Epilogue : The Prince is Born
Time passed by.
After the rainy season, which was cloudy, but relatively cool, the western part of the South Continent welcomed its most severe season.
These three months would be “summer”, if the seasons of Japan were to be enforced here. In the last of them, temperatures of over forty degrees during the day continued naturally, not even dropping below thirty-five degrees at night. Zenjirou experienced this harsh season for the second time.
In other words, a whole year had passed since he came into this world, but right now he was in no situation to appreciate that.
The wooden shutters of the windows in the living room of the inner palace were closed to keep out the brutal sunlight and gruelling heat even just a little bit. For a while now, Zenjirou was restlessly walking around the room without aim like a bear before hibernation, while sweating profoundly in his casual clothes.
“Zenjirou-sama, your sweat…”
A waiting maid with black hair, standing at attention on the side, took a chilled towel from the refrigerator and held it out to him as she could no longer stand on the sidelines.
Zenjirou only noticed that he was sweating once he was told so, and snatched the towel from the hands of the maid, then wildly wiped his face and neck.
Considering his usual behaviour, the brusque attitude of not even thanking her was rather “untypical” of him, but the waiting maid knew the circumstances behind it and actually gave her master a sympathetic look.
“Zenjirou-sama, how about you sit down and rest for a bit…”
Not only that, one of the young maids called out to him worried, even while knowing that this act was a taboo, considering their social positions.
In the very moment Zenjirou was about to reply consenting.
The voice of his beloved wife “during childbirth” sounded loudly from the bedroom.
He unconsciously flinched and swallowed his breath. Then he shook his sweating head and denied.
“Nah, I’ll stay like this after all. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting anyway.”
Queen Aura was giving birth today.
Just like the majority of fathers, Zenjirou could do nothing but worry to no end, so he simply continued to wander from place to place inside the room without any leeway in his mind to notice the room temperature of over forty degrees.
“Excuse me, I brought the hot water!”
“Here are the additional cloths!”
The waiting maids, carrying a large steaming pot and a bunch of clean cloths, disappeared into the bedroom with swift steps.
Zenjirou simply watched the hectic in silence. There was nothing he could do.
A cool breeze flowed into the living room through the opened door of the bedroom.
It originated from the cooling fan working at full power in front of some ice. Of course they weren’t so unreasonable as to aim the cold air directly at Aura as she was in the middle of the delivery, but the temperature in the enclosed bedroom could be lowered to some extent by letting the ventilator blow air over the ice inside the room.
It was often said that a pregnant woman should not cast a chill on her body, but it was still better for the body than a room with a temperature over forty degrees.
No matter how much stamina Aura had, her mind and body would exhaust during the long period of the delivery amidst a heat of over forty degrees.
Besides, the ventilator on the highest speed didn’t lower the temperature to an extreme to begin with. Down to thirty degrees at best.
The heat in the living room was just so terrific that these approximate thirty degrees seemed “cool”.
“Shit, what a blunder. I have to figure out a way to install the air conditioning in the bedroom until the next delivery.”
While aimlessly wandering over the carpet in the living room, Zenjirou mumbled in a voice so small that no one could hear it.
Considering the unsuited bedroom size of around fifty square metre and the lack of air sealing due to windows and door, which was nowhere near the air sealing in houses in modern Japan, the temperature might not get lowered as much as hoped-for, but it was still better than nothing.
“Ah, but before that, it’s more important to learn the ‘teleportation’ magic first. Because if I could use it, a person from the Jilbell Family would be here now.”
In his daily lessons, Zenjirou had already succeed at activating a simple magic numerous times, but it was obvious that it would still take time until he could use the “teleportation” magic as freely as Aura.
Be it the setup of the air conditioning or the mastering of the “teleportation” magic, both were something for the future. At the present time, there was barely anything he could contribute.
His only role was to order that the “Imbued Stone of Cure” was used on Aura, if she and the child should get into a life-threatening condition, but that was something he didn’t want to happen, if possible.
He leaked a sigh for the nth time.
“Zenjirou-sama, some water.”
As he kept sweating, a waiting maid worried about him, took a jar with water from the refrigerator, poured some into a glass and held it out to him.
Zenjirou downed the chilled water in one gulp and felt how he started to sweat all over his body again. After wiping the sweat on his face and neck with the towel he had gotten from a waiting maid earlier, and regaining a bit of his presence of mind, he now called out to the waiting maids considerately, as he suddenly thought of it.
“All of you, watch your own condition, too. You can help yourself to the towels or water in the fridge.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“Thank you for your consideration.”
For the first time today, he had uttered caring words towards the maids. The waiting maids smiled naturally, but he still wasn’t composed enough yet to notice that.
He started to walk around the room nervously again.
Scratched his head unconsciously.
Then started to walk around again.
The presence of mind he had regained from gulping down that cold water, disappeared again in no time.
“Aw, damn. Is it not time yet…?”
In the end, his emotionally instable behaviour continued until the moment when the healthy “first cry” of the baby resounded from the bedroom.
* * *
Queen Aura safely gave birth to her first child.
With Doctor Michelle’s permission, Zenjirou entered the bedroom, where his beloved wife Aura showed the brightest smile ever on her exhausted face from atop the bed.
She was currently lying on the small extra bed, which was added for Zenjirou to sleep in after shehad became pregnant, instead of the original huge bed of the bedroom. The bed in which Zenjirou usually slept.
Doctor Michelle or the assisting waiting maids wouldn’t be able to lend a hand if Aura was on the giant bed and they stood at the side of it, so they took it upon themselves to perform the delivery on this bed instead.
Zenjirou was rushing over to her, whereat Aura raised her head a bit from the pillow and faintly smiled at him. Her brown face and red hair were dripping wet from sweat, which was the complete opposite of her usual vigorous self.
“Stay as you are. No need to force yourself to look at me.”
Aura looked so worn out that Zenjirou unconsciously prompted her like that after rushing to her side. However, her worn-out face showed a smile of satisfaction.
“Yeah, okay. But it is alright. Look, the child and I are well.”
Following her look, which was slowly going to the side, Zenjirou looked at the waiting maid, who was standing on the other side of the bed.
The clean-limbed waiting maid pressed the baby wrapped in a fine red cloth to her breast.
“Yes. My— our child.”
Zenjirou timidly peeked at the face of the baby in the arms of the clean-limbed maid.
The waiting maid, acquainted with him, showed a friendly smile all over her face and held the baby in her arms a bit into his direction, so that he could get a better look.
“Take a look, Zenjirou-sama. It is a healthy boy.”
“Oh, a boy.”
He went around the bed, moving to the side of the maid with the baby. Then he took another look at his own child in the arms of the waiting maid.
“He has my eyes.”
“Yes. But he got the mouth of Zenjirou-sama, if I had to choose.”
“His skin colour is a mixture of my husband’s and mine. A bit pale for a child of the Carpa Kingdom.”
Aura and the middle-aged maid, holding the baby, were saying all that, but to be honest, Zenjirou couldn’t approve of it at all.
Were they really saying that this creature, looking like a limp monkey without hair and closed eyes, resembled Aura and him? Its skin was bright red, too, so he saw nil resemblances to Aura or himself.
And above all, his “eyes” were currently focused on something else than the outward characteristics.
(Wow. His magic power’s above Aura’s. Maybe twice as much as mine?)
After diligently taking magic lessons from Lady Octavia for around one year, Zenjirou had now awakened the basic of basics for a magician, namely the “ability to detect magic power”. His eyes captured the dazzlingly overwhelming magic power coming from the body of his son.
One’s amount of magic power was decided upon birth, so it wasn’t strange that a newborn baby happened to have more magic power than a grown royalty. However, Zenjirou couldn’t help but feel an indescribable uneasiness when this small, limp creature, from which he didn’t know whether it was a human or a monkey, emitted such an incredible magic power.
He timidly reached out his hand for the child in the arms of the waiting maid.
The moment he was about to carefully touch the baby’s bright red hand with the forefinger of his right hand, the newborn tightly squeezed his finger with its small hand.
“!? Uwah, he squeezed me!”
His finger was squeezed.
Did he felt so deeply moved from that simple action because this small hand belonged to his own flesh and blood?
“Wow. He’s so small, but properly has five fingers…”
“It would be scary if he had not. Fingers are not something that grow later on after all.”
The middle-aged waiting maid answered like that with a smile while she held the baby in an accustomed manner, supporting the neck, which it still couldn’t hold up on his own.
Queen Aura, still laying on the bed, smiled in response to the almost childish reaction of her husband towards his newborn child.
“Fufu, cute, is he not?”
“…Yeah, quite so. The cutest in the world.”
Zenjirou forgot all about his earlier rude impression that he looked “like a monkey”, and nodded numerous times while he kept looking at his child squeezing his finger.
“Aa, Daa, Aa!”
“Oh my, there, there.”
As to comfort the baby, who started to cry, the middle-aged maid quickly dandled him gently.
Just when Zenjirou withdrew his squeezed finger from the baby, Doctor Michelle, who had carried out the delivery today, raised a voice from the side.
“Zenjirou-sama, let me congratulate you first of all. As you can see, both Her Highness and the prince are safe and sound.”
Upon these words, Zenjirou realized that he still hadn’t thanked the doctor for ensuring the lives of his precious wife and son. Flustered, he turned around in a snap.
“Yes, thank you, Doctor Michelle. It is thanks to you that Aura and my child got through the delivery without problems. I cannot thank you enough.”
Zenjirou forgot his position and lowered his head in a servile manner while fully speaking in a respective tone, whereat Doctor Michelle widened his eyes in surprise for a moment, but apparently decided not to mind it right now.
“Your words are wasted on me.”
The doctor immediately showed his usual calm smile and answered like that.
“Nevertheless, the delivery was quite exhausting for Her Highness Aura. I recommend to stay in bed for today. Have at least two waiting maids accompany you for relieving yourself.”
“Yeah, got it.”
Queen Aura shortly affirmed the words of the royal physician from atop her bed.
While his wife and the doctor exchanged such a post-delivery conversation, Zenjirou nervously called out to the elderly waiting maid holding the baby.
“Uh- Uhm, I would like to hold him, too… Can I?”
The waiting maid widened her eyes in surprise for a moment upon the words from the new father, but in the next moment, she smiled sweetly and nodded firmly.
“Yes, of course. But please be careful. The child still cannot support its own head, so please do not forget to hold it like this under any circumstances.”
“Yeah, okay. Oof, like this?”
He nervously held his newborn son in both his arms.
The small and soft body weight, adjacent to fragile, was transmitted onto his arms. He properly felt the pulsation of “life” when he held that puniness, which was almost a miracle to be unharmed, in his arms.
“Fufu, how nice. Papa is already holding you.”
The Queen threw her husband a smile from the bed as he held their child awkwardly, raised her sweaty head a bit and looked at the waiting maids standing at attention left and right.
“I want to sit up. Help me.”
“Very well. Ah, but, Michelle-sama?”
The aged doctor mused for a moment when the young waiting maid looked at him for permission, then nodded slowly.
“Should be alright. I will allow to sit on the bed for a short while at least.”
After getting the doctor’s permission, the waiting maids immediately implemented their Queen’s order.
“Excuse us then, Your Highness.”
“We will put our arms behind your back, so please lean against them.”
“Allow me to reach behind you. I will place a cushion there, so please leaned against the headboard afterwards.”
Two waiting maids skilfully sat Aura up on the bed while another waiting maid placed a big pillow at the headboard of the bed.
Aura was sat up by the waiting maids like a doll and leaned against the pillow at the headboard, leaking a big sigh.
Beads of sweat were dropping from her drenched face and neck, flowing into her cleavage or over her collarbone.
“Your Highness, I will wipe your body.”
As the young waiting maid diligently wiped her royal body with a cold towel, Aura narrowed her eyes to slits like a cat tickled under the chin and thanked her.
The wrung, wet towel felt really good on her body, which was blazing hot from the severe heat and the struggle of the delivery, so Aura abandoned herself to the hands of the waiting maids.
Zenjirou said down in a chair next to the bed with the utmost care as to prevent anything from happen to the child in his arms.
“…All done and dusted.”
Her husband suddenly broached a topic, whereat Aura turned to him after having her sweat wiped, and nodded curt.
“Yes, for now.”
A conversation between the wife, accomplishing the delivery just now, and the husband, holding their newborn child in his arms.
As if they had agreed upon it beforehand, the doctor and waiting maids considerately kept silent and wordlessly retreated to the back all together as not to disturb them.
Whether the Queen realized their thoughtfulness or not, she kept talking in a manner as if their family of three were the only ones here.
“At first, I considered the pregnancy and birth as a part of my duties as the Queen, but after seeing my child with my own eyes, holding it with my own arms… somehow, all of this superficial reasoning was just blown away.”
Aura’s gaze was fixated on the small, sleeping baby in her husband’s arms while she muttered that.
Zenjirou, too, looked down on the child in his arms and agreed with a broad smile.
The Queen and the Prince Consort. The couple was supposed to be all lovey-dovey, but now the two of them had only eyes for their newborn child, not even looking each other in the face.
“Yeah, he’s so cute.”
“Yes, adorably so. Now I truly regret the absolute necessary to raise a prince amongst foster siblings by a wet nurse.”
If she were to raise him herself, she would likely end up spoiling him to no end, neglecting a proper education as royalty.
Zenjirou looked into her eyes after she confessed that and snorted with laughter.
“That’s for sure. I doubt I could raise him with the necessary strictness, too.”
He would have never imagined that having a child was something so precious.
“Come to think of it, what name are you going to give him?”
“Mh? Aren’t you going to give him one, Aura? I don’t know much about the names here.”
Zenjirou tilted his head puzzled towards Aura’s sudden topic chance, and answered.
“Yes, of course I am going to give him one. However, our country has a custom, where the child is given one name from each country when the parents origin from different ones. Although it is quite rare to have a royalty with two names, due to issues with a leak of bloodline magic.“
Aura said so, whereat Zenjirou nodded understanding.
“Oho, I see. Then I’ll think of a name, too.”
If he had known that before, he would have downloaded an electronic name dictionary onto his computer. Zenjirou regretted it a bit now. But oh well. His brain should at least be able to come up with a suitable name for his own child.
As Aura had perceived her husband’s intention, she giggled from atop her pillow.
“Kukuku, good. Each of us shall think hard and give him a good name.”
But since she was laughing and speaking at the same time, her voice became a bit cracked at the end of the sentence and she coughed. Hearing that, Zenjirou looked worried at his beloved wife.
“Yeah, will do. But you’ve got to rest now, Aura. Doctor Michelle also said it’s not good to be up for too long.”
The aged doctor, standing in the back, expressed his agreement by nodding to his words. Due to their social standing, the waiting maids weren’t saying anything, but they looked pretty worried at her, too.
The Queen gave this situation a wry smile and shrugged her shoulders a bit.
“Fine, I get it. But a little bit, just a little bit longer should be alright, no? I want to look at him a bit longer, so that I will still see him in my dream once I fall asleep…”
“Geez… Okay, but just a bit.”
Zenjirou could relate to her feelings better than anyone, so he allowed it with a wry smile.
“Yes, I know.”
The Queen replied commendable with a smile, nodding obediently.
In the end however, she couldn’t keep her promise.
The father held the child and the mother watched the two from atop the bed. Without getting tired of it, she continued to watch her newborn child until Doctor Michelle, overseeing everything, finally intervened.