“Was there ever a person who could perfectly deal with an unforeseen event? What you suggest is on par with becoming a god.”
He was telling me it was impossible.
“But, Father, you seem to have that ability. So does my brother,” I protested in a small voice.
I was remembering the wizard kidnapping.
Nevertheless, even though I was cheating, they discovered the plot down at the same speed I did. The matter was safely handled, and war avoided in the end.
From my point of view, it was even rather miraculous.
I, too, wanted to sense the traps lying in wait for me and have the ability to avoid them.
“That is why you’re foolish.”
I was instantly cut down by his words.
I clutched at my chest, and groaned a little.
That cut. That cut really deep.
He sighed with great disgust, stretched out one leg on the couch, and turned his body in my direction.
I unintentionally looked up, and when I did, my eyes met his. Surprisingly, neither his expression nor his voice contained the sharpness of his words.
Listen, he said in preface.
“Change that outlook of yours.”
I froze at the unexpected advice.
I had been prepared to be scolded or criticized for being a failure. What he threw at me instead was actually an instruction given in a mentoring tone of voice. It was impossible not to be bewildered.
“What do you mean?”
“Most things have something called a warning sign. You may not see them, but the important part is whether you can sense them or not.”
A warning sign, I repeated in a small voice. Father nodded.
After looking like he was thinking something over, he pointed a finger at the book I was hugging.
“You leave that book you’re holding so dear on the table for an hour. Suppose, in that period of the time, the book was damaged, what do you believe to be the cause?”
I blinked repeatedly at the sudden parable.
Though I was lost, I looked at the object he spoke of.
There was an empty bottle, a glass half-filled with wine, and a candlestick on the table.
I held my chin with a hand while I thought.
“If the candlestick falls, the book may catch fire and be destroyed. On the other hand, if the glass tips over, the wine may be the cause. Either one may be the culprit,” I answered after deep thought.
He laughed scornfully. “What an uninspired answer.”
Though I was closing my hands into fists in my mind, I responded with a calm voice. “Is that so?”
Father dismissed my efforts, and continued with a simple, Fine.
“Suppose the candlestick did fall over and the book was destroyed by flame. In that situation, was there really nothing you could have done?”
“No. I could have extinguished the fire, or taken the very thing itself out of the room.”
“Exactly. It is the same for the wine. Had you emptied the glass or put it away, you could have very simply avoided it.”
As if he was giving a short demonstration, Father reached for the glass with a hand and drained the remainder.
I vaguely wondered why father would bring up this topic during the conversation, but came to understand why.
The story was simple, but easy to understand. Books are flammable, and they become ruined when soaked. Placing a flame or liquid next to something like that and taking your eyes off it was extremely dangerous. It didn’t require hindsight, it was a predictable situation.
My father and brother were able to avoid a war not because of a miracle, and neither was it due a gift from the gods.
“If you’re in possession information, measures can be prepared in advance. I wonder if I have it right,” I muttered.
I received no response, but I had a feeling the eyes watching me were slightly narrowed in humor.
Even if my answer wasn’t perfect, it couldn’t be completely off the mark, could it?
I tried to look back on Lutz’s kidnapping in a positive light.
Lutz was a wizard in possession of rare powers in a world losing its magic. The probability that he’d be targeted by other kingdoms was high.
Both of them certainly needed to be watched out for.
Here, I cocked my head to the side.
Both my father and brother were as distinguished as they were in the game. It was unlike that they could have missed the time or the details of how Lutz and Theo came to the palace.
Even though I was watching both the book and the candlestick, why did the book burn?
“I tried to pay attention to both objects, yet the book still burned. What did I do wrong there?”
“You might well have bad eyesight.”
You ass, I silently cursed.
“I asked in earnestness.”
“And I, too, answered earnestly,” replied my expressionless father, matter-of-factly.
I exhaled, trying to let go of my surging irritation. In place of the breath, I filled my lungs with the cold air of the room.
With a measure of calm gained, I suddenly thought, What did he mean by “bad eyesight”?
I lacked the insight to fully grasp the situation in my own kingdom, let alone in neighboring states.
Of course, no living human could claim to be omniscient, my otherwise godlike father included. Of that I was sure.
If that’s the case, in the place of his eyes, he gains his information through people—the subordinates spread throughout the world to gather information.
To sum it up, what he meant by having bad eyesight.
“Does it mean I made a poor choice in people?”
Come to think of it, when I was investigating Lutz’s kidnapping, didn’t I thinking the same thing?
In the game, the first reason they couldn’t prevent the situation was most likely because of the man holding the commander’s position. Their cause of defeat was because he failed to notice the abnormal change in the knight Niklas von Buelow, who was one of the criminal.
“Barely passable, I’d say?” said father as he placed the now empty glass on the table. “As a reward, I’ll give you a bird.”
What was this guy talking about?
However, he paid me no mind and continued.
“Don’t need it?”
“I do not understand.”
“I thought it would come in handy. If you have any sense of self-preservation, you’ll take it.”
How very cryptic. Was he even interested in having a conversation?
You’re speaking to a king, who by nature is a proud man, I reasoned with myself. It won’t do to antagonize him if you don’t fully mean it. He’ll only manipulate the situation to his advantage and cause you more grief.
“I’d leave it well alone if you were more incompetent.”
It was barely perceivable, but his near-monologue remark reached my ears and I couldn’t act as if I hadn’t heard.
“What do you mean?”
My voice shook.
Instead of answering my question, he threw his own question at me.
“Among the surrounding kingdoms, which one do you believe we should because most cautious of?”
I chewed my lip and glowered at him, but far from recoiling, he didn’t even show a fragment of discomfiture. I repeatedly told my own shaken self to calm down and answered, “Laptah.”
There were four kingdoms bordering Nebel: Wind, Schnee, Grund, and Laptah.
In the northwest was the Kingdomf of Schnee. We were united during the war against the Kingdom of Scherz, and foreign relations have been positive ever since. Hypothetically speaking, even if relations became hostile and the alliance dissolved, we were protected by a range of steep mountain, so invasion was made difficult.
As my game knowledge has already informed me, I was aware that Laptah was a cunning nation, but even if I didn’t already have that information, it was the only kingdom left by process of elimination.
Laptah bordered us to the northeast, and a third of its land was frozen solid.
It’s no wonder they’d covet Nebel, a kingdom with vast fertile lands.
“What if that Laptah tried to approach Wind?”
Wind, approached by Laptah?
It was my first time hearing this. My eyes rounded in surprise.
I’ve never heard talk of this, I started to say, but I held my tongue.
The important thing was, in the case that it was true, was it a future to be expected?
“I do not think it desirable situation.”
Laptah viewed Nebel as an enemy nation. If by any chance, they were to join hands with Wind, we’d be flanked. From the northeast and the west, an invasion on two fronts would hopelessly divide our strength.
“But the Kingdom of Wind is allied to Nebel. I cannot believe they will so simply betray us.”
“Alliances are not a permanent. In this world’s long history, there are precedents of alliances with no specified time limit being unilaterally discarded. Well, they stand to lose the confidence of their neighbors, though, so I could say it would be a last resort,” he answered pragmatically.
I gave little groan.
Even if the likelihood was low, we should be wary.
“When I think of that one in a million chance, I have a desire to strengthen our ties with Wind. To do achieve that, the simplest solution would be marriage.”
My face twitched before settling into a stony expression. Cold sweat ran down my back.
Whose and whose? I couldn’t say bring myself to ask something so stupid.
The Kingdom of Wind had two princes, no princess. In other words, Chris and Johan were out of the picture. I was the only who remained.
The words political marriage filled my head and left so much impact as to make my vision swim.
So long as you were born into royalty, it was an inevitability you must be prepared for.
Yet I’ve continued to live with eyes averted.
If I accepted…then what about my feelings for Sir Leonhard?
“If you had been born a beauty without brains, I think I would have married you off to some harmless fellow or other. Putting your brainless daughter in another court is equivalent to political suicide. You are foolish, daughter, but you are not without brains.”
His words gave me another big shock.
Sir Leonhard didn’t fit the bill of a harmless man, but father had placed no importance on my marriage, so it hadn’t been out of the question.
It looks like I’ve hung the noose around my own neck.
“You seem to object?”
“Then become something I will be loathe to part with.”
His expression shifted as he watched my eyes open wide.
It wasn’t a smile, but I could tell he was enjoying himself. His sadistic heart was showing through, like a beast toying with a small animal. I was probably paranoid.
“The Crown Prince of Wind is thirteen years old. In two more years, he’ll come of age. Until then, prove your worth to me,” he said with great relish.
I cursed him inside my head, You shit father.
Notes: Wind = Vind
Because, yeah, I’m editing older chapters at glacial speed, so names are all over the place. I’ll hopefully make everything standard one productive day.