I am the first princess and the third child of the current king of Asteria.
By the time I developed an ego, a theatrical troupe was performing in the castle. I still couldn’t forget the impact of that time. Women played men, and a single person could play numerous roles. I hadn’t realized it at the very beginning, but once someone told me about it, I was shocked. I still remember the feeling from that day. I wanted to wear makeup like them. I wanted to dress up like them.
Since that day, I switched between various costumes, and there were many people who taught me techniques.
Father and Mother tolerated this with smiles on their faces, and my brothers resigned to let me have my way. Since I resembled my eldest brother so much, I knew that I could perfectly disguise myself as him. He was so surprised when I jumped out in front of him dressed like him. I was so happy when everyone said that I looked exactly like him.
As I grew older, I met with many other young, aristocratic girls. Everyone listened to me talk with bright smiles on their faces. They were all especially happy when I appeared dressed like Brother.
But I overheard them one time.
“I only enjoy it when she’s dressed as Prince Rashmere…”
My heart broke. So no one enjoyed the things I so excitedly talked about.
Since that day, I had only dressed up as my brother, the only one who enjoyed what I did. But no one noticed. Outside of my family and the maids, no one understood me.
It was around that time when Joshua was assigned to me.
“Lady Eiry, please stop. It’s not interesting.”
He told me the same thing as all the other children. What an unbelievably rude one, he was. But I felt rather refreshed by this. I mean, he didn’t talk behind my back but said it straight to my face. I think I like his frankness.
Nowadays, I don’t talk about the things I like whenever I meet with other aristocratic girls. I merely smile and give pleasantries.
I noticed that Brother’s mood has been extremely good recently. It appeared that he managed to reconcile with the eldest child of Marshal Listell after their fight.
I believe her name was Lady Lucie. It was rumored that she was an extremely beautiful and strong lady. I was a bit saddened by how different we were despite the proximity of our ages.
“Lady Eiry, I actually have a daughter around your age. Would you like to meet her?”
One day, Marshal Adolf proposed this.
“That’s right. She’s the type who won’t see you differently even if she learns of your hobby.”
“How about this? Why not dress up as Prince Rashmere? I’m sure she’ll be able to see through your disguise. What do you think?”
I didn’t believe him at that time, but seeing how the marshal was pushing for this so much, I did want to meet this Lucie.
“Yes, I would like to meet Lady Lucie.”
* * *
After the matter with Eiry settled down, Adolf went to the king’s office. He opened the door without knocking first.
“You could at least knock. I know you don’t see me as such, but I’m the king, you know?”
“I do see and know you as my king.”
I, the king, thought, “If you see me as the king, you should be kinder to me,” but I decided it was best for me not to voice this.
“You act so differently when Lady Lucie is here… I want her to see you like this.”
This man acted unbelievably saccharine when his daughter was present, but he was still a member of the Listell family at the end of the day. He was known as the demon’s offspring on the battlefield for his mercilessness against all his enemies.
“Hey, so about today—”
“Yeah, there’s no problem. Rather, things are turning for the better.”
The only time this man was ever this flustered (although he didn’t look at all flustered) was whenever it involved his wife or daughter.
“After all, whatever your daughter did was not wrong. It’s deplorable for guards to be unable to identify when they’re dealing with a body double. Instead, it’s good that they finally realize that they can’t keep being this lax with their work. It seems that the captain of the knights and the maids have been putting in more effort. I should be thanking you all. Although I had a feeling from what I saw through the wind, I’m still surprised how much of a Listell your Lady Lucie is.”
Adolf didn’t comment on that. He knit his brow in annoyance.
“Were there any idiots crying out about this?”
There were plenty of aristocrats around who exclaimed that I relied too heavily on the Listells and that I was their yes-man. Adolf assumed that many of them must have scrambled to be the first to complain, but he had no intentions of exposing Lucie to such drivel.
“Who cares what they have to say? Rather, if they did, it’s almost like holding a giant sign saying ‘You should be suspicious of me~!’ I would actually welcome them to do that… Hey, don’t look at me like that.”
Adolf was looking at me with the same demonic face he had on the battlefield—the one no one ever wanted to encounter.
“…There were. Most of them were simpletons who react to every little thing. I had hoped that some of them would have land or titles… If they wanted my support, the least they could do was bring me some decent people to work with,” I said and handed a list of candidates for the chancellor to Adolf.
By the way, he had spat out blood this time.
“Don’t go around making so many enemies…since the queen is the only one you’ve let enter the inner palace.”
On the other hand, the people adored me for keeping just one queen by my side. The hatred I received from aristocrats who wanted their daughters to enter my harem was immense, but a section of women firmly supported me.
“I already have six children with three being princes, you know? Even if I were to have consorts, I don’t plan on having any more children at this point. And if I did, the three eldest would have to kill their younger siblings. Doing so is just pointless, no? In the first place, I have no interest in anyone besides the queen. I’d feel bad for any woman who marries a husband who won’t even stay by her side…”
I nonchalantly laughed out loud. Adolf was amazed by how devoted the king was to the queen. He wanted to apologize to the queen for even suggesting it.
If the king had children with other women, fights over the right to succeed the throne would definitely break out, and dealing with that would surely be bothersome to Adolf. As a matter of fact, this had happened in this kingdom before. It was better to avoid adding in more ground for these greedy aristocrats to take root, but it was still annoying to deal with them.
“But there are still some out there. I just can’t comprehend the foolishness they come up with… Let’s increase the guards around the princes. The first prince, in particular, may be in danger due to being the crown prince.”
“Yeah. That’s exactly why I’m so grateful to Lady Lucie. She was born with misfortune, but she seems to be doing well.”
Well, no one presently knew by what standards this “misfortune” was based on.
“Speaking of ‘misfortune’, our family itself has a blood-stained history. You could say our entire lineage is unfortunate, not just Lucie… Well, Maria and Mother appear immensely powerful, but that’s because they resemble each other… But I won’t let anything happen to her.”
Besides, Adolf himself was not one to be praised for his deeds.
“I guess that’s true. Still, what a powerful lineup. Probably the strongest in history. Ah, what wonderful retainers I have with me.”
“You’ve just made me want to commit treason just now.”
“Don’t do that. Who could I possibly ask to guard my children then?”
“Can’t you just put that person’s name down?”
“Don’t joke like that. You’ll destroy the kingdom.”
“…Even though you know it doesn’t even matter.”
I didn’t answer, only maintaining the smile on my face.