Chapter 1. Prologue
When I woke up, it was evening. Bernique, who was at my side, called the doctor. I was devastated that I could not wake up from my dream again. What was I to do? Seeing my expression, Bernique cried violently and stared at me with reddened eyes. Next to me was Leav, who had the same expression.
“Are you OK?”
I thought I was going to be interrogated or criticized for what I did, but Bernique’s words of concern came out of his mouth. They don’t know that I understand anyway. I intentionally ignored the remark by turning my head toward the window.
This whole situation was a dream. It had to be. I didn’t know why I had such an ominous feeling. I looked down at my sore left wrist. Bernique, who followed my gaze, continued as if he knew what I was about to say.
“The holy water will heal you completely in no time.”
It was not the answer I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to do anything, so I tried to close my eyes, when the door opened and Erdos and the doctor came in.
“I think it’s best to let the Princess rest for a while because she lost a lot of blood,”
After receiving advice from the doctor, Erdos spoke.
“Rosiane…”, he called me in a serious voice. I didn’t throw him a glance. I was confused, I couldn’t understand what was going on and I needed time to clear my head. It was then that Erdos, sighing heavily, took me into his arms. The sound of his heartbeat echoed quite loudly in my ears. Without saying a word, he nuzzled my head. He did so for a while, seemingly bored.
In the silence of the room, I could only hear the occasional sound of the children sighing and blowing their noses. Is this what you call your father’s bosom? Suddenly there was a vague image of my father I could not remember came to mind. I wonder if my mother and father would have looked like this when they saw me dying. I could see the somber faces of Bernique and Leav standing by my bedside. It was the same expression that my friend Jiwoo had shown me. I didn’t know what it’s like to have a family, but I do know that if Rosiane had really woken up, she would have grown up to be very loved. Somehow there’s a bitterness in my mouth.
I was by no means Rosiane. I could never be her. But these people call me Rosiane, because this body belonged to her.
Where on earth did it all go wrong? Reading a novel from a friend? Or that I took pills to die? Or jumping into the Han River? Knowing that worrying about it now wouldn’t make a difference, I continued agonizing over it. I wish I had used a more reliable method than slitting my wrists. If I had poked myself in the neck, maybe I would have woken up from my dream.
I looked down at my wrist, now cleaned and unscathed thanks to the power of the holy water, even though this time I was sure to die. It was a pity that the wound had healed without leaving any aftereffects. Will I ever wake up? In fact, I had the vague feeling that I was not dreaming.
It’s been four days now and I couldn’t seem to wake up from this dream. And I could feel the pain, and all the sensations were so vivid that it wasn’t different from reality. Maybe I really have become Rosiane de Asteria. Or I actually was Rosiane who had woken up from her coma.
“The Yellow Cloak has gone on an errand for Granny. Remembering what the grandma said: beware of the werewolf….” Bernique read.
The royal family deliberately pretended not to know what had happened yesterday, and I didn’t dare to mention it, so the event was handed like water.
I lay in bed in a daze, thinking that it was all a waste of time, but the fairy tales story that Bernique was reading to me were very disturbing. The words were different. It was obviously “Red Cloak”.
Then, Bernique asked, raising his head from the book.
“Is it not funny?”
“Well, sister, what about this book?”
Suddenly another fairy tale book popped up in front of me, which Leav held out in his hand.
They wasted their time this way, knowing that Rosiane wouldn’t understand anything they said. Was it because they are family? What is family anyway?
“The Snow Flower Princess and the Seven Dwarfs.” Leav said.
It was Snow White. Ignoring him, I curled up like a shrimp. Then, Bernique pulled the covers up to my chin.
“It’s still chilly.”
“That’s right, sister. It’s a perfect day to catch a cold.”
The end of autumn was the season when the cold winds of the winter generals blew. I wrapped my bedding a little tighter, closed my eyes, and in no time at all everything was quiet.
“Why aren’t you talking, Rosiane? What is the problem…?”
‘Children live in a world of words from an early age, and as they do so, they naturally acquire words that they hear frequently. A mumble at six months of age and a full year can be an explosion of language ability, learning over a hundred new words in a month or two. However, no matter how much energy was used to preserve the Princess’s jade body, when she woke up she was no different from a baby, so it didn’t seem strange that she couldn’t produce any words. Of course, I can’t be sure, it’s only a hypothesis…”
I closed my eyes and remembered the conversation between Erdos and the doctor this morning. That babies are supposed to whine, eat and sleep, not stand up straight and walk around like this.
My brothers…. They seemed to think I was doing something skillfully just because of the power in my blood.
A move to open the window or even just take a sip of tea. To them, since I had power running through my blood, every motion came off as a skill.
I felt that it was lucky they weren’t bad people. If they were, I would have to act as a child, especially when I didn’t know whether this was a dream or not.
Though if I did things as if it were too easy, they might get suspicious. Since I couldn’t be too sure, I decided to be silent.
My mental state is still a mess and every little thing is irking me, but it’s still better than before. I’ll just keep lying until I get tired of it.
Leav started talking, thinking I was asleep.
“You seem quite idle.”
I thought that his way of talking was pretty cold.
“You have nothing to do, right?” Bernique’s voice sounded softly, but his words were harsh.
“A genius like me learns everything fast, unlike elder brother. I’ll talk to you afterwards, so why don’t you leave now? I heard that you haven’t attended some classes since you woke up.”
“I submitted a report for that class instead, my sweet little brother. I also heard that you haven’t been attending Fencing Classes, how do you expect to protect Rosiane like this?”
“The fools are the ones that learn swordsmanship the hard way.”
“Are you trying to slander Your Majesty, who is the best at swordsmanship?”
Is this supposed to be a conversation between a seven and an eight year old?
Both of them were talking at the top of their voices while I lay under the covers.
Then, as if they just realized I was present, both of them became silent.
“Shush. You will wake up Rosiane.”
“Be quiet, bother.” Bernique said, as he pulled the covers gently and raised them to my chin.
“I’m glad she’s finally woken up from her long sleep,” Leav whispered, stroking my messy hair.
“Yes. I didn’t expect to see Rosiane’s eyes,” Bernique said, sounding sad.
“It’s all because big brother was quiet and alone in Mother’s belly, monopolizing all the nutrients.”
“Yes, it is….”
Somehow, the silence fell in the room for a while because he said it in a grim way.
“···I made a slip of the tongue,” Leav admitted his mistake sharply.
Bernique smiled at the sound of his voice. I thought they didn’t get on, but now I saw that they do. Buried under the warm covers, I felt drowsy and closed my eyes to sleep. I woke up around dinner time.
Leav, who was sitting on the sofa, reading a book, came running towards me. I didn’t see Bernique’s presence.
“Sister, have you slept well? Let’s go eat.”
While the maids were dressing me and doing my hair, Leav, who had been sitting on the sofa reading a book, spoke up.
“Sister, second brother has returned from his autumn hunt and will be with us for supper this evening.”
Come to think of it, since the day I opened my eyes here, I’ve never seen Eryte de Asteria. He must have gone far away hunting.
“Don’t worry too much, I’ll be next to you.”
The second prince was a rambunctious little fellow, as more than half of the problems in the palace stemmed from Eryte’s mischief. When I had finished getting ready, Leav held out his hand to me. When I took his hand and stood up, I could see that he was relaxed. His cheeks, which were as white as kneaded flour, were flushed and hot. But as soon as we got to the dining room, he went back to his bare, expressionless face, as if he had never made such a face before. I thought that however much he was the hero of the series, he might be too precocious to be so, but such thoughts disappeared the moment I saw Bernique waiting for me at the door.
He glanced at Leav’s hand and mine, smiled gently and held out his other hand. I was taken by surprise and grabbed his hand as well.
The door opened to reveal a space so opulent and spacious. There was even a tall crystal chandelier attached to the ceiling. In front of us we saw His Majesty Erdos.To the left of him sat Nanuk and Eryte, but unlike Nanuk, who was sitting upright, Eryte was seated in a more relaxed position.
“Here you are,” Erdos rose from his chair and greeted me.
Then he moved the chair to my right, right next to me, somehow added strength to my hands, which were gripping both of them. He sneaked a look around at Bernique and Leav, and sat me down as if nothing had happened.
Then I heard a loud shout from the other side. It was Eryte. He rushed in front of me, grabbed my face, and turned it around.
“You are finally awake. Wow! That’s amazing!”
In a way, there was no surprise to see the hardened expression on Erdos’s face.