Chapter 10

Translator: Alice

Editor: starrie

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His saddened eyes became brighter again instantly. His fingers that were frozen in the air moved again towards the bird. Just as his fingertips were about to touch its feathers, Isaac withdrew his fingers and clenched his fist.

 

No. There was only an unknown bird in front of him.

 

What kind of delusion was he having? It’s not Dahlia, it’s just a little creature, but why was there feelings of despondency? 

 

A bitter smile formed on his stiff lips. His hands went down silently, and Isaac’s body drooped as he quietly looked at the scarlet sky turning to dusk. The colours of the ever-changing sky dye the world brilliantly, and the sound of Isaac’s breath was the only thing that could be heard in this still and serene place. The tranquility was broken by the Duke. 

 

The door was opened without a sound, and the Duke quietly entered the room with an emotionless face. Without bringing an aide or a servant, the Duke arrived alone and raised an eyebrow when he found his son sitting by the window.

 

“Isaac.”

 

The low-pitched sound disturbed his peaceful mood. However, there was no sign on Isaac’s face, which had a soft smile as he met the Duke’s eyes, and raised himself from his seat leisurely. 

 

Silence quickly fell after the dozing bird awakened and disappeared out of the window with the sound of flapping wings behind it. Isaac straightened up after tidying his clothes. 

 

“What brings Your Grace here?”

 

“I had a lot on my mind, so I stopped by to rest for a while. Shall we play a round?”

 

Instead of answering, Isaac nodded and headed towards the balcony with the chess table.

 

Four hours ago, the chessboard that Dahlia had meticulously arranged ended up cluttered with chess pieces to replay a game. The messy pieces were arranged by Isaac instantly, and he gestured towards the other seat with his hand politely. 

 

The Duke sat down and reached for the pawn.

 

With the sound of pieces colliding with the chessboard, the pawns started to move forward.

 

In the beginning, the Duke’s hasty temperament could be seen through the fast-paced game. When the pawns faced off and created a defensive formation, the duke started to move his knight on the offensive, as if he had been waiting.

 

Words did not flow between them. The only thing that broke the heavy silence was the sound of the pieces rubbing against the chessboard. 

 

As all the knights escaped from the initial formation, even the sound of the pieces being moved softened. The Duke rolled a captured pawn in his hand and stared profoundly at Isaac.

 

The wrinkles around the eyes deepened with the passage of time, but his eyes were still as sharp as a knife. At the persistent gaze, Isaac felt a tingling sensation on his face.  

 

The Duke looked like he had words he wanted to say, but he stopped fiddling with his piece and just stared at Isaac, dazedly. Isaac raised his head at his stinging gaze. The Duke’s eyes narrowed as their eyes met. Still, his gaze did not fall. Unsuppressed emotions were transmitted through his eyes, making Isaac uncomfortable.

 

His foolish father.

 

Isaac swallowed a bitter smile internally when he sensed the faint remorse within the Duke’s pupils. Despite the familiarity of his gaze, he felt uncomfortable each time their eyes met. The Duke viewed him with the same emotions from the beginning till now, with only the specters of the past illuminated, and not himself. 

 

The duke was always looking at him, but it wasn’t Isaac that he was seeing. The duke had never looked at Isaac. Although he pretended to care about his son, in reality, the person the Duke wanted to take care of and apologize to wasn’t Isaac. To the Duke, the person sitting before him was not a worthless son that had no shared history with him, but the courtesan he once loved, Rene. 

 

“Are you castling?”

 

Isaac asked, while tapping the pawn he had captured with his fingertip. Lost in thought, the Duke was belatedly conscious of his words and nodded his head indistinctly. 

 

The separated king and rook, swapped positions and changed the flow of the chessboard. 

 

As if it was a scene from his foolish past, Isaac couldn’t help but laugh. The purpose of castling was for the rook to launch an offensive while protecting the king. At a point in time, Isaac thought that his life would be like castling. While a king had the freedom of movement, the game would be over if it was caught. 

 

A powerful tank that could roam far and wide while protecting the king. He believed that it would be beneficial for both the Duke and Isaac, if such a synergy could be actualized, resulting in them taking the upper hand of the chessboard. 

 

“Oh, I didn’t think of the bishop.”

 

At the sight of his knight being captured, The duke, who had been dazed, was surprised to the point of speechlessness. 

 

The boy who moved his bishop to capture the knight nodded his head to urge the Duke to make his next move. The Duke still stared at him with clouded eyes as he moved his knight mechanically. 

 

Their lines of sight met again. 

 

The image of his father at their first meeting was contained within his jet-black eyes.

 

‘…What was it like when I first arrived in the mansion?’ 

 

He came to Helman with a rebellious heart. The little boy who faced his father without much expectations, had the thought of becoming a rook to protect him, the moment he found out about the background of his father. The ruler of Helman, a revolutionary hero who led the Republic. The father, whom he did not know existed, appeared with such illustrious titles and shocked him.

 

Wouldn’t this person be different?

 

If it was this person, wouldn’t he be able to rely on him?

 

To a young child who lost the will to live and was faltering, the Duke was like a light in the midst of darkness. Inspired by the fact that he was a Eufgenschult, the little boy had no doubt in his mind that he could become the sword and faithful son of the king. 

 

But, the results were apparent. 

 

At best, he escaped the stigma of being the child of a courtesan, but was immediately enshrouded in the shell of an illegitimate child. 

 

Besides, the duke was already equipped with all the horses. Queen, bishop, rook, knight; there was no need for Isaac to prove his worth. 

 

Even if he proved it, he was already trapped in the frame of an illegitimate child.

 

What words could he use to promote himself?

 

There was only one place left for him.

 

There were a multitude of pawns piled up on the chessboard. Soldiers that were used as cannon fodder in the stead of knights, only to disappear one by one.

 

Like the other relatives who possessed the name of Eufgenschult, he too would be manipulated as a pawn and disappear without a sound eventually. The half-closed eyelids, quietly covered jet-black eyes. Isaac, who closed his eyes slowly, moved his pawn confidently.

 

Unlike the serene atmosphere, a fierce battle was occurring on the chessboard.

 

Isaac’s pawn, which captured the Duke’s bishop, unknowingly reached the opposite end of the board. Isaac placed the pawn that reached the end to one side, and laid down a knight at the space the pawn once occupied as he spoke.  

 

“Queening.

 

The queen wearing a crown replaced an unassuming pawn and began to advance. Isaac looked down at his queen, who relentlessly counterattacked, with deepened eyes. 

 

…If he was a pawn. He will never become a soldier that quietly disappears in the place of knights. He will hide his potential and improve himself endlessly, and after a while present the fruits of his labour as the strongest knight.

 

A snow-white finger contrasted greatly with the black queen, as it moved the knight. After careful calculation of the remaining pieces, he estimated that a checkmate would occur in the next four turns. 

 

Looking at the king he had to knock down, the corners of Isaac’s lips were raised at an angle out of the Duke’s view. 

 

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Dahlia headed to the dining hall just in time for dinner, but stopped upon the sight of a crowd gathered in front of the dining hall. The dining hall was always relatively free of people as the servants had meals in shifts. Just as Dahlia was about to join the unexpected crowd on her toes to see if anything happened. 

 

“Dahlia! You haven’t eaten yet, right?”

 

Edina, who was in the midst of the crowd, grasped Dalia’s hands with a brightly smiling face. “Move aside,” after Edina pushed past the other maids and entered the dining hall, she pointed to the boxes piled up in front of the kitchen and said in an excited tone.

 

“Look at this. Count Viten sent a present to Young Lady Karla. Do you know what’s in those boxes?” 

 

“What?”

 

“Crabs! Hairy Crabs from the North Sea!”

 

Edina grabbed Dahlia’s shoulder as she emphasized ‘the North Sea’.

 

She thought Dahlia would bounce about and make a fuss, but contrary to Edina’s expectations, Dahlia only blinked her big eyes without any response. The hand on Dahlia’s shoulders slided downwards as Edina made an expression of disappointment. 

 

“What’s with your reaction? Have you ever eaten hairy crab?”

 

“I grew up in the South… I tried fried mud crabs before.”

 

“Mud crabs? What is that? Hairy crabs are completely different from those cheap ones. It’s way more delicious.”

 

Excited, Edina raved about the texture of the hairy crab, as well as how expensive and delicious it was. Dahlia, who was quietly listening to Edina’s raving of hairy crab, asked the question she was most curious about as soon as Edina stopped speaking.

 

“It’s a gift for the Young Lady, but why is it in the servant’s dormitory kitchen?”

 

“What do you mean why? Crabs spoil easily. As the amount given was too much, they couldn’t finish it and the remainder fell to us. Therefore, crabs are on the menu for dinner today!”

 

As soon as the words were over, the kitchen maids started to bring an armful of steamed crabs out into the dinning hall. The steaming hot hairy crabs looked very hideous, making both Dahlia’s hunger and appetite dissipate. She took a step back, wondering if Edina’s taste might be strange.

 

Unlike the astonished Dahlia, all of the maids who were waiting in front of the kitchen picked up crabs with their faces in full bloom. In the dining hall where chatter and laughter once filled the air constantly, there was only the sound of hands extracting crab meat busily amidst the fishy and fragrant smell. 

 

‘Do you think this monster-looking thing is so delicious? Do the people of Helman like this?’

 

Dahlia, who stared at the crab with furrowed brows, resolved her doubts when Thelma, who was sitting at the end of the table, lifted a fork with a smiling face. If it’s not a face without expression, then it’s a face with a frown. Such a person who seemed to only have two emotions, anger and sadness, was smiling brightly as she put crab meat in her mouth.

 

The frequently found atmosphere of a dormitory manager that was constantly around Thelma disappeared, leaving her with a warm atmosphere that only a young lady in her twenties had. 

 

‘Is this so delicious? To the point where Ms. Thelma smiled like that?’

 

Dahlia blankly stared at Thelma as she pulled at Edina’s sleeve. 

 

“Ed-– Edina. Edina!”

 

“Why? Don’t do that, and you should quickly have some.”

 

“Look over there. Thelma is laughing over there…Eup!”

 

Out of nowhere, the soft crab meat was shoved into her mouth.

 

Dahlia, who tried to spit out the contents of her mouth by reflex, felt the delicate sweetness that permeated the tip of her tongue and widened her eyes.

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