Chapter 22 - Her Past
With her sharp brain and beautiful appearance, coupled with her shining golden hair that symbolized her noble status, Edna grew to become the envy of all women. Although her swordsmanship lacked strength, it was difficult to find one more proficient than her in terms of technique. But Cecil, wishing for a perfect successor, wasn’t satisfied with Edna’s superior Latin knowledge, nor with her serious and dignified presence.
As time passed, Edna began to reject the cruel routine of living while hiding her identity. She could never breathe comfortably.
Court life was brutal. Everyone watched one another and submitted false complaints to the king on the regular. All the eyes on Edna, the king’s only heir, were especially intense. She couldn’t relax even when she was sleeping.
By the age of fifteen, Edna was eager to escape from the castle. However, whenever she showed an expression of longing, Cecil pushed her without failure, asking, “Eden, what does that expression of yours mean?”
The public knew her as Eden. Edna was a name that only Cecil, Edna herself, and heaven knew.
“No, it’s nothing,” Edna answered, slowly turning her head away from her mother’s chilly gaze.
After thoroughly checking that they were alone, Cecil turned to Edna. “Do you know why I’m making this sacrifice?”
“Yes, mother. I’m well aware of it. It’s all about taking over the throne.”
“Yes, yes. If it turns out that you’re a woman, all my efforts will go down the drain and my days will end on the gallows. You will also live a humiliating life, being ruled by ignorant men. You will not live to be swayed by the sly foxes who are trying to topple you and seize the throne.”
She had already heard it hundreds or thousands of times, enough to have a scab on her ear, but Cecil continued to speak in a clear voice. “Nothing is given to women in the world. That’s why I want to give you a world that you make with your own power. I don’t want you to live like me so don’t let your guard down. There’s not much time left. The throne will be yours if you endure a little bit longer because Ducaine III is already on the decline.”
The mental image of whether she would succeed in living without anyone discovering her true identity made Edna’s face look bitter for a moment. Maybe it would be possible if it was Cecil. After hiding her true self for 15 years, Cecil would definitely make sure they succeeded, even if she had to erase all of Edna’s feelings.
“You should never repeat your dirty father’s actions when you become king. He is not a king. A king should be a being like a sun, a man worthy of both respect and fear, rather than a pig rolling in the mud. That is the kind of person you will be.” Cecil emphasized.
‘It will come to happen following my mother’s will, not mine. My fault is that I was born a woman from the royal family. I never had a say in my own life from the moment I was born! And is there really no other way but to hope for father to die? Is there no way we can co-exist?’ Edna cried out inside her mind but showed no emotion outwardly.
The aftermath was something she had to handle by herself. If it was revealed that Edna was a woman, Cecil would lose her head and Edna herself wouldn’t be able to escape the repercussions.
Sometimes, when she went out under the guise of hunting, Edna deliberately passed through the bustling market streets and looked at the people with curious, longing eyes.
The yearning reached its zenith when she saw the famous ‘flame glass’ used to build a new cathedral. Its splendid beauty seemed to color the freedom she desperately wanted. It was the first time she saw stained glass, which was already enjoying explosive popularity in other countries.
The colored window glazed through the light as if it had caught fire. She was moved by the great feast of light it displayed. Edna went around under the window and savored the world of light. The light seemed to represent the freedom she so longed for. In it, she could forget the reality that she was in for a while.
When Edna was sixteen years old, the tyranny of Ducaine III reached its peak and, eventually, resistance from the lords began to rise to the surface. Urgent reports continued to flood in, but Ducaine III, who was drunk all day long, didn’t mind any of them in the slightest. Furthermore, since syphilis had invaded his brain, he had lost all judgment. Every time a report like that came up, Ducaine III claimed that the capital city’s forces alone were enough to subdue the insurgents and boasted that he would break the wings of all the lords who plotted the rebellion.
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