Let's stay calm.
I took a quick deep breath and planned out the words in my head.
If I missed this opportunity, I would be looking forward to a very tiring future.
“I – I officially use the surname of the Elias family.
You just said that I must be a member of the Elias family in your previous statement, not that I must be an accepted family member.
There are many reasons why the Elias family has prospered, but I think trust is one of the most important.”
I took a deep breath, and continued.
As the gears in my head began to spin, the tension eased little by little and my voice began to gain strength.
As expected, an 18-year-old’s brain was different.
“A deal made by the head of the Elias family implies a standard of trust that leaves no room for doubt.
It is a given that my father's words are comparable to any formal document, and there is faith that those words will be upheld.
My father has never broken his word.
Besides, I doubt you will go back on your word when it comes to such a serious matter.
Thus, I am owed an equal opportunity.
This is a right that all of your children, those who bear the Elias name, are entitled to.
Whether I deserve the Elias name or not is another question entirely, and one I can prove through this test.
It is as you said, I am the one who chose to imprison myself.
It was because I was ill, and also of my own volition.
But I am now free from that illness, and my will has changed.
I believe that by expressing my intention to participate in this test, my resolve has been fully communicated.
So, if I were you, Father, I would allow myself to participate in this test.”
There was no sound at all in the drawing room, as if time had simply stopped.
Expressions close to astonishment landed on everyone's faces.
Including that of my father.
I talked too much.
I should've done it in moderation.
I tried to hide my embarrassment and waited for my father's next words.
His expression of astonishment transformed into wonder, and then to doubt, and then into interest.
I thought he was a stoic person, but he was being very emotionally colourful today.
“It’s been three months?”
I didn't understand the question for a moment, but I then realized what he meant and answered.
“Yes, it's been about that long since I woke up.”
You speak the truth.
But know this.
The trust you speak of is not built on words spoken in the heat of the moment.
It is the result of actions accumulated by existing and ongoing relationships.
My words have gained credibility as a result of my faithful adherence to the reputation of the Elias family through my past actions.
Your discussion of trust may sound good right now, but you will have to bear the weight that comes along with those ideals.
Do you understand? We shall see.
Whether the trust you speak of so openly is only empty words.”
“All of you, go and speak to the butler to select your teacher.
Tara, you must separately deliver your desired teacher's personal information to the butler.”
That was the first time my name had left my father's mouth.
That's how the drawing room meeting ended.
My family’s opinion of me had changed a little as a result.
However, none of them expected much from me.
They assumed that my eloquence had improved only because I had done little except collect books while living as a shut-in.
“What do you think?”
The Count suddenly asked, long after Viscount Dylan Gabriel entered the family head's office.
“I heard that she was a bookworm.
I'm not sure.
Anyone can see that she has significantly improved from three months ago.”
“Indeed, after she fell from the tree and woke up, she started going out more frequently, and even spoke with some of the retainers so I assumed she was feeling better.
However, I had no idea she could speak so eloquently.”
“The doctor, Sir Oliver, said nothing was wrong with her.
After the trauma, there were no signs of severe post-traumatic regression, and her stuttering has improved considerably.
It's just that her physical abilities are so poor that sometimes she experiences chest pain, shortness of breath, or joint pain that may worsen over time.
That's because she hasn't moved much for seven years.”
It's a problem.
Taking care of her physical health…..”
“She is already training two hours a day at the training grounds.
She started a month ago.”
The Count was surprised for a second time in a single day.
When one experiences extraordinary things and meets a lot of people, there are fewer and fewer surprises.
He was a cunning man who had experienced many hardships.
Few things were capable of unsettling him, unless it was the Emperor's wrath or the sinking of a trading ship.
It had to be something comparable to the death of a Family Head after being kidnapped by a hostile nation.
An old sense of anticipation that he had thought long dead crept up from the depths of his heart.
But he quickly caught himself.
Count Lloyd began tapping his index finger on the desk.
The unconscious action of someone lost in thought.
[He entered a forbidden area.
The Principality of Ga'an banned entry because there was a suspected infectious disease outbreak in the region.
But a delivery fell short, so he entered the area accompanied by a private soldier.]
That day 7 years ago.
His healthy eldest son, Brandon, had returned to him as a cold corpse.
[Why the hell was he even there?]
The aide who had followed Brandon to the Principality of Ga'an hesitated as if he had been placed in a difficult situation, and then reluctantly opened his mouth.
[It was about a birthday present for the young miss……]
Lloyd had doubted his own ears.
His eldest child, who was so much more intelligent than the rest, was the perfect one to succeed him.
But his sincere temperament was always a problem.
That tenderness could not be overlooked.
He always regretted his son's tender heart and, in the end, his eldest son's disposition turned into a blade that had destroyed him.
The assistant's hand trembled as he held out an object draped in heavy red silk cloth.
Carefully lifting the silk cloth revealed an elaborately crafted document box.
The faded box was a relic so old that it was difficult to guess the year of its production, and it exuded an antique and priceless beauty.
When the gold latch was opened, a document made out of obsolete cypress papyrus lay inside, the words having faded from exposure to light.
This paper, full of ancient words, must have been very expensive.
His voice trembled as he struggled to contain his anger.
[For Lady Tara, the fifth oldest…]
His precious eldest son had gone into a forbidden area on the whims of a foolish 11-year-old child, and wandered around for hours where he contracted an animal-borne contagious disease that eventually paralyzed and killed him.
Because of the epidemic, he couldn't even be properly buried, he had to be cremated.
The death of his eldest son, who had already been appointed as the next head of the household, had been an unbearable reality to contend with.
And Lloyd's anger over Brandon's pointless death had turned towards 11-year-old Tara.
But his daughter never even gave him the chance to express that anger.
She completely hid herself away in her room.
Lloyd rubbed his aching temples after having to recall the death of his eldest child, the memories having resurfaced for the first time in many years.
Seven years ago, that kid was pretty clever.
Yes, I had forgotten.”
After listening to the head of the family speak, Dylan carefully asked.
“What should I do?”
In the face of that fierce response, the Viscount closed his mouth.
The Count's cold expression was a sign that he would not tolerate any further discussion.
“……I was ill, but it was of her own volition? Arrogant thing.
I will keep an eye on her.
I have no expectations for the child.
She has just returned to how she was before she became ill, nothing more, nothing less.
She requested to select a teacher.
Let's see who she decides to bring.”
At the Count's gesture, the Viscount quietly escaped the office.
That was what he said, but Lloyd couldn't help but feel dazed and filled with a strange sense of astonishment.
[…] Regardless of status, if you have the ability, you should be respected.
How can we expect people to try their best at their jobs if children take higher positions based on their father's status with little effort of their own? The head of House Elias is different from other House leaders…….]
Was it a coincidence that her bright eyes and enthusiastic manner of speech had reminded him of his eldest child? Whom he had thought he had long forgotten about…
“I suppose I have gotten old as well.”
The Count shook his head, trying to shake off his useless thoughts, and picked up his land use and taxation documents.
The next day.
I lost two kilograms in one day.
Yesterday evening I used superhuman willpower to avoid eating dinner, and I worked out on an empty stomach for the first time this morning.
I thought I was going to die.
And today was a particularly tense day.
“I am certainly looked down on here.”
With my heavy chin propped on my hands, I became deeply immersed in a variety of thoughts.
“Did you die because of me……”
There were only three lines of explanation about the eldest son who died in the book.
He was a handsome, intelligent, clever, benevolent and kind young man.
He was the kind of person who was too good to be true.
And Tara? She was an unusual young girl who chased after her brother and acted childishly.
I was Tara, that was me.
When I was young, I used to read every manner of book I came across because I was addicted to the written word.
In addition, her memory was extraordinary, and all that knowledge had accumulated in her memory.
My leg, or rather, my thigh, cramped and I moved with immense difficulty.
According to the novel, I shut myself in because the only brother I cared for was dead, and I believed it was my fault.
Then I stopped dead, a cookie in hand.
There was a plate in front of me with more than half of the chocolate cookies missing.
They were coated in chocolate syrup and the bottom of the plate was visible.
This is terrible.
At my call, Beth rushed in.
“Oh, yes, my lady!”
“What is this? I never asked for this?”
“It’s just the daily snack we bring to the young masters and young ladies.”
My expression was one of deep resentment.
This is driving me crazy.”
From now on, don't give any of this to me until I ask for it.
You take it.
Say no even if I ask.
Especially if it's these delicious cookies that melt in your mouth with this moist chocolate stuck in them!”
“Why do you just keep saying 'what'? Hey, I mean it.
Just do it.
Okay? This will be prohibited from my room in the future.
Instead, bring me plenty of water.
1 litre a day.
No, actually bring me 2 litres or more.”
Beth turned around, her lips pouting slightly.
I realized I had gone too far.
Why was I harshly taking my anger out on her? Why was I abusing my power here, when I had always been bullied by TV production staff in my old life?
I sighed and called out to Beth again.
“I've been very sensitive lately.
A bewildered expression.
“Since you are my only dedicated maid, I keep calling you and asking to do so many things.”
“I’m not your dedicated maid.”
“That’s… The young miss has been confined to her room for a long time, and since the incident, you were unconscious.
I was tending the lady's room on the orders of the Countess.”
“Really? Then I don't have a dedicated maid?”
“Then why do you attend to me so often?”
“Because the lady calls me often.”
of course, because you happened to be there when I woke up…….”
What a load of bullshit.
“How many dedicated maids does Chloe have?”
“She has three.”
“What about Aria?”
“What about Jason?”
“What about Logan?”
“Two of them, at his school.”
“And I have none?”
Why did she look embarrassed? I was the one who should be embarrassed here.
I needed to deal with this issue first.
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