38. The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly!
Chapter Thirty-Eight: If We Lock Eyes a Second Time
“You have no filial piety at all, do you?”
Queen Trianna’s expressionlessness is hard to withstand.
Currently, we are sitting at a round table in one of the royal palace’s rooms, but a blizzard is blowing wildly outside. A heavy snow warning has been issued. Once again, I wish I had stayed in my room.
In this wintriest of settings, we find Their Majesties the King and the Queen, Prince Jerik, the Second Prince Joel, Gil, and me. Clearly, I’m out of place here.
“Along with father, I will abdicate from the center stage of politics and spend a tranquil life somewhere we can live quietly for the remainder of father’s life. How is this a lack of filial piety? Isn’t it much better than letting father be alone in his final days with no one to reach out his hand to?”
Jerik’s aura is burning quietly. I can feel his mind is made up and that he has no intention of ceding ground about this.
By the way, as these events unfold, I’m basically trying to disappear into the background like a chameleon and breathe as little as possible. Yeah, I’d rather pass when it comes to getting caught in the crossfire of royal family squabbles. Since Gil is here, wearing my glasses is a must, but I get even more anxious and fidgety if I can’t look at the auras. I won’t have the courage not to just suddenly stand up and run away as fast as my legs can take me. I look a little dorky with these giant glasses like I have an old woman’s eyes, but no one should be paying any attention to me here anyway.
“And to begin with, I’m not going against your wishes, mother. Didn’t you say that your command was for Lady Randall to beget the crown prince’s child? If Gilbert ascends to the position, your wish will still become true, only through Gil, is that not the case.”
“Jerik, do you not also need a child?”
“No. It is not my intention to beget offspring. Don’t pretend you don’t know. You know better than anyone that you aim to ascend Gil to crown prince. What I’m saying is that I’m fully willing to serve as the middleman in this transition scheme of yours.”
The two continue to glare at each other without any sign of budging on either side. Jerik is serious and firm, but Queen Trianna seems to enjoy responding with cold remarks precision-targeted at everyone’s pain points. From the looks of it, this is probably the first time Jerik has directly confronted Queen Trianna. Sitting next to her, His Majesty the King is just watching and waiting.
“Mother, please accept the situation. A nod from you will suffice. I can’t stand this pointless deliberating, so please make your decision at the earliest.”
After a brief silence, His Highness the Second Prince speaks. It is the first time I hear his voice, and it has a brightness to it that matches his aura’s crisp yellow color. The combination of crimson hair inherited from Trianna and the same azure eyes as Gil produce a very vivid and pleasant chromatic collaboration. In addition, he is wearing green. I don’t want to stare at his aura for too long out of fear I’m gonna incur eye fatigue, but it’s swirling so joyfully I just have to peek at it now and then. Somehow, the difference in moods between Joel and the chilling confrontation beside him is like fire and ice.
According to what I was told on the way here, His Highness the Second Prince wants to abandon his birthright to the line of succession to ease the inheritance problem. The royal palace seems to be awfully constraining for those as free-spirited as the Second Prince Joel. It seems from his aura that now that he is receiving his wish of getting out of the line of succession for good, his feelings are bursting forth with joy.
“Rather than demanding myself to surrender to the state of affairs, let’s hear how you plan to address the problems I have brought up in our previous reunion. Then we can talk about me deciding.”
Geez, it’s getting hardcore. I really shouldn’t be here, not that there is any need to. It seems that there was a scene of carnage called “the first reunion” that took place before I was rescued from Artaud. So, maybe I can pretty please skip this one too?
When Glenn talked about this meeting, he made it sound like it was a done deal. Now I’m getting the feeling that Trianna didn’t quite approve at first, and so we find ourselves here in round two of the thing, with me added. But Trianna doesn’t seem reluctant to this development. In fact, her aura is fidgety, as if having something in front of her that she has been longing for.
“Do you not have anything to say? There are no thoughts on what to do about Roke, whose influence looms behind me. You know full well it is my position that keeps the balance. If you rout me from the rungs of power, what is your plan to prevent our kingdoms’ relations from deteriorating?”
“That may be just your feelings… Do you realize you are reasoning only from your own position and only about whether to keep it or renounce it? Do you have any grasp on Elvasti’s feelings and not just Roke’s?”
Hmm. Trianna seems like she finds Jerik’s reply short of being a correct answer. One more push. To create a situation where Elvasti and Roke can go holding hands into the future…
Even a girl as hare-brained as I can’t be sitting at this table and just space out thinking about lunch. And so, I squeeze every last drop of my brain juice to try to grasp the delicate balance of the politics at play. So, if Queen Trianna were to retire from the royal court’s center stage and, in so doing, diminish her power, can she find a way to retain some of her influence even from afar?
While wondering about that, my eyes drift, and I make eye contact with Queen Trianna. Oh no! No, is it gonna be super awkward if I maintain eye contact and disrespectful if I avert my eyes? I don’t know what to do!
While I am paralyzed in my little dilemma, Trianna simply shifts her gaze to Gil beside her. In monkey-see-monkey-do fashion, my own eyes follow, and I notice that Gil’s eyes seem to want to convey something. Wait, this is just like a while ago when I also didn’t understand his eye language. This would be the second time I don’t get it. Ah, I can’t decipher it this time either. But now, Gil is nodding at me ever so slightly, like he thinks I know what he means. No, no, no, Gil, I’m only staring at you so intensely because I don’t understand what you mean! Drat, I wonder what he is assuming he got through to me because I don’t have a clue.
“In my function as Elvasti’s Queen, I shall directly give Lady Lina a proper upbringing and education in her new role as the new Crown Princess. Is that agreed?”
I am at a loss as to what to say. I wonder if this is what I wished for.
“What are you talking about, mother! I object!”
“Please perish that thought!”
Jerik and Joel immediately spring to block that motion. Just how much do they distrust their own mother? These emotions of theirs seem to stem from long years of misunderstandings with Trianna, and as such, I see where they are coming from, even if they are mistaken. But I also feel that, as far as the one whose fate is in the balance here, these two really care about me.
“If Her Majesty the Queen is to retire from the royal court, educating the Crown Princess will pacify all of the factions, both those who would like her to leave and those who would wish her to retain her influence. And in so doing, don’t you think that would also be the best way to guarantee Lina’s safety?”
You totally get it, Gil! I smile at him in agreement.
When I discreetly peek at Trianna, it seems like that is the answer she wants. The contrast between her lack of facial expression and the excitement of her aura is astounding. Just how high is her skill in the poker face ability? Queen Trianna, if only you could just voice your feelings and intentions. She suddenly turns her gaze at Gil again and nods to him, and he responds in kind. Geez, is Gil sending her telepathic waves or something? Though this time, I understand what they’re telling each other.
“Gil, you must be quite mad to subject dear Lina to what is sure to be a painful experience. Please reconsider.”
“No, I will be relieved if I can entrust my mother-in-law with such a duty.”
“He said mother-in-law…”
Jerik and Joel are stunned.
“How can you call that ‘relieving’?”
“I have to disagree completely with you, Gil. It will imperil Lina and nothing more!”
Goodness gracious, you two… You really, really dislike your mom, don’t you? I am sad that Trianna must endure this, even if things are turning out according to her designs.
In exchange, Gil believes in my story and changes his view of Trianna. Otherwise, it won’t be the same as it is now.
However, you should not be satisfied with Gil’s misunderstanding. Let’s correct the slip-up with this momentum and improve the royal family’s relationship.
“It is alright, Lord Jerik, Prince Joel. There is no one as noble of heart as Her Highness Queen Trianna. More so, can you not see Her Highness seems to be thrilled at the prospect?”
I flash a broad, bright smile towards Trianna. Secretly, I hope Trianna would be caught by surprise at my enthusiasm and thaw her perpetual icy facial expression even slightly. Still, it seems that my charming powers are nowhere near enough for such a daunting task.
Only someone who can see auras can tell what is hiding behind Trianna’s incredibly cryptic poker face. I want everyone to know she is happy. I smile as broadly as possible to convey that message. But the princes just look at me like I am a weird child. I should have known.
“What a strange girl… You should know I have no intention of letting you slack even one bit during your training duties once we get started. Do you believe you are capable of keeping pace with my apprenticeship?”
Trianna says while raising her chin and narrowing her eyes, casting me a severe look.
“Even though I would wish for you to go gentle on me, please instruct me as you might, Your Highness. I will exert myself to the utmost to try to meet your expectations.”
Coming this far, who could say, “Eh, I guess I’ll pass, after all”? Earning Trianna’s approval will give me the confidence I need to stand at Gil’s side as a true Crown Princess. I really feel I can’t manage the great responsibilities that might come with the title, and I don’t want to flinch at my duties. I don’t think I could be the kind of lady who just smiles and sits by his man.
I reply as such while doing my best to match Trianna’s imposing and dignified posture, straightening my back as best I can and then bowing in respect.
“I am unamused… Do whatever you like.”
Oh, I’m glad for Trianna. Did her load lighten a little? Her aura transmits feelings mixed with a softness I had never gotten from her before.
“It looks like it has been settled. I will abdicate, and Jerik’s coronation will be officially announced tomorrow. When Jerik is installed on the throne, he will approve Joel’s renunciation to the line of succession, and Gilbert will become the new crown prince.”
His Majesty the King summarizes the conclusion, so I guess we’re done here for today. Hmm. I suddenly realize my body has been tense all this time.
“Yes, we are in agreement.”
Thank you very much, Jerik. Congratulations to His Majesty the New King. By confronting Trianna without reservations, I think that being stuck on the throne won’t feel so bad for him. The indications in his aura that he would immensely rue the day of his coronation are gone now. Also, His Highness the Second Prince’s aura is lively and yellow.
“Lady Randall, you shall stand with Gilbert as crown princess. Make sure you act the part.”
Trianna catches me off guard, addressing me while I am focused on sneaking a peek by slightly lowering my glasses, and I can’t instantly reply to her. However, I then use my most dignified voice to match hers.
“Yes… I shall endeavor in my most sincere efforts to support His Highness Prince Gilbert.”
I want to stand with Gil. The reality needed to fulfill such a simple yet complicated wish feels heavy no matter how I try to think about it. But if Gil, Trianna, Merlia, and all my other princess candidate friends support, guide, and encourage me, I promise I’ll be able to do my best. Given such a blessed environment, there is nothing I cannot overcome.
Seemingly satisfied with my apparent determination, His Majesty the King all but urges us to leave the room and call it a day.
“Everyone, you may leave for today. Things are sure to start getting busy tomorrow.”
After bowing, I follow Gil to the door. Feelings that I don’t quite understand are overflowing in my heart as we step towards a future that has been set after these big decisions. I want to cling to Gil’s back. He walks in front of me with a rather puzzling, hastened pace, but I’m urging myself to be patient. I’m not sure if I can explain the feelings I don’t understand, but I’d like to talk with Gil about them when I get back to my room. Or will he understand just by looking at my eyes, like he did during the meeting? Next time, I want to be able to read Gil’s feelings from the depths of the ocean of his navy blue eyes.