πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Lucia Side Story 1 Damian 6 - 10 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️

PHYSIENTS WILL ALWAYS OFFER BEST STORIES AND LIVE STREAMING ALL TIME


LUCIA
Side Story 1.6 - DAMIAN(6)
DAMIAN(6)


As Damian flipped the page of his book, he heard an odd sound and looked in that direction. The sound came from Chris, who had been sleeping sprawled out on the sofa but fell to the floor when he tossed in his sleep. The sight of Chris climbing back onto the sofa made Damian chuckle.


Even though vacation had already began, Chris remained at the Academy. And whenever it was time to eat, he would knock on the door of Damian’s room. Once it reached the third day, Damien asked Chris why he wasn’t going home, and Chris scratched his head, looking awkward and replied.


[I feel like things got bigger because I got involved and all the blame was shifted to you. I know you never went against those guys before. Because of me, your fight with them got bigger and you were even punished with suspension.]


[It’s not your fault.]


[I feel terrible, I can’t just go home like this. I’ll stay and be punished with you. Uh…Am I bothering you by any chance? If you tell me not to come, I won’t.]


Even though he said that, it was glaringly obvious that Chris was worried that he was really being a bother, so Damian couldn’t tell him not to come to his face.


[…Do what you want.]


And so from the next morning onwards, Chris came to Damian’s room to kill time and stayed until it was late as if it was his own room. He wasn’t doing anything much. He didn’t disturb Damian’s reading, he played with the fox, then picked up a book and if that was boring too, he took a nap. The interesting part was that Asha, who was usually shy of strangers, quickly became friendly with Chris. For Damian, it was his first time dealing with a guy like Chris who approached him so cheekily. He didn’t know how to handle him but he didn’t hate it.


“Damian.”


“What.”


“Is it time for dinner yet?”


“Lunch wasn’t that long ago.”


“Time is moving really slow today, must be because it’s the last day. Is your name your real one?”


According to the academy’s policy, when a teacher called a student, or when students referred to each other, they must be called by their names, not honorary title, regardless of their status. Many of the students who found it insulting to have anyone call their noble name, registered a pseudonym for use only in the academy.


“Yes, it is.” (Damian)


“Mine is my real name too. Will you keep staying at the academy during the vacation?”


“I have to go home.”


“Ah…you’re going home.”


Chris wanted to invite him to his house, but could only smack his lips with regret. After their brief conversation ended, Chris sprawled himself across the sofa again and when he heard a knock on the door, he abruptly lifted his head. Damian put his book down and fixed his gaze on the door too. When the knock on the door came a second time, Chris sprang to his feet.


“I’ll get it.”


Chris ran to the door and opened it.


* * *


Hugo glanced at Chris, who was frozen in place as he held the door open, then he entered inside. Damian jumped to his feet in surprise. He couldn’t believe his eyes.


“Father.”


Chris had been alternating gazes between the Duke of Taran and the small Duke of Taran with eyes as wide as saucers, and when he heard the word that came out of Damian’s mouth, his jaw went slack.


Hugo cast a glance around the room, taking in its sights for the first time. The small decorations that filled up the room had obviously been used for a long time and the interior design of the room hasn’t been changed after it was put in this dorm. Apart from the width, there was nothing particularly eye-catching. Hugo paid a huge amount of money for Damian’s dorm every year. The enormous tuition fees were going elsewhere because this kind of place was definitely not a VIP suite.




‘I have to give my thanks.’


He was looking for a reason to change Damian’s boarding course to something else and this was perfect. Changing a course involves dealing with the foundational rules, so an amendment was difficult. Hugo could exert a great deal of influence over the board of directors, but he didn’t have the decisive vote to change the foundational rules.


Among the courses at the academy, was a two-year intensive course. As long as you wanted to, during those two years, you could attend any course you wanted to. It was part of the academy’s business insight. In exchange, no certificate for graduation or completion was given. In order to prevent the falsification of academic level due to changing from the intensive course to another course, it was stated as a closed construct rule that one course couldn’t be changed to another.


From the way the dorm looked, it was obvious that not just one or two coins were stolen. If this was audited, there was likely going to be a few board of directors caught. From the looks of it, he was going to be able to secure the decisive vote in the board of directors. Since he had now found a way, his wife’s request was practically solved.


Hugo turned to Damian and looked him over, up and down. He looked bigger than the last time he saw him. Whether it was Damian or Evangeline, once he looked away and turned back, something about them had changed.


“Do you have something left to do?” (Hugo)


Damian had been standing nervously ever since his father’s gaze fell on him, so he quickly replied.


“No, I do not.” (Damian)


“If there’s anything you need to pack, pack it now. We’re going home.” (Hugo)


“But I’m currently under confinement…”


“That’s taken care of.”


“Did something happen at home, by any chance?”


Damian was quickly filled with worry after his surprise over his father’s visit had settled down. The face of his mother and younger sister quickly flashed in his mind.


“‘Something happen’? Well, I can’t say nothing happened.”


As he listened to the pair of father and son talk to each other, Chris stealthily approached and continued to alternate glances between them. When he saw them separately, he thought they looked similar, but seeing them side by side, they didn’t just look similar, they looked exactly alike. Anyone could tell that they were definitely not strangers. Despite that, if you didn’t hear the call of ‘father’, your first thought would definitely not be that they were as father and son. You would think that they looked more like brothers with a huge age difference.


‘So Damian is really the son of the Duke of Taran? But why doesn’t anyone know?’


He could not understand why people didn’t know that someone as famous as the Duke of Taran had a son as big as Damian.


Hugo frowned slightly, seeing the boy who had stopped a few steps away from him, shoved his head forward, and was blatantly and rudely staring at him.


“Who are you?”


Chris realized his mistake and stiffened to attention. His father’s strict eyes flashed before his eyes. If Chris’ father, who was always talking about prudence in appearance, saw Chris’ action today, it wouldn’t just end with a few smacks.


“That was rude of me. I apologize. I am Chris, an academy classmate of Student Damian. It is an honor to meet you.”


Hugo stroked his chin as he watched Chris bend over till he was practically in half.


“You seem familiar.” (Hugo)


“I’m sorry? Ah…I once gave you my greetings at the New Year party earlier this year.” (Chris)


‘Don’t tell me he remembers something from almost a year ago?’


When his father was introducing him to people, he had greeted the ducal couple only once.


‘Oops. I didn’t introduce my name properly.’


While Chris agonized over whether to introduce himself again after realizing his mistake, Hugo’s memory came back to him. Hugo’s memory was extraordinary, the only problem was that he hadn’t really cared about it.


“The second son of Marquis Philip.” (Hugo)


“Huh? Y-Yes, you’re right.” (Chris)


“Academy classmate, you say? What are you doing here?”


“For that, I…”


Chris was going to confess that he had a huge responsibility in Damian’s suspension. But Damian spoke first.


“He’s my friend.”


Chris has stayed in his room continuously for several days but Damian couldn’t define his relationship with Chris. But after he said it, he realized. Chris was his friend. The first friend he made at the academy. He looked at Chris and found the boy grinning at him and he laughed.


Hugo looked at the two boys with intrigue in his eyes. His wife was very interested in Damian’s friendships.


[Damian never mentions friends in his letters. Could he have no friends?]


[Such things aren’t necessary.]


Hugo had never had a friend in his life, nor had he ever wanted one or thought it was necessary. When he said that, his wife looked at him prudishly.


[Well, for me, I hope Damian doesn’t end up resembling you in that area.]


Hugo felt wronged; he was criticized even though he was innocent. He felt like at this rate, if Damian had no friends, he would hear that Damian really took after him to be like that. He had been considering sticking a few similar henchmen-like friends by his son’s side. But with this, his wife would definitely love to hear that Damian had someone to call a friend.


“You said you were Chris, right? Are you also boarding?” (Hugo)


“No, sir. I will be going home soon.” (Chris)


“That’s good then. Come with me too.” (Hugo)


“…Pardon?”


Hugo urged Damian, not answering Chris’ puzzlement.


“If you’ve packed everything, hurry up.”


There wasn’t even time to pack but Damian simply carried Asha in his arms without complaints. And as he followed after Hugo, who was heading to the door, he spoke to Chris, who was just standing there, spaced out.


“What are you doing? Let’s go.”


“You mean me?”


As he looked at this back of his cold-blooded friend, who didn’t bother to reply a second time, Chris followed, still dazed. To him, the way this pair of father and son talked was strange.
____________

LUCIA
Side Story 1.7 - DAMIAN(7)
DAMIAN(7)


‘Why am I…’


Without even realizing it, Chris was some way or the other, sitting inside a carriage running through the capital’s streets. And inside the carriage, sat the famous Duke of Taran on the opposite side of him and beside the Duke, was Damian with his fox on his lap.


‘I’m thankful that journey to the capital was comfortable and fast but…’


Chris didn’t know why he was currently in the same carriage with the Duke of Taran and his son, going to who-knows-where. He couldn’t muster up the courage to ask the Duke of Taran where they were going nor could he say that he was very grateful to have been brought this far and that if they let him down anywhere now, he could find his way home. Chris felt like if he went home now, he could actually look at his strict father straight in the eye. Compared to the Duke of Taran, his father was a very comfortable person to be around.


“You mentioned earlier that something had happened. May I ask what that is?” (Damian)


What Hugo said before in the dorms had kept on swimming around in Damian’s mind. He waited for his father to say something first but when there were no signs of that, he couldn’t hold back and asked.


“Your mother received your notice of suspension.” (Hugo)


“…” (Damian)


Damian’s face sank. He didn’t want to make his mother worry.


“When I said don’t kill people at the Academy, I didn’t mean you should get beaten by irrelevant turds.” (Hugo)


“…I’m sorry.” (Damian)


“Do you bear the weak thought that no matter the issue, killing isn’t an option?” (Hugo)


Hugo was worried that Damian might show weakness like his biological father. Once he became the head of the Taran family, he couldn’t avoid the subjugation of barbarians in the north. He must be prepared to reap numerous lives.


“No. Whenever I lift my sword, I am always prepared to stop my opponent from breathing.”


Chris turned ghastly pale and his body shook with fright. His hands gripped his knees harder. Was he hearing something he shouldn’t be hearing? Would be dragged to some quiet place and ended at this rate? All sorts of thoughts ran through his head.


Unfazed by Chris’ terror, the Taran father and son continued their bloody conversation like it was an everyday occurrence.


“Your mother wants to introduce you into the social circle. Don’t argue and just do as she says.”


“Yes, sir.”


“You’ll go back to the academy when the semester starts. I’ll take care of the outing issue.”


“I want to go back at least a week before the semester starts.”


Hugo hummed, as he thought it over.


“I am in the process of speaking to His Majesty about your title. If the bestowment procedures finish quickly then it is possible. For now, we’ll have to wait and see.”


“When you say title…”


“The successor to the Taran name cannot go without a title after debuting in the social circle.”


Chris’ face, which had been deadly pale, now looked dazed.


‘Title? Successor?’


Chris looked at Damian with new eyes.


‘What? This guy is the next Duke?’


Chris figured that the reason why Damian’s status was unknown was because he was a precious young master, experiencing the world. A wicked smile crept onto Chris’ lips.


‘You’re all dead now.’


Chris laughed inside, thinking about how black the faces of those two guys who caused the suspension incident would look, as well as the bastards who kept looking for Damian’s trouble for no reason.


‘Still, even if he is the successor, he’s already being given a title? Is that possible?’


Most of the people that were conferred titles were usually around twenty years old. The successor of Marquis Philip, Chris’ elder brother, was 19 years old, but he had not received a title yet.


Despite Chris’ expression seemingly changing every minute, the Taran father and son’s dry conversation continued.


“After today, rumors that you are my son will likely spread in your academy.”


As they were on their way to the carriage after leaving the dorms, a string of students who were returning to the dorms after the graduation ceremony saw them. Some of them seemed to be from Xenon because when they saw them, they looked like they were going to have a fit. Rumors were bound to spread quickly from their mouths.


“Did you plan to keep hiding it?”


“No. I was going to reveal it soon.”


Hugo remembered what his wife had carefully said before he left.


[I’m worried that Damian might be hiding himself purposefully because of his birth. Please comfort the child so that he won’t be anxious or uncertain.]


“Damian. I said I will give you my position and I never go back on my promise. I think you can do well.”


“…Yes. Father.”


Damian’s gaze slowly fell to the floor. His flushed ears itched like it had a rash. Glancing at the red-eared Damian, Chris thought for the first time, that Damian looked his own age.


‘Although the manner of speaking is stiff and the content of their conversation is dubious, it’s not very different from my relationship with my father.’


Chris was relieved. He didn’t know why but he was just relieved. Chris’ feeling of contentment only lasted a moment.


“If I ever hear of the heir of the Taran family being beaten again, graduating from the academy or not, I will stick you at the northern border to train.”


“I will keep that in mind. Such a thing will not happen again.”


Chris’ face went ghastly pale again.


‘Like I thought, these people’s conversation is odd somewhere. Oh? That’s my house.’


Chris sorrowfully watched his house, which he weirdly missed a lot today, getting farther through the window as the carriage rode on.


The carriage entered the ducal residence then it stopped. Chris came down from the carriage and looked around. The surrounding view was immersed in darkness, but thankfully, he wasn’t being dragged to a scary place like he feared. After handing Asha over to a servant, Damian approached Chris, who was looking around, and tapped him on his shoulder.


“What are you doing.”


“Huh? Oh. We’re at your house…?”


“Of course, where else would we be? Ah, do you have to go home right now?”


You’re only asking now? Chris mumbled inwardly as he shook his head.


“There’s nothing urgent.” (Chris)


“Come in then.” (Damian)


Chris silently watched Damian’s retreating back, then he hesitantly followed.


_____________

LUCIA
Side Story 1.8 - DAMIAN(8)
DAMIAN(8)


Lucia came out to greet her husband with Evangeline in her arms. Evangeline stretched out her little hands to Hugo, happy to see him.


“Papa.”


Hugo took Evangeline into his embrace and pecked her on the cheek, then he wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist and lightly kissed her lips.


“You must be tired from the carriage ride all day? You haven’t had dinner yet either.” (Lucia)


“What about you?” (Hugo)


“I waited to have it with you when you came back.”


“I told you not to wait when it’s late.”


“It’s not that late. You should stop by your office first. Your aide has been waiting for you for a while now. I think it’s urgent.”


Hugo returned his daughter to his wife and headed for his office. Lucia turned away from her husband’s retreating back and gave Damian a bright smile.


“Damian, welcome home. You must be tired, right?”


“Have you been well, mother?”


“Wow, my son had already grown so much taller. Alright, let me hug you.”


Lucia gave Evangeline to the nanny and gave Damian a big hug. He was now so tall and big that Lucia couldn’t wrap him up in her arms anymore. Going from holding a soft baby girl to hugging a boy with a sturdy frame, made her feel his growth more distinctly and she felt emotional. She felt like he was growing up so quickly.


“Bobba. Bobba.” (T/N: She’s trying to say Oppa, I think.)


Evangeline, who was with the nanny, excitedly reached for Damian when she saw him.


“Looks like Eve is excited to see her older brother. Say hello.”


Damian took Evangeline into his arms as the nanny handed her over and Evangeline clung tight to his neck with her short arms. Damian supported her with his hand and held his small, soft little sister firm. She had the sweet smell of a baby, mixed with the smell of milk. His heart grew warm and it finally hit him that he had really come home. He was thrilled that his sister hadn’t forgotten him even though he hadn’t seen her in a couple of months.


“Who did you come with?”


“He’s my friend from the academy. I invited him.”


“Oh my, a friend?”


As soon as the Duke of Taran who seemed like he could kill someone with his eyes alone left, Chris watched the figure full of warmth with wonder, then he bowed towards the Duchess.


“Greetings to the Duchess. I am Chris Philip.”


“Ah, we have met before. I’m glad to meet you again as Damian’s friend.”


Lucia sweetly received the greeting with pleasure. Chris was amazed that both the Duke and the Duchess remembered him even though he had only greeted them once about a year ago.


‘Maybe my impression is so strong that people can’t forget me once they see me.’


Chris’ confidence was boosted with his delusion.


“You both must be hungry. Damian, can you take your friend up to your room? I will call you when the food is ready. Do you want me to take Eve?”


“No. I’ll watch Eve.”


“You’ll do that?”


Damian took Chris to his room with Evangeline in his arms. As soon as the door to the room closed, Chris sighed heavily as if he was letting out the breath he had been holding.


“Wow. I thought I would die from nervousness. Hey! How can you let me freak out like this? You could have at least told me in advance!”


“It was beyond my control. I didn’t know my father would come either.”


“Let’s never ride in the same carriage as your scary father for hours again, hm? There shall be no uncontrollable incidents in the future. If such a thing happens again, you must block it. Okay?”


Chris stared at Damian, who shrugged his shoulders vaguely in response, then he put on a friendly expression and approached Evangeline, who was clinging to Damian. Once he touched the pretty little hands hanging onto Damian’s neck, Evangeline pulled her hand away and quickly turned her head.


“Ai, little lady, you’re discriminating against me.”


Chris muttered dejectedly.


“I wish the little brat at home was a cute little sister.” (Chris)


“You have a younger brother?” (Damian)


“I have a little demon. Like you, I’m quite older than my brother. He’s five years old and once you take your eyes off him, he causes an accident.”


Evangeline fell asleep in Damian’s arms. Chris carefully observed the child that was sleeping peacefully with her arms still clinging tight to Damian’s neck.


“The baby is so quiet, is it because she’s a girl? My little brother gets so cranky before he sleeps. I’m glad to meet you, lady Taran. Although it’s sad the feeling isn’t returned.”


Chris couldn’t resist gently holding the small hand of the baby girl, his remaining regrets manifesting.


Damian was about to leave his room to put Evangeline to bed in the nursery room, when he met the maid who was coming in just as he was leaving. The maid informed him that their meal was ready.


Damian took Evangeline to her room first and lay her down. Chris, who was following like a baby duck, held Damian’s arm when Damian started to head down to the dining room.


“Wait, do we have to eat with your father when we go down?”


“Probably. Father hasn’t had dinner yet too.”


“…I think I might get indigestion.”


“I’ll give you medicine for it.”


“Hey!”


Chris ate dinner and eventually asked Damian for digestive medicine.


* * *


The last month of the year was the busiest month but once there were only ten days left till the New Year, everything had been finished and it became the slowest time of the year. People usually took a break from work for about 10 days to meet friends that they had rarely heard from or ended the year by spending time with family. It was a custom that most people followed, regardless of their status or position.


Today was the last day to visit the palace this year. Hugo sat opposite of the King, enjoying a relaxing teatime after his year-end meeting was over.


From this evening onwards, it was the beginning of a very long holiday. Last year, Damian has come home for the winter but had to leave for the academy just a few days before New year because of limited time. This year, Damian would be attending the New Year party and also making his social debut, so this was going to be the first end-of-the-year where all four members of the family were together.


His wife was excited, and he was also affected so he felt like he was looking forward to a special holiday.


“Have you found my replacement?” (Hugo)


When Kwiz first established the central policy-making body, he promised Hugo that he would leave him in charge for only two years. Two years had already passed and several months had also passed. Hugo wanted to simplify his unnecessarily busy schedule. And so, for a few months now, he had been urging the King to find his replacement. When the King only drank his tea without saying anything, Hugo raised a brow.


“Gong, why don’t you keep holding onto it?” (Kwiz)


“You made a promise, Your Majesty.”


Hugo frowned, showing that he certainly did not want to.


“I have no one but you.”


“I am sure there are a lot of people who want to sit in that seat.”


“There are a lot indeed. Which is why it can’t happen.”


The central body which the King had been pushing forward with lightning speed, had been growing steadily over the span of two years and would remain the country’s top department as long as Kwiz was king. The head of the central body was at the center of power.


“To be brutally honest with you, this King has absolutely no intention of making the central department a playground for nobles.”


“I am a noble too.”


“Gong is excluded.”


After watching the Duke of Taran hold the position of Head of Central for two years, Kwiz reconfirmed that the Duke was truly not interested in power play. Although he was in the best political position to cultivate power that was only next to the King in those 2 years, he remained alienated from noble politics like before.


Kwiz was also very satisfied with the way the Duke did his work. He wasn’t interested in picking only obedient people for the important positions and simply picked them if they did well at their work. Even if it was a politically influential noble, if they weren’t proficient at their job, he cut them off without any hesitation. Thanks to that, the central body had a surprisingly transparent structure, considering the amount of power it held and it consistently gave great results.


Kwiz had figured out that the Duke was not a wolf that led the pack but a lone tiger. No one was strong enough to stand on their own, but he was not the type to lead the majority. He was someone that was more accustomed to energetically blowing someone’s head off than engaging in an intricate mental fight where you smiled even if you didn’t like it or held hands on the outside while hiding a knife in your heart.


Kwiz trusted in the Duke of Taran’s disposition, which found the struggle for power bothersome and he also liked the Duchess’ actions. Just like her husband, she was not interested in taking control of the social circle. He didn’t know whether the two of them became a couple because they were similar but if the couple continued to live satisfied like this, he couldn’t see the Taran family becoming a problem in the future.


“It is a controversial position regardless of who has it. As long as it is Taran Gong, people can’t exactly say anything openly.”


Everyone knew about the King’s firm trust in the Duke of Taran. Day in, day out, the King called the Duke to meet privately for food after every important meeting. The king’s favor was like a double-edged sword, so although many were envious of the Duke, no one dared to move carelessly.


People were afraid because the Duke was unpredictable. The Duke’s image as a knight was stronger than his image as a politician. And knights were a group that caused trouble when they were displeased. To put it bluntly, if he were to kill every single one of them and run to his territory, there was nothing they could do and the dead had died uselessly. There was no one who wanted to be subjected to such a state.
_____________

LUCIA
Side Story 1.9 - DAMIAN(9)
DAMIAN(9)


Hugo heaved a sigh when he saw the firm determination in Kwiz’s eyes.


‘How annoying.’


A high position only gave immense headaches, there was nothing good that came out of it. The fact that he frequently went home late was something he really didn’t like. When he got back late, he could only see his daughter’s sleeping face while she got prettier every day, he couldn’t eat dinner with his wife, couldn’t take a walk with his wife, and he was even having a hard time getting some fun at night.


However, being close to the King was definitely convenient. He needed the king’s help in order for Damian to take over his position.


“It is not my hobby to work unpaid.” (Hugo)


“…Gong. Do you know what kind of position you are sitting in? If this king were to offer the position, there will be a string of people lining up to kiss this king’s feet.” (Kwiz)


“Then give it to one of those in the line.”


Kwiz groaned loudly.


“What do you want? I’m curious if there is anything this king can give you.”


“I need a title.”


“A title? What are you using that for?”


“I plan to introduce my son to the social circle at this New Year party.”


“Hoh. Is your son already that old? How old is he?”


“He will be thirteen soon.”


“But what title is given so early? There has never been such a case.”


A young successor may inherit a title due to the loss of his father, but such situations were very rare.


“Then this will be a new precedent.” (Hugo)


“…” (Kwiz)


“I promised my son that I would help ensure that his succession is unshakable.”


“Alright. Alright. I’ll begin the process.”


“Is it possible to be ready by the New Year party?”


“Do you think titles are made and spat out overnight? There are a lot of procedures to get there.”


“Then, Your Majesty can do simply do the conferment ceremony at the New Year party and have the procedures done separately. And while you’re at it, please give me another title.”


“You want me to give two titles to your son? What’s he going to do with two?”


When Lucia heard that Hugo was going to ask the King to grand Damian a title, she was concerned.


[Damian just made a friend, so I’m worried that his relationship with his friend might become strained if his position suddenly rises.]


Hugo planned to resolve his wife’s concerns by giving Damian’s friend a title too.


“I would like it to be given to the second son of Marquis Philip.”


“Why Marquis Philip all of a sudden?”


“The Marquis’ second son is my son’s friend.”


“…so because he is Gong’s son’s friend. In other words, you’re going to give him help from behind?”


“In any case, he’s the second son of a Marquis so he’ll be getting a title someday anyways.”


“Look, Gong.”


Kwiz massaged his temple. Bestowing a title wasn’t something as simple as giving candy to a baby. Granting titles was the King’s sole unique right. It was a weapon for the King to use as much as he wished to coax the nobles who loved honor and reputation.


If a privilege got overused, its value would fall. There was a limit to the total number of titles that could be given out. Titles were returned due to circumstances such as a lack of descendants and so on, or the successor that was supposed to inherit the title from his father returned it, creating a vacancy. Therefore, there weren’t many titles that the king could bestow every year.




“Let’s be materialistic for a little bit. The responsibility that follows in accordance to the title held, isn’t an easy thing. What is going to happen to taxes? Your son aside, do you think Marquis Philip’s young second son can afford to pay taxes?”


People who received titles when they were around 20 were usually successors to their family. The children from second son and below usually received titles after they got married or they received a large residence on a piece of land from their father. There were also many cases where they didn’t get anything at all. The title-based tax was one of the reasons why it was important.


“Your Majesty can give him a title with tax exemption and that solves that. I can satisfy the tax deficit with another cause.”


Kwiz fixed Hugo a stare then he gave a deep sigh.


“It must be really nice to handle everything so simply, Gong.”


“If there’s an issue due to the limited number of titles, I can make two vacancies.”


“…How?”


“I will deal with that on my own.”


The way he would deal with it was most likely frightening. Kwiz wouldn’t put it past the Duke to reap two lives in order to make vacancies. He decided to be a benevolent king and save the two poor unknown lives.


“This king will handle that matter.”


When Kwiz thought about it, he wasn’t losing anything. Marquis Philip was a noble in the Royalist party and he was an inflexible person when it came to aristocratic politics, so he was someone that Kwiz trusted as a close associate. By gifting a tax-exempted title to the Marquis’ son while listening to the Duke’s request at the same time, he could lord it over both parties. In addition, the Duke of Taran said that he would repay the deficit from the tax-exemption. He had been given a lot of work to do during this holiday, but he could bear it.


* * *


The sight of two men in tailcoats standing side by side in the lounge on the first floor wasn’t something one saw every day and even the employees couldn’t help but look from time to time. The gazes of the maids stayed especially longer. Some of the maids hid in the corner of the hallway and stole glances at the pair of father and son.


Their outward features of dark hair and red eyes were distinct but eerily similar like an image, but one of them was taller and more well-built, while the other, the younger one, radiated maturity. When you looked at the smaller, and younger one separately, you could see a perfectly grown youth, but when they stood side by side, he looked like a young boy.


“Her Grace is blessed indeed.”


“I know what you mean. I mean, the first day I saw the young master, I thought ‘what chaos is this’.”


The sudden appearance of the Duke’s grown-up son made people feel sorry for the Madam for a while. But as the maids watched the two men obediently listen to whatever their wife or mother said, they were jealous of the Madam who had obtained such a wonderful and filial son without going through the trouble of carrying him in her belly and raising him.


“Ehem. Ehem.”


The maids who were peeking at the edge of the hallway, discovered the butler when he was clearing his throat and they were frightened. Upon seeing the butler frown, they flinched and quickly scuttled off.


Tsk. Jerome clicked his tongue as he watched the maid scattered, then with a tea tray in his hand, he approached the pair of father and son, who were standing idly, not saying anything to each other.


From her spot on the top of the stairs, Lucia watched her husband and her son, drink tea together, and her cheeks were stained with red. Antoine, who was right next to Lucia, also looked in the direction of her gaze and clasped her hands together, showing how moved she was. She was filled with joy to see the tailcoats she had personally made be worn by perfect creations.


‘Ah, my masterpieces. It’s perfect. It’s fantastic.’


As gentleman’s tailcoat consisted of only two colors, black and white, so although they all looked similar at a glance, it was a garment unique to noble parties. Designers put a lot of work into making delicate designs to overcome the limitations of the two colors. A gentleman’s tailcoat was in a more profound field than a noblewoman’s flashy dress.


Lucia commission Antoine for all the outfits for this New Year’s party. When Antoine first saw the small Duke of Taran, she held her chest and staggered, expressing her feelings in an exaggerated manner. She was excited to have new material to work with and made a bunch of tailcoats for Damian.


Antoine insisted that all of them had different designs but to Damian, they were all the same, so from his standpoint, he had to go through the trouble of trying out the same outfit many times.


Hugo’s tailcoat had the classic design of a high-class item that exuded sharpness. Antoine judged that it was more attractive to show off the Duke’s icy impression than suppress it. So, she chose the most basic design with no useless and unnecessary decoration, and put a brooch gemmed with rubies as the focus of the outfit.


Damian’s tailcoat was lined with dark blue fabric on the sleeves and collar, and the black base material shone with a blueish light when it was illuminated. It was a different design from the conventional practice so far of using just plain black fabrics. It wasn’t an outfit that an elderly person could pull off, but it blended well with Damian’s fresh and youthful aura, so it was luxurious without sacrificing formality.


Damian was momentarily stunned, looking at Lucia. It was his first time seeing Lucia groomed and draped in a party dress. Her silver dress with elaborately woven fine beads shone like butterfly wings reflected in sunlight. Her reddish brown hair drooped over her pearly white shoulders. It was only after Lucia came down the stairs with her hand in Hugo’s that Damian regained his senses and politely kissed the back of her hand.


“You look beautiful, Mother.”


“Thank you. You look dashing yourself. You will definitely be the main focus today.”


“I think you will be the main focus today, Mother. They all will not be able to take their eyes off you.”


Lucia burst out laughing. Damian was usually blunt and taciturn, but sometimes he said things that could shake a woman’s heart surprisingly well. Lucia alternated glances between father and son, and thought to herself, ‘as expected, like father, like son’. When she saw that Damian’s gaze was fixed on the second floor, she reassured him.


“It’s fine. Eve is asleep. She won’t wake up till tomorrow morning. Just enjoy your time at the banquet hall. Don’t worry about Eve.”


“Yes, mother.”


Lucia climbed into the carriage escorted by Hugo and Damian. She had once vaguely imagined that such a day would come. When was that? Lucia was filled with excitement and felt like she was dreaming.
_____________

LUCIA
Side Story 1.10 - DAMIAN(10)
DAMIAN(10)


“Aren’t you nervous?”


“I am fine.”


Lucia talked to Damian, trying to make him relax. She kept remembering the party break that happened back in Roam. She scolded herself for having ominous thoughts on such a good day. Although it was hardly possible for there to be someone tactless enough to insult the Duke’s successor in a venue where he was being accompanied by the ducal couple, Lucia couldn’t let go of the anxiety that Damian might get hurt.


Hugo saw through her anxiety and frowned.


“My dear, you are more nervous than him. Don’t worry about the boy, he’s not a child.”


“I am really okay, mother. I don’t want you to feel uneasy because of me.”


Although their manner of speaking was different, both men were more worried about Lucia. Lucia looked at them and smiled sweetly. She decided to be at ease and enjoy the merry New Year party to the fullest extent.


The carriage stopped in front of the hall to the Outer Palace and the door opened from outside. Damian came out of the carriage first and watched his father follow behind him, escorting his mother down. A quick glance around showed him that carriages were already parked here and there, and that a line of carriages were just entering. As he looked at the blindingly bright lights coming from the party hall, Damian’s heart began to beat a little faster. Even though he was completely unbothered just a little while ago, it wasn’t because he felt nothing but because it hadn’t felt real yet.


“Let’s go in.”


“Yes, mother.”


Damian sucked in a breath as he entered the party hall alongside his parents. It was his first time seeing so many people in extravagant costumes gathered together.


The moment when all their eyes were simultaneously drawn to him and his parents was mind numbing. He thought he was already used to people’s gazes but there was something different from the gazes in the north and the academy.


It was strange. There was neither malice nor goodwill. They were definitely surprised by Damian’s presence but none of them outrightly showed such feelings. Damian faintly came to a realization. There were people who were well-versed in controlling their emotions and the high society was a place where such people were gathered.


Hugo called a servant and asked.


“Where is His Majesty?”


“Yet to arrive.”


Hugo then suggested to his wife:


“Shall we eat something simple first?”


“That sounds good. We won’t have time for that later.”


When Lucia discovered the familiar face approaching them, she happily greeted him.


“Oh my. Chris.”


Damian quirked a brow when he saw a face he was very familiar with, Chris, approaching and dragging along the two boys whose faces he was definitely not happy to see.


* * *


The New Year party held in the Outer Palace hall had started late in the afternoon and by the evening, it was practically crawling with people. The noble children who had expectably debuted into the social circle at this year’s New Year party, were going around greeting people with their parents.


‘I was once like that too.’


Chris got sentimental watching all the inexperienced little kids, even though he was in that spot just a year ago. The New Year party was one of the large-scale parties held by the royal family so the young boys and girls making their debut, were mesmerized by the splendor. Even if they tried to act calm, their flushed cheeks were filled with excitement, exposing their nervousness.


‘The way they’re walking is so stiff. I wasn’t that bad.’




Watching his juniors who were obviously just debuting, Chris patted himself on the back with groundless praise. When he saw a servant passing by with a tray full of cocktails, his eyes grew round. He stealthily looked around then quickly picked up a glass of cocktail. The translucent pink drink looked way too appetizing.


“I finally found you. Where have you been?”


“Elder brother…”


Chris froze with the glass of cocktail in hand. Although he was prepared to get chewed out, his brother, Raven, merely frowned slightly upon seeing the cocktail and said, ‘Father is looking for you’, then he turned around. Chris followed after him and quickly finished the cocktail in one gulp. Then he grimaced at the unexpectedly strange taste and the sudden wave of tipsiness that hit him.


Going around and greeting people with his father and brother was really boring. Chris’ expression imperceptibly showed his unwillingness.


‘I understand that my brother will inherit the mantle of Marquis in the future so he has to do this, but why do I have to do this too?’


Although he bowed his head as he was told, his mind had flown elsewhere. He glanced at the entrance at intervals, checking to see when Damian would arrive.


‘Oh, it’s those guys.’


He found familiar faces. The ash-haired boy and the brown-haired boy. They always went around together at the academy and even here, they were together too. They weren’t alone but were mixed with several of their peers, both male and female, forming a group. A mischievous smile slowly crept onto Chris’ face.


“Elder brother. I’m going to go, I have something else to do. You can take care of the rest.”


“Chris!”


Raven sighed as he watched Chris disappear into the crowd. He recalled the conversation he had had with his father not too long ago, when his father returned from the palace after receiving the King’s summon.


[You will be presented your title at the New Year party, so keep that in mind.]


[Didn’t you say you would apply for my title later?]


[I don’t know if I should say that it is because of your brother or thanks to your brother.]


When Kwiz was looking into giving Chris a title, he realized that the Marquis’ heir and eldest son had not received a title yet. So he called the Marquis, explained the situation, and said that since the order was wrong, both sons of the Marquis could receive titles.


[I’m sure you have already heard of the Duke of Taran’s extramarital son. You see, Taran Gong is quite protective of this son of his. His son will soon be debuting in the social circle and it seems Taran Gong wants to give his son a title as a present. Now, Taran Gong’s son made a friend at the academy, but this friend happens to be your second son. And it seems the Duke of Taran is very satisfied with his son’s friend, so he requested a title for him too. It is a tax-exempted title, so you don’t have to worry about that issue. Now, what do you think? Would it be fine for this king to put aside your first son and only give your second son a title?]


The Marquis had no choice but to reply that he would accept both titles.


Chris’ father, Marquis Philip, had sent Chris to the Academy because Chris wasn’t particularly talented in anything nor was he interested in dating anyone. All he did was play with his younger brother every day, causing the Marquis to worry for his future. However, Chris had made a connection that his father had never expected him to make. It was always this way. Even though Chris handled everything without much serious thought, he always got good results.


Chris and Raven had completely different personalities and they weren’t very close brothers. Raven didn’t hate his brother, but he usually couldn’t understand what was going on in his brother’s head. But honestly, sometimes, he was jealous of his brother’s manner of going with the flow.
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