Eugène lifted his face, dripping with water, and looked in the mirror.
Inside was the face of a man who was exactly the same age as his father when he died.
A familiar yet unfamiliar face.
Eugène silently looked at the figure reflected in the mirror with a new feeling.
Facing the mirror reminded him of the dream he had last night.
The dream, which was vivid as if it were a part of reality, was not simply a dream, but a fragment of the years he had passed.
Eugène still remembered those difficult times clearly.
The damp air in the humid attic and the rough wooden walls, that couldn’t even be whitewashed.
The chilly air that came in through the gaps in the unfinished walls and the windows.
The exhaustion that he felt to his bones after working the entire day and the misery he felt when he fell asleep as he hugged his hungry stomach.
Eugène remembered it all.
He never forgot any of his miserable childhood memories.
He studied by writing on a book thrown away by a college student who lived downstairs with a piece of charcoal he picked up on the street.
He ate anything that could fill his stomach, and he learned and memorized things that were supposed to be useful for future situations by watching or listening to others.
After raking up all the money he had left and holding his father’s funeral, he devoted himself to the Navy that would accept him and came here with efforts out of desperation.
Those hard days of struggle sculpted the face he saw now.
All the years he had spent melted into his face, leaving deep traces like annual rings.
He had gray eyes and gray hair like his father, but his gray was a color with a different saturation from his father.
His hair was lighter, while his eyes were darker.
Unlike his father, who had fair skin like a lady, his face, roughened by the sea breeze, was dark copper, and even the scars, left by the fully healed wounds, were reddish from the sun.
Even though they had the same blood, the fact that he had a thicker and more upright face than his father showed that the environment his father lived in was very different from the one he did.
The face of the man who was left alone at 16 and lived his life as he decided, had a depth as hard as granite.
The stern face of a man who had kept his humility and frugality with only what he could get himself.
However, what was churning in his heart now was a completely different emotion from his long-held determination.
The feeling of ambition that was pressed to death in case a lump or bud would grow.
A feeling that he had despised, hated, and tried to stay away from was now slowly revealing itself.
… His Majesty is truly a great man.
How can one stir someone up so much with only a few words?
You can’t fool yourself even if you can fool others.
Eugène realized that he had already accepted the Emperor’s proposal from the depths of his heart.
It seems that he was also the son of his perseverant father.
Even though he knew it was his greed taking over, he didn’t feel like stepping back.
Seriously, like father, like son.
As he kept staring in the mirror without washing his face, the attendant who was serving him, called him out in a state of bewilderment.
Eugène lost in thought while having a staring contest with himself in the mirror, came to his senses only after a couple more calls from the attendant.
Once he realized it, the water running down his face had already messed up his collar.
Eugène smiled wryly and took the towel.
“What time is it now?”
Eugène asked the attendant as he tied a cravat over his changed shirt.
The attendant, who was helping Eugène get dressed, glanced at his watch and answered earnestly.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
“Pa’r jigfjvs alwf obg Llr Zjpfras’r kjxf-eq mfgfwbcs, Ufala ifnfg, ab yfulc.”
Okay, but what time is it? Eugène, unaccustomed to courtly idioms, thought in confusion.
Fortunately, the quick-witted attendant noticed the situation, and added in a natural manner to explain.
“Pa’r pera qjra fluta lc atf wbgclcu.
Pc j ilaaif ktlif, Llr Zjpfras Ktf Swqfgbg’r ygfjxojra klii yfulc.”
Ycis atfc vlv Seuècf oluegf la bea, jcv rlwqis cbvvfv tlr tfjv.
Kb tlr vfiluta, Seuècf kjr cba lcnlafv ab atf Swqfgbg’r ygfjxojra.
Mbgaecjafis, fnfc atf mjgvlcjir bo atf Serajmf rfma kfgf qgfrfca ja atf Swqfgbg’r ygfjxojra abvjs.
Seuècf’r qgbyjyis atf bcis bcf lc atf ktbif mbega ktb gfpblmfv bnfg atlr, yea ktja firf mbeiv tf vb?
Just because a new ambition begins to burn in your heart doesn’t mean that it will change your nature.
For him, who was accustomed to the simple life of a seaman, the complicated court etiquettes were nothing more than excessively heavy woolen clothes in the hot season.
“Bring me a light breakfast and writing supplies.
I have work to do in the morning.”
Let’s settle the invitations piled up like a mountain while I have time. Eugène, having decided to do so, gave an order to the attendant who had finished adjusting his clothes.
The leisurely morning hours ended without even starting.
After having breakfast alone, he laid out the writing supplies on the desk for a while, but he had to get up because of the attendant who came with a message, saying that he was being called.
The reply he had planned to write did not even amount to two pages.
I heard that breakfast is over, so what am I being called for? Eugène could not hide his doubts and followed the attendant.
The Emperor, who likes to surprise people, did not give an exact reason this time as well.
The place where the attendant led Eugène was the Imbert Palace, specifically the ‘Room of Eustace’, which was used as the Emperor’s office.
Eugène, upon an unexpected call, arrived at the heart of the empire, and passed through the ‘Room of Ash’, the waiting room for nobles who wanted an audience, to enter the Emperor’s office.
He felt the jealous eyes of the other nobles, waiting for the audience, stabbing his back, but it’s not like he had a say in this.
An audience other than a ball did not consist of an Entree.
Whoever the Emperor met first was entirely up to him.
“You still haven’t sorted out the meritorious records? What nonsense is that supposed to mean?”
The first thing that greeted Eugène as he entered the office through the door opened by the attendant, was the angry voice of the Emperor, interrogating someone’s duty.
As it was, five or six men were gathered together in the Emperor’s office, a room full of colorful objects.
The Emperor was leaning diagonally against a wide desk made of rosewood, but since the Emperor was standing, no one could sit down either, and so, they all stood still.
“I apologize, Your Majesty.
However, as it may be known, the last war was extensive.
It is not easy to determine the merits fairly because the front lines were long and there have been many sporadic battles in various places.”
The person who bowed his head in embarrassment at the pouring criticism was General Basin, Field Marshal of the Army.
He was reputed to be the most powerful commander in the empire due to his audacious tactics and valiant force, but for some reason, he seemed to be receiving a terrible rebuke from His Majesty The Emperor.
“Are you saying that now? Isn’t the fact that the record of merits has not been compiled yet that the scale of the rewards has not been grasped? What the hell are you up to!! What are all of you doing?”
The Emperor’s wrath was like blazing cold flames.
Even though it comes off as freezing cold on the skin, if it gushes past its limit, it might as well cook the flesh severely.
In addition, since it flowed out enough, the rage toward General Basin spread to the side and poured down on the person next to him as well.
Those who were struck by lightning while standing next to the stern man couldn’t even lift their heads.
The Emperor posed a question to others in a cold tone.
“Tell me, Count Pharamond.
When was the last time I told you to secure the finances for the reward, and you’re still not done yet? If you can’t even guess the scale of it, let alone secure finances, does that not mean that the Ministry of Finance has been idle all this time? But why is it that you didn’t even report it?”
“Your- Your Majesty, that is-.”
“What is it? What are you trying to say?”
“I deserve to die, Your Majesty.
There was barely enough to audit the war expenditures spent in the last war that I didn’t even dare to.
Even if it came in anyway, the formalities would be delayed, so I didn’t rush it-”
“Who asked you for an excuse? You should have reported it If you’re not going to do it anyway! Isn’t there only one way to do it whether you give someone the job or share the work?!! Looking at this situation, We can clearly see what the state of affairs was like when We were away from the capital.
Can you still call yourselves the ministers of a country? How will state affairs proceed properly when all they do is try to evade responsibility and say they didn’t know this or that?!
In the harsh atmosphere that was difficult to intervene, Eugène could no longer enter and stopped at his place.
However, the ministers who noticed that he had entered, turned to look at him one by one, as if such behavior of his was rather more noticeable.
The Emperor, who was glaring at the ministers with burning eyes, also found Eugène in the midst of it.
He annoyingly beckoned Eugène to come closer.
Eugène silently hardened his expression and approached the Emperor.
For now, the brutal atmosphere seemed to have calmed down upon his appearance.
Instead, there was now an awkward silence filled with questions.
The ministers were puzzled because they did not know the identity of the young man who suddenly appeared during the political meeting, and Eugène was frustrated because he did not know why he was called to such an important place.
“… Your Majesty, who is this man?”
Among the ministers who were curiously rolling their eyes, the oldest-looking person came forward as a representative and asked about Eugène’s identity.
That person was Jacques Bastien de Chirac, Duke of Chirac, who had served as an imperial minister in various posts for as many as ten years, a tycoon that even Eugène, who was ill-informed of the capital situation, could recognize just by looking at his signalment.
“This is Baron Amieux, who will serve as an advisor in the political affairs meeting from today.
Perhaps you’re more familiar with the name, Vice Admiral Chastan.
Do pay your greetings.
Since you’ll be seeing each other’s faces for a while.”
The Emperor had not yet fully resolved his anger and responded bluntly to the prime minister’s question.
He said it as if it were no big deal, but the ministers in the room were all shocked to hear it.
Though Eugène was the most surprised of all.
There was no outward agitation, but beneath his expressionless face, his heart was pounding.
He was well aware that His Majesty liked to do things out of the blue, but this was one of the most perplexing things he had ever done.
Commonly, the ones who served as advisors in the meeting of the political affairs were among the experienced noblemen and reputable scholars who had retired from politics.
Since it was a form of borrowing the wisdom of a sage in running state affairs, it had been a long-standing practice for an advisor to be a person with a proper status and reputation.
The ministers found it hard to grasp that such an arduous position was occupied by Eugène, who was not only young but also had a low peerage title.
“Your Majesty, the meaning of such words…”
“It means exactly what you think.
It remains to be seen whether it will work out properly.
There’s nothing to worry about since he’ll plainly be observing on each visit.”
The Emperor responded coldly to the minister who cautiously asked about his intentions.
On an ordinary day, he was a minister who would have said something more, but today, the Emperor’s anger was so great that he couldn’t say anything and retreated from there.
The other ministers were just looking around, and no one came forward to point out the immoderate promotion.
Mainly because they were afraid that the severe reproach, which had subsided for a while, would fall upon them again.
The Emperor’s Command was truly amazing, and with just a few words, it could either make a person suddenly rise in fame and success or feel like a cat in a strange garret.
The Prime Minister understood the situation after hearing the answer and bowed his head again whilst hiding his surprise.
Eugène, too, understood Emperor’s evaluation.
Eugène wouldn’t have been so embarrassed if he had explained the reason in a calm and orderly way, but he presented a conclusion without a preamble, which only caused the others to be suddenly startled.
In essence, the meeting of the political affairs was held to decide the most important issues in the country, so it was not a place where unqualified people could attend without permission.
Even if he’ll only be here for visits, a suitable post position was essential.
In order to create an excuse, the Emperor gave Eugène the role of a pretentious advisor, not the actual power.
No matter if you can’t understand it all, since you won’t even have the right to speak, let alone the real power.
Even so, preferential treatment is preferential treatment.
His Majesty, who is particular about choosing people, has formally declared that he will set up his own group of people by training them personally, so it’s nothing to be taken seriously.
The Duke of Chirac was aware of how terrifying the Emperor was, even if he couldn’t read his mind.
The old politician understood what an unusual move this was.
His Majesty is not one to waste his attention with a one-time performance, which means that he’s truly planning to make this person his hands and feet. Realizing that the rumors were not just rumors, the Duke of Chirac looked at Eugène with interest.
He was curious about what the Emperor liked so much about Eugène, who only seemed to be a curt soldier from his perspective, and whether His Majesty would continue to bestow such privileges over and over again.
Eugène, who seemed to be just a blunt soldier from his side, was interested in where his majesty was, and his curiosity captured his heart as to whether His Majesty would repeat these privileges over and over again.
“Don’t bother yourselves with useless things and simply keep the meeting going.
If anyone has not yet finished whatever We need to hear, come forward now.”
Did he notice that the ministers’ eyes were focused in the wrong place? The Emperor cut in his words and turned their attention back to himself. “Where exactly are all of your eyes right now?”
“Can none of you notice Our anger?” The ministers, at the cold threatening voice, quickly turned their eyes and focused all their attention on the Emperor.
Eventually, the meeting resumed, as if they were all walking on thin ice.
Eugène stood stiffly and watched as the angry Emperor nagged his ministers.
Even though he wasn’t the one being scolded, the Emperor’s anger was so terrifying that he almost felt his heart quiver at the sight.
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