The day after I established that Ronald was Eleanora’s brother and Duke Hillrose’s son, I visited the royal castle alone.
As I stepped down from the carriage, I couldn’t help but admire the sight of the royal castle. It had been a long time since I last saw this sight, naturally it took my breath away. There’s no way to avoid it anymore. I’m just going to have a nice little chat with the Queen then come back home, there’s no need to think so hard about it.
I was led to a small, cozy room on the castle’s upper floor that I’d never been to before. I like it here since the atmosphere is so calm, especially when compared to the dazzling view of the royal castle.
When I arrived at the room, the Queen was already waiting and a tea set was prepared in front of her.
「It’s been a while, Yumiela-san.」
「It’s been a long time, Your Majesty.」
「Don’t be so scared, okay? Do you want a cup of tea?」
When I saw the queen personally making the tea, I was even more horrified. Her behavior when brewing the tea radiated a noble aura.
Previously, I had learned how to brew tea from Rita. After that, I washed my hands from learning since I was told that the way I brewed my tea was too pitiful.
「How does it taste? I hope it suits your palate.」
「Yeah, this is really tasty.」
Since I’ve been drinking poisoned tea regularly, my tongue is very untrustworthy. But I’m sure it’s delicious because the queen made it with thoughtful care in mind. That’s a really good point.
I don’t think she knows about my disappointing taste buds, but she chuckled like a child before opening her mouth.
「Did you go to visit Ashbaton? How was his parents’ house?」
「Oh, I have news on that. Thanks to your blessings, we are now officially engaged.」
「That’s good to hear, do you have plans for the ceremony?」
Why does everyone keep bringing up the wedding? Do they really want to eat a cake that much? It’s like the only event they’re looking forward to is my wedding.
Of course, I haven’t decided on the date and time yet. Even I wasn’t sure whether to hold a wedding or not. And for some reason, Patrick was eager to hold the wedding.
「We haven’t decided yet. Troubling things seem to happen in the royal capital and along the border so we’ll wait and see how things work out. 」
「Ah, the Remrest Kingdom. The news already spread in the royal capital. It looks like Yumiela-san drove them away. As a Queen, I’m thankful for Count Dolknes’ assistance.」
「No, I didn’t do anything. You should thank Count Ashbaton for it.」
It’s been a week since the skirmish with our neighboring country. And the news has already reached the King and the Queen’s ears.
The Queen looked quite composed even though there’s a possibility a war between the Remrest Kingdom and us might happen.
「This morning, new information arrived from their capital. The battle for the throne’s succession is heating up and it’s not the time for them to send troops for an expedition.」
「Is it bad if I say good for us, then?」
「I don’t think so, it’s good news for our kingdom after all. And it’s not like we don’t have our own problems to deal with.」
For the time being, the threat from Remrest seems to have diminished. But if something did happen, I’m going over there. Not for the sake of national crisis but because it’s Patrick’s hometown.
After the Queen talked about the problem that could happen, we changed our conversation to the second prince’s faction.
「Miss Eleanora has been distancing herself from His Highness, which should calm the second prince’s faction a bit.」
「That’s really good to hear. She is a good kid…」
What did she do in the past that makes the queen talk about her so vaguely?
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the Duke. Now that I think about it, she warned me to be careful of extremist factions but nothing about the Duke.
「Miss Elanora also said her father supported her decision to keep the distance between them. What is the Duke thinking?」
「…Yumiela-san also heard about Ronald, right?」
「Yes, I’m aware of it.」
As expected, the Queen knows Ronald’s true identity. I’m a little surprised that she was already aware of what happened yesterday.
After a moment of careful deliberation, she answered.
「You don’t need to be wary of Duke Hillrose. Naturally, I recommend you to keep your distance. I suspect that he’s probably going to cause a ruckus soon.」
「Yeah, His Majesty and I would like him to stop but I don’t think he will. It’s always been this way, somehow his prediction about the future comes true.」
I keep hearing about “The Duke’s future prediction”. And from the way the Queen spoke, it seems like his prediction came to fruition once again.
The reason why his only son was raised separately and about the upcoming uproar must have something to do with his future prediction.
「What do you mean with the future prediction? What in the world is his prediction?」
「…The one who brought the information about the Demon King’s resurrection was House of Hillrose. He already anticipated the domestic commotion it would cause before and after the resurrection occurred.」
Huh. I never expected to hear Demon King come up in our conversation. The Dukes family must have been a descendant of the first king’s brother. It makes sense that they knew he would come back.
The commotion around the Demon King’s resurrection, since he’s already dead, I can only assume it’s something that must have happened after his resurrection.
The second prince faction’s rise was because Prince Edwin participated in Demon King’s subjugation which deemed him suitable for the position of the next King. That’s the commotion that occurred after subjugation.
He had that kind of foresight, huh? It’s not strange that the Duke isn’t part of the second prince’s faction or how he did not push forward the marriage between Prince Edwin and Elanora?
I was thinking about how strange this was before the Queen continued.
「He has his own judgement. You don’t need to worry much, even though I can’t say much, I can assure you it won’t be anything dangerous.」
Not gonna lie, it kinda bothers me but if I stick my nose into other people’s business it’s bound to get me in trouble. As long as I’m not getting dragged into it, I don’t mind being quiet.
After that we talked about the situation regarding the Ashbaton territory, especially what happened during my visit. And soon, the tea party came to an end.
We parted ways and I walked through the castle. As it is, there’s a high chance of encountering troublesome nobles when walking in a castle, so let’s get out of here quickly.
I’m trying to stay out of trouble, wouldn’t it better if they sent someone to guide me back? It should be a package with the carriage. I don’t really like riding a carriage but it can’t be helped since they picked me up using one. It’s faster if I run and the ride is uncomfortable.
Will I be able to escape through the window and not be seen by anyone? No, I was recently banned from going in or out through the window. The odds that Patrick will find out is high since there’s a lot of witnesses around here.
There was a time where the chance of me going out normally or meeting people I didn’t want to meet wasn’t high.
What are the chances I bump into Duke Hillrose in the hallway? He looked calm when I greeted him.
「Oh, if it isn’t Count Dolknes. I haven’t seen you since the ceremony a year ago.」
「…Thank you for that one.」
「I didn’t do anything, it was the Count who defeated the Demon King. Wasn’t that ceremony happen in honor of the Count?」
The Duke doesn’t look old, but somehow he gave off a dark and gloomy vibe. He had this condescending look on his face that makes him look like an evil villain.
I was told not to be wary of him but was also advised not to get too close, as something will happen soon.
「The one who officiated the ceremony was His Highness Prince Edwin, wasn’t it?」
I was supposed to leave as soon as possible but I want to find out about the second prince’s faction.
He replied with a stifled laugh.
「Anyone with sensible sense and at least a modicum of intelligence wouldn’t think that the prince was the one who orchestrated the Demon King’s subjugation.」
「…He is one of the most outstanding people in the kingdom.」
「Huh, the prince is lucky to be acknowledged by the most influential person in the world.」
The Duke laughs heartily, amused.
The actual situation of Demon King’s defeat went within the expectation. Just like what he said, it’s pretty easy to comprehend if you’re in the loop.
The conversation didn’t bring any information I wasn’t aware of, I guess it’s time to walk away. I thought and tried to walk past the Duke.
「Then, I’ll leave you to it.」
「Wait, I have one more question.」
I could shake it off and just walk away. It’s not that I have something particular that I needed to do, so I stopped halfway.
「What is it? I have no intention of joining your faction.」
「As long as you are not associated with those fools I’m okay with any faction you decide to join. What I wanted to know is, whether or not you like this kingdom?」
Is it okay to dismiss your fellow faction members and call them fools? So the important question is do I like this kingdom? Being asked about patriotism by someone who didn’t seem patriotic feels weird.
To be honest, I never thought about such things but I’ll give an acceptable answer.
「I’m a noble, of course I’m loyal to the royal family.」
「No, nothing like that. Whether you really mean it or not, it doesn’t mean the same thing. What I want to know is, do you like this kingdom, your territory and your people? I don’t care about the royal family or the spoiled brat of a king.」
I knew it, he’s bad news. Calling the King a spoiled brat in the King’s castle in a country where the monarchy is in power.
I looked around my surroundings, scared that someone might hear our conversation. Wait, why am I the one who freaked out?
You should like the kingdom, the people and the nobles inside it. But patriotism is an emotion that I have a hard time understanding.
The earlier I answered his question, the earlier I could leave. But I couldn’t move my mouth to get the words out. It’s hard to say that I like this kingdom. However, I didn’t become a noble for my own benefit.
The Duke changed his question when he saw me at a loss for an answer.
「…Let me rephrase my question, say there’s a starving village. What will you do?」
「Since I can’t produce food out of nothing—」
「No, I’m talking about action. What course of action will you take? What your action is aiming for.」
「Of course, I’m going to think about how to resolve the food shortage that’s happening.」
Isn’t that obvious? I have a conscience too, you know.
Then his mouth twisted, looking mean.
「Well… somewhere in the world, people are suffering from hunger. Why don’t you do anything about those?」
「It’s impossible to do it throughout the world. I’ll do something for those within my reach.」
I’m not a God. I can’t save everyone around the world from misfortune. But first I’ll use my power to help this kingdom, my territory and the people around me.
The Duke proceeded to ask me another question with an even nastier smile.
「Wonderful. Do you know your place at your age? You aren’t a brat. Keep up the good work.」
「Huh, I’ll be going then.」
The Duke’s grin showed him in a good mood. This family is different, from the way the Duke smile is weird, Ronald with his famous pasted-on smile and Eleanora who wore her heart on her sleeve.
He keeps saying things that don’t make sense to me, I should leave. I slipped by the Duke to leave this time.
I only took a few steps, before I was stopped again. My only response was to just turn my head to look at him.
「What is it now?」
「Please be good to Eleanora.」
The smile he showed time was different from the smile a few seconds ago, it was more like a smile of a gentle father.
Before I could give a response, he walked away and I was left alone.