When some nobles panicked, as they had been victims of the past disasters Doomstone caused, the prime minister clapped loudly and changed the subject. "Now, now, the banquet has just begun! Please feel free to enjoy the drinks and food we have prepared with all our heart!"
The Dragon King laughed loudly when the prime minister spoke. "Uahahahaha, I heard that imperial liquor is very delicious! I couldn't sleep well because of the anticipation."
The prime minister smiled and nodded. "Hahaha, we have prepared some of the finest drinks in the empire, so you won’t be disappointed."
"Hahahaha, let's go! The drinks of the empire await us!"
When the Dragon King shouted at his tribe members, the tribe cheered. "Waaaaa-!"
As the Dragon Tribe headed to the place where the liquor was gathered, the court magicians, wary of the prime minister, slowly approached the Butterfly Tribe magicians carefully. For them, having a magic debate with the Butterfly Tribe magicians was a precious opportunity that would not happen more than a few times in their lifetime.
Despite the relaxed movements of the Dragon and Butterfly Tribes, the Crow Tribe remained firmly rooted in the same place. Hestia looked at her eldest brother wickedly. Gallahad stood expressionless, but his eyes were drawn to the drinks table, where the Dragon Tribe began to drink away.
"Huhut, everyone, feel free to enjoy the drinks. But if you cause any trouble by drinking too much, be prepared."
When Hestia granted permission, the warriors of the Crow Tribe answered loudly, "Understood!"
Crow warriors cheered and ran to join the Dragon Tribe's drinking party.
"Oppa, wait a minute.” When Hestia called back Gallahad as he was trying to cheer and run along with his men, his expression full of laughter stiffened.
"Uh, what’s wrong? I mean, what can I do for you, Deputy Chief-nim?" Gallahad's expression was full of uneasiness, even as he spoke formally to Hestia.
"You have to control the men. Is it okay for you to get drunk?” When Hestia said this, Gallahad's face was filled with despair like a man who fell from heaven to hell.
“But, but, everyone's having fun. Just me?” Gallahad looked like he was about to cry when he saw his colleagues immediately start drinking with the Dragon Tribe.
"What do you mean just you, oppa? Elder Weger-nim, the foreign minister, and I are also not allowed to drink. You have to know how to control your desires when you're in charge of others."
At Hestia's nagging, Gallahad looked like someone just died as he stared blankly at his colleagues downing alcohol. "Khmm."
At the same time, Weger put back the glass he was holding using a flying sword skill, transporting it through the air and returning it to the table.
The glass flew to the table, but the alcohol in the glass didn’t shake. The knights in the banquet hall exclaimed, "Hahahaha, Deputy Chief-nim, Gallahad has had a hard time, so how about just letting him drink for today?"
When the foreign minister smiled and sided with Gallahad, Gallahad looked at the foreign minister as if he was moved. "Ahjussi…!"
Hestia pondered the foreign minister's suggestion. "Well, but our little brother could be here.…”
Hestia didn't want to allow for any gaps, if possible, and she looked around the banquet hall.
"Ayy, why would Den be here? This is the palace.” Hestia crossed her arms and contemplated as Gallahad spoke with his eyes on the alcohol bottle.
"That would negate the purpose of me asking the prime minister to move our entrance to the banquet ahead."
Originally, the arrival of the Crows and other battle race tribes was planned to be at the end of the banquet as Den expected. However, Hestia deliberately asked for his understanding and moved it forward.
Hestia sighed as she glanced at Weger, who seemed to secretly have lingering feelings for the glass of alcohol. "All right, but just drink enough not to get drunk."
Hestia nodded when Gallahad asked with delight. "Even our little brother is here, it's too difficult to catch him right now.”
Even if the three battle race tribes were gathered here, this was the capital in the center of the empire. Furthermore, this was the palace, the heart of the capital, so they couldn't move recklessly. Nevertheless, the reason Hestia acted in assuming Den's presence at the banquet was to narrow down Den's location.
"It's okay for you two to drink as long as you don’t get drunk."
"Really? Khmm! I mean, is that okay?"
When Hestia gave permission, Weger’s typical informal speech burst out, but he quickly corrected it.
Hestia smiled and nodded. "Yes, it’s fine. But Elder Weger-nim, can you expand your senses outside of the banquet hall during the martial arts demonstration later?"
"That will not be difficult." Weger laughed, bringing the glass from the table using the flying sword skill once more. Hestia's permission was very welcome since he secretly wanted to drink anyway.
"There will probably be someone doing something a little strange at that time.” Hestia gave a light wink.
* * *
I nodded after hearing my aunt's explanation. "That's a good idea. As I thought, we should proceed only when Elder Weger-nim moves.”
Although my third sister wouldn't be certain, she could have still seen through the fact that I was in this banquet hall. To be honest, I felt like I was delusional thinking this way, but I was convinced when I saw the jewel hanging around my third sister's neck.
Hestia probably had three motives for coming to this banquet with that necklace on. The first will be to measure the extent of my movements so far. She likely knew that I was Lupin from my fourth sister and Lancelot’s report and would have investigated Lupin.
It was clear that my third sister was wearing the necklace to find people who came into contact with me without openly showing her intentions. The actual victim's reaction would be clearly different from someone who simply learned about Lupin through the newspaper. Perhaps Hestia noona saw the third princess, Arelia’s, reaction to her necklace, confirming that I came in and out of the palace.
The second was a warning to the nobles. My third sister intentionally revealed her relationship with Lupin by wearing the necklace and attending the banquet. This was probably in consideration of the fact that the nobles rushed after me, causing me to completely halt my activities and hide. Since I was already being careful about my actions after being exposed as Lupin, she most likely did this to completely eliminating any interference.
Lastly, it was a provocation against me. Hestia noona was telling me that if I got on her nerves, she could announce to everyone that I was Lupin. Of course, it was clear that the last act would be blackmail.
If two people play a game of chicken, the one with the most to lose will be defeated. All I had to lose was my life as a civil servant, but my third sister had to consider handling the aftermath if I caused trouble.
"By the way, what a shame.”
It was a great loss that I had to disclose to my third sister that I already have a helper. If I go along with my aunt's plan, there’s no way my third sister wouldn’t know that there was someone helping me. Of course, she wouldn’t know that it's my aunt who's helping me, but it would still be quite a loss.
Knowing what I meant, my aunt let out a sigh. "If you had left the palace beforehand, we wouldn't have to do this."
I grumbled at my aunt's reprimand. "I couldn't help it.”
I was planning to leave after reading the atmosphere of the banquet a little, but I didn't know the villagers would attend the banquet so early.
"Ehew, I just wanted to live peacefully.”
My aunt mocked me when I sighed. "What peace? You’ve been hiding and causing all sorts of trouble."
"Ayy, it's fine just as long as you don't get caught. Besides, I am peace personified compared to the trouble my father caused when he was young."
When I looked for understanding, my aunt nodded with an upset expression. "It's definitely peaceful compared to what Doomstone oppa did."
"If my father or grandfather knew of my actions, they would probably praise me for having been so calm instead."
My aunt looked at me like she didn't want to agree, but soon she had no choice but to nod in agreement because it was true. "The fact that I can’t help but agree with you means there's something wrong with our family."
Having said that, my aunt still couldn't find anything wrong with our family. This was expected since my aunt was also from our family despite pretending that she’s not.
I looked at the banquet hall, leaving behind my slightly confused aunt. At just a glance, I saw that my eldest brother was, of course, drinking, but even Elder Weger was having a drink. This meant that they had virtually given up on catching me in the banquet hall.
However, I couldn’t lower my guard as Elder Weger's aura was still filling the banquet hall. If I move recklessly, he might discover that I am here. Now, just as predators hide in the grass to hunt prey, I had to hide within the crowd.
* * *
After having conversations with many nobles in a short span of time, Hestia sighed with a weary expression. "Ehew, it's not easy to constantly deal with pretentious people."
It was even more difficult because the Crows themselves were far from pretentious.
The foreign minister offered comforting words to the mentally and physically exhausted Hestia and handed her a refreshing fruit drink. "You are doing a great job. Village Head-nim would be proud as well.”
Hestia looked slightly dumbfounded as she said, "It's been a long time since I heard the title of Village Head. It's actually the first time I've heard of him since Father relinquished the position.”
The foreign minister smiled awkwardly. "Haha, it was definitely a title that didn't stick well. It also didn't really fit the size of our town.”
"That’s true. Well, I think I will have to admit that it's definitely a failed policy at this point."
"But I do not think the policy has failed completely… yet.”
Hestia burst into laughter at the sight of the foreign minister avoiding her gaze. "Hahahaha, you don't have to be sorry. It's a policy I proposed when I was six, so it makes sense that it would fail.”
Hestia shrugged as if she couldn't help it. "I didn't realize at the time that the title gave a sense of authority to people. I was only thinking of changing the minds of the closed-off villagers and increasing exchanges with the outside world."
Lamenting on her past actions, Hestia gulped down the drink in her hand. "I didn't admit it because I felt guilty towards my father for adopting this poor idea, but now that he’s not here, I am certain. When I get back, I'll have to change the title back to Chief again. When I realized that I'm also a person who can fail, I understood how heavy this seat is.”
The foreign minister changed the subject when he saw Hestia smiling bitterly, "By the way, what was your intention for wearing that necklace?”
Hestia answered, casually unfolding her fingers, "There are four intentions. First, to find out my little brother's unknown radius of activity. Second, to warn the nobles of the empire not to touch Lupin recklessly. Third, to provoke my little brother if he is here, and finally... To hide my outstanding appearance?"
Hestia jokingly told the last reason, but it was actually the most important one. Hestia's appearance resembled Anemone too much compared to her siblings. If anyone remembered Anemone by looking at Hestia, it would make things difficult, so she deliberately pushed the attention around herself towards Lupin. It was a sad reason, but this was also better for Duke Asteria, who was on her mother’s side.
"Oh, it looks like Elder Weger-nim is demonstrating martial arts."
Weger's martial arts demonstration was supposed to take place in the form of a spar. His opponent was the Dragon King Muk. In the center of the banquet hall, Dragon King Muk and Head Elder Weger of the Crow Tribe were facing each other and exchanging greetings.Previous Chapter Next Chapter