Chapter 3: Pocket watch, Count, and Puppet VI
The room was an extravagant one.
Originally this was one of the audience rooms the king used to greet his guests of honor, but it was now dim with all of the windows covered by a thick curtain. What faint light shone through made the room feel even heavier.
The king sat on the throne, the highest seat, as the minister stood in wait beside him. On his other side, a court officer acting as the facilitator read Count Luzeria’s crimes out loud. Around them stood aristocrats and high ranking government officers. Knights stood in a line silently, at guard.
(I was unaware of these added charges……probably to turn me into their scapegoat.)
Count Luzeria laughed at his current standing.
He was placed in handcuffs, but fine clothes befitting of an aristocrat covered him. His hair had been carefully done, dressing him up like a genuine gentlemen of nobility—all of which made the assaults he received when he was arrested look like a lie.
“You, as a fellow member of this country’s aristocracy, have received an amnesty from His Majesty. You have been bestowed the gift of death.”
Luzeria was presented with a chalice decorated with gold and jewels.
The gift of death—suicide by poison.
Behind the minister who had solemnly cast his gaze towards the throne, Count Grimm sneered.
The king had a pale blue face, one that could be clearly seen from a distance, as he stared at Count Luzeria. This was the man: Soleil Greisis, King of the Greisis Kingdom and father to Herscherik, to whom he pledged loyalty.
(I thought the two of them looked similar before, but they’re completely different.)
This might be a retainer’s bias, but the prince who had been basked in moonlight yesterday definitely hadn’t given up like the king in front of him now.
He had, from the bottom of his heart, thought to help Luzeria right after meeting him. And he fully realized how powerless he was.
(Yet, my Lord didn’t fall into despair.)
The blue, jade-like eyes of the youngest prince would never give up like the king had.
The handcuffs were removed, and Count Luzeria accepted the golden chalice containing the poisoned wine.
He had no fear of dying. No, the emotion certainly existed, but it was hope that surpassed the fear in his chest.
(O God of Creation, O all Gods, please protect my Lord. And with my Lord…..)
“Eternal Glory to the Greisis Kingdom!”
Count Luzeria drained the golden chalice in one shot.
The echoing sounds of the bell came through the opened window.
Its tolls acted as a guide to the dead. Herscherik was taught by Meria that the bell rang to keep the spirits of the dead from wandering. It didn’t care if the soul was good or evil; it rang equally for everyone.
Now the bell was ringing, signaling that Count Luzeria had departed.
Herscherik was sitting in a chair placed by that window, the spring breeze rustling through his blonde hair. The moment he heard the bell, he firmly gripped the pocket watch in his hand.
‘In this world, only the strong and the clever survive. The other foolish people are either used and die, or they rebel and die; those are their only two choices!’
He recalled the words of the viscount named Grimm. Herscherik had been hiding so that he wouldn’t be discovered, but the man’s face was burned in his mind.
(If I remember correctly, Japan was just like that as well.)
He recalled his past life in Japan.
If politicians turned corrupt, then all the media outlets would raise a fuss, crying out about resignation and such. Ryouko was also one of those enraged citizens, wondering what became of her taxes. But influential people wouldn’t use their influence to forcefully shut them up. And of course, the politicians’ digressions didn’t lead to the death penalty.
(But it’s different over here.)
Those who held power, the strong and clever, wickedly eliminated those trying to do the right thing.
This world was crueler than those in games or novels.
He had read such genres in his past life. It felt like he had casually passed through the screen into this world, idly passing time since he had been a year old.
‘Hersche, what will you do?’
His father had asked him whose tears wouldn’t stop after his father had finished his story.
‘If you want, you can leave the royal family. You can go become a husband in some safe, foreign country. If you have something you want to do, you can go ahead on that path.’
That was his father’s greatest act of love. Even if Herscherik continued to stay in the royal family, he would either be kept as a pet until he died, or he would be killed by the minister’s group. Unlike the other princes, he had no support.
If he were ever careless, then they might kill his father and turn Herscherik into their next puppet. And if a civilian rebellion were to occur, the entire royal family would be massacred. Surely the minister was biding his time for that moment, keeping the king alive while holding onto the real power.
If Herscherik followed his father’s words, then he probably could keep himself safe. If he left the royal family and forgot everything, he could surely find happiness.
(But what about Father? What about the soul of Luzeria who entrusted and passed everything to me? What about those who are weak?)
“The righteous people, the honest people, and the weak are wronged in this foolish world.”
The spring breeze blew past the window and into the room. It felt like Luzeria was answering his words.
Herscherik jumped down from the chair and tightly gripped the pocket watch one more time while looking up towards the sky.
“Count, you’re nearby, aren’t you?”
The bell rang to send on those deceased. Naturally, Luzeria should have already been heading on his journey to the other world. But last night, Luzeria had sworn to stay by his side forever, even after becoming a soul.
“I won’t run away.”
He was born a prince, and as such, his place at the top was decided; an unchangeable fact, so long as his father remained a scapegoat.
But that was when he had been ignorant. Now that he knew everything, he was in a position to change this world.
He cannot keep crying—he won’t cry anymore.
“I’ll definitely change it. I’ll show you and protect them.”
He will protect his father, the country, and all those ridiculed as weak, without fail.
That moment was the first time Hayakawa Ryouko resolved herself since reincarnating into Herscherik.