“Ahem. Mm! Young master Neo, it has been a while.”
Eric immediately moved in between Cale and Neo. Neo’s eyes seemed to be defeated.
He thought he had found a good prey, but it was now difficult to hunt this prey with Eric Wheelsman present.
“Yes, young master Eric. I hope you have been well.”
Neo greeted Eric that way before also greeting young lady Amiru and young master Gilbert. He then saw them all standing in front of Cale, and clicked his tongue.
‘I guess they are protecting him. Even if he is trash, he is still on their side after all.’
Neo decided not to do anything after seeing the three of them protecting Cale. Eric noticed Neo’s intent, and slowly turned around to look at Cale.
Neo’s gaze turned to Cale as well.
Neo then subconsciously let out a groan.
Cale was quietly looking down at Neo with his arms crossed. Cale’s eyes were extremely scornful. He had not said anything to Neo since earlier on, but his gaze and his body language said everything that needed to be said.
It made Neo think about the gaze Venion used to look at him. Even though Neo was angry when Venion looked at him with such a gaze, he consoled himself by saying it was the look of a higher ranking noble and let it go.
Cale turned away after watching Neo’s shaking pupils for a while, and looked behind him. He heard the Black Dragon’s report in his ear.
There was a reason he brought the Black Dragon with him today.
Cale had asked the Black Dragon to record everything that happened today. Video recording required a lot of mana usage and was difficult to maintain for a long period of time, so Cale had to be satisfied with just voice recording.
Cale was originally not going to do this because the palace would have a lot of mages who were sensitive to mana, but the Black Dragon assured him that it would be undetected as long as the range of the voice recording was small.
Cale made up his mind to use this in the future to make Neo cry tears of blood, before heading toward the palace entrance. Cale was the type of person to always pay back his debts.
Eric Wheelsman watched Cale walk away like a proud brother. He was thinking that the letters he sent every day must have worked.
On the other hand, Gilbert and Amiru watched Cale with curious expressions. Cale Henituse, the man who used to only wear flashy clothes, chose to wear a simple black outfit without any accessories. Even his red hair was clean and shining from the sun.
They wondered if it was because Cale was not drunk.
Each of Cale’s steps looked relaxed and calm.
Amiru and Gilbert watched Cale turn around once he got to the palace entrance.
Cale’s gaze, that seemed to be beckoning them over, was the most curious thing for them.
“Young master Neo, I will see you inside. Young lady Amiru and young master Gilbert, let us go.”
Eric was watching Cale proudly, but Amiru and Gilbert had an even stranger sensation when the three of them stood in front of Cale.
Cale looked at the two confused people, as well as the proud Eric, and started to speak.
The three of them followed Cale into the palace. Gilbert and Amiru’s odd sensation continued to grow the farther they followed Cale. Cale did not care however, and decided he would use these three people as much as he could today.
“Young master Cale-nim of Count Henituse’s household is entering the hall!”
Cale could hear the servant shout out Eric, Gilbert, and Amiru’s names as well as he walked into the hall.
He looked around the large hall before walking behind Eric. Young lady Amiru peeked toward Cale, before walking next to him and starting to speak.
“Young master Cale. At the front of the banquet hall is the crown prince’s seat, and the tables are split based by region. The reason for that-.”
Amiru, who was about to explain the reason for why the tables are split based on region, looked at Cale’s expression, before changing what she was going to say.
“I probably don’t need to explain the reason, right?”
“Thank you very much, young lady Amiru, but I know the reason.”
Cale watched Amiru nod her head with a curious expression on her face, and then headed toward the tables to the Northeast section of the room.
There were five tables inside the hall. Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and the center. They were all divided based on each of the noble factions.
‘The crown prince is good at things like this.’
He controlled things in the background to make the factions compete with each other while also forcing them to come together every so often. It was the crown prince’s specialty. But the crown prince was very thorough about his own treatment as well.
The crown prince’s table was located to the front of all five of these tables, at a location that was about two steps higher than the rest.
‘The second and third prince’s seats are one step lower than his.’
One step lower than the crown prince’s table was the table for the second and third princes. Even if this event was being hosted by the crown prince, it would be weird for the second and third princes to not attend a gathering of nobles. Since the crown prince was the one to host it, he made sure to show a gap between their status.
‘He really pays attention to these tiny, useless details.’
The crown prince, actually, all of the people in those positions of power, were really not Cale’s type of people.
“Our table is closest to the entrance, as expected.”
Cale did not respond to Eric’s bitter voice. The Palace of Joy had opened the eastern entrance as the designated entrance, and the Northeastern region nobles’ table was the closest to the door.
Although the Northeastern region had a voice, they did not have a household that was strong enough to have a loud voice. Cale raised his hand to pat Eric’s shoulder.
“It’s great that our seat is close to the door. In addition, it is great that we don’t have anyone we have to lower our head to at our seat.”
Other regions had strong people in charge, like Marquis Stan, whom the rest had to be respectful to and subservient.
The other three people walking with Cale stopped walking. Cale also stopped walking after seeing them halt. Eric turned around to look at Cale for a while, before finally starting to speak.
“Young master Cale.”
Since they were in the company of others, Eric did not call Cale casually by name.
“I’m glad that my efforts seem to have paid off.”
‘Efforts? What efforts?’
Cale looked toward Eric with shock and confusion, but Eric turned back around and proudly walked to the table that was closest to the entrance.
Eric did not know that Cale never read his letters and just shoved them to a corner of the room.
“Why is he like this?”
Young lady Amiru shook her head at Cale’s question. Gilbert showed a similar reaction. Cale then shrugged his shoulders and headed toward the table.
But an announcement made him stop moving.
“Young master Venion Stan of Marquis Stan’s household has arrived!”
Cale understood why Neo Tolz did not follow them inside the Palace of Joy. Venion. Neo Tolz was standing right behind Marquis Stan’s successor, Venion.
But Cale did not care for chumps like Neo or Venion.
Eric called out to Cale, who suddenly started quickly walking to his seat, but Cale just waved him off and sat down.
“Ah, welcome young master Cale.”
“Hello, young master Cale.”
Cale gave a short response to all of those respectful greetings.
“Hello. Good to see all of you.”
Silence suddenly filled the table, and Cale put his hand underneath the tablecloth without others noticing.
‘I knew it.’
He could feel the invisible Black Dragon’s body shaking.
Cale listened to the Black Dragon’s voice in his head, and patted its shaking body. Anger and fear. The Black Dragon’s mind was full of both right now. That was why trauma when you are young is so scary.
The Black Dragon did not know how to respond because the physical trauma that its body remembered was not aligned with the rationality in its head.
Cale had told the Black Dragon when it said it wanted to follow him that Venion Stan would be here as well. He also got the Black Dragon to promise that it would not kill Venion Stan today. He also promised something else to the dragon.
The Black Dragon was planning on ripping them into shreds so that they turned into fine particles of dust. Cale calmed the Black Dragon down while listening to its extremely angry voice. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be causing its mana to go wild because of this anger.
Cale thought that dragons really were very rational creatures. Cale thought about the hell that awaited Venion and the idiots who were aligned with Marquis Stan in the future, and stopped patting the dragon.
Thankfully, it did not seem like the dragon was going to run wild. If it did, this palace would easily be destroyed, and Cale would probably be dead as well. Cale let out a sigh of relief, before looking around.
He could see Eric’s group and Venion’s group both heading this way. It made sense, since Venion’s table was the Northwest table next to them.
The Black Dragon rubbed his head on Cale’s leg.
The Black Dragon’s action made Cale worry for a moment. He made eye contact with Eric at that time, who was fervently signaling Cale with his eyes.
‘Stay quiet! Be still!’
Cale just ignored the signals. He then debated how he could pretend not to know Venion. However, all of his contemplations were for naught, as Venion greeted him first.
“Long time no see, young master Cale.”
Venion Stan. He seemed to have gotten many more wrinkles since the last time they met, but he was still showing a gentle smile, fitting for a noble. However, Neo Tolz was behind him looking extremely anxious.
Cale smiled brightly and started to speak.
“Hello, young master Venion. This is our first meeting since we met in Viscount Tolz’s territory last time.”
Venion’s gentle smile became thicker, while Neo’s face became completely pale.
Marquis Stan was one of the four leaders in the kingdom’s politics. The successor of such a person visited the Northeast region. Not only that, it was to a low ranking noble territory like Viscount Tolz’s territory. It was obviously showing that Viscount Tolz was under the Marquis’s faction.
Naturally, the Northeastern nobles all started to frown, and the other nobles in the hall started to pay attention as well. The Northeast was a region without a leader right now.
“Correct. I went to visit my friend, young master Neo, and was heading back home.”
Venion Stan did not care about the gazes that were heading his way. There was no problem for him to go to the Northeast region. Venion was looking at Cale, as if he was observing him, but his voice was still gentle.
“Yes. We said we would share a drink at the capital.”
“We did indeed.”
Both Cale and Venion seemed very calm while chatting with each other. However, the people watching them could not be as calm.
Cale looked toward Neo Tolz, who was peeking at him and started to smile. Neo flinched while looking at Cale’s smile.
“Ah, right. The day after I met you, young master Venion, one of the Viscount Tolz’s knights came to find me.”
Cale started to speak to Neo with a very concerned expression.
“I heard the villa was ransacked completely clean. Is everything okay?”
Neo’s shoulders flinched, and Cale could see the corner of Venion’s lips starting to twitch.
“Did you hear about it young master Venion? I’m sure you have since you said the two of you are good friends.”
Venion finally responded after a bit of time. He was speaking very naturally, but Cale could feel the anger inside Venion’s words.
“…Yes. It was very sad to hear.”
“Yes. You don’t know how shocked I was to hear about it while I was having my hangover drink. How could they ransack the place clean and not leave anything behind! They said you lost something very important, young master Neo?”
The most annoying people in the world were the ones with loose lips, the ones with no tact, and the righteous.
Cale was acting like all three right now. He was having so much fun.
Cale warmly spoke to Neo.
“Young master Neo, cheer up. We’re bound to face such unbelievable situations at least once in our lives.”
“Ah, yes. I suppose so.”
Neo could not even look at Venion, as he just haphazardly responded to Cale.
“You need to drink to forget about everything when something terrible like that happens. Young master Neo, let’s get wasted tonight. Young master Venion, would you like to join us as well?”
Venion calmly observed Cale. He had lost the Marquis’s trust since losing the Black Dragon. Venion was suspecting the organization that gave him the Black Dragon based on the knights’ testimony and the evidence left behind, but he could not get rid of the suspicion he had for Cale’s group, who happened to spend a night there at the same time.
But he didn’t have any good reasons to suspect Cale. That was why he had spoken to Cale to confirm one more time.
“If you drink and then wake up to have a hangover drink, all your bad memories will disappear.”
But seeing Cale Henituse continue to spew nonsense like before made Venion realize he did not need to confirm anything.
“Thank you for the offer, young master Cale. Maybe next time.”
“Ah, it’s disappointing, but I guess next time it is.”
Venion walked past Cale. As he did, he could hear Cale speaking to Neo.
“Your knight was extremely pale young master Neo. You should have prepared in advance for such a situation. How could you lose all those valuable things at once? Cheer up. You may not recover what you lost, but what can you do about it? You have to just live on.”
‘Sigh. That trash.’
Venion smiled at the nobles who were observing him after hearing that he went to the Northeast, and held back his anger.
‘That stupid dragon and that paralyzed son of a bitch. Where did all of them go?’
Venion only looked forward as he walked. After taking a peek at Venion walking away, Cale turned away from the extremely pale Neo without any hesitation. Of course, he gave Neo a final remark before doing so.
Cale knew that Neo would be ripped a new one by Venion.
“Young master Cale-”
Cale watched Eric, who looked like he had a lot to say but could not figure out how to say it, before sitting back down.
Cale nodded his head after hearing the Black Dragon’s voice, and looked around the table. The Northeastern nobles were all looking at him. This was probably the first time they’ve ever seen such a normal version of Cale. That was why Cale picked up the bottle of alcohol in front of him to meet their expectations.
They all looked away almost instantly.
This was the strength of a trash.
However, the people at other tables were still watching Cale with curiosity. Cale ignored those gazes, as he handed the bottle to Eric.
“I’ll drink it later.”
Cale looked away from Eric, who was speaking informally for the first time since coming into the palace, and looked at the clock at the hall entrance. It would soon be time for the feast to start. That was why the nobles all took their seats.
The reason was obvious.
With Venion Stan’s entrance, the remaining three powerful families entered as well.
Young master Antonio Gyerre of Duke Gyerre’s household has arrived!”
Antonio Gyerre of Duke Gyerre’s family, young lady Karin Orsena of Duke Orsena’s family, and Marquis Ailan, the other Marquis of the kingdom.
They all entered into the hall with their subordinates behind them. The door closed after all of them entered, but there was nobody who got up to chat with them.
Cale leaned comfortably in his chair and looked toward the banquet hall entrance. The clock was getting close to 5 pm.
The clock reached exactly 5 pm.
The large door opened and the main characters for this gathering showed up with their entourage.
The servant was ready to shout louder than he had shouted all night, but the person in front lifted his hand up to stop the servant.
Roan Kingdom’s crown prince, the eldest prince of the kingdom, Alberu Crossman.
He seemed to enjoy the attention on him, as he headed to his elevated seat without any introduction. All of the nobles got up to greet him, and crown prince Alberu left the second and third princes behind as he headed to the highest spot in the hall.
As soon as he stood in front of his seat, the door closed. It meant that everyone was present.
Crown Prince Alberu looked down at the second and third princes, as well as everyone else and started to speak.
“Welcome. Thank you for responding to my invitation.”
This was somewhere where he did not need an introduction. Alberu looked down from the top. Cale blankly looked up at him, before looking back at the clock.
‘It’s about time they got here.’
The person who would be the gossip of all of the nobles here for a while had not arrived just yet.
Cale could hear the Crown prince starting to speak.
“Precious individuals who will make this kingdom shine, the future leaders of our kingdom, this prince is very happy that all of you have come to this gathering.”
The crown prince was slowly turning on the engines of his glib tongue. It was at that moment.
The crown prince turned his gaze to the entrance. The closed door was being pushed, as if it was being reopened. He could hear some chattering through the gap that was created.
Cale started to secretly smile. At that moment, a servant urgently rushed to the crown prince from a different entrance.
Cale was certain.
At that moment, the crown prince seemed to be deep in thought for a moment, before he waved at the knight who peeked inside.
The large door opened once again.
Since it was after the crown prince, the servant did not dare call out the person’s name. But there was no need to do so.
‘Right on time.’
A wheelchair entered into the banquet hall.
Taylor Stan, the paralyzed eldest son of Marquis Stan. He had arrived at the banquet hall with the crazy priestess Cage. At that moment, Taylor and Cage’s gazes quickly moved past Cale without anybody noticing. But that was enough for the three of them.