Chapter 1. Prologue
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After having a quick refreshment together and agreeing that the fall banquets should not be held because the country was at war, Jamela took a sip of tea.
Moistening her dry throat while pondering her words, she asked in a voice that was as calm as possible, slowly and not in a hurry.
“Princess, do you keep birds?”
Raha, who was still looking at the papers, answered.
The moment Jamela’s chest felt cool, the Princess spoke without lifting her head.
“Show it to the Lady.”
The attendants answered politely. In less than three sips of tea, the cage was brought in.
The little hope that Jamela had was shattered to pieces when she saw the silver bird. The Princess’s bird was much healthier, more beautiful, and more perfect looking than the silver bird that Karzen had given her as a token of their engagement.
“….. His Majesty gave it to you?”
Jamela was well aware of the fact that the Princess had a cold personality. Even though she spent most time with the Princess, the Princess gave a very short reply whenever they talked.
The Princess knew best what the silver bird meant, but how could she respond so nonchalantly?
When Jamela could not by any means choose any response and was only holding the teacup still, Raha, who had finally checked even the oddest part of the document, marked it and raised her head.
The back of Jamela’s hand holding the teacup stood out white. She was still smiling kindly, like a most noblest maiden, but only her eyes remained subtly downcast. It was impossible to tell without a closer look.
“His Majesty left it to me.”
“Left it to you…?”
“The Lady’s bird isn’t in good health. He said he had caught another one as a spare just in case, but as you know, the custom is the emperor is supposed to present only one bird to his fiancée.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
So why not just give her that healthy bird from the beginning? Raha expected that Jamela was probably thinking the same thing. Raha didn’t add any excuses, even though she could.
Because Karzen’s “direct words” went so far. So much for the words that Raha could say.
“The Lady will never know how much I look forward to your wedding as His Majesty’s twin.”
Many documents were piled up in Raha’s bedroom to support the fact that these words were true.
“Duke Winston also said he will do my best to make his daughter happy. You don’t have to worry so much anymore.”
In any case, Jamela had a great father. He cared so much for his daughter and her position as empress that he even considered marrying Raha off to another kingdom far away.
The Princess, who could not say that she envied Jamela for having such a father, gave Jamela some jewelry as a gift.
* * *
Returning to the Winston’s mansion, Jamela went to her father’s study. The large study had a small hanging garden instead of a balcony, where the silver bird was staying.
The little bird sat in a birdcage like a work of art, adorned with sterling silver and precious stones, and the silver bird boasted a figure as if it knew itself to be a symbol of rarity and nobility. The bird with a different appearance and a beautiful color to look at.
Jamela, who had been pensive, raised her head. It was the Winston family’s butler.
“Young Master Rosain is here.”
“Oh, I’ll be right there.”
Rosain had been a close childhood friend of Jamela’s since she was a child, and so the older employees of the Winston family called Rosain ‘Master’ in a friendly way.
Rosain, who was waiting on the first floor, stood up with a smile.
“It’s hard to see the future empress.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry to interrupt your break. I have some documents that my uncle wanted me to check.”
Rosain’s uncle, Count Ligulish, the current master of the Ligulish family, was also a nobleman who also had to go to war according to the imperial law.
Thanks to this, in families where the headmasters were absent, the young nobles often handled small matters as second in command. This was the case when there were no other adult nobles in the house. There was sometimes a strange sense of deviance and liberation, or even a terrible sense of debt….
Jamela stepped into the study, checking the papers that Rosain had brought with him.
Rosain, who had a friendly personality, had been close to Jamela since he was a child, and he could come and go to the study as if it were his own home. Jamela looked up as she indicated that the document had been signed with her father’s official seal stamped on her behalf. Rosain sent her an expectant look.
“There’s a full moon today, I’d like to see the silver bird bathed in moonlight. Is that alright with you, future Empress?”
“Do as you please. And please don’t use the term “future Empress” anymore. Butler, please open the door.”
The butler, who was standing there with a faint smile painted on his face, feeling like he hadn’t seen that little Lady and little Master of the past in a long time, unlocked the hanging garden. The moonlight poured in thanks to the glass ceiling. The silver bird sat on a perch, its black eyes fluttering.
A bird that flies with moonlight on its wings.
A bird presented by the Emperor to his fiancée.
Raha was the only one who went to see Karzen off that day he left for war. As Jamela was the Emperor’s fiancée, she was not allowed to stand at the front in the procession to see him off according to the strict imperial law of Delo.
Strictly speaking, Jamela was not yet a member of the royal family. As a result, the ten seats in front, reserved only for the royal family, were empty. Since they were engaged, Karzen should have visited Jamela and spent a little personal time with her.
However, the Emperor had stayed at the palace of the Princess for so long that there was no time to spare. The only consolation was that all the nobles knew about Karzen’s true temperament and there was no gossip.
Karzen’s original temperament.
The Emperor’s true heart….
Rosain looked at the silver bird and asked as if he just remembered.
“How is the Princess? I hear that from every person I meet these days. They all know that you have a close friendship with the Princess.”
“She’s improved a lot.”
Jamela murmured as she patted the birdcage.
“I wish this bird was better.”
Rosain shifted his gaze at the sudden words.
“I can’t tell from when I first saw it.”
“It’s gotten a little better. No matter how much you think about it, it’ll never be completely normal. Like the other silver bird.”
“Jamela. Where are all the other silver birds when there is only one that the emperor caught in the first place…….”
Seeing Jamela’s sunken eyes, Rosain slowly spoke.
“It seems there are other silver birds in the Imperial Palace.”
Jamela replied, unsurprised.
It was traditional for the emperor to catch only one bird, which he would present only to his betrothed.
Jamela did not think Raha’s words were a lie.
But the emperor was a cold-blooded man who would not allow his authority to be shaken. He would not have listened to the malicious public opinion that would arise from daring to ignore tradition and present his twin sister with a silver bird.
So this silver bird was a good excuse. It was also an appropriate excuse that anyone would have thought of when they saw Jamela’s silver bird.
In other words, Karzen meant that only that level of excuse was acceptable.
The Emperor didn’t bother to announce the fact that he gave the silver bird to the Princess, but it wasn’t hidden like a secret, either. But no one knew about it, because no nobles were allowed in the Princess’s palace.
As if trapped, Jamela’s hand was heavy as iron as she stroked the birdcage.
Rosain’s voice rang in her ears shortly after. She looked over and saw that her childhood friend was staring at her as usual.
“Will there be another combat competition next year?”
“The combat competition?”
“Isn’t it changed that it will be held every year?”
Jamela’s forehead furrowed faintly at the sudden mention of the combat competition. At that time, all the goals were lost while fixing the ruined competition, but in any case, it was an imperial tradition and would continue to be held as long as there were no anomalies.
“I think not. I’ll have to talk to the Princess to be sure. ……. Why is that?”
“I’m thinking of competing next year.”
Jamela furrowed her brow.
“It’s dangerous. You saw how many savages there were, didn’t you?”
Rosain said as he shrugged his shoulders.
“I have to accept that. I want the Giseln territory.”
“…… Giseln territory? Why is that?”
“Even though it is very far from the capital, it’s famous for its vastness. If I win and get the land, I’ll be a Lord, and I will have a wider range of possibilities to propose.”
He hoped to become the lord of a splendid estate. He then could propose to women of high status, which was difficult for a son of a Count.
Jamela turned her gaze away from Rosain. She asked in a soft voice as she turned her attention to the silver bird.
“I see you have found a woman you want to propose to. Congratulations.”
“I don’t think it’s something to celebrate.”
“Who is it?”
“Princess Raha del Harsa.”
Instantly, Jamela’s gaze lifted quickly. Rosain smiled kindly, as he had always done since he was a child.
“I don’t know if the Princess will accept my proposal…. but I can give it a try. It would be great if I have the Giseln territory. That way it would be further away from the capital.”
“It seems to me that you would not be depressed by the sight of the silver bird.”
Jamela’s fingers turned cold. Her voice trembled lightly.
“Could it be that…there are strange rumors in the social circles …..?”
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