Chapter 16

 

 

Was it a request or a threat? I stroked Leav’s fine red hair and said, 

 

“Yes, I’ll do it after the banquet is over.”

 

“After the banquet?”

 

“I’m sure it will be a burden for the servants if I go to the kitchen again today, and tomorrow they will be very busy with the banquet.”

 

Leav, who raised his head at my words, smirked at Bernique. I looked at them alternately and said calmly.

 

“Yes, it will be more fun if the three of us eat together.”

 

“Three…?” Leav asked.

 

“That’s a good idea, Rosie.” Bernique said.

 

Leav didn’t seem to like the idea, but he had no choice but nodded.

 

Then we headed to the magic book section to get more books for me. The three books Leav mentioned, wrapped in colorful covers, seemed to be from the Cheheten Magic Empire.

 

I lifted each of the books, which were thicker than I expected, to my chest. Leav and Bernique started arguing about who could carry the books for me. However, they soon quieted down when I told them to let me carry the books myself.

 

“Rosie, aren’t they heavy?”

 

“Are you sure you’re okay, sister?”

 

The silence didn’t last more than five seconds. The two of them started fighting again and I quickly turned around the corner while they were distracted. Suddenly, a book with a scarlet cover came into my sight on the bookshelf across from me. It was a relatively thin book compared to the magic books, which read “Psychology of Human Relations”. I approached the book like I was possessed. 

 

“Are you going to read this book?”

 

Suddenly, I heard an unfamiliar voice. The boy, who appeared from the opposite side of the way I came, looked about Eryte’s age, with fluffy hair like soft cotton candy, friendly scarlet eyes.

 

Without looking at me, he took the book out of the shelf and said, 

 

“This book will be difficult to read.”

 

“It’s okay. Would you mind putting it on top of my stack of books?”

 

I pointed with my chin at the magic books I was carrying against my chest, and when he finally turned his head to make eye contact with me, he suddenly looked surprised.

 

“Oh, pardon me. I didn’t recognize the Princess.”

 

Then he greeted me with a very elegant gesture. If Marchioness Fossetta was the epitome of noblewomen, this boy would be a specimen of a nobleman’s son. (*Marchioness Fossetta is the etiquette teacher.)

 

He was about to put the book on top of my other books but stopped. Because my arms were trembling.

 

“Your arms….”

 

“Rosie?”

 

Bernique and Leav appeared around the corner, as if they had finally finished their war of words. All of our eyes turned to them.

 

“It’s an honor to meet you, Your Highnesses.”

 

The boy greeted them properly again. 

 

“It’s been a long time, Master* Vanitas.” (*Master as in Young master, a Duke’s son.)

 

Bernique greeted the boy back naturally. 

 

‘Vanitas, where did I hear that name before?’

 

“By the way, what happened to Rosie?”

 

Bernique approached me with a smile on his face.

 

“Her Highness asked for my help?” The boy answered.

 

“Help?”

 

“Yes, she wanted to put this book on top of the books she has.”

 

As soon as Vanitas finished his sentence, Bernique took the book from him. 

 

“Rosie, let me help you with this.”

 

Bernique looked at me tenderly and said,

 

“Let’s go. Didn’t sister say she is tired?” Leav said.

 

I didn’t say that. I wondered where he got that from.

 

“Yes, Rosie. You said you were tired of getting up early to make sandwiches for me. Let’s go back.”

 

Are they not on good terms with Master Vanitas? What’s wrong with everyone’s reaction?

 

While I was bewildered, I was dragged out of the library by them.

 

I glanced to the side and saw Vanitas slightly tilted his head and smiled. I gave him a nod as well.

 

While we were walking, Bernique suddenly stopped and looked back at me.

 

“Rosie. Listen carefully.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“When a man like him approaches you, you shout ‘No, no, no, no! Don’t come closer!’”

 

While I stared at him with a look of dismay on my face, Leav crept up and said,

 

“No, sister, just kick him in the groin as hard as you can.”

 

Why did they talk like the boy was a criminal?

 

“Who is he?”

 

I really wanted to know who the boy was that made Bernique and Leav react so sensitively. They seemed to understand the hidden meaning of my question and quickly exchanged glances.

 

“He’s the second son of the Duke of Vanitas. He’s not someone you need to worry about, sister.”

 

Leav, who was nervous about my question, said with a look as if he ate poison. The Duke of Vanitas? Oh, I remembered now. It was the name Erdos made a passing reference to when he read to me Princess Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarves.

 

Doesn’t it mean that the Duke is the emperor’s closest aide if his name was mentioned, but I don’t have to worry about it? I was filled with wonder, but couldn’t ask anymore.

 

“Rosiane!!!”

 

The mad dog of Esteria appeared, screaming. Needless to say, Bernique’s and Leav’s faces crinkled up.

 

****

 

The sun was just now beginning to rise, and I woke up early with some strange feelings. I looked around and saw Nanuk sitting on the chair by my bedside, watching me.

 

“You’re up already? Sleep some more.”

 

“Nanuk?”

 

“Yes, sister?”

 

He whispered softly and gently patted me on the head. I was so sluggish that I dozed off like a sick chicken and almost fell asleep again.

 

“Your Highness, please get ready.”

 

“Already?”

 

I opened my eyes to the voice of Nanuk’s servant. Nanuk, who was looking at me with a troubled expression, tilted his head and kissed my forehead.

 

“Happy birthday, Rosie. I’ll see you later.”

 

As Nanuk left the room with lingering steps, Melissa, Randy, Amanda, and Jean, who were far away, rushed straight to me.

 

I was immediately put in the petal-filled tub. After I got out of the tub, my whole body was oiled and perfumed while my hair was dried and combed. My shining silver hair was now shinier than usual.

 

“Princess, you won’t have time to eat later, so please eat something simple.”

 

Simple bread, soup and salad were placed in front of me so that I wouldn’t have an upset stomach. Surely I would faint later if I couldn’t eat anything, so I ate it all.

 

Amanda smiled as she looked at all the clean, empty dishes.

 

“I’m glad to see that your appetite has increased lately.”

 

It was the first time I was complimented on how well I ate my food, and I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed and started scratching my head.

 

“Princess, your hair is getting tangled!” Jean shouted.

 

I tried to smooth it out as much as I could, but it was no good. So I stopped and let them do their job.

 

The bottom part of my hair was curled up and clothes were changed.

 

Dorta’s light blue dress had all the glamour and elegance that would make Rosiane the star of the banquet today.

 

“Oh, my God, it’s so beautiful! You’re like a mythical goddess that has descended upon us, Princess!”

 

Melissa marveled heartily. Randy, Amanda and Jean also added a few words. Then they debated what to do with the rest of my hair..

 

“I think half a bundle would look nice, don’t you? With a jeweled pin in the middle!”

 

“No, it’s an updo that reveals the entirety of the princess’s lovely face!”

 

“I think it’s nice letting it loose as it is. 

 

 

“Well, how about accessories? Similar to the color of the dress?”

 

Just when I was getting bored with the discussion that went on without any sign of ending, I heard a gentle knock at the door.

 

Jean, who stopped talking, opened the door and a maid was standing at the door with a box in her hands. The maid approached me, deeply bowed and said, 

 

“Princess, His Majesty sent you a gift.”

 

someh Origami was standing at the gate with a single box in her hand. As he approached me, Tokimune bowed deeply and said.

 

It is an honor for the empire to present to you a gift from His Majesty the Emperor.

 

I opened my eyes in surprise and looked alternately at the maid and the box she was holding. A gift? I felt strange.

 

Jean took it immediately and unwrapped the cover paper. A golden inlaid with jewels was revealed. It looked so fancy that I was afraid to touch it.

 

After living for twenty-five years in poverty, my hands, which had never even touched a cheap cubic, began to tremble a little with pressure.

 

I took a deep breath and opened the box, a small tiara appeared.

 

“Wow!”

 

The five people gathered around me let out an exclamation as I took out the tiara. And the maid started to describe the tiara.

 

“The elegantly curved body of the tiara is made of silver and the petals are made of diamonds cut in the shape of a boat. And in the middle, where the tiny diamonds carved so tightly along the flowing curve meet, a beautiful black opal shines, changing with the direction of the incoming rays.”

 

What I heard was like what a clerk at a jewelry store would say.

 

“Wow, it’s so beautiful.”

 

Melissa smiled and murmured, “How could it possibly go wrong with that, Your Highness?”

 

Randy did the same.

 

“Then let her hair loose and put the tiara on!”

 

Jean exclaimed happily as the discussion finally seemed to end.

 

I kept fiddling with the tiara with my fingertips until the girls finished with my hair and put the tiara on my head.

 

I wondered why Bernique was fiddling with his gift so much, and this was how he felt.

 

‘Happy. Really happy.’

 

Oh, Princess, are you crying….?”

 

Melissa was startled when she saw me in the mirror and wiped away my tears with a handkerchief. I opened my eyes and stared at the sky, trying to hold back my tears.

 

I didn’t know why I was doing that either. A corner of my heart rumbled, my eyes suddenly burned, and the tears fell.

 

It seemed that the gift that someone had painstakingly decided to give me was enough to stimulate my tear glands. In the end, Melissa had to give my eyes an ice massage because I couldn’t stop crying and my eyes started to swell.

 

****

 

I was on my way to the Bijou Hall, held still in Erdos’ arms. Erdos watched me for a moment, then patted me on the back with a cautious hand.

 

“Rosie, if you’re having a hard time, tell me anytime.”

 

Of course I wasn’t going to say anything, but I nodded so he wouldn’t worry too much.

 

I could hear the sound of his heart beating loudly in my ears. Unconsciously, the arm wrapped around Erdos’ neck became tight.

 

Perhaps sensing this, Erdos stopped walking while passing by the garden.

 

Erdos, who was pondering for a moment, asked.

 

“Rosie, do you see the pattern on father’s cloak?”

 

As I lowered my eyes at his words, I noticed that the bottom of the cape was embroidered with unnamed red flowers that were filled with garden.

 

“Yes, I see it.”

 

“Do you know what kind of flower this is?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“It’s the national flower of the Esteria Empire.”

 

Suddenly, I stared at Erdos, wondering why he was telling me this, and he asked me one question with a smile.

 

“Do you know the name of this flower?”

 

“No.”

 

I shook my head. No one has ever explained it to me. From the start, I didn’t bother to identify the flower or its name.

 

As if my answer was expected, Erdos’ sharp eyes bent round. His eyes, full of affection, embraced me.

 

“Rosiane.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“The flower’s name is Rosiane.”

 

My heart seemed to stop beating at that moment.

 

****