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    Ian headed to the inner duty room next to the Ministry of Magic’s main building.

    Magicians who had wrestled with corpses all night were sleeping curled up on the lobby sofas. Groans, snores, and teeth grinding sounds were incessant here and there.

    As Ian carefully opened the door to the duty room, Xiaoshi raised his head.

    “You’re here.”

    “What about His Highness Arsen?”

    “He just fell asleep. He kept throwing tantrums and crying.”

    Xiaoshi wiped the cold sweat and smiled faintly. He had been making such a fuss, pounding on the walls, telling them to bring his mother, and demanding to see Jin. Even in the darkness, Ian could see the scratches on Xiaoshi’s cheek.

    “Xiaoshi, you should rest a bit. I’ll go in.”

    Romandro patted his shoulder and entered the duty room where Arsen was. Ian opened the door to the room across from it, where Jin was.

    Creak.

    “Dilaina will come looking for Arsen. If you can be with him, do so, but don’t overdo it.”

    “Yes. I understand.”

    For now, he had prevented the meeting under the pretext of chaos, but it was only temporary. Wasn’t it the bond of nature? With just a little progress in the cleanup, Dilaina would be able to dismiss Xiaoshi and take Arsen away.

    A handful of cold dawn sunlight was settling in the dim room.

    “Snore.”

    “…”

    Beric, who was half-fallen from the sofa with his head buried, and Jin, who was neatly lying on the bed. They were sleeping so deeply that they didn’t notice Ian entering and walking over.

    “I can overlook Jin, but shouldn’t Beric have sensed my presence? I told him to guard the bedroom, and he’s sleeping so soundly.”

    As Ian muttered with a faint smile, Xiaoshi crept over and pulled Beric’s nose. Beric frowned and groaned in pain.

    “Ugh, ouch, Ian, a, a pig bit my nose…”

    “…He’s not waking up.”

    “Leave him be. He’ll be busy in the afternoon.”

    As soon as Xiaoshi let go of his nose, Beric smacked his lips again with a happy smile. He was so simple that it was evident what kind of dream he was having.

    Swish.

    Ian sat on the edge of the bed and examined Jin’s wound. The bleeding had stopped, but it seemed like it would spread again with the slightest wrong touch. When he saw it in the portrait, it looked so natural as if he had it since birth. It was such a deep and painful wound.

    “…Ian?”

    “I apologize. Did you wake up?”

    Jin slowly opened his eyes. Although drowsy and unfocused, he immediately recognized Ian.

    “Has the day passed?”

    “Yes. It has passed. It’s a new day.”

    Ian answered while arranging the child’s blanket. Following the gentle touch of pat-pat, Jin’s eyes closed again. He wanted to let him sleep like that, but Ian had something to tell him.

    “Your Highness. Lady Dilaina has regained her senses.”

    Jin sat up halfway and looked at Ian. A whirlwind of indescribably complex emotions seemed to be swirling. Relief, reluctance, fear, and sadness. Jin stammered and asked Ian.

    “What should I do?”

    “Your Highness.”

    “I, I don’t know. No one ever told me. What should a child abandoned by his mother do when he meets his mother again?”

    Ian patted his back and answered in a low voice.

    “There’s nothing you need to do. Because you did nothing wrong, Your Highness. And before that, if Your Highness says you don’t want to see Lady Dilaina, I will block her.”

    “Can, can I not meet my mother?”

    “Of course. Absolutely. You can do as you wish, Your Highness. Until you convince yourself that you did nothing wrong. Do as your heart tells you.”

    Jin lay down again and pulled the blanket up to his eyes. There was nothing wrong, it was Dilaina and Arsen’s fault. The consolation lingered like a lullaby, making him drowsy.

    “Lord Ian. I have a request.”

    “Please command me.”

    “Read, read me a book.”

    Jin peeked out and requested. The magicians were all busy, and Beric and Xiaoshi, who were close by, couldn’t read. Ian nodded with a small laugh.

    “I understand. Gladly. What would you like me to read?”

    “Over there, the one closest to you.”

    The magicians must have brought a few books from the palace at Jin’s request. Ian picked up the book on top of the table, seeing it was well-worn.

    <The Chronicle of Roberside>

    The chronicle of the first head of the Carbo family, Roberside Carbo, who split from the temple. Ian lightly flipped through the pages, noticing the heavy fingerprints.

    “Do you enjoy reading this?”

    “Very, very interesting. Arsen says it’s boring and doesn’t even bother to look at it. Whenever I read it, Roberside always appears in my dreams and plays with me.”

    He was a genuine child. Ian smiled faintly and straightened his posture. Then he read the sentences in a clear voice.

    [“You won’t become a priest?” Roberside nodded at the question from his brothers and sisters. “My siblings, you serve God with a pure heart in my stead. I will go out and slay those demons to pledge my love to God.” He was the one who followed God more than anyone else, but he couldn’t turn a blind eye to the people currently suffering from demons.]

    Xiaoshi also leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Ian’s voice, with a consistent high and low pitch, was pleasant to listen to. Even the sound of flipping pages added to it.

    [Roberside was amazing. With a single swing of his sword, a hundred demon corpses piled up, and with two swings, a river of blood was formed. The people cheered, and Roberside continued to push forward.]

    ‘It’s a bit violent for a fairy tale.’

    Especially the illustrations were too explicit in depicting the demon corpses. Was it a record from that time? The appearance of the demons that confronted Roberside was detailed.

    [“Spare me!” Roberside finally had only one demon left. The devil, in the form of a small child, begged with clasped hands. Roberside asked, “What kind of creature are you?” The devil answered, “I am the one who feeds on human evil.” Deserving to die, the moment Roberside raised his sword. The devil whispered cunningly, “If you let me live, I will hide and live. But if you kill me, my brothers will take revenge. They will destroy everything you have gained.” The devil threatened, but Roberside was brave.]

    “…Slash. As Roberside killed the devil, the demons disappeared from the Bariel Empire. Someone asked, ‘Lord Roberside, aren’t you afraid of being stained with so much blood?’ Roberside smiled and answered, ‘If I can be afraid in your stead, that is enough.'”

    Thud.

    On the back, there was a full-body portrait of Roberside. A man swinging a sword with his silver short hair fluttering. It was from the time of the founding, so it was impossible to verify whether all of this was fiction or not.

    ‘The devil’s revenge.’

    Although it was a conclusion, the devil’s curse seemed to have been cast. Comparing the Carbo family at the time of the founding and the present, their power had fallen to a pitiful extent. It was a presence that everyone recognized but ended there.

    “Master.”

    Xiaoshi quietly called him. Ian looked back with his hand on the sleeping Jin’s forehead, and then felt a blanket being draped over his shoulders.

    “You should also get some sleep, Master.”

    “It’s fine.”

    “You don’t look fine at all.”

    Creak.

    At that moment, Romandro crept in and looked around. It was a gaze checking if anything was lacking. He squatted down, looking at Beric, who had slid off the sofa.

    “He’s sleeping the most comfortably. Tsk tsk.”

    “Snore. Cough! The meat, ah, the meat is-“

    “Always going on about meat, he must have maggots in his stomach. Ian, His Highness Arsen is also sound asleep. Don’t do that and finish getting some shut-eye. It’ll be troublesome if you collapse later when you’re busy. I’ve assigned guards for His Highness Arsen.”

    At Romandro’s insistence, Ian had no choice but to lie down on the sofa. Perhaps thanks to the child’s heavy breathing, his eyelids immediately grew heavy.

    Romandro muttered while tidying up the floor.

    Rustle.

    “What’s this?”

    “It’s a drawing His Highness Jin made earlier.”

    “Oh, it’s nice. Is it a banana and a tomato?”

    “…He said it was you and Beric.”

    “…”

    Pfft, Ian unknowingly let out a laugh. Romandro pushed the drawing aside, glancing at Jin.

    “It’s best to leave art to the artists. Yep.”

    “Still, a banana and a tomato are a bit much.”

    “But Ian, about what you said earlier regarding Lady Dilaina. Can’t you tell me what it is?”

    A way to rival Ian, who had taken control of the palace.

    Ian opened his mouth with his eyes closed. Fatigue was dripping from his voice, indicating that he would soon fall asleep.

    “Do you remember those who said at the meeting earlier that we couldn’t deal with all the traitors?”

    “Well, let’s see. There were quite a few.”

    “That’s because there are no substitutes. It means they have that much value. It’s the backbone that can’t be easily cut out in any situation. Currently, who do you think has such an unrivaled position in Bariel?”

    The Emperor? No. The Emperor is lying there like that, but there’s no problem with Bariel functioning. Then Ian? The position of the Ministry of Magic’s minister had changed several times.

    Romandro pondered and suddenly recalled that name.

    “Hayman?”

    A force that had clearly participated in the act of treason but no official dared to readily execute. The aristocrats among aristocrats who had been in charge of the empire’s financial flow for nearly hundreds of years.

    Ian nodded.

    “If it were me, I would propose to Hayman. If they lend their strength to Arsen, I would overlook their wrongdoings when he ascends to the throne.”

    “But isn’t the Hayman family a clear target for execution?”

    “They can’t be beheaded overnight like the corpses outside. If the Hayman family makes an excuse that it was the arbitrary act of their youngest daughter and apologizes, there will be many officials who will say to forgive them.”

    Above all, Prince Jin was going to prioritize Ian’s support, and Ian was the one who directly subdued Mariv and Gale. His intention to execute the traitors was firm, so it would inevitably be burdensome for the Hayman family. On the other hand, for Dilaina, they were a force that could become her strength to oppose Ian.

    ‘After colluding, if Arsen is pushed out, the Hayman family can naturally be pushed out as well. We have no choice but to seek such small gaps.’

    In short, it was about continuously increasing the justification to pressure them. At the same time, by keeping their financial power in check and dispersing the financial authority throughout Bariel, there would come a day when there would be no problem even without them. That would be the true execution of the Hayman family.

    “But Ian, as I’m about to become a father soon, I understand a little bit of the heart of parents with children.”

    Romandro frowned, resting his chin. Abandoning a child was one thing, but he questioned whether selective love was really possible. Romandro spun his head and asked.

    “But don’t you think Lady Dilaina went a bit too far?!”

    “…”

    “Is he sleeping?”

    “He’s asleep.”

    But all that could be seen was Ian sleeping like an angel. Romandro lay down with a thud and stretched. Xiaoshi dozed off while sitting.

    Much later, Beric, who woke up first, mumbled while looking at the drawing in front of him.

    “…Banana, tomato?”

    Knock knock-!

    Click!

    “Lord Ian, Captain Akorella says she has something to report regarding the amber gemstone. She asked to check on the progress of securing the magic sealing stone.”

    “Oh my, he’s sleeping like he passed out. Should I wake him up?”

    “Uh, there’s no choice. In this case.”

    “Excuse me, Lord Ian. Will you listen to the report for a moment?”

    “They say they found His Highness Gale as well. Lord Ian? Lord Ian? Wait, please wake up.”

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