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Tara and Walter discuss their next move, while in Reese, we're introduced to a new young lady who's a friend of Diane, Kyle's cousin...
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Episode 195. About 10 months (72)
Walter paced up and down beside the bed and uttered a harsh curse word.
Paul, Edman, and Mark also looked at the bed, each of them upset.
"Commander, what's the procedure for this situation? Should it be reported to His Majesty the Emperor?" I asked without taking my eyes off of Prince Kyle.
"Yes, in principle, it should be reported to His Majesty right away."
"Are you saying that's the usual practice, but it could be altered? What do you mean?"
"There was a similar situation once. He was shot by an arrow on a battlefield. That's why I reported it. But..."
Walter replied with a bitter smile, remembering that time.
"I reported it to His Majesty, but was severely scolded by His Highness later. He said that I made a big deal out of nothing. In the future, there was a strict order not to report unless he was about to die. I had to do 100 laps around the training hall."
"Then it would be better not to report the current situation for a while."
"The situation is stable now, but...!"
"Do you think he's about to die?"
"No, that's... Honestly, I don't know. This is the first time he hasn't woken up like this. If so, shouldn't we report it?"
"Are all the people around us trustworthy? Is there any guarantee that this won't fall in the hands of our enemies? If this was the Palace, they may not find out, but this place is too exposed. If they discover this, they'll never want to miss the opportunity."
"What if he doesn't wake up?"
"Two days. If he doesn't wake up after two days, can we think of it as a dire situation then?"
Without realising it, my voice trembled as I said that it was a dire situation.
"Yes, let's wait two days."
I kept looking at Kyle, who was asleep, and spoke softly but firmly.
"Alright. I think it would be better for you to report it then. And I think we should find a doctor who specializes in Aurore users."
"Damn it, then we can't even bring in the Imperial Physicians or the Phoenix Knights."
Walter said, stroking his chin.
"Yes, the Palace will ask questions. If the Prince suddenly called the Imperial Physicians and the cavalry during a business trip, it would highlight the current situation. We'll have to bring in a doctor who isn't associated with the Imperial Family."
"Right. Is there a doctor with enough knowledge about Aurore users? Why don't you look for one amongst the knights, who joins the troops when they go to war?" I asked calmly as I sat down by the bed and looked at Kyle, who still hadn't woken up.
No, I tried to speak calmly, but I couldn't help the tremor in my voice.
After thinking about my words for a moment, Walter snapped his fingers.
"Okay. First, I'll have to go to the Preston legation and look through the member list in each unit. Ah! But wouldn’t our record increase?"
"It takes two weeks for the administrative records’ report on a local mission to be delivered to the Palace. So, we’ve got a two week reprieve ."
"Well, then I'll quickly go to the legation and fetch the nearest doctor."
"Yes, Sir. Please."
"Mark, Paul and Edman will be guarding this place from now on. I'll go to the nearest location. If I don't take breaks, I can be back by tomorrow but it may take longer.. Until then, please take good care of His Highness."
Walter patted me on the shoulder from behind.
"Yes. Have a safe trip."
Through the window, I could see Walter galloping as soon as he got on his horse.
"... Your Highness. Hurry and wake up. There are a lot of people who worry about you."
At the same time, the Southern Reese Castle was in chaos.
Diana picked the room at the end of the East Annex, where the sun shone most in the castle, as Kyle's room. She hand-picked the curtains and changed the bedsheets.
"Who's staying in this room that you're preparing it yourself, My Lady?"
"Just an old friend, I'll take care of this, and you go to the West Annex. It's a mess because so many guests are there."
"Eh? But I should help you. I'll be scolded by the Count."
"It's alright. I'll tell the Count. Go ahead. I want to do it. Angela's here, so don't worry."
The maid momentarily pondered about it but nodded at Diane's determined expression.
"Then I'll take the bedding and go, My Lady."
As the maid left the room, carrying the old bedding to her chest, Angela quietly approached Diane.
Perhaps due to her petite stature, her movements were feminine and graceful.
"I'll help you then."
"Oh, no. You're a guest, you don't have to do that."
"No, the Count would be shocked if he saw. I'll get scolded if I let you do it alone. So, let's do it together."
Angela Benson was the eldest daughter of the prestigious provincial Count Benson, with whom Reese had been friends with for a long time.
Count Reese and Count Benson were considered to be the most prominent families in the South and West respectively, but neither families directly participated in the Capital’s politics.
However, they were famous as families that expanded their power in each province and influenced even the Capital’s political world.
The connection between the two families began with their ancestors and continued to this day, and Angela Benson and her younger sister Olive spent many months at Reese Castle as children and kept up contacts with the Reese Family.
The two families were not linked through marriage, but they boasted a close friendship that could be considered familial.
While Count Reese accumulated wealth based on abundant food resources, Count Benson accumulated wealth based on huge forest resources.
Additionally, both families were not short of human and material support for their regions and received the respect of not only the local residents, but also the other local nobility.
The Benson Family’s eldest daughter, the 21-year-old Angela, immediately accepted Diane’s invitation to visit Reese Castle.
“Will he arrive early tomorrow?” Angela asked.
“Well... He’s probably someone who’ll come at his earliest convenience.”
“It’s amazing you’re interested in him.”
Angela, blushing slightly, grabbed the bedsheet’s corner and moved it over the edge of the mattress
The ‘Festival of the Earth’ was in full swing, so the entire estate was filled with people.
Because of that, it was noisy and chaotic everywhere, but the East Annex was particularly well soundproofed, so you only heard a slight buzzing.
“You’re still so young to me. Oh, you said you saw him twice, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I’ve seen him twice. At your wedding, and once in the Imperial Palace three years ago.”
“That Imperial Palace event was when Count Benson received a medal, right?”
“Yes, he was standing right next to my father.”
“At the Imperial Palace, it was in an official capacity, but at my wedding, you didn’t even go through a formal introduction, it’s great to hear you met like that.”
That encounter was vividly etched in Angela’s mind, as if it had happened yesterday.
Perhaps because she recalled it over and over again.
Before she knew it, Angela’s memories had brought her back to that day.
May, 4 years ago
Ding, ding, ding.
The wedding bell rang three times to announce Count Philip Reese's wedding.
Looking at the bride and groom's backs as they entered Reese's Castle central hall, Angela held her hands tightly to her chest and captured the beautiful sight.
Her eyes sparkled as she focused on the scene, and she unwittingly crushed the small bundle of red roses in her hand.
After concentrating for a long time, Angela suddenly turned her head to the sound of a hurried whisper.
"... Angela! Are you deaf? We're supposed to be the bridesmaids!"
It was Olive, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, worried that Angela would ruin the ceremony.
"Uh... Ah! Um. Let’s go!"
She was so startled that she turned her body, but faltered.
Inconveniently wearing high-heels she'd never worn before, her body spun half a circle, making her lose her balance and stumble.
Oh no. No way!'
She squeezed her eyes shut and screamed internally, but fortunately, nothing happened.
When she opened her eyes a little, she found herself in a man's arms, or to be exact, a man was supporting her body.
She looked up at the quiet but firm voice. The hooded man was watching her.
Her mind was dizzy with the bells' ringing, the soft piano sounds, and the people's murmurs.
Amongst the mixed noises, a chandelier, hanging from the hall’s ceiling, dazzled Angela and illuminated the man.
The man, who wore chainmail and a black hood, as if he'd just arrived from the battlefield, was gazing at her, no, he was smiling towards the end of the aisle, not herself.
At her brief exclamation, he glanced at Angela and furrowed his eyebrows.
Except for the frown, the man was outstandingly beautiful, as if he’d stepped out of a painting. Angela just blankly stared at him.
Then his picturesque lips slowly opened.
"Why aren't you standing up? Don't ruin my friend's wedding!"
The words he spoke with an expressionless face were very embarrassing.
Angela jumped to her feet. She could feel people's attention and felt blood rushing to her face.
The man turned Angela's body in a very natural way, as if he'd done it dozens of times, and pushed her back.
Bewildered, she glanced back and saw that his smiling gaze remained on the bride, not on her.
"Ugh, look in front of you!"
Olive quickly but quietly whispered, grinding her teeth.
Only then she properly grabbed the crumpled bunch of roses and looked straight ahead. All eyes resting on Angela fell back to the beautiful bride, which was a relief.
She honestly didn't know what was going on in the aisle. Only the man's friendly smile, that wasn't even meant for her, remained in her mind.
Sometimes, when she thought of it, Angela's lips would also lift.
She liked that smile, even though she knew it wasn't directed towards her.
She was frustrated when she later discovered the man's identity through Diane.
He had too high a status, someone out of her reach.
So, she gradually erased him from her memory.
But erasing him proved fruitless. When she met him again at the Imperial Palace about a year later, Angela had no idea what to do with her erratically beating heart.
And she realised.
'Ah... This man is already engraved in my heart.'
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