Author: alyalia

“First of all…”

 

“?”

 

“Will you please follow me?”

 

“…Okay.”

 

The butler led Charelize to the attic on the fourth floor, which was blocked off from the public.

 

“Last time, I told young Master that my grandfather was an exile from the kingdom of Risperan.”

 

“Ah, I remember.”

 

“To put in more detail, my grandfather… He was Princess Crose’s escort knight and lover.”

 

“To be more specific, my grandfather… he is Prince Crose’s escort knight and lover,” said the butler, taking the key out of his arms.

 

Princess Crose. She was the predecessor Duchess of Marsetta.

 

“That… what did you mean?”

 

“…”

 

“Even as an escort knight, he was my grandmother’s lover?”

 

It must have been locked for a long time, or the doorknob was rusty so it couldn’t be opened easily.

 

“Is that really true?” Charelize asked again, hardening her expression, not believing what she had just heard.

 

“How dare I… to tell a lie?” the butler spoke his words without a shudder. At least he didn’t seem to be lying.

 

At that moment, the door finally opened with a rough sound. Upon entering, the first thing that caught her eye was a very small desk that could be used by a child. In addition to that, there were various items necessary for living, including an old bed. Except for the suffocating damp smell and the dust flying in the air, there were traces of someone living here and there until a few years ago.

 

“This place… is the place where Sir Raya stayed when he was a child.”

 

“It sounds like he lived somewhere else when he grew up.”

 

“That’s right.”

 

Charelize looked around the entire attic. To say that it was a room occupied by the lineage of the Marsetta family, it was very shabby and unattractive. But, there was something more important than that.

 

“Your grandfather… May I ask why he went into exile?”

 

“That’s…”

 

The butler, who showed signs of hesitation for a while, told the story of the past.

 

* * *

Decades ago.

 

Queen Merien, who ruled the kingdom of Risperan, had two daughters. Her eldest daughter Princess Hespia, was appointed as her successor from the moment she was born and led a busy life. On the other hand, her second daughter, Princess Crose, had a very lively personality and lived freely. Princess Hespia was calm in behavior and always set an example for others. Princess, who has a bright nature, was loved by many.

 

However, it wasn’t long before Princess Hespia received her official title. She suffered from the unknown disease. She eventually met her death at a young age.

 

Queen Merien had no intention of remarrying and seeing a new heir. Thus, she personally taught Princess Crose the proper etiquette along with her royal studies lessons. Although her daughter was a child who loved to play, she wanted her to develop the qualities of a ruler. Unlike her predecessor, she became a very strict mentor.

 

Princess Crose was unable to fully grieve over the sudden death of her sister. She had been told all along that she was the only hope because she was the only remaining royal heir.

 

Aside from the pressure, it was frustrating to only move according to the set schedule. First, she wasn’t allowed to go outside of the castle to play with commoners for safety reasons. Private meetings with nobles were also forbidden. She then realized how much effort her older sister, who always greeted her with a smile, had put in to have that kind of smile. Their difference in social status was  too great, so they were in a position where they had to avoid other people’s eyes. That made them more affectionate to each other.

 

Tired of meeting her lover secretly, Princess Crose asked Queen Merien for her permission to be engaged with her escort knight. However Queen Merien refused, saying that she wasn’t worth listening to anymore. The reason was that her escort knight was too old, and he had a son who was 10 years old that year.

 

Since that day, Princess Crose had never been free to do anything. It was painful for her not being able to express her will freely. She then suggested her escort knight to run away together.

 

While feeling sorry for his lover in pain, the escort knight was at a loss for what to do. Perhaps because he dragged on too much time, their plan was discovered before it was realized.

 

Queen Merien threatened her escort knight with his son’s life. In the end, the escort knight turned away from Princess Crose and ran away recklessly. He settled down completely in the Elioter Empire, and lived with his son, Sebastian.

 

Sebastian grew up, married the daughter of a junior knight, and gave birth to his own child. In order to do his job as the head of the family, he became the servant of the Marsetta family.

 

Around that time, due to the war started by Tithena I, the Risperan Kingdom entered the path of destruction. In order to end the war, Princess Crose, who was sent in exchange for the peace, was forcibly tied with the predecessor Duke Marsetta.

 

Time passed and after repeated miscarriages, Princess Crose gave birth to two children at the same time. For the sole reason that they were twins, one of her children was taken away and prevented from meeting each other.

 

In addition to that, seeing her husband  who continued a promiscuous life and took concubines, Princess Crose fell into depression. Suffering from hallucinations and throwing objects around to relieve her anger, she gradually went crazy.

 

Meanwhile, Princess Crose, who happened to recognize Sebastian passing through the hallway, asked about her escort knight. Upon learning that her escort knight was alive, Princess Crose asked for help to meet him.

 

Sebastian was afraid that if he refused, the unstable Princess Crose would make the wrong choice. He had been asked several times for a very short time, and whenever she was having a hard time, he often let her meet him.

 

Did they say if the tail is long, it is bound to get caught? This soon reached the ears of the predecessor Duke Marsetta. He sent someone to kill her escort knight. Soon after, he gave orders to get rid of Sebastian, his wife, and his children.

 

Princess Crose’s opposition was too strong, saying that she’d rather kill herself. The predecessor Duke Marsetta changed his mind and made Sebastian his butler. Then, he put him closest to him and made him do all sorts of dirty work. Whether it was dealing with those who learned of the existence of Raya, who shouldn’t be know to the world, or something like that.

 

From that moment on, Sebastian became the only person who could stop the tyrannical predecessor Duke Marsetta. Even though he knew all the secrets, he had earned enough trust that the predecessor duke wouldn’t kill him. Sebastian’s son, who naturally inherited his father’s work, became the butler of the next-generation duke.

 

* * *

“…Were you surprised?”

 

“If I said no, it would be a lie. The old butler… I didn’t know there was a story like that.”

 

To the butler’s question if she was surprised, Charelize gave an honest answer.

 

“As for Sir Raya… I think it’s faster to show young Master this place than to tell you.”

 

The butler made an incomprehensible sound and suddenly pushed the desk to the side. There was another hidden door on the wall. After unlocking and opening the door, she saw a fairly long passage. The butler lit a candlestick he found in a box piled up in the corner and went inside.

 

“I inherited what my father used to do… I’ve been at Duchy since I was little, and I grew up with His Grace and Sir Raya.”

 

“The predecessor duchess… why did she hide the existence of their son?”

 

“It was entirely the will of the predecessor duke.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The predecessor duchess… fell into extreme depression after giving birth, and Sir Raya was taken away from her immediately. She was in a position where she couldn’t meet His Grace.”

 

“Taken away right after he was born…”

 

“Yes. All those present were immediately killed by the orders of the predecessor duke.”

 

Charelize followed and heard the story of the predecessor Duke Marsetta.

 

“Twins aren’t a symbol of good fortune… but being born as twins is not a punishment nor a crime.”

 

No matter how many times she thought about it, Charelize couldn’t understand what the predecessor duke was doing.

 

“I don’t know the details either. However, from what I heard from my father… A few days before the due date, the predecessor duke had a dream.”

 

“Dream?”

 

“Something happened to Sir Raya in his adult form, but the predecessor duke regarded it as a foresight dream bestowed by Goddess Resina…”

 

“With his cruel nature, it seems more appropriate for him to get rid of his child than to go as far as killing innocent lives and hiding him.”

 

For Charelize, it was absurd to do such a thing just because you were worried about something that hadn’t happened.

 

“You know? In the Risperan Kingdom, only women can have the right to succeed to the throne, regardless of the birth order.”

 

“…Why?”

 

“It’s because mystical blood flows from generation to generation only to women. Only women can use that power.”

 

Charelize was puzzled by the butler, who suddenly changed the topic and talked about the succession to the throne of the Risperan Kingdom.

 

“Don’t tell me…”

 

“Yes. It seems that the predecessor duke was afraid of that power.”

 

“Didn’t you say it only flows to women?”

 

“The predecessor duchess didn’t say anything about it. It was her last resort to protect Sir Raya.”

 

It wasn’t that the predecessor duke regretted his mistake and saved him. Before she could even ask why the predecessor duke suddenly changed his mind, Charelize felt disgusted by the predecessor duke’s pride at the act of erasing his son from the world until the very end.

 

“This is…”

 

Eventually, they reached the end. The place they arrived was Charelize’s private library.

 

“This is the abode of Sir Raya, where he had lived since he was 13 years old.”

 

“My private library was built by my mother… But how can he live in a place like this?”

 

“Young Master… said you found the diary here, right?”

 

The butler correctly found the bookcase where Charelize found Raya’s diary.

 

“Yes. It is the same color leather as mine, so I looked it up and found it.”

 

“What Sir Raya was looking for.. is also here too.”

 

“What was he looking for?”

 

The butler said, a few days before the predecessor Duchess of Marsetta had chosen her own death. She tried to give Raya freedom, and locked the door to the attic where Raya had lived as a child. The place where he grew up was sealed with all her last remaining strength. All she wanted was for him to live without any contact with the Marsetta family.

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