Volume 2: The royal palace
Chapter 17: Reunion with the Crown Prince
The royal palace of the Kingdom of Leia was located in the middle of the royal capital.
The palace is a massive stone structure consisting of several buildings, with all the window frames painted pure white.
The entire palace, including the courtyards, gardens, and the buildings where the menial workers lived, was surrounded by high walls.
Riding on the soft spring breeze, small pale red petals were fluttering around the square in front of the Royal Palace.
A number of petals stuck to my long, dark purple robe, which is the uniform of the magicians who work at the Royal Palace, and I shook them off.
Standing in front of the wide open front gate, I looked up at the royal palace and took a deep breath.
Today is the beginning of a new chapter in my life.
My student life is over, and from now on I am a working adult.
The castle gates were bustling in the morning with merchants and officials coming and going.
I followed the flow of people and stepped into the royal palace for the first time in a long time.
Although I had already worked at the palace before, it didn’t matter if it was the second time or not, my whole body, even my head, had become hardened.
In the first place, I don’t know what exactly a close guard magician does.
Facing the unknown, I was filled with anxiety.
I wondered if I could do it.
I’ve been nervous since this morning, and I can’t help it.
The Crown Prince’s office is the largest and most gorgeous building in the palace, and his chamberlain was waiting for me at the entrance on the first floor of the building.
The chamberlain guided me from there, and as we walked together to the Crown Prince’s office, I marveled at the magnificent decorations inside, which I hadn’t seen in eleven years.
(Fine decorations, gorgeous paintings! Even the walls are decorated with gold clocks… This place is such an amazing place.)
It seems that I had forgotten all about it in my frugal student life.
The chamberlain also showed me the headquarters of the security department to which I belonged, along the way, but the interior of the royal palace was so wide that by the time I reached the Crown Prince’s office, I had no idea where or how I had walked.
The office of Crown Prince Ulysses was located on the second floor of the royal palace.
The moment I knocked, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my mouth.
How could I have imagined that such a moment would come again?
I knocked with trembling hands, and the voice that came back from inside, “Come in,” sounded so familiar that I hesitated slightly to open the door.
Gathering up my courage, I managed to open the door.
Once inside, the room was so large that it could easily accommodate my parents’ living room.
The floor beneath my feet was a milky white marble that echoed my shoes with every step.
At the end of the room, there was a dark brown desk with a familiar man sitting behind it.
–I never thought I’d see him again like this.
This time, I wasn’t going to see the Crown Prince.
(Calm down. The Crown Prince is as good as a man I broke up with a long time ago. It’s like an ex-boyfriend who broke up with you in a very bad way.)
It’s a common story.
It’s just a little bit of a drama during a breakup.
Somehow, I force myself to calm down and not get unnaturally upset.
When I look up at him, I can’t help but squint.
I feel a throbbing pain in my chest.
(Ah, yes. It’s Ulysses… He has this look on his face.)
Soft, wavy chestnut hair and a tall, well-proportioned figure. Well-rounded features.
–The Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Leia, Ulysses.
The last sight I saw – I almost remembered him holding a sword, and I hurriedly put a lid on my memory.
As I stiffened near the entrance, the chamberlain pushed me from behind and made me walk closer to the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince smiled and stood up to greet me.
He was wearing a white top and bottom and a blue cloak.
His knee-high boots were shiny and he looked very stately and dignified.
“I’ve been waiting for you. Are you Liesel?”
(Oh, ‘you’? I never thought Ulysses would call me that…)
I felt a little uncomfortable, but I replied.
“Yes. My name is Liesel Crow…”
It’s painful to be asked my name by him.
There were days when these brown eyes were directed at me with the utmost sweetness.
The days of Liesel and the Crown Prince, which I had almost forgotten in the past eleven years, came back to me in fragments.
The joy, the suffering, and the pain.
The question, “Why did you kill me?” still persisted in the back of my mind and would not leave.
I walked up to Ulysses and got down on one knee.
If it were possible, I should have gone to work at the magic branch in the idyllic province of Baral by now.
And I’m sure I would have been surrounded by those kind-looking branch managers, trying my best to learn the job.
(And yet… Why is this happening…!)
As I managed to hold back my dizziness and bowed deeply, Ulysses called out to me.
“There’s no need to be so formal. You’ve come a long way. Don’t hesitate to stand up.”
He took a quick look around at the purple robe I was wearing and nodded in satisfaction.
I took him at his word and stood up.
“I arrived today. Thank you for the opportunity.”
“As you’ve already heard from the security department, your duties are simple and straightforward. Your job is simply to stand by my side and provide personal protection.”
I had hoped to have a life unrelated to the Crown Prince, but my job description was too corny.
As I stood there in exasperation, the Crown Prince lowered his voice and touched my right arm.
“I heard that you were the second highest student at the National Academy of Magic. –Are you angry that the Royal Court revoked your job offer at the magic branch?”
“No, sir, not at all.”
Suddenly, the Crown Prince touched the tip of my chin.
I was so startled that I thought my heart would stop.
He made me look up.
He then turned up his chin and glared at me in a slightly, or rather, quite mean way.
“And yet you look so dissatisfied.”
“There’s no such thing. This is the kind of face I always have…”
My eyes swam, unable to hide my agitation.
(What is this feeling? What a fierce sense of discomfort!)
The brown eyes had never looked so cruel back then.
Besides, the Ulysses I knew was not the kind of person who would easily touch or sneer at a woman like this.
I’ve never seen him behave like this, at least in the year and a half that I was in the royal palace.
Is this person really that Ulysses?
The Crown Prince lightly taps me on the shoulder as I am troubled.
“You will work to the fullest as a Konoe Mage.”
The Crown Prince turned his back to me, reached over his desk, gathered up his papers and pulled them into a corner.
He walked out of the office, his shoes clicking as he went.
The chamberlain, who had quickly sidestepped the door, gave me a look and said, “Hurry up and accompany His Highness.”
One step behind, I hurriedly chase after the Crown Prince.
“Your Highness, which way?”
The Crown Prince said arrogantly, without slowing his pace.
“Who do you think I am?”
“Your, your Highness…?”
“I’m the Crown Prince of this country. I’m incredibly busy.”
(No, no…, who are you–?)
“I’m going to the garden playground. After my morning duties, I work out in between. My days are filled with work by the minute, so make sure you follow me. If Konoe is late, you will be disciplined.”
I can never be late.
The long-legged Crown Prince walked so fast that it was hard to keep up with him.
There was no time for sentimentality.
Handling my long, heavy robe, I struggled to keep up with him.
Without looking back at me, the crown prince continued.
“If you are late in the morning, you will be admonished for five minutes, pay cut for thirty minutes, and demoted for an hour. –Well, you can’t be demoted.”
The Crown Prince smiled cruelly.
I couldn’t smile at all.
The second Crown Prince was quite an extraordinary man, a far cry from his old self.