To Be An Adult
Once Arthur’s knights had carefully but firmly seized Adol, Sauro and Saikania carried the king and the others and descended. Norfe was one thing, but the actual king of the country was being carried like a child under someone’s arm. It could not be helped, as the king had no strength, but he had to chuckle, nonetheless.
The people of the castle could not hide their surprise when the king and the prince appeared with expressions that showed that they were clearly on Arthur’s side. However, their suspicion and disbelief about Norfe’s supposed actions had now been addressed, and so they ultimately looked satisfied by this outcome.
Adol looked like he had given up on everything.
“Why did you do this…”
Adol’s mouth twisted sardonically, as if to ask why such a thing mattered now.
“As I took on your responsibilities as king, I started to have doubts and questions. About how this country has done nothing while it stands in the far north, left behind by the rest of the world.”
Upon hearing this, confusion spread throughout the castle. Most of them did not feel as if they had been left behind.
“The three territories are far away. Magic stones and other products are expensive, if they even reach us at all. And since miasma is thin here, the blessing of the Saintess is almost meaningless. The king, who should have been developing the country, was weak. And the prince was irresponsible, and the princess a spoiled child.”
If such were his thoughts, then shouldn’t he have educated them as the king’s replacement?
“Then I learned about it. That there was a strange entrance under the temple. It was a dungeon where monsters lived. Not only that, but you knew of it, Your Majesty. And yet you ignored it.”
The people looked up into the sky and saw the monsters above the castle. Then they turned to the king.
“You probably thought it would be fine as long as they were locked away. Why! If you used them effectively, we could have acquired magic stones without relying on the three territories!”
Even as he talked, a bed and blankets were brought out for the king. It was proof of how much the people of the castle cared about him.
“There is a reason that I did not make it public.”
The king said softly.
“Adol. I am sorry to have put all of the responsibility onto you. However, regardless of the reason, abducting a Saintess and locking her up for profit. That is not forgivable.”
The king explained why he had to do what he did. But he also revealed something that shouldn’t have been revealed there.
“Take Adol to the prison.”
And so Arthur’s knights handed Adol over to the castle guards. Adol did not say anything after that. But he kept his head high as he was taken into the castle.
Once he was inside, everyone’s gaze turned to the king.
“All of you. I am sorry.” And then he coughed.
“I am fine, Norfe.”
He stopped Norfe as he tried to support him. And then he declared in a quiet but firm voice.
“As Arthur said earlier, I will leave this country in his care for a while. I will do what I can to help. And I promise you, my people, that life will not change.”
“Randle, that’s enough. I won’t let this country or Norfe suffer. More importantly, you must return to the castle and get some rest.”
Arthur ran up to him and supported his back. While they had not met in many years, they were the same age, and in the same position. And so they had been friends for a long time.
“If he is going to rest, use one of the guest rooms.”
Chiharu said. And then she said more quietly,
“The king’s bedchamber is connected to the monster cave. I don’t think his health will improve if you bring him back.”
The king’s servants and guards nodded at Chiharu, and then they carried him away.
“Due to High…no, my own inadequacies, we have caused much trouble for the other countries. I am sorry.”
He then bowed his head. And then after raising it again, he turned to Maki and Chiharu. Chiharu clenched a fist tightly near her chest.
“And you, Saintesses. Not only do I apologize once again for our insolence during your unveiling, but from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for the great hardship you faced recently.”
He had already apologized in the prison, and so Chiharu had forgiven him. The problem was Maki. Chiharu looked at her nervously.
“Chiharu, you’re looking at me as if this is all about what I think. But you’re the one who suffered. You should be more angry.”
“But Norfe was also thrown into prison. And he was almost killed.”
Upon hearing this, the crowd around them gasped. Chiharu immediately regretted it. This had not yet been listed among Lord Adol’s sins. Through being cellmates, they had formed a sort of bond, and she had lost her ability to see things from the outside.
Maki seemed to realize this as well, and said with her eyes, ‘we’ll talk about that later.’ Then she turned to Norfe.
“From what I understand, there was already an official apology regarding the unveiling, and now we have a private one. It’s in the past now. But Chiharu was abducted and made to suffer. I cannot forgive that.”
Chiharu couldn’t argue with her. She could forgive a lot when it came to what happened to herself, but had something like that happened to Maki, she would not have been able to forgive them.
“That being said, I know that it isn’t wholly the responsibility of this country. And it’s not for me to judge others.”
And then she looked straight into Norfe’s face.
“I hope that you become a good king.”
“Hey, what’s happening? Why is my brother bowing to a Saintess? Why was my uncle arrested? Why are there so many people from the other territories?”
Suddenly, Chouze’s voice rang. Up until now, she had stayed near her father’s side. And so Norfe had assumed that she had gone into the castle with him. He raised his head. He hadn’t explained anything about the situation to her. He had always kept her away from anything too complicated, and just wished she could live peacefully.
What he and the people of the castle had done to Chouze, was exactly the same as what Adol had done to Norfe. They had kept her away from learning about politics, so that she could not think for herself. The result was that she was a spoiled fifteen-year-old who acted like a child.
Norfe walked over to Chouze and went down to his knees. She would not understand if he explained to her about their uncle’s crimes now. It was as he was about to gently tell her that now was not the time, that a shadow loomed over them.
It was Amia.
“Your childhood has ended. In order for you to be able to live as a grown woman, you must learn many things from here on out.”
“But this is so sudden. I don’t know what to do.”
She really did look like a child who was lost.
“You must be able to decide for yourself what it is you must do. You are no longer that child who was kept in the castle. Edwy is only a few years older, and yet he travels around freely and works on the behalf of others. And here is Norfe, bowing his head. Not for himself, but for his people. As a princess, you must think about what you can do for the country and people.”
“As the princess… The people…”
Her eyes went to Edwy and then to Norfe, who was looking at her worriedly.
“As the princess, I must be able to help my brother and father.”
“Yes. When there is time, you can come and meet us. And you might even go out of the country in order to meet people from the other territories.”
“You should be able to do it, if you’re not a child.”
Like the Saintesses who flew freely with the birdfolk. To the beastlands, dwarf lands, and the elf lands.
“Yes. Together, we will help our father support this country.”
I doubt her willfulness will change very easily. Maki thought. But she kept it to herself.