One day, at the maids’ urging, Rihannan sat on the garden and overlooked the blooming flowers and deep-green trees; birds and butterflies happily played with the plants.
She heard a playful song from behind.
What she likes is a chubby rabbit,
But the best thing in the world is rabbit meat.
Rihannan jumped from her seat and turned around.
It was her cousin, Dimitris. He sung the song for her.
She remembered that he’d used to tease her when she went to Crichton as a child. While venturing the forest with her cousins, unaware that it was a rabbit hunting, Rihannan’s capable cousins caught a small, white rabbit.
Little Rihannan was amazed by the novelty and cuteness of the rabbit. It was the first she’d ever seen of it. When she followed her cousins to the water’s edge, she saw a scene of horror; the searing fire sizzled the rabbit full.
Rihannan burst into tears and her mischievous cousins kept making songs as they made fun of her, of course, while appeasing cute, little Rihannan.
Dimitris Priebius, one of her Crichton cousins. He had a fondness for mischief. Even now he was smirking.
It was great to see him again in these days, Rihannan thought.
Though Dimitri was not a member of the royal family, he was nevertheless, of Crichton noble blood. The princes died one after another from an epidemic, and he suddenly found himself thrown in the royal throne as Crichton’s crown prince.
Of course he had to visit Rihannan.
Given his status, he could do so by all means.
“Beautiful and noble Queen Rihannan, I can’t believe you still remember this humble song…”
Before Dimitri could finish his comical and exaggerated act, Rihannan ran and jumped to him for a hearty-hug. Surprised by the warm welcome of his cousin, who was far more intense than he had expected, Dimitri burst out in laughter.
“My God, Rhia, did you miss me that much? Obviously, the last time we met, you said you’d never talk to me again!”
“That’s because you drew a beard on my beloved doll!”
“That’s because I thought that if I did that, you wouldn’t go until all your dolls were fixed up!”
“Why are you here now…? Have you forgotten me all this time?”
Rihannan burst into tears in his arms. It was as if she’d returned back to her happy childhood.
Although Dimitri hadn’t been in the palace for long, he smiled bitterly.
“Yes, I’m sorry, Rhia. I did wrong.”
He began appeasing his cousin. He remembered that she’d always been tearful, soft, and tender-hearted since she was young. Dimitri patted her slender back with his hand and kissed her cheek, something he’d done regularly as a child to calm her down.
“It’s hard, isn’t it ? If you keep crying like this, you’ll collapse. Stop crying. Huh…?”
After soothing Rihannan, Dimitri looked up. From one side of the garden, the King and his servants looked at them with firm faces.
It was only then that Rihannan felt something strange and took her face off Dimitri’s chest. She immediately froze upon seeing Igor’s cold and steel-hardened face.
He hadn’t seen her these recent days, but he suddenly appeared without notice.
Igor approached the nervous Rihannan. His face was filled with an elegant and refined smile. He greeted Rihannan with a friendly greeting and held her hand firmly.
Rihannan was nervous and mindful of his movements.
Dimitris greeted Igor first.
“Congratulations, Your Highness. When I came to the palace regarding Lexington’s affairs, I suddenly had this urge to see how my cousin was doing. I hadn’t seen her in a long time! I didn’t expect that we’d meet like this.”
Lexington was a small state connected between Arundell and Crichton. It was an independent state, but in truth, it was under the control of two countries, Arundell and Crichton.
A recent conflict broke out, involving Arundell and Chrichton. Apparently the cause of it was a commission done by the King of Crichton.
Igor’s expression changed subtly soon as he heard the state’s name.
“….It’s amazing how I first heard about the envoy coming here regarding the Lexington Principles.”
“Oh, it’s with the Queen, and it’s already…”
Dimitri soon realized his mistake and quickly closed his mouth. Dimitri was an intellectual man and had an eye for things. He was quick to judge the situation and quickly noticed that the younger King was excluded from the line of work.
“Perhaps the Queen doesn’t want His Majesty to worry about trivial matters.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yes. We all know that the Queen cares very much for her son, His Majesty. She gave up her throne for you.”
“Yes. I feel heartfelt gratitude to my Mother. Everyone likes to remind me of this.”
Their conversation was noble and full of grace, but underneath it was a hidden veil of thin ice-like tension that never seemed to break.
Rihannan realized that she had built another misunderstanding between him for he saw with his own eyes the scene of her meeting Chrichton’s envoy, whom he did not know and was privy to.
He must’ve thought again that she had conspired with the Queen in advance, furthering his despise for Rihannan.