Chapter 14

 

***

 

Perhaps if I wrote a letter to my family that I missed, it would be something like this.

 

I’ll start off with a simple, “How is everyone?” That was my greeting.

 

There were so many things I wanted to say, but I like writing them down one by one.

 

“Mother. Father. Daisy. I want to see you.”

 

I found myself writing the letter quietly.

 

Even though I knew I couldn’t send it.

 

[How are you all doing? Mother, Father, Daisy. I miss you.

 

The sun should be shining brightest in the inn by now, and I miss the warmth of that time of day. 

 

I also miss wiping down the tables in the silence in the morning after all the guests have left.

 

I would write down the names of the guests in the old book, and wake up after the nap I was allowed only on Mondays. Every single task….

 

I am realizing how precious everyday life is. It’s kind of silly because it was only when I rose to the highest ranks that I realized that happiness comes from the most trivial and mundane things. I miss it.

 

The smell of the bedding in my old room, the warmth of it, reading stories to Daisy by her bedside until she fell asleep, all of it…..]

 

I turned my head to the side when I felt a presence, and there was a small girl.

 

When our eyes met, she nodded.

 

“If I bother you, I’ll leave. I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

I knew that I had to be wary of the many eyes surrounding me, but it was not as easy as I thought it would be to act firmly towards the little girl.

 

It was all the more so because I was just reminded of Daisy.

 

As I roughly folded the letter and put it in my makeup mirror drawer, my eyes met with the girl looking at me in the mirror.

 

As I turned around and stared at her, she kept her head bowed deeply and said in a shaky voice.

 

“Please forgive my rudeness, Princess. You looked so sad for the first time in a while.”

 

That girl was my maid.

 

“I was a little distressed about something. Don’t worry about it.”

 

“Okay, I’ll leave now.”

 

The girl said with a blush. She was a small, harmless girl. But I had to hide the letter from her. I hated doing that.

 

 

It left a small shadow on my mind that I had to be wary and suspicious of someone like this.

 

It was then that Karen walked into my room with a quiet knock. As the girl quickly disappeared out of the room, Karen sat on the couch with her chin up and spoke in a high-pitched voice.

 

“Sit down. And if you have a guest, you should bring out the tea, Ethel.”

 

“You can’t order Stella around, so I don’t know what you think about Ethel, but I prefer that.”

 

I pulled on the rope beside the bed and called a maid, then faced Karen.

 

“You didn’t come here just to see my face, what’s going on?”

 

“That’s the way a Princess talks…?”

 

“It seems I’m still a long way from becoming an imperial princess like my sister. Maybe it’s because I just got back to the palace…Will you forgive me?”

 

“I’ll wait and see how much more rudeness can you have….”

 

“Of course you would if you were a benevolent sister. Thank you, sister.”

 

Karen couldn’t argue anymore as the maid walked up just in time to bring her tea and refreshments.

 

Karen frowned and cut to business as soon as the maid left.

 

“I told father that I picked you up on the street. As you can see, this is a consideration. I’m being considerate to my sister. You don’t know if father will compensate your family or lock them up. At least one good thing for you…right?”

 

“I think it’s fair to say that you didn’t want to miss the weakness you held.

 

“…”

 

“It seems I have guessed correctly. Because I can see it in your expression.”

 

 “You seem to have the habit of interpreting people’s favors in such a twisted way. It is a mindset that an imperial princess should not have.”

 

“Then I don’t need that favor, so I’ll go see father now….”

 

“……Sit down.”

 

“…”

 

“Sit down.”

 

“Why are you lying to me?”

 

I returned to my seat and Karen spoke up.

 

“You said you didn’t send a single letter to your family. The family who doesn’t care if you live or die. What’s the point? You probably didn’t want father and mother to know.”

 

“I see. And why do you think so?”

 

“…”

 

“When the existence of my loved ones is revealed, I am wary of what will happen to them. I am a useful being. Sister, the Imperial family can’t do anything to stop me from doing this.”

 

“If you’re thinking about returning to the common people, you’d better quit, Stella Ethelanche. The royal family is….”

 

“I miss it already.”

 

There was silence in the air. Despite Karen’s mockery, I continued quietly.

 

“I miss it to the bone.”

 

Just then, I heard a knock on the door.

 

“Come in.”

 

The maid bowed her head, then whispered in my ear.

 

“Excuse me, sister.There’s a Duke waiting for me in the parlor.”

 

Karen clasped her hands together.

 

I got up and walked out the door, accompanied by the maid.

 

****

 

Clyde, the Duke of Delanhill, his past was stained with blood, and he always considered his past to be a sin.

 

From the people’s point of view, they defined his birth as a mistake.

 

A bastard. A servant.

 

There was no affection in any of those words. He was not his father’s son, but his father’s disgrace.

 

His life was a series of resignations. He lived through the day and held on for the day. As if it were supposed to be like that with breathing.

 

I guess you just have to have something to breathe. When you go crazy with something, time passes quickly.

 

He was crazy about sword fighting.

 

When he held the sword, time went by quickly. When he tried to cut something with anger, the pain was forgotten.

 

He spent a day like that, and another day like that, and a week passed. A year passed.

 

Yes, he wasn’t living life, he was just going with the flow.

 

“A bastard born of that dark-haired woman.”

 

He was born out of wedlock.

 

“He is especially good with the sword, and if sold to slave traders, he will certainly be useful in building a mercenary army…” 

 

He was sold into slavery.

 

“Huh? I think this bastard is dead?”

 

 “Try kicking it with your foot. insects crawl when you touch it.”

 

“Don’t you think you should use water….”

 

“Oh, damn it. Don’t worry. Just kick it. Don’t waste cold water. Kick it until it wakes up.”

 

He often starved and slept in cold places.

 

When he collapsed, they beat him until he realized he was waking up in a living hell.

 

Then, he was sold to the Imperial Palace for a high price and became a squire to imperial knights.

 

“At his age, there is no one who can compare to him in swordsmanship. He is a genius with a sword.”

 

He met a good master and was fortunate enough to become the Crown Prince’s swordsmanship teacher, teaching him the art.

 

When he was invited to the Crown Prince’s dinner and was served his first meal, he forced the food into his mouth, not caring how Princess Karen, sitting next to him, looked at him.

 

This whole thing was like a mirage.

 

He felt as if he was back in the slavers’ grates, which had been hellish.

 

He gobbled up the food in front of him.

 

Without saying a word, he split the meat with his knife and fork and shoved it in his mouth.

 

Princess Karen put the knife down noisily as if she felt sick.

 

“I guess you can’t change your blood. Come on.”

 

She turned around with a disgusting look on her face.

 

Meanwhile, Cyle had no idea how jealous the boys of his age were because he could dine with Princess Karen.

 

“How can his name be Clyde, too? Isn’t that vulgar? It sounds like the name of a dog fighting at the bottom of the barrel.”

 

“Karen…”

 

“I’m saying this for you. I’m worried about you, brother.”

 

He wasn’t hurt by the sound of words leaking through the door. He was fed and clothed with the money of the royal family and lived like a human being. 

 

He knew exactly who he was. He was a bastard the minute he was born, then a slave, and a dog fighter, but he knew his superiors well.

 

He knew that if there were people who were loved by everyone for no reason, then on the contrary, there were people who were hated by everyone for no reason. 

 

But….

 

One day, something fell into his life.

 

Something sweeter than light appeared to the sewer rats, who had been frowning at the light leaking through the cracks in the sewer gutter.

 

Like a miracle.

 

“No, Joseph! Don’t hurt this man. I beg you.”

 

What was it? What was this feeling? He looked blankly at Stella’s back. 

 

It was unfamiliar to him.

 

He was confident he wouldn’t feel any emotion, but when he did feel warmth, his heart shook. 

 

It was so special and warm to know that someone was thinking of him.

 

It wasn’t as exciting as the pain, nor was it just sweet enough to remind him of it often, but the feeling didn’t fade, it kept him awake.

 

Pain had never been like that.

 

He thought of her even as he lost everything and survived on rotten bread on the cold floor.

 

For when he thought of her, music would come to his ears.

 

He did not know the melody, because the sweet sound of the piano she played struck him.

 

Only the cold and harsh present was black and white, but only the memory of watching her fingers creating brilliant melodies was vividly polarized.

 

The animal instinct to walk into the sweetest and gentlest memories lightly overwhelmed those who defied him.

 

People hailed such behavior of his as a ‘miracle.’

 

The dawn that seemed not to come was approaching, and in the bright light there were people watching him.

 

It was the day he reclaimed the crown for the Emperor.

 

The emperor said to him.

 

“Brave knight, tell me what you want. There’s nothing I wouldn’t give if it was what you wanted. I would even spare my daughter Karen, whom I love very much, for you.”

 

Karen blushed and looked at the Duke, but he did not even give her a glance.

 

“There’s only one.”

 

It was a really long, long battle.

 

“I want the star of the empire, Princess Stella, who was once called Princess Karen’s maid.”

 

And.

 

Princess Stella, who wasn’t dead, has returned.

 

But why, why now?

 

“Ethel.”

 

Did that woman reveal it in her eyes?

 

Was it because her voice resembles the young voice of Princess Stella in his memory? Her smile? 

 

Because of the dimples on her beautiful face that he couldn’t take his eyes off…

 

The reason why his eyes fell on that woman was simply because Ethel looked like Princess Stella.

 

People said that Princess Stella was dead, and Clyde learned that it was a miracle that the missing Princess returned.

 

Now that all of this was over, he knew that she was gone.

 

But he was so lonely and in so much pain that he wished only that someone who looked like her could bring him back to that moment.

 

Otherwise, he was going to go crazy.

 

At that point, he even had a vague hope that the woman was actually Princess Stella.

 

When the brown-haired, brown-eyed person passed by, he looked at her again, even turning around, but in the end he felt no emotion.

 

But when he looked at Ethel, his heart throbbed. His head became fuzzy.

 

And now Princess Stella has returned.

 

He wondered if he loved Ethel or Stella now.

 

If Ethel was different from normal people, what would be the reason?

 

When he saw Princess Stella, he rushed to the Imperial Palace to see if this confusion in his head would go away.

 

Just then, there was a knock at the door.

 

The door opened and he was standing in front of the balcony, his body stiffening as he turned his head to look at the person who walked in.

 

The loud voice of the servant in front of the parlor door resounded.

 

“Second Imperial Princess of the Empire, Stella Ethelanche.”

 

It was her.