Chapter 95 – Is It Impossible? (2)
The Western king’s funeral arrangements were made after his death. Preparing them in advance was considered a bad omen, no matter how severe the king’s condition was. As such, the new king was required to organize his coronation as well as the funeral at the same time. Heinley might have been able to share the burden with a queen, but he was single and was busier as a result.
After a hectic day, Heinley somberly made his way to the temporary underground crypt where his brother’s coffin was placed. He wanted to remember his brother alone in a quiet and cool place, but when he arrived, there was already a familiar figure standing there.
It was Heinley’s sister-in-law and former Queen, Christa.
Heinley called to her awkwardly and approached. They did not meet face-to-face often, but when he did, he felt strange calling her “sister-in-law” when she was usually called “Your Majesty”.
Christa turned her head to look at him, and smiled weakly and wiped her eyes with her fingertips. She looked like she had been crying.
“Are you all right?”
Heinley stopped at about five steps away from her.
“Where are your ladies-in-waiting? Why are you alone in this cold place?”
“I wanted to be alone here.”
“You might catch a cold.”
“I’m not that weak.”
Instead of arguing, Heinley pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and offered it to her. Christa had tears in her eyes again.
She reached out her hand, but just as soon as her fingers were about to touch it, Heinley pulled back the handkerchief with an apology.
Christa chuckled when she saw that the initial embroidered onto the handkerchief was not Heinley’s own.
“It must be someone else’s.”
“Ah…yes. Someone very important.”
“As important as the sun.”
She studied the handkerchief but could not surmise the name the initial represented. Heinley tilted his head and pulled out a different handkerchief.
She stopped speculating the owner of the other handkerchief and dabbed her eyes.
“Before my brother’s death, he left a will to protect you.”
Christa’s eyes widened with the handkerchief still held up to her eyes. However, she soon lowered it and gave a watery chuckle.
“He is a kind man.”
“If someone does or says anything to you, please let me know.”
“Thank you for your words.”
“It’s not just words.”
At the sincerity of Heinley’s words, she gave a nod.
Heinley exchanged a few more words with Christa before he left the crypt. Next he made for a temporary office he was using until the coronation was over. McKenna was buried in a pile of papers, and he stood up with a groan when he spotted Heinley.
“We’re running out of time, and we’re short of ten.”
“That is not enough.”
“You made me go and come back all the way from the Eastern Empire.”
Heinley ignored McKenna’s complaints and looked down at the letters on the desk.
“These are the coronation invitations.”
McKenna explained quickly before Heinley even asked.
“Even small children will know you will be crowned king, but the coronation should still be open to major foreign leaders.”
Heinley nodded and flipped over one of the letters.
“What about the letters to be sent to the Eastern Empire?”
“Not those. Here they are.”
McKenna picked up four letters from the other side and Heinley confirmed all the recipients. Three of them were addressed to certain other nobles, while one was for the Emperor and Imperial family.
And a member of the Imperial family…
“There is no chance, Your Highness.”
“I haven’t said anything, McKenna.”
“Are you wondering if the Eastern Empress will come?”
“McKenna…sometimes it’s more annoying when you tell the truth.”
“Shall I tell you hopeful lies instead?”
Heinley shot McKenna an irritated look, while McKenna fixed the prince with a concerned expression.
“Your Highness, I’m sure you know…but she is the empress. Not only that, but an empress of a powerful country.”
“Should I give up because she can never be my queen?”
“What else can you do but give up?”
“…You have a smart head.”
“Count them again.”
McKenna sighed and moved his hands busily, pretending to be looking over the invitations. However, he couldn’t ignore Heinley, drunk on his first love.
Heinley suddenly looked thoughtful, and McKenna had a sudden chill down his spine. Heinley had a very rational personality, but that didn’t mean he did things normally; sometimes his behavior was quite dangerous and adventurous. The look on his face was reminiscent of that.
McKenna said his name before Heinley could speak. Heinley turned to him, and McKenna proposed something he had been thinking about for weeks.
“As it’s the will of the former king, why don’t you prepare for a wedding?”
“I don’t have a partner, McKenna. Who would it be?”
“You’ll find one.”
“The one I want is far away.”
“You still have to find one. There may be a match for you nearby.”
“Don’t tell me it’s you.”
McKenna suddenly became angry at Heinley’s words.
“Don’t tell terrible jokes.”
Heinley gave an icy smile.
“You just said I can’t marry anyone I want, but it has to be someone close to me.”
He was in an unpleasant mood. McKenna started speaking weakly at first, but soon his voice gained strength.
“First of all, take a look at all of the brilliant women in the Western Kingdom. You’re always traveling abroad, and you have no interaction with your citizens.”
“Don’t look at me like that, Your Highness. You may find another love like Empress Navier.”
“Of course there are many wonderful ladies here, too.”
Heinley sighed heavily.
“But what I want is her, not the woman who looks like her. No matter who much they resemble her, there’s no point.”
The days that I anticipated came slowly, while the days I dreaded suddenly came right under my nose.
On the day of the banquet honoring Rashta’s baby, the sun rose as usual, and by noon the carriages began to converge into the palace. As it was a celebration of the Emperor’s first baby, there were numerous visitors. Through a window, I watched the carriages stream inside, the lavishness of the carriages indicating the wealth and importance of those who would attend.
‘Will those people come to the same idea as Sovieshu?’
The idea that I should accept Rashta’s baby because I will never have one of my own?
‘…Well, even if they don’t think that, the Emperor’s firstborn is still an important event.’
Even if Rashta’s baby did not seek a succession, it could not be ignored by the nobles. As long as the child didn’t lose the Emperor’s favor, they were likely to become a high-ranking noble such as a duke or grand duke.
After taking a deep breath, I turned around and went back to my room, changed my clothes, and went to the banquet hall. It was not as formal an occasion like the New Year’s ball, so everyone was already laughing and talking.
It was easy to spot Sovieshu and Rashta. Rashta was sitting on a soft couch specially placed at the back center of the hall, while Sovieshu stood by her side. Behind the couch were piles of gifts received from the guests. It was already a substantial amount, considering that the banquet had only started about an hour ago, and many still approached her holding colorful gift boxes. Some guests looked reluctant to be here, but others seemed genuinely eager to impress her.
When I came closer, the crowd quietly stood back.
As soon as Rashta spotted me, an angelic smile spread across her face.
“It’s so nice to see you, Your Majesty. It had been an hour and I didn’t think you were coming.”
Unlike Rashta, however, Sovieshu seemed nervous. The nobles curiously looked on.
I presented my gift in silence. It was hard to discern what the object was, as it wrapped in shiny paper and tied with a ribbon. Rashta took it with both hands, looked at Sovieshu, then pulled the ribbon. She hadn’t opened the other gifts, so she must have wondered what her present was. Or perhaps she wanted to show it off to the others.
“Oh, this is…!”
Rashta’s eyes widened.