37.1 Behind the Scenes
“His Majesty the King might be in bad condition.”
The morning of the sixth day of the magical tournament.
Riol muttered while glancing sideways at the crowded road leading towards the venue. The carriages of students could be seen.
“What are you saying, Riol? Certainly, there is such a rumor… especially after His Majesty collapsed from overworking… but, shouldn’t he be recovering by now?”
“His Highness Roland refuse to appear is a big problem as it is. But, for the teachers to have resorted to such a thing, something urgent must’ve had happened.”
He was referring to the event which caused an uproar during yesterday’s matches. Just before the start of his match, a public character assassination through forging evidence of foul play had occurred. Afterwards, they also tried to gloss over the testimonies of Sharina and Tobias.
It was no surprise that Riol was skeptical. Although the purpose was to restore the honor of the new crown prince, it was also too hasty.
“They could’ve been craftier about it. In fact, announcing that His Highness Roland’s magical instrument had been tampered with should’ve been enough. Afterwards, they could’ve just pretended to be looking into the situation. Doing that, His Highness Roland’s reputation could’ve been salvaged.” Said Riol.
“Certainly, if they had planned it more meticulously, the risk of their lies getting exposed would’ve been significantly lower. In fact, they wouldn’t have needed to take such a drastic measure.” Said Sharina.
“Or, on the contrary, they could’ve come up with an even better plan—one that could destroy a person without fail. They could’ve prepared multiple, tampered, magical instruments and planted them in my dorm room. Or they could have paid a student to testify against me.”
If the teachers had put more effort into it, they could’ve either attempted to gradually restore Roland’s honor without making too much of a fuss, or effectively crush Riol.
Why would the teachers choose such a high risk, low certainty method like yesterday instead of either of the above? It was as if they weren’t granted the luxury of time.
If such is the case…
Sharina mumbled her conclusion.
“If His Majesty’s recovery is… no, if in the first place, his recuperation was a lie, and it’s uncertain if he’d see another day, it’s no wonder the teachers are impatient. It’d be a big problem if His Majesty’s condition is to worsen while the new crown prince is being socially withdrawn.
If it wasn’t only that the king was bedridden, but the crown prince was also withdrawn from society, how much distrust would the people have? Even though Roland wouldn’t be immediately instated into the kingdom’s affairs, what if he refused to attend his coronation?
“…That would certainly divide the people into multiple factions—the king’s faction, the crown prince’s faction, and the third prince’s faction… the royal siblings would be forced into a quagmire.”
The prince whom was most likely to inherit the throne was currently withdrawn. The other was second in line to succeeding the throne, but not only was he thirteen years old, he was also the son of a concubine. Yet dDespite his rank being inferior to that of a crown prince, the third prince was currently serving as the king’s right-hand man, and he was in charge of political affairs.
It was already apparent whom would be recommended as the future king. It wouldn’t be strange for blood to be shed.
“…I should’ve agreed to be turned into a scapegoat.” Said Riol.
“No way! Riol hasn’t done anything! It’s plain unreasonable!” Said Sharina.
“Because I stood up for myself, the kingdom is about to suffer a huge turmoil…”
Riol hugged his book with both of his arms. However, he immediately shook his head.
“…No, as I thought, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I’d be indicted not with a charge of committing foul play, but with the crime of tampering with the prince’s belongings. Merely dropping out wouldn’t suffice. If I had taken it lying down, I’d surely end up being exiled.”
“If that were to happen, I will hire a peddler heading to the desert kingdom to provide Riol with water. Then once I’ve save up a enough money, I’ll rent a small house and we’ll settle in a city that welcomes immigrants. Afterwards, setting up a stall serving shaved ice made of water magic shall be our livelihood.”
“I’m a little concerned that you have such a concrete survival plan at ready.”
There was no need for worry as long as she was prepared. Based on the incident from three months ago, she had successfully simulated a case of being exiled.
Seeing Riol had returned to holding his book with one arm, Shaina held her chest in relief.
Perhaps he hadn’t realize it, but whenever he was anxious, unconfident, concerned, ill, or being pessimistic, Riol had a habit of holding his book with both arms. Such was the adorable habit of her crush who didn’t show much emotion.
“Well, it’s merely an assumption, so nothing is certain. Therefore, we mustn’t say anything ominous…” Said Riol.
Footsteps rushed from behind with tremendous speed. When Sharina and Riol turned around at the same time, there stood a breathless Tobias.
It was unlikely that Tobias, whom boasted of his stamina, would be out of breath just by running a long distance. Layer of sweat could be seen on his forehead. Rather than being breathless because of running, it seemed that he was in a hurry.
“Not here. Let’s move to another place. We can’t have anyone listening to us.”
Due to his unusual appearance, Sharina also grew anxious. She had an unpleasant premonition.
Although it was still autumn, the atmosphere surrounding the three people rapidly cooled.
“His Majesty the King… is suffering from demonic disease.”
Tobias heavily announced in the corner of a classroom that was often unused.
Sharina realized what would happen in the future precisely with just that one statement.
“It seems that the disease is progressing rapidly… it’s unknown whether or not His Majesty will last another year.” Said Sharina.
“…Hence why, Tobias was told to ‘withdraw’ his testimony.” Said Riol.
“Yes.” Said Tobias.
Riol asked with confidence while Tobias nodded with regret before getting into the main subject.
“The teachers weren’t straightforward about it, of course. They asked me if I had been carried away by yesterday’s atmosphere, or if I was mistaken because, ‘isn’t it strange for a servant to bring his master a demerit?’ As such, I was also roundabout in responding.”
“No, if you straight up answered with, ‘I didn’t get carried away by the atmosphere’, ‘I was not mistaken’, ‘Why would telling the truth be a demerit?’, that isn’t being roundabout…”
Tobias didn’t need to waste his breath, they could already imagine the scene. The sight of Tobias, who kept straightforwardly rebutting the teachers’ roundabout questioning… Sharina’s chest was a little refreshed. Perhaps by the end of it, the teachers were frustrated.
“So, one of the teachers got frustrated at the end and said, ‘Enough already! You need to retract your previous testimony! Otherwise, if the crown prince continues refusing to appear, and His Majesty dies, this kingdom will fall!’ In his anger, the teacher divulged the secret, instead…”
Afterwards, the teacher realized that wasn’t something he was supposed to tell a servant and severely regretted it. Thinking back, it could be said that Sharina was also part of the reason why Roland had become a recluse.
“If His Majesty were to suddenly die and the crown prince were to take the throne when it’s apparent he’s still not ready, the former king’s aides would temporarily have to exercise their powers. Young and immature as he is, he’s still the one who is in charge of ruling this kingdom.” Said Riol.
Impressed by his speech, Sharina made sure to engrave his every word to her heart.
Roland was just not ready to be a king.
She wasn’t saying that he would make a bad king, it was his preparedness itself that was bad.
As the future king, he might not be lacking. However, he was ‘naïve’ and still immature. There was no telling when he’d mature.
“But… even if he were to act as a decoration, I wonder if anyone would recognize someone who won’t even sit on the throne…”
That was precisely the problem. A mere décor of a king who was withdrawn and refused to appear in public, leaving the throne open. At that point, could he even be called a ‘decoration’? Even a halberd was better than him because it could be freely be carried and displayed anywhere.
“…What if we make a mold of His Highness Roland?” Said Sharina.
“…Don’t try to make an elaborate decoration.” Said Riol.
Sharina had given up trying to make a stone statue of Riol because she lacked skill. However, if she were to gather masons from all over the kingdom, an entire room filled with statues of the king should be possible, right?
Before she could even suggest the idea, however, it was inaudibly rejected.
“Back to the topic at hand, Tobias was instructed by the teachers to withdraw his testimony, right? Basically, you could switch to saying, ‘Early in the morning, when the academy was still empty, I took my eyes off Riol once or twice.’” Said Riol.
“…That’s right. To be precise, I was told to testify that, ‘even though I saw Riol to his classroom every day, I may have taken my eyes off him. Actually, once, I saw Riol exiting His Highness’s classroom with a grin on his face.’”
“…I wonder if the teachers were still trying to be roundabout before they decided to be straightforward to you…”
“Well, yes. At first, they asked, ‘Are you sure Riol was never out of your sight?’”
So, they still attempted to. The wasted effort of the teachers were immeasurable.
“I wonder if something will happen today… after all, today isn’t just the last day of the tournament, but it is also the day the queen is coming to watch the competition. If His Highness still refuses to appear by then, it’s over.” Said Riol.
***T/N: I’ll support you til the end of time, Riol!!!
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