12. To be a Witch
A gate made of iron lattice opens—
—the carriage is drawn down the road paved with bricks. The noises of hoofs hitting the pavement resounds.
Inside the area, there’s a well-maintained garden; a knight barracks; a training ground; and the servants’ quarters.
People traveling down the street immediately step aside to make way. When the carriage passes, they bow.
The carriage’s horses, which are decorated with feathers and jewels, walk in a controlled pace. Then, they gradually slow down, before finally stopping when they reach the gate.
Behind the gate is a grand castle so tall, its peak can’t be seen.
When the men riding the carriage alight to the ground, they immediately open the carriage’s door.
Harij, who accompanies the carriage with his horse, stands in front of the door.
The one who alights from the wagon is a girl. Harij helps her step out of the carriage—her gait makes her appear weightless.
Scarlet lips with a gentle, relaxed arc. Hair with the color of sun-kissed paddies. Her straight and firm posture only boosts her elegance further.
After fixing the crease of her dress with one sweep of her hand, she glances over to Harij.
Knowing what she means, Harij releases her hand. Then, he walks ahead of the road she’s going to walk.
Looking straight ahead with her cat-like eyes, the princess of Marjan, Billaura, walks on. In her step, neither hesitation nor weakness can be found.
The maid that alights after her readies a parasol—
“No need for the umbrella.”—to which Bilaura declines, without even looking at the maid.
She continues. “The stroll is cancelled. Ask Sir Masher whether he can come or not. It seems that Sir Korsmas—diplomat of the Nifrit Kingdom—will be attending today’s ball. His hometown would be Kleirun. I’ll need to review through the History of Kleirun once again.”
The maid stows the parasol away and instructs something to the attendant. The attendant soon leaves to finish his task.
“Where’s the orchestra team? There’s a need to revise the song list.”
“We’ll gather them.”
“Instruct the chef to add some Kleirun dishes to the menu. Also, I would like to think of some topics to discuss with his wife. Give me the latest news of Kleirun.”
“Sir Korsmas’ wife—Marlmara’s little sister just got married in Kleirun.”
“Then go to my mother and instruct her to spend some time with Madam Marlmara.”
The maids grab the hems of their dresses, bowing gracefully before taking their leave.
—not once did they enter the Princess’ line of sight. Just like her step, her gaze remains forward—on the road her knight decided for her to tread upon.
She goes through several gates, walks down the hallway, turns at the corners, and finally reaches her own quarters—
—but stopped, when Masher, who is in charge of history, rushes in.
“I apologize for my absence, and also for making you come all the way here.”
“It’s alright. Having a student that’s eager to learn, I’m truly glad.”
He probably ran all the way there. The fact that he’s still breathless even now proves that.
The passionate gaze—the fervent longing the young male teacher directs towards the Princess doesn’t go unnoticed.
Yet, no one dares to mention it—they pretend to be blind towards such a fact. As if it never exists—as it should be.
—after all, the feeling should have never existed in the first place.
Because in the end, it won’t matter.
Billaura is betrothed to the King of Niftrit and is going to be married this year.
“Princess Billaura, I also bring you a gift—“
“—I’ll see to it later.”
The Princess, staring forward and being surrounded by several servants, disappears into the door.
Harij’s duties finish once the Princess safely arrives at her quarters. The rest will be his colleague’s task. He’s about to return to the barracks.
There are ranks among the soldiers; each is assigned a role based off his status, backing, and also strength.
Harij is not only a knight, but also a royal guard. He works in the Royal Palace.
Born as the third son of an aristocrat, Harij doesn’t need to succeed the family. Hence, he left his home upon becoming a knight. Despite saying farewell, his family and servants still ensure that his life in the capital is comfortable.
Being called, Harij stops.
The sound of soles clashing with hard marble resonates in the hall.
The one who stops him is his colleague—Jones. Jones rushes in quickly, his blue cloak flapping behind him. Said cloak is proof that he’s also a member of the guard.
Harij is familiar with everyone because his attitude doesn’t betray his good looks.
“Going on your lunch break?”
“No, there’s a document I need to check before that.”
“That one related to Mrs. Kvaravita’s story this morning? Good luck with that.”
Jones has a bitter smile—Mrs. Kvaravita’s stories tend to be long, to the point that their legs are about to give out.
Yet, Billaura shows none of that. Interacting with aristocrats is her obligation as the princess. Billaura knows that and displays her utmost interest in the conversation.
“Today, she brought something besides her usual homemade lemon pie.”
“What is that?”
“Sir Korsmas, the diplomat, is coming to the banquet tonight. It seems like Mrs. Kvaravita was the one who persuaded him to do so, for the Princess’ sake.”
“That’s a huge favor!”
Indeed. For Billaura, who’s going to get married to Nifrit, good relations with the diplomat is also important. Before, they never succeeded in inviting him. No matter how grand their effort was, it was never good enough.
As Billaura’s friend, Mrs. Kvaravita wants to at least try and help her, who’s going to be married at a young age.
This is also the result of Billaura’s unrelenting effort, for always listening to Mrs. Kvaravita’s long stories and eating two slices of her sour lemon pie.
“So, how’s the Princess? Right now, she should be on the boat by the lake, shouldn’t she?”
“There’s not much time until the banquet. She went to le-learn the history in order to receive the diplomat—…as always, she’s too hard on herself.”
Billaura is so busy to the point she almost can’t afford to breathe. The Kingdom of Nifrit is powerful, hence important for diplomatic ties.
There’s no way they’ll risk losing this chance, but still…
“—she’s going to marry someone who has a grandchild—whom is, by the way, older than you.”
“Don’t talk like that, Azm.”
“I said don’t talk like that—…“
Jones laughs bitterly and leans his arm on Harij’s shoulder. His body temperature conveys that their thoughts are the same.
Nifrit’s demand seems too harsh for the sixteen-years-old Billaura;
She’s going to spend the rest of her life as that sixty years old man’s second wife.
While may not be unusual in the long history of royalty, Harij, personally, doesn’t condone it.
With all his heart, he wants the princess—whose entire life was loved and protected, born surrounded by butterflies and flowers—to have a marriage happier than anyone else’s.
“At least I’m allowed to include a female knight and several of my own maids in my dowry.”
Billaura said so. Her laughter was filled with spirit.
Just by remembering that smile, the knights feel like there’s heavy lead on their chests.
“Only two months left. After that, we can’t protect her anymore.”
“…yeah.” Jones replies.
That’s why, before those two months end, he has to obtain it, no matter what—
—that potion; Billaura’s first and last wish.
***T/N : Awww… so that’s why, huh? Well, at least the author is being realistic in portraying Billaura’s life as a princess…