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Ch 25 Chris’s Thoughts
That night, Chris slept lightly.
Most knights were trained to take a nap or sleep anywhere. Chris was one of those who’d learned how to do this.
Even if he was heading to war or into a hostile place like Danis’s homebase, he could wake up as soon as he sensed someone’s killing intent or noticed something strange.
However, he hasn’t been able to sleep well ever since he’d seen the emblem on Danis’ arm yesterday. He quickly woke up as soon as it was light outside.
He washed his face and got ready for the day as usual. He took his sword, still in its scabbard, and unsheathed it. Then, he started cleaning the blade. Chris’s face was reflected on the side of his sword.
Even in his own opinion, his expression looked a bit grim.
“It’s supposed to be an emblem that…no longer exists… So he’s saying he’s a survivor?”
If the proof of the emblem on Danis’s arm that he saw last night was true, then the family essentially no longer exists. Chris had heard about that incident before he’d taken the knighthood exam.
He had heard that the family’s entire house had been razed to the ground.
If he really was a survivor of that family, it wouldn’t be surprising that he was thinking of revenge.
In this country, there were four noble families that were involved with and supported the king since the country’s founding. The reason he used past tense was because one of them was destroyed when the members of the aforementioned family died.
Every generation, the heirs of the noble families would have a coat of arms engraved somewhere on their body as proof of their oath to swear absolute loyalty.
However, this was kept a secret. Besides the heir and a few of their family members, no one else should know about this.
Chris Levski was one of those nobles.
His family’s emblem got engraved on his right shoulder when he inherited it.
And each clan has a different role.
The Levsky family was the king’s sword and shield.
The Vander family provided support as aides or butlers.
The Hallmia family managed the country’s economy and trade.
The Orbright family controlled, and kept the country’s darkness in check.
He’d heard that one of these noble families, the Orbright, had been destroyed by someone.
If any of the noble families were to be lost, they would have an influence that could bring chaos to the country. When the family that owned the emblem engraved on Danis’s arm was destroyed, the country went into chaos.
This misery and chaos wouldn’t have been felt by those in the noble class, but Chris, who’d been aiming to become a knight, had to traverse the areas where commoners lived sometimes, and the effects were apparent there.
Because Chris had witnessed this, it was hard for him to understand why Danis had abandoned his family’s name, even if it was to take revenge. If he had an heir’s coat of arms, he could have regained the title from the king again.
If he had really abandoned it, then it would mean that he’d also abandoned his family’s mission to serve the royal family. He had no intention of serving the country.
Even if he hadn’t been able to get back on his feet right then, he could have come forward later.
In the end, despite having an emblem, he could not be trusted.
However, it was still a fact that he was harboring and aiding the prince. Chris decided that they would have no problem working together since they had the same goal.
“He seems very different from the family heir I’d known…”
Chris was also a knight of the noble class, and he had attended soirées and royal feasts in the past.
He remembered that the heir of the ruined clan had often gotten along well with Prince Alan. He had black hair, an unusual hair color that could be seen from a distance, as well as a soft demeanor. Yet, he had been so graceful that his words had conveyed his superiority. It brought back memories of the past.
Did he really change that much? Chris couldn’t feel even a fragment of his previous self
In aristocratic society, it was common for one’s public face to be quite different from one’s private face. But when he compared him to the person who the prince had unabashedly missed, he was almost a completely different person. However, he also knew that people changed.
Chris smiled when he thought about the past.
When Chris was only twelve, he was informed that his father had died in the war. Instead of properly informing him of his father’s death, he was told that the defense had been a success. At the time however, the news had shocked Chris, who respected and admired his father.
Chris, who had never thought for a moment that his father would die, realized the harshness and weight of being a “knight,” which had suddenly been thrown to him then. He had never felt as sad as he did then.
Perhaps his mother had also been shocked by the news, as she had fainted from shock that day and became bedridden for a while.
Since then, his mother had changed.
Perhaps it was because she didn’t want the same thing to happen to her son; she became incredibly strict and didn’t show any tenderness to him. Sometimes, she even became hysterical.
In such a drastically changed environment, there was no way a twelve-year-old child wouldn’t grow up to be somewhat twisted. However, if he thought that the death of his father, whom he respected, was in vain, he would not be able to survive. But even if he could be of use to the royal family, he couldn’t find any meaning in it.
One day, he became a knight’s soldier and started guarding the castle interior, while still holding this uncertain resolve.
It happened near the garden. It was a beautiful garden that was occasionally visited by the members of the royal family. That day, there had been a lot of noise in the castle. The maids and butlers had been frantically searching for the prince, Alan-sama, who had skipped out on the lessons being given by the royal tutor.
When Chris had overheard this, his impression was that the royal family sure was naive and carefree. He’d thought such irreverent things back then.
At that time, there was a rustling noise coming from the garden. It was possible that it was just a stray cat or something, but he couldn’t disregard the possibility that it was a suspicious person either. He’d slowly made his way towards the direction of the sound, eliminating any sign of his presence.
The rustling sound got louder.
As he kept his body low to the ground and waited, he saw a person’s head peeking out of a small hole in the shrubbery.
Big blue eyes, silky blond hair, and a face that looked young but beautiful. This visage captivated Chris’s gaze.
Perhaps he had been surprised as well. He stared back at Chris with a dumbfounded look, and Chris had been similarly surprised and frozen.
Alan-sama, the prince who he’d thought of as naive and carefree, was right in front of him. His head and body was covered with leaves. Alan’s face grew paler with each passing second.
Chris thought to himself that the prince had looked pitiable, and was about to call out to him, when he heard the voices of the butler and maids heading towards that area.
“Alan-sama!? Where can he be!!”
Chris and Alan’s shoulders both jerked with nervousness at the same time.
He saw the maids heading towards them, and for some reason he unconsciously stood in front of Prince Alan, shielding him from view.
(What am I doing …)
“Sir Knight, have you seen Prince Alan over there?”
“No, I haven’t seen him here.”
The maids had left with a disappointed expression at his response.
After they left, the prince, who had been hiding in the shrubbery, stood up, and started brushing off his clothes.
Chris also looked to the prince, who had turned his back to him.
“Thank you for hiding me. I’m sorry.”
“If you feel that way, then why don’t you go back?”
Chris had been in a negative emotional state at the time, and because he was young, he had a cold attitude toward royalty. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to apologize, so he replied in an irreverent manner.
Prince Alan had blinked at him, as if he was surprised.
“Then why did you hide me?”
“I did it unconsciously. It was a reflex.”
When he denied what he had just done, the prince was briefly stunned once more, and then started laughing aloud.
Chris looked at the prince quizzically. He wondered what was so funny. The prince stopped laughing out loud when he saw Chris’s expression, but his mouth was still curved in mirth and he seemed to be holding in his laughter.
“I’m sorry. It’s rare for someone to act that way toward me.”
He supposed it was. The other party was royalty, the only heir to the throne. There weren’t many who would take such a blatantly rude manner towards him. But why did he think that was so funny?
“Well, if that’s what you think, then it must be nice to be so carefree.”
The prince smiled bitterly at his worsening attitude, but he didn’t rebuke him. Instead, he turned his gaze toward the garden with a melancholy expression.
“I’m sure you’re right. Maybe… I’m just being selfish. But it’s nice to have someone who is truly angry with me. I know I have to behave appropriately as royalty. But when I skip out and bother them like this sometimes, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever see him again… Even though that person is already dead.”
Chris looked at Alan’s face and saw a lonely, forlorn expression.
He knew that look. He’d seen it himself.
It was the expression of someone who’d lost someone they’d deeply cared about.
When he saw the young prince with such a look on his face, it reminded him of his own from not so long ago.
“I have so many people protecting me, but I don’t have the strength to protect them. But I don’t want to be like that anymore! At least, when I become king, I want to reduce the death toll in this country. To those who are in need and those who die in battle, I want to be a king who would not be ashamed when I meet in the afterlife … It’s kind of a confirmation of that resolve.”
The prince turned to Chris again and smiled sadly.
When he saw the prince smiling so bitterly, he felt embarrassed that he had misunderstood him.
A simple soldier could never talk to the prince. Even though he came from a noble family, it wasn’t like he could immediately become a captain. It was difficult to get to know the prince’s personality.
However, the prince, who was still younger than him, was not just mourning the death of his loved one, but was also looking forward to the future.
He wanted to make a better country.
Chris was impressed by his determination.
On the other hand, what about Chris himself? The royal family had turned a blind eye to him until now, saying that they couldn’t find any meaning in a useless knight.
Ah, so that’s what this was about. Chris remembered his father’s words at that moment.
When Chris’s father was still alive and teaching him at home, he had asked him once.
“Why can father risk his life in battle?”
His father’s face was serious as he answered that question.
The emblem was just a formality. If you didn’t have the desire to do so, it would be meaningless.
“It is because I thought that I could devote my life to this man.”
His father said this with his chest stuck out in pride.
He hadn’t really understood it at the time.
To be precise, he didn’t really understand it until this moment.
Chris had decided that if it was this prince, he would be willing to follow him.
“Then, even more so, isn’t it a bad idea to slack off?”
“…! Don’t say that.”
Chris had looked at Prince Alan for the first time and saw him with his face puffed up and sulking like a child.
—When you become king, I’ll be the captain who welcomes you.
He’d made up his mind, and looked at the prince with a much kinder attitude than before.
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