Chapter 114

Ah, this hot water is divine.

Indeed. I had no idea our home bath was this delightful. Ha-ha-ha!

After a long-awaited bath in hot water, Romandro and Beric leaned back on the sofa, muttering in bliss. It had been a journey where, without civilian homes, they could barely wash off the dirt with melted snow. Viviana gently smiled as she placed tea on the table.

Id advise further relaxation to ease the travel fatigue, but its nearly afternoon. It would be best to return early and rest.

Yes, I think so too. After all, theres nothing special until the New Years party once we submit our report. Ah! But why cant I seem to move?

My dear, you wouldnt want your child to hear you exaggerating like this.

Eh? That wont do! Ugh, lets get moving!

Romandro sprang up, briskly dusting off his clothes. On the other hand, Beric just sniffled with half-closed eyes, not hiding his reluctance to follow.

Madame, may I also request some water?

Of course, Hasha.

Viviana accepted Hashas presence more gracefully than expected, probably because of their shared experiences in reconstruction areas before her marriage, broadening her perspective. Hasha, refreshed and dry, trembled slightly as he sipped the warm water.

Hasha, stay and rest in the mansion. On our way back, Ill look into arrangements for traveling to Astana.

Me too?

Beric murmured in a drowsy tone, barely keeping awake.

Its you, Beric. Stay here with Hasha.

What does that mean, master? Youre being considerate, right?

Why? You think Im leaving you behind because Im worried youll cause trouble?

Never mind then. Im all for it! Haha!

Beric let out a hearty laugh and then slumped into a semi-conscious state. Romandro clicked his tongue in disapproval and whispered quietly.

Remember, on our way back, we need to buy a magic stone to check the recording on the brooch. While staying at the mansion, make sure to get whatever personal items you need.

They had recorded Hashas testimony on Derghas brooch during their journey, which required a magic stone to play back. Ian nodded, picking up his coat.

Alright. Well stop by the commercial district then.


The commercial district, Romandro mumbled, seemingly surprised by the term. It was commonly used by central bureaucrats, but the nobles usually referred to it as the center, town, or shopping district. For commoners, it might simply be the market.

Ian, have you been studying in secret?

Studying? What kind?

No, never mind. Lets go. Make sure to dress properly, were going to meet His Highness Mariv. Mini! Is the carriage ready?

Its ready. Ive also transferred the documents.

Alright, lets go.

Romandro left a kiss on Vivianas cheek and stepped outside. A clean and stylishly designed carriage awaited at the front gate, replacing the worn one used for the journey.


While the carriage sped down the road, Ian absorbed every detail of the streets, noticing both the unchanged essence and the nuanced differences from a century ago.

It looks like thats where Hayman Bank used to be. They mustve constructed the building right from the start.

From the man tossing newspapers while on the run to the stalls displaying fresh vegetables and meat, and even the children earning tips for lighting cigarettes, Ian felt an inexplicable surge of emotion.


The carriage didnt travel far before being halted by the Central Guard of the Imperial Palace, who peered inside. Romandro presented his ID and greeted them.

Thank you. Much appreciated.

The servant bowed slightly, casting a sidelong glance at Ian, presumably wondering if this was the infamous illegitimate son of the Bratz family. A hot topic in social circles, he was known for ousting his noble father and seizing the lordship with his lowly blood.

He looks younger than expected?

Given the rumors of him subduing the barbarians at the frontier, one would expect a more aggressive man. However, Ian appeared more delicate and gentle at first glance.


As the reception room door closed completely, Ian gazed down at his tea and inquired.

The palace social gathering involves high-ranking officials, correct?

Indeed. It often involves hunting, but sometimes we appreciate art. The value of an artist can skyrocket after such events. Its all intertwined with various interests, isnt it?

Romandro, sipping his tea, smiled blissfully. As if to say theres nothing quite like tea in the palace.

Then His Highness Gale must also be present.


If the message reaches His Highness Mariv, His Highness Gale would likely know of our arrival in the capital early on.

What he meant was that the troublesome and thorn-in-the-side Ian, who had disrupted their grand plans, had arrived. Romandro cleared his throat before responding, a light Italian accent in his voice.

Well, His Highness Gale doesnt often attend these gatherings.

Is that so?

Really? Sincerely?

Being the Second Prince, he might be exercising caution to avoid being seen as a threat. However, knowing that he had plunged into open conflict with His Highness Mariv by choosing to save Molin, it was uncertain if he would maintain such restraint, especially now that their grand rebellion faced an unforeseen variable.

Perhaps? Maybe?

Romandro mumbled uncertainly, catching the implication in Ians query, then started gulping down his tea as if his lips were parched.

Why so tense? There are no secrets once you enter the palace. The Ministry of Magic must have been informed as well since the city gates open with magic. Whether today or tomorrow, what does it matter?

The issue is, well, theres no issue per se. Its more about the psychological burden, perhaps?

Romandro cleared his throat again. Having served as an advisor in Bratz, he was likely worried about when Gale would summon him. Ian looked at the rustling artificial flowers and smiled faintly.

If its a hunt, they would have gone to the outskirts, so the servant couldnt have relayed the message so quickly. It seems theyre appreciating art today.

Ian gestured towards a wing of the First Imperial Palace, his direction precise without a hint of error.

* * *

Ah, is this the statue you mentioned last time?

Yes, yes. I thought Id have to wait due to the backlog of orders, but luckily, I received it immediately. That sculptor is quite popular these days.

This is art. This is what art is all about.

Oh, would you like to see this as well?

Groups of bureaucrats from various departments gathered in small clusters, sharing their own pieces of art. Though it appeared to be a casual social gathering, clear lines were drawn.

Between Marivs imperialist faction and Gales opposition.

Of course, being noble, everyone pretended not to notice these divisions. Yet, a subtly tense atmosphere settled as quietly as the first snow.

Your Highness Mariv.

At that moment, Marivs aide approached, whispering despite the risk of rudeness.

Romandro and Ian have entered the palace. They are currently waiting in the office reception room.

Oh . Marivs eyebrows twitched in amusement at the unexpected news, while Gale, observing the scene with a wine glass in hand, also received a whisper from Wesleigh. The sharp gazes of the two princes intertwined in the air.

Ian Bratz and the advisor have entered the palace.