CHAPTER 99 – EXILED PRINCE
Life was peaceful as I spent time with the Shiru tribe children. It’s said that only during times like these when one’s heart is tranquil that one can explore their true inner self.
Spending all this time with children my own age, I can now objectively observe my own strangeness. No, maybe I should say instead that I was forced to deal with my own immaturity and anxiety, even if I didn’t want to.
I’ll admit it to myself. My spirit is still immature. As the days passed by, I felt like I was actually more immature than the Shiru tribe children. I was born as and have been living as Eliza to my current age of eight years old without having matured at all over this time. This may be because of the memories I’ve inherited about my past life by some sort of mistake, making me into a fake adult.
Definitely, my sense of reasoning came with my memories. It’s a fact that I used my memories to establish my own personality, since Eliza’s original personality hadn’t been established yet.
However, these are still just memories that another girl experienced before, it doesn’t feel like a personal experience. I’m going to separate myself from her will and her emotions. If I don’t do this, there’s no way that my spirit will grow and mature.
And so within my ugly, twisted inner self, confusion was scattering about inside me.
Ratoka treats me as an adult and his guardian. Earl Terejia gives me all the responsibilities of an adult. My heart remains too immature as of yet to respond to them.
Also, there’s Mrs. Hortensia who tries to treat me like a child. If I take her gently offered hand, I would feel like I’d be shirking all my responsibilities. It would mean that I’d stop relying on my own strength alone. I definitely won’t forgive myself for my own sins.
For someone who doesn’t even know herself, how can I accurately place trust in others? Whether it’s running away from the painful memory of Kamil’s death, or placing a false sense of trust in my previous memories, all of this is simply me acting shamefully.
For me to have only realized all of this now, just how foolish can I be.
It’s thanks to these children that I can now laugh at and recognize my own foolishness. They know that I’m the domain lord. However, they also know that I’m still a child as well, and gently remind me of that fact.
……Well, while I’m accepting all of this, it’s still taking some time for all of my emotions to sort themselves out.
I stayed with those children on that snow-covered hill for two full months. Finally the skies are beginning to clear up, and winter should be ending soon. This year is almost over.
During a rare break when the weather was completely clear, a messenger pigeon came from the royal capital.
“It’s an announcement from the royal family.”
Earl Terejia’s face was drained of all its color and his hands were shaking as he handed the message to me. It was indeed stamped with the royal emblem.
I haven’t seen Earl Terejia or experienced such a painfully heavy atmosphere since the last time we were all together in Ratoka’s room, and I adjusted my shirt’s collar, trying to forget about that time.
“What did the king say in it?”
When I inquired about the message, Earl Terejia found it unusually difficult to speak. Normally his eyes filled with wisdom and suspicion would be peering over the contents of the letter. Almost as if he wanted to make absolutely sure of what was written there and to check its veracity.
He kept me waiting for quite a while, but he finally answered in a much quieter voice than usual.
“……It’s been decided that Prince Albert’s going to enter a monastery.”
The sound of creaky furniture seemed to fill the entirety of Earl Terejia’s office. I only started noticing the sound after what seemed like an endless amount of deafening silence.
“Unbelievable, could that really be?”
I couldn’t help but speak what the Earl was probably thinking already. It’s only natural. All I could think about was how unbelievable this was.
“Does this mean that Prince Albert’s being exiled from the royal family?”
“……That is indeed what it means if he becomes a monk.”
Ridiculous. How could such a ridiculous thing happen? And why now of all times. Just losing the position of crown prince was already incitement enough for Planates before, and now this happens.
And on top of all that, just why is he getting exiled from the royal family. Such a thing, it’s almost as if –
“Could the royal family and the Ar Xia Church be hoping for a war?”
When I muttered those words out in a daze, Earl Terejia’s eyebrow immediately arched upwards.
“Be careful what you say.”
I realized what I had just said, and I apologized for my misconduct. Even if it’s Earl Terejia, there are things I can’t say.
Ever since the time of the Arxia Kingdom’s previous incarnation, the Sacred Holy Lawful Kingdom of Arxia, the Arxia Kingdom’s power has only been used to protect followers of the Xia religion. War only means defensive wars. Even threatening or provoking other countries, and declaring war, our kingdom finds this unacceptable.
“Well, I meant to say that this will probably become a situation. By making Prince Albert completely ineligible to inherit the throne, this is dangerously pushing Planates, or I should say the Rindarl Union, into becoming even more hostile.”
The voice that ended coming out of my own throat sounded terribly cold.
Well, it’s only to be expected. If Planates becomes an enemy country as well, as part of the eastern border defense line, Kaldia would be greatly affected.
If war breaks out, I hardly have enough soldiers I can mobilize. I’d have to conscript the citizens into the army and onto the battlefield. It’s hard for the Kaldia army who’s already low on troops to recruit enough soldiers, so conscription is the only method.
Are my citizens going to have to fight? For such unclear reasons? Am I going to have to force them onto the battlefield, even though I had decided to compensate for my family’s sins to them?
“Calm down. Those in the royal court will probably be able to persuade the king. As one would expect, since nobles are in charge of their citizens, this is something they cannot ignore. Just like you.”
Thanks to the earl’s coaxing, I was able to calm down, at least on the surface. I just nodded back to him reflexively.
……However, inside me dissatisfaction and anxiety were swirling about like a tornado.