Rumein was seated in an armchair in his study, perusing through some documents stacked high in front of him and as expected, he also had black hair.
Rumein looked every bit the perfect kingly figure out of a story book or textbook, the expression on his face was one of careful thought and his eyes held depth. The image reminded Calian of someone else.
‘It’s almost like I’m looking at Randall.’
Not just the blue, distant eyes, but even the facial features and the quiet pressure that he exudes that crushes people into silence. Everything about Randall seemed to resemble Rumein.
Like Randall, Rumein was also the type to stand by and watch idly.
Despite his quiet strength, he was a heartless king who pretended not to know the true causes of Freya and Calian’s death – that was Calian’s personal opinion of Rumein and his thoughts had yet to change. It didn’t seem like this uncomfortable feeling he felt around Rumein would disappear anytime soon.
Calian struggled to empty his thoughts as he walked to stand before Rumein, he was afraid that his feelings would be easily read in his expressions or words.
By the time he arrived in front of King Rumein, Calian had managed to school his complicated feelings into something more impassive and appeared every bit the perfect prince. He spoke in a clear, quiet voice.
“I greet Your Majesty,”
Rumein set down the papers he was looking at onto the table. Judging by the proximity of his teacup and other stacks of documents, he seemed to have been working at his seat the whole time.
With his hands now free, Calian thought Rumein would finally look up to accept his greeting, however Rumein simply picked up another stack of documents and continued to peruse them as though he had not heard Calian speak.
Calian’s expression stiffened as he worked to hide his bewilderment.
Of course, Rumein did not notice, as if, more than Calian’s hardened eyes or his greeting, the documents in his hands were more important.
“Take a seat,” he said.
Although inappropriate, Calian almost laughed, despite his anger. Rumein’s voice sounded similar to Franz’s, naturally there was a slight difference in vernacular, but it was what Calian would’ve imagined an older Franz to sound like.
Rumeins’ traits seemed to have been split evenly among his sons.Calian sat across from him, trying to put rest to his conflicting thoughts
“Congratulations on your 38th birthday,” he said in a subdued voice.
Rumein nodded and answered with a low tone,
“Yes, thank you.”
After responding in such an emotionless way, Rumein lifted his hand to take a drink from his cup. He seemed quite exhausted.
“Are you doing well?” Rumein asked.
“Yes, your majesty,” Calian answered right away without thinking, “I am doing very well,”
“Good,” Rumein seemed to be completely unaware of Calian’s frail figure, as if he would know considering he had not looked at Calian once.
“If anything uncomfortable occurs, tell me.”
Calian’s lip curled to one side, ‘There’s certainly more than one or two things troubling me.’
Should he say that he found it difficult to tolerate the suffocating breakfasts with his other sons?
That the assassins sent by his wife were likely to come soon?
Or that he might wither away and die due to an unknown disease?
Perhaps he should tell him that the person inside this body was not actually his son?
Maybe if Calian said any of that, Rumein might actually turn to look his way.
“I am doing well,” In the end, Calian repeated his same insincere answer, and Rumein nodded, their conversation was nothing more than decoration.
Now he understood. Understood why it was quicker for the king to see three sons individually than seeing his three sons together at once.
It was because Rumein couldn’t act so careless with three people sitting in front of him. How much more efficient it was that he only had to briefly open his mouth while working?
‘He thinks it a waste of time to simply spend just five minutes with his son.’ During the conversation, Rumein continued to press a hand to his forehead, his eyes glued to the documents.
Calian could not stop the bitterness welling up from him.
He couldn’t even remember what they talked about after that and thought it was not worth remembering either. Their conversation lasted exactly five minutes and soon Calian was once again climbing back into his carriage.
“It would have been better if I had just said ‘It is a pleasure to meet you’ or something,”
Yan smiled quietly. He did not know what happened in the office, but he knew of the way Rumein treated his sons.
The carriage set off, and it was not long before it stopped in front of Chermil Palace. Calian stepped out of the carriage, looked around and took in a deep breath. The lake was rippling under the wind.
“There is a little time until 10 o’clock, would you like to take a walk, your highness?” Yan said, reading Calian’s frustrated expression. Calian nodded gratefully.
Calian walked the grounds alone after Yan departed. He slowly paced around the lake, then went to the rose garden, where to his surprise he found a mound of black soil. Calian tilted his head.
‘Who’s in the garden on a day like this?’
Calian walked towards it in curiosity then quickly stopped, noticing Randall’s presence there.
Calian knew that caring for the rose gardens was Randall’s hobby, but at the moment the expression on his brother’s face was not one of happiness.
Randall’s servant stood behind him stone-faced as he held up the prince’s red cloak from the ground, similar to the one worn by Calian, meanwhile, Randall was on his knees as he trimmed the bushes.
Calian let out a hollow smile, Randall normally wouldn’t have dared to work on his garden dressed like this. ‘King Rumein is truly astounding – to think he could have shaken up Randall to such an extent.’
The battle for the throne occurred several years after the original Calian’s death. A tragic accident occurred when the axle of the carriage carrying the king and crown prince of Tensil broke, and the carriage tumbled down a cliff. The king and the crown prince were both killed at the same time, leaving Randall as the only remaining Tensil heir. And so, he immediately left Kyris to succeed the throne.
‘With even Rumein like that – he had little attachment to the kingdom of Kyris.’ He remembered hearing of this and thinking that Randall seemed to have made the decision without a moment’s hesitation.
Now, it was an understandable decision. If Calian were in that position, he would not hesitate to leave this country as well.
“Your highness, Prince Calian,”
A voice broke him from his thoughts, and he looked up and saw Randall standing and facing him. The one who spoke was Randall’s servant, who was eyeing him expectantly, and Calian realized that he had been standing in a daze.
Calian bowed towards Randall and offered his greetings.
Randall took off his gloves and handed them to his servant, then looked silently at Calian, his deep blue eyes contrasting against Calian’s red gaze.
Randall didn’t scold Calian. He wouldn’t know why Calian was here alone.
Randall left him with only a single word and headed back to Chermil Palace.
Rumein was a fair. He treated all three of his sons equally.
From next to him, the pungent smell of liquor that rose from Franz was enough to prove it. Calian was almost dizzy with it and turned to Franz with his eyebrows furrowed.
‘This crazy young thing – even though I’m holding back on alcohol!’
Franz’s eyes seemed even cloudier than usual. Though Calian knew the reason for his drinking, that didn’t mean he would excuse Franz’s unsightly behavior.
It was the moment before they would go outside to meet the crowds. All Calian had to do was stand wordlessly behind the king and maybe wave a little – but he was still worried that Franz might try to do something crazy.
Fortunately, Calian did not remember a story of a Kyris prince rioting at a ceremony outside of the royal palace, so he figured in the end nothing too unexpected would happen.
As if he had noticed Calian’s thoughts, Franz glanced towards him – when he saw the frown on Calian’s face, he grinned but Calian did not notice his gaze.
“There are 10 minutes remaining – the event will soon begin,” an official announced to the royal family. Calian, who was seated in a chair near the main gate, took a breath to mentally prepare himself. It may be a familiar occasion for the others, but not for him, and he couldn’t help but feel his nerves prickling underneath his skin.
There were so many people gathered inside the square that there was no place to step. Security forces mingled among crowds, as well as knights from the first division of the Royal Guard’s First Battalion. Some knights sat in a cafe or restaurant building surrounding the square, monitoring for any suspicious movements among the people.
Soon the two large crystal displays lit up and began to project images of the empty platform. Anticipation of the start of the event rose and filled the square.
“The palace doors will now open.”
At the announcement of those words, the main door of the palace slowly opened on both sides. People began to cheer as the Kyris crest, heavily engraved in the center of the door, split in half and the door opened, revealing the palace inside.
Before long, the doors of the royal palace, normally tightly closed, were wide open. That door wouldn’t close for three days now.
“Five minutes to go.”
Kaela, the royal spokesperson, began a long speech to the crowd.
There was not much time and the royal family, including Calian, rose from their seats as the servants moved busily about them. Yan, too, quickly made a last minute inspection of Calian’s uniform then moved away.
“One minute remaining,”
There was a red carpet stretching from the main gates of the palace towards the platform, with knights lined up at either side of the way. Their swords stretched high above their heads, as though ready to pierce the sky.
The weather was sunny and the sunbeams reflected off the blades of the knights with beautiful sharpness. The royal family’s procession was ready.
And then it was ten o’clock.
Rumein stepped forward, and the booming voice of the Kaela announced the procession. A step behind him, Silica slowly followed – then Randall and Franz moved forwards behind them.
‘It’s my turn.’
Calian stared after them. He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them.
He straightened his back and raised his chin.
He lowered his gaze to where the people’s eyes would be, and smiled.
It was only after he had become the embodiment of the perfect Prince of Kyris –
He took his first step outside.
I’m trying to get as many chapters out as possible before I start getting busy again but damn it takes time.
Let me know what you think!