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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.

    Screech.

    Ian’s expression was peculiar as he emerged from the reception room. The head servant, while escorting him, glanced furtively at the tightly shut door. Until just before Ian’s arrival, Mariv’s frenzied shrieks had been erupting incessantly.

    However, how could it be so quiet now?

    This, in and of itself, was frightening.

    “Lord Ian, are you alright?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “…It’s nothing.”

    The head servant closely inspected Ian’s cheeks, hair, and the state of his clothes. Everything was exactly as it had been when he entered, without a single thing out of place. Considering they had thought the servants would be carried out like living corpses, this was truly fortunate. Still, as the Minister of Magic, it seemed His Highness had properly discerned the situation.

    “Excuse me, Lord Ian. I hope you’ll forgive my boldness, but may I ask you something?”

    “You may.”

    As the head servant opened the carriage door and inquired, Ian lightly nodded. His composed tone was striking. It felt as though Mariv’s frenzy in this palace had absolutely nothing to do with him.

    The head servant promptly came to her senses and bowed.

    “It’s just that I was wondering about the condition of the servants inside. A doctor is on standby, but since His Highness is present, they can’t receive treatment. Did His Highness seem fatigued or show any signs of drowsiness?”

    Ian stared at the head servant intently. She had said it was a presumptuous question, and wasn’t it truly brazen? Resolving issues between the lord and servants should be the head servant’s role. However, recalling the people trembling prostrate on the ground, Ian offhandedly gave her an answer.

    “They didn’t appear to be severely injured. Besides, isn’t it nearly dusk now? It’s not yet time for him to retire to his bedchamber, as he works late.”

    “His Highness’s sleep schedule is irregular, so he tries to get some rest whenever he can. Thank you for letting me know.”

    Despite the polite thanks, her hands hastily closed the carriage door. As if urging him to leave this place quickly. Ian watched her return to the palace, frowning.

    ‘Irregular sleep schedule. Yes, I heard the rumors that the lights in Mariv’s office never go out because he has so much work to handle.’

    Could this be how he was introduced to hallucinogenic sleeping pills? With sleep problems, he may have looked into solutions and gotten involved with a particular merchant group. Or, if he already had a connection, he could have obtained them through that.

    “Where shall I take you, Minister?”

    “To the Ministry of Magic.”

    “Yes, understood.”

    Ian smiled wryly, gazing at the darkening outdoors. The prideful Mariv, whose ego had been bruised, had made a very interesting move. In fact, the attempt to kill Gale had been somewhat lackluster, but the fact that he had been the one to instigate it made the situation amusing.

    ‘This is truly fortuitous for me.’

    Currently, Mariv and Gale were sharpening their blades, each aiming for the other’s throat. However, since they could lose everything with a single strike, they were biding their time, waiting for an opportunity.

    Waiting for an opportunity—in other words, a lack of justification, or the absence of a signal flare. If a reason for them to clash was created…

    ‘One of them will die. And the other will also collapse with a fatal wound. Watching for a chance and severing the survivor’s lifeline at the right moment will simplify matters.’

    Gale had the reality of the curse and suspicions of treason, while Mariv had accusations of attempted regicide. Ian tapped his knee in time with the rattling carriage wheels.

    “Change of destination.”

    “Pardon? Where should I go?”

    “To His Highness Gale’s palace.”

    Ian ordered the coachman to turn the horses around. The plan that had come to mind was satisfactory, so it would be best to inform Gale before he exposed Mariv’s attempted regicide. Fortunately, the carriage didn’t have to travel far.

    Neigh!

    ‘The Hayman family’s carriage.’

    It seemed Melania was with Gale at his palace. As Ian alighted from the carriage, the guard saluted crisply and greeted him.

    “Isn’t this Minister Ian Hielo?”

    “Yes, it’s been a while. I remember you.”

    Previously, he had added a remark about being a viscounty riffraff, but now there were no superfluous questions. Since he had arrived, they would notify Gale and let him in, nothing more.

    Knock knock.

    “Your Highness Gale, Minister Ian has arrived.”

    “Oh, I see. Let him in!”

    Judging by the scent of alcohol wafting out as soon as the door opened, he must have been in the midst of a toast. Melania was smoking a cigarette passed to her by Gale, her eyes half-closed. It was quite a sight. The older brother was smashing tableware in a rampage, while the younger brother was indulging in debauchery.

    “Minister Ian Hielo! What brings you here?”

    “I have an urgent matter to discuss with you. If the timing is inappropriate, I can return later.”

    “No, no. It’s fine. Come, sit.”

    The way he patted the sofa was full of delight. Ian, instead of taking a seat, glanced at Melania and bowed his head slightly.

    “Lady Melania, you seem flushed with heat.”

    In other words, he was telling her to get some fresh air—to vacate her seat. She smiled, gently arching her eyebrows. Despite being born out of wedlock and the subject of much gossip, his manner of speech was no different from any noble family’s.

    “Oh my, some fresh air would do me good. Please excuse me for a moment.”

    Melania readily yielded her seat, and Ian sat facing Gale. His fingers tapped the cigarette rather roughly. Ian noticed the change in his gaze. As soon as Melania left.

    “What is this about?”

    The voice he had thought was intoxicated quickly sobered up, demonstrating his acting skills were quite advanced. He seemed to have his own difficulties in trying to keep up with Melania.

    “I’ve just returned from meeting with His Highness Mariv.”

    “You’re always going back and forth between us brothers.”

    “I’d rather not, but you two keep seeking me out.”

    Gale’s low laughter burst out at Ian’s glib reply. He stubbed out his cigarette and asked.

    “So, what did he say? My brother, Mariv? No matter how much he tries to put on airs of nobility and elegance to maintain his princely dignity, he can’t hide his temper. Did he turn the palace upside down?”

    Still, having observed each other closely for a lifetime, they seemed to have a good grasp of each other’s personalities to a certain extent. Ian affirmed with silence and brought up the main point.

    “…He ordered me to kill you, Your Highness Gale.”

    “Haha. How delightful to hear.”

    “Is that so?”

    “Externally, I’m cursed in a way that’s tied to Bariel’s very existence, and internally, I’m the son who receives the Emperor’s favor. For him to try to kill me in this state proves that Mariv is also quite cornered, doesn’t it?”

    It must have been the attitude shown by Mariv’s faction at the council meeting that was the decisive factor. In front of Gale, of all people, they had revealed their abysmal unity as a faction, which undoubtedly came as a shock and crisis to Mariv.

    “That’s right. It’s proof. And for you, Your Highness Gale, it’s a justification that has fallen into your lap.”

    Gale seemed to have somewhat grasped what Ian was implying. Smiling slyly, he opened a drawer and pulled out a thick stack of documents. It was the material related to Mariv’s attempted regicide that he had promised to hand over to Ian.

    “Justification. I’m quite fond of it. In the palace, it holds more weight than the law. Even Father’s orders lose power without it.”

    Ian received the documents with a respectful hand. Unexpectedly, they were quite hefty. He had thought it would only contain information about the source of the drugs, the suppliers, or the involved parties.

    “Well, are you satisfied?”

    “It’s a testament to the depths of His Majesty the Emperor’s shadow, so it’s quite lamentable.”

    “Hahaha! You, my friend, should have been born in the palace, I tell you.”

    After carefully placing the documents beside the sofa, Ian faced Gale directly. He was grinning from ear to ear. With a look that said he knew everything going on in Ian’s mind.

    “Since His Highness Mariv told me to prove the truth, I shall do so before long.”

    “It would be an honor if you handled it personally.”

    “He seemed to desire the side effects of magic, but as that would be a burden for me as well… I happen to have a few slaves at my disposal.”

    An assassination attempt using slaves. And he would consider that the signal flare to enter an all-out war. The blades that had been aiming only for each other’s throats would come flying.

    ‘Directly intervening with magic could be used against me later on, regardless of the outcome.’

    To Mariv, he had proven his truth through the assassination attempt, and to Gale, he had passed on the opportunity by informing him. Who would emerge victorious was uncertain, but regardless of the result, Ian had created a pretext to extricate himself.

    “If I’m defeated, you gain Mariv’s trust just by attempting the assassination, and if Mariv is defeated, you’ve handed over this information to show you won’t side with his faction.”

    “Intentions are open to interpretation.”

    “Good. I have no reason to refuse. Above all, you hold the reins of the curse, so I don’t have much of a choice.”

    With a single word from Ian, one of Gale’s protective barriers could be shattered. In a situation where murderous attacks were exchanged, the value of a protective barrier was equal to the value of one’s life.

    “I’ll adjust the announcement of lifting the curse to suit your intentions, Your Highness Gale. However, please use this material only as a last resort. I went to great lengths to obtain it, so it would be quite troublesome for me if it became useless.”

    If Gale were to expose Mariv’s attempted regicide after Ian had gone to the trouble of helping him with the Truthful Dream Potion while under Mariv’s suspicion, Ian would gain nothing. What use would there be for information everyone already knew?

    “If you had intended to use that as the signal flare, please refrain from doing so and use me as a pretext instead. That would be mutually beneficial for us.”

    He couldn’t refuse. Refusing this would mean making an enemy of Ian. Gale wet his lips with the remaining alcohol and exposed his throat.

    “Then, I have one request.”

    “Please give your orders.”

    “Schedule the assassination for after the full moon rises.”

    “May I ask the reason?”

    “It’s Lady Melania’s birthday. There’s a banquet with the Hayman family that day.”

    Although he said that, Ian had figured it out. The mana stone armor commissioned by the Hayman family would be completed on that day. Ian nodded and rose from his seat.

    “Then, I also have a request.”

    “Speak.”

    “Please return the slave I sent back in one piece.”

    “Hahaha! The one who tried to take a prince’s life?”

    “Forgive my impudence, but I dislike incurring losses.”

    He was saying that he wouldn’t lose anything in the fight between the two of them. Naturally, Ian didn’t care who lived or died. As long as history and the natural order were followed, with one of the twin princes succeeding the throne, that would suffice. Of course, that would be in the distant future.

    “I also dislike incurring losses.”

    “If Your Highness has suffered a loss, that is a matter to take up with His Highness Mariv, not me. Well then, shall I just wait for the full moon to rise?”

    If not, it would be troublesome for Gale himself. In the past, he would have ripped out Ian’s tongue for his impertinence. Gale shrugged, recognizing his own predicament once more.

    “Fine. I’ll be waiting with the doors wide open.”

    “Then, I shall take my leave.”

    “Sir Ian.”

    Gale called out to Ian as he was about to leave. Filling his glass to the brim, he entreated.

    “Go easy on me.”

    “…Of course, I will instruct them to only make an attempt.”

    “Not that. I mean you.”

    A meaningful statement. Was he asking for Ian’s help now? Ian bowed his head and exited the bedchamber. In that short span, it seemed the scent of alcohol had permeated his clothes.

    Swish.

    ‘Now, I should return and select a suitable slave.’

    “Lord Ian.”

    “Lady Melania.”

    “Have you finished your discussion?”

    “Yes. I hope you have a pleasant evening.”

    Just as Ian was about to brush past her, Melania grabbed his arm with a rough hand. The strength coming from her slender arm was unexpectedly fierce, making it hard to believe. Her expression was obscured by the backlit moonlight streaming in.

    “Ian, I have something to tell you.”

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