Feel free to point errors or give suggestions.
Tap, tap, tap. My footsteps resounded as I slowly walked down the carpet.
Left. Right. Left. Right. I looked forward and maintained a straight face. But even so, it’s as if I’m staring at an endless abyss. Dark and cold.
As I peer into it, I hear mutters, and voices from the surroundings. The voices were inconsistent, some were loud, some were silent, some are near, and some far. But as I continue, the voices started to turn to whispers, soon the whispers turned to silence. It’s as if the curtain on a play had risen.
One by one, I started to feel gazes around me. One, two, three… It kept on incessantly increasing, like rain drops from the sky, immeasurable. Among those gazes, were curious ones, some felt like the eyes of wonder, but the others wore gazes of awe.
Nevertheless, I kept on walking, slowly as if every step were synchronized with my heartbeat, one by one, left, then right.
A few moments passed and feeling of wanting to go slower started to swell within me, but deep inside, I felt that slowing down is an act of cowardice, an act that would serve as the hammer to smash my resolve into countless pieces.
All these eyes, this gazes, as if they are expecting something from me. These people, they are without doubt citizens of Laurel. As a princess of this kingdom, I at least have the responsibility to answer them.
I have to do this despite my wishes, now that every audience in this banquet is witnesses. With this, I have already sealed my own escape. Turning back now would only bring shame to this kingdom, the royalty, and to me.
These feelings are too familiar. This feeling of losing my chance. The cold weight in my chest. And this feeling of being cornered. Ah, yes, the feeling of regret, sadness, and helplessness. So you’ve come to haunt me after all the time and effort I gave… I thought as I continued down the carpet.
Before I approached the end of the aisle, I balled up my emotions, hid it, and swallowed it whole.
When I took the last step and stood before a tall, broad-shouldered, and medium built man with the same silver hair as I.
Is this the man that my fate has decided? I thought as I met my eyes with the man before me.
<A random Noble’s POV>
I was holding a glass of wine while having a pleasant chat with my fellow Nobles. We exchanged our experiences in managing the territory, but more often than that, we talked about our complaints in the difficulties we encountered. It trailed off and turned into a competition on who had it even worse than the other.
“Oh, indeed, I too had a headache from a similar case, but mine was a wyvern.”
“I had the same trouble in my territory previously. Now and then, a few juvenile wyverns fly down the mountains looking for a place to build a nest.”
As we were chipping our own responses, the noise from the other guests starts to die down.
Such an abrupt silence has made us turn our gazes towards its source. There and then, our sights were glued to the woman walking down the carpet.
Silver hair tied up into a braided bun pinned by an ebony hair stick. A slim, young body wearing a simple yet attracting white gown decorated with black ribbons. And lastly, a small silver tiara decorated her head.
It was none other than the first Princess, Amelia Laurel, dubbed as the Silver Princess.
Every single gaze among the guests was instantly absorbed, not just because she was the princess, but because of spectacle that none of us expected.
In each step her Highness took, the dress emits dust of light, which created a trail a beautiful trail of light dust slowly descending to the ground.
The hem of the gown gradually turned translucent up until above her Highness’s knees. Under the translucent cloth are intricate patterns that heighten the beauty of her Highness’s gown.
But what drew the guests to quietly gaze in pure awe was not the display of the beauty of her Highness. It was the air that surrounded her. The air that exudes resolve, resolve coupled with determined and dignified steps. It was as if she was an honorable Queen is moving towards her throne.
To think that her Highness would demonstrate such presence during her coming of age. Her Highness’s future, I want to witness it.
I thought as her Highness approached the end of the carpet, where a man stood wearing a surprised expression. It was none other than her Highness’s father, 7th King of Laurel, King Auguste Laurel.
One second, two, three… I stood with a blank expression for who knows how long. The longer I stood the more I felt that time had stagnated.
“Amelia, your hand,” The man, who was my father, and also the king, asked me as he raised his own.
Unconsciously, I offered my hand without muttering a single word. During that time, numerous thoughts started swirling within my mind, looking for answers to this unusual event. As I kept my thoughts running, I was led to a seat inside a large garden alcove.
“Now listen, my dear guests!” My father joyfully shouted. “Today, we celebrate my beloved daughter’s coming of age! And tonight we feast!” At the same time, he raised a chalice into the air.
“Oooooh!” The guests shouted in return. Afterward, the minstrels began to play their instruments to make the night livelier.
After his speech, I started to realize the situation. Slowly, I felt a cold sensation creeping over my body, a sensation similar to blood draining.
“I was wondering why you ignored me when I called for you at the entrance,” A man said nearby. “But it seems you had a huge misunderstanding judging from that pale face of yours.”
I looked towards the source of the voice and found my uncle, Duke Tervin, wearing a wide grin on his face while forcing himself not to laugh.
“You probably thought it was some other kind of ceremony, right?” He asked chuckling. “I’m guessing a ceremony related to marriage?”
I shuddered after I heard his words.
“Gahahahahaha!” He laughed with his hand over his stomach.
As my uncle laughs over my misunderstanding, I felt my mentality taking hits one blow at a time.
Please stop… I earnestly thought.
As I sat there agonizing in silence while wishing for the world to end immediately, my father came.
My father, in wonder, asked Uncle for the situation. Which Uncle explained with traces of tears in his eyes. When Father realized, he wore a wry smile on his face.
“Don’t worry, this secret is safe with us,” he said as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
That does not make me feel better at all. And besides, Erina probably knows... Realizing that Erina probably knew of this, I shuddered a second time. Just thinking about the ways she could use this against me, it’s terrifying…
“That aside, Auguste won’t let you get married so easily you know?” Uncle said.
“Anyone who wants my daughter needs to at least take my fist every day for at least a year,” My father added. “And I’ll be sure to use augmented knuckles while I’m at it.” He said as he proudly raised his fist.
“If only you would say similar words to Argent, I’m sure he would be motivated.” Uncle said as he scratched his head.
“Hmph. He’s no longer a flightless chick.” Father said in a dismissive manner.
As I listen silently, I started to regain control over my scattered emotions.
“Now that you mention it, where is Elder Brother?” I asked. “And wasn’t Elaine supposed to attend today?” I continued.
“Elaine might have overslept, and probably being dressed as we speak.” My uncle answered. “I have no idea for Argent.”
“He might not arrive.” Father answered passively.
““Huh?”” Uncle and I wondered.
“That’s because I dumped the papers in his room.” He proudly said.
I felt slightly delighted at his statement, but at the same time, I felt sorry. It’s quite a complicated feeling, to be honest.
“Father, why was the celebration held today?” I asked confused. “It’s earlier by three days.”
Albeit a little late, I still remembered to ask. I also inquired about the royal guard’s unsightly actions.
Regarding the royal guards, it was actually a staged performance. Its role was to delay my arrival to the capital and to increase the odds of me returning to the manor instead of the palace.
Now that they mentioned it, it is unlikely that my cousin would be there just to invite me. And as I was preoccupied with Erina, I failed to notice that not a single Noble waited for me at the city walls. Aside from that, Ark knew that Elaine was joining the banquet he had no idea of.
I’ve let my guard down so easily… But I guess it’s fine since it worked as a surprise.
Aside from that, the reason behind the date was simple. It was to assure that the 2nd Queen consort wouldn't be able to attend. Another reason is to name the celebration under the Duke's house in order for it to be considered unofficial.
According to them, they gave the 2nd Queen consort a task to investigate a village two days away northeast of Aves. It was ascertained that she would arrive the day before the announced celebration.
The three-day buffer between the dates is insurance if ever the consort arrives earlier, or if ever a miracle happens that she gets wind of the plans.
In addition, Mark, my 2nd brother, is accompanying her, so he too won’t be joining this evening.
And as for this ridiculous dress woven with the skin of Formosa, emits light dust, and a few more functions to accentuate the beauty of the wearer is a mystery to both my father and my uncle. They were even surprised that I asked. They thought I had it prepared it in advance. In conclusion, this dress was prepared by Erina.
There’s no need to investigate, that’s all the evidence I need. I thought without any hint of doubt. Where did she get the funds to-
My face paled after I had a glimpse of my wardrobe while surrounded by traitors.
N-no, it shouldn’t be, right? S-she couldn’t have sold them right? I must confirm it, yes. Yes, she couldn’t have… but what if she did?
At that moment, I was dragged into a dimension of endless doubts and questions. After a few minutes, I have decided that It’d be better to confirm first. I decided this while a lingering heavy feeling remains.
A few moments later, while sharing a meal, and idle chatter, my mother came along with both my brother Argent and sister Elaine.
“Looks like they’ve arrived,” Uncle said as he moved his sight.
“Hm?” I looked over to the direction his sight was focused.
Over there was my little sister with brown hair, blue eyes.
“Ah! Elder Sister!” My sister exclaimed as she hurriedly walked towards me. “I’m happy you’re back!”
I stood to receive her. Then she gave me an embrace which I of course returned.
“You seem well,” I said as I gave enough space for us to talk decently. “But where is your mother?”
“Mama says she can’t join today.” She said with a frown.
How to say this, my bright little sister is just like always. Innocent, cheerful and naïve, but I get the feeling that breaking her innocence would be inexcusable.
“Welcome home Amelia,” My mother said as she approached. “I suppose your father notified you regarding that woman. No?”
When Mother spoke, I released Elaine. Then Elaine went to my uncle
“I have returned Mother,” I said in reply. “And yes, I am very grateful for the consideration,” I continued. “In any case, Mother, the way you dress is as elegant as always,” I honestly said.
“Oh! Diane co-”
“Please refrain from speaking for a moment, dear,” She said as she raised her closed fan to interrupt Father.
“Amelia, try to not be like your Father as you grow,” She said as she pointed her fan towards Father’s direction. “It’d be a shame as a Royal.”
“Please be relieved, Mother, Father showed me what not to become,” I replied with a smile.
“Very well said, well then I’ll be giving your father a little advice. I’ll give my greetings at the announced celebration. For now, enjoy the banquet,” She said as she dragged my sad figure of a father away. Mother is probably angry about the papers he dumped in Argent’s room.
You reap what you sow. I thought chuckling at Father’s demise.
While I wave my hand to my father goodbye, my brother approached and spoke to me.
“It seems you’re in good health dear Sister,” He said.
“And you t-” I stopped midway surprised by the look in his eyes and at his face masked by make-up.
I raised my hand and placed it over my brother’s shoulder.
“Stay strong,” I said trying to motivate my brother.
Sorry dear Brother, but you have to be a sacrifice for our hopeless father.
“What might you be referring to?”
I increased my grasp on my brother’s shoulder.
“Stay Stro-” I tried to repeat.
“Ahahaha, please refrain from the jokes.” [Amelia, you’ve got to help me!]
I was interrupted when a voice spoke inside my head. It is either telepathy or wind whisper, but judging from that pathetic cry for help, I bet its wind whisper.
“Sorry dear Brother, but that is not my intention.” [Didn’t Mother left to do just that?]
I activated the same magic to communicate.
“No, it’s fine, anyway, I’ve heard you’ve exhibited a sublime presence.” [You know Father, he’d vanish the next day. If you’d help me, I’ll give you two of those weeds.]
Please don’t remind me of the event earlier! I thought embarrassed of the fact.
“Surely you jest. I only exhibited a presence befitting a royal.” [At least call them herbs you jerk! You say it like I’m cattle in the fields!]
“As expected of my sister, you are indeed a good image of a royal.” [There’s no helping it, they look like an ordinary weed without a mana shard.]
“Dear Brother, why don’t we take a seat?” [Half a day.] I said as I gestured to a nearby chair.
“No, I am fine.” [One day.]
“Then, dear Brother, have you eaten?” [Three for one day.]
“I’m afraid not, please excuse me then.” [We have a deal.]
“Please enjoy your meal.” [I’ll drop by two days from now]
My Brother affirmed with a nod and took off to have his meal.
Afterward, the banquet proceeded until it was time for me to receive the gifts from the guests. But since this is an unofficial celebration, the gifts were not presented to me. Even so, I was still required to greet everyone and receive their blessings and praises.
Nevertheless, I was told by my uncle that the gifts were already stored inside the palace, and they would be moved to the manor starting tomorrow. Just hearing those made me feel excited. There might be some unexpected stuff mixed in among the gifts.
Soon after, the banquet had officially ended. The guests left, parked carriages moved, minstrels kept their instruments, and servants started cleaning. The same was true for Argent and Elaine, but I promised that I would play with Elaine some other day, so she was delighted when she left.
When I scanned through the area, I found Erina waiting nearby the garden entrance. It seems like she already prepared the carriage.
When I started walking towards the direction of the carriage, my uncle called out to me.
“Amelia, wait, there’s still a gift you haven’t received.” I was puzzled by what my uncle had said. “Please bring it.”
As Uncle commanded, a Knight brought a rod-like object covered in white cloth.
“This is the last gift; the guest is unable to join the banquet, so I was asked to do a favor and pass it to you.”
A favor from whom?
Asking a duke to pass over a gift, is there even anyone capable of that other than my father?
While I was guessing, another Knight approached and unrolled the cloth. After that, the knight presented it with both hands kneeled before me presenting the unraveled object.
It was a rapier. In a single glance I was enthralled by its presence.
“Surprising, right?” my uncle said. “Even I will have troubles acquiring such a sword.”
I reached for the rapier while Uncle speaks. I then unsheathed a portion to take a peek at its blade. While I was appraising the sword, the Knights left quietly.
Bluish silver. That’s the only words that came to mind.
“Fascinating, isn’t it?” He asked.
I nodded in reply.
“This one was made by combining both mithril and silver which created a quicksilver alloy.” He said with a light smile.
My eyes widened at his words, surprised by quality of the metals used to create such a sword.
“Who would give such sword?” I asked curiously.
“It was forged by the dwarfs of Alabaster.” He answered.
“That…” Astonished by his answer, my hands started to quiver.
The Alabaster dwarfs, they are dwarfs that have a favorable relationship with the mountain elves at the foot of the Alabaster mountain range south of Aves.
Both races live by supplementing each other flaws and live as a single tribe. The mountain elves hunt for food with their agile bodies and trusty short bows. On the other hand, the Alabaster dwarfs mine for minerals inside to produce weapons and armor for the elves.
In the year I was born, my grandfather 6th King of Laurel persistently entered the forest at the foot of Alabaster to meet with the Tribe. He believed that if we are able to build a relationship with them, Laurel will further prosper. Despite that, only a few shared his belief due to the influence of the human supremacist church.
Grandfather brings me frequently when visiting the forest at the age of five. At the age of seven, the Tribe finally recognized him. A year after, Laurel’s development had increased, and the effects of trading with the Tribe became visible. During that time, Laurel's development has been affected by the techniques used by the Tribe and has given a lot of benefits.
Another year after that, Grandfather started promoting the benefits of peace and trade with the races as he traveled across kingdoms. But during the travel, he died. The cause of his death was known be caused by an unexpected monster attack while on the road to the kingdom of Libet.
But that was a lie. It was made to look like a monster attack took place. The reason I know this was because I was there.
It was the day I woke up from my dream. And even after I woke up, Reality was not so kind to give me a reprieve. It slapped mud over my face over and over again till I lost my sanity.
Leaving behind my past, the day the Tribe heard the news of my grandfather’s death, they stopped all their trades with Aves but still kept the peace agreement. The only reason they gave is that there is no longer someone from their Tribe that they could trust within Laurel.
In any case, I continued what my grandfather started. I visited the forest like what Grandfather did, but to no avail, I was refused.
After that, I went to study in the neighboring kingdom academia, the kingdom of Scholars. I’ve dabbled in a lot of fields scraping up anything that I thought that might convince the Tribe to re-establish trade. I took in reports every day regarding the Tribe while I was studying. I kept on drafting propositions, suggestions, and advice that I think would be helpful for the Tribe and sent it back to the capital to realize those drafts.
I continued doing that repeatedly for five years and now…
“Yes, your efforts have finally been recognized by the Tribe.” He said smiling.
My mouth kept on quivering, my hands, my fingers, and my legs trembled. As I stood, my knees weakened, then soon, my trembling bent, and I fell on the ground. As I sat there on the ground, I again looked onto the rapier, the proof of my recognition.
“I-i…” Unable to find the words to utter I continued to stutter.
“Amelia you’ve worked hard enough, you deserve a rest.”
I felt a hand over my head after my uncle uttered those words.
Finally… My sight immediately blurred as I thought of that word.
“Amelia its fine, you’ve been holding it in for five years. Father would surely be proud.”
I felt as if something warm was rushing out from out of my chest. Something deep inside that I have long forgotten.
I tightly grasped the rapier in my hand and brought it over to my chest as if I was a child refusing to hand over her precious toy. Afterward, tears started to trace over my cheeks. The tears gathered under my chin and fall to the ground drop after drop. Then slowly, as if a faucet has broken down, tears gushed out from my closed eyes.
Finally… Grandfather… You can finally rest peacefully…