Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 12: Eyes Like the Starry Night Sky
All those attending the ceremony left for Zwölink before dawn.
Everyone, including the dignitaries, had to depart from Brungwurth early in the morning for Zwölink since it was a military base situated at the edge of the border and wasn’t designed to host parties. Once they were done with the three hour long memorial service, they’d travel back to Brungwurth again, thus spending most of their day on the move.
Leorino rode in a carriage together with his eldest brother Oriano, his father Count Augustus, and Bruno Heckel, the marquis of Lagarea. The marquis was a close friend of Augustus and a great nobleman who was the uncle of the current king and great uncle of Crown Prince Kyle. And because the marquis had been to Brungwurth several times in the past, Leorino felt at ease around him and not the slightest bit nervous in his presence.
The seating in the carriage was comfortable and the ride stable, but never before had Leorino ever experienced traveling such a great distance. Quietly, he sat closer to his father and hoped that he wouldn’t grow sick during their journey and make a mess of himself.
Augustus and Marquis Lagarea were busy talking about a recent occurrence that happened at court, and Oriano would occasionally share his own opinion on the different subjects they brought up from time to time.
I wish I was in the carriage with Gauff… Leorino pouted. Because he was much too young to understand all of the words being used while the adults talked, this was nothing but a long boring ride for him.
Despite being in the carriage with his brother Oriano, the eldest who would one day inherit the Brungwurth territory from their father, Leorino still felt he would’ve been more comfortable having Gauff around. Though Leorino loved Oriano dearly, his eldest brother was like a second father to him after all, their twelve year age gap was still too great for them to discuss things as freely as he could with Guaff. It would be like talking to another peer versus an adult.
Taking advantage of everyone else being preoccupied on their own, Leorino took this opportunity to reexamine his dream from the night before.
Ionia Bergunde… that was my name in the dream…
By now, Leorino was convinced that Ionia was actually himself in a past life. What could be more real than a dream that shows a memory from the past? It can’t just be as simple as a figment of my imagination, he thought to himself.
Each time Leorino dreamt was a chance to unravel a part of the past when he was still living as Ionia. It felt as though he were tugging on a rope that would eventually lead him to the future, his current self. For every time he dreamt, he remembered something new about his life as Ionia. Last night, his dreams surrounded the events from twenty-four years before when the country had mourned the death of Bridgette, the king’s concubine.
If I was eleven years old twenty-four years ago, I would be thirty-five years old now, Leorino counted out in his head.
If Ionia were still alive, he’d be a lot older than me, but living as the real me now. Does that mean he’ll die later on? When will he die? Somehow the thought of when Ionia would die made Leorino worry.
His dream from the previous night felt like it was something important to Ionia. It had been about his best friend from the past! The boy was a noble whom Ionia had met and gradually became very close to before they stopped seeing each other for a short while.
He said his name was Vis… Leorino thought to himself as he wondered if it were possible for him to find this “Vis” person now since he was a noble too.
A boy with black hair and eyes like stars… I wish I could meet him! Last night’s dream ended before we could see one another again. Leorino desperately hoped for it, knowing that although there may only be a slim chance for that person in his dreams to appear before him in real life. Oh, but it’d be so wonderful if they could meet one more time. After all, this was a person who’d willingly become close friends with a commoner like Ionia, yet was someone far beyond the status or position of a blacksmith’s son.
But that’d be impossible! It’s not like I can just tell him ‘Hi! It’s me Ionia!’ and he’ll accept it right away. What’s more, I’m much too young to be the same person… Leorino sighed as he debated with himself, knowing full well that Vis was surely an adult by now and that even he himself wouldn’t be willing to believe a random child walking up to him and saying they were once that person’s best friend. That would be a horribly awkward situation, even for Leorino.
But don’t we have the same eyes? Maybe I could say that I’m a relative of Ionia’s? No, that, too, would be absurd. For a young noble with platinum blonde hair and a effeminate face to tell another that they were acquainted with a red-haired commoner was uncouth, but Leorino wasn’t aware of that because, to him, Ionia was just an extension of himself.
‘Vee’… to think I gave another noble such a name. How bold of me! Why was I so careless back then? Now that he thought about it, from Leorino’s current perspective, he felt a little ashamed at how naively blunt and optimistic he’d been as Ionia back in the past.
“Bruno, I recently heard that the search for prince Kyle’s future wife has sped up,” Augustus commented.
“No, not quite yet,” Marquis Lagarea denied. “We’ve been welcoming two consecutive generations of queens from abroad over the last few years, but this time the aristocratic factions are finally demanding that we hurry and choose a queen from a suitable noble family, one that has both power and prestige within Fanoren, or that we start considering a princess from another country to strengthen Fanoren’s diplomatic relations and aide us in times of conflict. Unfortunately, we haven’t made any progress since then,” he explained before following up with a question of his own. “Why is it that you’re suddenly interested in Prince Kyle’s affairs, Augustus?”
“No particular reason. Prince Kyle’s a clever one and a man of high status. I’m sure he’ll be able to find a lovely, suitable wife to settle down with soon.”
The marquis was left puzzled by Augustus’ reply, but decided to continue the topic of conversation. “Surely, he will. However, even if we continue to welcome queens from abroad, Frankle will remain excluded from the list as both Queen Adele and Queen Emilia hail from there. As it stands now, the biggest problem is that the country we most wish to form diplomatic relations with had no suitable princesses of age for Prince Kyle to wed. And, when it comes to the Duke of Bilbas’ daughter, although she hails from Fanoren and can bring suitable power and prestige to a marriage, her family has kept silent on the matter of offering her hand.” The marquis went on at length, obviously troubled by this current dilemma. “For a royal to still be unmarried at twenty-three is unheard of.”
“I guess we’ll have to settle this matter sooner rather than later,” Augustus replied, purposely putting pressure on his friend. His thought was that if Marquis Heckle himself, kin to the royal family and the current secretary of internal affairs, were found to be in dire straits, he would have no choice but to force his nephew into marriage. That would be in spite of the fact that Oriano had heard directly from the crown prince that he didn’t wish to wed at this time. Even Oriano, who was the same age as Prince Kyle and an alumnus of the Academy for Elites also, wanted to help the prince find a wife soon.
“Speaking of marriage, your youngest brother, General Gravis, is still unmarried. How about we try finding him a good bride as well?”
While Augustus’ suggestion was genuine, the marquis remained silent, as if he was debating something serious on his own.
“That…” the marquis seemed quite hesitant to answer, but continued, “I don’t think General Gravis will be getting married anytime soon.” He paused briefly before adding in a small voice, “in this lifetime.”
At the mere mention of a certain name, Leorino’s attention turned back to the adult’s conversation. “What kind of person is his excellency the general, Prince Gravis?” General Gravis was said to be the most powerful man in the country and was someone who he wished to meet as greatly as he did Vee.
The adults who had been talking uninterrupted on their own for most of the journey were now surprised at hearing the young boy voice a sudden question, unbidden, out of harmless curiosity.
“I’m sorry. I know it’s rude of me to interrupt your conversation without permission, but I heard the general’s name and couldn’t help myself. Guaff told me General Gravis and his troops were the ones who took back Zwölink during the war,” Leorino explained and then added, “I’ve always admired him, and I really want to meet him!”
Leorino’s innocent words made both his father, Count Augustus, and Marquis Lagarea feel a bit conflicted after hearing his wish.
“I don’t think there will ever be a chance for you to meet him, little one. It’s highly unlikely that the general will visit Zwölink again,” the marquis said, sounding slightly apologetic.
“Well,” Leorino quieted down a little; the news of the general having never come back to Zwölink was nothing new, but it still made him feel a little hopeless inside. “Could you at least tell me more about him? I’ve always wanted to know what kind of person the general is. He must be a very strong man!” Leorinoe added, his eyes twinkling in admiration.
All the adults chuckled at Leorino’s sudden energetic request.
“Yes, he is a very strong man indeed,” the marquis answered. “He’s the one in charge of our country’s defenses. After the battle at Zwölink, his strength made him known throughout the whole continent, and since then, no country had ever tried to battle against Fanoren again because of that.” The marquis spoke the last line with a great sense of pride in his voice.
“Amazing!” Leorino exclaimed, genuinely in awe of his favorite general. “What does he look like? Is he larger than father? Is he handsome?” Leorino asked question after question excitedly.
“His hair is black, and he exudes an air similar to that of his highness, Prince Kyle,” Count Augustus replied. “Oh, but their eyes are a bit different in color, aren’t they?”
“Yes, you will easily recognize him when you see him, Leorino,” the marquis assured. “He has eyes like that of a starry night sky, a rarity here in Fanoren.”