Translator: ShimizuA, Kenar Editor: Matty, Boomer
Proof-reader: Matty TLC: Lox, ShimizuA
Milady, a target for gossip.
Hah, the one who looks to be sighing was Princess Retisha, nicknamed Rety.
She was a lovely young girl with cascading light blonde hair and exuberant emerald green eyes, which shine like a pair of peridots. Her visage was striking, but so too was her status: Prince Alfred’s little Sister and third in line for the throne.
She was a splitting image of the faintly remembered late Queen Sharia. And now, that beautiful face grimaced a little.
“…. Older brother. It’s well and fine to stretch your legs, but please move your head and hand before then.” [Rety]
“Rety, are you finished.. ?” [Alfred]
“Yes, while big brother was busily scheming and meeting with his beloved person.” [Rety]
Her giggling smile was sweet, but her eyes were not laughing along. And then, without uttering another word, she set the document atop the desk.
“Consider this a service – from me…… I was a bit curious about the flow of money for a while.. “ [Rety]
She was the one who did the paperwork while Prince Alfred was out.
Now that the king has fallen ill, Prince Alfred’s workload will gradually increase, and he won’t be able to go out and about unless someone handles those matters for him.
Sadly, she had been in a very delicate position from a tender young age… And although she was currently in the middle of the power struggle within the royal palace – which she herself was aware of – she had been acquiring not only a general education but practical skills as well.
Her knack for practical work had even caught the attention of the prime minister, Duke Armelia
“I see your skill has improved immensely…… With this, I will be relieved the next time I entrust you with this form of work.” [Alfred]
“Well, big brother, while you’re at it, please don’t count on me for your next trip.” [Rety]
He flipped through the reports and saw there was nothing to be amended. On the contrary, whilst he was blending amongst the commoners, she had to support him by keeping a close eye on the palace.
“Due to the minister of human rights belonging to the Second Prince’s faction, something such as visiting several places is trivial compared to losing the initiative.” [Rety]
“ …… Indeed.” [Alfred]
In order to retain smooth operations over the kingdom, the government agency was divided into seven departments.
Financial, Military, Judicial, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Educational, and Infrastructure…… And then the prime minister directed and organized them, followed by the king at the top of the administrative hierarchy.
Other than the area directly managed by the royalty, the Kingdom’s government remained autonomous when instating national policies and negotiating with feudal lords.
The feudal lords had tremendous authority; consequently, reaching agreements with each of them took a rather long time.
For this very reason, it was better to hasten centralization…… But, because the nobles in question held such authority, progress quickly stagnated.
Earl Sagittaria, the financial minister, together with the military and foreign affairs, made up the first prince’s faction. As for the second prince’s faction, it was composed of the human rights and civil affairs ministers, in conjunction with the construction and education ministers.
The Darryl Church had infiltrated the political stage through the ministry of education, but they were wrought into disarray by the major personnel purge subsequently after the excommunication conflict. And so, they ceased to function.
During this opportune time, he was thinking of completely segregating them from political affairs.
Incidentally, the judicial minister stayed neutral in the midst of it.
The prime minister, Duke Armelia, used to be neutral, much like current the judicial minister. After the excommunication conflict, however, he was “already considered to be aligned” with the first prince.
“Collusion, won over by briberies put into her bosom, huh…… To think this type of person ‘qualified’ for the minister of human rights.. “ [Alfred]
“Your head was too far gone within your throne stealing games; so much so, it became the mess that it is now.” [Rety]
She gave a wry scoff at the situation, at the fact that they still scattered bribes in addition to embezzling capital funds for himself.
“These games of lies and deceit my younger brother and I are playing, it all amounts to one big machination to secure our positions for the throne…… Oh my, and it seems many people have already taken to playing these very same games here and there.” [Alfred]
“What a bizarre thing to say…… But anyway, older brother.” [Rety]
“Hm? What?” [Alfred]
“Please, allow me to meet with the daughter of Duke Armelia, “Rettishia said it firmly and with great luster in her eyes. [Rety]
“ …… What’s wrong…? To all of a sudden ask for such…?” [Alfred]
He was taken aback, and so he reflexively threw the question at her.
“As a fellow woman, I would very much like to exchange ideas with a similarly rare individual in terms of their involvement with the government…… Well, while that may very well serve as an official reason, the underlying reason is how lovey-dovey the two of you are.” [Rety]
“ …… My relationship with her is not as you think.” [Alfred]
“Oh dear! Is that really not the case? Given the fact that you purposely overlooked the perfect chance to weaken Duke Armelia’s power?” [Rety]
Even the Queen dowager who gives the Armelia house special attention still needs to keep a close eye for the house’s rampant power.
Nobles among nobles, more so than any other house; they uphold their traditions since long ago. And because they have a stalwart reputation of protecting the citizens first and foremost, no blows were struck against them thus far.
“That is……” [Alfred]
“Don’t try to sell me the pretense of how ‘she would be a useful piece’, okay?” [Rety]
Her sharp tone and intense gaze made him understand that whatever he said would be a waste of breath. He sighed at the realization.
“ …… Suppose we declare your intentions to meet her, even then, she wouldn’t be able to this exact location… Furthermore, the places you yourself can go to are limited to the nearby temple and royal palace. “ [Alfred]
“Wouldn’t it be fine if I went with Ludy and big brother?” [Rety]
“ … If you had the chance to, that is.“ [Alfred]
“Then, will you simply leave me again? Good grief, how awful. Right, Ludy?” [Rety]
“ …… I have nothing to say to that.” [Ludy]
Ludius could only show a bitter smile upon having the conversation thrust at him.
“Geez! Even Ludy is dismissing it.“ [Rety]
At Ludius’ words, Princess Retisha pouted to show her dissatisfaction.
However – just as he thought that she would sigh and roll her shoulders in shrug – her lightened mood became overcome with darkness…
He, deep down, did not want to hear the continuation of the earlier words. Even so, that girl chose to silently watch him.
“ …… Let’s leave the matter concerning miss Iris for later. Seriously, I want to catch a breath of fresh air, outside of all this. As a member of the royalty, I want to see the daily lives of the populace around town with my own eyes.” [Rety]
“You do understand the position you are in, right? Yet you still wish to proceed with it?” [Alfred]
Naturally, Prince Alfred’s tone became stiff.
Princess Retisha’s area of activity was short and constrained to begin with. It was limited to only the royal villa and royal palace.
That was because she was a royal…… This reason alone, however, wasn’t enough to explain the situation.
The girl closely resembled her mother, Lady Sharia. This truth became more apparent as the years pressed on. If the king, their father, saw her growth, it was unmistakable that he would lovingly spoil her.
For this very reason, they wouldn’t let the king met her.
If the king doted on her too much, there was a possibility that her cognition and skills would narrow. The cause for all of this was, again, her resemblance to her mother, Lady Sharia.
If such a girl was so dearly beloved by the king, it would be an unpleasant sight for Consort Ellia.
Consort Ellia already regarded Prince Alfred and Princess Retisha as nuisances.
There was a time when she got up to some mischief, and Consort Ellia took direct action against her…… at that time, was it possible to properly protect Princess Retisha?
Even if the king appeared to abnormally dote on her, Prince Alfred believed that he couldn’t be trusted.
While he thought that far ahead, he mocked himself. Truthfully, this is just his…… ego. He was afraid of losing her, so he locked her away.
( I don’t want Lady Sharia’s incident repeated again, and I don’t want to cry at my own helplessness anymore. )
( Perhaps, there was something wrong with me, just like father…)
In this way, Princess Retisha was a caged bird. Since he was afraid of losing her, he would close the gate tightly.
“ …… Understood. I fully know that I am nothing but luggage when something is awry. Even so, I wish to see the outside world for myself. If I only attend the social events for nobility by myself, I wonder what kinds of grandiose memories I can get.” [Rety]
He suddenly stared at the girl.
At this late hour, he thought …… She’s all grown up.
“Still, I want to see what the outside world is like. I don’t want to live carefree, just seeing the things that I want to see in the castle, like that damn brother of mine.” [Rety]
… If I continue to keep her confined here, it won’t be long before she would jump out herself.
As he understood that, her eyes beamed with a strong shine.
Rather, it was better for her to “go out of her way”, and negotiate the issue this way.
“I understand.” [Alfred]
“ …… Eh?” [Rety]
“You want to go for a walk around the street, right? You can do that, but you have to be escorted by myself or Ludy, all right?” [Alfred]
“… Thank you very much, big brother!” [Rety]
Princess Retishia smiled joyously.
“In that case, let’s quickly finish up the remaining documents. You as well, big brother, please don’t postpone your work so that you can go out earlier..” [Rety]
“Ah, understood.” [Alfred]
She picked up a different bundle of documents than the ones from before, now in a good mood. It was the documents that Prince Alfred had just finished. And then she left the room while still holding those documents.
“Ah, Princess Rety. I will carry those.” [Ludy]
After that, Ludius also left the room to chase after her.
“… You’ve really done it, Princess Rety.” [Ludy]
“… My, Ludy. What might you be talking about?” [Rety]
Princess Retishia gave a cheerful grin, as she questioned him in return.
(Even though you so transparently know)…… While thinking about it in his heart, Ludius loosed a response from his lips.
“Don’t ‘what’ me…… the conversation from before. Right from the beginning, your true aim was the travel permit, correct?” [Ludy]
“Fufufu, you guessed correctly~.” [Rety]
Ludius had predicted that, while it wasn’t a lie she wanted to meet Iris, she knew that it could only come to pass if “fortune brings them together”. What she was really after was the travel permit, and she splendidly acquired it…… just as he thought.
She plopped down the pile of documents atop her desk, situated in her study. Her study was smaller than Prince Alfred’s. And in further contrast, cute accessories adorned every nook and cranny of the room. Even so, most of the books displayed on the bookshelves didn’t match with the image of a princess.
“Haven’t you been taught by brother? When negotiating with someone, before presenting your truest terms, you start off with higher demands as to feign a compromise later on…… In that way, they’ll have believed they got a better deal than what was originally proposed; and they will be predisposed to accept the compromise as it is.” [Rety]
Well said. Ludius thought as laughter escaped from him.
“And for that very reason, I was cajoled into disclosing the majority of my relationship with Iris… What a troublesome lady…” [Ludy]
“Fufufu…… It seems as though you’re exaggerating quite a bit. It also appears that brother was aware of it all along.” [Rety]
Ludius thought about the time that Prince Alfred’s face contorted. Perhaps it was at that moment, Prince Alfred had realized what Princess Rety truly wanted. Nevertheless, he still danced to her tune; was it in consideration for her feelings?
She sat on the chair that accompanied her study’s desk. It was a white lovely desk, able to make one catch a faint glimpse of the mirages of the royal children who have come and passed throughout the generations, toiling away at their letters on that very same desk…… But the real scene, grounded in reality…… piles upon piles of documents, crushing the imagination beneath their weight.
“Well, I will keep to my word. However… If I were to say, take a stroll within the Capital, and during my walk, just so happened to meet the daughter of Duke Armelia, you wouldn’t have any complaints, right?” [Rety]
“Like I’ve asked, why are you being so hasty…” [Ludy]
The strife has been assuaged for the time being, and Iris should still be in the Capital for a while more. After all, there were various efforts instated to relieve the aftermath left in the wake of Prince Edward’s meddlings.
“Ehem. I only spoke the truth when I said that I want to meet with the daughter of Duke Armelia.” [Rety]
“ …… Why do you concern for her? Well yes, I suppose it can’t be helped if you became intrigued with her, after seeing your beloved brother heartbroken.” [Ludy]
“ …… You’re right. It is as Ludy says. But it does not pertain to a feeling of “Don’t take my brother away” like you imagine, you know?” [Rety]
She effortlessly saw through him. Moreover, she was able to deny it in such a manner that rendered Ludius speechless and awaiting her next word.
But his silence just made her giggle even more.
“ I suppose I harbor a tiny bit of that feeling…… Put plainly, she piqued my interest. For example, ‘that damn brother of mine’ is restricted to a very small world. He has been protected by Consort Ellia ever since he was young; and even now, the people around him never speak ill of him. Isn’t the result of that was his disengagement to the daughter of Duke Armelia?” [Rety]
Ludius soon understood that the ‘damn brother of mine’ was referring to Prince Edward. That was because she always called him such when she mentioned him.
“In a different way, however, my brother’s world is small as well. His world is composed of only myself and Ludy. Other than us…… he has only allowed others at his side to serve as tools, or so I think.” [Rety]
Ludius finally comprehended what she meant by that…… Certainly, it does seem that Prince Alfred’s world is small like Prince Edward’s, but in a different sense.
It wasn’t that his worldview is ‘narrow’, but it concerned whether or not he sought the existence of true companionship.
A relationship not based on convenience…… But one based on being able to forgive, exchange opinions, and have small talk. A person with whom he can do ordinary, everyday things with.
At the present moment, he has opened a little to his blood relative, Princes Retishia, and after her, Ludius…… Or something along those lines.
“For a royal, perhaps this was unavoidable. But brother, in this case, took it to the extreme…… I might have been the one to seal his fate, because he had to carry the burden that I am in the Royal Palace’s environment, a place filled with adversaries.” [Rety]
*Huff* She let out a sigh.
“ …… No, I don’t believe that excuses it. Those who have worked under him in the past were swayed by their own pragmatic judgments of cost and benefit, and after considering it, they were drawn to brother’s capabilities. That is indeed one of brother’s strong points, but… that kind of strength is too fragile to found lasting subordination upon. If you want to put it in a naive manner, perhaps it could be called a ‘bond’… is it? If I were to take, say, a time where brother made a miscalculation, if no sense of loyalty were present in that scenario, those around him would withdraw and re-evaluate their service to him.” [Rety]
She raised a valid point that convinced Ludy.
Currently, those who are under Prince Alfred’s influence are upstart and rural nobles. They have arrived at Prince Alfred’s side after attaining meritorious achievements themselves.
If such people want to make a connection to a competent prince… against someone like Prince Edward, Prince Alfred would emerge as the obvious choice, naturally.
However, if they based their judgment on only that… if, hypothetically, Prince Edward was Prince Alfred’s equal in terms of capabilities, they would come to the conclusion that “either is fine” when asked who they want to follow.
“… This time, the biggest reason why the neutral faction is slightly inclined to Prince Alfred is probably credited to the Duke of Armelia favoring him. So then, why did Duke Armelia endorse him? Certainly, I also think that it was to “make the surroundings see him as such”… But, could they keep watching quietly while such a prominent house became involved? In the worst case scenario, they could make use of his daughter’s excommunication conflict as a pretext to make him leave his duties as prime minister, and force him to withdraw to his territory. However, he remains the family head, and has even begun publicly cooperating, as Prince Alfred’s hands and feet…” [Rety]
“… Is it because he felt indebted to Prince Alfred?” [Ludy]
“That’s correct. Do you truly believe that the Duke of Armelia would willingly offer his assistance to brother, with the risk of splitting the country in two because he favored a side; and even without any compensation?” [Rety]
“We only managed to pull him to our side because of situations that we didn’t plan for, is what you’re saying…” [Ludy]
“That is so… Then, looking at the ‘aftermath’ of said confrontation, doesn’t it make you think that we need to expand the amount of our so-called ‘allies’? Ludy.” [Rety]
“… To strengthen the future crown’s rule, is it.” [Ludy]
“Indeed. Older brother’s goal didn’t stop at uniting the power of the lords like past kings, it goes further than that… A path entrenched with thorns. Therefore, he will need it. People who not only walk with him, but also shed their blood with him. In times of peace, or in the midst of war. Although, I have the feeling that the gentlemen in the military will be fine fighting together since they love Dean deeply.” [Rety]
The grandfather of Prince Alfred’s aide, Ludius, stood at the top of the military, he is General Gazelle. And that same general Gazelle himself has been watching Prince Alfred since he was still a child. Also Prince Alfred had entered the military as Dean, and has built an intimate relationship with them.
Given these three facts, as she said; the military is highly likely to pledge their allegiance if they knew Dean was actually Prince Alfred.
“… Although the discussion has been derailed, if big brother wants to accelerate the strengthening of the royal house in the future, he needs to solidify his camp first. For that reason, older brother couldn’t stay in the world that consisted of only myself and Ludy forever… And during such a time, I discovered the daughter of Duke Armelia. Older brother’s small world started to expand… What on earth is she? I never stopped being interested in her.” [Rety]
“I see. Um, Princess Rety.” [Ludy]
“…What is it?” [Rety]
“… Princess Rety, you never did truly experience the outside world, right?” [Ludy]
Thus far, Ludius has been only listening to what she had to say.
Even if she is a member of royalty, usually, you wouldn’t hear such talk from a girl as young as her… He thought, with a bitter smile.
“… Is something the matter? To so suddenly…” [Rety]
“Oh, it just seemed as though you could personally relate to these stories.” [Ludy]
“… It’s the other way around. Since I live in this cage, I at least want to know a little of the outside world. All I can do is speculate about it.” [Rety]
“… I suppose it’s something like that.” [Ludy]
“Yes, it is.” [Rety]
That was regrettable, or so he thought.
Even from an outsider’s standpoint, it’s clear that she didn’t have the chance to fully utilize her talents, considering the aptitude she has displayed thus far.
“But, I still couldn’t do it. I still haven’t truly acted on my own yet. Anyone can do things like summing up an investigation regarding events that had already transpired, right?” [Rety]
Not just anybody could do that.
It seems that Princess Retishia is too overestimating of other people. Perhaps being out of touch with others was harmful, in a certain aspect.
“Well, back to the topic… I was taken aback, you know? That older brother of mine, showing an interest in other people, as well as paying attention to those he encountered? Older brother always ridiculed anybody who would dare try to become a part of his ‘world’, only you and I excepted, of course. Hey, Ludy…?” [Rety]
“What is it?” [Ludy]
“I wonder if I should ask for your opinion since you are related to her. From your perspective, what sort of person is the daughter of Duke Armelia?” [Rety]
“She is a noblewoman to the core… for better or worse.” [Ludy]
“In a bad aspect, as well?…” [Rety]
“Yes… She was, from what I gathered, a proud being. She has enough strength to stand on her own two feet. And because of that reason, she stood firm in the face her annulled engagement. The result of that led to her new authority, both over her company and fief.” [Ludy]
“… I see. In a way, she is similar to brother, don’t you agree?” [Rety]
“Well, I do… Her pride does not permit any display of weakness. She won’t allow herself to rely on anyone else. How she handled herself in the midst of being harassed within the academy is also indicative of this… And although she could’ve acted discreetly, she chose not to; and instead confronted the issue head-on, with bravado. Or rather, even if the harassment had not occurred, and she chose to rely on her family… She still could have donned the facade of a damsel in distress, altering the impressions placed upon her.” [Ludy]
Due to her dignified movements, naturally, Ludius and Prince Alfred knew that her name was being used by others for their own means.
“Even now, she is still like that… Although she certainly has her servants that she fully trusts. However, she has drawn the line somewhere, so that she will not show her weak side when something happens; because she loves them.” [Ludy]
“Indeed. In a way, she and older brothers are just like peas in a pod. It’s just… she may be straightforward in her ways, but she is truly a good person.” [Rety]
*Haah*, Princess Rety let out a sigh.
“… If brother truly feels frustrated whenever he sees her, I would hope that you would assist him in this matter, even if it is only a minuscule amount.” [Rety]
“Haha… but, I think he has changed. I have never seen him so engrossed with other people this much.” [Rety]
Prince Alfred was not moving on loss and profit calculations this time.
Otherwise, he wondered, ‘how could Prince Alfred put Priest Rafshimons up as collateral, without any hesitation? ‘
“Well, you’re right…… By the way, how far have big brother and her gone?” [Rety]
“Rather than moving forward, he is just starting to be aware of his feelings…… I don’t know whether she herself has feelings for him or not…” [Ludy]
“Oh, my! So, has big brother made preparations for the next step?” [Rety]
“No, that’s……” [Ludy]
“Good grief, it seems that brother is still a good for nothing when it comes to matters of the heart.” [Rety]
He almost said “It is as you say”, but he swallowed those words back.
“Please understand. I’m sure he has his own reasons why he hasn’t made his way to her side.” [Ludy]
“If it’s older brother, no matter how difficult the predicament is, he will always strive to move forward, to obtain what he wants. And even if you try to cover it up with a “cool” phrase, it’s useless.” [Rety]
She had already cut down his rebuttal before he had the chance to argue back.
“As for me, the person who moved my older brother is conveni-… no, it’s nothing. As his sister, I will always support him from the bottom of my heart.” [Rety]
Although she started to spout some dangerous words, he decided to keep quiet about it. Even the pheasant won’t be shot if it didn’t sing. 
Princess Retishia stood up gently. And then, she turned her back to Ludius and proceeded to gaze out the window.
It seemed that she was viewing the scenery that was spreading out below the window.
“ …… Do you remember, Ludy? When we first met.” [Rety]
“Yes, of course. When I first met Princess Rety while accompanying Prince Alfred in the Royal Castle, you were hiding behind your older brother’s back so that I couldn’t even see your face.” [Ludy]
“ …… Ah, such a thing did happen…” [Rety]
While she shyly concurred with that, a nostalgic smile blossomed on her face.
“It was fun…… Really, truly fun. We also used to play in the garden below, right? I couldn’t go outside since I was young. Let alone the Royal Castle, I never went to the Royal Palace. I really had fun when big brother brought you here, you know? …… In my little world that only consisted of grandmother, older brother, and then yourself.” [Rety]
“… Princess Rety…” [Ludy]
“Ludy, please don’t show me that face. I’m content with it. Certainly, of course I was interested in many things, like ‘what kind of place is the upper-class society’… ‘what sort of place is the academy’… and then, ‘what talks to my peers have with each other?” [Rety]
Because she had a weak constitution since her childhood, she was unable to do things like interacting with kids of the same age, nor was she able to attend the academy. Such was her life.
… She lived in a situation that was exactly like a caged bird.
“… But, I understood that I was protected by this… I don’t know about grandmother, but big brother would never use me like a tool. If that was the case, there would be no reason for him not to think of a method to marry me off… Well, if I were to give birth to a child poorly, it would also become a problem for big brother, though.” [Rety]
In fact, because of that reason, Prince Alfred is trying to stop the possibility of her becoming a queen dowager or consort.
Even if Prince Alfred triumphed and expelled Prince Edward, and Princess Retishia gave birth to a child: troublesome situations would come again. The direct descendants of the current royal family still number only a few.
In order of succession: Prince Alfred, Prince Edward, and then Princess Retishia. Prince Alfred and Prince Edward were currently locked in a battle for the throne.
In a situation where Prince Alfred lost, death would surely await him; nine times out of ten. Nobody believed that Consort Ellia would give Alfred an easy punishment like house arrest. For that reason, Prince Alfred didn’t draw away from the battle.
Conversely, in a situation where Prince Alfred did win the struggle for the throne, and Princess Retishia did marry and bear a child, the noble house which she married into would consider the situation.
‘If “something” happened to Prince Alfred… a king will come from my house’, would be the thought of that noble house.
… That would immediately trigger a new conflict.
“Still, the main reason why older brother confined me here was to protect me from Consort Ellia and her faction. And once I go outside, it will be difficult to keep the ‘she has a weak constitution’ excuse. Then I would have to converse with upper-class society… huh. She would become enraged once she saw my face, wouldn’t she? … I truly have been protected by big brother.” [Rety]
“… That shows how much he treasures you, Princess Rety.” [Ludy]
“… Fufufu. You’re right. In that case, I wonder if my marriage is something that would decide brother’s victory? Ahh… even if he was defeated, if I were to be married off to a foreign country or something like that, it would serve as a good move for that damn brother.” [Rety]
… Her saying that she would marry someone stirred a certain pain in Ludius’s chest.
But it lasted only a brief moment… he thought it was only his imagination, and refocused on her story right away.
“… Even though I was worried, and felt lonely at times… As I thought, that was the most enjoyable time, wasn’t it.” [Rety]
Princess Rety showed a lovely smile after she said that. As soon as she retracted that smile, her face became serious, filled with determination.
“… Ludy. We have to win. For brother’s sake, and my sake too. Also, for the daughter of Duke Armelia too.” [Rety]
“You’re right.” [Ludy]
“For the moment, we need a countermeasure for the trade disturbance in Duke Armelia’s fief. Since it concerns older brother, have you already done anything about it?” [Rety]
“Eeh, well…” [Ludy]
“I’ll also help with everything I can.” [Rety]
Princess Retishia ended the conversation with a bright smile.
- 雉も鳴かずば撃たれまい。A Japanese proverb, basically means that bad things can happen because of useless remarks. ↩