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With more than half an hour before dawn, the sky is dark and the road silent. Only the light from lamps and sleeping birds serves as our audience.
“Father, we need to talk,” I said as I obstructed my father from passing through the wall towards Aves.
“Ahahaha, you found me before I reached the city,” He chuckled. “How did you know that I’d pass through here this time?”
“Instinct,” Indifferently I replied.
He scanned the surroundings briefly and spoke.
“Not here, the citizens might be disturbed.” He said.
“Don’t worry, I had those horses prepared,” I said pointing to a stable near the wall.
“You’ve come prepared huh, you'd grown.” He smiled.
“…” But I said nothing in return.
Father and I then rode our horses and exit Aves over the stone bridge to the east. We traveled further east for several minutes until we arrived at an open plain. We went down our horses and tied them to a nearby tree, then walked towards the edge of the scattered and protruding rocks, large enough to become tables.
“Father, why did you choose Mother?” I started as I skip over from one rock to another.
“That’s a difficult question,” He said as he scratched his chin. “Your mother was unique I guess?”
“Unique in what way?”
“You could say that as a prince, noblewomen would fawn over me, hell it was lots of fun,” He looked over the horizon with a wide grin. “But Diane was different, she would always snicker at me and diss me even though I was a prince.”
“…” I kept quiet.
So Father is a masochist?
“That’s when I thought that I’d make her fawn over me like the other women. But I sure was wrong!”
Then he began laughing loudly.
“Even your uncle, who was crown prince, was smitten by Diane. But when we noticed that we were both aiming for her we fought duels after duels just to get the other to back off.”
Then I suppose you’re both masochists? I tried to make a joke to myself to control my emotions.
“But then we decided that the one Diane falls for will be the heir to the throne. Luckily Father didn’t care and just gave his consent.” He narrated. “Long story short, I won over Diane and received the throne.”
Yes, I remember that ridiculous story about the fight for the throne.
“Father, you didn’t answer my question,” I said as I took a seat on the rocks.
After that, black dots started appearing from the horizon.
The guards are already here, huh, I surmised. Well, they won’t be disturbing us, so it’s fine.
“Amelia, that’s the only answer I can give. Even I don’t know why I have fallen for her. If you’d ask me what features I like about her, I might say that everything is perfect. I might even spend a whole day describing every detail about her.”
“Then why did you take in more women?” I asked glaring at his direction.
Unexpectedly, he quickly responded.
“Amelia, did you know that your mother can no longer give birth?”
Of course, the cause of it was my birth.
“Isn’t that just an excuse? An heir was already born before that.”
“Guess can’t refute that. Haaah…” He continued. “I took in Liz as the 2nd consort to establish a connection with the merchants in Laurel, and Mark was the result.”
I again stood and skipped over the rocks again to ease myself.
Well, it’s true that we needed a connection with the merchants to have a more stable rule…
“As for Lara, it was an accident that she got pregnant so I felt responsible and took her in as a mistress.”
She wouldn’t have been pregnant if you didn’t play around too much…
Even though, he is a King and having multiple women at his side is but a common event, a part of me still can’t accept it. In any case, I’m not entirely against it either. It’s just my own selfish ideal. I thought as I suppressed my emotions.
“What about Camille?” I asked, clenching my fist.
Camille is the mother of Rick and Fae. After he left, I approached her and asked a few questions.
“Haha. I didn’t know you’d find out so soon.”
“I happened to pass by.” I answered passively
“Haah… Actually, I didn’t know Camille got pregnant. I met her six years ago when I visited the Kingdom of Brent for one month. She used to work as a priestess of that church. Only two years ago that she transferred here from Brent along with Rick and Fae.”
“Father, you do know that she’s no longer a priestess of that church. And didn’t you introduce yourself as a Knight of Grandfather’s guards?”
I said as I stood atop a rock, gazing at him. “To her, you are dead.”
“Yes, I did tell her that.” He admitted.
So she wasn’t lying. Everything she said is in line what Father has said at the least.
“She loved you, Father, that’s what I heard from her. She took her own independent investigation regarding your death. She found that the church was involved hand for that event. She then relinquished her priesthood after gathering enough money. She then traveled with Rick and Fae afterward.”
It was easy to ask this from Camille. She teared up when I asked about Rick and Fae’s father. She then told her story as if she was involved in the death of her would to be husband.
I really don’t understand what’s so good about my father that women keep falling for him.
“How can you say that she’s not lying?” He asked with a glare.
“I’ll return that question, how can you not believe she’s not lying? Haven’t you observed her for these past two years?” I said as I returned his glare.
“Still, you can’t rule her out as a spy from that church.”
I jumped down and approached him.
“Then how about this. Let’s say she’s a spy, but what of it? Haven’t you been working to slowly eliminate the church’s influence in Laurel? Even the church’s existence in Aves is almost non-existent. If she was a spy she’d practically have no support and become a sitting duck in Aves.”
To begin with, the church had not taken a deep root in Laurel back then.
“She might have connections with the Nobles.” He answered with a snort.
Dumbfounded by his answer I replied in a shout. “Why are you being so unreasonable?!”
“And I can’t believe you’re too careless Amelia!” Father shouted in return.
“Aren’t you just being overprotective?! I’m no longer a child!” I returned.
“Overprotective?! I’m not! I just don’t want any of those filthy bastards lay a hand on you!” He refuted.
“Why just me?! Can’t you do the same for Rick and Fae just the same? They’re both innocent!”
“What if they’re being used?! And can you blame me?! You have been so fragile that had difficulty from being born! When you were, three you almost fell from the stairs! I can even cite more!” He continued. “But even more than those, I hated it when you returned like you were a battered slave with not even a shred of light in the eyes... Calling you a talking corpse wouldn’t be far-fetched…”
He narrated with a frown. “Our daughter returning like that, do you even know how Diane and I felt? We can’t even grieve Father’s death out of your concern.”
Steadily, I looked at father without batting an eye.
“Every single day we visited your room, only to hear that you wanted to die, and asking us to end it for you. Hell knows what might have happened if we didn’t let anyone look after you for every minute of the day.” He looks straight into my eyes as he speaks.
“Those three days, I cannot forget how you looked… You didn’t even want to eat. If we didn’t have the magicians use recovery magic to prolong your life, you’d be dead. But even more than that, Amelia, aren’t you mad? How can you just let it go as if it’s nothing?”
“Father, even though you’re hopeless, I still admire you.” Immediately I responded.
“What?” He was puzzled from my inconsistent answer.
I closed my eyes for a brief moment then moved my sight towards the break of dawn.
“You leave your work to Argent so he can get used to handling work as the next king. For mark, even though he’s the worst possible person I know to be alive, you haven’t abandoned him. In Elaine’s case, you shelter and dote on her too much that she’d become a typical innocent princess.”
I breathe in as I paused, then continued.
“As King, you frequently visit the towns and just play around. But at the same time, you’re checking the actual situation and try to get the sentiments of the citizens. Also, as King, you showed your fervor to the knights and soldiers and led them to subjugate numerous wyverns that ran amok northeast of Aves. I even heard that you were on the front lines.”
Without pause I continued. “But because of those qualities of yours, you keep on recognizing me as nothing but a fragile child. A child, no, a daughter you must protect. But Father, I too grow, I too mature. I’ll never be a child forever, but I will always be your daughter,” I said firmly. “Regarding the church, of course, I’m mad.”
Then I moved my sights towards his direction.
“Wha…” Surprised by the look in my eye he cried.
“Father, do you see? Can you tell? There is no day in my life where I’d forgotten. But Father, let me ask you. What would I accomplish if I exact my revenge? Would the kingdoms go to war with Laurel? Would they recognize the races as nothing but hostile? Would the races take the chance to invade?”
“In addition, what could a princess who just woke up from her dream do against the church? Kill them? Burn them? Cut their heads off? Put them on a stake? And after that, what? Spread chaos and let the races invade further southeast to endanger our own lands?”
“Father, I don’t have to do anything. The races bordering humanity further northwest could do it for me. They can all die and burn to the ground for all I care. And while they keep their beliefs that there’s no possibility of a dialogue, I will prove it with my own hands starting with Laurel.”
Currently, there are but a few kingdoms bordering the southeast region of Randia. Of those kingdoms, one is Libet, the headquarters of the church. These kingdoms serve as our walls against the races. Beyond them are the territories of the other races.
“Lastly, we don’t even know what’s neither inside Alabaster nor beyond it. We can’t be too selfish and endanger our citizens. But who knows what I might do if I went to Libet. I might not be able to control myself and throw my life away…” I said while I gripped the scabbard of my sword.
“And now Father, one of my goals is for you to recognize me. Not as a child, but as your daughter.”
I drew my sword from its scabbard and pointed it over to my Father.
“Father, I’ll prove it to you that I can now handle my own.”
“A duel huh.” He responded.
I nodded in response. “If I win, please consider taking in Camille along with Rick and Fae.”
“And if I win?” He asked.
“I’ll keep quiet and do anything you wish.” I answered.
“Very well.” He agreed. “Guards! My sword!” Followed by shout, the royal guards came and brought his sword.
Father drew his broadsword and pointed its edge towards me. “Amelia, I’ll show you that you still have a lot to learn.”
The wind blew over the plains and lifted my hair into the air.
This will be the first step.
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