Chapter 1. Prologue
“I must have made a slip of the tongue.”
Timofey chuckled softly.
“Sit down, Eryte.”
At Erdos’s stern voice, Eryte sat down without the slightest hesitation. Erdos, who was watching him with satisfaction, said:
“From now on you will be trained by him. I hope you will treat him as a teacher.”
“Timofey Drowett was the only person in the empire to become a Grand Wizard.”
Leav whispered softly in my ear. However, everyone in this room could hear him. It was only the royal family and the chief wizard from the Demon Tower Province, whose senses were more developed than the average person.
“Hahaha, you know it’s already been thirty years. It seems that you are the youngest prince, who is famous for being clever.”
He looked at Leav with a smile. He looked at him as if he was missing something from the past.
“Then I will give you details on how to use magic power. You have to be diligent not to boil over or go out of control. And….”
Erdos glanced at me as he forced himself to flip through the bitter pills. There was a strange emotion in his eyes that I could not understand.
“Protect Rosiane at all costs.”
It was a subtle way to say that they should take good care of their family. The words were difficult for me to understand, but everyone nodded their heads in agreement.
“Nanuk doesn’t necessarily have to take classes. Make your own decision.”
“I will learn. The magic I learn from the teacher will be different.”
Somehow, it seemed that between Erdos and Timofey, there was a strangely close teacher-student relationship. After quickly taking the medicine that was placed next to me, I felt a strong gaze from somewhere while I was eating a pudding. I looked up and saw Timofey staring at me with sparkling eyes.
“By the way, Your Imperial Highness’ magic is clearer than I’ve ever seen it. It’s different than when you were asleep.”
Then, he drank up the tea in front of him. Judging by his remark, it seemed that he cast the protective spell on Rosiane’s body when she was asleep. I stopped eating the pudding, feeling somewhat choked up. The magic and everything else must have changed because the real Rosiane was not the one in this body. If someone realized that it wasn’t her in this body, what would happen?
I put down the spoon as I no longer felt like eating.
As I was lying on the grass, Melissa, who waited in the distance, startled and ran over.
“Princess, it’s not safe for you to be lying here! You might get bitten by insects!”
She quickly laid out a prepared mat and let me sit on it, even though I didn’t think I would be in great danger if I got bitten by an insect. The thick mattress made it much easier for me to lie down. After covering me with a blanket and even putting a parasol next to my pillow that I didn’t know where she got from, Melissa said she was relieved and returned to her original position. I could vividly hear the rustling of the leaves in the wind. I was soaked in a kind of sleepy slumber and was about to take a nap.
I heard a loud cry. There was only one person who could shout this insanely loud in the Imperial Palace. Eryte. And my prediction was not wrong. Eryte suddenly put his head in the parasol. His eyes were folded in a half-moon shape and glittered with great mischievousness. I pretended not to see it, remembering that he always played silly tricks when he made this expression.
This time he peeked out from the other side. Then he craned his neck out of the parasol again, looked around, and said to me in a quiet voice as if he was trying to tell me a secret.
“Let’s go undercover!”
In the novel, he disguised himself and went out every day, and eventually married a woman he met while he was undercover.
It seemed that he had always done this since he was a kid. When I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep, Eryte began to speak to himself.
“Oh, my God! You’re so mean! Hey, that’s it!!”
Eryte huffed away. I opened my eyes as I sensed Eryte had disappeared, and almost reached out my fist unconsciously. However, he came back and was right in front of me.
“Come on, Rosie! I just want to show you the capital. If you go with me this time, you’ll definitely want to go more in the future. Hmm? Hmm? All I want is to go out and play with my sister!”
Didn’t Eryte hear from the doctor that I wouldn’t understand what people say as I was supposed to be a child? This was a plea that I had no choice but to listen to after all.
He took both my hands in his and begged. No wonder he was a mad dog of Asteria who wouldn’t let go once he had a bite. And I couldn’t even express my rejection in words. If I were to open my mouth and refused, not only would this country turn upside down because I could talk and understand, but the rejected Eryte would come back dozens or hundreds of times to torment me.
I had no choice. I got up and looked up at him. His eyes were mixed with anticipation. Eryte grasped my hand as I held it out and cheered.
“I need to have a word with Rosie, everyone out!”
He took my hand and brought me to my room, where all the attendants were sent away, and we began to prepare to go undercover. I knew he was a skillful boy, and he proceeded at once. He changed into the street clothes that were hidden in the corner of his closet, and also wore lenses to hide his eyes so that no one could notice.
What I saw in front of the mirror was not the royalty of Asteria, but a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy and a silver-haired, blue-eyed girl. However, one thing that I was a little embarrassed to say about myself was that despite the street clothes I wore, my beauty did not hide. Perhaps people would still think we were noble children who came to play.
Eryte pulled the candlestick by the fireplace, and a narrow passage appeared silently. Seeing my eyes widened, he smiled.
“Isn’t it amazing? It’s a secret passage that exists only in the Palace, where I spend most of my time.”
Before I could feel the wonder, Eryte took my hand in his and led me through. As we entered, the door closed quietly. At the same time, a light or two on the wall lit up the dark passage. I wondered when it was made, maybe two, three hundred years ago. Anyway, my ancestors who lived here had this hobby. If he was born then, they would get along really well.
If there were two kids like Eryte, everyone would have chronic stress. I followed Eryte’s footsteps, thinking it was fortunate that the ancestors were born in the past.
The passageway was very long and complicated. I didn’t know how Eryte could remember it, but he led me like he knew it by heart. I didn’t know how long I walked, but Eryte suddenly stopped and turned to the right, then he turned on the light on the wall. The wall, which had no space, gradually opened up and light began to seep in. The lights then naturally faded and the passage became dark again.
“Come on, let’s go!”
He held out his hand to me. I took his hand and stepped inside. I glanced back and saw that the passage had disappeared as if it had led us here at some point. We were now under an old bridge where water no longer flowed.
I thought for a while about how in the old days, waterways were used to allow people to come and go throughout the city.
“A short walk from here, and we’ll get to the market! You’re going to love it!”
He couldn’t control his excitement and began humming. I felt a little embarrassed and quickly pulled away.
“I should warn you, the market is very crowded. If you miss my hand, you’ll be in big trouble, so make sure to follow me!”
Eryte said in a high voice. It was really amazing that he knew the risk but would want to bring me here anyway.
If there was a real Rosiane instead of me, there would be a major problem of getting lost. With a short sigh, I hoped that today’s itinerary would be over soon and he wouldn’t bother me anymore.
“Hey, Rosie. It’s cotton candy!”
“Oh! Rosie, look at this! A lizard!!!”
“Oh, my God! Rosie. isn’t this cool? Of course, I’m cooler!”
He drew a lot of stares the whole time he was walking through the market. His appearance was the second problem, and his behavior was the main cause.
“Give me some cotton candy.”
“Here you go, sir.”
“Yes, thank you.”
“This is the best cotton candy shop in the capital,” he said, “but did you hear the news?”
I sighed as I watched Eryte drag me away and shove the third piece of cotton candy into his mouth, but the owner, who seemed to be acquainted with Eryte, suddenly spoke up.
“What’s the news?”
“The sleeping princess has finally awakened! It’s a miracle for Asteria!”
It made me feel sick to my stomach.
“Oh, that’s good!? Right, Rosie?”
This idiot was undercover but called me by my real name.
“Rosie. Let’s go this way!”
He tugged on my hand. After we walked along the busy market streets for a while, we came to a large square.
In the middle was a huge fountain made of white marble, and in the center were sculpted statues of holy beings, presumably the gods of this world, standing firmly in their respective poses.
“It’s a fountain that embodies Arke, the god of the beginning, and his seven children!”
God seemed to have a big meaning in this world. I didn’t believe in gods, but this was my favorite place of all the places I had seen while being undercover.
There were quite a lot of people visiting, but it was so spacious that I didn’t feel the stuffiness, and the finely carved fountain stand was somewhat eye-catching. I approached it. The waterfall sounded like cheerful music.
“Isn’t that cool?”
It sure was. I sat down on a chair near the fountain, and Eryte rushed over to get me something to drink. I thought if we were ordinary children, we would have been lost.
I had no desire to grow up and get lost, so I sat quietly and something touched my feet.
The black cat, with its sleek fur and slender body, was rubbing itself against my feet for some time. I had heard that cats do this because they wanted to get their own smell on you, and it was cute. As a cat lover and occasional abandoned cat’s caretaker, I was happy with the visitor. I got down from my chair and patted the cat. The cat moved jerkily in response to my touch. The bright yellow-eyed cat greeted me with a blink of his eyes.
“What’s your name?”
I made sure Eryte hadn’t arrived yet before I spoke. The voice and language were so unfamiliar that I couldn’t believe it was coming from my mouth. As I held the cat close to my chest and brought my face close to it, I smelled a peculiar scent. What can I say, it was like the smell of dawn?
At that moment, the cat moved away from me and went into an alleyway nearby. As I was looking at the alley sadly, he showed his face to me again. I felt like he was talking to me, but I was just sad that I didn’t know the language of cats. While I was feeling disappointed and wondering whether I should follow the cat, I felt something cold on my cheek. I turned my face and saw Eryte with two cold drinks in his hands.
When I looked back at the alley after receiving the drink, the cat had since disappeared. After that, Eryte took me around for a while, looking here and there. Eventually, I was exhausted on our way back to the Imperial Palace for dinner. Eryte, however, was still running around as energetically as ever, showing how good his physical strength was. Moreover, from a certain moment on, he let go of my hand, rushed to look around, then came back.
When I couldn’t walk any further and sat down on a nearby chair to rest for a while, Eryte fidgeted and looked at me as he saw a clown playing with some children over there. As I leaned back on the bench and closed my eyes, Eryte said:
“This brother has something important to do, so I’ll have to go for a while. I’ll see you soon, so take a rest!”
The important business seemed to be retrieving the balloons that the clown was holding, but he, who first said that it would be dangerous to let go of his hand, now went somewhere alone and overjoyed. I thought it was good where I wanted to rest anyway. I really liked the quietness when he was gone. For a moment, I opened my eyes when I felt some weight on my legs. The cat that was hovering around me earlier was now sitting on my lap.
“It’s you again?”
I tickled his chin and he let out a muffled grunt. My touch seemed to be quite satisfying. In all honesty, I wanted to take the cat to the Palace. But I wasn’t sure how long I would be in this state, so I couldn’t make a decision. After all, the curse of Asteria was also approaching me. I may one day wake up and return to my original self, or I may die before I turn twelve. Somewhere, death was holding my ankles.
At that moment, the cat leaped and disappeared into an alleyway nearby. For some reason, I felt the urge to follow it, and so I went into the alley. In the darkened alley, only the cat’s yellow eyes were clear.
However, I didn’t have time to catch up to the cat and had to leave because of Eryte, who shouted my name, wondering where I was. It was only after the cat was gone, as it did earlier, that I looked into the alleyway with lingering feelings.