Chapter 7: Idle Talk – The King, His Butler, and His Favorite Mistress II
“…….Luke, please. Protect him from those targeting him.”
These were the words left behind by that woman, the king’s favorite mistress and Luke’s friend, on her deathbed.
Back then, Luke only understood half of what she had said.
Doubt was written on his face, so she added this to her words.
“Soleil is kind. Kinder than anyone….He puts others before himself and sacrifices himself….He is always killing himself for others.”
The life of the woman who bore Soleil’s child continued to fade even through her words. But in spite of that, she persisted, speaking clearly.
“Soleil’s kindness sits right beside his fear. If he were to lose someone precious to him again, I’m sure that he would break and lose himself to that fear…..I have a feeling that anything and everything will be neglected, leading this country to ruin.”
Her words took Luke’s breath away.
Soleil was a gentle king.
To protect his family, he would continue to bear the dishonor in silence, even if it meant being looked down on by the aristocrats.
The horror of losing his family at 10 years old and his first born child at 20 eroded him.
Soleil was never expected to become king.
As the 3rd prince, there was the 1st prince, full of wisdom and courage, as well as the 2nd prince, who excelled in martial arts, before him. Soleil couldn’t compete with the two in their specialties, and he never thought about doing so.
“I want to become a researcher to support father and my elder brothers in the future.”
The Soleil who happily chatted with his childhood friend Luke like this in the past was nowhere to be seen now.
His esteemed father and brothers passed away due to the incurable illness that inflicted royalty, and Soleil was turned into a puppet king by the aristocrats. Even though he was an adult, it didn’t change the fact that he was controlled like a child.
Nevertheless in the beginning, Soleil fought to carry out his duty. Together with Luke who had become his primary butler and the other primary knights and magicians beside him, he fought with the aristocrats, unconcerned what was happening outside of the stage.
At that time, he had a child with a legitimate princess consort he had married for political reasons. Even if this was an arranged marriage, Soleil treasured his wife and showered his love over his first born child, a daughter.
However, when the legitimate princess consort was pregnant with her next child, tragedy befell them. The first princess had fallen to the incurable illness that inflicted royalty.
After conversing alone with the minister, in which the man gave his condolences, Soleil had a complete change in his attitude, no longer wanting to oppose the aristocrats. His knights and magicians petitioned him over and over again, but the king wouldn’t budge.
Afterwards, the knights and magicians had finally left Soleil’s side. Who they wanted was a kind and strong king, not an empty, weak fool.
Luke also wondered if he should leave, but while he troubled over this, he was recommended by the king to leave. However, as his childhood friend, Luke understood. He knew that the king was trying to protect them, and for this, the king chose to remain alone on his throne.
For that reason, Luke wondered if he should leave, no matter what.
“Soleil is a gentle king. But if he ever experiences fear and despair again, I’m afraid he will no longer be able to remain a king.”
The woman’s words were a prediction.
But Luke understood that they weren’t just that but what would actually happen in the future.
“That’s why my child shall become a support for him. But, there is also the possibility of the reverse: he would be driven into the corner.”
The favored mistress tried to give him peace of mind with her smile, though faint, as she said.
“There’s no one else I can entrust this to but you. Protect Soleil…..and when the time comes, stop him.”
The woman, Luke’s friend and wife of his childhood friend, entrusted this to him and left the world.
Luke turned to look at the closed door. On the other side of it, his childhood friend was fighting his fear even at this moment.
If he were to relax for just a moment, those precious to him would disappear in the blink of an eye. That was why no matter how injured he became, he refused to cross his bottom line. He would continue to bear the weight of everything.
But what if he does cross that line? Luke wondered.
Then Luke would have to stop Soleil even if it costs him his life. That was what he had promised after all. But there were still things he could do before then.
(Prince Herscherik, I am certain that you will become a principal figure in our country’s future.)
This was not only for the king’s sake.
He felt that the woman had staked her life to leave this hope behind.
Regardless of what measures Luke must takes, he has to ensure that the boy survives.
In order to take the first step for this, he left for the dark hallway.
After seeing Luke out, Soleil looked at his hands. He saw how pathetically his hand trembled when he held it out towards the light from the fireplace.
When he had heard that Herscherik was kidnapped, he felt as though he was imprisoned in ice.
He was chilled all the way down to the depths of his heart. If Herscherik had returned home in anything other than in the best possible condition, he wasn’t sure that he could retain his sanity.
“Even if I am no longer here, my child will be, so you’ll be alright.”
Even now, Soleil could vividly recall the words she muttered as if talking to herself right before she died.
“He’ll be beside you in my stead. I’m certain he will help you.”
The woman said as she weakly smiled. It was a faint smile—the complete opposite of her usual, bright one.
“That’s why…you’ll be fine even if I’m not around. My child will be here……I love you, Soleil. You’re the one I love the most in this world. My beloved king…..”
With those last words, the woman departed to the Garden in Heaven.
The child she left behind was beginning to resemble her more and more as he grew up. Soleil did adore his other children, but he loved Herscherik the most. That might have been his reaction towards the grief he felt for losing that woman.
“But you know, children grow…..”
Presently, the youngest prince surpassed the older princes only in terms of his inner self.
While he felt some kind of loneliness, he was happy nevertheless.
(I was supposed to protect him, but before I realized it, it seems like I could be the one being protected.)
He recalled the youngest prince from just a moment ago.
He acted stubborn without confessing anything, and his eyes looked as if he was fully intent on pursuing his goal.
Who stood before Soleil was no longer an unsteady baby but a prince who had begun to walk his own path with his own legs. The only remaining thing he could do as a parent was to watch over their child.
“If he’s your child, it should be fine, right….”
He persuaded himself.
That woman was strong. She propelled herself forward without fearing anything.
She was the woman who supported him, the king who only felt fear, struggling in fear from the agony he felt, even as he stood still.
But that woman had already departed.
The king muttered and looked at his hand that had stopped shaking.
“I wonder what would have happened if I had lost Hershe.”
He was pleased with Herscherik’s growth. He wanted to offer him help.
But, he also wanted to lock the prince in a cage to protect him, to prevent anyone from touching him.
Conflicting feelings clashed and ran rampant inside of Soleil.
He murmured the name of his favorite mistress, clinging to it desperately in the hope that its owner might save him once again.