I received a violent punch, and the taste of iron spread through my mouth.
Hurriedly raising my right hand to restrain the knights, who were reaching for their swords, I faced His Highness Alexei.
“I sincerely regret the inconvenience I have caused by inviting you here so suddenly. Moreover, for having involved your daughter in the battles of my country, I can only give you my deepest apologies.”
I deeply lowered my head.
After becoming Emperor, I tried not to readily lower my head to others.
In this instance, however, I felt that no matter which way I apologized, it wouldn’t be enough.
“No need; in all honesty, I’m not satisfied with only punching you once. But in any case, please show me to where Shane is.”
“Of course. I will leave this matter to your hands.”
We entered the room, and His Highness Alexei had everyone other than myself leave. While looking through the medical examination documents that the medic team had left behind, he used his magic to create some kind of medicine for Haruto to swallow.
After a while, he took Haruto back to the futon, and turned back to look in this direction.
“Shane’s body has a constitution that is resistant to magic. That said, I had looked for a countermeasure back in Orania, and so I was able to treat him. He may wake up as early as tomorrow.”
At those words, I let out a sigh of relief.
“Your Majesty. I would like to talk to you for a bit, if it wouldn’t trouble you?”
Contrasting my relief, the look on His Highness Alexei’s face wasn’t pleasant.
After passing on the responsibility of Haruto’s care to the medic team, he and I departed from the room.
When the two of us once again confronted each other, I felt that I might be swallowed up by the intense atmosphere emitted by His Highness Alexei.
He was a strange person who had abdicated his right to the throne, and despite possessing a rare talent for magic, managed the garden of the royal palace.
The number of people who spoke disdainfully of him weren’t few.
However, they were entirely off the mark.
“Your Majesty, this may be quite sudden, but it’s about Shane’s coloration. What you had called me here for, and what you may have already realized, was about the effect of that medicine. That black hair is, in actuality, his natural hair color. There are no excuses I could give to possibly apologize for what must seem like such deceit. But please, at the very least, do not blame Shane for this.”
“Of course. That won’t be an issue. I feel that I must apologize to Haruto for making him go through such unnecessary efforts. Moreover, I want to take this as an opportunity for him to live a life with his original hair color. Yet if his hair color were to suddenly change, it may lead to needless speculation, so I wonder if it would be better to say that it happened for the sake of treating his disease.”
“So that’s what you were thinking. Thank you; I’m truly grateful.”
I got the impression that Alexei’s facial expression had softened.
“So Haruto had told you about his name, had he. Seems like things have been going much better than I had expected.”
“Yes. I promised him that we would create a land of clear and bright skies together.”
He nodded as if to say ‘So that’s how it is’ with a gentle expression on his face.
“Your Majesty might have already somewhat noticed this, but Haruto and I aren’t related by blood. However, in Orania, we got along just the same way as any other parent and child.”
This sudden confession was also not a surprise.
Whether you considered his bodily constitution’s resistance to magic, or the color of his air, his facial features, body shape…
No matter what you looked at, there wasn’t any similarity to be found.
“One day, Haruto had all of a sudden fallen in front of my house. At that time, he couldn’t properly speak the common language, and had even been surprised by magic. I realized that Haruto must certainly have had some sort of extraordinary circumstance behind him. However, I chose not to force the story out of him. I thought that I should wait until Haruto told me of his own volition. However, before that could happen, he was sent to Your Majesty to be wed.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, but he only just replied, “No, no,” while laughing.
“To be honest, when that decision had been made, I even thought that it would be better to wage war against Caspar. I was ready to go myself to fight on the battlefield when I asked Haruto if he was really alright with this. All I wanted was for Haruto to be happy. Because he had come to Orania and lived with me as if he were my own child, I couldn’t stand for him to become unhappy.
“Yet it seemed that I had only been experiencing some needless worry. Even in Orania, I had heard of the good relationship between the two of you. Of how Haruto had, indeed, made for an excellent Empress. Every time I heard that said, I couldn’t help but swell up with pride.”
His Higness Alexei took a sip of tea.
When I heard His Highness speak this story, I felt a pain in my chest.
Just what should I do to be able to give back to Haruto all of the happiness and joy that he has given to others?
“I’ve been speaking for too long. Since Haruto doesn’t seem to have any further problems with his condition, it’s about time that I take my leave. There’s still work to do in the garden, hm.”
“Then let us prepare a carriage for you. Please wait a moment.”
Before I could call a servant, His Highness Alexei stopped me.
“No need; it’s fine. I can return via magic, after all.”
Though I couldn’t imagine possibly doing such a thing with magic, myself, if it were His Highness Alexei, then he definitely could. Thus, I accompanied him to the castle gate to send him off.
“Then, I ask of you – please make Haruto someone who is even more full of joy.”
As we parted, he took my hand and told me this.
“Yes. I swear.”
His Highness Alexei gave a small nod and said,
“Then the next time, for sure, I ask that the two of you come to Orania together.”
As he spoke, he took a single step beyond the castle gates, and in the next instant, His Highness Alexei’s figure was nowhere to be found.
It was truly formidable, the extent to which magic could be used.
When I thought of how he had said that he had felt it would be better to go to war against Caspar, I couldn’t help but feel that there would be a definite chance of their winning.
Two days after that, Haruto opened his eyes.
Halfway through, I suddenly realized that the raw had started calling him “His Highness Alexis”. I had a crisis over whether I had been getting his name wrong the entire time.