this man.


“A long silence ensued, and I was the one who broke it.

“It's time.”

“What do you mean?”

“The hourglass.
Wait a minute.”

When I saw that the hourglass had run out of sand, I quickly opened the storage room's door and peered outside.

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Right in front of me stood Bernard, on the verge of breaking down the door.
The bartender was pulling him back by his arm with all her might.

“Oh my! What’s this? Bernard, I'm fine.
Stop bothering the bartender.
And give me 10 more minutes.”

Yes, the hourglass was for my promise with Bernard.
He had insisted on checking my safety after 10 minutes.

I smiled at the tearful bartender and went back inside the storage room.

“That's what the hourglass was for.
I'll put it back.”

“Yes, my knight is very protective of me.

“Ah, I see.
What makes you think House Elias will fall?”

I was embarrassed after I made the joke for some reason, so I cleared my throat and answered seriously.

“As you know, each noble family has received an official letter asking them to take the administrator exams.
Do you know what the meaning behind these exams are?”

I don't think finding families to support the princes will destroy your family.”

This was the most important part.
I had to explain it reasonably.
He wouldn't believe me if I said, ‘I know the future.’

“There are a total of three Crown Prince candidates who can become the next Emperor.
Who do you think is the strongest candidate?”

“I'm not putting that kind of information out for free.”

“As expected, you're unique.
But is that information even worth money? If you're an Imperial Aristocrat–no, even commoners know this.”

“The importance of information changes depending on who it's sold to and how it's leaked.
What does it matter if the person you and I think of are the same?”

“Yes, right.
Of course.
But it's strange why they're looking for families to support all the Crown Prince candidates.
This implies that succession rules have changed, and the person we're thinking about might not be the next Emperor.
Which means that two-thirds of the families involved in the battle for the Throne will wind up dead.”

Don't you think that's a little too far-fetched?”

“I don't know.
I just want to stay safe.”

“You're pretty convincing, but…
I don't think that's a reason to become my disciple…”

I need to know which Prince will make my family go under.
I have to prevent them from making even minor mistakes.
Of course, it would be better if they didn't pass the exams.
Therefore, I need the Black Society.
I need a teacher who can give me intel and deepen my understanding of this Empire.
Please, help me.”

“Imagine an 18-year-old noblewoman saying she'll save her family and accepting her as a disciple…
I admit one thing, you're the most refreshing person who came to me wanting to be my student.
One point for that.
But that's it.
I'm not investing my time in a nonsensical, hypothetical future.
You're welcome to go.”

I didn't expect he'd accept me as his disciple right now.
I took a deep breath and searched inside my cloak.

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“Here it is.”

I retrieved a white piece of paper from my cloak and placed it in front of myself.

What does this mean?”

“As you can see, my signature is next to my name, right? Whatever you'll put down, I'll pay.”

Did you think this blank check would get you an apprenticeship? Besides, can you give me anything I wrote on this check now?”

“Of course not now.
This blank check has an expiration date.”

“When is that?”

“I'll give you whatever you ask for three years from now.”

Yes, after three years, the fate of my family will have been decided.

“I don't want to do it after three years.
Do you know if this check will be any good by then?”

“It could be a bad check.
But, if you get a bad check, it means the person in question was incapable.
Don't tell me you're unconfident about teaching me, are you?”

“Don't use shallow tricks to hurt my pride! That's only for hot-tempered people who don't care about the other person's personality.
You have to show the real thing to people like me.
Cute little lady, instead of saying something like that, tell me something that appeals to me.
I'll give you just one more minute.”

His voice was gentle, but his eyes were serious and calm.
He pointed to the hourglass with his chin.

I was diligently focusing on my story now.
There was a chance of winning.

Tell you something.
Let me explain.
If I pass these exams and become the next Emperor's close aide…”

“If what?”

“I'm going to be the next head of the Elias Family.
That will take about three years.
So if I become your student, I'll be the official heir in three years.
The future head of the house is here to ask you to be her teacher.”

According to the novel, my family would fall and be executed three years from now.

Others would see being the next head of House Elias, one of the most prominent families in the Empire, as an impressive position.

However, that position wasn't impressive to me, knowing we'd be destroyed and die.

Wasn't this fun? Extermination and the next head of the house.
Rather ironic to put those two words together.

Andrei Pitt looked me in the eyes for a long time after I finished speaking.
A while later, he opened his mouth.

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