Chapter 45 – An Unchanging Person (2)
After parting from Prince Heinley, I stopped by the library and researched all I could on the country of Rwibt and the Hwa continent. Although Grand Duke Kapmen had described The Travelogue as a delusional account, it was still the most well-known book on the country. I don’t know why the grand duke requested my presence at that next meeting, but I wanted to broaden my knowledge on the Rwibt culture as much as possible.
‘I wish I had a book with more detail…’
I was seated on a bench cross-referencing the Travelogue with other books when there was a tapping noise from the window.
It was Queen. I opened the window and he hopped onto the sill, displaying his wings. I noticed he wore a handkerchief around his neck.
“Did Prince Heinley tie this on you?”
The handkerchief was my own. I smiled, and Queen tilted his head. I held Queen in one arm and petted his beak with my other hand, and checked his legs for a note. There was none this time.
“Are you here to show off?”
Or perhaps he came here to return the handkerchief? He couldn’t answer me of course, and simply blinked at me with his gorgeous violet eyes. I couldn’t resist them, and smothered his head with kisses one after another.
“Queen is so pretty, especially with the handkerchief around your neck.”
He seemed to like it so much that I couldn’t bring myself to remove it. As I petted his back I thought, Queen smells good. What kind of thought was that? I put my nose to his shoulder and inhaled.
The scent subtly reminded me of Prince Heinley. Did he wash the handkerchief and spray his perfume on it? I found it so charming that a bird smelled like this that I leaned in to whisper in his ear.
“You smell like Prince Heinley, Queen.”
Queen unfolded his wings in shock. Then he covered his beak with his wings and opened his eyes wide.
I playfully called out to him, but Queen trembled and hopped back towards the window.
“Are you going already?”
He looked so cute, and I opened my arms to him before he would fly away. However, he stiffened like ice and shook his head.
“Sometimes she says the most suggestive things…”
Back in his room, Prince Heinley unfastened the handkerchief from his neck. His face was still burning.
Heinley sniffed the handkerchief. He had sprayed it with his favorite perfume after he wished it. She recognized his favorite scene right away?
Heinley crouched to the ground, his cheeks flushed. The Empress’ whispered words were for Queen, but he still felt his heart pound as he remembered the way her breath tickled his ear.
Unfortunately, it was McKenna who ruined that embarrassing and exciting feeling.
“Why are you naked? Sorry.”
Heinley glared at McKenna—his secretary, his knight, his cousin, and even his friend.
“You’ll get sick. Cover yourself up.”
McKenna went to the closet and pulled out a comfortable outfit, while Heinley stood up, clicking his tongue and holding out his hand. Instead of handing the clothes over, however, McKenna had a few questions to ask first.
“Your Highness. The person you went to see with the handkerchief…was it the Empress of the Eastern Empire?”
“Give me the clothes.”
McKenna handed over the items, and Heinley accepted them with a look that said, Why would you ask me that? McKenna kept staring questioningly, however, but Heinley offered only a vague reply.
He dressed, then went outside the palace. He took a pathway that would allow the evening breeze to cool his heated face. McKenna was persistent, however, and stuck by his side.
“Your Highness, you have to be honest. Was your letter acquaintance Empress Navier?”
McKenna ignored Prince Heinley’s initial defiance.
“Does it matter? Just keep your mouth shut. I’m recounting a good memory and your keep interrupting.”
“Is memory important when reality is right in front of you? How can I not care, Prince? Is your letter acquaintance someone you can love?”
“I’m in favor of you in a serious romantic relationship. However, if your partner is the empress of a powerful country, it’s a different story…”
“You should never be involved in the empresses of other countries, powerful or not. Do you want to become politically entangled with the Eastern Empire?”
McKenna’s eyes were moist in genuine worry. Prince Heinley and Empress Navier had a dead end relationship. Even if Emperor Sovieshu had his heart set on Rashta, no country would ever remove the sitting empress and place a runaway-slave-turned-concubine in her position. The empress could not initiate a divorce from her husband either. And even if Emperor Sovieshu deposed Empress Navier, there was no way she would remarry a prince from another country.
“It’s not like that. And you’re exaggerating.”
“Really? Can I trust you?
“Why won’t you answer, huh?”
McKenna paused, then asked more carefully,
“I haven’t asked the most important thing yet. Do you two have mutual feelings for each other? ”
Heinley hesitated, then he held up his hand, his eyes looking elsewhere. His expression was the same, but the mood had changed. McKenna stopped his interrogation and looked in the same direction as Prince Heinley.
A woman with a light purple parasol was walking towards them on the white stone pathway. It was Rashta, Emperor Sovieshu’s concubine.
McKenna quieted his mouth. The Emperor’s lover and rising star of society had completely sank in a matter of days. McKenna wasn’t sure about the other residences, but many of the guests in the southern palace sneered at Rashta for covering up the fact she was a runaway slave. After Viscount Roteschu’s claim spread, Rashta went around attempting to correct the gossip, but no one believed her. Perhaps that was why the once-shining Rashta was now in a depressed mood.
McKenna looked at Prince Heinley. The prince already had stirred trouble with Rashta, and he was quite outspoken once he started talking. Whether it was a blessing or misfortune though, Prince Heinley walked past Rashta as if he didn’t notice her, and McKenna was relieved and quick to follow. However, it was Rashta who called out.
McKenna huffed and pushed at the small of Prince Heinley’s back. However, Prince Heinley turned with a frown, and Rashta approached them.