When I first met the child, I thought it must be quite hard for her to live as royalty because of how fine and delicate her lines were.
“…That concludes today’s lecture. Do you have any questions? Your Highness.”
It was only recently that I was asked to serve as a tutor for the Crown Princess.
I was surprised not only by the fact that the person who actually wanted to be a student came to the request herself, but also by the fact that the person herself had a much more lively personality than before.
It made sense to me that this was the reason why the Western Palace was so active these days.
“This person named Arsei-Nay has a mysterious background, doesn’t he?”
“Yes. Nay’s predecessors are unknown. He was already in his old age when he became the architect of the royal palace here in Dardinia at the request of Eredius III. We know from previous research that he built several buildings on the continent, but we don’t know where he was born and where he learned everything.”
“The Crown Prince’s Palace is called the Palace of Silence and is feared by our Kings Guard because it is required to maintain a terrifying silence at all times. The family householder there silences people with his gaze alone.”
The same is true of the Crown Princess’s palace…No, it might be even more silent than that.Her Imperial Highness was called the “Doll Princess” and it was sometimes hard to tell whether she existed or not.
It was even rumored that the reason why Elzevert repeated weekly offerings was actually to make sure that Her Highness was still alive.
“There is a cathedral built by Nay in the north, which you will visit from tomorrow, right?”
“Yes. Nay is said to have built the last cathedral in Neve, the building that is said to be the source of all current cathedral architecture.”
“Small window with large stained glass…It was characterized by featuring the effective use of mirrors and glass, wasn’t it?”
“That’s right. However, glass and stained glass is one of Nay’s ‘lost technologies’ that has only recently been able to be reproduced.”
Her Highness, who has suffered from amnesia due to our blunder back then, speaks out as if to confirm each memory. This is probably how she is recalling her memories.
I feel sorry for saying this, but I also think that because the changes Her Highness made after the amnesia have had a positive effect on the people around her, the amnesia may not be a bad thing in general.
“And, as for Nay’s architecture in general, it is always equipped with what could be called a hidden mechanism.”
“A hidden mechanism?” (***The word used is “karakuri” which can mean “trick” or “gimmick” or “mechanism”, etc.
“For example, you could twist a built-in candelabra on the wall and push it down, and the wall would spin around.”
“…Is there one in the main shrine?”
“Yes. Some of them are very famous…I know that the revolving wall I just mentioned exists in the office of the Secretary of Justice and in the garment room of His Majesty the King. After that, like the door that slides when a candle is lit. There are many other hidden mechanisms that have still yet to be clarified…”
To be honest, I was hesitant when she begged me to tutor her, but Her Royal Highness was an amazingly intelligent and hard-working child.
It was hard to believe that she was only twelve years old, but her wealth of knowledge had been acquired through hard work.
Knowledge is not something that can be acquired in a haphazard manner. In some cases, such as languages, it’s a matter of sense, but the basics are acquired through repetition.
After all, if a child does not have the will to learn, he or she will not acquire knowledge.
And while children tend to become overwhelmed when they only gain knowledge, she was strangely well balanced.
For a child of her age, she was thoughtful.
That seems to be an exceptional quality of beauty.
Had she not been the Crown Princess…or even the presumptive heir of Elzevert, I would have advised her to attend college.
That will never happen, but…
Unfortunately, there are considerable difficulties in ensuring the safety of Her Royal Highness at the University. I could never expose Her Highness to any kind of danger.
However, I found the role of the Princess’s tutor quite enjoyable.
Not only are the tea and sweets served at the princess’s palace attractive, but with the label of tutor, it’s not unnatural for me to be in the presence of the princess, and it’s much easier to protect her than it used to be.
“I’d like to see it too. I know the Cathedral of Neve is difficult to get to…”
However, I know that it probably won’t happen.
By nature, long-distance outings for female royalty are quite complicated procedures. Moreover, Her Royal Highness is in a special position.
Furthermore, ever since the incident the other day, it is fair to say that it is now almost impossible for her to leave even the most strictly enforced premises of the Crown Princess’ palace. She may not be aware of it, but she is under house arrest for the most part.
“…I wish I had a picture of it at least.”
I heard a whispered murmur.
“Photographs are a technology that is still under research…So Her Royal Highness knew about photographs too?”
Suddenly, I wondered.
The technology of “photography” is not that commonplace. However, it was not particularly strange considering that Her Highness’s husband is His Highness Nigel.
Not many people know this, but that man is also in a unique position.
“No…that… I heard it from a story.”
The slightly troubled look on his face was amusing.
“…We have very dedicated researchers, so in a decade or so, it will have spread to the world.”
“Did you know?”
“I taught at a university for a short time…One of my students at the time was very enthusiastic about his work.”
I stopped when I remembered a student who had a special passion for photography. That special passion was something I couldn’t understand.
“Is that so? I’m looking forward to it.”
She smiles at me.
Theese days, Her Highness is so expressive that it’s hard to believe that she was once called the “Doll Princess.” However, that is limited to this palace where she can relax.
In official functions, she always wears the same expressionless face as she did in the past.
I agreed with the lady-in-waiting’s words that it was safer for her to do so. Many of us do not want her to change.
“I’ll ask His Highness next time…the Cathedral of Neve might be impossible, but I think the main palace is at least good. At the tea party of Her Highness the other day, I couldn’t see the fountain after all…”
“……His Royal Highness the Crown Prince?”
Her Royal Highness nodded with a smile on her face.
It must be some kind of talent to behave so innocently towards the Crown Prince.
“Of course, when he has a little more time on his hands, though.”
The tone of her voice drops slightly.
Her facial expression…It’s easy to see that she’s thinking from the bottom of her heart.
I think it is safe to say that the princess and the crown prince are on good terms with each other.
This is a cause for celebration in the eyes of those who serve.
After all, Her Highness has been chosen to be the future mother of the country, whether she wants to be or not. There is no reason why she should not be on good terms with His Highness.
Her Royal Highness looks remarkably mature when she looks serious like this.
The profile overlaps with a distant face. And at the same time, something faintly sweet fills my body.
The Princess has always been a living embodiment of her late mother, Princess Efinia, but the resemblance had never been apparent until now because the impressions were so different.
Recently, however, there have been moments when it’s as if time has been rewound.
“I’m sorry. I was just reminiscing a little bit about the old days.”
“…About my mother, right?”
“Yes… Did someone else tell you about that as well?”
“No. I saw my mother’s portrait on a card that Nadi…Princess Nadia had, and was surprised to see how much I looked like her…”
She laughs with a carefree smile, saying that they look a lot like a twins.
“I can understand why His late Majesty and His Highness think of me every time they see me.”
It was a dreadful feeling.
The source of His late Majesty’s strong attachment to Her Highness Princess Arthirea naturally came from Princess Efinia.
“His Highness, too?”
“Yes…His Highness said that my mother may have been his first love.”
Her Highness giggles and laughs.
“…His Highness said that?”
I was terribly surprised.
To my surprise, Her Highness nodded her head lightly.
“Oh, no, I didn’t expect His Highness to say that to Your Highness.”
It’s a good idea to be able to have a good idea of what you’re going to do with it.
…… and despite their different birth mothers, His Majesty and Princess Efinia were a very close brother and sister, despite their different ages.
If there was such a thing as a secret feeling, then His Highness Nigel’s feelings for Princess Efinia were just that.
The palace of His Majesty, who was still a prince at that time, was a place where many musicians stayed, and where salons and other concerts were regularly held, and Princess Efinia often stayed at her brother’s palace.
Princess Efinia and Prince Nigel grew up like childhood friends or siblings.
And in a sense, it was natural that a boy with a somewhat introverted temperament would be attracted to the vivacious older, beautiful girl, and it was also natural that a girl with a complex that she was not so intelligent would be attracted to a boy with a gentle personality, strong at the core and intelligent.
It was never a one-way street.
…I don’t know if it was ‘love’ or not.
However, I’m sure there was a secret, gentle feeling between them, thinking each other.
The youngest princess of the king and the prince who would eventually become the duke of the royal family…If Princess Efinia had not been engaged to Elzevert, it would have been a combination that could eventually bring up the story of marriage.
But since the princess’s engagement was unmovable, it was never the kind of thing that could be spoken of.
Eventually, Princess Efinia married…and passed away, leaving behind the girl before me.
“Is the Count familiar with what happened in those days?”
I nodded vaguely.
Her Highness was looking straight at me with a soft expression on her face. As if prompted by her eyes, I opened my mouth.
“At the time, I was the tutor to His Highness Nigel, who was still a Prince.”
“Oh, I see.”
As a dismissed person, I had rarely spoken of it. His Highness also rarely spoke of it, so it must have faded in the memory of most people.
“I do not know my mother under circumstances that everyone knows. Besides, perhaps because His Majesty is so terribly sensitive, I rarely hear about my mother from anyone. When I said that I thought that would be very lonely, His Highness told me a few things.”
Her Royal Highness said with a smile, “It’s not like we had a good time talking about it, but…” Her Royal Highness smiled again. (***this part was confusing in translation, so sorry if it doesn’t make much sense!)
“So, is it your first love?”
“Maybe, I don’t know. Even His Highness himself doesn not know. Nevertheless, I knew enough to understand that His Highness cared for my mother very much. That’s why I believe that my mother was always a painful scar in His Highness’ heart.”
Her Royal Highness nodded her head.
“Although His Highness is a rather strong man of reason, he only becomes emotional when it comes to the Duke of Elzevert…Perhaps he will always be unable to forgive the Duke.”
Her Royal Highness does not call her own father, the Duke of Elzevert, ‘father’ unless she consciously mentions it.
There is nothing particularly emotional about it, just a natural refrain.
I think that this fact says more about Her Royal Highness’ upbringing than anything else.
“…But at the same time, I think it’s also something I can’t forgive myself for.
The moment I heard those words, an emotion arose within me that made me want to cry or laugh…I didn’t know what to say.
It’s not something that you can clearly see what is going on.
But there is one thing that is certain.
With this girl, he will surely be happy. I was happy about that.
“So now, I think the wound has healed enough for him to talk to me about it.”
‘I think that’s a good sign,’ Her Royal Highness smiles softly.
“I can’t talk to anyone about what’s really hard for me…”
I agreed and returned a smile from the bottom of my heart.
The reason why he himself dedicated his sword to protect this girl was not just because he wanted to protect her.
It was also because he thought that protecting this girl would also lead to protecting himself.
I am convinced that it was not a mistake.
“I’ll tell you stories about when His Highness was a child.”
Suddenly I wanted her to hear a story I had never told anyone before.
“That would be lovely!”
Her face shines brightly and I squint my eyes.
“When the Count returns from the north, we’ll have a tea party.”
‘I’m going to bake a cake with a dash of your favorite liquor!’ She says as she clenches her little fist.
I smiled and sat up.
“If anything happens in my absence, you may ask anyone to take care of the ostensible matters, but for the internal matters, you may ask Eulid…He has offered to act as Her Highness wishes.”
“Okay. Thank you…I’m sorry to use it for private research.”
“Not at all. It is our knight’s pleasure to be at the service of the master of the sword.”
What everyone has been turned away from. Things that have been hidden. What we’ve tried to forget…That’s what Her Royal Highness is trying to reveal, and I have a feeling that it’s not something I’m unrelated to.
…So if the end is coming, if what has been mended and beautifully arranged is going to crumble, then I hope she is the one to settle the matter.
His Royal Highness may be feeling the same way…
Somehow I was convinced that he was the same way.
I realized that maybe I still thought of myself as his mentor all along, and I felt a little crazy.
Even though I had been teaching and guiding him when he was the same age as the Princess before me.
“Please take care of yourself. I look forward to hearing your story when you return.”
“Your Highness, please take care of yourself.”
“Yes. I’ll be very careful.”
Her Highness smiled softly.
No matter what she knows, that smile will never be lost from her.
That strength is in the Princess now.
The embodiment of this was His Highness Prince Nigel and Her Highness Princess Arthirea.
There was no trace of the past in His Highness Nigel, and it was difficult to recall the expressionless princess of the past looking at the Princess now standing in front of me.
It seems to me that this is the hope and the future.
As I departed in front of Her Highness, I was approached by a figure who seemed to be waiting for me in the corridor.
The fact that he’s been waiting here means that I have something to hear urgently.
“…I have received a report. There will probably be a deployment in the captain’s absence.
“I’m not saying don’t worry about it, but that’s not our war.”
Deployments…In other words, it’s a battle.
Esalkar’s political changes will bring warfare to our country. That much was obvious to anyone with a little eye for detail.
And it probably won’t be the only time it happens.
However, our enemies are those who target Her Royal Highness, and those who hide in the darkness of the palace.
They are not the kind of people you can simply swing a sword around with, nor are they the kind of warriors you can boast about with gusto.
“It seems that His Highness the Crown Prince intends to use this opportunity to draw them out.”
“…I don’t mind cooperating, but there’s also the matter of what happened at Elzevert’s castle. Take their side of the argument as an argument, and devise your own plan.”
There are no second chances.
Perhaps because he was born the bastard child of a great nobleman, this quiet and unapproachable young man was my squire, so I understand him without saying much.
“I will protect Her Royal Highness. That’s all we need to do.”
No honor or credit is required.
It is enough if we can protect her so that her smile never fades.
That is our pride and the raison d’etre of the people to who have dedicated their swords.
I was pleased when Eulid nodded with a small smile.
The child who was once so delicate and frail is nowhere to be found.
But my sword is still there to protect that existence.
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