Chapter 3 – Young Charlotte
Only badmouthing showered the servant girl of a rural author on the day of Charlotte’s birth. It was a curse engraved like a baptism even before they bestowed an official name to her.
Thanks to her, she has known two mothers since she was very young. The mother knew as ‘the madam’ and her real mother, who gave birth to her.
Truthfully, she wouldn’t have woken up if someone planned to dispose of her when she was but a vulnerable babe. Fortunately, unlike the beautiful madam, Charlotte looked ordinary. Her hair was like straw and freckles adorned her nose.
Why did the father, Morden, leave his beautiful wife behind him?
Perhaps because of a fleeting feeling of wanting to pet a roadside dog instead of a poisonous dog.
Otherwise, a woman carrying her child would not have been allowed to die in childbirth.
The only conscience he showed was to make Charlotte an official child under his name. The reason—some speculation that he might have cared after all about the feelings of his wife, who raised his second child.
With this little compassion from his biological father, Charlotte didn’t become a maid like other noble bastards. She was still a senorita. And unlike any other soul with a fate like hers, she still had childhood worth remembering.
The madam seemed to treat her like her half brother without distinction, but the fundamental chill prevailed all along. After all, who could be fond of a child that didn’t come from your belly?
For Charlotte, a lady’s education, which dictated by aristocratic laws should start in advance, was somehow lax. They neglected it, considering that his father lived someplace purely rural.
In this situation, having a friend is close to impossible. Charlotte’s only pastime then became dancing alone in the garden or snooping around her half brother’s swordsmanship class.
She was quite confident with the way she moved her body. Despite the lace ribbons that bound her body or the shoelaces that tied up her feet, she could not resist the reflexes of capturing falling petals. An impulsive hobby of stealing her brother’s practice sword for moments became a favorite hobby, and toy, from that day on.
On a gloomy day, Charlotte came out in the garden with a sword. Even on days when she didn’t felt blue, this garden was still her solace. She felt whenever she wielded the sword with the soles of his feet on the earth, the invisible oppressing force on her heart would be released.
And whenever she was bored, she hid under a flowering vine and fell into a bittersweet delusion, reading the hours away with a picture book.
‘I was cursed into this mansion. Someday, someone will come and open the door to this cage.’
She didn’t know if it would be the soul of her deceased mother, or the fiancé to be chosen by the family in the future, but Charlotte hoped that there would be someone…
“Hello, Lotte. I’m Prince Albert, seven years old. A lady shouldn’t stare.”
That someone unexpectedly appeared early.
How handsome and sorrowful this prince was! And he was merely two years older than the country bumpkin Charlotte!
He said he was among the numerous children of the emperor, or something about having been ‘politically pushed back by his brothers,’ and that his family sent him down this hillside by the seal of the emperor.
None of this challenging story mattered to Charlotte. If she was like a crow, then Albert was a star. In the child’s eyes, the dark blonde locks looked like starlight in the mist.
“Yo-your Royal Highness, the Prince. This child is called Charlotte. It’s an honor to meet you…”
“Don’t be so nervous, and call me Albert. We are almost the same age anyway.”
What a marvelous feeling it was to hear kind words rather than the usual piercing eyes and cutting words she was used to from other people!
“I’ve nothing to do, so try to come and visit me often.”
Did Albert know that the words were like salvation for the ignored Charlotte?
From that day on, Charlotte became like a butterfly chasing after a star called Albert, refusing to stick like a spider’s web in her dark corner of the estate any longer. Visiting him became another habit spurn from her loneliness, and soon turned to a daily routine.
For a boy who was almost in exile, he didn’t even scorn the blind affection for a girl her age. He was always kind and showed interest in her that her parents never indulged.
“You’ve never learned anything from the book but you can speak this well? Lotte, let’s do my class together right now! Your brother can handle the sword well, but maybe you are even better than that—maybe you can even handle Aura!”
You really mean me, a country bumpkin? Was all Charlotte thought.
Charlotte had heard about Aura. It was the power of the soul to draw out magic from the world. But she was told that one needed a very long time training and excellent talent. She was in doubt of Albert’s excitement.
However, Albert’s insight only proved right.
But without these knowing eyes, he would not be able to crush his brothers and become the emperor. When he became a teen, he eventually found it difficult to stay in the castle and from that day on, he boldly went out, frequently going into the town.
Albert, in the land of the countryside, made friends with people of all social standing, and discovered their talents, becoming their leader.
They all became great friends, with the constant exchanges leading to a formation of a gang. Adults even treated their group as a bunch of local troublemakers, but they still enjoyed playing games regardless of the adults’ chides.
Charlotte was always with them, finally able to form a friendship with Albert. And the herd, who didn’t care about her family’s standing, was infinitely precious to her.
One day in the midst of their conversations, she suddenly stuck with emotion.
“Albert could be the emperor.”
It was that age that she finally had a glimpse of the world.
Despite being well over eighty, the emperor was still alive. In his current age, the thought of glory at uniting the continents was his driving force. Far from letting go of the seat that held his power, the absurdities of eternal youth lured him.
His successor, Amtu, grew stronger day by day, and the time came when the atmosphere was ripe for brothers to kill and die at any time.
Albert can’t avoid a terrible fate from the very beginning, being the youngest and weakest prince stuck in the countryside. If he wanted to survive, he had to be the emperor.
Charlotte’s words encouraged him. There was an indescribable look in his face as she looked at her.
“Lotte. I will crown you when I become Emperor.”
T/N: Hello everyone, this is moon-er. This may come as unexpected news, but I am quitting on translating because of personal reasons. Please refer to this patreon post for the novels under me, including this one, for news. Happy new years and much love to everyone.