< — Memories of Mother — > (3)
Fabian sat on the sofa in Jerome’s office, propping his chin with his hand and looking out the window with a hollow expression. It was dark outside but it was still visible enough to see a pair of silhouettes hugging in the distance. Fabian’s lips twitched.
“How long is this walk going to take? At this rate, daybreak will come.” (Fabian)
He wanted to give his report fast and go home. Some people have a wife and children!
“What have you been so unhappy about for a while now?” (Jerome)
Jerome sat at his desk doing his work but he was unable to remain a mere spectator of the noisy Fabian so he spoke to him.
“Leave me alone. I’m trying to get over my shock right now.” (Fabian)
Fabian’s mouth had fallen open again when he saw the two of them (Lucia and Hugo) holding hands lovingly after dinner and going out for a walk.
“It’s a happy occasion if the two of them have a good marital relationship. Your problem is you have a skewed view of everything.” (Jerome)
“I work for my lord because my view is skewed! Do you know how neglectful…! …Forget it. Why am I even talking to you? You servile child. Don’t go anywhere and call yourself our parent’s son.” (Fabian)
Jerome gave the grumbling Fabian a pitiful glance. Fabian listlessly looked out the window then suddenly, he turned around and flew into a rage.
“This is all because you have no idea! Do you know what type of person he is? If you see what I’ve seen, you won’t be able to be so calm!” (Fabian)
For the first time in his life, Fabian wanted to show his brother how his master was in his memory.
“So what. What exactly is the problem? Do you like the image of Master that you have in your head?” (Jerome)
“…It’s not that. I mean, I’m worried. Don’t you know that the saying ‘if a person changes all of a sudden, they’ll fall ill’ is for a reason?” (Fabian)
“Don’t worry too much about useless things. And watch what you say. After all, it’s the mouth that makes a problem out of nothing.”
Fabian glared resentfully his heartless brother then he continued grumbling to himself.
* * *
Fabian filed his report on target ‘David Ramis’ which he had compiled through close surveillance of the subject. It was the final result of long endeavors. The introductory part of the report was personal information about the target. Age, family relations, friends, and so on and so forth. Hugo roughly skimmed through it.
“The target’s personality is undergoing various evaluations. Some people think he is a good person, and some people think he is a narrow-minded and cunning person.” (Fabian)
Reputation in the public was extreme. To the nobles that he got along with, David was a nice person, but to the people with low status such as servants or powerless nobles, David mostly had a bad reputation. Hugo had seen a lot of people whose outside was different from their insides, so he wasn’t really surprised.
Hugo read the dubious part concerning David in the report. Allegedly, a few years ago, David touched a maid and the maid got pregnant. Officially, the maid was said to have quit serving after receiving a reward. But the unofficial truth was different.
“You mean there is someone who claims that this maid is dead?”
“Yes. According to the maid who was her friend and worked with her, the woman suddenly disappeared without mentioning anything about leaving. The maid also said that the woman wasn’t someone who would disappear without saying goodbye. Apparently, she looked strangely anxious a few days before she disappeared and her friend had heard her crying while pretending to be asleep.” (Fabian)
“What about the maid’s trail?” (Hugo)
“Because it’s an old incident, there is hardly anyone that remembers it. I went to her hometown but even her family didn’t have any news.” (Fabian)
“So there is no proof, only circumstantial evidence.” (Hugo)
If it was discovered that the heir to a Duke had killed a maid, it was difficult to deal him a blow, let alone punish him. However, such cases were very important in figuring out the character of the other party. David was someone who could do more dangerous things than Hugo thought.
It was not uncommon for a noble to abuse or kill their servants under the pretext of punishment. But regardless of if they framed their servant for a crime, the fact that they killed the servant was revealed anyways. It was different from secretly killing the servant and disguising it as another fact.
“The father of the target was angry because of the incident with the maid. And after that, there was no touching of any maid in the mansion.” (Fabian)
“A leopard cannot change its spots. So he went to the brothels next?”
Hugo mumbled as he looked at the report.
“With his status, there must be a lot of women throwing themselves at him.” (Hugo)
“I investigated by asking around the prostitutes he spends the night with, and apparently, he has a sadistic hobby. He likes his partner to be completely submissive so he can deal with them as he pleases. I believe it would be difficult to find a noblewoman to fulfill such a hobby.”
Hugo was a little annoyed. Why did he need to know the sexual activities of this perverted crud? This meeting was held to see if there was any need to be on guard against the pathetic bastard even after investigating him.
As far as David’s personal details were concerned, he couldn’t care less. Hugo read the part detailing David’s recent enthusiastic gathering of people and chuckled.
“New Nation Youth Association? This lunatic.” (Hugo)
Was it that the man didn’t know how dangerous it was to add the word, ‘new nation’ to his organization? It was a good enough title to make one suspect that he had power-sweeping intentions to raise up a new country. There should be standards to some extent before using words. Hugo was suspicious about the man’s intelligence, maybe he was missing a few screws somewhere. 1
“So outwardly, the asserted purpose is to attract young talent. Is the organization really made with ulterior motive?” (Hugo)
“Rather than ulterior motive, it’s not faithful to its original purpose. The target is not just gathering young talents but young talents that follow him.”
“Basically, a gathering of just pathetic bastards.” (Hugo)
Trash would always be trash, no matter how many you put together. Hugo couldn’t see any worth in paying attention to such an organization where the only thing ‘grand’ about it was the name.
“There are few areas that are worthy of attention. The target is positioned as president so he is practically leading the direction of the organization’s rules and activities. The specific details about that is written in the supplementary book.” (Fabian)
Hugo picked up the supplementary book that was next to him and looked over its contents. When he saw the content about David, Hugo sneered, ‘this fool’ and his somewhat bored expression turned stone cold.
The dangerous elements were hiding here.
The two biggest opposing forces of power were the King and the nobility. The King pushed for strengthening of royal authority, and the nobility pushed for the expansions of soldiers and the guarantee of autonomy over their territory. But among the nobles without territory or peerage, there was a third force that was dreaming.
They were mainly intellectuals such as scholars and insisted on national management by professional intellectuals. They said that through the introduction of a system, the King and high-ranking nobles should eliminate the way of gathering together to discuss national affairs, instead they should make laws and law-elected ministers should manage the country. They advocated legalism saying that even the King should have to follow the law.
The power of this group was still insignificant. Very few people were interested in their claims. However, Hugo knew. He knew that their claims would grow stronger over time, and they would grow into a force that could not be ignored. It was knowledge he had gained from entering the secret room after becoming Duke.
A very long time ago, when the Madoh Empire ruled the world, the normal humans saw nobles as people who were as strong as monsters, but the nobility were just mortal beings that were similar in strength.
Apart from the fact that they used magical powers, they developed in a similar way to the world that humans have currently built. The nobles of the Empire were also divided into ranks and discriminated against each other; there were those who had more and those who had less. They were no different from the humans, they fought to have the upper hand and possess more than the other.
The emergence of a third force armed with knowledge but no real power also happened in the Madoh Empire. Some of their claims suited the King of the Madoh Empire who wanted to suppress the nobility.
When the King began to make use of this third force, they grew in strength, riding on the back of the King, and then one day, they separated from the King and formed their own force. When that happened, nobody was able to ignore them. The rise of a new force that was supported by the majority, ended up relatively weakening the royal authority as well as the authority of the existing nobles.
The knowledge in the family secret room gave the head of the Taran family the power to get a broad view of the world. Being able to roughly grasp the flow of the word wasn’t any different from being able to see the future.
The flow of the world could not be stopped. However, it could be slowed down artificially.
‘A fast development is troublesome.’
The heads of the Taran family never used the family knowledge to seek the development of the world. As long as the head of the Taran family remained master of the North, development was difficult. A kingdom with moderately strong royal authority was ideal. The more chaotic the human world was, the more progress was made in the flow of the world. Keeping the North alive and dealing with whatever issues the country had, whenever it had it, was not a pointless thing for the Taran family. Because humans that were satisfied with the present did not seek change.
If it was the past Hugo, he would not have cared about this upcoming power. However thinking had changed. For Hugo, at least, until he died, the Taran family should be doing well, and he wanted his heir, Damian, to smoothly enjoy the power and riches of the family.
“Find out more about these guys.” (Hugo)
“Yes, sir. And there’s one more thing you need to know about the target. It’s in the last section of the report.” (Fabian)
Hugo picked up the report about David again and as he looked over it, his expression became strange.
“Duke Ramis put a tail on his son?” (Hugo)*
“Yes. It’s not simply shadowing, it seems to be a full-on investigation. We were careful not to let them know of our existence.”
Hugo fell into deep thought. He tried to figure out the intention of Duke Ramis.
‘It looks like Duke Ramis isn’t pleased with his eldest son. Maybe he plans on changing his successor.’
If all went well, it looked like things would take care of themselves even if he didn’t do anything.
“Do I continue monitoring the target?” (Fabian)
“Don’t pull everyone out and if you see any odd behavior, report it.” (Hugo)
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“Good work. And try asking around for this item.”
Fabian accepted the paper that the Duke passed to him. He looked closely at the picture that was sketched on the paper and realized it was a pendant. It was uniquely shaped, different from commonly seen pendants.
Hugo had met with the Count once without Lucia’s knowledge. The asserted purpose of the meeting was the gate. He told the Count that he would take steps to ensure that the Count could use the gate whenever he wanted to come to the Capital and then he asked the Count about his real purpose, which was the pendant.
[Are you interested in antiques?]
The Count wondered and asked.
[It seems to be precious to my wife so I’m thinking of looking for it.] (Hugo)
The Count chuckled then he made a detailed sketch of the pendant. Hugo wanted to look for the pendant and then surprise his wife with it. Since she missed her mother very much, she would definitely love the gift. He was already feeling great at the thought of her happy face.
“If it has an owner, shall I simply bring back that information?”
“No. Use any means possible and bring it to me. You don’t have to report the interim process.”
Fabian replied in the affirmative and looked at the picture of the pendant again. It must be a great item seeing as the words ‘use any means possible’ came out from his lord’s mouth.
‘Is it a magical tool? If it’s the national treasure of another country, it’ll be a little annoying to steal.’
1. New Nation is one word in Korean (shinguk: 신국). The word itself represents the ideology of a better, divine nation.
* For the longest time, I was confused because the word ‘je’ is almost always used for ‘my’. But due to the context, it can only mean ‘his’. Especially considering the next chapter. Sorry for the confusion.