“You failed again?”
The young man asked in annoyance, sweeping his shiny silver hair from his forehead.
The masked man kneeling in front of him, bowed his head deeper.
“Who’s the bastard that managed to survive?”
The masked man’s head was bowed so low that it wasn’t possible to provide a coherent answer. A sigh flowed out of the young man’s mouth.
“Yes, your highness.”
“I’m the one who appointed you as commander when my father gave me the Ravens.”
Prince Genoa slowly lowered his gaze and looked down at Casan.
“So don’t disappoint me.”
His tone sounded warm and friendly, yet his eyes were ice cold.
Casan’s crimson eyes trembled as he lifted his head and faced him.
“I’ll make sure to find him.”
“Don’t forget to continue the search for other survivors.”
Casan bowed his head respectfully and disappeared like smoke in thin air.
“Where in the world are they hiding?”
Genoa loosened the shirt buttons that were hugging his neck tightly in frustration.
They were deliberately spreading rumors to mobilize bandits for a faster outcome, but there was little to no results.
As a result, he was recently pressured by his father’s urgency, which irritated him.
‘The old man expects a great deal from me even though he hasn’t achieved much during his life.’
‘What’s so great about the annihilation of the Jueri anyways?’
Even that isn’t a real success because the Crawford heir is still alive.
“He’s not just surviving quietly, he’s out there living his best life while running around and killing my Ravens all the time.”
His beautiful lips twisted out of anger and frustration.
“But how is he able to stand so firmly?”
All of the Jueri clans were annihilated, which meant that the power backing the Crawfords up had collapsed.
After the wipeout, they continued to look for survivors, but not a single trace was found.
‘In other words, why is this man, a useless heir who should have died with his father, still living so well?’
He also inherited the power of his clan.
Genoa couldn’t hold back his anger, and punched his desk.
‘As long as Crawford is alive and well, the emperor’s power is only half of what it should be.’
Except for the center of the current Aserian Empire, the influence of the noble families representing each region were much stronger than the imperial power.
Duke Peyton is the head of the region in the east, Duke Crawford in the west, Duke Shabini in the south, and finally, Archduke Heisen in the north.
Among them, Duke Crawford was from a military family that defended the western border, which had the strongest Knights in the empire.
In terms of military power alone, it’s the strongest of the four head families compared to the royal family.
Above all, Crawford’s direct lineage was so strong that ordinary people wouldn’t be able to stand a chance against them.
If such a strong family devoted itself to the imperial family, then it would become unstoppable, but they were the wildest of the four families.
Like his father, Genoa couldn’t control them either.
Because they’re crazy.
Crazy enough to turn the Empire into a sea of fire over a trivial matter that upset them.
Therefore, the Crawford family has been a headache for the emperors of each generation.
For that reason alone, a friendly relationship couldn’t be considered, and it was best to live quietly without interfering with each other.
Sometimes there was an emperor who tried to overpower the Crawford family, however, all of them failed and kneeled before them in the end.
Despite knowing this, his father couldn’t stand their arrogance. This was due to his strong obsession with imperial might and lust for power.
Fortunately, his father found a way to break down the Crawfords, but he still had to endure Crawford’s arrogance because he couldn’t fully succeed.
‘My imperial authority has to be perfect. This Aeseria will be mine alone.’
In order to make this happen, the Crawfords had to vanish without leaving a speck of dust behind.
His clenched fist trembled.
As soon as the knock sounded on his door, he answered.
“The Duke of Shabini is waiting for you,” Dylan, his assistant, politely reminded him of the schedule.
Genoa rose from his seat, rearranging his clothes.
‘Did you finally bite the bait? Maybe I can finally start hunting.’
The corners of his mouth curved into a smirk.
After leaving the office, he entered the room that was exclusively made for the crown prince.
“I greet you, the Second Sun of the Aserian Empire, Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
A good-looking middle-aged man stood up from his seat and bowed his head politely, his faded brown hair fell forward over his forehead.
“Welcome, Duke Shabini.”
Genoa painted a smile on his face, which made his elegant figure and splendid beauty stand out even more.
“Rumors say that your popularity is skyrocketing even in other countries, but now, even I can understand the feelings of the young girls towards you.”
“Come, Duke, let us sit down.” Genoa’s smile deepened as he invited the duke to sit with him.
“How long are you going to keep the anxious hearts of young girls waiting?”
Genoa grinned at the words implying that he needed to get married in the near future.
“For the stability of the Empire, we can’t postpone it any longer.”
“I’m going to start looking for a bride one soon as I should assume my responsibility as the crown prince.”
In an instant, the pale blue eyes of Duke Shabini shone with satisfaction.
A smirk formed Genoa’s mouth at the Duke’s reaction, but disappeared before he could notice.
“It’s about finding my fated soul mate, so I need to choose carefully.”
“Of course, you should. The Crown Prince’s bride will be the empress in the future, so you have to choose wisely and thoughtfully,” Duke Shabini nodded in agreement, chuckling with a big smile.
“How is your business these days? I heard that you’re going to release a new product soon.”
“That’s why I’m here.”
As if waiting for this moment, Duke Shabini displayed a luxurious box made of black wood.
“The moment it was completed, I ran here to gift it to His Majesty the Emperor and His Highness the Crown Prince.”
When Genoa signaled with his finger, a nearby servant approached and opened the box carefully.
At the same time, a dazzling shine appeared reflecting off the object.
“Is this a watch?”
“Yes, it’s a very groundbreaking invention. You can check the time at any time without the hassle of having to take it out of your pocket each time.”
Pride was apparent on the Duke’s face, as he explained the qualities of the watch.
Genoa, who listened to the explanation absent-mindedly, lifted the watch and put it on his left wrist.
The cold texture of the watch strap made of platinum gave him goosebumps.
“You can fasten it using this loop here.”
As he connected the watch chain according to the Duke’s instructions, the sapphires, and diamonds that decorated the watch shone splendidly every time his hand moved.
“It was made by Karinan, the best craftsman in the Empire. Isn’t it beautiful?”
The watch was more beautiful and colorful than anything he’d ever seen.
“As expected, the inventions of Duke Shabini are always splendid.”
While Duke Peyton, the owner of the mines, is also renowned for his financial power, Duke Shabini is always one step ahead in business.
“The only person that can make such an item is the Duke of Shabini.”
“It’s an honor to hear these words from you.”
“These gemstones are of high quality. Are they sourced from Duke Peyton’s mines?”
When Duke Peyton was mentioned, the Duke’s smile faltered, and turned bitter.
Genoa’s lips twitched slightly.
“It’s fine. The continent’s jewelry industry is tightly controlled by two dukes of our empire. The Empire’s future is bright.”
“Yes, your highness.”
Genoa caressed his watch while watching the Duke with a seemingly forced smile.
Jewelry was the main business for both Shabini and Peyton.
The only difference is that Shabini’s main focus is crafting, while Peyton’s main focus is mining development.
In the end, the two families had no choice but to cooperate even though they were direct competitors.
He was going to use it to his advantage in order to strengthen the imperial power.
Isn’t that the reason why the contents of the prophecy were leaked in advance?
Genoa’s sharp shone with a malicious light.
* * * * * * *
As soon as the Duke of Shabini returned to his residence located in the South, he headed to his office, followed by his assistant, Nielsen.
“How was the meeting with the crown prince?”
“It wasn’t as good as I expected, but it was a success nonetheless. ”
The duke answered as he sat in front of his desk.
“I guess he liked the present you prepared.”
“The presents were a success. Both the emperor and the crown prince’s eyes were shining when they first saw it.”
“Being the first on the continent to have Charlotte’s newest product and groundbreaking invention will be enough to satisfy their desire and show it off.”
Charlotte is the brand name of Duke Shabani’s jewelry creations.
“We can offset the cost of the watches from their free advertisement,” said the duke, rubbing his thumb with his index and middle fingers as he raised one corner of his mouth.
“Is he still claiming that he doesn’t want to get married?”
“No, he says he plans to find a companion and fulfill his responsibility as the crown prince.”
“That’s good for you. Isn’t this the news you’ve been waiting for?”
Hasn’t his position with the emperor and the crown prince become very favorable since he started offering his finest products?
“Did he find the individual of his Prophecy?”
Nielsen’s eyes shone sharply as she lifted her glasses higher on the bridge of her nose.
“The crown prince said he must find his destined mate.”
“As expected, it’s clear that the interpretation of the prophecy has been completed.”
How much money and manpower did he spend trying to find out the contents of the crown princes’ prophecy?
Finally, he got the information not too long ago and rejoiced.
[Find the owner of the jewel. You must win her heart to receive salvation.]
He seemed to understand why it was known as the prophecy of the Crown Princess.
Because the person was referred to as a “woman.”
Above all, this was definitely a custom-made Prophecy in the favor of the Duke of Shabini.
When it came to precious jewels, it was Duke’s Shabini area of expertise, and he has a daughter who is the same age as the Crown Prince.
“I believe so, but maybe it was referring to the Peytons.”
“What qualities do they have to produce a crown princess?”
Nielsen’s expression hardened once she realized her mistake and hurried to correct her slip up.
“Too bad, the crown prince is not the type of person to reveal his thoughts so easily, so we can’t know for sure.”
Although the crown prince appears to be gentle on the outside, deep down, he’s a more detailed and arrogant person than the emperor.
“He praised our watch, but asked where the jewels that adorned it came from.”
“He must have mentioned it on purpose.”
“Duke Peyton owns the mines, so he deserves the privilege of being linked to the prophecy. His daughter is also around the crown prince’s age as well.”
“The owner of the jewel is our Shabini craftsmanship. Are they all jewels just because they’re dug up like that? If you don’t go through the work to polish it, then it’s just a stone.”
“Of course, without delicate work and sophisticated design, the true value of jewelry cannot be revealed.”
As if agreeing with Nielsen’s words, the Duke nodded vigorously.
“So the crown princess should be our Lilyan. I’ll finally be able to start what I’ve been preparing for.”
It seems that the crown prince is weighing over the two Dukes.
“We must make it clear that only the Duke of Shabini’s daughter is the owner of the jewel.”
Through her glasses, Nielsen’s eyes flashed sharply.
“Father, may I come in?”
Duke Shabini’s face softened at the lively voice coming from the other side of the door.
The door opened and a pretty young woman walked in.
With every step she took, her pale silvery-white hair fluttered behind her.
“I came running as soon as I heard that you had returned from the imperial palace. I missed my father so much.”
When Lilyan, who approached the Duke, smiled, dimples appeared on her fair cheeks.
Nielsen, who was pleased with the friendly father and daughter interaction, left the office to let them talk.
“Lilly, come sit here.”
The duke sat down on the sofa and tapped the seat next to him.
Lilyan quickly sat next to him, snuggling into his arms, and the Duke couldn’t help but smile.
“How was your trip to the Imperial Palace? Did his Majesty like our new product?” She asked with her light blue eyes, which resembled the clear sky, sparkling with curiosity.
“As expected, he really loved it. He even praised me saying that only the Duke of Shabini is capable of inventing something like this.”
“That’s a relief. I’ve been anxious about their reactions this whole time.”
“You were worried for no reason. Isn’t Charlotte the best brand on the continent?”
“I know. However, the heart of His Majesty the Emperor is not captivated by quality alone”
Although Lilyan acted with the carefreeness of a child, she was sharp and intelligent when it came to things like this.
He was satisfied with the brilliance of his child, who had grown to resemble him so much, but he was disappointed that she had grown up so quickly without him realizing it.
“More than anything else, I was most worried that my father would be upset if his Majesty didn’t like it.”
Lilyan leaned on the Duke’s shoulder, lowering her eyes cutely.
“Lilly, you don’t have to worry about something like that. Does this father look so weak?”
“No, you’re the strongest person in the world. You know that I rely on you a lot, right?”
When he saw Lilyan smiling bashfully, the Duke couldn’t stop his own grin.
“I also met the crown prince today. Of course, I gave him the present too.”
When the prince was mentioned, the duke saw Lilyan’s eyes change, her pupils almost turning into hearts. He sighed inwardly at his daughter’s obvious crush.
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