“From today onward, I’m no longer a prince. I’m just Wallace!”
After becoming my underling, Wallace had come up to my room to make a report.
Kurt had also come over to visit.
“You look happy.”
“It’s all thanks to you, Liam. Because of you, I was able to safely escape from my position as a royal.”
He was talking as if he hated being a prince.
“I thought being born a royal would’ve made life super easy.”
Wallace looked amazed at my words,
“That’s only because you don’t know anything. Having the position of prince is actually really dangerous. My older brothers are constantly fighting amongst each other for the position of Emperor, thus making our dark history repeat itself.”
Kurt joined into the conversation,
“I’ve heard a lot of rumours as well. People say that the rise of the Emperor is the dawn of all their siblings’ executions. There are many urban legends about such things.”
Wallace lowered his voice,
“…try to keep that to yourself. Those rumours are often true. Even with my father, all of his rivals seem to have died before his ascension. You need to be careful.”
Kurt’s face had gone pale.
I’ve heard about things like this in my previous life.
Family feuds aren’t an unusual story in feudal systems.
Wallace’s expression softened,
“In any case, I’ve safely retired from the race to be the successor.”
“It’s not like you have absolutely no right to inherit the throne.”
“But it’s different now. The situation in the palace is really complicated. Because there’s not just us kids, but also our mothers’ connections to take into consideration. Everyone in a faction is executed if they lose the succession. It’s happened before.”
“You better believe it. The inner palace isn’t the beautiful place the masses think it is. It’s a place where brothers kill each other for the right to be Emperor, starting all the way back in the ugly fight between their mothers.”
Death flags were raised that they had no control over.
Or rather, the palace was a place full of death.
The princes had to take this seriously.
Wallace said that the struggle for the throne two thousand years ago was particularly terrible and the effects of it could still be seen today.
“The Emperor of two millennia ago was especially terrible. There are a lot of stories of betrayal and death, so wouldn’t anybody be happy to escape from such a place?”
However, Wallace had a refreshed look on his face as someone freed from all burdens.
“I can finally live out my own life. Thank you, Liam.”
I only did it on a whim, but it looks like it meant more to him than that.
Well, the former prince was now my underling.
So I was satisfied.
Though there were still a few things I was worried about.
“Wallace, couldn’t you have just sent bribes to curry favour with the older brother you thought would win?”
The next Emperor had almost been decided.
If he was living in the palace, shouldn’t he have been able to predict who the winning horse would be by now?
Wallace looked away,
“There are many cases where the people who were supposedly confirmed to be the ‘next Emperor’ have died. What do you think would happen to the sibling that had tried to curry favour with such a person?”
“They’d be executed?”
“Death would be a mercy. Life becomes unimaginably hard for those that backed a person that didn’t become Emperor. The Claudia house that Rosetta is from is one of such victims.”
It was surprising to hear Rosetta’s name being mentioned by Wallace.
When I asked, Kurt also gave a look that said he didn’t know.
As we tilted our heads in confusion, Wallace began to explain Rosetta’s circumstances,
“A long time ago, there was a prince that had the backing of the Claudia Ducal house.”
That was the beginning of the Claudia house’s fall.
◇ ◇ ◇
The girl’s washroom in the first school building.
Standing in front of the mirror, Rosetta was looking at her reflection.
She was speaking to herself,
“I am the venerable daughter of the Claudia house, one day I will be the one to end our suffering.”
The Claudia family, which was a matriarchal household, was a complex place.
To put it simply, they were an infamous Ducal house.
They were the rulers of a single planet on the frontier.
Although they were originally classified as minor nobles, the Empire had promoted the Claudia house to Ducal status.
That was nearly two millennia ago.
The reason for this spans back to the dark ages of that time.
Back then, the Empire was in a very rough position.
The crown prince that was supposed to become the next Emperor, had died before his ascension.
The Claudia house that had supported that prince welcomed the brother who had ascended instead.
But the new prince was hostile towards them.
From then on they were subjected to an endless chain of hostility from the royal family and nobility.
Naturally, severe punishment was imposed on the Ducal house that supported the late prince, trapping them in a cage.
The Claudia house was stripped of their territory.
They were forced onto a ruined planet that had been driven to its last legs.
However, their status remained that of a Duke’s.
‘Anyone who stands against the Emperor will end up like this, no matter their status’– was the message they wanted to show off.
They were nobles, but at the same time they weren’t.
It was a cruel fate, but they were still alive.
The past heads had struggled to one day escape this cruel destiny.
And Rosetta was struggling against it as well.
◇ ◇ ◇
The raison d’etre of elementary school was to train the noble children to a certain level.
Occasionally, there’d be the child of an aristocrat that didn’t know how the universe worked and brought shame wherever they went.
In order to limit such situations, the minimum amount of education they needed was given at the elementary school.
However, only the most excellent of children were assigned to the first school building for schooling.
The classes there were tough, but it was also a sign of how much expectations they had for them.
Rosetta was overjoyed when she was assigned to the first school building.
(…I can’t keep up with the contents of the lesson.)
She couldn’t keep up with how fast the classes progressed.
Her house was poor and she couldn’t get a satisfactory education growing up.
The amount of times she was able to use education capsules was minimal as well.
The level she was at was clearly different from her surroundings.
She worked hard, but it felt like she was confronted with a wall that she couldn’t overcome.
(I can’t give up here. I’ll end this chain of suffering and free us.)
But whenever someone spoke, weren’t they actually making fun of her?
She had become paranoid with negative suspicion after seeing the difference between herself and her surroundings.
(No matter what, I need to be successful here.)
Rosetta was the only one who was desperate to pass while everyone else went through their school life leisurely.
The same was true even after she returned to the dormitory.
When she got back to her room, her body started to scream out for how much it wanted to just collapse on the bed and sleep.
But instead of complying to her body’s needs, she forced herself to her desk to study.
Even if it was inefficient, she’d be totally lost if she didn’t review the topics of tomorrow’s lessons beforehand.
“…I won’t lose. If I fail here, then my future daughter will have to go through this pain as well.”
Her tears didn’t stop falling.
And as her consciousness slowly left her, she fell down and collapsed on the desk as she was.
◇ ◇ ◇
Rosetta was dreaming.
It was a nostalgic dream of her childhood.
The Empire had sent them an invitation for a party held in the palace.
Rosetta, who was still a young girl at the time, was delighted, but her grandmother’s expression was sullen.
Her mother was crying as she hugged her.
She didn’t understand why they were sad.
“Mother, grandmother, why are you crying?”
The two smiled at her innocence despite the tears.
“It’s nothing Rosetta. Let’s just enjoy the party. We’ll have as much fun as possible.”
Her mother was poor, but she still prepared her a dress.
And her grandmother had set her beautiful hair into ringlets.
Rosetta loved this hairstyle.
But when she finally got to attend the party at the imperial capital she was looking forward to– she was met with ridicule.
She could still remember the voices of the nobility of that time.
“What’s with that dirty dress?”
“It’s another clown from the Claudia house.”
“Why do they even bother coming to the imperial capital?”
Different from the fun party she expected, she learned that they were only invited so they could be harassed and laughed at.
This was a scheme set up by the late emperor.
He wanted to regularly show off what happened to those that opposed him.
It was a custom that had continued for nearly two millennia.
The tradition had been held for far too long for them to just end it now– it was impossible.
Some aristocrats felt pity for them.
But none of them reached out to help.
After Rosetta learned the reality of things, her mother told her,
“Remember the gentlemen who showed mercy to us. In the future, they’re going to be the ones that’ll help you give birth to a child. Then the Claudia house can live on.”
The reason why the Claudia house was a matriarchal household was because they could never find a marriage partner.
As long as the heads were female, then there was a chance they’d still be able to have a child after bowing down to men of prestige.
“Rosetta… grow up beautiful. If you do, then men will reach out to you.”
“This is the only way for the Claudia house to have children.”
–that was when she first learned of why her father wasn’t there.
Another reason why the Claudia house was a matriarchal household was because it was easier.
If the head was a man, there wouldn’t be any women who’d come as his bride.
Men could still make children as long as they had the money and equipment.
They just needed to buy an egg from a woman, but the problem here was the financial cost of it all.
The Claudia house as it was couldn’t afford it.
This expensive method was impossible for them, so the easiest option was to simply have only females become their heads.
Some of them had tried to end this miserable life.
However, they were constantly under watch by officials and were repeatedly denied of any chance.
The only way Rosetta could become free of this hell was to advance upwards.
◇ ◇ ◇
When she woke up– it was morning.
“No, this can’t be!”
After getting up in a hurry, she had found that breakfast time had already passed.
She rushed over to the school building, but she was still late.
Her uniform was sloppy, and her hair was a wreck.
When she had finally entered the classroom, her peers started laughing at her.
And when John saw Rosetta,
“Rosetta, don’t be late. Wake up on time.”
“…yes. I’m sorry.”
He wasn’t as harsh with her as he was with the other students.
Normally, he was the kind of teacher that’d start yelling at late students, but it looks like he had already given up on Rosetta.
(I’ll show you all.)
Her classmates gazed at her with eyes full of various things; ridicule, pity, interest– in any case, they looked at her like she was some kind of rare animal.
The boys’ voices could be heard,
“Even if she was late, how can she look that bad? Like, what the hell is that?”
“At the very least, you’d think she’d keep up appearances.”
“…no, Tom. Those words have no persuasive power coming from you. Just look at your hair.”
She was in a hurry and didn’t have time to take a shower, and as she approached her seat–
–the girls started covering up their noses.
“What a terrible smell.”
“My nose is going to fall off.”
“I always knew that she was stupid, but I didn’t know she smelled too.”
Rosetta knew she was the worst in the class.
Then she passed by the honour student Liam.
She clenched her teeth.
He was currently looking at John with an uninterested expression.
It was an face that said he wasn’t interested in her at all.
But it couldn’t be helped.
At such a young age, he had already been recognised as a Count skilled in domestic affairs, and had fully mastered a martial school, earning his swordsmanship license.
On top of all that, he had earned himself the second name of ‘The Pirate Hunter’.
Status, honour, and skill– he was a child who had everything. He was complete opposite of herself.
Liam was the only person John never shouted at.
To be specific, he never had a reason to.
He was the top of the grade in his studies.
His practical skills were excellent as well.
But his true specialty lay in his martial skill.
He always won, even against the second strongest Kurt.
Liam was incorruptible, and no one could stand against him.
He was the one person nobody ever tried picking a fight with.
Because they knew they couldn’t win.
–He was completely different from Rosetta. He was a person that had everything.
Rosetta hated Liam– she couldn’t help it.
(Does someone like me even register in your eyes? I hate people like you that have everything in life. I can’t help but hate you.)
◇ ◇ ◇
–A dark alley in the imperial capital.
The guide was there.
He was clenching his teeth as he watched the sight of two vagrants digging through trash.
“Damn it, how did I get like this?”
The current guide was no different from them.
His connection to Liam was so strong that only negative emotions related to Liam could be efficiently absorbed.
The current state of the guide was equivalent to him desperately drinking muddy water.
All the pain he felt in his heart was because of Liam.
He was grasping at his chest as he walked around, gathering the surrounding negative emotions.
However, the absorption rate was dismal.
It was very inefficient because of the constant pain caused by Liam’s gratitude that drained his power.
As to why the guide wanted revenge on Liam— it was so he could break out of this situation and be freed of this suffering.
To that end, he was now collecting negative emotions.
That’s when the vagrants in front of the guide started fighting.
“That’s the food I found!”
“Shut up! It’s mine because you drank my alcohol last time!”
However, when the guide passed them by, the two’s stern expressions softened.
“…sorry, that’s my bad. I’m hungry too though, so can we split it in half?”
“I’m sorry too.”
They apologised and shared the food.
It was the result of having their negative emotions absorbed.
The guide spoke,
“Look out Liam, I’ll be sure to send you to the deepest depths of hell.”
Brian(´；ω；｀) “It’s painful. Rosetta’s situation is so painful… but Lord Liam had a hard time too, you know!”
Written by Mishima Yomu/Wai (三嶋 与夢)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com