Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 9: A Higher-up’s Desire
As the day of the memorial service grew closer and closer, each of the participating digitaries gradually began to appear one after the other, and just one day before the ceremony, all of the attendees were finally settled in.
Accompanied by both the prime minister and deputy general, Count Augustus visited the crown prince’s chambers to report the latest matters regarding their closest neighboring country, Zwölf. Deputy Commander Joshua Khan, who was also present at the time, was made to accompany Crown Prince Kyle as his royal highness’ escort.
“I see. There may be a possibility that the banished crown prince’s faction is planning a coup d’etat through his wife’s birth mother’s family.1”
Twenty-four-year-old Crown Prince Kyle had dark hair, bright amber eyes, and a well-proportioned face, features that one might expect of someone with royal blood. In contrast to his outwardly calm and composed appearance, the prince was also large in stature, which made him appear quite formidable. It was this dignified impression he exuded that made those around him deem him worthy to be the next king.
“And it may or may not be a coincidence that a military officer who happens to be a distant relative from the mother-in-law’s family was suddenly promoted…” Prince Kyle stated after hearing his subordinates’ report. “Tell me, Vinter, should a coup arise, what impact would it have on our country’s current and future circumstances?”
“Presently, Zwölf isn’t capable of starting a war with other countries,” Vinter answered dryly, knowing full well that Zwölf didn’t have the capacity to harm Fanoren in any way. “And a coup d’etat would have little to no effect on our country, though in terms of trade, it would hurt our imports a bit.”
“I don’t wish for my subjects’ lives to be negatively affected by a shortage of goods,” Prince Kyle stated worriedly.
“That may not be the case. We can get by even if we cut off trade with Zwölf. Since the last war, we have stopped relying on them when it comes to imports,” Vinter reassured his highness.
“I understand,” the prince replied, relieved at the thought of his people not being subject to any sort of harm. “Then, may I ask once more? Is there a necessary reason for us to intervene?” the prince asked, genuinely confused about the point his subordinates were trying to make.
“I’d like to say there is none, but the banished crown prince of Zwölf is extremely ambitious. If he were to usurp the throne, it wouldn’t be too much more to assume that he could build an army to start another war and try to steal his neighbors’ wealth,” Vinter answered, laying forth the possibility that if another greedy man were to seize power, it would cause nothing but trouble for all surrounding nations.
“Declaring himself king would also invalidate the terms of our treaty. Even so, we can’t do anything too direct. Why don’t we let Prime Minister Vinter inform their country of the banished prince’s plans and demand they do something about it?” Deputy Commander Khan pitched in.
Vinter shook his head in disagreement to the deputy commander’s statement. “Not yet. This is all still speculation on our end,” he clarified. Then, he added, “It would be best to secretly inform the acting chief executive of Zwölf directly. After all, we have no real grasp of the actual situation yet. We don’t know who might have already infiltrated their ranks.”
Khan nodded in understanding.
“Stopping the distribution of iron may seem simple enough that others won’t suspect an underlying reason behind it, but this was obviously carried out by the banished prince’s faction as they are the ones who still have authority over the country’s iron supply. It’ll only be a matter of time before we can gather the necessary evidence to prove it,” Vinter concluded.
Amidst all the serious talk of a possible threat to their own state’s affairs, Prince Kyle smiled ruefully to himself. “Isn’t it funny how, even elsewhere, people still think of nothing but the power of a throne?”
“Your Highness—” Khan was taken aback at hearing his superior speak so forthrightly. Seeing Khan’s reaction, Prince Kyle couldn’t help his amusement and waved a hand to silence the deputy commander.
“Now, about this matter, I will have Prime Minister Vinter inform the acting chief executive of Zwölf discreetly, as you have said. Deputy General Brandt, I’ll leave you the task of informing your uncle, the general, to consider strengthening the security of our nation’s borders. Count Augustus, I ask that you lead the guard at the border of Zwölink. Be sure to tighten surveillance on anyone entering or exiting the country, and should any reason arise, you have my authority to close the gates as you see fit.
“Khan,2” the crown prince paused thoughtfully as he looked at the deputy commander before giving him his order. “As for you, I’ll have you report to your father, the commander.”
While everyone else bowed their heads in acknowledgement of the prince’s commands, Khan looked as white as a sheet. Maybe he had bitten off more than he could chew.
“Now then, that’s all regarding this matter. Come, let us not linger on this any longer, especially before tomorrow’s ceremony!” Prince Kyle spoke loudly, ending their meeting on a more positive note as if trying to lift the heavy atmosphere surrounding the previous discussion. Then, he turned to Augustus. “Tell me, Count Augustus, who was that? Where have you been hiding them all this time!?”
Unsure of who exactly the prince was referring to, Count Augustus asked, “What do you mean, your highness?”
“Oh, quit your nonsense, Augustus! You know what I mean! Your youngest son, the one with such a heavenly appearance3 that God must have mistakenly placed him on Earth!” the crown prince exaggerated once more to prove his point.
“Your Highness,” Count Augustus frowned at the prince’s choice of words to describe his child. “Please don’t address my son as such. I assure you, he is but a normal child. Sure, he may be beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, he’s just like every other boy his age.”
“What nonsense! If that is ‘normal’ then such a thing as normal does not exist in this world!” the crown prince argued.4
Count Augustus was beginning to grow tired of having this same exchange again and again whenever it came to matters involving Leorino. Whether it be the crown prince or even the deputy commander commenting on his appearance, they all reacted the same in the end. Even though Lady Maia had genuinely been pleased that their youngest was at the center of everyone’s attention for the first time in his life, she was also unsure if they should allow Leorino to continue meeting with guests. He often received so much unwarranted attention that even his older brothers were starting to become more overly protective of him.
“Come to think of it, I still haven’t found myself a bride5! Waiting six or so more years until he becomes an adult is something I can afford to do,” the prince went on.
The defensive count’s blood came to a boil, and he exploded in anger at the thought of the prince’s words coming to fruition. “Pardon!? I would never marry him off to anyone, not even you, your highness!”
Unperturbed by the obvious irritation on Augustus’ face, Prince Kyle smiled at him and said, “If he were to marry me, he’d become as powerful as a queen. I don’t think it’s such a bad deal, do you, my dear count?”
It seemed he enjoyed teasing Augustus mercilessly.
“Hahahahah!!!” Prince Kyle, who was clearly enthralled by his stubborn subordinate’s obvious displeasure, failed to control his amusement and laughed out loud. “Forgive me, Augustus; I was only kidding. In all seriousness, that boy will surely grow even more beautiful as he ages. Had I no obligation to leave an heir, I would have absolutely made him my queen.”
Even Deputy Commander Khan nodded his head in agreement with what the crown prince had said.
“With all due respect, Leorino has no title to inherit and will likely be put in a difficult position later in life, no matter his beauty. By the time you finally let the world know of his existence, he may become easy prey to those who have ill intentions,” the previously playful prince said seriously, now showing genuine concern for Leorino’s well-being. “It would be in everyone’s best interest to marry him off to someone in a position of power who can protect him rather than letting him live a life of independence, always struggling for a semblance of security.”
Hearing that, Count Augustus sighed heavily. “That is why I can’t help but worry. Although he is still too young to be called a man, he’s but a child at heart. And I, like every other parent who thinks of their children’s future, want him to explore and see the world outside of this manor for himself. Seeing no sign of him outgrowing his effeminate appearance makes me worry even more.”
Voiced in such a manner, the count’s concerns seemed even more serious than anyone could have ever imagined. “Should I respect his plea for independence and support him until he can stand on his own, or should I entrust him to someone with power who can protect him better than I? This is something that I cannot help but ponder over time and again. So long as he’s under my immediate protection, he’ll be fine, but it is the distant future where I am no longer there to keep him safe that terrifies me.8”
Much later on, everyone within that room except Augustus, held a second private meeting9 on how best to protect Leorino in the future.