Chapter 14 - What is Love?
Per Imperial Law, the emperor’s child was always first in line for the throne regardless of whether or not the emperor has brothers. Their standing in the hierarchy of succession was lower than that of any immediate descendants of the reigning emperor. If, however, the Grand Duke were to precede the emperor and sire an heir first, that child would be older than any Crown Prince to follow, and the line of succession would then become distorted.
“So you’re saying that because of that, you won’t have chil—no, you won’t get married?”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to.”
The Grand Chamberlain, who had been standing off to the side during their conversation, stepped forward to smoothly refill their empty teacups in the brief silence that followed Agares’ last remark.
“Then, when are you going to?”
“Who knows? After the Crown Prince is born?”
“We have to get you married first. How long do you plan on going around to banquets like some mayfly?”
“… Mayfly? I’m offended, Brother.”
As if Agares had truly been hurt by the shocking accusation, he grumbled and furrowed his even eyebrows. Ellis laughed and ignored his brother’s grievances.
“If you feel it’s unfair, then just get married.”
“Why is everyone so anxious over my marital status?”
“You’re already of age. Just how long can you continue to live like that?”
Truthfully, he wanted to live forever like this if possible, but he wasn’t foolish enough to say that in front of his brother who had just expressed so much concern over marrying him off. Such remarks would only result in more nagging.
Born as the son of the emperor, Agares had lived in power his entire life and was rarely nagged, if ever. His parents had never scolded Agares harshly nor nagged him.
The only person who ever dared to check Agares was his only brother. As if he was trying to assume the role of his parent, Ellis had been nagging him ceaselessly over many things ever since they were children. No matter how much time had passed, his persistent badgering seemed to only increase each time they met.
If he found the nagging bothersome, then one solution would be to just correct his behavior, but Agares really had no intention of changing his habits now.
“It’s just, I don’t really want to marry right now. What can I do about it?”
Agares set down his teacup and cut himself a cigar. The Grand Chamberlain then moved to light it without so much as an awkward pause in the brief period before Agares raised it to his mouth and took a deep, long drag from the cigar. Smoking in front of the Emperor, his older brother and senior, without permission was considered extremely rude. If any noble other than Agares had dared to do such a thing, the act would have been tantamount to insulting the Emperor to his face. Nevertheless, Ellis did not nag him too much about it.
“Would you like one too, Brother?”
Though he did not make a fuss about the impropriety, Ellis’s response was different from usual this time.
“Next time, please refrain from smoking in front of me.”
Ellis had never said that before. Come to think of it, he himself had quit smoking at some point.
‘When was it? I think it’s been a few years.’
“Serendia hates it.”
Serendia was Ellis’ wife, Agares’ sister-in-law, and current empress of this empire. Agares grinned while Ellis made a face at the smoke he blew out.
“You’re whipped, Brother. Just like Father.”
What happened to the rulers of this empire? All of them lived their lives dominated by their wives. The late Emperor had not said anything on his deathbed other than his worry for the Empress who would be left all alone. Ellis and Agares had stood by him in his last moments, and they remembered precisely what their father had said. His last, dying wish was not to protect the empire.
“Be good to Lucille.”
Those were the last words that left the Emperor’s mouth before he passed away. His two, perfectly fine sons had been by his side, yet he instead worried that someone would do something to the preceding Empress.
Agares blew a puff of smoke and nodded.
“Fine. Her Majesty the Empress has spoken.”
“But what do you mean when you say you don’t want to marry?”
“I mean that I have found no woman lovely enough to the point where I want to marry her.”
“A member of the royal family saying he wants to marry for love. That’s rich.”
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