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Chapter 19: The Knight Commander
When Knight Commander Jolga and Prime Minister Morino visited the Asbal estate, three days had passed since they sent a visitation notice.
I greeted Jolga, dressed in his usual military uniform and [Quistacis: He who Controls Dragons] at his side, along with Morino— who was, for some reason, burdened with a large stack of documents— at the second-floor study. The two of them looked around the study, seemingly surprised at the bare room. The shelves were essentially empty, and the room itself stripped of all decorations. Before beginning the discussion, I confirmed with High Priest Malacia that he could be seated beside Lutora, who had accompanied him from the temple. Jolga and Morino sat on a two-seater sofa, while Malacia and Lutora sat on the sofa opposite them, a low table between them. Meanwhile, I took my place on a single-seater sofa between them. Once the butler, Thomas, took up his place in a corner of the room, I began by urging Prime Minister Morino to reveal the reason for his visit.
“First, I am returning the contracts I had borrowed. It has been determined to be genuine… From the bottom of my heart, I express my respect for the devotion of the Asbal family over the years.”
“I gladly accept your praise for the Asbal family… However, that no longer concerns me.”
I put my hand on the folder Morino had placed on the low table and shook my head slightly.
“As you will inherit this mansion, it should be used by you. Once he ascends to the throne, I would advise you to draw up a new contract with Crown Prince Vikram as an addendum to the original.”
“In regards to that matter, shouldn’t the inheritor of this mansion not be me, but rather the new fief lord Sigurd?”
Having learned that I had stepped back from acting as fief lord, it was natural for Morino to harbor doubts. In reply, I gave a bitter smile and leaned back against the sofa, letting my gaze drift slightly.
“…At best, Sigurd’s reign will only be for a brief period. He… will likely leave the Asbal family.”
Aside from Malacia, the faces of the four people present changed color. I took out a diary from the inner pocket of my coat and placed it on the table. The thread-bound book did not have a title written on the front, instead, the name of the book’s owner was written in small letters on the cover.
[Yurikano Nana Lisette]
Jolga’s eyes widened.
I didn’t stop him as he reached out towards the book with trembling hands.
Jolga took the diary in hand, opening it to reveal faded pages, and Morino peered at them with restraint from the side. I left them to it and called out to Malacia.
“I would like to confess the deceased. Please grant forgiveness for my late wife, Yurikano’s sins.”
“… I am at your service. As three witnesses are required for confessions of the deceased…
Lord Morino, Sir Lutora, as well as Thomas. Would you agree to witness this confession?”
A confession of the deceased, which only the Head Priest had the authority to preside over, was something the bereaved family could request, to cleanse the deceased of sins committed. Proof of the sin, a bereaved relative to confess, and three living witnesses were required. Malacia took it upon himself not to choose Jolga as a witness. Of course, this was because the [sin] I was about the reveal, had a deep connection to Jolga.
“…The child Yurikano bore… Sigurd, is not my son. Jolga Von Oswein, he’s your son.”
“…So it was true.”
“T-that can’t be!”
While my words agitated the witnesses.
Jolga simply nodded quietly, with the diary still in his hands,
“The night before Yurikano was to be married to Lord Anderheim… Yurikano and I had an overnight fling. Sigurd was likely conceived at that time. This diary was definitely written by Yurikano. I’m familiar with her handwriting… It is undeniable evidence.”
Shocked by the sudden confession, Lutora had stood up without even realizing it. Jolga looked up at him with an expression full of distress.
“I’m sorry… Lutora. This blame may fall upon you too. …Lord Anderheim. This should be a sin borne by myself alone. I beg of you, please be lenient on my sons.”
“I know that guilty as I am, I have no right to request so. However, Lutora and— Lutora and Sigurd, my sons, have done nothing wrong.”
A sign escaped my lips.
Jolga, who pleaded repeatedly on his knees, and the speechless Lutora and Morino froze.
“…You misunderstand, Knight Commander.”
“Did I not say it was a confession for the deceased? I have no intention of persecuting you. I was simply seeking forgiveness for my late wife’s sins.”
“…But that is…”
“Of course, there was a reason for deliberately summoning the Head Priest and confessing here. Knight Commander… I would like to make a deal.”
Hearing words inappropriate for the situation, Morino raised his voice in vigilance. I nodded, taking the diary from Jolga’s hands and, once again, placed it on the low table.
“The diary left behind by Yurikano is undeniable proof of the Knight Captain’s adultery. However, if you accept the conditions I suggest, I will present the diary to you untouched.”
“… And your suggestions would be?”
At Morino’s question, I raised three fingers.
“Firstly, to wait on acknowledging Sigurd as Captain Jolga’s son. I never had any intention of letting him succeed the Asbal family, however, as the circumstances have changed, I need him to temporarily succeed me no matter what. It’s fine if you wait until the political situation has settled. Until then, I would like Sigurd to protect the fiefdom.”
Having received Jolga’s confirmation, I lowered my ring finger.
“Secondly, do not make the role the Asbal family has played all this time public. This family does not need prestige. That we are not honored for our role is the very reason we take pride in it. Additionally, moving forward, this role will be undertaken by Prime Minister Morino. It’s a tough job… but it’s for the kingdom’s sake.”
Nodding back at Morino’s nod, this time, I lowered my middle finger.
“Finally, the funds received from disposing of the Asbal family’s assets will be set aside as retirement funds for the servants who have served the Asbal family. I have double-checked the estimations Thomas had calculated, and the funds should be more than enough. Any leftover funds will be donated to the Shrine’s orphanage.”
Thomas choked on his words and Malacia gave a deep bow of his head.. With a small smile, I lowered the last finger.
“Those are my conditions. Do you accept?”
“…Rather than that, I have a question, Lord Anderheim.”
Morino’s voice was full of confusion.
“None of the conditions you have raised were unacceptable, and not a single one of them has any benefits for you. Why would you ask for those conditions?”
As expected, Morino gave voice to the question they were all wondering about.
“Because I do not need benefits, Your Excellency.”
“I bought a small mansion on the west hill with a sweeping view of the capital. I am thinking of spending the days up until the Dragon God Festival there, with Julieta. Of course, I don’t mind if you put me under surveillance. There may be few rooms, but it is a house with a beautiful garden… Julieta is sure to like it.”
As I thought of my daughter, Jolga stared at my fatherly expression, and suddenly, something seemed to occur to him and he grabbed the diary again.
“What is it?”
“When did you discover this diary?”
Ah, so he was the one who had realized the crux of the matter.
I had predicted Morino to be the one to realize it, but it seems Jolga was more perspective than I thought.
“When Julieta returned to the mansion from the shrine, she started using her mother’s room. The other day, she boldly decided to remodel the room and found it behind a picture frame.”
Jolga hesitated slightly.
“How did you know? That Sigurd… That the child Yurikano bore was not your flesh and blood?”
That was right, if one properly thought about my words, they would realize this point.
I had only discovered proof of Yurikano’s infidelity in this diary a mere month ago, and yetI had declared that even before that that I had no intention of letting Sigurd succeed the family. Rather than it being that I hated Sigurd, it was almost as if I had known he did not have the Asbal family’s blood in his veins all along and thus could not entrust him that responsibility.
How could I know that Sigurd was not my son, and was instead Jolga’s? While there was the flimsy truth that Sigurd looked nothing like me, Sigurd himself was aware that I had never once brought him to the underground vault with the blood lineage sensor.
“…I was well aware of it.”
The thorn that would pierce Jolga’s heart left my mouth.
“After all, I had never once held Yurikano.”
Birthday Release (3/5)
Hasr: Thanks Aby for helping me out and making this (sorta) mass release possible
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