༺ Fun and Entertaining Club Fair (3) ༻
Carl Oppa said she’s his subordinate, so I should treat her comfortably. But there’s no way I’d be able to do that, especially since it’s my first time meeting her. Unlike the people that came from other countries, she seemed like someone that has been dragged while passing by.
That’s why I whispered to her that it was okay for her to take a break. As if deeply moved, she nodded repeatedly. Then she grabbed a skewer from the bag and gave one to me. Her twinkling eyes that shone brightly were somewhat overwhelming.
“Do you want to eat one?”
“No, thank you. I’ve been eating while making all sorts of things.”
“Really? But it’s delicious.”
“Then I’ll eat it.”
Carl Oppa came up behind her and took the whole bag, not just the skewers she was holding. As she watched the envelope slip from her grasp with a puzzled look on her face, I felt a little bad for that sister.
“I brought you here to work. What are you doing?”
“Executive Manager, I think giving off-duty instructions is a really bad thing.”
“If you’re bothered, you should have risen in the ranks faster than me.”
Unperturbed by sister’s disappointed appearance, he grabbed her hair with one hand and pressed it firmly. The more he did that, the more her expression melted, and her body trembled.
“Louise, don’t feel overwhelmed and make her work. If you don’t make her work, she’ll be all over the place.”
I smiled awkwardly and said yes to Oppa. Sister looked at me as if I’d just betrayed her, which made me feel guilty.
‘But we just met today…’
I wondered why she put such faith in someone she had just met.
“If you find it too overwhelming, I’ll use her. Is that okay?”
“Of course. You’re the one who brought her, after all, Oppa.”
While saying that, I watched as Carl Oppa grabbed sister and led her towards a corner. Carl Oppa continued to pester her nonstop, while her shoulders slumped.
‘They look close.’
At the same time, there was a deep intimacy between them. Even though Oppa was acting imposing and bossy on the outside, I could see the comfort underneath. It was a completely different side to him that I hadn’t seen in the club. Sister also showed playfulness and friendliness beyond her tears.
I’ve never seen Oppa like that. Although he looked and acted kind in the club, it was clear that he drew a line. But now, I felt like I was seeing his true self, without the restraint and lines.
That was his real self. A side he didn’t show to me.
‘It’s my first time seeing him like that.’
I bit my lips a bit. I felt frustrated in a corner of my heart, realizing that I didn’t truly know the person who had been so kind to me, someone, I am indebted to.
It also happened when I met the Duke’s daughter recently. Although Oppa seemed to be maintaining a bit of distance from her, she seemed to like him a lot. Unlike me, Oppa was someone important before coming to the Academy, so they probably got close because of that.
The thought that there were more aspects to Carl Oppa that I didn’t know made me increasingly frustrated.
He’s a person I’m really grateful to, and a valuable Advisor in the club, I…
I shook my head to clear my mind of the strange thoughts. What was I thinking? It’s natural for Oppa to have friends, and he doesn’t have to tell me everything.
Because of wanting to repay the kindness I received from Carl Oppa, I had a moment of strange thoughts, hoping that he would rely on me.
What’s this? I felt the suffocating emotions slowly turn into a throbbing ache, and I forced myself to look away from him.
* * *
Even for me, I was treating the 1st Manager more harshly than usual. However, it was the duty of the Executive Manager to maintain discipline between superiors and subordinates, and this much was necessary, especially considering how relaxed they’d probably become after I left.
From the start, no matter what I said, she only half-listened and brushed it off. So if I wanted to inject 100, I had to put in 200 to break even.
“What is it again?”
I answered while frowning. Whenever she calls me, it makes me feel uneasy. She’d just talked about eliminating the 3rd prince. What would it be this time?
“Who’s she? I don’t remember her.”
I followed her gaze and saw Louise, who handed Sir Villar some bread.
“The pastry club’s president.”
“I know that. However, she’s too normal compared to the members.”
The 1st Manager’s doubt made sense. Even Erich, the weakest among the members, was the son of an Empire’s Earl. As a Manager of the Prosecutor’s Office, she was in a position to grasp at least simple personal details.
On the other hand, Louise was the daughter of a common Baron. If I hadn’t known the original novel, I wouldn’t even know about Baron Naird’s existence.
“She’s a normal kid. You won’t get anything from her, so don’t worry about her.”
“Why would I do that? I’m not the 2nd Manager.”
From my point of view, both of you are similar.
However, despite my cold gaze, the 1st Manager sneakily glanced at Louise and let out a sigh.
“Woah, but she’s really pretty. I’ve never seen someone with pink hair like that before.”
“It’s not a common color.”
“It wouldn’t look good with red, though.”
At those words, I quietly closed my eyes.
Is that what this bastard thinks when she sees someone else’s hair color?
Overcoming my mixed feelings, I opened my eyes again and saw the 1st Manger still looking at Louise.
I poured out a lecture of 400 words instead of 200.
The second rush began while the 1st Manager was being reprimanded. The second rush didn’t change much. It was just that numerous clients came.
The only change was that the 1st Manager stood next to me as if she were a totem.
“To think I’d see both of you here.”
“Haha, I also didn’t think I’d meet you here in the Academy.”
The noble that was shaking hands with me looked at the 1st Manager. She smiled brightly but didn’t say anything. I’d warned her to remain still without saying anything.
Having the 1st Manager here was a kind of announcement. It was already widely known that the Prosecutor’s Executive Manager was at the Academy, so it wasn’t surprising. However, for the 1st Manager to be with the Executive Manager on the day the Academy opened? Clearly, something was up.
Someone who thought that the two of us being together here was just a mere coincidence wouldn’t be able to survive in this world. Just the two of us standing together was enough to alert the nobles that something was about to happen.
‘They’ll probably be careful even if I don’t say anything.’
Even if the Third Honor managed to get into the Academy, all the nobles who already suspected that something would happen had probably increased their security. In that case, I could significantly reduce the amount of attention I give to the nobles.
For now, the fact that the Third Honor is approaching the Academy is not something that should be publicized. If the information leaks out, the Third Honor could go into hiding, the Academy would become chaotic in its own way, and there would be a high possibility of a commotion from the three countries. So, I need to give this roundabout warning.
Luckily, the 1st Manager is actually a graduate of the Academy, so there is a pretext for her to have come to enjoy the exhibition, not for official duties. There’s no need to worry about external justifications since it’s simply participating in the fair.
That explanation worked on Sir Villar and the others. It wasn’t intentional, but the appearance of the 1st Manager coming with a whole bunch of food was really helpful. That gave the impression that she’d really come here to enjoy the Club Fair.
I was glad he wasn’t a Knight who got a distorted view. I felt sorry because it somehow felt that I was deceiving him. However, it was expected of a Civil Servant to put his country’s interests ahead of his own.
While thinking such thoughts, the person in front of me changed. Now that the returning noble will inform the other nobles that the 1st Manager has arrived, the news would spread quickly among the nobility. The nobles’ tongues could be both tight and light. Usually, it’s the latter in times like these.
“Ah, long time no see. It’s the first time we’ve met since the Council/Parliament.”
This person was also probably going to spread the news very well.
He shook hands with me once, then looked at the 1st Manager cautiously. Everyone reacted the same way. Then finally, there was only one left.
‘Who is he?’
He was someone I’d never seen before. I don’t remember their face, name, or anything about them. If it were the first meeting, it wouldn’t matter, but if we had exchanged greetings in passing, it would be a really awkward situation.
But thankfully, he spoke first.
“Executive Manager. How have you been? It’s the first time I’ve seen you since we met at the cafe.”
Ah, so it’s you.
The word “cafe” immediately reminded me of something, and I felt relieved.
“That’s right. It was a cafe in the southern part of the capital, wasn’t it? It was really good.”
“Haha. The cake over there was incredible.”
“If possible, I’d like to visit again, but I’m really busy these days.”
“Feel free to contact me when you have time.”
Then, we naturally shook hands and said our goodbyes. As I watched the back of the departing youth, I looked down at the hand that I used when we shook hands. There was a small piece of paper that had somehow found its place in my palm. There were small words written on the paper.
Cafe, South, Cake, No Time, and contact me when you have time. Those were like secret passwords that changed regularly. A password used by the Ministry of Information/Intelligence when they wanted to contact someone.
‘How long are they going to continue doing this?’
I sometimes pity them for holding on to tradition when times have changed. It must be a hassle for them too, but the Ministry of Information/Intelligence is supposed to be a fairly conservative group.
Moreover, the Information Division still had many senior officials who are alive and well, so even the Executive Manager of the Ministry of Intelligence can’t simply abolish the traditions, no matter how cumbersome those traditions may be.
The one who was slowly dying because of stress was the Ministry of Intelligence’s/Information’s Executive Manager. Along with the feeling of condolences to the Information’s Executive Manager, I casually put the piece of paper in my mouth and swallowed it.
Of course, the same goes for the contacted parties suffering from the tradition of the Ministry of Information/Intelligence. If the Information’s Executive Manager succeeds in reforming these bad habits, I’ll stop doing these things as well.
‘It tastes horrible.’
At least use better quality paper, please.