Chapter 92 – The King Of The West (1)
“It’s more dangerous if you’re serious! You can be put to death if you harm the Emperor!”
“Then I’ll kill the woman.”
“Personal grudges are also a felony.”
I pointed my hand towards my brother’s stomach.
“And Rashta’s baby is the Emperor’s baby.”
“A child of a concubine. The Emperor is greatly anticipating it.”
My brother looked at me with a face that said, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’
My head was pounding. If it were any other person, I could make excuses and say the words were spoken in the heat of passion. But not my brother. My brother was a man who followed words with actions. No, he was a man who acted on his passions.
“Very well, Navier. Then I won’t let that woman give birth to the baby.”
“If you touch the baby, you will face an even heavier punishment.”
It was a great sin to commit murder inside the Imperial palace, but an even greater one to harm the Emperor’s bloodline. Viscount Langdel was almost executed, not by stabbing Rashta, but by threatening the life inside her belly. Even though the law didn’t treat the concubine’s children as princes or princesses, they weren’t treated like ordinary aristocrats either.
“Brother. Even if you kill Miss Rashta as you say you will, do you think the Emperor will not take another concubine?”
But despite my attempts to calm my brother, his temper would not cool. He paced around the room with his hands around his head, while I rummaged through the shopping bags and pulled out one of the gifts.
It was a hat. I placed it on my head, hoping it would make him feel better. I fixed my hair and showed myself to him, but my brother was angrier than any hat could comfort.
He stopped at my desk and glared at my calendar.
My daily schedule was marked on my calendar, including the banquet for Rashta’s baby.
I hurried up to pick up the calendar, but my brother was faster. He had already glimpsed it, and he turned to me dumbfounded.
“Why do you have to organize the party for them?”
“It’s not just that one. I’m responsible for all the parties in the palace.”
My brother kept his mouth firmly shut as he fixed his gaze at me. However, his next words were not about the banquet.
“The hat looks good on you.”
His unexpected praise took me by surprise, but before I could respond, he turned his heel and left. I watched him anxiously, then removed my hat and placed it on the couch.
I stood there frozen until I heard the sound of a bird squawking near the window. My mind cautioned me that it could be an intruder, but I opened the window anyway and leaned out my head. It was hard to tell where the bird’s sound was coming from.
The bird’s cry reminded me of Queen. A sense of unease stirred in me. I was scared that something might have happened to Prince Heinley and Queen. I didn’t think they would have arrived in the Western Kingdom yet.
Would they get there safely…?
Prince Heinley’s entourage was passing through the Borayong mountains. Despite Navier’s expectations, however, Prince Heinley himself and McKenna had already arrived in the Western Kingdom.
Prince Heinley was in the king’s bedroom. The bed itself was a splendor of beige and golden tones, with the headboard itself decorated with fine gold embellishments. The man lying on the bed, however, was in a less majestic state, and had sunken, bloodshot eyes and a pallid face.
Heinley gripped the hand of King Wharton III, his brother and the king of the West. With each rattling breath the king took, Prince Heinley’s heart sunk further. It had taken a while for Wharton III to recognize his younger brother, and when he spoke, it was with a rasping breath.
“Yes, I’m here. I’m right beside you, my brother.”
Prince Heinley squeezed King Wharton III’s hand.
Prince Heinley grimaced. Even before his brother was ill, he had always nagged him about taking a wife. However, he couldn’t reply coldly to his sick older brother.
Without speaking, Heinley held on to Wharton III’s hands, and the king stared dimly back at him. A smile appeared on Wharton III’s face, as if he noticed his brother’s unhappy expression.
“I’m not nagging. You must get married, Heinley.”
“If I die…you will be king. You need a successor.”
“For the king…to welcome a queen…is not a choice…but a responsibility.”
Heinley heaved a sigh.
“You’re still making this difficult.”
“The country deserves a good woman…not a woman that is lovely to your eyes… but a queen that will love the people.”
A face came into Prince Heinley’s mind. A queen who was lovely to him and was able to love his people. But that woman already had a man beside her…
His heart throbbed.
“What if there is a woman who is both?”
“Good. Don’t let her go.”
Wharton III smiled not as a king, but as a brother.
“If you marry, stop being a womanizer.”
Heinley had pretended to be a flirt to create a lighthearted image, but he regretted it now that he had a woman he liked. His mouth tipped upwards in a smile.
“Yes…I’m sure you will do well…with the country.”
Heinley sighed and tapped his brother on the back of the hand.
“Is there anything else you need to tell me? Nothing difficult, I mean.”
Although they were never bosom brothers, Heinley’s heart was burdened with sadness and regret. Wharton III blinked slowly, then turned to stare blankly at the bed’s canopy. Heinley gave a small smile.
“You must have nothing else to say.”
Wharton III smiled along with Heinley and spoke in a low voice.
“Look after your sister-in-law.”
“Don’t let other nobles ignore you…”
“No matter what anyone says, I will protect you…”
Wharton III’s trembling lips closed, as if merely speaking took a massive effort. He sucked in a few heavy, slow breaths. It was getting slower now. His grip on Heinley’s hand gradually loosened, and Heinley gently lowered his brother’s hand. The king’s chest, which had been rising and falling, was no longer moving.
Heinley closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The doctor stood up from behind him to check the king’s pulse, and then spoke in a somber voice.
“…The King has passed.”
Those who silently stood beside the wall came and knelt before the new king. Heinley opened his eyes slowly, and looked down at them through his blurry vision.