The Imperial Capital’s Eyes
“My new friend, I thought you wouldn’t join us. I’m surprised you’re here, too. This is great. I’m glad to see you. Come over here, my friend is eager to see you since it’s your first time here. Everybody is very curious about the count who suddenly appeared. You have been the talk of town for a very long time as the outstanding, yet terrifying, man.”
I genuinely never thought so many people recognised me and hated me to my very core. I had no intention of getting to know them. All I wanted to do was be left alone in a corner with Veirya until the banquet was over, for Pete’s sake.
Unfortunately, Oaksvid just took off with me in tow. I looked to Veirya for help, but she signalled for me to give it my best. If anything, she was pleased that I wasn’t hiding in a corner and drinking with my head down.
I’m not autistic! I just hid in the corner because I didn’t want to talk to them. Their biggest wish was to kill me. I wouldn’t start conversations with them in a million years and more. I deserved to be called an imbecile for thinking Veirya would help me.
Left with no choice, I had to wear on a polite smile and let Oaksvid lead me over to his so-called friend, weaving through the throng of people. I realised that Oaksvid probably didn’t want to introduce me to his friend. In a party setting, if there were so many people around someone, they had to hold the highest status in the room. Oaksvid was just a baron, so his status didn’t fly with the people around. Perhaps his goal was to bring me in from the very beginning.
The people farthest to the outer perimeter were people I was familiar with, though they probably didn’t want to see me. In spite of his old age, the man at the centre of the room looked hostile. He had a platinum square-shaped beared around his mouth that complemented his square face. He had some bold patches, but they weren’t worth the attention seeing as few people would be able to see the top of his head. If I had to use an animal to describe him, I’d pick a conniving old dog that still had sharp teeth because of his counterfeit laugh.
“Duke Alexis, this is Count Lin Dongqing. I hope you enjoy your conversation,” Oaksvid introduced.
I couldn’t reach Duke Alexis’ higher rank due to my background. Put another way, his family could rival the empire, or you could say that it grew alongside the empire. He smiled and pressed a hand on my shoulder. “Ah, ah, you are Lin Dongqing, who everyone in the capital is talking about, I see. Uhm. Hmm. I see you’re quite the tough man. No wonder why my friends got the short end of the stick against you. I must thank you for showing mercy, or I would be bankrupt, as well.”
I dryly chuckled. My accomplishment definitely wasn’t something to brag about given the location. In fact, it was best that it wasn’t mentioned. “I’ve only just arrived at the imperial capital. I was in the South before.”
“Ah, I know. I know. I did buy lots of bonds distributed under your name, after all. I’ve gradually started to profit. They’re right when they say that being able to join Lin Dongqing in business will always yield a profit,” commented the duke, offering a toast. “A toast to our genius Count Lin Dongqing.”
The people on both sides raised their classes. Her Majesty did say that my biggest weakest was my arrogance. Excessive pride that turns to arrogance becomes a weakness. Despite being aware of it, I couldn’t change the habit or hide my conceited smile, alas. Maybe it was in my blood.
“So, then, I believe that it is not just me who is curious but my friends here, too. As the minister of business, what do you think about our goods at the newly discovered continent? Do you have any designs for it?”
The duke sure didn’t beat around the push. I lingered for a moment while the people around quietened down and focused their gazes on me. My brain instantly calmed down while I was on cloud nine. I picked up a glass again and looked at the amber wine.
“I’ve only just returned from the South, so I have given myself a break from work for now. Plus, the only thing on my mind right now is my wedding ceremony with my fiancée. I don’t have any opinion on the price of things at the colony. I’ll let these gentlemen figure it out, I suppose. If possible, I’d like to minimise my involvement.”
“What about taxes, then? That is what everyone is concerned about most.”
I glanced over to a row of businessmen and smiled. “I do not think this is the appropriate place and time to ask that. I did say that I haven’t resumed work yet, right? I still don’t have a grasp on the situation there. Besides, there’s no need for you to be so hasty, is there, gentlemen? When the time comes, make appropriate arrangements based on the products produced in the South and their volume. The most important factor is Her Majesty’s opinion in the end, isn’t it?”
“Count Lin Dongqing, as Her Majesty’s most trusted and favoured vassal, your opinion is usually Her Majesty’s opinion,” retorted the duke, smiling despite not being too happy about me hand balling the question away.
Duke Alexis believed that I was deliberately withholding information when I really wasn’t. Up until this point, the new colony hadn’t even been on my radar, let alone my designs for it. I looked back and forth at the people on both sides and finally smiled. “I’m not withholding information. I genuinely haven’t thought about the new colony. As such, I have nothing I can share. As a matter of fact, I want to know what you all think.”
“If you do not have any plans, did you go to the South for a holiday? It is not an ideal vacation location, is it?’
“No, the climate is nice and so is the scenery. There are also lots of girls in swimwear by the beach. It’s a fantastic place for a vacation.”
It was after his question that I actually realised what went through their heads. They thought I went to the South to go and check out the colony and deliberately hid my success. Sadly for them, I didn’t lie. I didn’t go and check out the colony. Wait. I take that back. I lied about there being lots of swimwear-clad girls.
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