It was when the banquet was well underway that a servant rushed to Siegfried Hall and whispered something to the Grand Chamberlain who struggled to contain his expression as he rushed towards the King and passed on the message.
Rumein leaned his head back slightly. As there were many listeners around, the chamberlain concealed his mouth with his hand and spoke as quietly as he could.
“His Highness Prince Calian has left Palace Grounds a few moments ago,”
Rumein’s head tilted a little further toward the chamberlain, but he did not say anything else. The chamberlain’s words continued.
“However it seems his outing was guaranteed by the Duke of Siegfried.”
“…I see,” Rumein murmured in return.
He couldn’t think what the connection between Siegfried and Calian was. King Rumein turned his head around again as indication that he was to be left alone now, and the chamberlain bowed low and stepped away.
Rumein narrowed his eyes.
At the same time, in the garden, Duke Slayman’s mouth twisted in an attempt to remain straight-faced but eventually the laughter burst out of him.
“Bahahaha! Ahahas! Pueueohahaha!”
Even as he tried to stop himself, the laughter kept bubbling out of him in bursts, it was only after a long while that he calmed down enough to wipe the tears from the corners of his eyes.
Siegfried men, once they had started laughing or crying, never knew how to stop.
“This isn’t funny!” Eventually the young man standing in front of him raised both hands to block Slayman’s mouth shut. It was Yan who spoke in a half-whisper, looking both worried that someone might hear them and frustrated at Slayman’s candour.
“My son believed in me with his work, why wouldn’t I feel great?” Slayman said to Yan after taking another moment to calm himself down. He looked at Yan with his soft blonde hair loose around his face and an expression that made it seem like he was about to explode from frustration.
The carefree expression on Duke Slayman’s face seemed to be saying ‘what on earth are you so worried about?’.
If Calian had witnessed this scene, he would have immediately noticed that these two were related without any need for explanation – both of them had the tendency to show exactly what they were thinking on their face.
“Your little kid ran away and asked you to stop the guards from chasing him – so you sold out the Siegfried name and the soldiers didn’t chase after him – so didn’t everything work out fine?”
His son had done something that might cause an issue but rather than being upset, Slayman looked like he enjoyed the situation said,
“I don’t know if you know this, but you did very well. It was a good solution,” he said in an attempt to get Yan to stop worrying.
“The solution is something we have to work out now, what do we do when he Majesty asks about this incident?”
Slayman’s mouth couldn’t help but twist up into a smile, not a laughing smile, but the fond smile of a father looking at his son who had not quite grown up yet.
“Were you in such a rush that you didn’t think one or two steps ahead when you did this? Don’t worry, he won’t ask.” Slayman replied,
“He won’t?” Yan asked,
“Rumein has to consider too many factors to be able to ask about this incident – so he won’t ask. Let alone discipling Calian, he will act as though absolutely nothing has happened and move on from this incident, do you understand?” He asked Yan who frowned falling into thought, before asking,
“Because it’s Seigfried?”
Slayman ruffled Yan’s hair when he got the right answer,
“I’m glad that not even one of your hairs resemble me. You’re much smarter than me when I was your age,”
“Hmm, I guess there isn’t a resemblance,” Yan agreed,
Slayman had no idea that his son was still under the impression that Calian had learned horse-riding from reading books and nodded slightly at Yan’s words.
Then, as though he had suddenly thought of it, he muttered happily,
“Well no, you play the violin very well and that definitely resembles me,” he smiled.
The Siegfried who didn’t know how to use a sword but could play the violin, that had been Yan. That was why when Slayman had arrived at the palace and had been laughing loudly while bragging about his son – Yan had glared at him with his disgusted expression.
(T/N – Yan is a mother hen around Calian but turns into an embarrassed rebellious teen around his dad – so cute and Slayman is such a good doting father <3)
“You might have sold my name easily but even so, the price might be a little heavy,”
Yan made an expression like a kid who had been caught stealing cookies before dinner. He had been the one to put down the weight of that name when he came to the palace, so there was no way he didn’t know how heavy it truly was.
“If Rumein asks your little kid what he has to do with me, you will need to answer but there is nothing Rumein can do after hearing that answer.” Slayman said confidently, and he was right.
It didn’t matter what the answer was – whether they said they were wary of the Siegfried’s good intentions and had received help coincidentally or if they said that they received help because there is a connection and a good relationship.
If Rumein heard the answer and punished the prince for leaving royal grounds without permission, then he would be ignoring the power and influence of the Siegfried’s who had guaranteed the outing.
If Rumein heard the answer and did nothing, he would be acknowledging the connection between Calian and the Siegfried’s and at that stage the Marquis of Brissen would not be easy to deal with.
It was a problem with no options.
“Rumein probably decided to do nothing about this from the moment he heard that I had vouched for the outing. So the little kid can proudly go out and do whatever he wants as though this was all pre-planned. That’s why I said you did well,” Slayman concluded with a proud face.
“So you can sell my name often in the future – I can handle that much easily. Isn’t that what a dad does?”
Yan looked up at him with an expression that seemed to say he was touched and Slayman grinned proudly.
“I’m not as bad as you thought now, am I?” Slayman said, straightening his back at the slightly impressed look in Yan’s eyes with an obnoxious grin.
There it was.
‘I’m an idiot for thinking he was cool for a second’
Yan clicked his tongue. Slayman pretended not to hear that sound and sat down on a nearby garden bench, Yan who followed him, eventually opened his mouth to ask,
“The people of the royal palace really don’t know who I am, right? His majesty and the other royalty as well?”
“I don’t think so – the internal affairs office would have reported it sooner if that was the case. You don’t have to worry about such things, we’ve hidden your hand well,”
“That’s true, if anyone knew who I was, Silica wouldn’t have put me next to the Prince,”
Slayman smiled happily and patted Yan’s hair again,
“No one is really suspicious of my son because he’s so good at pretending to be a poor little servant,”
Yan narrowed his eyes and frowned but Slayman didn’t move his hand. Yan, with his curly blond hair, looked exactly like the little poodle ‘Yan’ they had at home so his hand kept moving to pet him automatically.
“By the way-” Yan who had just opened his mouth to speak, stopped talking. He had been about to ask about Calian’s recent symptom but he remembered that it had to do with Calian’s magic – it was one thing if Slayman definitely knew how to help but if he didn’t then Yan would just be giving away unnecessary information that Calian had asked to keep a secret.
He couldn’t just leave his sentence there, so instead he asked,
“How is Reia doing?”
“She’s doing okay, it was hard coming by myself this time since she latched on saying she wanted to come with me,”
Dumireia was Yan’s younger sister. Not only was she talented with a sword, she was a bright and intelligent child.
Slayman gently squeezed his fist that rested on his knee. Then he looked at his palms and then Yan’s hands, which were covered in calloused flesh.
“So, is living here worthwhile for you?”
“How does it look to you, father?”
“It seems like the same old cheap shit,”
‘Why is that when he speaks, it’s always like that. This is why mother won’t go back down to the house,’ Yan shook his head.
“But if you think it’s better to hear ‘Young Master’ than wait on the little kid here, come down any time you want. Reia has kept an open spot for you,”
Thinking of his younger sister, Yan sighed,
“He’s the same age as Reia,” He was of course, talking about Calian,
“That’s right,” Slayman nodded,
“When I came to the palace for the first time with you, father, the prince was like a dried tree branch but Rea was a shiny leaf that had just sprouted up and sparkled,” Yan said.
The rippling sound of the water from the artificial stream which wound itself all the way across the garden could be heard between the gaps of their conversation.
“At first I felt pity towards him and it felt fascinating that I could feel sorry for someone like that so I decided to protect him and now, I feel that I want to watch over him in all that he does. So it does feel worthwhile, living like this,” Yan finished.
“Then that’s alright,”
Slayman, who had been watching Yan’s face, smiled fondly. He recalled seeing Yan and Calian having a conversation, both looking completely comfortable and relaxed. He also remembered Calian’s first steps into the banquet.
“That little kid, I think watching him would be a lot of fun.”
Yan opened his eyes wide, clearly asking Slayman what he meant with his expression,
“Well, there’s something like that – if you don’t know then don’t worry about it. Anyway, I won’t see you for a while, I’m going back down to the territory,”
“What are you talking about, you’ll see me in about 3 months anyway,” Yan replied,
“Are you really thinking of quitting?”
Yan shook his head,
“His highness is 15 soon after all,”
“Oh yeah, right it’s already that time.” Slayman nodded,
Yan stood up from his seat and began to neatly comb his hair back with his fingers before tying it back. Having finished chatting with his father, he would now go and wait by the front gates for Calian’s return.
“Then, I look forward to seeing you again, Your Grace,” he gave his formal farewell,
Slayman pretended to look disgusted and waved his hands as if to shoo him away quickly. Yan smiled and turned away.
It was still some time before the banquet would come to a close, but the events in the square all ended.
People returned to their homes or gathered at nearby bars to unwind and relax. The once crowded plaza was now magically lit with lanterns that shone brightly on the fountain.
– clop clop, clop clop.
The sound of hooves broke through the silence at the plaza. The source of the sound were two horses galloping away from the royal palace. At first the horses seemed to follow the royal road, then they changed direction and crossed Hatsuara Plaza.
The horse riders were Alan Manasil and Calian.
Calian, who had been following Alan on Raven’s back, had not said a word for a while. He wanted to call out to the mage, but he hadn’t decided what he should say. Alan had given his name to the guards, not to Calian, who was far away eavesdropping in on the situation.
‘I’m in a bind. What should I do?’
Meanwhile, Alan had long known that someone was following him. He was still offended by the treatment of the gate guards, and so he stared silently forward thinking, ‘If you’re going to follow me, then follow me as long as you can,’
His opponent refused to call out to him even though they were at a relatively close distance. Alan looked back in curiosity and his brow furrowed.
‘Who is that?’
He caught sight of a fluttering white cloak. Only then did Alan realize the rider wasn’t a palace guard, and he slowed down and stopped, and the rider followed suit.
The light from the fountain shone brightly as they came to the center of the plaza. Because of that, Alan turned to confirm his opponent’s identity. It was most certainly not a guard; it was clear the rider was a nobleman or a member of the royal family.
The pursuer dismounted his horse and approached slowly. He stood under the light and looked at Alan.
Black hair, red eyes.
Alan had also seen the royal family out in the square this morning. The face of the third prince, which had been shown in the crystal display, was now standing before Alan.
What business did this delicate-looking prince have?
There was a deep curiosity in Alan’s eyes.
This chapter was fun – Yan was MVP – the best boy.
Let me know what you think