Riley got the puzzles together and made a conjecture.
There were two people with purple aura who were in the Rainfield around the same time.
Riley narrowed his eyes and glared at Rebethra. Before his gaze met Rebethra’s eyes, Riley lowered his eyes and organized the rest of his thoughts.
Riley wanted to live comfortably, not like his past life, leisurely.
This was the reason why Riley didn’t make any moves on small things. However, this situation was a little different.
Last spring, Iris ate poisoned soup and coughed blood. Just like that moment… someone close to Riley was harmed. This was the reason.
‘Fool. I won’t lose them like in my past life… I was determined to that end, yet…’
Riley, who had his head lowered, was cringing.
It was because he believed that this was his fault.
‘I never expected that this would happen to my father. If I have known, I could have asked Andal to keep an eye on the man.’
Stein Fin Iphalleta…
That name was famous, and it wasn’t famous for no reason.
So, Riley never worried about his father because he believed Stein was a sword who would not break easily against anyone. Now, Riley was faulting himself for letting his guard down.
‘What should I do?’
Riley spun his eyes to look at Rebethra again. Riley looked relatively calm, but inside, he was not in a very good mood.
‘… Should I make a move?’
Rebethra was an Archbishop, the highest ranking official in Solia Holy Temple. Still, that was not going to be enough to make Riley just stand idle and suck on his thumb in fear.
‘At the moment, I can’t definitely show that this bastard and that mercenary are connected. If I do anything to the Archbishop, would I be risking butterfly effect from turning the Holy Temple upside down?’
Despite that, carefully… Riley thought about it for the second and the third time so it won’t go wrong easily. To Riley, who was in middle of such thoughts, Stein’s voice could be heard.
“So, I think it is about time…”
Having heard the voice, Riley slightly raised his head and met Stein’s eyes.
There were complicated emotions mixed in Stein’s eyes.
Looking at his eyes, Riley felt like he knew what Stein was going to say.
“… I’m going to name the successor.”
* * *
“I have never thought he would return with an arm missing.”
Stein retired to the bedroom after telling his sons that they can leave now. Following after Riley who was walking toward the garden, Ian mumbled with bitter voice.
“About this man named Kabal who have thrown off the Count’s arm… I have only heard stories about this mercenary. I have never seen his face in person.”
Ian was about to tell Riley that someone like Nara would know that mercenary well. However, Riley casually turned his head around, so Ian stopped talking.
“… I met him.”
“That bastard named Kabal. I met him.”
“Y… You met him?!”
Riley blocked Ian’s mouth to tell him to be quiet. With a serious look on his face, Riley continued.
“I ran in to him on the way back from the Rainfield. Don’t tell others about this.”
Ian slowly nodded, and Riley finally lifted his hand away from Ian’s mouth.
“Still, Young Master… Just how?”
“It was a coincidence… probably.”
Riley answered in an unclear way.
It was because Riley was not sure if that was coincidence or planned.
“In that case, what are you going to do now?”
Ian immediately moved on to the next question before getting an answer.
“Count also talked about the successorship, didn’t he?”
Riley nodded and answered,
“Looks like a decision will need to be made.”
Riley could go after Kabal.
Riley could focus on the successorship competition instead.
He had to choose between the two.
‘Both Young Master and Lady Iris were never interested in the successorship, so… perhaps the answer is already out?’
Ian realized Riley looked a little sharper than usual after seeing his father’s arm missing. Ian fiddled with his sword’s handle and had a longing look on his face.
‘To think I already miss that child. Oh my…’
For the time being, Ian gave Nainiae his most trusted sword. Since then, Ian had been carrying a new sword on his waist, but he was not quite getting used to the handle.
“Well, for now…”
With Riley starting to talk again, Ian quickly hid the look on his face and waited for Riley to continue.
“I should focus on the successorship.”
Having heard what Riley just said, Ian asked again as if he didn’t quite hear that correctly.
‘Perhaps I really am old now?’
While Ian was worrying about that, Riley repeated the same answer.
“I said I should focus on the successorship.”
Ian, with a look of disbelief, asked again.
“J… Just now… What did you… say?”
“Ian, finally, your ears…”
Riley showed saddened look toward Ian, and Ian shook his head big to say that he was not getting hard of hearing. Ian quickly grabbed both of Riley’s hands and raised them.
“Young Master, you made a wise choice.”
Without realizing, Ian tightened the grab as he intensely stared at Riley’s face as if he was going to burn a hole through Riley with the gaze. Ian’s eyes started to tear up.
“Revenge never ends well. Of course, I am not saying I completely forgive Kabal. What I’m saying is…”
Ian started to mumble on his own. Riley just watched him for a moment. As if he was finding Ian to be ridiculous, Riley started to flinch his eyebrows.
Riley clearly said Ian’s name, but it seemed Ian didn’t hear Riley. Ian just had tears on his eyes.
“Count, Lady Iris, Nainiae… Hukhuhu… Our Young Master, Young Master is finally…”
Whenever Ian teared up from being indulged in his emotions, Ian always mumbled Stein or Iris’ name. Today, he was mentioning even Nainiae’s name. As if Riley had enough, he unhanded his hands from Ian’s grasp and lightly knocked Ian on the forehead.
“Ian, don’t go counting the chickens before they hatch.”
Along with a blunt sound, Ian pulled his head back. With his forehead reddened, Ian asked,
“What do you mean by counting chickens?”
Riley, without thinking, used what he used to say a lot in his past life. He slowly avoided his gaze and corrected himself.
[TL: The actual phrase used was “don’t go drinking Kimchi juice first,” as in drinking it while expecting a lavish dinner to come when it may or may not happen. It means the same as counting the chickens before they hatch. One thing to note about Korean culture is that nobody actually drinks Kimchi juice before a big meal or think it would be a good idea.]
“Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
Riley had three big reasons for choosing the successorship competition instead of going after the mercenary named Kabal.
‘At the moment, I have no way of knowing where he is.’
Even if Riley knew where Kabal was, it was going to be difficult for Riley to give a suitable reason to the people in the mansion as to why Riley was going to the place where that mercenary was. This was the first reason.
‘If Nainiae was here, it would be so much easier.’
If Nainiae was here, Riley could find where that mercenary named Kabal or Kabab or whatever was instantly. However… Nainiae was not here at the moment because she left with Andal so she could be cured of her illness and also get trained.
‘I have never thought I would be missing someone…’
Riley thought about Nainiae. However, he realized this was not the time to be thinking about wishing she was here. With a bitter look on his face, Riley shook his head.
‘At the moment, putting an end to the Archbishop with purple aura who might be connected to this is too risky. There is the Holy Temple behind him… It would be difficult to use the same method as how the Tess Merchant group was dealt with. I don’t have the stuff for it either.’
If the Archbishop and Kabal had nothing to do with each other, Riley had to consider the worst case scenario that could unfold from it. This was his second reason for choosing the successorship competition.
‘If it is difficult to do anything to him, making a trap would be best.’
That was the third reason.
This was the biggest reason why Riley choose successorship instead of going after the mercenary who tore and thrown off his father’s arm.
“Yes, Young Master.”
Riley, who had been thinking very hard with a sharp look on his face, suddenly turned to look at Ian. This made Ian flinch in surprise as he responded.
“Nara, that rascal, he is still in the guest room, right?”
“Are you talking about Nara?”
Having heard Riley’s question, Ian thought about what Nara said while answering that Nara was in the room.
“Yes, he said today will be his last day here. Starting tomorrow, he will be looking around quality locations in Solia for Garf… So, he said he will be looking for a place to bury his father’s remains.”
Having heard Ian’s explanation, Riley nodded. He started to walk toward the guest room as he mumbled,
“I introduced him to the person he admire. It would be all right if I asked him to do a simple quest for me, right?”
Having heard Riley, Ian tilted his head side to side.
“Did you say… a quest?”
* * *
It was during the late evening. At darkened garden entrance, Riley waved his hand toward Rebethra who was getting on his carriage.
“Well then, have a safe trip back.”
Along with Ian, Riley came all the way to the entrance to see off Rebethra.
“Haha. You didn’t have to come all this way… Well then, I’ll be seeing you in the Right Solia next time.”
Rebethra smiled like a good man and got on the carriage. He asked Riley that he really should come to Right Solia. After asking that favor, Rebethra’s carriage started to move.
Riley stood there vacantly for a moment and watched the back of the carriage that was going back to Solia. Riley lowered his hand and mumbled.
“… A trap… You know how to set one, right?”
It looked like Riley was talking to himself.
With a cold look on his face, Riley was looking at Rebethra’s carriage. Riley casually moved his eyes and looked at bushes in front of the mansion.
“If you don’t know how to set one, then just bite on to him and don’t let go. If there is anything suspicious, send Isen or Rorona.”
As if the bushes were responding to Riley’s voice, the bushes started to make cracking sound.
“… Yes. I clearly understood.”
It was night. Because of the darkness settling in, nothing could be seen in the bushes. There was something that was shaped like a human, and it had snake like eyes wide open in response to Riley’s voice.
“As you asked…”
In the bushes, the snake eyes slowly became smaller.
To be precise, the eyes became further away from the mansion.
“A trap… Would that child be able to do it?”
The snake eyes were at a far distance from the view now. Ian, who was standing behind Riley, asked carefully.
“Ian, it is not like I have special eyes like Basilisks, but I do have eyes for people.”
Riley mumbled slowly.
Because it was dark, Ian couldn’t see Riley’s face very well, but he could tell that the look on Riley’s face was more serious than ever.
‘In times like these, I wonder just how old Young Master really is.’
The glow in Riley’s eyes was no different from the look on a veteran’s face who survived various battlefields.
Even Ian was getting the chill.
Ian could not believe that such eyes belonged to a boy who was not even in his 20s, so Ian just kept silence.
‘That’s right. In the past life, there was something like this.’
Riley sent a skilled mercenary after Rebethra’s trail. However, Riley was not quite relaxing his face.
It was because he experienced something similar in his past life. Riley was thinking about what happened back then.
‘Back then, to avenge a comrade, did I choose to abandon a city that was in danger?’
The third reason why Riley was not going after Kabal personally and instead choose to focus on successorship...
‘It’s different this time.’
The story of a father, who lost an arm to a mercenary, telling his three sons about successorship competition sounded too similar to one of tragedies that Riley experienced in his past life.
‘I won’t let it have the same outcome.’
In the darkness, Riley closed and opened his hand. Once again, he thought about things that happened in past life and narrowed his eyes.
‘I’ll never let it happen.’
Riley, who was reincarnated with the memories of his past life intact, was determined.
‘I won’t live like my past life.’
Instead of working hard and being in center of people’s attention, he wanted to live comfortably. Instead of losing people who were precious to him, he wanted to live while protecting them.
He was never going to…
He was never going to live his life like his past life.
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