< — I love you — > (1)
Having received the trust of the Duke who was a high-ranking noble, Fabian was the ideal for his subordinates and a subject of respect.
Hugo found it annoying to instruct people about everything, so he tended to leave things in the hands of fewer people. Therefore, Fabian handled a lot more important work compared to his position.
Although the Duke of Taran gave a lot of work, he wasn’t one to torment his subordinates. He was a very decent master. If he entrusted someone with something, he didn’t interfere in the middle and if one made a tolerable mistake, acknowledged it and asked for forgiveness, he would let it pass. But in exchange, there was no second chance if your results failed to meet his criteria. You would just be cleanly relieved of your duties. Perhaps it was even scarier that way.
In that sense, Fabian was talented to have preserved his position for so long. And he was a rather infamous boss. It was said that if you endured three years under Fabian, you would get gray hair and wrinkles in proportion to your increase in work ability.
With his legs on the table and half lying down on his chair in an arrogant posture, Fabian received the reports from his subordinates. Subordinate-1 gave his report.
“There is no problem with the target.” (S-1)
Subordinate-1’s target was Anna, former doctor of the Ducal household. Anna was under watch to see if she was keeping to the confidentiality contract. Recently, Anna had been raking in money with the production of a headache medicine.
Fabian nodded as he looked at the brief report on Anna’s routine, “You may go now.” Subordinate-1 left and the next person came in.
Subordinate-2’s target was the Countess of Falcon. The woman whom Fabian simply disliked unconditionally. The day when he visited the Countess of Falcon to give her a warning on his lord’s behalf was simply refreshing.
“There is no specific movement from the target. Nowadays, it is seldom for the target to run around because of business issues. She is dedicated to running the few bars that she owns.” (S-2)
Fabian looked through the report. There was nothing remarkable apart from the fact that the Countess of Falcon practically lived in her bar from morning till night. While attracting customers by being an active hostess, the bar was doing better than before.
“You may go now.” (Fabian)
The next person entering was subordinate-3 and his target was David.
“The target is preparing to leave the capital soon. As of late, there is no remarkable activity apart from stopping at a bar every evening.” (S-3)
“A bar, huh… is there anyone he’s seeing at this bar?” (Fabian)
“He’s going alone. There is no one accompanying him.”
Fabian scrutinized the report.
“Is he depressed and drowning himself in alcohol?”
After reading the part about David going to the bar everyday, Fabian furrowed his brows. The name of the bar looked familiar. He opened the report regarding the Countess of Falcon and checked the bar that she owned. It was the same bar.
‘Is it a coincidence?’
The Countess of Falcon had a talent for liquor business. She had several bars that handles customers according to levels determined by their status and wealth, and they were all prevailing. The bars were completely owned by the Countess so even when she had lost the investment, there was no damage to them. The bar that David visited frequently was a high-class bar which was a favorite of nobles. However, something was suspicious.
“Find out who the target is in contact with at the bar. Report what he talks about with the staff too.” (Fabian)
“Yes, sir.” (Subordinate-3)
After that, Fabian heard the reports of his subordinates one after another. This was the time he was most rewarded for his work.
* * *
Fabian stopped by the ducal residence to give an interim report on the people that Hugo had asked him to pay special attention to.
David had officially withdrawn from his group and the Vice-Chairman of the group, Baron Harry, took up the presidency and retained the youth association. He changed the name of the group to ‘Future Youth’s Association’ and it remained almost identical to the established group except for some slight changes such as a few members leaving.
After looking at the report that documented the personal information of all the members of the youth association, Hugo said,
“That bastard is still supporting the group.”
David withdrew but still funded the youth association informally.
“Yes. His aide met with the target and handed over the funds.”
Hugo thought, ‘It seems a dog was born from a tiger.’ He didn’t know how such a son came out from the Duke of Ramis.
“He went down to the Ramis fief, I believe?” (Hugo)1
“Yes. He left a few days ago.” (Fabian)
David would return to the capital one day but for the time being, he had disappeared, so Hugo didn’t plan to pay David any more attention. It would be a waste of time. For now, he was going to carefully watch the activities of several people in the group, including Harry who was leading it. If an opportunity arose, he planned to make good use of it and get rid of them completely.
“Keep watching the activities of the group and keep track of the key figures in the group.” (Hugo)
“Yes, Your Grace. I did not include this in the report, but I have something to inform you. Before the target went down to the fief, he visited a bar almost every day. That bar is owned by the Countess of Falcon.” (Fabian)
Hugo looked over the report again and lifted his gaze. An unexpected person had appeared.
The Countess of Falcon? Hugo had already forgotten about her a long time ago. He hadn’t thought about her since he ordered for his investment to be pulled out from her business.
Among all the women Hugo had met, the Countess of Falcon was the most faithful to her desire. She acknowledged that their meeting each other was simply based on desire. She was a woman that understood to put distance and didn’t become clingy. There was no way Hugo could guess the darkness that was currently in the Anita’s heart because of her resentment towards the Duchess.
“Did they meet?” (Hugo)
“Rather than a private meeting, it was relationship between a customer and the owner of a bar. A feature of the bar is to provide a private room for each customer. When the Count of Ramis arrives, Countess Falcon enters the room for about an hour or two before leaving. I was unable to find out what was being talked about in the room.” (Fabian)
“Did they spend the night together?” (Hugo)
“There was no such instance. The Countess visited all the rooms where a VIP customer or a regular of the bar looked for her. There were quite a lot of people that came to the bar to have a conversation with the Countess. She’s apparently a good talker.” (Fabian)
“So, saying that it is not in the report, means that there is nothing to report.”
Simply looking at the circumstantial evidence, David and Anita were just customer and bar owner. A witch gifted in bewitching people like Anita would easily be able to comfort David who was upset at being chased down to the fief and make him her regular customer.
The both of them never met at any place other than the bar. According to the person with sharp eyes who was planted there, although Anita always went into David’s room after he came, there was no evidence of sexual contact between the two of them in the private room. They were really just talking.
Before Fabian could attempt to figure out what they were talking about, David left for the fief. There would be no more visits to the bar. In addition, Fabian couldn’t think of any plot that the two of them could be cooking up.
If Fabian knew of the crush that David had on the Duchess, or of the hideous jealousy in Anita’s heart, he might have been able to widen the scope of possible troubles. But Fabian knew neither of those. Because Lucia had rejected David’s love letter in a hallway with no one to see, the incident did not spread and become a rumor.
“Something about it must be bothering you.” (Hugo)
“There is no rational basis, but yes.” (Fabian)
Hugo trusted Fabian’s capability. Even though Fabian didn’t know the reason himself, he subconsciously sensed that something was there.
Hugo suddenly remembered that the Countess of Falcon had done a background check on his wife a long time ago. At the time, he only thought it was reprehensible, but it wasn’t something that the woman he knew as knowledgeable on when to cleanly withdraw would do. There was nothing bad in being careful.
“Put a tail on the two of them.” (Hugo)
“Yes. I will do so.” (Fabian)
Fabian could feel the trust his lord had in him and he was filled with pride.
“What about the item I was looking for? The pendant.” (Hugo)
The corner of Fabian’s lips which were curling up in joy flopped down.
“I’m currently looking for it.” (Fabian)
“Still? Why is it taking so long to find one item?” (Hugo)
“I apologize. I will focus even more manpower on it.”
His lord rarely ever urged him on after giving him work to do. Fabian decided that this was going to be on the top of his to-do list, starting tomorrow.
1. It doesn’t say Ramis territory. I put Ramis in there so you know which territory is being talked about.