried to make his point again, but the emperor cut him off.
“You can leave, Duke Elios.”
The prime minister sighed. “Duke Floyen had a great reputation in the past, but his current prestige is even greater. If you want to keep him in check, you must bring His Highness the Crown Prince back to the capital. Please use good judgment.” With these parting words, he bowed and left.
‘How dare he advise me without knowing anything…’ The emperor’s face twisted as he stared at the ring on his middle finger. It was the eye of Kirke, a symbol of imperial sovereignty created by an archmage who became the very first emperor. A smile slowly appeared on his face.
‘As long as I have this, he cannot disobey me.’
* * *
Somewhere near the Central Palace, Regis was sitting on a tree branch with his eyes closed. He didn’t budge even when a weary little bird perched on his shoulder. It jumped up and down a few times before settling comfortably on his shoulder and falling asleep. The atmosphere was so peaceful that it seemed like Regis was taking a break rather than guarding the palace.
‘There’s someone close by.’ He opened his eyes as the wind rustled his hair and observed the person approaching the Central Palace. When he saw who it was, he relaxed and let out a yawn. ‘It’s just Roy. Well, I should get down now.’
“Go,” Regis ordered the bird on his shoulder. When it woke up, the bird chirped and clung to him in resistance. “My daughter dislikes small animals,” he said firmly. It gazed at Regis with rueful eyes before spreading its wings and flying away.
When the duke jumped down the tree, Roy reeled back with amazement. “S-so you were here.”
“What is it?”
“Oh, I just received some news from the mansion—”
Roy sighed when his boss impatiently cut him off before he even finished speaking. “Yes. It’s about Lady Floyen—”
“What? Did something happen to Jubelian?” Although his boss was far from talkative, he cut Roy off again.
“No, it seems like she is… anxious because of Your Grace’s absence…”
Regis’s blue eyes glinted when he heard the news. ‘Jubell is looking for me?’ The corner of his lips raised slightly.
‘Is His Grace smiling…?’ Roy was surprised for a moment, but he continued reporting the news from the mansion. “Lady Floyen is also feeling unwell. It seems like she’s very anxious because she hasn’t left her room since you left the mansion.” As soon as he finished speaking, the duke’s smile disappeared from his face.
“I see. It’s time for us to drop this act after all.” He gazed at the window that led to the emperor’s office.
* * *
I glanced at the three-seat couch that had become the bed of my father’s disciple.
‘He has really made himself at home,’ I noted. Four days had already passed since I let him stay. Thankfully, my large room boasted a connected bathroom, so it wasn’t an inconvenient accommodation. I just had to be careful when the maids occasionally came to clean my room or see if I was doing okay. Even so, secretly cohabiting wasn’t smooth sailing.
‘He probably doesn’t know that the couch he is lying comfortably on was originally my resting place,’ I complained to myself. His presence not only greatly diminished my personal space, but also made it difficult to differentiate our boundaries.
“What is it?” the man questioned with an expectant gaze. He must’ve noticed that I had been quietly sighing to myself, so he was probing for the cause of my dissatisfaction.
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