Chapter 1. I like you, Prince
Sponsored by Ftamy. Thank you 💖 (⅔)
Lochlan turned his head away in disgust, and the King immediately stood up rigidly.
“If the only thing you can gain by seeking the truth is the disgrace of the Crown Prince… There is only one way, Lochlan.”
He bit his lip.
It was an outrage. It was an insult to the history of the royal family, and to all the people of this land.
The harsh call that came back soon made Lochlan turn to face his father, or rather to the ruler of this land.
“You have been preparing for this for quite some time now.”
That would mean a lot of things that Locklan had to learn to replace Dominic so far.
Imitating each other was a kind of “play” for Dominic, but not for Lochlan.
How dare anyone enjoy imitating the Prince? Did Lochlan have to learn his behavior as a precaution?
All the duties that the king had set for him were to become Dominic and protect his position in case of emergency.
“Not what? Have you even forgotten the mission you were given?”
“Things are different now! Um, I, ……. This much!”
“Yes, deny it.”
The king took hold of one of his shoulders, and even though he felt as if he might be torn whole, Lochlan could neither run nor scream.
“If you want to abandon your duties and destroy all the honor Dominic has achieved as Prince Lochlan … I won’t stop you.”
Lochlan’s eyes shook.
If he came forward and revealed the truth, the nobles, wary of the power of the royal family, would spread this as if it were truth, not to mention the insulting imaginations they had about Dominic.
It would be nothing but personal ugliness for such a rumor to stick to the second son, Lochlan, but not the heir, Dominic.
He (Dominic) was the future of the royal family and hope itself.
A symbol of the royal family that must never be tarnished.
“But, Lochlan, if you remember your natural duties as a prince…”
The king’s touch, which had held him painfully, suddenly softened and tapped his arm. It was a touch of encouragement.
“You know what you have to do.”
Lochlan couldn’t argue any more, and had to keep all the facts to himself. But that was only to fulfill his duty and buy time to find out the real truth.
“I understand. I’ll be my brother.”
Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to act as Dominic, since Lochlan had been practicing for a long time and had actually replaced Dominic many times before.
No one had noticed that they switched.
Not even their grandmother who loved them. Except for one very special young lady.
She was also the one who agonized Lochlan to no end.
In the end, though, he chose his duty and his brother’s honor instead of his lover.
“I love Prince Lochlan.”
Lochlan realized that he no longer had the slightest right to receive her pure heart.
“I don’t like me, April.”
The carriage came to a stop in front of the funeral home again just as he murmured, with even a plea, “Please.”
He opened his eyes slowly.
He was Dominic again.
April realized again how miserable a funeral without a body could be.
The attendants had done their best to take care of him, but the coffin, with only his ceremonial clothes stretched helplessly, was so lonely.
April’s heart ached at the thought of him still buried somewhere in the ground. She heard that the search was still going on, but gradually no one was putting forth hopeful observations.
In a gloomy requiem, the few people who attended the funeral paid their respects to him with a single white flower.
Among those few, April’s presence naturally drew attention.
Some said they felt sorry for her having to embark on the marriage market so late, and some said it was not good to prolong the engagement period.
The uneducated whispering came to a complete halt when the mourning ended and the central door of the chapel opened.
Who in the world would do such an insane thing to a prince’s funeral! The nobles looked around in astonishment.
But soon the gazes disappeared, and they all quietly bowed their heads, holding their breaths. All the rude people were standing at the entrance of the chapel.
April murmured in a whisper and bent her knees.
There was the woman, still elegantly beautiful in her seventies, who had graced the funeral of her husband, the previous king, with her graceful appearance.
Dominic was in the front row with her, helping her.
She finally got to her feet slowly.
More and more astonishment and fear spread across the grandmother’s face as she approached the coffin of her beloved grandson.
When she came to stand completely in front of the coffin, April had no choice but to look away. She couldn’t see the misery the grandmother had while looking at the empty coffin.
“Aah!” She cried. (The grandmother cried.)
A cry that immediately broke out filled the interior of the temple.
“How dare you….!”
She tugged at the sleeves of the clothes neatly placed in the coffin. The white flowers that the mourners had left behind overflowed the coffin and dropped down the hem of the queen mother’s dress.
“How dare this replace the prince? Only! These clothes! This is the prince’s place!”
“That child couldn’t have died without my knowledge! The sweet kid…”
The old woman who had been shouting and crying suddenly seemed to have difficulty breathing and began to collapse, clutching her chest. Her whole body was shaking.
Dominic hurriedly took off his jacket and wrapped his grandmother.
“Call a doctor, call a doctor!”
Dominic shouted, and the attendants rushed out.
However, April had only one thing on her mind the whole time. It was when Dominic took off his jacket. He had a blue ribbon tied around his left arm.
“I’ll keep it tied to my arm. Thinking of it as my fiancé.”
Why was the ribbon of that day…..tied to Dominic’s arm?
The next morning Lochlan smiled bitterly. The morning after his own funeral was a comedy, and I wondered where such a comedy could be found.
“Did you sleep well, Master?”
Dominic’s servant, Wilson, greeted him politely in the morning. Lochlan woke himself up, noting that Dominic was ‘very hard’ in the morning.
“Good morning, Wilson.”
When he greeted in a drowsy voice, the loose gown flowed down his shoulder, revealing his naked body.
Lochlan regretted that he should have corrected some of Dominic’s habits.
He didn’t know why on earth Dominic liked to walk around naked so much.
He should at least cover all the places that would be a nuisance to others.
Lochlan shook his head lightly at Dominic’s defence, which naturally came to mind.
“My brother wouldn’t find it annoying to show any part of his body.”
The Dominic in his imagination chuckled at that.
Lochlan diligently erased Dominic’s afterimage by washing his face with cold water brought by his servant.
“Are you okay”
Lochlan turned around with a wet face to find Wilson holding out a towel to him and giving him a worried look.
“Is there any reason why I should not?”
Lochlan received the towel and smiled slightly.
However, there was a small uneasiness in his heart.
This servant had taken care of Dominic for quite some time. Even a small change like that felt like a big deal to him.
What exactly was it about Lochlan that felt strange to him and made him ask if he was okay?
“When I came in this morning, Your Highness was talking in his sleep.”
Lochlan paused the hand that was wiping his face for a moment, worried that perhaps he had spoken unnecessary words.
“It was a moaning sound.”
He was immediately relieved. It was fortunate that he didn’t actually speak.
From the content of the dream, he thought that maybe he had called April or Dominic’s name…
“Should I call a doctor? Maybe it’s an after-effect of the war.”
“For heaven’s sake, what are you going to tell the doctor about the symptoms? I talked in my sleep like a child?”
“The after-effects of war should not be taken lightly. Look at your body.”
Wilson shook his head lightly as he looked at the long scar on Locklan’s back. He seemed to think it was horrible, probably imagining the pain of the injury.
“Even a body in armor has these scars. How much deeper will the pain be in your heart that you could not wear anything?”
Standing in front of the mirror, Lochlan took off his gown completely and set it down on a nearby stool, where Wilson soon dressed him in a warm shirt. Lochlan began to button it himself, and the attendant servant knelt on the floor and put on his shoes.
“Hmm, you have a point.”
Wilson raised his head happily at the reply Lochlan gave him a moment later.
“Shall I call the doctor then?”
“Yes, it would be good to see the knights and soldiers returning from the war.”
Rising from his seat, he brought his jacket to Lochlan and gave a small murmur.
“Isn’t it time you listened to me a little more? That’s terrible. How come not a single thing has changed since two years ago……?” (Lochlan)
Wilson smiled, because that was the best compliment Lochlan could give him.
“What do you mean thank you!”
Wilson shook his head, looking like he was about to pass out, and sighed deeply.
“….. but the wound on your thigh seems to have healed. I’m glad.”
Lochlan briefly dug through past memories. It wasn’t nice to recall his brothers’ thighs, but it couldn’t be helped.
Come to think of it, the red scar that ripped down the middle of his thigh came to mind.
But that was when they were kids. Had it been there until recently?
“During the war, they had to smear medicine all over their bodies, so even the meanest scar would have been unbearable.”
“More importantly, Master must have let go of those old wounds.”
“It’s fortunate, though. I was worried because every time I saw the wounds, it seemed to hurt.”
Of course, Lochlan could not answer anything. In this situation, the silence was much better because clumsy lies would not work.
Fortunately, Wilson didn’t speak to him any further.
When Lochlan went down for breakfast, his father was waiting for him.
He nodded slightly as Lochlan bowed to greet him.
His appearance was quite simple, as he had come home early in the morning after his sword training. Because of the tight cloth, one could guess the strong muscles of his body.
Lochlan noticed that his father did not look like a man who had two grown sons.
Even though he was past his mid-thirties and approaching forty, he still reigned as a seductive man who caught the eye of women.
“How’s it going with Wilson?”
The King asked as Lochlan sat down opposite him.
“…He knows a lot more than I thought.” (Lochlan)
Lochlan smiled bitterly, thinking about this morning.
“Of course, I didn’t create any doubt.” (Lochlan)
“Why don’t you change your servant?” (King)
“I heard that his mother collapsed. I’m going to vacate the butler’s place at the villa and have a nearby cabin take care of her.” (King)
Lochlan let out a small groan, this wasn’t a ‘suggestion’. Everything had already been decided and notified.
“Just in time, he was worried about his mother, so he wouldn’t be disappointed.” (King)
Lochlan momentarily resisted the urge to rebel against his decision. It was the same way that Dominic had often rebelled against his father in the past.
“…… but the scar on your thigh seems to have healed.”
Lochlan immediately thought about the morning.
Wilson was the one who counted Dominic’s wounds and hearts. He might be able to explain it somehow now, but it might feel natural and strange as time went on.
Lochlan realized once again that he himself did not know everything about Dominic.
Maybe it was arrogance to think that they knew each other because they were twins.
The longer he spent with Dominic, the more he realized that fact.
“I understand. But I’ll pick the new one myself.” (Lochlan)
“You can do whatever you want.” (King)
“I will also hire a new escort.” (Lochlan)
It was the same as changing servants, so he thought it would be easy to get permission, but surprisingly the King shook his head.
“The issue of the knights is a bit complicated. I don’t think you can move the eldest son of the Duke of Allen so easily.” (King)
“If it’s in the form of a promotion, I don’t think there will be any problems. Doesn’t father care about him too?” (Lochlan)
“The problem is…” (king)
The king waited until the attendant who had brought the tea had excused himself before he spoke again.
“The problem is that Arenga’s eldest son likes it where he is. Moreover, it would be strange if all the people beside the Crown Prince changed in one day.” (King)
“So leave him be.” (King)
“Yes, sir. And about the story about the Ackletons investigation. Shouldn’t we spur him on a little more?” (Lochlan)
Checking his watch, the King rose from his seat, even though Lochlan had not yet finished speaking. The plate in front of him still had food on it that had barely been touched.
“I’m busy. I think we should talk about this later.” (King)
“Isn’t there something we need to find?” (Lochlan)
When Lochlan said “something to find,” he put pressure on both eyes.
Of course it was to find Dominic’s body.
Even though the situation had turned out this way, they had to find what was left of him.
“We’ll have a better chance once things quiet down. Dominic. You shouldn’t move on your own now.” (King)
After a sharp warning the King quickly left the room.
Lochlan was left alone at the table in the morning sun, looking at the empty chairs. The masters of the place naturally came into view.
His father, his grandmother, and his brother…
Up until now, they were still going through the same morning routine as the rest of the family.
A routine of simply asking how they were doing and sharing what they had to do for the day…….
Moments in the past that he didn’t think were special seemed to shine brightly because he knew that they would never come back.
Lochlan left his seat with hardly any food.