His Highness took me by hand to his private chamber.
The knight guarding the door bowed his head to us as we approached the door.
Without a word, His Highness opened the door, and we entered.
It wasn’t awkward, per say, but it wasn’t a relaxing atmosphere, either.
I felt that there was a strain between us. I was at loss at what to do.
It had been a long time since I last entered His Highness’ private chamber. When I was young, I often played in this room.
I was instructed by His Highness to sit on the sofa. As usual, the private chamber was clean. There was nothing out of place. It was a calm, vibrant room decorated with houseplants.
“Well then, Tia… Where shall we begin?”
Even if he asked me so, I, myself, was unsure.
I glanced at His Highness.
His Highness had not only folded his arms, but rested on the sofa as well.
His expression looked haggard.
As of recent, I often saw this expression of his.
“…More than anything, Your Highness, can I have a word first?”
Despite his upcoming explanation, I had something to say.
“N?” His Highness turned his eyes towards me—their blueness shone like the summer sea.
Speaking of which, the kid me was very fond of His Highness’ eyes.
While reminding myself that that wasn’t important, I cut to the point.
“Your Highness, …please annul your engagement with me.”
Precisely at that moment, it was as if the time in the room had stopped.
I was sure that was just my imagination, after all, I wasn’t that nervous.
Or maybe I was, but I was too busy to notice.
What filled my mind as of now was the thought that I would finally be free. In fact, I felt that I was truly savage.
Upon receiving my words, His Highness’ eyes widened as he stiffened, but finally, he moved slightly.
“…can I ask the reason?”
“…Ara, do I even need to spell it out? I think you could figure it out without the need of my explanation.”
I was still unsure of the reason he got intimate with Baroness Schmia, but there was one thing that I knew for sure…!
That was, His Highness and I definitely wouldn’t be compatible with each other if we got married in the future…! After all, neither His Highness nor I had romantic feelings for each other…!
He did mention at the venue earlier, that he loved me.
…as if I would believe that.
Those words of love he spoke of failed to earn even the slightest bit of my trust. Therefore, I deemed those words unnecessary.
His Highness, when he heard my answer, turned pale.
The idea of breaking his engagement with me resulted in such a reaction from him…? What was wrong…?
His Highness, returning my gaze, briefly exhaled.
“There’s nothing between me and Baroness Schmia, truly, nothing. I never said anything that would mislead or add fuel to her delusions.”
“Ara, is that so? No matter what kind of justification you come up with, do you think you can just put wool over my eyes over how intimate you guys behaved?”
“That’s …my bad. It was the King’s order.”
Before I realized it, I had parroted him.
King’s …order? What? To get along with her? That was ordered by the King? I failed to understand. More importantly, why did I hear nothing about this? Why didn’t he tell me anything?
“…Tia is aware that there’s a civil war in the Kingdom of Dirlia, right?”
“Yes, I am aware.”
“A woman is deeply involved behind the cause of that war.”
His Highness explained to me with a stern face.
His explanation was given in a hard tone. Coming from His Highness, what an unusual sight that was…
“Apparently, after getting to know that woman, the Second Prince became strange. He bared his fangs at his brother, the Crown Prince, whom he had always respected. He even tried to raise his troops to claim the Crown Prince’s head.”
“…Crown Prince… so it’s Lyon whom we’re talking about, here…”
“Lyon noticed a bizarre pattern in his kingdom, and detected similarities in the Kingdom of Haulfa—thus, he contacted me.”
“…Even in this kingdom?”
Who would’ve thought that the civil war of another kingdom would also be related to my own kingdom… Towards His Highness’ words, my back grew cold.
Where was this story going?
I was anxious, thus I grabbed the hem of my dress.
At such an appearance from me, His Highness’ expression relaxed as he told me in reassurance.
“Calm down, it’s alright already.”
When I became silent, His Highness resumed his talk. What he had said next was even more appalling.
“Perhaps, those murders that occurred in recent years weren’t the doings of Baroness Schmia.”
“She is not that bright, not to mention, desperate. It doesn’t seem like she has many options to begin with. That characteristic of hers clashes with that of a criminal who’s used to killing.”
Again, chills sprung up my back.
I gasped and waited for His Highness’ continuation. He unfolded his arms and leaned on the sofa. Thus, he resumed.
“She was saying—‘ I’ve only heard of it today—!!’, ‘I did as I was told—!!’, ‘I, I just wanted, I just wanted to change!!!!!’. She appeared quite confused. I doubt she was lying. The one who instructed her is the true mastermind behind the Kingdom of Dirlia’s ruin.”
I became quite speechless after hearing His Highness’ words.
I thought she was just a mysterious, beautiful, girl who had a change of heart and captivated men.
A girl who was just weird and was alienated by the same sex.
I never thought… any of this, would’ve happened…
His Highness laughed at the quiet me.
“Besides, Tia. I keep telling that girl that the only one I love is Tia. Of course… I also foresaw that you might misunderstand my gestures to her as that of a lover… Certainly, that was part of the mission. I had to get close to her and uncover out her real identity, her true purpose. That was why I had to listen her professions of love, and mislead her into thinking that we had something going on to get information out of her. In fact, I should’ve made her my lover, which was the mission. That’s the duty of the Crown Prince of Haulfa.”
After uttering such words, His Highness’ eyes filled with nostalgia.
“But, I found myself unable to do it. Because, no matter what happens, I love Tia. Because I love you, I couldn’t do it no matter what.”
In his calm, gentle, voice, my own words were lost.
I couldn’t comprehend anything afterwards due to shock.
My head couldn’t think of anything. It seemed that the language processing part of my brain had shut down.
In the meantime, those words of his echoed in my mind—
…His Highness, loves me?
…eh…? Was that a confession of love…? A heartfelt one?
L, lie—!! That’s a lie—!! There’s no way I could believe that—!!
I was confused by His Highness, but more than anything, I was bewildered.
Until now, after a dozen years, there had never been any romantic gestures from him that would convince me of his love. Even when we were engaged, there was no confession of love from him. Not even once.
Of all the times, why now—!? What was he planning—!? What got into him—!?
Not to mention, that gaze of his—!
There was no way I wouldn’t become suspicious—!
***T/N: Your Highness… she’s asking for an annulment… not your kingdom’s state of affairs…
“That’s …my bad. It was the King’s order.”
*SOME ATTENDANT IDK: “OUR KINGDOM’S BIGGEST THREAT–A THOT–HAS BEEN DETECTED, YOUR MAJESTY THE KING!!!!!!!”
*THE KING: “OK I KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THAT, FIRST OFF, HOW ABOUT WE TASK MY FIRST SON, MY HEIR, THE CROWN PRINCE, MY KINGDOM’S FUTURE KING TO COME INTO DIRECT CONTACT WITH SAID THOT!? FUCK THE KNIGHT AND ASSASSIN AND OTHER WHO MIGHT BE BETTER TO ASSUME THIS ROLE. OK SHE IS QUITE EXCEL IN ‘CHARM’ MAGIC, BUT OUR ROYAL BLOODLINE IS IMMUNE AGAINST THAT. THATS WHY, ONLY WILLIANT CAN DO IT.”
*SOME ATTENDANT IDK: “BUT, BUT YOUR MAJESTY, SHE HAD A LONG BLOODY HISTORY OF MURDER AS WELL, ‘CHARM’ IS DEFINITELY NOT HER ONLY WAY OF GETTING THINGS DONE–“
*KING: “OH YEAH? LIKE WHAT? WHAT OTHER WAY DOES SHE HAVE THAT WOULD THREATEN THE FIRST PRINCE?”
*SOME ATTENDANT: “UMM, LIKE, PLAIN MURDERING HIM? I MEAN, LOOK AT THAT LONG LIST OF MURDER CASES, CLEARLY, IT’S NO LONGER A COINCIDENCE SOMEONE ALWAYS DIED WHEN THIS THOT IS AROUND–LIKE, SHE CLEARLY IS EXPERIENCED–OTHER THAN THAT, THERE’S ALSO EVIDENCE THAT ROYALTY AREN’T REALLY 100% IMMUNE TO CHARM, JUST LOOK AT THAT USUALLY DESPONDENT SECOND PRINCE OF NEIGHBORING KINGDOM SUDDENLY STARTING CIVIL WAR-“
*KING: “MEH, EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE DAIJOBU. BTW IMMA LAY LOW FOR AWHILE.”
Your Highness Williant… do you ever suspect that your Father, the King, has some grudge towards you?
Other than that… So you weren’t under that Charm and you still hand her the forged jewelry……..?