"F-, fabricate it?"
Riley quickly shook his head and looked at Stein who was standing to the side with a pale face.
The face was full of innocence.
"That’s right. You've made up lies on paper..."
It seemed the message was well received, and Stein cut Lloyd's words as he frowned.
As if he still had more words to say, his lips continued to move as he pointed his finger at Riley.
"But father! He-!"
"I won't repeat myself, Lloyd."
As he could no longer push his words at Riley due to his father's interference, Lloyd's face crumbled as if he had tasted shit.
"It is late now, go to your room."
A sound originating from the grinding of teeth could be heard next to Stein.
Considering the situation, it was definitely from Lloyd.
As he was about to go to his room after saying his farewells to his father and brothers, he stopped and turned to look at Stein.
"Tomorrow. I have some words to say so as soon as you wake up, you are to bring yourself to my office."
As soon as you wake up...
Count Stein has ordered Riley to come 'the moment he's awake'.
The reason why he didn't choose a time of the day was likely because he knew Riley would most likely be the latest to wake up in the mansion.
Come for what? He didn't ask such a question.
He was tired from the workout before, and didn't want to drag out the conversation.
His only thought was to quickly lie down on his bed.
His brother Lloyd's anger only felt like a nuisance to him.
"Then, good night."
Riley bowed once more to his father and brothers.
Despite Sera's worry, there weren't any clashes in the meeting of the brothers.
"...What are your thoughts?"
As Riley disappeared from the corridor, among the 3 remaining men left, the first son Ryan asked Stein.
It was about Riley.
"What do you think?"
Stein asked in return.
After a pause, Ryan replied as he watched Riley's back recede further into the distance.
"I do not think...he is lying."
As Ryan spoke of Riley's innocence, Lloyd could not withhold himself and spoke up.
As he could not believe Ryan's speculation, Lloyd spoke with clenched fists.
"To read the man's eyes is an ability every great swordsman must have. You must be able to determine right from wrong, and it allows you to read your opponent's attack and so plan out your future moves."
Ryan's cold eyes were pointed at his brother.
"Losing mother was...unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do. We cannot let our emotions cloud our judgement for this incident. To have an assassin among the Iphelleta house, truth be told I am...ashamed. I almost want to send words of gratitude to Riley."
"Brother! How could you say that!"
"Then are you saying I am wrong? That you would prefer that those facts never came to light?"
Lloyd dropped his head and his fists shook.
There was nothing he could say back.
"That's not the case, it's Riley..."
"Hoh, so what I saw was not the truth? Is that what you want to say?"
"Lloyd. It was bound to come out. It's better that it was exposed now. There is nothing you can hide forever."
"But Brother, Mother... what about Mother!?"
Lloyd who was so eager to talk back closed his mouth.
It was different from Lloyd, but Ryan was also angry.
That his mother was an assassin.
That his brother wouldn’t listen to him.
"You are standing in front of your father."
Ryan's last words were a warning.
At his brother's quiet voice, Lloyd could no longer nag and closed his mouth.
His best course of action was to bite his lips in frustration.
"If you are going to continue acting like a child, then you are better off staying silent. There is a saying- inaction can get you halfway."
The usually kind, gentle brother seemed a great deal stricter today.
As feelings of betrayal, frustration and rage made his heart pound faster than ever, Lloyd clutched his chest and dropped his chin.
It was to acknowledge the warning and keep the silence.
"Firstly, I have the same thoughts as Ryan. Riley does not seem to be lying."
Stein, who was watching the tension between the two, spoke.
He also did not see any sense of falsehood in Riley's eyes.
"No, it is nothing."
Stein who was looking at the path Riley took shook his head and turned back.
Lloyd called Ryan who was ahead of him.
Although he did get angry before, Ryan stopped and turned to see his brother as it didn't seem like he wanted to ignore him.
"Do you really think Mother was wrong...Is that what you think?"
In response to those shaking words, Ryan's stiff face turned to a gentle one and walked towards Lloyd.
Ryan's right hand raised.
‘Is he going to hit me?’
He closed his eyes expecting a slap to the face, but then opened them in surprise when the hand landed on top of his head instead.
As he patted his brother’s head, Ryan continued to speak.
At his gentle words, Lloyd's mouth opened.
"The successor has not been decided, yet."
The successor to the house...
It was talked about before, but as Ryan has said, the successor to the Iphelleta House had not yet been decided.
It might have been because Stein was still in perfect health but some had speculated that Stein still had some expectations from his third son.
"Mother's incident can still be solved after the successor has been decided."
He was talking around it, but if Ryan's words were to be summarised in one sentence...
He will win the successor battle.
He was planning to move after he had received the Iphelleta name.
Lloyd's green eyes began to shine.
Ryan chuckled at his brother's gaze of respect.
"I would never give Riley the position of Family Head just because I angered father. It's true he's lazy as hell, but we can't deny that father still sees promise in him."
It would not have been odd if both of them were also banished after the Orelly incident, but thankfully they could stay in the mansion as they had received the family's swordsmanship.
Not to mention, they weren't dropped out from the successor race so they needed to aim for it.
"Let us think about mother afterwards."
Lloyd nodded twice at those words.
Just as his brother, who was weeping from the emotions inside him, turned his gaze toward the ground...
Ryan's gentle smile quickly twisted into a sinister one.
The next day...
Past lunch and late in the afternoon, Riley rubbed his eyes and stood while he was shook left and right in front of Stein's office.
Next to him was Ian who was sweating nonstop.
"Young Master, how can you fall asleep now? Wake up! Now!"
"Ah, alright. Man...I'm so tired too."
Riley continued to complain about his lack of sleep, as he could not go to sleep until his mother's scolding was done.
"Master has ordered you to come personally. Oh dear, I should not have let my guard down at that moment...Damn it."
Riley, who could no longer stand Ian's nagging, placed his hand on the door knob.
As promised, Riley had come to Stein's office as soon as he woke up.
"Young Master, this may be an opportunity. Lady Orelly has been banished from the mansion. You can finally aim to compete for the successor’s seat..."
Before Ian could finish his words, Riley knocked on the door with one of his hands.
It seemed the sound had reached him, and Stein's reply came from within.
"I'm going in."
"Y- Young Master!"
Just as he was about to turn the knob, Riley turned his head to look at the man who was calling him.
Although he didn't say it, he moved his lips in such way as he clenched his fist toward Riley.
It was a fighting pose.
Riley shook his head in disbelief and moved into the office, ignoring Ian.
As Riley entered the room, Stein who was doing paperwork on his table called him without even taking a glance.
What does he want to say?
Riley reluctantly replied as he was getting a bad feeling and scratched his cheek.
"Leave the mansion."
Among the many documents piled on his table he snatched one of them and handed it to Riley after scribbling some words onto it.
Buy us some coffee!