Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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When Chaylen said his name, the nobles in the meeting hall became confused and started to look at each other.
The Duke of Kaicher, as they knew him, was not that man.
But some of them seemed to know who he was when they heard his name.
Chaylen, who had already anticipated this reaction, calmly continued.
“First of all, I apologize for being late for the meeting. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Imperial Palace, Your Majesty, and I got lost.”
Unable to bear Chaylen’s words, Duke Raymir raised his voice.
“It doesn’t make sense that he’s the Duke of Kaicher. Your Majesty.”
When the conference hall instantly became noisy, Terban had no choice but to step up. Of course, he also knew very well that the man in front of him was not the Duke he knew.
“Everyone, be quiet.”
Terban said to Chaylen when the silence came to the conference hall.
“I think we need an explanation. You’re the Duke of Kaicher? The Duke I know is Peisen Kaicher.”
(*chapter 3 had the conversation between Duke Peisen and El, if anyone wants to refresh your mind.)
“He is my uncle.” (Chaylen)
The word “uncle” that the stranger had used automatically gave Terban an idea of who he was.
“My father is Duke Heindel Kaicher, head of the Kaicher, and I am his son, Chaylen Kaicher.”
The audience buzzed again at the unexpected introduction of Chaylen, and so did Terban.
‘If Duke Heindel Kaicher, then, indeed…’
Terban remembered a long time ago from the same name that Chaylen just mentioned.
It was when he was a child, so he didn’t know the details either, but he did know that the entire Kaicher family had died in an unexpected accident, and that the Duke’s younger brother, Peisen Kaicher, took over.
It was faintly remembered that such a tragic thing had happened to one of the few Dukes of the empire at the time, and everyone was shocked.
However, Chaylen Kaicher, who was believed to be dead, reappeared after a long time. And the person most surprised by this fact was Duke Raymir.
‘It can’t be. The Duke’s family was obviously………’ (Raymir)
Chaylen watched Raymir’s reaction carefully. When Raymir showed the expected reaction, Chaylen almost laughed but controlled himself because he was in front of the emperor.
‘Yes, that’s how I expected.’ (Chaylen)
Terban was surprised by the sudden situation, but he could not believe that man’s words unconditionally, so he asked calmly.
“How can you prove that fact?”
Of course, Chaylen naturally knew that the emperor would react this way, and he took out a document from the envelope he was carrying.
“This is a document that I received directly from my uncle Peisen, and it states that he will give me the title of head of the house. And here’s the seal of the Keicher family. And………”
But there was clearer evidence than this document to Chaylen that no one could deny.
“The unique hair and eyes of the Kaicher family prove it. Anyone who knew my father would recognize it immediately. Isn’t that right, Duke Raymir?”
As Chaylen said this, some nobles thought of his father, Duke Heindel Kaicher, right away.
At Chaylen’s claim, Raymir could no longer utter a word of rebuttal, and his hands, hidden under the table, were clenched in anger.
Through an aide, Terban looked at the document that Chaylen had brought with him and was convinced that he was from the Kaicher family.
Because of the reactions of others, and most of all because Chaylen’s words brought up a part of his memory that Terban had also forgotten.
Whatever had happened, this man, Chaylen, seemed to be fully qualified to attend this meeting as a Duke.
“I’ll hear more details later, so take a seat, Duke Chaylen. We must now begin the meeting.”
“Yes. Once again, I apologize for postponing the meeting.”
With a polite greeting, Chaylen proudly took the empty seat, and his eyes met with Raymir’s on the other side. Then it was the other side that avoided him instead.
“And now for the first agenda……….”
Smiling at the sight of Raymir, Chaylen immediately focused on the emperor’s voice. Leaving behind the eyes of those who glanced at him.
The meeting continued in a serious atmosphere, and Terban opened his mouth about the next matter.
“In the following matter, due to the severe damage caused by the long drought in the western region, we have asked for help from the surrounding territories. The Imperials would naturally like to help, what do you think?”
As soon as Terban mentioned the matter, the nobles who ruled the territories outside of the western region immediately protested.
“I think that the family that rules the western territory must first provide what they need to the fullest extent before asking for help. Isn’t that the duty of those who govern the territory?”
The western nobles did not remain silent at the obvious rejection. It was as if they had expected it to come out this way.
“That’s because you don’t know the situation in the western region. The young people are suffering a lot because of the drought that has been going on for a long time. Of course, we are also coming forward, but we need help from other provinces as well.”
“So, give them enough and if it’s not enough, bring it up again then. Why are you asking for help first when you haven’t even tried yet? Don’t tell me it’s because you don’t want to spend money on the people in your territory?”
“No, you can’t mean that.”
The two sides were in sharp disagreement and didn’t listen to each other from the beginning.
“And don’t think that only the western region was affected. We’ve been hit hard by the drought as well.”
Terban’s head hurt as the nobles clamored for their own benefits.
However, if someone were to say that they would go ahead and help each other, it would only complicate things further because they would keep pushing each other to do the work that needed to be done.
‘It’s as I expected.’
Just as Terban was about to shut everyone up as he couldn’t stand to listen any more to the arguments, a voice came out ahead of him.
“Then, all you have to do is prove it.”
All eyes turned to Chaylen, who had been sitting still since the meeting began, opening his mouth. Despite those stares, Chaylen calmly stated his opinion.
“Since everyone is having a hard time, I think it would be better if the imperial family made a thorough survey of the situation in each territory. We can look at the results and only exclude those who really can’t help.”
“What do you know, Duke Chaylen, you’re new to this place……..”
However, that opinion didn’t lead to a rebuttal from Chaylen. Contrary to his earlier polite appearance, he continued with a cold appearance.
“I’m sure I know at least as much as the Count, who says it’s hard even though he’s exclusively trading with other kingdoms.”
The Count, sitting next to Raymir, quickly fell silent, as if he couldn’t find the words to say back. At the sight of him, Chaylen made sure to wedge in the last word.
“But the word hard here is meaningless because anyone can say it. So if you are really having trouble helping, prove it with evidence that looks fair to everyone.”
No one objected to Chaylen’s words willingly, because it could be misinterpreted that they had something to hide.
“I don’t care how you do it, so I’ll go along with your suggestions. Do you want to help without saying anything, or do you want to go through a complicated procedure?”
As Chaylen said this, he looked at Raymir across the table.
Raymir didn’t like it, of course, but now he had no choice but to do what he wanted. It would be difficult if the imperial family dug the matter deeper.
“I think we all need to work together on these critical issues. There is no guarantee that this will not happen in our territory. We should all agree for the sake of the future.”
The others nodded in obedience to Raymir’s words, but some of them didn’t turn their gaze to Chaylen.
Terban had been watching the whole situation, and his gaze naturally went to Chaylen, who had overwhelmed the nobles at once, despite the fact that this was the first time he had attended the meeting.
‘He’s different from the former Duke.’
Terban remembered Peisen Kaicher, who had sat in that seat before, and said when the matter was concluded sooner than he expected.
“Then I understand that you have all agreed to help. So, the next agenda is………….”
From that next matter, Chaylen skillfully expressed his opinion and before he knew it, he was leading this meeting.
The more he did so, the colder Raymir’s eyes became as he looked at him.
“Well then, let’s end the meeting here. And …….”
Before leaving the conference hall, Terban spoke to Chaylen.
“Duke Chaylen, come see me later.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Everyone stood up and bowed to the Emperor. Once the Terban had completely disappeared, some noblemen approached Chaylen.
But his gaze was fixed on Raymir, who was in a hurry to get out of the meeting hall.
“I had no idea he was still alive like this.”
“I was really sorry to hear about Duke Heindel’s death.”
Chaylen didn’t bother to hide the fact that he was gasping at the words that ostensibly concerned him.
Because now that the emperor was gone, there was no more need or reason to be polite.
“As soon as my uncle became the head of the house, your sorry seems to disappear quickly.”
The nobles were silent at the words that hit the target. He was right, they were busy making connections with the newly appointed Duke, Peisen.
“You’d better not think I don’t know anything.”
When they didn’t answer as expected, Chaylen’s expression quickly faltered and he walked past them with ease, leaving the conference hall.
“How could this be…”
Raymir was nervous and couldn’t even think properly. Just now, someone who shouldn’t appear in front of his eyes appeared.
Raymir looked back in surprise at the voice calling him as he was walking hurriedly.
Before he knew it, Chaylen was approaching in front of him.
He quickly hid his bewilderment and asked with fake joy.
“What is it, Duke Chaylen?”
“It’s been so long, I wanted to say hello.”
“That’s true. It’s so unfortunate, I never imagined such a good person like your father would leave so early.”
Chaylen looked at Raymir, who was casually expressing his pity in front of him, and managed to hold back something he wanted to say.
‘Now is not the time for that.’
Instead, he asked.
“Doesn’t it bother you, Duke Raymir? Why am I here when everyone thought my family was dead, and what on earth happened that day?”
When Raymir couldn’t answer, Chaylen even laughed, as if to tease him.
“I’ll let you know the next time I have more time because it’s a long story. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
“Oh, I see. Give my regards to your uncle. I haven’t heard from him at all lately.”
As Raymir also hurried to leave, he was forced to stop at Chaylen’s continued reply.
“In what way do you think I received documents from my uncle to hand over his position as the head of family?”
“By the way, it seems that Duke Raymir had regular contact with my uncle. You didn’t seem to be that close to my father.”
At that, Chaylen walked away, leaving only the meaningful words behind. The smile from earlier completely disappeared.
‘Look forward to it. This is only the beginning.’