Chapter 14

Translator: Alice

Editor: starrie

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Huge thanks to Curufin san for the kofis! (8/10)

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“For some reason, I think that His Majesty the Emperor will make an important announcement at this banquet.”

“You’re suddenly saying some baffling words.”

“I have that kind of feeling.”

“Is this the fortune telling that you had mentioned before or something? Just what are you sensing?”

“I just have that kind of feeling. It feels like something big is about to happen…”

Slarhan laughed at her groundless feeling.

As Ellier laughed along, she examined his expression carefully before adding. 

“It’s been a while since you’ve attended a banquet at the Imperial Palace, right?”

“Indeed.”

“Since you’ll be attending a banquet, let me take a look at Your Grace’s lucky color.”

“You’re seeming more and more like a quack.”

“I’m not a quack though. Here, let’s see, let’s see. What is the Master’s lucky color…?”

Ellier thought that she was more of a scammer than a quack, but she still firmly waved her hands near Slarhan’s face chaotically, pretending to feel something with her eyes closed. 

“I saw it! Purple! It’s a deep purple! It’s a purple that’s a little closer to blue.”

Slarhan’s look of absurdity obviously returned. 

However, Ellier looked straight into Slarhan’s eyes and continued to advise him.

“If you happen to see an intense purple that is close to blue, please act on the contrary of what the Master is feeling.”

“The contrary?”

“If you have feelings of unwillingness and avoidance towards something, you should approach and greet them cordially instead.”

“…It sounds like it’s a person.”

“Ah, if you’re going to a place like a banquet, there would be many people dressed in multicoloured clothes, so it’s just an example. Anyways, don’t forget about this. And if the Master benefits from it, please give me a reasonable amount for this incident.”

Slarhan’s eyes turned sharp instantly. 

“It’s not a joke, is it?”

Ellier left the room with his plate, smiling lightly.

‘Unless you’re a fool or colorblind, it’s impossible to pretend that you did not notice it when you’ve passed by that dazzling purple dress.’

Without support from the Imperial Family, Slarhan’s first target should be the lady in the purple dress. Although she was currently being ignored by everyone, that person would definitely become a source of power in the end. 

‘It’s just the beginning, Clyde. Everything isn’t going to follow your plans this time round.’

Ellier clenched her teeth.

This party, also known as the ‘The Banquet to usher Spring’, was held around March 15 each year, and is one of the most important parts of the Imperial Family’s schedule annually.

Other countries held New Year banquets on the first of January, but a large portion of the territories in the Empire of Paldinas underwent freezing cold winters, hence they rarely held events in the winter. 

Instead, when the harsh cold subsided, a banquet was held when spring arrived, inviting aristocrats from all over the country to the capital to celebrate. 

However, this year’s banquet was a bit suspicious from the beginning.

When Slarhan was unpacking his belongings at the Ventiark capital’s mansion and resting, a message saying to prepare for an audience with the Emperor came a day before the Spring Banquet. Hence, when he arrived at the audience chamber at the arranged time, the heir to the Marquis of Melbaran, Elanz, was also waiting to enter with a puzzled expression.

“The Duke of Ventiark, Slarhan Ventiark, and the heir of Marquis of Melbaran, Elanz Melbaran, please come this way.”

They were guided to the Emperor’s personal audience chamber.

“Oh, my nephews are here. You’ve both become dignified young men in the time that we’ve not met.”

“I greet Your Majesty the Emperor.” 

“I thank Your Majesty’s grace in inviting me.”

Elanz’s voice was as reluctant as Slarhan’s greeting to the Emperor.

Even though the younger brother that the Emperor hated the most was Irdel, his half-brother, the Marquis of Melbaran, had also suffered from many of the Emperor’s strikes.

At the sight of the Emperor who usually had a sharply raised eyebrow suddenly giving a benevolent face, his sense of caution was aroused, along with the feeling of alarm.   

“Even though I have been your uncle, I haven’t taken care of my nephews. It was a big mistake on my part.”

Slarhan and Elanz glanced at each other. There was puzzlement in both of their eyes. 

Either way, the Emperor continued to say what he wanted to say.

“I have called you both separately to inform you in advance of tomorrow’s announcement, so that you wouldn’t be too shocked.” 

“An announcement…?”

“Tomorrow, I will make an announcement regarding my successor.”

The Emperor tossed them an exploding bomb just as they thought that he had finally decided on a successor. 

“The Princes, the Princesses, and the both of you are candidates to be my successor.”

A cold silence instantly descended in the audience room as they realized the truth.

The words the Emperor had just uttered did not make sense immediately. 

Was this Emperor not the one who pressured both of his younger brothers in fear of their treason? But he was suddenly letting his nephews become possible candidates for the position of Emperor, this was something that couldn’t have happened.

Slarhan came to his senses first.

“…I am terribly sorry, Your Majesty. I may have heard wrongly, so I have to ask again. Their Highnesses, the Princes, the Princesses and… Did you say the two of us?”

“Yes, that’s right. And, to be honest, I want one of you to become the heir of this Empire.”

Now, Slarhan and Elanz seem to have forgotten how to breathe.

The shocking words told by the Emperor did not end there.

“It turned out that the Princes and Princesses are not my children. Ahahaha! So, you two are the real candidates that’ll become the lord of this Imperial Family.”

Slarhan had even started to suspect that the Emperor was drunk.

“Of course, those dishonest and despicable women wouldn’t just stand still. They will try to put their child, who doesn’t possess a drop of Solen’s blood, onto the throne. But I believe in you, and will recommend the collateral lines, to become candidates for the Emperor’s successor, and from then on, it’ll all be up to you. Have you understood? The Duke of Ventiark or the heir to the Marquis of Melbaran could become this Empire’s Emperor. Uwahaha!”

The Emperor continued to chortle, seeming to find something funny.

But Slarhan and Elanz didn’t find it funny at all.

He spoke as if he had done something amazing, but it was very dangerous to place an unprepared member of the collateral line as a candidate for the Emperor’s successor all of a sudden. 

As he had mentioned, the power of the Empress and the Imperial concubines weren’t something to scoff at.  

‘I might be assassinated tonight.’

As such, it was no different from the Emperor throwing the direct descendants and his nephews into an arena.

It was like he was implying, ‘Go and bite at each other to make me pleased.’

However, there wasn’t anyone that could nitpick at the Emperor’s crazy proposal.

Although the current Emperor was slightly unhinged, the Emperor of the Great Empire of Paldinas still wielded enormous power.

“I feel ashamed at receiving Your Majesty’s heavenly grace. Even if I’m lacking, I will do my best.”

“Oh, it’s just like Elanz. Yeah, Slarhan. What about you?”

“I’m someone lacking in mettle to become the Emperor. Please take back your orders.”

Slarhan refused.

Although he could feel Elanz’s bewilderment beside him, Slarhan couldn’t shake the feeling that the Emperor was testing him.

Unsurprisingly, the Emperor’s eyes slowly opened.

“Huhu, huahahaha! That’s right, the Duke of Ventiark doesn’t possess any ambition. Their incorruptible way doesn’t change even if the head of the family changes. However, Slarhan.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

“This is an order.”

As expected, it wasn’t a proposal towards his nephews.

It was an order, one that would only benefit the Emperor himself.

“…If it is Your Majesty’s order, I will gladly accept it.”

“You are a loyal subject, and a loyal child. My heart will feel at ease if either of you become the Emperor, as you both will never forget my grace, right?”

“There’s no doubt about that.”

Like Elanz, Slarhan answered without changing his expression.

It wasn’t anything difficult as he has been doing so for 20 years.

However, the sound of Slarhan’s sword cutting through the wind that night continued for a very long time in the mansion’s in the training field. 

During the banquet the next day, after receiving all the congratulatory greetings from all the nobles, the Emperor got the Imperial descendants and his two nephews to stand in the middle of the hall, and announced his successor.

“…Therefore, I have made a big decision, to appoint the most capable person amongst the Princes, Princesses, and my nephews as the next Emperor!”

Before that, whether it was excuses to explain himself, there was a long string of sentences, but the only sentence that entered people’s ears was that.

Naturally, the banquet hall turned into a vortex of shock.

They forgot that they were in the presence of the Emperor and murmured loudly.

The members of the Senate and the Noble Council that heard of the Emperor’s decision in advance looked somewhat gloomy, and the Empress, the Imperial concubines, and the Imperial descendants remained unwavering, making it unclear whether they were given any word in advance.

The Second Prince, Ravan, who stood next to Slarhan, quietly said in a sarcastic tone, “Now we’re going to have a dog fight.”

“Over the next three years, I will evaluate each candidate’s achievements and mistakes, and rank them accordingly. At the Mistletoe Festival in three years time, I will announce the person with the highest score as my successor. An Evaluation Committee of Candidates for Emperor will be convened, comprising of not only me, but the members from the Senate and the Noble Council. 

The buzzing in the room grew stronger.

It was indeed extraordinary.

He decided to prioritize “competence” instead of bloodline of the person becoming the successor, and placed the authority to decide into the hands of the nobles. 

The Emperor would still hold the most sway, but since there were 9 members of the Senate and 10 members of the Noble Council, as long as they come to an agreement and pool up their votes, they had the power to change the situation. 

So, the Imperial descendants and the Emperor’s nephews should make an effort to enter the eyes of aristocrats who were always seen as inferior.

This battle was so tempting to the nobles. 

It was an unfavorable situation for the Imperial descendants, who had been immersed in a sense of privilege, but not all thought that way.

‘It has finally begun!’

Ellor trembled at the Emperor’s announcement that she had been anticipating for a while.

She turned her gaze towards Clyde.

He seemed to be deep in thought as he brushed his chin, before turning his head towards the Princesses all of a sudden. Ellor had almost burst into laughter at his obvious line of thought. 

He must have realized that this was an opportunity, and was trying to find a Princess that could make him the Emperor. 

She was sure that in her previous life, he would have chosen Lilliette, but now it could only be herself. 

Ellor pretended to be flustered as she looked around, before coincidentally meeting eyes with Clyde’s. 

She then turned her slightly blushing face away, before looking towards Clyde, and turned completely with slight reluctance. 

‘This much should be enough for now.’

This much should be enough for Clyde to notice the signal that she was sending. 

Although in her heart she wanted to run up to him and grab him by the sleeve cuff, she didn’t want it to seem too urgent. 

Soon after, the banquet was ordered to begin. 

A soft melody began to encompass the banquet hall, but the buzzing of people talking did not subside at all.

Not only Ellor, all the newly turned successor candidates moved towards the places they were confident in. 

From now onwards, it was a battle of life and death. There was no guarantee that the one who became Emperor would leave their half-brothers alone.

In particular, becoming the Emperor through such a competition was bound to gain some enemies. 

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Notes

N/A

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