YCKTML Chapter 41
“This… this is Madam’s necklace that I found.”
Chloe held up the sparkling necklace with both hands and offered it to the Emperor.
“This…” The Emperor lifted the necklace and looked at it closely, his expression strange.
At that moment, the commander, who was looking at the distance, exclaimed, “Your Majesty! His Highness, the Crown Prince, is coming.”
“Is that right?”
Everyone’s eyes, including the Emperor, fell on Enoch and Erin. Nervous, Erin unknowingly grabbed Enoch’s hand.
The closer they got, the more people screamed.
“… D-didn’t they say she’s dead?”
“That’s what I heard, too.”
While some looked on as if they’d seen a ghost, others had a different expression.
Among them, Damon stepped out of the crowd, his mouth agape as he stared at Erin, then turned to Enoch. He narrowed his eyes at the Crown Prince in resentment.
When he met Enoch’s eyes, the prince waved his hands, looking apologetic. Damon stepped back, but he wouldn’t let it go.
Rupert, who was kneeling on the podium, jumped up when he saw Erin.
Erin raised her head and looked him straight in the eye.
Rupert’s eyes shook as he continued to stare at her. Betrayal, anger, relief, love, and hate came rushing in, but no words appeared.
Erin raised the corners of her lips as she took Enoch’s hand and slowly made her way up the podium.
Enoch bowed before the Emperor, and Erin went down on her knees to show her respect.
“Greetings to His Majesty, the Emperor. My name is Erin Spilet.”
The Emperor looked at her carefully, then nodded once before he turned to Enoch and said, “Enoch, tell me in detail what happened.”
To anyone who heard the Emperor, they would think he was furious, but his expression was full of nothing but anticipation.
Enoch said, “Yes, Your Majesty. First of all, Count Spilet did not die. I saved her when she was at the magic stone cave, and I’ve been protecting her since then.”
The Emperor glanced at Erin sitting next to Enoch and showed her the necklace. “Then, is this yours?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
The Emperor smiled at Enoch when he heard Erin’s answer, then asked Chloe, “You said you found this in the magic stone cave.”
“Yes, I did, but…”
“Enoch, where did you find Count Spilet?”
“Inside the magic stone cave. I rescued the Count who was being threatened by monsters.”
Then Chloe suddenly stood in front of Enoch. Of course, it was tremendous disrespect to stand in front of the Crown Prince the way she did, but she didn’t seem to have thought of that.
Enoch looked blankly at her while the Emperor frowned at her impertinence. Rupert, who still had the sense of mind, grabbed Chloe’s arm and pulled her back.
“But, I-I discovered the cave first…! I saw the dead monster.”
“But for you to pick up the necklace, doesn’t it mean that the owner entered first?”
While Chloe sputtered, Enoch called his aide to bring a small bottle filled with something dark and thick. At first glance, it looked like a part of a mollusk.
The Crown Prince’s aide carefully handed the bottle to the Emperor’s aide. The Emperor looked at it and grinned at Enoch.
“You brought a part of the monster. He must have just died when you got this.”
“That’s right. I took some of it when it died.”
“So, you used your brain. Good.”
Chloe trembled where she stood. She seemed furious that things didn’t go her way, but she also looked frightened.
“…Then the first person to discover the magic stone cave is Count Spilet,” The Emperor said as he turned to Erin.
Instead of answering, Erin merely lowered her gaze and curtsied.
Rupert didn’t seem to have any interest in the magic stone cave at all. Instead, he continued to stare at Erin, his eyes swimming with mixed emotions.
Chloe watched Rupert like that, so she pulled on his sleeve. “Rupert…”
But Rupert was frozen like a statue as if he couldn’t hear Chloe’s voice.
“Your Majesty, defeating the monsters would not have been possible without Count Spilet’s help.”
The scribe who tallied the scores came out and whispered something to the Emperor’s aide, who then spoke to the Emperor, “Your Majesty, monsters are also included in the score. It didn’t reflect in the bracelet, but if you add up His Highness Enoch’s current score and the corresponding points for defeating monsters, his total is now 6,000 points.”
When the aide announced Enoch’s new score, the crowd went wild. Rupert, who stood frozen, trembled.
With a small sigh, he grabbed Chloe’s wrist and led her down.
“But, Rupert…! I wanted to give you…”
“Not anymore. Go down.”
With those words, Rupert bowed to the Emperor and trudged down, leaving Chloe behind.
As the Emperor looked at Chloe, who was still standing there, he said, “There must have been some misunderstanding. But you worked hard finding it. You should go down now.”
When the Emperor said that, Chloe had no choice but to curtsy and walk off the podium. She went to Rupert’s side, biting her lip when she felt Breiman’s gaze on her.
Now, only the Emperor and his aides, the Crown Prince and Erin remained on the podium.
The Emperor raised the trophy and showed it to the crowd.
“Enoch, tell me. Is there anyone you want to give your points to?”
At the Emperor’s question, Enoch smiled confidently, took a step back from Erin, and pointed at her.
“I’ll transfer my score to Count Spilet, who helped find the magic stone cave and catch the monster.”
Erin had a hunch this would happen, but she still couldn’t hide her surprise when it did.
At Enoch’s gesture, Erin took a step forward. The Emperor looked at Erin with curious eyes and handed over the trophy.
“In the name of the Emperor, I acknowledge my right as the first discoverer of the Magic Stone Cave and the first place in the hunting competition.”
“Wow, congratulations!” The crowd cheered.
“It is your luck to have found the magic stone cave, but it is also a huge benefit for the Empire, so I am pleased. Is there anything else you want?”
Erin thought for a moment. Of course, he would think she was humble if she stepped back and said nothing, but there was no benefit in that.
Erin knelt lower, the trophy still in her hands. “Yes, Your Majesty. I have a request.”
“The mining rights and operating rights will, of course, belong to the Imperial family. However, I would like you to appoint the person in charge as His Highness the Crown Prince and allow me to participate in the work.”
“…That’s what country officials do. Is there a need to do that? You can take more than half of the profits from the mines even if you do nothing.”
“I ask you to consider my preference in the process, Your Majesty.”
“Of course, it’s your gain, so you’ll do it thoroughly. I’ll consider it.”
“I am grateful, Your Majesty.”
As Erin was about to stand, Enoch held her hand and lifted her up. The Emperor narrowed his eyes at Enoch and said, “Will you give this necklace back to Count Spilet? Enoch.”
Erin had no idea why the Emperor had asked Enoch that question, so she turned to Enoch. Then his ears turned red, and he coughed, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Like Father, like son. Slow,” the Emperor clicked his tongue and handed Enoch the necklace. “You will fill it in yourself later.”
With the necklace in Enoch’s hand, the Emperor descended from the podium.
The crowd knelt as he made his way to the carriage. Then, without delay, he went back to the capital. After all, he was a man with a lot of work to do.
I kept looking at Enoch, wondering what that exchange meant. Instead, Enoch roughly put the necklace in his uniform pocket and reached out to me.
“First, let’s go down. I’ll explain it to you later.”
When I grabbed his hand, I was conscious of the gaze that was focused on me. Most were surprised, but others were not.
“Brother, you’ve done a great job. How could you hide the Count like that?”
“The Count wasn’t feeling well, so I let her rest.”
As soon as I came down from the podium, I let go of his hand and approached Rupert, who had continued to stare at me.
Before I could even speak, Rupert asked, “Is it fun to play with people?”
“It’s a bit extreme for a first greeting to someone who had gone through something difficult,” I muttered bitterly.
Rupert faltered, took a deep breath, then spoke in a softer voice, “Why didn’t tell me you were alive? You don’t know how much, how much… I’ve been looking for you…”
He grabbed my shoulders with both hands and exposed his anguish. But when I looked at him, my heart froze more than ever. In the first place, he chose Chloe over me when my life was at stake.
I grabbed his wrists and shook off his grip on my shoulders.
“I’m sorry, but I want to rest.”
I walked past Rupert, who called me with a hoarse voice.
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