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Upon receiving the offer to be promoted, though she was very happy that her abilities were recognized, it was the increase in her salary that made Dahlia accept the offer without hesitation.
Nineteen. She’ll turn twenty soon.
She should have collected 4 golds by now, if it went according to her plan. However, Dahlia was unable to achieve her target savings.
This was because she spent most of the money she had saved because of her sister’s illness during last winter.
The 3 gold and 50 silver that she had saved was instantly reduced to 2 gold. It’s a relief that Laurel stopped seizing, but her dream to open a flower shop after collecting five golds has drifted away. During such a situation, the offer for her promotion came, and it was an opportunity that Dahlia couldn’t miss.
“Although I’ll be busier than I am currently, nothing much will change. I’ll come running whenever you call for my help. So don’t be too upset, Young Master.”
As she spoke soothingly, Isaac’s furrowed brows eased slightly. His lips still remained in a pout.
Even though his body has grown so big, she found it cute that there wasn’t any change in how he acted. Dahlia comforted him with a light hug and then walked out of the room with a smile.
As she went down the stairs to the hall, a familiar face gave her a knowing look. Dahlia bowed her head in greeting.
“Mr. Hoover, you must be very busy recently. I don’t meet you in the annex oftenly.”
Hoover, who also became busy as Isaac’s work increased, exuded a sharper atmosphere than before. However, it wasn’t to the extent of hate, and he unknowingly grew closer enough with Dahlia to exchange greetings every day.
At the question of whether he has been very busy, Hoover sighed. From the way he didn’t deny it, it seemed that he was up to his eyes in work.
“You aren’t the only one that’s cleaning up the Young Master’s messes. I’m so busy doing the work of an impractical informant. In any case, come over here for a moment.”
Unlike his usual razor sharp countenance, Hoover seemed a little weary as he rummaged through his pockets. Soon after, a pair of white lace gloves appeared from his pocket, which he handed to Dahlia.
“You’re going back to the mansion, right? Young Lady Karla left this behind, so deliver it to her.”
“Does this belong to the Young Lady? Why does Hoover have this?”
“She must have forgotten it.”
His simple answer ignited her suspicion.
He wasn’t the petty sort that would steal things. Was he holding a candle for the young lady? It was as if he had secretly brought it along with him, and was returning it through another person because he felt uncomfortable…
As Dahlia tilted her head with a gaze of suspicion, Hoover couldn’t help but click his tongue and tapped her head.
“Enough of that. Just go and deliver it to her.”
He pushed the gloves into Dahlia’s hand and turned without hesitation. The shaggy red hair flickered from her view like a small fire, before disappearing.
Whether it was due to symbolism or the high population density, most of the citizens of the Republic thought that the capital was the largest territory. The fact is that Helman, the northwestern province and oldest city, was the most extensive territory.
In other words, from the term ‘the most extensive territory’, it was impossible for the Eufgenschults to rule over such a vast territory by themselves, no matter how great they were. Therefore, the ducal family divided the territory into 30 sections and gave mayoralty to their vassals to manage the territory efficiently.
The biannual conference for the first half of the year was occurring today, whereby all the vassals would gather. It would also be the first conference where the Little Duke Max, and his half-brother Isaac would make an official appearance as the Lord’s heir and the Lord’s aide respectively.
As if he was conscious of that fact, Max had been rebuking the maids temperamentally ever since morning, and was seated with a face of someone that couldn’t shake off his nervousness.
On the other hand, Isaac was staring straight ahead with his usual aloof face while being seated on Gerhern’s left side.
Dressed in a black suit and luxurious accessories, his half-brother had unknowingly shown the appearance of a mature young man. As he walked around with a white shirt, his dignified appearance made it hard for others to imagine him as a child,
Everything was unbearable to Max, from the fact that an illegitimate child was openly seated at the table, the amicable gazes and the sound of aged voices making jokes awkwardly, to the pathetic thing that dared to sit by the Lord’s left side.
Max clenched his teeth to avoid biting his nails.
“…The test operation of the related sections has been successfully completed, and the opening ceremony of the railroad will occur in ten days. As such, now that the routes to the west section have been completed, we can expect a major improvement in distribution.”
As soon as the final report ended, the elder Viscount Dittern looked back at Isaac with a joyful expression.
“It is all thanks to the aide that we can expand the routes so rapidly. Stability is also improved due to the replacement of the rails.”
“Your advice also solved the problem of the canals, which I had been struggling with recently. Blood can’t lie indeed. Your Grace deserves to be proud of yourself.”
At Viscount Dittern’s added words, Gehern smiled at him, saying that Isaac was different from him. The vassals beside him agreed and the sound of laughter and jokes spreaded across the table.
Max was the only one who couldn’t blend into such a friendly atmosphere.
After his graduation, he was showing his face to officially begin taking successor classes. For Max, today’s occasion was no different from a ladies’ debutante.
However, let alone attention, that sickening illegitimate brother had stolen all the attention.
Max was aware of the fact that Isaac was steadily expanding his influence while he was away from the mansion. However, he never thought that the extent of the support from the vassals was to this degree.
‘This b*stard and that b*stard are complete morons.’
Railways? Canal problems?
What’s the use of that? Even if he’s smart, it doesn’t change the fact that he came out of the pr*stitute’s womb.
Though he tried his best to control his agitation, the anger within Max wasn’t appeased. As he stared ferociously at his father while cursing him under his breath, Count Newett, who was seated on Gerhern’s right, smiled and met Max’s gaze.
“Come to think of it, everyone. Isn’t today the Little Duke’s first time attending the conference officially?”
Count Newett rose from his seat with his eyes still fixated on Max. Only then did the vassals turn their attention to Max. A faint smile appeared on Max’s stiffened lips.
This atmosphere, this attention. He returned to the duchy for this. Though he was still feeling dissatisfied, Max’s tightly tangled emotions had finally eased under the vassal’s submissive gazes.
“You’ve finally returned to your place after graduating. Have you learnt to your heart’s content?”
As if Viscount Dittern had been waiting for this, he asked a question with a benevolent face.
It might have been a ritualistic question, but it felt like a question aiming at the heart of the matter to Max, who had graduated with the worst report card.
Recognizing his bitter expression, the Viscount answered himself in a more generous tone.
“Whether it’s then or now, the curriculum at the public school is as tricky as ever. It’s already an impressive feat to have graduated.”
“It’s an honour to be a fellow alumnus with the Little Duke.”
As if he was seeking for agreement, Viscount Dittern threw a glance at Count Newett. Count Newett smiled softly and nodded.
“That’s right. I sincerely hope that what you have learned so far will be the Little Duke’s cornerstone, and be useful in managing this territory. While the Little Duke was away, Sergeant Eufgenschult was refining his knowledge in order to assist the Little Duke when he returned.”
Sergeant was a term used to refer to commoner vassals that didn’t have titles, while Eufgenschult was the surname of the noblest noble in this place.
Max, who was puzzled by who Servant Eufgenschult was referring to, let out a bitter smile when he saw Count Newett’s gaze move toward his half-brother.
Eufgenschult. Sergeant Eufgenschult?
He’s doing all sorts of things. What the hell did he do to entice the vassals like this?
It was so absurd that he was rendered speechless. Max, who was swearing under his breath, raised a few questions in a sarcastic tone.
“What do you mean, Sergeant Eufgenschult? Are you talking about Isaac?”
“That’s right. While you were devoted to your studies, he was learning the basics of assisting His Grace the Duke.”
Max gritted his teeth and glared at Count Newett. Anger flared in the blue eyes.
“There are other labels to put on him, so how dare you put a Sergeant and Eufgenschult on that illegitimate b*stard?”
The mild atmosphere quickly turned cold. Viscount Dittern, who was looking at Max in astonishment, opened his mouth stutteringly.
“Little Duke, it would be for the best if you’re mindful of your words in front of the vassals.”
“Viscount Dittern, are you seriously saying that? Calling that half-blood a Eufgenschult in front of the real Eufgenschult? Are you senile?”
“You are currently in a conference! Watch your language…!”
All the vassals shut their mouths at the sound of a hit on the table. Gehern got up from his seat to stop his son, but Max was faster than him and grabbed Isaac’s collar.
Unlike Max, who glared at his half-brother with burning eyes, Isaac just endured his gaze with a face of indifference. After staring at his black eyes, Max belatedly realised Isaac’s internal thoughts.
‘If you’re going to hit me, hit me.’
‘I have nothing to lose.’
Unlike his matured appearance which made him unrecognisable, those black eyes that seem to mock him were no different from when he was younger.
Those eyes that seem to look down on things that were insignificant. Those eyes…!
Max was also well aware that beating Isaac now wouldn’t benefit him at all. Far from benefitting, he would instant be criticised as an immature successor while sympathy would be drawn to this d*mn illegitimate b*stard.
‘You can’t hit him.’
‘You’re well aware of it, right? Right. I know that I can’t.’
But his instincts rejected his reason and chose to raise his fist into the air.
“You insolent b*stard…!”
Isaac’s head turned sideways with the sound of a violent hit. At the same time, sighs and screams flowed from the vassals.
“What are you doing, Little Duke!”
Gehern intervened between the two belatedly. Either way, Max was immersed in his fury and kept shaking his fist. Unfortunately, the fist that was filled with emotions had only met the innocent air, due to the restraints of the vassals.
Isaac groaned slightly in his father’s arms. Blood trickled down from his cracked lips. Gehern looked at him in surprise, and shouted for his attendants angrily.
“Drag Maximilian out of here in this instant! Right now!”
“There’s other things that you can defend, but defending a child of a pr*stitute? Have you all gone insane? How dare you give that b*stard the name of Eufgenschult!”
Max cursed hostilely. Along with his harsh voice, the cries of the vassals who were dissuading him, and the angry cries of Gehren were mixed, turning the place into a scene of chaos.
Silence only returned to the conference room after the two guards pulled him out. There wasn’t anyone that could easily speak up in the ensuing stagnant silence.
Surprisingly, Isaac was the first to speak.
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