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    Early chapters of this series is currently being re-translated and proofread. So there may be discrepancies regarding character names, titles used, location names.

    Current re-translation status: Chp.1-25.

    Re-translated & Proofread: May 15th ’24

    “What is this request you speak of?”

    “It’s already been a week since we arrived here, but we haven’t had a chance to venture out much, besides coming and going from the mansion.”

    So? Derga answered with his expression without realizing it. But everyone could guess the content that would follow. Ian bit his lower lip lightly and swallowed his glee.

    “So, if you would permit it, I’d like to ask Young Master Ian to introduce us to the territory. I know the marquis and marchioness are busy with many matters, so I dare not ask you directly. Haha.”

    Mac and D’gor, who had been quietly listening on the side, stepped in with perfect timing, as if it were completely natural.

    “That’s a great idea! You should join us for lunch as well. The joy of sharing knowledge and food will be immense. Right, D’gor?”


    The marchioness considered interjecting but ultimately closed her mouth. It was too burdensome for her to guide three unfamiliar men she was meeting for the first time. D’gor answered as if he hadn’t heard the marchioness.

    “Of course. Moreover, didn’t Sir Ian live outside until recently? He must know interesting things that we’re unaware of.”

    D’gor’s usage of “we” included the outsiders like them and the people of Marquis Derga’s household. Do you know the alleys of the commoners? The intention was thick with the implication that only Ian was capable of it and that they shouldn’t even think of interfering.


    Derga seemed deeply flustered. He rolled his eyes, unable to swallow the wine in his mouth. He was contemplating on what grounds he could refuse.

    But what reason was there to not let out a grown boy, not a newborn baby? Moreover, the purpose of the gathering was a very wholesome scholarly discussion.

    “It’s not polite for guests to frequent the mansion. If you permit us, we’ll invite you to our lodgings. The coachman we hired is very kind.”

    Mollin put the final nail in the coffin. Ian, who had been quietly observing the situation, opened his mouth. Since they were trying to pull him from the front, he had no choice but to push from behind.

    “Sir Mollin, where are your lodgings?”

    “It’s near Portroga 3rd District Park.”

    “Ah, Portroga?”

    “You seem to know it well.”

    “Well, I was born and raised here after all.”

    It was an ambiguous answer, open to interpretation. Even if the actual illegitimate child Ian had lived there, Emperor Ian had no clue what kind of district Portroga was. But he could make a rough guess because Mollin had specifically pointed out the park.

    “Then it’s even better. It would be nice to take a stroll in the park and contemplate. The sun is quite warm these days, isn’t it? I noticed there were even pleasure boats on the small lake, but as an old man, I couldn’t bring myself to ride one. If Sir Ian helps me, I’ll muster up the courage.”

    Mollin smiled, raising his eyebrows.

    ‘They have their own motives too.’

    Ian observed the marquis’s expression. Derga also put on an awkward, forced smile, but his face was stiff. There was no reason to refuse in the first place, and plausible excuses kept emerging.


    “Ian, your intention is important.”

    In the end, the marquis played his final card. He handed the decision over to Ian. His mouth was smiling benevolently, but his eyes were as cold as can be. It was filled with unspoken pressure, telling him to handle it well.


    The scene of Derga, a marcher lord, and Mollin, a former central government official, engaging in a battle of wills over a single child. It wasn’t uncommon even in the palace, but it felt different seeing it from below rather than above.


    Ian placed his words on the tightly stretched line. Naturally, going outside was advantageous, but it seemed not bad to give it a big shake before the match was decided.

    “Wouldn’t it be a hindrance if my guidance is clumsy? I’m still young, so I don’t know if I can satisfy you, my lords.”

    As if it was an unexpected answer, the faces of Mollin and his party slightly stiffened. Derga nodded, hiding his smile behind his wine glass.

    “However, it’s not often one gets to hear the insights of those who came from the capital. If it’s a luncheon combined with scholarly discussion…”

    Ian glanced at Derga. His jaw, chewing as if savoring the wine, was stiff. Then D’gor naturally intervened.

    “Marquis, if it’s because we’re lacking, we’ve brought up an embarrassing topic.”

    His skill in taking control of the conversation was superb. It was a remarkably adept way of speaking. Raising each other’s conduct and leading to a positive answer.

    Derga’s response to that question was predetermined.

    “…How could that be? It’s absurd.”

    “Then that’s a relief. When would be a good time for you?”

    “You should ask Ian that. Ian?”

    As attention focused on Ian again, this time Mollin stepped forward with refinement.

    “Since the marquis is ‘permitting’ it, it would be best for the marquis to set the date. After all, the marquis handles all matters in Bratz.”

    A rhetorical skill that even Emperor Ian would admire. Very quick-witted, befitting someone working in the central government. Derga, an arrogant noble from the frontier, would never be able to defeat them with words.

    ‘What could their true intentions be?’

    Initially, he thought it was just Mollin’s minor way of keeping him in check. It would be easier to find fault with the illegitimate child if they saw and conversed with him frequently.

    But seeing the three of them playing off each other, it was clear they had another purpose. They were putting in a lot of effort for it to be a mere secondary opportunity. Did Derga notice?

    ‘He noticed.’

    His hand stroking his beard was cautious. What about his rolling eyes? Even if there was no reason to refuse, he would cooperate to discern their intentions.

    “Then how about lunch tomorrow?”

    Derga asked Mollin, but his gaze was on Ian. As if he had finished his mental calculations, he wore a languid smile. The stiff face from earlier had vanished without a trace.

    “Oh, thank you, Marquis.”

    “In return, I have a request as well.”

    After answering like that, he looked at Chel. Everyone’s attention followed Derga and focused on the child. Chel, who was about to put a piece of steak in his mouth, hesitated and froze.

    “As Ian said, since you gentlemen came from the central government, I have no doubt you’ll make excellent teachers. Therefore, I’d like Chel to join as well and share his knowledge.”

    It was a troublesome request, but not a difficult one.

    Mac, D’gor, and Mollin quickly exchanged signals. It was a communication achieved merely by meeting each other’s eyes, so no one noticed.

    “But Father, I have school-“

    “That’s fine. Young Master Chel is also exceptionally bright. I’m really looking forward to the luncheon discussion.”

    “Thank you for your kind words.”

    Before Chel could say anything, the adults reached a conclusion among themselves. Chel glanced at Ian with distaste. It was already awkward, and now he had to stick with him all day? And outside the marquis’s estate?

    “Shall we bring out the dessert soon?”

    “Yes, it was a splendid meal.”

    Ian also nodded in agreement, saying he concurred. A satisfied smile didn’t leave his face. A meal where he had obtained everything he wanted. Even if he hadn’t eaten, he would have been full.

    “It was an honor to dine with you today, Marquis Derga.”

    “Let’s meet again next week.”

    “Sir Ian, I’ll send a carriage to pick you up in time for lunch tomorrow.”

    The subsequent conversations were truly devoid of substance, just idle chatter. Even the perfunctory laughter that had been exchanged earlier was absent. Everyone had entered a state of ceasefire, losing interest in the conversation. Mollin and his party rose, leaving their desserts half-eaten.

    “Yes, please take care on your way back.”

    “Marchioness, I’ll see you again next time.”

    The three guests, leaving a farewell kiss on the back of Mary’s hand, boarded the carriage and disappeared. As the dining area was being cleaned up and Ian was about to enter the mansion, Derga called his two sons.

    “Chel, Ian.”

    “Yes, Father.”

    “You must report to me what they talk about behind our backs, without missing a single word. You’ll have to go with your wits about you.”

    It was a very natural admonition. Chel and Ian nodded simultaneously, and Derga fixed his cold gaze on Ian.

    “And you, follow me to the office.”

    Mary and Chel looked back as if puzzled, but that was it. The two disappeared into the corridor to return to their respective rooms, and Ian followed Derga’s back to the office.


    The office scenery wasn’t much different from what he had seen before. The documents seemed to have increased, but he wasn’t sure. Without even telling him to sit, Derga rummaged through the drawer, searching for something.



    What he took out was a small brooch. A tiger and laurel seal with a red gem embedded in it. It was clearly the Bratz family crest.

    “Wear this when you go out tomorrow.”

    Unlike when he threw his mother’s pouch, Derga personally approached and pinned the brooch on the child’s chest. Ian immediately knew what it was.

    ‘It’s a mana stone capable of recording and tracking location.’

    It was frequently used in Ian’s era, but it would have been difficult to obtain in the frontier a century ago. It must have been an item secretly used by the family for generations when there was a threat to their safety.

    Derga lightly brushed his chest and warned.

    “You must never lose it. You have to be careful not to get a single scratch on it. It’s dozens of times more precious than your worthless body.”

    “…I’ll keep that in mind.”

    There were limitations to what the two children could convey. Let alone three men from the central government who were seasoned veterans. Couldn’t they easily handle the dull-witted Chel? They would surely isolate Chel and approach Ian.

    “I’ll also assign someone to accompany you, so don’t even think about causing trouble rashly. Come straight to the office when you return.”

    But was Ian completely on Derga’s side? The man who held his mother’s lifeline and tried to sell him off beyond the border? He had no choice but to take out the family’s precious mana stone brooch.

    “Yes, Father.”

    However, Ian clicked his tongue as he looked at the mana stone pinned on his chest. It was an attitude asserting that Derga wouldn’t be able to conduct secret communication. It wasn’t even funny, attaching something utterly useless and feeling relieved.


    Ian politely bowed and left, returning to his room to examine the brooch closely. When he infused mana into it, it quickly became blocked. It meant its capacity to contain mana was low.

    Zing, zing.

    ‘It’s the lowest of the low grade.’

    At this level, Ian could control it if he put his mind to it.

    ‘Location tracking is done with a mana stone of the same nature, so that doesn’t matter.’

    Derga was probably looking at a compass in his office. It was made with a mana stone of the same nature as the brooch, not a magnetic needle, and it could track the target’s location through the direction and intensity of light.

    ‘I just need to figure out how to handle the recording.’

    As Ian focused and let his mana flow again, the gem glowed even more red. His golden eyes curved gently.


    Then suddenly, he almost forgot. Wasn’t one of the reasons he wanted to go outside to meet his birth mother? Ian rang the bell and called for the servant.


    “Did you call for me, young master?”

    “Bring me a snack.”

    A snack right after finishing lunch?

    The servant bowed his head, hiding his surprised expression. But Ian was humming a merry tune, looking outside in a good mood. He was waiting not for the snack, but for the person who would bring it.

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