Chapter 540: Did you miss me? (2)

The assembly, well, Count Mock's lone declaration, continued quickly.
Cale quietly sat there listening to the things he discussed last night being reported just as he had said them.

‘Nothing’s changed.’

The White Star seemed to have approved of Count Mock's suggestion as is.

Cale looked at someone at that moment.

Smile.

Chief Priest Gersey was smiling gently toward him.

‘What the…?’

Cale instantly felt annoyed but just smiled back.
He heard Count Mock's firm but excited voice at that moment.

“And with that, we will end our meeting!”

Count Mock was smiling as he addressed the noble awaiters.

“Any esteemed noble awaiters who wish to participate in the Black Castle destruction plan please come to my office in the castle.”

The noble awaiters peeked at each other with nervous gazes.

‘My chance is here!’
‘He said gaining merit here could mean becoming a Baron at the bare minimum, and a Count if everything goes well!’
‘…I will participate in this Black Castle destruction plan no matter what.’

However, only 48 noble awaiters could take part in the Black Castle destruction plan. It was exactly half of the 96 of them.

The noble awaiters were all looking at Count Mock.
He had full control over which 48 of them he selected.

‘This is great.’

Count Mock who saw their gazes expertly held back his laughter that wanted to burst out.
On the other hand, there was one person who could undo her frozen expression.

‘…Everybody but me!’

The black knight. It was Count Hubesha.
She realized that she was the only one at the table who did not know about Count Mock's Black Castle destruction plan.

‘What the hell happened in one night?’

Her sharp gaze headed toward Count Mock.
As fellow Counts, they had the most contentious relationship.

‘That old grouch did this behind my back!’

She stared at Count Mock without hiding her anger until she flinched and looked elsewhere.
She was looking at Naru-Cale who was getting up from his seat and starting to walk out of the assembly hall.

‘…Something is weird.’

Count Mock was the slyest person she knew.
She was certain that Count Mock was the one who dragged Naru and the Vampires into this plan.

However, her intuition as a swordswoman…
Her senses as a person who fought in the vanguard…

‘…Why do I keep wanting to look at Naru?’

They were warning her.
They were saying that something was weird about this boy.

As Count Hubesha started to focus her gaze a little more on Naru…

“Naru.”

Cale flinched as a gentle voice called out to him as he tried to exit the grand assembly hall.

‘…Damn it.’

Pat.

Someone gently placed their hand on his shoulder.
Cale slightly turned his head and looked up at the person who called him.

“…Your majesty.”
“You can call me uncle again now that the assembly is over.”

The White Star was smiling warmly.

‘…Fine… Let’s just think about the cookies and food this bastard gave me.’

He would think about those delicious things in order to hold himself back.

Cale smiled as brightly as possible.

“Oh my.”

The White Star looked sad after seeing Cale’s expression.

“Naru, you don’t need to force yourself to smile when things are hard.”

‘Damn it. It’s not like that, okay?’

“And as for your participation in this plan… It is weighing heavily on me. I'm worried about you. However, I have decided to respect your decision.”

Chief Priest Gersey approached the White Star at that moment. The White Star started to walk toward Chief Priest Gersey and said goodbye to Cale one last time.

“Don't get hurt. Don’t get sick. Make sure to eat every meal. Let’s meet again with you healthy and having grown from the experience.”

The White Star then walked out of the grand assembly hall with Chief Priest Gersey.
Cale quietly watched them leave before exiting the grand assembly hall himself and meeting up with Solena who was waiting.

“How was the meeting?”

She stood next to Cale and quietly asked so that nobody else could hear.
Cale started to smile as he got on the carriage that was waiting at the entrance of the grand assembly hall.

“This is what his majesty told me.”

Cale leisurely leaned on the seat inside the carriage.

Solena sat across from him.
She could see the boy's twisted smile.

“ ‘Don’t get hurt, don't get sick, eat properly.’ He also said that he wants to see me healthy and having grown from the experience.”

Pfft pfft.

The boy scoffed.
He then pointed at himself.

“He said that to me. His majesty said those things to me. What do you think? Solena, what do you think about that?”

Solena closed the carriage door.

Clang.

She started to speak once they were alone inside the carriage.

“It’s funny.”
“Right?”

Both Cale and Solena started to smile.
However, the corners of Solena’s lips quickly went back down. There was a look of uncertainty on her face.

“Young master-nim.”
“What is it?”
“…When will we know for sure about the issues related to the Roan Kingdom?”

Cale started to frown at that moment.
She flinched after seeing his upset expression, but Cale's expression returned to normal as he asked Solena a question.

“I guess you’re antsy to hear from the Roan Kingdom?”
“…Only because of the issue we are waiting to decide together with the Roan Kingdom. It is an issue regarding the safety of our Vampire knights and warriors after all.”
“Indeed.”

There were matters to decide together prior to the plan.
That was why Cale had called crown prince Alberu as well.

“Haaaaa.”

Cale let out a sigh.
He started to frown as he shook his head. His reaction worried Solena.

‘Did his conversation with the Roan Kingdom not go well?’

If that was the case, then they could not proceed with the Black Castle destruction plan as Cale and Duke Fredo originally discussed.
Solena held back her uncertainty as she watched Cale's mouth slowly start to open.

“You should just need to wait a little longer.”

However, Cale’s response was positive.

“You shouldn't need to worry about it.”
“Yes, sir! I understand!”

Cale was not the type to say empty words.
Solena had realized this in the few days they had spent together, making her smile after hearing Cale’s positive response.

The carriage soon started and Cale started to contemplate things while looking out the carriage window.
He heard Solena’s cautious voice at that moment.

“But is it really okay for that many people to participate in the Black Castle destruction plan? Dark Elves and the Vampires… Adding 48 noble awaiters to that is no small number.”
"Are you worried about the Black Castle?”
“…Yes. The Duke-nim and you have come up with a brilliant plan, young master-nim, but the number and quality of the people involved are very high. I am just worried.”

Cale quietly observed the Vampire who was worried about him and the Black Castle.

‘Can I trust Solena?’

The corners of Cale’s lips started to go up.

“You don’t need to worry about it.”

He could not trust Solena.
Her eyes did not have the same emotion that people like Rosalyn or Choi Han had when they were truly concerned. She was just saying that she was worried.

In fact, Solena’s eyes were observing Cale.
Her gaze was similar to someone who was trying to determine a rival's abilities.

‘My goodness. I really can’t relax anywhere here.’

In the end, she too was Fredo's subordinate.

‘She is one of the most trusted of all of his trusted subordinates and extremely talented.’

Cale somewhat nonchalantly responded to Solena.

“Thank you for worrying about me.”

Solena flinched before gently smiling at him.
Cale smiled back and once the carriage arrived at the Fredo mansion…
He returned to his room and closed the door.

Tap!

The door closed and Cale started to speak.

“Did you find it?”

He started to smile after seeing the way Choi Han and Raon were looking at him.

“Looks like you found it.”

Cale had told Choi Han and Raon to look into Duke Fredo.

‘I was a bit worried about the two of them, but they always do a good job with the things I tell them to do.’

Cale confirmed that Choi Han and Raon looked fine before walking toward them with a satisfied smile.

“H, human!”
“Why, why are you acting like this?”

However, Raon was faster.

Raon flew over to Cale and grabbed one of his sleeves.

“H, human!”
“…What’s wrong with you?”

Raon’s eyes were open very wide and shaking.

“Cale-nim.”

Choi Han then walked over and put his hand on Cale’s shoulder.

“Please don’t be shocked.”
“…What the hell did you guys find that’s making you act like this?”

Raon and Choi Han’s reactions seemed serious.

“Cale-nim, please don’t be shocked.”
“I don’t think there’s a need for you to say the same thing twice? And based on what I'm seeing, Choi Han, it seems like you need to calm yourself down.”
“…That’s true.”
“Huuuuu.”

Choi Han took a deep breath.
He then focused on Cale with a piercing gaze as he started to speak.

“I did not find anything useful in Duke Fredo’s bedroom, however, Raon saw Duke Fredo entering a secret passage and stealthily followed behind him.”

That passage supposedly headed to the basement.

“And he found a normal study.”
“That’s right! It was just a normal study! It was small too!”
“However, there was information about the White Star there.”

Raon gripped Cale’s sleeve even tighter.

“Human! I couldn’t look through things because Duke Fredo was there as well, but! I took a clear look at all the papers that were hanging on the walls!”
“……I see. You did something amazing, so how about you let go of my sleeve?”
“Human!”

Raon clenched his sleeve even tighter.

‘Oh, come on.’

Cale started to frown. He was in a young boy's appearance so he was about to be dragged around by Raon without being able to resist.
The young Dragon was stronger than Naru.

“Raon. Let go-”
“Human! Cale Barrow!”
“…Hmm?”

Cale stopped talking and looked toward Raon.
He could see that Raon and Choi Han’s eyes were shaking as they looked at him.

Choi Han started to speak.
His voice was slightly shaking.

“The White Star's first life. His name was Cale Barrow.”

‘…Huh? Cale? His name is the same as mine?’

“He received the God of Death’s curse after breaking the oath with Sheritt. I can’t be certain, but Cale Barrow is suspected of being in his early twenties. However, I was able to accurately determine the day he was cursed. He was cursed on November 8th.”

Cale could see Choi Han's eyes shaking as he said the date.
Cale’s heart started to beat wildly as well.

‘Is it a coincidence? That day is my birthday, Kim Rok Soo’s birthday. Choi Han and Choi Jung Soo. Nelan Barrow as well. It’s all of our birthdays.’

The man who had spent his twenties as Kim Rok Soo and was now starting his twenties again as Cale Henituse could not forget the fact that the day that Cale Barrow who was in his early twenties was cursed by the God of Death on November 8th.
November 8th was also the date that the twenty-years-old Cale had to make a decision between the options that the God of Death gave him.

“Human.”

Raon let go of Cale’s sleeve.

“I stealthily stole one of the papers on the wall once Fredo turned around to leave that secret room.”

Cale could feel Choi Han tensing up even more.

“Human, I had to steal this.”

Raon voice was shaking as well.

“Here, take a look.”

Raon pulled a rolled-up paper out of his spatial dimension and pushed it toward Cale.
Cale took it and opened it.

Chhhhh-

The paper was opened.
Cale’s gaze was focused on the picture on the paper.

“Human! I brought the picture of the ‘present’ White Star's face without his mask!”

Raon's voice was shaking at the serious situation he faced, as well as pride and satisfaction at what he had done.

“Fredo had drawn a picture of the White Star's face without the mask! There was a memo next to the picture that said that this was his face ‘one month ago’!”

He then quickly added on.

“Ah! Human, he drew your face next to the White Star's as well! However, I didn't bring that with me since I know your face!”

The White Star's portrait was not as detailed as a picture taken with a camera or a video, but it was still pretty detailed.

“Based on how detailed and accurate your portrait on the wall was, I believe that this portrait or the White Star is accurate!”

Raon puffed up his chubby belly.

“I did a good job! I am amazing!”

He praised himself while waiting for Cale to respond.
It was at that moment.

“Cale-nim.”

Choi Han walked a bit closer to Cale.
He put his hand on Cale’s shoulder as Cale stood there unable to look away from the White Star’s portrait.

Choi Han started to speak with a stiff expression on his face.
His voice sounded chaotic.

“Asians and Westerners may have different facial structures. Our hair color and eye color might all be different, but…”

Choi Han recalled the moment he saw the portrait Raon had brought back.
He had been so shocked.
His gaze moved to the portrait as well.

Choi Han opened his mouth to speak and his voice unintentionally cracked.

“…Doesn’t it look oddly similar? …The mood and the overall feel of the face.”

Cale turned toward Choi Han.
Choi Han looked into Cale’s shaking pupils and quietly whispered as if he was afraid someone might hear.

“…Kim Rok Soo. He looks like you.”

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miraclerifle's Thoughts

Holy crap?! What did he just say? And damn, what a cliff!