92 kg (2)
I tried to keep my back upright but got tired and leaned against the sofa.
“Oceria is an Empire that values and nurtures talented people.
Although our House faltered in the past, we still have been close to the Imperial Family since its foundation.
We have helped build and solidify this Empire.
We aren't as proximate as we once were, but had that child not passed away, we would already have produced a Consul for the next Heir to the throne.”
Count Lloyd Elias, my Father, did not hide his bitter expression.
“This is an opportunity.
Already, the eldest son of the MacQueen Family is a second secretary in the Palace and the second daughter of the Berota Family assists fourth-ranked Princess Margaret, another member of the Imperial Family, with her affairs.
I've always hated hearing that we are just glorified merchants without any political weight.”
His voice became more emphatic as he spoke.
Then he stared at each of his offspring sitting in the drawing room in turn.
My brothers and sisters shuddered under the sharp gaze.
We were five siblings, including me.
His gaze just flew right by me.
“There isn't any gender discrimination in the Empire so, I will give you all a fair chance.”
Opportunities are equal but, strictly speaking, the discrimination still exists.
“If you pass the Palace Administrator Examination and rise to the rank of First Secretary, I will give you one third of the top shares and also bestow the Elias Frontier Estate located in the Western part of the Empire.”
My Father's words created quite a stir.
One-third of the shares of the fifth most powerful Family in the Empire.
It was difficult to estimate the amount of cash coming in every month, despite having several accountants involved, and if you added the monthly interest from various bonds and loans, this stake could easily fit within the top 20 revenues in the Empire.
And what to say about the border territory offered as a gift? The manor’s main asset wasn't the wide plain called the Pantheon that it was built on, but rather its location.
Situated on the border with the Principality of Ga'an, it handled the exclusive distribution of luxury goods that came in from there.
This prize would, de facto, proclaim who would be the next head of the Elias Family.
This meant that the next head of the Family would come from obtaining an administrative post.
An eye-opening proposition.
“Will we be letting go of our trading endeavours then, Father?”
Asked Jason Elias, the Second Son, assuming he would already pass the exam.
The eldest son died in an epidemic seven years ago.
He had been Tara's beloved older brother and the reason she became a shut-in.
“The child who passes the Administrator Examination should be able to manage both.”
It was a stupid question.
Didn't Father mention the benefits of passing the test?
Of course, he didn't openly say that he or she would be the next Head of the Family, but if you thought about it for a moment, it was obvious.
So, of course, you had to manage both tasks at the same time.
Jason Elias oversaw luxury goods distribution.
As 27 years old Jason's blue eyes gleamed, I wondered if he saw our Father’s frown.
My half-brother, who was the most ambitious, resembled a hyena cleverly hiding his claws.
The only problem was that his mind couldn't keep up with it.
“How long until the palace appoints a First Secretary?”
Quite a smart question from the Third Daughter, Chloe Elias.
She was 24 years old.
The only one of us wearing a dress that cost the same as a country villa.
With her make-up, red manicured nails, and diamond studded shoes, you'd think her only interest in life was fashion and luxury.
But she owned a chain of beauty shops under her name that spanned the Empire, with its headquarters in the Capital.
“I see it happening in the next 2-3 years.
I'm sure His Majesty will abdicate by then.”
That sounds about right.
In about three years the Emperor will announce his abdication and immediately a bloody storm would rise and sweep through the Empire.
Of course, The Elias Family would also be wiped out and, every single one of us, hanged.
So, the time we had remaining was three years.
Within that period, I had to find a way to change the path leading to our annihilation.
“May I apply for early graduation, Father?”
My fourth half-brother, Logan Elias, is 23 years old.
A fourth-year student at the Royal Military Academy, he showed outstanding talent for martial arts from a young age.
After graduating, his assignment was to hire and manage the Family's private army.
I'll send word to the Dean so you can graduate by the end of the month.”
Father looked at Logan with trustful eyes.
I could understand.
He looked like a dependable and reliable man.
Unlike my other siblings, this was only my second time seeing him since he was at school most of the time.
Of course, after I came to possess this body.
“Are there any other questions?”
My half-sister, sitting beside me, quietly raised her hand.
“Aren't I too young, Father?”
How could someone with such a bashful smile be so naughty? This was my much beloved 17 year old half-sister Arya Elias.
Who was currently attending a prestigious academy for noble girls.
Her biscuit-coloured wavy hair almost reached her waist.
Almond shaped eyes.
Baby fat cheeks and creamy white skin contrasting with her balsam flower lips.
That was why so many young noblemen snooped around the mansion every day.
With just one shot of that demure grin, even Father's ice-cold expression melted.
Just like now.
But my eyes could not be deceived.
Who was she trying to fool? Just two days ago she bumped into my shoulder, pretended not to see me, and almost sent me tumbling down the stairs.
I’d asked her why.
“Ah! I didn't know it was you!”
She didn't know? Who was she kidding? I was the only one in this household who was overweight.
Unless she was blind, that was a blatant lie.
To hell with the little aristocratic girls of this world.
In Korea, where I lived, we had a perfect expression to describe girls like her:
'A f***ing bitch.'
“You can apply at the starting age of 16.
From what I gather, they aren't only looking for administrators but also possible Crown Princess candidates.
You must participate.”
There were still two Princes that weren't married.
“Oh my! Really? All right, Father.
I will study hard.”
My eyes hurt watching this drivel.
My siblings’ expressions were different, but in the end, we all had the same expectations.
Until now, there had been only two candidates for the next Family Head.
Those were Jason, the Second Son, and Chloe, the First Daughter.
In an instant, the tide had shifted.
We all now had equal opportunity.
If you did well, not only could you become the next House Head, but also rise to the position of the next Emperor's close confidant.
My brothers and sisters' eyes gleamed at the opportunity to seize both wealth and power.
The once narrow gate to the golden field had been opened wide.
Of course, I needed to grab its handle as well.
This could be considered an unfair competition for Chloe and Jason.
They had already established their positions.
As a result, they never considered their other siblings as rivals.
But Father didn't seem dissatisfied with this equal opportunity because it was a good way to regain political power.
The tension filling the drawing room seemed ready to burst at any moment.
At first, after possessing this body, or rather, after begging my way back to the mansion after my failed escape, I’d thought to myself that when this day came I could make my siblings give up the competition.
However, within just five minutes of entering the drawing room, I scrapped that idea.
The reward was too great.
Nothing short of a divine manifestation would make them give up.
Then, there was only one way left.
I had to slowly come out of the shadows.
My Father looked at us in turn, but, just like before, his gaze barely acknowledged my presence.
As he got up from his chair, signifying he had nothing more to say, I asked:
“Fa – Father, can I choose my own tutor?”
All of them turned their heads towards me with various expressions of dismay.
Father looked quite surprised for a second, then adjusted his expression and asked coldly.
“Yo – You said anyone can participate.”
Why am I stuttering? What was this gnawing, lingering pain?
It was as if this body of hers had a separate will of its own.
How long will it take you to get used to it and listen to Me? When will you break your habits?
“I did, but you…..”
The last words were omitted, but everyone knew them.
‘What can you accomplish with that body of yours?'
I ignored Arya's quiet laughter at my expense.
I was prepared for it.
“Sir, give me equal opportunity.
I'm also an Elias.”
“Oh! Will you look at her.” Said Chloe.
“She's really changed.” continued Logan.
“They say you're brave out of ignorance and folly.” Sneered Jason.
“Wow, This is really crazy!” Arya laughed.
Yeah, laugh all you want.
Don't forget this day though.
Because the decision your big sis made today will give you all a chance to save your lives.
The atmosphere calmed down quickly under our Fathers' order and hardened gaze.
“Yes, you are also an Elias.
But up until now, you were supposedly so sick that you stayed cooped up in your bedroom.
Whether it was by illness or by design, it doesn’t matter anymore.
What have your actions proven so far? Saying it's an illness is an excuse, and if it's by design, you don't have the right to use the Elias Family name.
And now, you wish to take an official test in the Elias name? ….
What would you do in my position?”
Damn, he was right.
But I wasn't really the 18 year old Tara.
I was Ji Yeon-Woo, born and raised in Korea.
A 33-year-old dead screenwriter.
In other words, as a Millenial, I fought hard to survive in the hellish broadcasting industry.
Rarely losing a fight against the producers by learning and honing various skills to reach my goals.
“You must be worried.”
Fortunately, I didn't stutter this time.
“But if I were you, Father, I'd have no choice but to approve.”
“Obviously Father, you said equal opportunity.”
But I also said that you never did anything for this Family.
An equal opportunity for you is unfair for others.”
I hated having to beat him at his own game, but I couldn't help it this time.
“Well, then you should have specified that.”
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