Chapter 1. Prologue
Was he planning on carrying me on the banquet’s day?
“You can’t always carry me around.”
Erdos looked at me with a shocked expression on his face. It was like the expression of a child who just heard that Santa Claus wasn’t real.
This time, he looked as dazed as a father at his daughter’s wedding. What the hell is going on inside his head?
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Marchioness Fossetta, who turned pale at Erdos’s words, quickly left the room. Did she suddenly become ill? I looked only at the door through which she had left, feeling worried.
But it was not long before Erdos sat down on the sofa with me in his arms and his gaze naturally shifted.
“Rosiane, you haven’t learned how to brew tea, have you?”
“Yes, not yet.”
It would be a while before you can master it. Erdos beckoned, and the maids quickly cleared the table and brought in a new teapot.
“I’ll do it.”
Erdos blocked the maid’s attempt to make tea with one hand, and began to brew the tea himself.
The whole process of heating the teaware, adding the tea leaves, and making the tea flowed as naturally as water flowing.
When the hourglass time was finally over, he peeled off the tea cover that was used to keep it warm and used a strainer to remove the leaves.
Then he poured the tea into my glass, which he filled with sugar and cream beforehand.
It was an elegant touch, not a step too far from the golden rule of teamaking.
“Here, drink it.”
The tea he gave me was very soft and sweet. I think it was because he had added sugar and cream for my sweet tooth.
I’ve always thought that the tea made by the maids was fine, but this was a whole new level that I really admired.
The subtle sweetness of the tea blended together created a happy taste. Erdos said, “Good,” and patted me on the head.
“By the way, what brings you here…?”
I’m sure he didn’t just barge into my class to make me a cup of tea. Erdos was silent for a moment at my question.
“I’ve been thinking about it….”
I sipped the tea nervously as he spoke in a very serious tone.
“I’m thinking of getting you a playmate.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to have friends the same age as you.”
Melissa was enough for a friend my age, and if she was the same age as Rosiane, she’d be a bright blue kid, which was horrifying to imagine.
And since I didn’t know how long I’d live, so I was skeptical about meeting someone, getting to know them, and making a connection, I shook my head.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I… I’m happy to be with my family.”
The word “family” was really strange. When I called my grandmother, I felt depressed and bitter, but when I called the man and kids in front of me my family, I felt bright and happy.
I used to think there was nothing more fragile than family, but when I stepped into the warm nest, I changed my mind.
I wondered if I could think this way. Feeling lost, I put more sugar in the tea and drank.
The overly sweetness wrapped around my tongue with a numbing force. Then the complexity subsided a little and I felt a little better.
Suddenly, Erdos’s gentle kiss landed on my head. A corner of my heart tickled, and I put down my teacup and hugged him tightly.
It was as if my frozen heart was thawing, as spring always comes after winter. Spring, it seems, is coming for me.
Today was Bernique’s birthday. He and I, whose birthdays were separated by one day, decided to have a party together tomorrow, so we had no plans for today.
I visited him as soon as morning came. In one hand I carried a pretty gift box containing the passementerie, and in the other hand a picnic basket.
In the basket was a sandwich that was made on an early morning trip to the kitchen of the Hegatheon Palace where I was staying.
“I hope he’ll be pleased.”
I stood at the door of his room with an excited feeling. As soon as I knocked and announced my visit, the door opened quickly and Bernique appeared.
“Rosie! How did you get here?”
He hugged me with a twinkle in his eyes. Come to think of it, this was the first time I’ve been to the Nyx Palace where Bernique stayed.
Looking over his shoulder, Bernique’s palace was very monotonous, unlike my palace, which was full of shiny, cute props.
“Let’s have a picnic.”
I smiled as I waved my picnic basket.
“Rosie, I’ll carry it.”
“Don’t worry. It’s not too heavy.”
Even though I said that, Bernique still wished to carry the basket, which only contained juice and a few slices of sandwiches. I had no choice but to give it to him.
We were soon out in the gardens in front of the Nyx Palace. Busy moving, the maids arranged a place under the shade of a big tree. A pleasant breeze blew.
A thick mat kept the chill from coming up from the floor. I quickly opened the picnic basket and took out sandwiches and some juice.
I couldn’t believe how hard it was to make the orange juice, which Bernique slurped down in a flash.
“I made it myself!”
Bernique stop drinking immediately and stared at me.
There was a wonder in his eyes.
“I got up early this morning to make it for you.”
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe I just drank this precious juice……!”
Bernique closed the lid of the glass bottle and hugged it.
“I have more, please drink as much as you want.”
I think I used up all the oranges in the kitchen to make this bottle of juice.
“Did Rosie make this too?”
His gaze shifted to the sandwich I was holding. I nodded and handed it to him, who took it with a shaking hand.
“Thank you, Rosie.”
Bernique blushed and fiddled with the sandwich in his hands.
“Yes. Hey…Happy birthday, Bernique.”
I felt a little strange saying that, so I stared at the floor and whispered quietly. My face probably turned red as well.
There was a long silence after I spoke, and I raised my head to see if I had said something wrong.
Bernique, whose eyes were red, was dripping tears like glass beads. As I fidgeted and looked at him, his tears became more intense.
I hugged his head hesitantly and patted it slowly. Just as Nanuk had done for me.
“Thank you, Rosia. I’m really glad.”
After a while, Bernique calmed down and drank some more juice.
“Thank you for my birthday present.”
I realized that Bernique misunderstood it.
“Oh, your birthday present here.”
I quickly held out the box I had hidden. The dark red wrapper was similar to Bernique’s hair color.
Accepting it with a puzzled look, Bernique was silent for a while.
“Can I open it?”
He sounded as cautious as if he had encountered a legendary weapon.
“Do as you wish.”
With my consent, Bernique peeled off the wrapping paper to reveal a black box.
“Do you want me to open it for you?”
“It’s all right. I’ll open it.”
I asked without a second thought, and he shook his head. Then, with trembling hands, he gently opened the box.
An exclamation burst out of Bernique’s mouth when he saw the passementerie, and he froze with the box for a while.
“Did you make this as well, Rosie?”
“Yes,” I said, giving him a slight nod.
“Since you like swords, I thought you might like to have something as a decoration.”
His hand slowly stroked the passementerie. A red ornament, similar to the color of his hair, was held in his hand. It was a very careful touch, as if touching a glass toy.
I wondered if he didn’t like it when he just stared at the present for a long time without changing his expression.
“I’m sure you probably got a lot of expensive gifts, I hope …………”
“I love it.”
“This is my favorite, Rosie. It’s the best present.”
I was a little embarrassed by those words, so I rubbed my head and Bernique hugged me. I could see his body rise and fall, he seemed to be crying. I guess the blank expression he had earlier was him holding back his tears.
“Rosie, I’m so glad you’re awake.”
He continued to whisper. I just patted him on the head in silence.
After putting away all the sandwiches and juice I had made, we left the garden. In his hand was the birthday present I had given him.
Even though it was just a cheap and simple gift compared to all the gifts he got, he smiled happily the whole time.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so full of joy as I did when I gave a gift to someone. Perhaps it was because Bernique looked so happy that I felt this way even more.
Leav, who came to visit him around noon, gave Bernique a rough congratulation and rushed up to me.
“Sister, did you have any difficulties while reading “What is Mana”?”
“No, it was explained in a simple way, just like Leav said.”
Perhaps the author was a thoughtful person, the book was written very detailed. As I was ignorant of such areas, I had no problem reading, so I read it from time to time, and now I was almost done with it.
“Can you recommend another book to read after this one?”
“Something like ‘The Correlation of Mana and Magic’ or ‘What is a Wizard’ or ‘Magical Curriculum and Achievement Standards’ would be good. Sister, I’ll go with you when you have time. The book is quite heavy.”
“Okay.” I answered.
“Actually, now that you mention it, why don’t we go now? It’ll be difficult for Leav to carry all those books by himself.
Bernique grinned and interrupted the conversation. Leav clicked his tongue.
“Don’t you have anything to do?” I asked.
“Sister is more important.”
“No, I’m free today.”
And so the three of us headed for the Imperial Central Library.
The library was empty today, except for the librarian who sat at the front desk.
We talked in hushed tones.
“Rosie, the sandwich you made for me was so delicious….”
More than half of the dialogue was about how happy Bernique was. Somehow, Leav looked quite annoyed as if he was offended by the way Bernique spoke.
He then came to my side and leaned his forehead on my shoulder.
“I want to eat the sandwich you make for Leav too.” Leav said.
He stretched his words a lot, but his tone was not much different from usual.