Episode 90 – Cover Story
Rhur gulped silently, a crystalline bead of sweat rolling down the side of his head. Perhaps now would be a bad time to ask for more money?
The silence descended onto the room once again.
Rhur pulled his shirt back up, hiding his revealed skin, and then proceeded to sit as still as a statue, waiting for Venric to allow him to speak, or to shoo him out. Preferably the second option. He had no desire to converse with his grandfather when he was in such a foul mood.
The next several minutes felt like hours. Although the temperature inside the room was cold, Rhur’s back had long become drenched with sweat.
One could say that Rhur’s grandfather “doted” on him. However, Venric’s definition of “doting” wasn’t the same as any other person’s definition of doting.
Venric was in no way loving or forgiving towards Rhur Rroda. He only restrained his temper more than with other people. He was also more lenient when giving out punishments and allowed Rhur a larger freedom of speech.
Finally, Venric Rroda broke the silence: “Why did you come to see me?”
The solemn, cold gaze expressed that saying “Oh, I just wanted to gossip about my little brother’s romantic endeavors.” wouldn’t be an acceptable response.
Rhur gulped, his throat suddenly feeling dry. “Ah… you see…you could say that…”
“Out with it!” Venric snapped.
“I got swindled…” Rhur spoke out in a weak voice, uncharacteristic for him. Yet even that weak voice carried a special type of allure.
Venric’s eyes flashed dangerously, and he growled out. “Who dares swindle a son of the Rroda family?!”
Rhur coughed dryly, fidgeting in his seat a bit, before finally, briefly explaining what happened. Of course, his explanation glorified himself as a saint who was unjustly plotted against by his evil younger brother.
When he finished his explanation, silence descended onto the room once again.
The only movement in the room came from the violent twitch of Venric’s eyebrow.
Finally, Venric covered his face with his palm, looking as if he wanted to face-palm himself but barely managed to restrain it for it would not be an appropriate thing to do for a noble.
“How much did you say it cost?”
Rhur smiled wryly and repeated the staggering number, after which, silence once again descended onto the room.
This time, the silence lasted even longer than the previous silence.
“Rhur… Take this as a valuable lesson. As the future head, you need to learn how to deal with such situations on your own.”
Rhur jumped at the chance to show his obedience. “I understand.” He chirped with fake gratefulness for the advice.
Rhur waited for Venric to continue, but Venric waved his hand, telling him to get out. Rhur finally couldn’t restrain himself and the question that he had wanted to ask all along burst out: “About the next month’s allowance…”
Before he could finish a sharp “No!” interrupted him.
“But the tab…” Black Pearl didn’t even allow people to have tabs. The only reason why they made an exception for him was because he was a VIP customer who came to Black Pearl almost every day. Naturally, he had to take care of the debt as soon as possible.
“Take care of it by yourself!” Mercy didn’t exist in the vocabulary of Venric Rroda.
Rhur’s eyebrow twitched. Not even two of his monthly allowances would be enough to cover that tab… for how long would he need to live frugally to pay this debt off??
Rhur couldn’t help but grind his teeth, a vicious light flashing in his eyes. “What about punishing little brother? He is squandering family money just to get back at me!”
Venric, who was trying hard not to lose his temper could finally no longer endure. He slammed his hand on the table and viciously berated. “You dare speak about squandering money?! How much money do you squander each month in that restaurant?!”
That left Rhur tongue-tied, but the rebuking didn’t end there: “Naturally, I’ll deal with the bastard child but who are you trying to deceive? Playing a saint in front of me?! Don’t insult my intelligence! Do you think I am not aware of your flaws?! If you didn’t go out of your way to antagonize him, would he have deliberately sought trouble?!”
Rhur’s face paled.
“Kiel Rroda might be a useless bastard child, but his reputation is spotless! Hard working, polite, modest, never stopping to relax or indulge in worldly pleasures. Yet look at you! I can’t even count how many different women you have been seen with in the previous month alone!!”
Rhur’s wry smiled turned so stiff that it couldn’t look any more unnatural. Yet the berating still went on: “If you spent half as much time studying as you spend flirting with women you would have already succeeded me as the family head!!”
“Look at yourself! Do you think I’ll let you succeed me if you are stupid enough to get scammed by your own brother?! Aren’t you ashamed of coming to me crying for help?!? Are you not worried that you would become a laughing stock if people heard about it?? The future head of the Rroda family made a fool out of by a bastard child? And his younger brother at that??”
“What kind of heir are you?! Get out of my office before I ground you for the next half of the year!!”
As soon as he received the command to get lost, Rhur’s face lit up as if he received a life-saving grace. He scrambled to his feet (gracefully), bowed apologetically to his grandfather, with his face showing nothing but utter remorse and gratefulness for his grandfather’s wise words. And then he bolted through the door (elegantly, of course).
As soon as Rhur was far enough from his grandfather, his docile expression was replaced with cold fury. The grinding of his teeth produced audible noises. Old fart, just wait until I replace you. I’ll pay you back for all of your temper tantrums. In fact, you’ll be on top of my “payback” list.
Right after my little brother. He added. His expression turning all the more unsightly as he thought how Kiel reveled in his misfortune.
Rhur blamed this entire ordeal on Kiel. Yes, it was his fault. He would pay it back to him in due time. He diverted all his anger and hate towards Kiel, for there was no point in hating the redhead. After all, she’ll be repaying this debt with her body. He would take out all his frustration out then and turn it into a healthy exercise.
As he made his way to the other side of the mansion, all of the servants who ran into him avoided him in a large arc. None of them even dared to look at his face so they couldn’t notice the storm brewing inside his pale blue eyes. Nonetheless, they didn’t need to look at him; the aura he exuded was enough for all of them to feel like pechuhs in front of a lupax.
Rhur suddenly stopped his waltz in front of a pretty courtyard filled with all kinds of greenery. Most of the plants, however, had pink flowers all year round.
Rhur was very familiar with this courtyard. This courtyard and the part of the mansion beyond it belonged to his mother. The sickeningly pink color that spread as far as the eye could see made his stomach turn.
Forget it. His eyebrow twitched. I am not that desperate.
Instead of proceeding onwards, Rhur did an 180-degree turn, walking away in the same direction he came from.
I’d rather take my chances and pay a visit to father.
In a lavishly decorated room beyond the pink courtyard lay a slim, middle-aged woman surrounded by female servants who were painting her long fingernails.
The woman who was resting her eyes suddenly opened them and looked towards the courtyard, even though she couldn’t see through the walls. “Hmmm?”
Her baby blue eyes narrowed and her perfectly sculpted eyebrows furrowed. Was that my darling Rhur?
Her eyebrows stayed furrowed for several seconds, before they relaxed once again. Well…whatever.
She looked at her right hand which the servant had just finished with. She admired her long, pink fingernails for several seconds before humming in satisfaction.
Then she proceeded to flick her long black hair with pink highlights to the side in a dignified manner.
(Meanwhile, in Black Pearl Restaurant)
“Alright, let’s get down to business.” Elaru wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes, trying hard to concentrate on the issue at hand.
Kiel clutched his stomach in the most discrete way he could and nodded his head solemnly. “Indeed, no more joking around.”
Although his facial expression was deathly serious, internally, he was sincerely hoping, praying even, for there to be no more sudden outbursts of laughter. Not only were these laughing fits painful, as demonstrated by the current painful cramping of his stomach muscles, but these laughing fits were also totally ruining his image of a cold and serious person.
Kiel continued to nod his head repeatedly. Indeed. Elaru Wayvin is extremely dangerous.
“Close your eyes.” Elaru exclaimed.
Kiel’s nodding suddenly stilled, and he looked at her blankly. “What?”
“Close your eyes.” She repeated. Kiel’s eyebrow twitched. “Why?”
“I’ll explain the purpose of it later. For now, just do as I say.”
Kiel stared at her skeptically for a while, however, in the end, he let out a sigh and closed his eyes. He had decided to make her his ally, so he should show some trust. It’s not like she asked him to jump into a burning building.
When he closed his eyes, Elaru pulled out a box, wrapped in foil, from a small satchel hanging from her belt. She placed the box in front of Kiel, careful not to touch the box as she removed the foil.
A soft sound of cardboard paper let Kiel know that the box wasn’t the only thing that fell out of the foil. Even though he had his eyes closed, through his hearing and mana sense, he could perceive what was going on quite clearly.
“Can I open my eyes now?” Kiel sighed again, seeing no point in this entire endeavor.
“Yes.” Elaru agreed.
Finally. Kiel resisted the urge to roll his eyes and instead, opened them.
The first thing he saw was a small ring box in front of which there was a note.
Kiel’s eyebrow rose as he picked up the note.
On the note, there were only two words, written in an elegant, refined handwriting: “Happy Birthday.”
Kiel’s eyebrow twitched, and he looked at Elaru gobsmacked. “It’s not my birthday.” His 18th birthday was several months ago.
Elaru shrugged. “It’s a late birthday present.”
Kiel stared at her speechlessly. Couldn’t she just give him the ring? Why is there a need to call it a birthday present?
Elaru’s mouth twitched, and she stifled a giggle. “Come on, don’t give me that look. Just because you can’t understand my thought process doesn’t mean I’m insane.”
“Please enlighten me to your… unique thought process.” Kiel closed his eyes and rubbed his temples in exasperation.
Elaru grinned widely. “Naturally, I am creating a cover story.”
Kiel’s eyes suddenly snapped open, and he stared at Elaru with interest. “Oh?”
“What would happen when your family members find out that a previous non-mage suddenly has an abundance of mana and pure mana at that?” Elaru smirked. “Naturally, they will ask questions.”
She paused, looking at Kiel meaningfully. “We already talked about what you are going to tell them.”
Kiel nodded. “I’ll tell them that my latent potential finally awakened which resulted in my sudden abundance of mana.”
“Right.” Elaru confirmed. “However, pure mana is something that can only be obtained through the Aetherneal bond or through a mana purifying artifact. Therefore, this ring will act as a dummy artifact. You’ll pretend like it is a real mana purifying artifact.”
Elaru paused again.
“When people notice you are in possession of a “mana purifying artifact”, they won’t find it strange because you are a noble. They would think that your family bestowed the artifact onto you. However, your family knows better. Therefore, they will start asking questions. Namely, where you got it.”
Elaru motioned towards the box on the table. “So, to avoid you having to come up with a lie, which could be easily exposed. I created a cover story that is true so you wouldn’t have to lie.”
She grinned. “When they ask how you got the artifact, you’ll tell them you got it as a birthday gift. If they ask further, you’ll tell them you found it on the table when you opened your eyes. And you can even show them the birthday note. If they ask who gave it to you, you can say that you didn’t ‘see’ who left you the ring and there was no name on the note.”