The Emperor and my older siblings can deal with it.
After all, I am an illegitimate child. Until I was brought to the Imperial Court when I was ten, I did not know I was the Emperor’s son. I used to be the type of person who fished in the sewers of the slums.
There’d be anarchy if someone like me became the Emperor.
I must do anything to show them that simple fact.
“Hey, who do you think’s going to be the next Emperor?”
Ando, the city housing the Imperial Court.The city was constructed with a block system―the slums existed at the very edge. There, I asked a shopkeeper of a food cart a question.
I discarded my princely clothing. What I was wearing now was a crudely woven linen shirt and pants, something that would attract no attention among the crowd.
“What the heck was that, out of the blue. Isn’t that too much for even drunkards to talk about?”
“No, I’ll be placing a bet on who’s going to be the next Emperor. I’m getting info.”
I dropped a few copper coins onto the stall’s counter. Although it wasn’t much, it was good recompense for a few minutes of speaking.
The shopkeeper greedily grabbed them, happy at his good luck.
“So it’s betting? Betting on his Majesty’s heir is a bit brave, I think…Well, whatever you hear from me will be the truth. I’ve heard many secrets from the drunks here.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought. So, who’s the top contender? It’s going to be Sugen, right? He’s just the strongest and best of them all…”
“What are you saying. That’s as wrong as you could be.”
My fearful expectations were rejected. I should’ve been glad to hear it, but I felt a little vexed instead.
“It’ll be Iifu then? He is the eldest after all. Though stupid.”
“Haha, you must be joking. Everyone in the red-light district knows he’s an idiot. Well, I don’t hate that kinda guy, but you know, he belongs at the side.”
The shopkeeper dropped my eldest brother to the level of not worthy. Though his military tactics were successful, it seemed to have left permanent scars.
“It’s got to be Ryausha then. She’s beautiful and can attract the soul.”
“You sure say some stupid things. That person is certainly hot, but doesn’t she do some suspicious witchcraft? Killing enemies with a hundred curses… If a witch like that became the Emperor, my money would strangely grow less at night.”
I see. Her abilities work against her. With rumors of her sorcery being exaggerated, of course she’d turn into a fearful monster.
“By process of elimination, it has to be Sauran. Well, he’s a safe choice I guess. He would barely appear in public though.”
“Why do you keep getting this wrong. That immature honored Prince could never replace the Emperor.”
It wasn’t Sauran? My eyes widened.That would mean that it came back to me after all?
But I was told that I was wrong as I could be.
“In all of Ando, a hundred out of a hundred would tell you the same answer. The next Emperor will be, without a doubt, the Fifth Prince, Gattenwo!”
Hearing the words, “Fifth Prince,” my face stiffened.
“Gattenwo…? The f*ck?”
“Hey? It can’t be that there’s someone in Ando who doesn’t know who Gattenwo is? Could you be that kind of person?”
“Ah, ahhh. To tell the truth, I just took trip overseas. That’s why I haven’t heard any recent news. Why don’t you tell me?”
“That makes sense. I’ll do just that.”
The shopkeeper nodded, understanding. To that shocked after seeing someone not know the Fifth Prince, he must be famous.”
“Gettenwo is a great person. He steals from the storages of corrupted officials and loan sharks and gives it out to the poor. This country would change for the better if he became Emperor.”
“In short, a noble thief?”
I knew that thieves filled with righteousness sometimes appeared. In the past, Ando had been rampant with thieves. Some of them were untouchable by the law and became something of a legend.
Officials will say that “they’re just thieves using the excuse of justice to rob others,” but I had some goodwill to them, being born poor.
The treasures kept for themselves were just a shipping and handling cost.
“But, isn’t the title of Fifth Prince something he made up? A real Imperial Prince wouldn’t be stealing.”
“I guess. Though there’s this rumor. There once was an illegitimate child of the Emperor hiding in the masses… Gattenwo could be the same.”
That illegitimate child was me.
In his younger days, the Emperor was traveling incognito through Ando. He had a one-night stand with my mother, and the child born from that was me.
The Emperor heard that there was an unusually strong kid living in the slums and connected the dots. Before this, he had no idea of my existence. By the way, my mother was also admitted into the Imperial Palace, but she died a few years later from a heart disease.
The funeral was by no means grand, but I think the Emperor was unusually tearful at the venue.
“An illegitimate child…”
Nonetheless, it was possible that I was the only illegitimate child. With how rampant he was, there was a possibility that Gattenwo really was the Emperor’s son.
―What should I do if this is true?
The Fifth Prince had a large following as a noble thief. If he had official recognition, there would be no wait in enthroning him.
The nation would unify when the Emperor was loved. A heart that cared for the people would surely become a wise ruler.
“I see…I have a new wish in my heart. A perfect solution where nobody loses.”
“Mister? What are you murmuring to yourself for?”
“Hey, can I ask another question?”
Unable to control my excitement, I leaned on the cart. With a smile on my face, I asked,
“So this Gattenwo. You know when he’s gonna pop out next?”