“…Now, it’s a long story, but I’ll have to ask you to listen.”
‘I don’t have time for this,’ his Majesty laughs.
“Perhaps I won’t have time to talk to the Crown Prince.”
His Highness will now be at or around the border by now.
There has been no news of the war’s opening yet, so his return will be some time in the future. Whether it will be a month or two months away depends on the situation.
I wondered what it was like to be out of time, and then I suddenly realized that the pallor of his face was a sickness.
His Majesty must have known what I wanted to hear without me having to ask.
He smiled softly and told me first.
“I have less than a month to live.”
His tone was calm. The tone of his voice was so casual, as if he was telling me that the weather would be fine tomorrow, that for a moment I didn’t understand what was being said.
Somewhere in the back of my head, my flat voice convinced me of that.
“It was a year ago…or a little more than a year ago…that I had a pain in my stomach and the court physician diagnosed me with a not-so-good tumor in my stomach gut. I could tell by touching it that it was so. He told me that if I started coughing up blood, I wouldn’t last three months. That was when I decided to make my final bet.”
His Majesty tilted his head lightly and then looked into the distance. What was he looking at…it seemed far away, and his eyes were far from anywhere. Perhaps it was a past that I did not know.
There was a hint of nostalgia in its eyes, a color that seems to hold back the pain of something.
“…To the end?”
“Yes. I suppose it is because I have been thinking about it that you are in more danger than ever before. These people, whose names I don’t know, are surprisingly perceptive at times.”
They…are the people who are His Majesty’s hands and feet. But to His Majesty, they are only a group of them. At the end of those people may have been Ellucia, or perhaps the soup keeper of that Elzevert castle.
When I think of them who are no longer returning, something akin to sorrow soaks my heart.
His Majesty said it was a game, but there were lives lost in that game, and I don’t know what to do with it.
I do not have the right to blame, nor can I judge.
At best, all I can do is not forget.
“…Eventually, just as the doctor had said, the tumor began to get harder and harder, and it seemed to me that a little more of the same was forming elsewhere. I was getting impatient. I thought I was going to die before it was settled.”
However, His Majesty laughs that it was in time. I couldn’t smile.
My head is spinning in a dizzying array of ways.
Tumor or lump in the stomach gut…stomach cancer?
I don’t have much medical knowledge of that kind.
I don’t know much about the standard of medical care in this world, but it doesn’t seem to be very well developed for the amount of time I’m hearing this phrasing.
“I’ve lived another three months longer than the expected life expiration date after I coughed up blood six months ago. The other day I was told by the attending physician that my persistence was also very impressive. The attending physician also told me that I had one more month to live. I hear it’s not good that I can’t eat anymore.”
His Majesty is going to die?
At last, I vaguely understood that fact.
“The only people who know are the doctor, you and Yulia.”
His Majesty says that the other children and the other consorts do not know this.
“I have had a bad life. I have been unable to fulfill any of my hopes and wishes…At least, when I die, I want to die in my own way.”
I didn’t know what to say.
I thought it was pointless if any comfort or encouragement would not reach His Majesty. In the first place, I don’t even know what to say in this situation. It makes me realize how much I do not know.
The Thirty-three years of life experience was of no use to me.
“I’ve been repeating a little resistance so far…it didn’t make any sense now. Ratherr, it is fair to say that it all backfired on me. But it’s not a bad feeling to lose to you, even though I was losing all the way to the end.”
I don’t think I won very much.
I just uttered it out of anger, but it seems His Majesty needed those words.
“I lost, but so did the Crown Prince.”
“Because you won. I’m sure not even he could have predicted this ending.”
He chuckles deep in his throat.
“No, but it’s His Highness…”
“It may have been predictable that you somehow got out of it. And he might have also predicted that you would have to face Yulia. But…he would have thought that it was unlikely that you would dismiss Yulia and face me, even if you had thought about it.”
Is it my greed that I feel His Highness knows everything?
“He knows that I love you more than anyone else. He would think that I would never suggest to you that I am the culprit. And while he may have expected you to get as close to the truth as possible, I didn’t expect you to jump over and get to this point.”
The words ‘I love you,’ should have been said to me, but His Majesty’s eyes follow the face of someone who is not me.
“It’s hilarious…that man who has never made a mistake, the man who has the empire, Esalkar, and everything on this continent, including the university and the church, in the palm of his hand… It was done in by a little girl fifteen years younger than him.”
“I’m sure His Highness won’t feel defeated.”
If it sounded comical, it was because it seemed to me that His Majesty, despite being so disconnected, actually understood His Highness the best.
Probably something I’ll never know.
Having not been raised in this world, I don’t think I can say for the rest of my life that I have ever truly understood what it means to be a king or royalty.
I can understand in my head what Her Majesty said and what His Majesty said.
I know the meaning of Queen Yulia’s pride and His Majesty’s intention to bet, but I can only sympathize with them for a moment. I’m not the only one who thinks that this is not the most important thing.
“No, he would think that he’s was no match for you.”
His Majesty was truly enjoying himself.
I let out a small sigh.
The three bells of dawn were ringing in the distance.
Three a.m….Normally, it would definitely be a time to be dreaming
And yet, I don’t have time to feel sleepy.
“We’ll have to hurry up and talk if we want to get back before dawn.”
His Majesty stifled a laugh and opened his mouth.
It was a story long before I was born, and also during the days when this country was still in its infancy.
“If you ask ‘what started everything in the first place, and what caused it’ it would be because of the origins of this country called Dardinia. But if I were to say directly, it was the circumstances of Thia’s birth, the birth of the fourth queen Eleanor…If I may say without embellishing words, I would say that Eleanor’s mother betrayed the country.”
His Majesty looked at the altar, then continued to look at me. The sound of busy footsteps bothered me terribly.
I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for you to be in a position to do this, but I’m sure it’s a good idea for you to do it. I’m sure it’s even more resonant because of the quietness of the surroundings.
“Eleanor’s mothers was Elisabeth, the second princess of the Duke of Elzewert. She was a direct duke’s princess whose mother was a princess who was from the royal family and was desired to marry into the royal family. It is implicitly understood that a princess is the Duke of Elzevert. And it is also tacitly understood that the Princess of Elzevert will marry into the royal family. It is a promise that our country has kept in secret for its survival, but Elisabeth had broken it.”
His tone was matter-of-fact.
“At her age, Elisabeth fell in love. Like a fever…or like a storm…The man Elisabeth fell in love with was the Prince of Reefid. He was later to become a grand duke, but he was only a grand duke of a weak country. She couldn’t marry him by nature. That prince was unaware that she was an Elzevert. Perhaps he had never considered the reason why she was valued. That’s why he was able to commit such a conniving act.”
The hateful color in his voice makes me want to back away a bit.
If I hadn’t been sitting in the chair, I’m confident I would have backed away.
“And yet. We couldn’t not admit it. To protect the rights of the child that was born from her.”
As I recall, the two children born to Princess Elisabeth was the previous Grand Duke and Princess Eleanor, and the current Grand Duke was supposed to be her great-grandson. I think Lilia has told me that the previous Grand Duke had died early, and now, His Highness and I are the only ones with Elisabeth’s blood in our veins.
Well, it looks like it’s going to be a second cousin…
The genealogy is a bit fuzzy, or perhaps my memory is fuzzy, but I’m sure it’s a blood relative.
“While the surrounding countries are annexed by the Empire, only the Reefids still retain their independence because of our country’s assistance. But this is no longer necessary. Depending on our relationship with the Empire, Reefid will eventually become our territory.”
“…What does that mean?”
Is it a declaration of annexation of territory, or is it a declaration of conquest?
“Now that Elisabeth is dead, Reefid has no need of assistance.”
Princess Elisabeth lived a long life and passed away just last spring.
She was known as the “Reefid Goddess of Spring” and captivated everyone around her with her soft smile to the very end.
“Why so much on Princess Elisabeth?”
I couldn’t help but ask in a tone of voice that said that it was because of Lady Elisabeth that they had been providing assistance so far.
“Because Elisabeth is Elzevert.”
You say this as if it’s obvious, but your voice sounds like it’s filled with a grudge.
How much does this person hate that name, Elzevert?
“And that is the secret of my royal family, Thia.”
His Majesty’s eyes take on a strong light.
“The secrets of the Royal Family…”
“If you know this, you can’t escape. Is that okay?”
I nodded my head.
It’s not that I’m feeling overwhelmed, but the reason I was able to answer immediately is because I had no intention of running away from the start.
Because I’m stand next to His Highness.
However, His Majesty has a hard time talking.
Either he can’t think straight, or there is something he can’t tell me and he’s not sure what to do about it…
“Your Majesty, I’ll tell you first what I’ve noticed, so please tell me if I’m wrong.”
This should probably derive from me. I have a lot of questions to ask…but my time is limited.
“I’ve been wondering for a long time. It’s about the relationship between Elzevert and the royal family. Your Majesty’s words a moment ago seem to have given me some assurance about that…but I would like repeat it for the sake of clearing up the conversation.”
I had many maps and family trees in my study, along with books.
Two of them, the royal family tree and the Elzevert’s family tree, had writing on them.
The red line drawn underneath the name is Elzevert’s princess who married into the royal family. The blue line is the princesses who married into Elzevert from the royal family. The color scheme of the royal family tree and Elzevert’s family tree were almost identical.
“In the royal family tree, the regular queen is always listed. Elzevert, called the House of the Queen…it meant exactly what it said. There is no king who does not have Elzevert as his mother or wife.
His Majesty anounces the name of a king some generations ago.
“Indeed, his mother was the Princess of Grachie, but her mother was the Princess of Elzevert. And the First Queen was a royal, but his paternal grandmother was a princess, and his maternal grandmother was a princess of Elzevert. It’s a generation older, but I suppose it’s almost as if it could be called Elzevert’s.”
“A princess in the direct line of Elzevert will first be the wife of the King or Crown Prince, without fail. Then, if there is a second or later princess, she will marry into the royal family or into one of the other three dukes…As far as the genealogy is concerned, the only one who married out was Princess Elisabeth.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
“And in most cases, the child born by the Princess of Elzevert will take the throne. Only if the princess does not bear a child, or if the child is unfit to be king, will the child born by a queen of another family take the throne…but is it really a princess of another family? The question can be answered by looking at the full pre-marital name of the person who became the country mother. The surname of an unmarried princess is mother’s surname-father’s surname. So there are few people who do not have Elzevert in their mother’s surname, and considering the opposite of royal blood, the second Elzevert…Yes. For all this to be said, it’s the Elzevert that comes to the surface, isn’t it?”
“Why do you think that is?”
“It’s a law of inheritance. Normally, a legitimate child born of a formal marriage would be first in line of inheritance. But that’s not the case with the royal family. The royal law, which is a secret to us, determines whether the inheritance is right or wrong. And for the most part, the children born to the Duke and Princess of Elzevert overturn the order. As if the blood of Elzevert is the reason for the succession to the throne.”
I tell His Majesty with my gaze.
“Why is that?”
“Is that all you’ve noticed?”
His Majesty doesn’t seem to be willing to answer that much.
“…There’s another thing.”
So I have no choice but to put out the last bill.
“What is it?”
This is a bit vague and unsure. But the important thing is to say it as if it were a given.
“Only girls are given preferential treatment. In spite of all this blood, and even the fact that they are said to be spares of the royal family, it was a legitimate son of the Duke of Feldie who later became Lantis I in the dark ages, when the direct royal line was severed. Why did he come to the throne in preference to the royals who had Dardie as their surname? Isn’t it because his wife was the Princess of Elzevert?”
“Oh…almost perfect. Excellent, Thia.”
His Majesty clapped his hands. Stomping his feet. He acts like a drunk in a cheap tavern with bad manners.
“That’s right. You’re right. Lantis I came to the throne because he had Elzevert as his wife. The word “Elzevert” refers only to girls who have the blood in their veins.”
“Yes…The first generation of Elzeverts is, on the genealogy, the younger brother of the Founding King’s wife. However, to our understanding, the first generation of Elzevert is the Queen. The first Duke of Elzevert was the King. He was married to a princess born to the Queen, who was the second. The third generation is the princess born to the second princess.”
“You’re thinking matrilineal?”
“Yes. Because with men, sometimes the blood can be cut off without their own knowledge.”
That’s right. If the royal family had gone through so many generations, there might have been some of those things along the way.
“The Dukes of Elzevert are there to protect and nurture the princesses who are the true Elzevert. That’s why Elzevert should not be on the throne. This is also the Founding King’s last will and testament. People say that Elzevert is a spare part of the royal family, but that’s what people who don’t know things say.”
I’m sorry. I used to believe that. I’ll never say it out loud again.
“And the true Elzevert blood was a thin thing. I already knew that from the beginning…”
It’s a feminine system, so it’s not surprising compared to a male system. Not only in Dardinia, but in any country, childbirth is still fraught with danger. The danger is even greater when it comes to bloody aristocracy.
“And that blood has been able to produce only one person to inherit it for many generations.”
Oh, is that so? Now I finally understand.
“…And I’m the last of them now, aren’t I?”
“That’s right, Thia.”
His Majesty laughed quietly.
Princess Elisabeth, Princess Eleanor, Princess Efinia, and I…from my grandmother to my mother. From mother to daughter. The Elzevert is inherited by the maternal line.
The original scope of the name seems to be a very narrow one.
“Well, was Princess Elisabeth the only Elzevert at the time this whole thing started?
“There was another, or rather two to be exact. She was Elisabeth’s sister. They were Gracia, the first queen at the time, and her aunt, the Duchess of Grachie. But they did not give birth to girls, and at that time, the Duchess of Grachie was old and she was of an age when conception would be difficult. Hence, it is safe to say that it was practically only Elisabeth.”
“Does it have to be an unbroken matrilineal connection for generations?”
“No… A maiden recognized in the rituals of the Founding Festival will be considered eligible. However, to use your words earlier, it seems that only a small percentage of those who have ‘an intensity of blood that could almost be called Elzevert’ fall into this category.”
‘We don’t even know about this,’ says His Majesty,
“That’s why we place the highest priority on protecting you…the true Elzevert bloodline, because you will certainly open the door.”
“Open the door?”
I’m not sure what his Majesty just said.
“Elzevert was originally called Elverut. Do you know what that means?”
“Princess and key…No, the key princess?
It’s ‘Princess’ (Elle) and ‘Key’ (Verut) in the Old Imperial language.
I had never heard of such a word before, so I replied timidly.
“Correct. We call the girl who has gone through the ritual the ‘Princess of the Key (Key Princess).’ That’s the origin and original meaning of the surname Elzevert…It comes from opening the door.”
“Yes…there is a sealed door that can only be opened by the Princess of the Key.
“Three places in this royal palace and two places underground in the crypt. Then there are two known locations in the university city. We know that the ruins of Turfid also have them. The innermost part of the ruins of the imperial era is usually that sealing door.”
A door that only we can open.
“Why would only Elzeverts open that door?”
“…We don’t know how it works.”
One theory is that the door was sealed by the Fairy King. The seal of the Fairy King is found all over the world. It cannot be opened by any strong soldier and can never be destroyed by any means. But if the Princess of the Key touches it, it will open instantly. That’s why it’s said that the first queen was a fairy princess.”
I see. Apparently, fairy tales have their reasons.
“So if I touch it, the door will open immediately?”
“No. It requires a ritual. The rituals of the Founding Festival make that possible.”
I didn’t know it was that meaningful…I thought it was just a ceremony when Nadi had told me about it.
I mean, how does it work?
Because that’s the solution to any wonder in this world, magic and all that! I don’t have anything as convenient as that.
For example, if I were to look for something close to that in my memory, it would be an automatic door with some kind of authentication system.
And some kind of authentication system, advisory authentication, voice authentication, or retinal authentication should be for personal identification, not for distinguishing bloodlines.
Maybe they’ll register personal identification in the rituals of the Founding Festival? is it tied to the bloodline? No, it’s too strict for that.
The lineage of ‘Elzevert’ is so strictly guarded that it is limited to a maternal connection only. If you leave it for even one generation, it is basically unrecognizable. Unless there is a very good exception…authentication at the founding ceremony of the founding festival…
In truth, I was willing to give that role to Nadi if she wanted to do it so badly.
I thought if I did it again the next year, that would be fine. But if it might not be just a festive ceremony, it wouldn’t be possible for me to replace it at my discretion.
“Did Princess Elisabeth complete that ceremony?”
“Yes, that’s right…It was a horrifying event just to think about the princess of the key being in another country. I don’t know how many times my father tried to kill Elisabeth. Each time, the Duke of Elzevert begged him. Eleanor still needs her mother, he said. After Eleanor was weaned, he asked me to spare this old man and help Elisabeth. And after he was gone, his son begged. Your great-grandfather and grandfather understood properly. But your father doesn’t understand at all.” His Majesty says.
“I know that, but I don’t understand.”
It was a strange look.
A sarcastic smile, with some pity in it.
“I do not deny that I am most responsible for this state of affairs right now, but most of all I am responsible for Elisabeth who did not fulfill her own responsibilities. And it was her daughter, Thia…not you, who was made to pay the price. It was Eleanor, who became father’s fourth queen. From the moment she was born, Eleanor was destined to marry into our royal family to fulfill the duty that her mother had not fulfilled. To put it bluntly, Elisabeth had betrayed her country by sacrificing her child for her own happiness. My father never allowed her to return home. Of course. It was a little girl’s first love that betrayed her country and caused the problem that continues to this day.”
I was angry. It was different than when I spoke about my father. My hatred for my father is inward, but this anger at Princess Elisabeth is outward.
That’s probably because this anger is not as a private citizen, but as a public figure… as a king.
I’m a victim, but similar things have been said.
That the Duke of Elzevert sold his only daughter to the royal family in order to take a woman of low rank for a wife.
The people see that even with a title, Luciella is not in the position to be a duke’s wife.
I thought that His Majesty had taken me away, and in a way that was correct, but I found that the word, ‘sold,’ was also correct.
Because he exchanged it for all the rights concerning me.
A huff escaped my lips and I couldn’t help but exhale.
“No. I’m afraid that with Princess Elisabeth and my father, my own people tend to go astray for love.”
It may be a bit of a mistake to call it a mistake, though.
“Yes…Elzevert may actually be a passionate family.”
I think the Elzevert that His Majesty has just mentioned refers to the family name of his parents.
It is difficult to determine whether he means the Princess of the Keys or his family name when he says “Elzevert.”
“From the point of view of age, Eleanor should have been queen to my brother…the princess of the first prince, who was the Crown Prince, but the Crown Prince refused. ‘Why should I renounce an untroubled consort for a woman of foreign blood?’…he later regretted so much.”
After all, Eleanor was beautiful, and His Majesty squinted as if going back to his memory.
“She was destined to join our royal family at birth, and her nanny, maidservants and ladies-in-waiting were all sent from Dardinia, all raised in the Dardinian style. Eleanor was required to stay in Elzevert in the summer to escape the heat. It was there that I met Eleanor…Thia.”
The sound of his voice is enchanting. The sweet sound of him saying ‘Thia’ sends a shiver down my spine.
Though I think I”m scared, I lay my hands on my chest and confirm the presence of something important there. Just like that, I feel strangely calm.
And then I look at His Majesty.
Somewhere in that distant gaze, I wonder if it is Queen Eleanor’s appearance at that time that he is remembering.
Certainly in that kind of treatment, Queen Eleanor is more of an Elzevert princess than a Reefid princess.
“We saw each other not so often,, but we shared some of our childhood memories. It was fun…I only knew Dardinia, so I loved the stories Thia told about Reefid.”
It must be a happy memory. His Majesty gives a small smile.
“Perhaps it was the same for Thia. The first thing that comes to mind is that Thia preferred to hear the stories of the Royal Capital from me…It didn’t take long for us to fall in love.”
‘It was a happy time,’ his Majesty murmured.
“I asked His Majesty the King for a favor. ‘I want to make Eleanor my princess. I love her.’”
“I did not think it was unacceptable,” His Majesty said with a self-mocking smile on his lips.
“I was a prince of the rightful Queen’s, even though I was the fifth. Moreover, my mother was the Princess of Elzevert. My sister who bore the first and second princes, my aunt…However, she is a direct duke princess who married into the royal family again because she died early. So there was nothing I could not wish for from an early age.”
A prince with the best bloodline, from the righteous queen, it would have promised happiness without lacking anything.
“But… it was not allowed. My father said I couldn’t do it. Eleanor would be made Crown Princess. I begged. I pleaded again and again that I wanted Eleanor…Thia. I didn’t think there was any difference between the Crown Prince and I. I thought it was just that we were born in different orders. That’s why I put my trust in him that he would do anything…but my father just coldly shunned me. ‘You are not on the throne’ he said. I knew that. There was no point in being right in the bloodline. After all, at that time there were four princes with the blood of Elzevert, and I was the youngest of them. In the first place, my father wanted a princess, not a prince. That’s why he took two Elzevert princesses, too.”
His Majesty’s expression faded in grief.
“I didn’t know this at the time, I never thought about taking the throne, I was just spoiled. All I wanted to do was to become an archduke and be freed from all the formalities of the day…”
‘I haven’t learned anything.’ his Majesty said to himself.
“I was never asked to be involved in politics. I was asked to support the royal family as royalty whose most important role is to preserve the blood. I was expected to take a wife from the royal family or the four dukes and raise a righteous royalty to support the country. I said I would study. If I could get Thia, I would learn politics and do more for this country than anyone else. But my father did not believe me. In hindsight, no matter how much I learned, I would never have been able to do what Nigel could. My father must have known that.”
I thought His Highness was exceptional, but I didn’t say it.
It would not comfort his Majesty at all to say so.
“But I pleaded again. Because the first prince’s refused Thia without looking at her, and left it in the air.”
He stomped the floor harder and harder.
I heard him mutter that he couldn’t give up.
I wondered that this person had such passion.
“But I was rejected again,’ ‘You cannot protect it,’ said the Father King. I had no idea what he meant at the time. And then we ran away…I thought we could live anywhere, just the two of us.”
“Did you elope?”
I had never heard of such a thing.
Did they pretend it didn’t happen because His Majesty was on the throne?
“Elopement. I’d hardly call it that. It only took three days to bring us back. It wasn’t even clear that Thie and I were away. However, when we returned, it was decided that Thia would be the fourth queen, and I was sent on an outing. For three years, I was not allowed to return to the Royal Capital.”
‘That was the most painful time of my life,’ he muttered.
“And in the skies of the journey, I heard that Thia had died giving birth to a baby girl. I was in despair. That I would never see her again or hear her voice, or even see her. I wasn’t even allowed to attend the funeral. So I decided.”
Maybe I know the answer to this question.
“You know the answer.”
His Majesty’s gaze shoots straight at me.
“Marriage to Her Majesty Queen Yulia, I presume?”
“Yes, Thia, I knew you would understand.”
His feverish eyes grew brighter.
It was as impossible for His Majesty, who was a direct prince, to marry Princess Yulia, who did not have Dardinia’s blood, as it was for a Duke and Princess of Elzevert to marry outside.
It was rumored that it was allowed because he was the fifth prince, but it was originally something that would never be allowed.
This was already a problem before Elzevert.
To put it plainly, his marriage to Princess Yulia was the equivalent of a noble or lowly marriage to His Majesty.
A marriage of high and low birth.
Although the term refers to marriages that are widely separated in status, this does not mean that Her Majesty Yulia’s status is low.
Elzevert…For the Dardinian royal family, whose purpose was to protect the lineage of the key princess, and to superimpose that blood firmly on their own, far from the blood of Elzevert, even the blood of the Dardinian aristocrats is flowing as far as we can tell, Her Royal Majesty Yulia was completely out of the question and outside of their values.
Considering that Her Highness Yulia is now respected by everyone as the queen, and is naturally revered as a queen by the nobles, one can’t help but wonder how much hard work and effort she has put in.
If His Majesty had never been attached to the throne, surely His Royal Highness Nigel’s generation would have treated him as a royal duke on the surface, but in reality he would have been considered not rich enough in blood to be called Dardinian royalty.
“I wanted to give up my royalty, but I couldn’t give it up, so I made him allow me to marry Yulia in exchange. This meant my children would be able to escape the blood yoke. I thought I could do it. You’re right, Thia. Elzevert, where the royal family is exposed, is a good way to say it. The royal family’s surname could be Elzevert, and the royal family and Elzevert were once so close in blood…until the time of my father-king.”
“But now that you were on the throne, it w as a very different story.”
“Yes. Originally, I wasn’t supposed to be on the throne, so marrying Yulia was the biggest resistance I could muster at that time, even if it was the smallest I could do. I wanted to free my blood from this country. The fact of that resistance was enough to put up with, even if I couldn’t do anything about it myself. There was nothing I could do in exchange for the loss of Thia, but I would end my life with the satisfaction of having freed my children from the cage of this country’s fenced-in bloodline.”
‘But I’ve been a very unhappy man,’ his Majesty says.
“Isn’t it bad timing, rather than bad luck? I was hoping for it, begging for it, and trying my best to get it, but I couldn’t get it. What an irony, I thought. When I wished I had that position so much, I was rejected because I couldn’t even hope for it, and then it rolled in at that moment when I gave up completely…All for a bunch of idiots taking on women and killing each other.”
His Majesty stomps his foot. As if to stifle his anger.
The idiots were probably the first and second brothers in line to the throne at the time.
Phil-Lynn said it was an abomination for reasons that remain unclear to this day, but certainly not when you’re killing each other over a woman.
“…Didn’t His Royal Highness the Third Prince fall off his horse?”
“It’s an undisclosed fact, but the woman the idiots fought over was my brother’s fiancée. Because of this, the Crown Prince’s vassals thought that my brother had plotted to have her killed, and so they had tampered with the horse. As a result, my brother fell off the horse and died. It is not wrong to say that the whole thing was caused by the murder of a woman.”
For His Majesty, it seems that only His Royal Highness, the Third Prince, who is the same mother and brother, is the object of respectful honorifics as a brother.
“That year was truly a ‘devilish year’ for Dardinia…even for me when the position of Crown Prince came rolling in. I was adamant on a number of occasions. Rather than being adamant, I didn’t even listen to what he had to say. He said that with Yulia as my wife, I had no right to be king. I told him that I was not fit to be on the throne, even with the Father King.”
His Majesty’s profile was surprisingly devoid of evilness as he murmured that he had returned the words he had said then.
“But my father-king was a calm man. He never asked me to disown Yulia. He knew that I would never be on the throne if he said that. I still don’t even speak to the person who said that to me.”
They say that His Majesty has a lot of likes and dislikes. Perhaps that’s where it comes from.
“And why has that been turned around and you had joined the throne?”
“They said they would recognize Yulia. To formally name her the First Queen.”
“That’s the most unusual thing, isn’t it?”
The Dardinian royal family places a great deal of importance on bloodline.
It is quite bold of them to recognize that they are equal in rank to marriages and to make Her Royal Majesty Yulia, who is not even of noble birth in Dardinia, not even of Elxevert, the first queen.
The only queen in the history of the Dardinian royal family who does not have the blood of the four dukes is Yulia, the only queen who does not have the blood of Elzewert.
“That’s right. My father was a few steps ahead of me in this regard, and I could never have been a match for him in the first place. I was forced to reveal my secret, I could not refuse to take the throne or to receive another queen.”
What is the secrets of the royal family other than the Princess of Keys?
“The Secret of the Royal Family…and the Truth of the Founding. The truths are inextricably linked to the Princess of the Keys. I had to nod. I’m not strong. I have not been able to break the ties that have held us together since the founding of the country. And o matter how much I despised it, I was a prince. I was born the son of a king, and I was responsible to this country. I couldn’t leave it behind.”
I thought it was important.
Every word of his Majesty’s words was a piece of truth.
“But I made my last stand. When I came to the throne, I said I would be the crown prince if I recognized the standing crown prince of Nigel. I knew they would never allow it, including my father, who was a staunch bloodthirsty bloodthirsty man. But…my father nodded and accepted.”
‘I felt like crying,’ his Majesty said, shrugging his shoulders.
“I said that if another queen had a child, absolutely I would only recognize the Crown Prince as Nigel, and he also nodded in agreement…Even if my daughters and sisters had children, they would never give up. My little resistance had been in vain.”
It was completely different from the stories that were being spread around.
After all, hadn’t His Majesty the Prior King noticed His Highness Nigel’s excellence?
“No, it was…Nigel was so good that it certainly changed the consciousness of what my father, a pedigree, or the old people, expected.”
I am delighted that the name of His Highness has come out of his mouth and that it is a compliment to him.
“A man who is allowed to enter a university is a sort of anathema. It is said that those who have graduated, for example, have a whole library in their heads. You may not know this because you are so close to the Crown Prince and Stassen, but those who are ‘Vera’ have the brains of a different species of people…And even within a university where such people are lurking around, Nigel was said to be a genius. In the first place, it was already unheard of for him to be admitted before he was even ten years old.”
I was told that His Highness was more of a genius than I could ever imagined, but it still doesn’t ring true.
‘Amazing!’ I think, But His Highness is still His Highness.
“My father thought about it. Normally, Nigel would not bee qualified to take the throne. But what is the Dardinian royal family, anyway? My father was the king of the land for all intents and purposes. He thought that our royal family was meant to protect the Princess of the Keys…It is not only blood that protects the Princess of the Keys, that was the conclusion reached by my father the King at the time. The key princess of the time was Efinia. And my father thought that I was the most suitable person to protect Efinia. If I am lacking in skills, he thought, I will let his son, Nigel, fill in the gaps. And Nigel has the skills to protect the next Princess of the Key. Then I am willing to grant Nigel the title of Crown Prince.”
“Were there no objections?”
“There were. But the Four Dukes agreed. No one can overturn what the king and the four dukes have agreed upon. There have been two occasions when the direct royal lineage has been broken. Even then, they have done so. The blood of royalty and the blood of the four dukes is, in all likelihood, are there to protect the Princess of the Keys. So it was decreed that the first girl born from Efinia would absolutely be Nigel’s wife.”
I am lightly giddy at the fact that the marriage of His Highness and I was already decided before I was born.
By the way, I’m not the kind of person who has the nerve to rejoice in the fact that it’s fate.
“What would you have done if I hadn’t had a baby girl?”
“That’s why there was the second queen. If a princess hadn’t been born to be Nigel’s princess, Nigel would have been disinherited.”
My body quivers and I hug myself.
“…Did His Highness know?”
“Well…that one…maybe he did know about it, and maybe he didn’t. Either way, it doesn’t really matter now.”
‘Since you are here as Nigel’s princess,’ said His Majesty.
“You are the only princess in the world who is the Princess of the Keys, and the only one who can give Nigel the throne of Dardinia.
‘Just like the founding myth,’ said His Majesty.
“…So the Princess of the Keys is the one who gives you the equality of kingship, right?”
I felt like I was getting dizzy.
If I were to say movie or novel, there’s too much setting. I feel like one of them is enough.
“The royal family is there to protect the princess of the key…you.”
“…Your Majesty didn’t protect me, did he?”
I couldn’t help but notice the sarcasm that escaped my lips.
However, His Majesty only laughed.
“No, I haven’t.” he said. “I’ve hurt you, but I’ve also protected you. There’s no way I’m going to get to zero.”
“Because it won’t be.”
I can make light-hearted remarks like this, and I’m not sure that’s what I want to do anymore.
“What kind of person is the Princess of the Keys…he first of them, the first queen of the first king?’
Elverut…Verut which is translated as ‘key’, also means ‘treasure’ in ancient times.
The “treasure” is what lies beyond the key that is opened. I’m sure the Founding King must have thought of her as his treasure.
But that is already a long way back in history.
“Very little is known about the queen of the first king, said to be a fairy princess.”
His Majesty opened his mouth with a wry smile, wondering how far I was aware of this.
That’s why she’s a fairy princess, I interpreted.
I don’t have a status like that, so I guess I’m cheating with a fairy tale.
“But we know….The Founding King founded the country of Dardinia to protect her.”
The first part of the founding history states as follows.
“The Founding King stood to protect the heart of the fairy princess who lamented that the earth was in disrepair.”
History, eh? It’s not a fairy tale or a story.
There are no fairy princesses, one would think.
“The first queen’s name that is kept secret is Arthirea-Luciane…and she has no surname. She didn’t need a surname.
A shiver ran down my spine.
There was something like a premonition.
“Because I was born of the family that ruled this world I couldn’t help but feel the irony of fate when I heard that Efinia had given you that name.”
A shiver ran down my spine.
It was the opposite. Quite the opposite.
I know the expression, ‘the family that rules this world.’
It is the Lost Imperial Empire of the Unified Empire.
“She…Her Royal Highness Princess Arthirea was the last living direct descendant of the United Empire. Her name has always been in the history books.”
In the Empire, the direct descendant of a princess is referred to by the honorific title of Princess Royal Highness. Only princesses born from the Four Empresses are recognized as direct lineal princesses. The Dardinian royal system, which was partly adopted from that of the united empire, has a few similar systems.
“The Last Imperial Princess…”
“That’s right. No matter how much that shameless empire calls itself the successor to the Unified Empire, it’s just a presumption. It’s just a self-serving statement from a country founded by a mish-mash of imperial nobles. But Dardinia is different. We have rightly guarded the blood and the key of the last Imperial Princess to this day. We are the shadow knights who protect the Princess of the Keys.”
‘We don’t talk about it out loud, though,’ says His Majesty.
I wonder if the incessant stomping is because His Majesty is actually excited.
“Why is that?”
“Dardinia was founded to protect the direct blood of the Empire. It was never intended to succeed the Empire. We’ll fight the fires that fall, but we won’t bother to sell any fights. The name is of no importance. Because we have the key.”
Does this mean that it takes more fruit than name?
“And the key is the reason the university is here.”
I felt like I’d been told something unexpected.
“Yes. ‘Well, you’ll have to ask the Crown Prince about this. He knows far more about it than I do.”
There seemed to be a hint of teasing in His Majesty’s gaze.
“Also, you must remember one more thing.”
I straighten my posture. I didn’t bother to say it like that, because I thought it was important.
“The Crown Prince has no claim to the throne. The Crown Prince’s right of succession comes from his marriage to you. That’s why I said the kingdom is yours…Now that Efinia is gone, only you can define the throne of this country.”
“Except for the king, only the four dukes know. They, too, are the guardians of the Princess of the Keys. But this is known only to the head of the family. But that is something that only the lord of the house knows, and even his legitimate son is not told until he has ascended to the dukedom. If you do not become a queen, the Crown Prince will never ascend the throne. One of the twins will ascend the throne. But that is not the right throne for our country, and it will eventually collapse.”
From then on, he murmurs softly, our country is slowly going to perish.
I suddenly realized that His Majesty was, after all, His Majesty the King.
He calls himself incompetent, but he is doing His Majesty’s job.
I wonder if His Highness knew.
That’s why he always said that the burden of being a king is his own, I guess.
“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is His Majesty’s son…”
“Oh. I’ve never doubted it…it’s just that it’s required by the laws of our country to do so.”
“…And His Royal Highness doesn’t know that, does he?”
“Oh…Even if the Crown Prince comes to the throne, the Crown Prince’s son will have no other right to the throne other than being your son. Even if the other party officially becomes the second queen.”
“There is no king who does not have Elzevert as his mother or wife.”
I unconsciously traced the words that popped into my brain.
“That’s right. You are the only Elzevert now. If you do not give birth to a child, this country will end. Trying to put a child born to another woman on a throne. That would be enough to start a civil war. We are proud to be knights of the Princess of the Keys. We have no interest in protecting anything but the blood of the Princess of the Keys…Well, if it’s going to die, I think it should die. In the end, the future of this country is yours to choose.”
“Why should I make a choice about the fate of this country?”
“We created this country to protect it. If there is no one to protect, we will perish.”
His Majesty smiles softly.
“…It won’t perish.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes…I’ll make lots of kids! Not right now, though!”
This body is still very young. That’s why the wedding hasn’t taken place yet.
…What on earth is this shame play? I can’t believe I’m declaring to make a baby myself.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
His Majesty laughs.
I know I’m being teased, but I still can’t stop my face from flushing.
But then he added, ‘I’m not just going to retreat here.’
“You can have as many children as you want. I’m sure His Highness will help you. I will make the whole palace hear the voice of the child. So loud that it’s annoying.”
“Oh well… great…”
So, rest assured, you can go to…
I laughed. Then he whispered in a whisper.
I have a lot of emotions toward this person.
But I wanted him to remember a smile from my heart that was not a doll’s face.
His Majesty’s eyes widened, and with that, he smiled as well.
“…I’d better get going.”
I stood up too.
I curtsy softly with my slightly frozen body.
His Majesty stepped down from the altar and turned to the door. He was returning by a different route.
I watched his back.
The figure blurred with tears.
I couldn’t help it.
Yes, I know. There’s nothing I can do.
There’s nothing anyone can do.
Because the end was already long overdue.
It was already decided when he made his final bet.
I just decided on the end.
It should have ended with His Majesty’s death, but I just forced it to be now.
While I think this was good, I’m also unsure if this was the right thing to do.
No…This is fine.
Even if the end is forced, if you decide that it’s the end, things will flow toward it.
Even His Majesty had a cheerful face, I think.
I don’t know what will happen to Her Majesty, but I’m sure that she will stay close to His Majesty until the end.
It’s not that anything has changed.
And yet, something was certainly over for me, and then something else had begun.
So I look straight up.
I don’t need to be a doll princess anymore.
“…Phil-Lynn? You are there, aren’t you?”
I call out into the darkness.
There’s a small bang, and Phil-Lynn emerges from the shadows of the altar.
“Princess, do you want to kill me!? Hey, you don’t hate me, do you? I know you do!!”
Why did His Majesty come? I haven’t heard about that. I didn’t listen to anything! I haven’t heard at all! Mumble and mutter.
I wonder why? He is mildly panicked.
“No, that’s not the case. Aside from that…Oh, but don’t tell anyone about this tonight.”
I gently tapped a finger in front of my lips.
Both His Eminence Shion and Queen Yulia seemed to think I came alone, but I’m not so reckless as to go out of the palace alone after all that has been said.
It’s an insurance policy..
I am not the girl as I appear to be. I’m sly.
I took out an insurance policy called Phil-Lynn.
It wasn’t just because it was warm that I came up to the stage.
“Because if His Highness finds out I got out of the way, he may get angry.”
“Well, of course.”
“So it’s a secret.”
I look up at him.
“It’s a secret”
“Hey, Didn’t His Majesty come through the same secret passage? How did he not find you?”
I change my story to Phil-Lynn who is reluctant.
“That’s because I was frantically hiding in this tiny, little crevice. You know, it’s a big place in there. It’s the same as upstairs. It’s a maze and there’s not much room to hide…Damn, it’s covered in dust.”
Cobwebs and dust clung to his hair and back.
“Oh no. Don’t look here. It’s a mess.”
Phil-Lynn gets a mortified look on his face when I say that there was no one here tonight.
“You know what? Princess, did you know His Majesty was coming?”
But I was predicting.
I thought it was 50-50.
Probably because I was able to get the real story out of Her Majesty, and that’s why His Majesty showed up.
“Hey, how far have you been listening?”
“Ah, I could hear most of what Her Royal Majesty was taking about. Aside from the story of Her Majesty in the first half, the second half …It’s almost after the Princess cornered His Majesty. It’s a relief.”
“His Majesty’s needy shakedown? That foot stomping sounded horrible where I was hiding. It’s still buzzing behind my ears.”
Good, I thought. It wouldn’t be good for the secret of the royal family to be in the ears of various people.
That what we used to think was true could actually mean quite the opposite. No one needs to know that.
“What is visible is not the only truth…”
I recall the words of the kind-hearted prince.
He was indeed right.
“What were you talking about? …At the end, I know it was supposed to be some kind of reconciliation or something. But I’m sure he said some awful things or something, right?”
Phil-Lynn…His Highness was aware that His Majesty’s feelings for me were half love and hate. That’s why he worries like this.
“Nope. It’s okay. I’m pretty strong.”
I smile at him.
Even though it’s an affectionate smile, it’s very effective to smile with this face.
Even Phil-Lynn, who knows ‘me’ to an extent, loosens his cheeks.
His Majesty is, after all, still His Majesty…
Apparently Phil-Lynn’s efforts were in vain.
At least out of compassion I decided not to mention it.
“So what do we do now? Princess.”
“…I’ll go back for now. So, pretend I have a fever. It shouldn’t be a problem, since I was originally supposed to have a cold.”
“What are you doing?”
“I”m going to sleep. I’m feeling very sleepy…I haven’t slept a wink.”
The hard talk is over.
Phil-Lynn looks at me with a sly look on his face.
“Hey, I don’t mind, but you can tell Nigel about it.”
“The talk with His Majesty.”
I’m still not quite sure how much to tell His Highness.
There’s just too much information, and there’s something saturated about it.
“Because… princess, you are Nigel’s wife!”
Phil-Lynn lets out a deep sigh.
“I know. ‘I love you Your Highness.’”
I laugh. I wondered if it was like I was in love with him, but that’s okay. Even ecstatic!
“Wait a minute. Why are you telling me this? Tell Nigel directly.”
“I’m too embarrassed to tell His Highness.”
I can’t say that to him. Because I can’t say it to myself.
It’s so telegraphed.
“Hey, I knew you didn’t like me!”
“That’s not the case.”
“Nigel will kill me for sure.”
“You just don’t have to say it.”
When I told him that it would be more thrilling if there was a little secrecy, he replied that he didn’t want any of that.
And this night was the last time I spoke to His Majesty.
T/N: The king is sharper than I thought. He knew Phil was there the whole time. Definitely a more complex character than I initially expected him to be.
|♡| Table of Contents |♡| Support me! |♡|
3 thoughts on “Chapter 41: Key Princess”
I must say, if I were royalty there, I would want to break those heavy chains. What merit is there in having the bloodline of the old empire? It cant be worth all this convoluted trouble. The cpuntry will change but not perish just because of that. The people know nothing about thus, so they would jyst keep living normally.
Yes, it really is stifling isn’t it? Although, I believe that there is more to the elzevert bloodline explained in part 2.
Imagine if she turned out to be sterile/barren (not sure the term).
What’s so special about being able to open some old caves though?