Chapter Twenty-Three: And thus, His Highness Began Narrating the Story
The carriage carrying us rushed straight to Dahl Island after finishing our lunch.
The taste was a miss, but I was still satisfied with my filled stomach. I laid a cushion on my seat and leaned on it to rest my body. On the other hand, Nolan was sitting with his back beautifully straight like a pine tree as he looked out the carriage’s window. Only his arm was thrown slightly causally on the armrest.
He was sighing quite frequently, and his expression gradually turned gloomy as the carriage moved away from the Royal Capital.
…I wonder what the matter is?
I silently stared at Nolan while lying on the seat. And after a while, I tried asking Nolan. It was about the discussion we left midway in the Royal Palace.
“…The queen was worried about Nolan’s life on Dahl Island.”
Nolan replied while moving his gaze with the passing scenery, “I wonder about that… I honestly don’t have any confidence to say that mother was worried about me.”
“…Why do you say that…?”
“My mother is just that kind of person. From a long time ago, as far as I could recall, she has only particularly loved the Fifth Prince Aaron.”
Indeed, I realized that the queen wasn’t the type who expressed her feelings very much.
The queen’s expression was quite dull when I first met and talked to her, and I couldn’t feel her emotions. But to think she may have only loved one child among so many of her children…
I wondered if it was something I could comment on as someone who had been raised in a family like the Teddy Viscounty.
Maybe Nolan was also someone who grew up without experiencing any maternal love? When I thought so, a strange sense of intimacy grew inside me as a response.
Nolan calmly moved his aquamarine eyes away from the window and looked at me. “Unfortunately, the relationship between the Royal Family members had always been strange. Especially among the brothers competing for the throne, you can never say that any two brothers have really gotten along. We’re always at a certain distance from each other.”
I quietly raised myself from the cushion I was leaning on.
“Speaking of, the first and the second prince hardly talked even at the evening party.”
“Yeah. I wondered about that too. It’s been so long that I can’t remember any specific as to when their feud started.”
Nolan and I stared at each other without saying anything for a few moments in the swaying carriage.
Nolan continued with his words as he stared at me straight in the eye. “It was a family I couldn’t think of having a good relationship with. However, the Fifth Prince Aaron was like an extraordinary existence to me. Maybe it’s because Aaron and I had opposite personalities that we were so close…”
I’ve always wondered what kind of person the fifth prince was, so I naively muttered out the thought that occurred to me. “I’ve always wanted to know about His Highness Aaron.”
Nolan responded with a faint chuckle, abruptly adopting a serious expression, before averting his gaze from me.
Why do I feel his face slightly stiffening?
Nolan then turned to look at the window afterward and acted as if nothing had happened. Instead, he looked out the window at the trees along the road that were flying away behind us one after another.
His side profile looked highly enchanting.
The relationship between us was still stiff. However, Nolan’s face had grown to be more than a familiar face to me—it was now the face of my husband. I was pretty relieved to have realized it.
However, his beautiful, as clear as lake eyes were staring somewhere far away.
…I wonder what he’s thinking about?
Before long, the carriage stopped for another rest.
Thump! When the sound of something hitting the ground, I knew it must have been Marco getting off the coachman’s seat. He then resounded his roar, letting out a rough voice as he seemingly was stretching his back out.
The birds perched up in the surrounding cluster of trees flew away, sensing the danger and dispersing in response.
As Ricardo opened the door of the carriage, he held out his hand to me politely, “Madam, your hand.”
I got off the carriage with his help. After, Marco moved the carriage to the edge of the road and began to check the wheel’s condition and the carriage’s body.
I didn’t have anything to do, so I just strolled around to look at the scenery.
It was a vast and quiet rural area, and I was able to see a stream flowing just a bit ahead. There seemed to be a bridge at the edge of the stream. It looked to be made up of combining small stones, built in the form of a semicircle above the stream. It was a simple construction without handrails, but dense grasses were growing from the gaps, which gave it an indescribable charm. The bridge had naturally assimilated in nature as if it wasn’t manmade.
I slowly walked up to the bridge and crossed over the grass-covered area.
I saw the rows of houses belonging to a village beyond the twist and turns of the stream when I arrived at the center of the bridge. I looked around and found a reddish-brown stone-built building with wall-like scales paralleled to the stream.
Nolan also seemed to have come around as I was gazing at the scenery, so I also urged him to look from where I was and said, “Nolan-sama, I can see a lovely village. Please come here.”
Nolan picked the bridge’s surface with the heel of his leather shoes when I called out to him. He seemed to be worried about the bridge’s strength.
“There’s no problem! See?” I showed him by jumping on it. However, he quickly stretched his hand towards me. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous? We don’t even know when it was built.”
Nolan carefully proceeded to the center of the bridge while chiding me, looking at the village when he reached me.
I was pretty pleased when we stared at the village, standing side by side on the bridge. The stream flowing below the bridge calmed down my heart.
Nature was such a wonderful thing.
I said to Nolan to seek his opinion, “It’s lovely scenery. However, I still prefer Dahl Island.”
“Have you taken a fancy there?”
“Yes! Though I grew up living in the city, that’s how I feel. Dahl Island is a fantastic place for me, and the people there are so nice…”
I looked in the direction of the carriage and saw Marco stomping around, seemingly immersing himself with busy work. Ricardo didn’t seem to be present anywhere nearby.
I took my eyes off from there, and although it was a bit late, I still hurriedly added, “Ah! That includes you, of course, Nolan-sama!”
Besides my half-hearted smile, Nolan’s expression didn’t even seem fazed by my compliment.
Nolan spoke after a moment of silence…
“…I’m not the type of person you think I am.” He muttered as he shifted his gaze from the center of the bridge towards the stream, staring at the space with his aquamarine eyes.
I didn’t understand what Nolan wanted to imply, so I just continued to stand beside him silently while staring at his face.
Occasionally the rustling sound of water flowing and the chirping of the birds perched in nearby trees poured into my ear.
Nolan said with a flat tone, “You must have heard about the incident last year where the Fifth Prince Aaron was attacked by someone and passed away?”
“Yes, I’ve heard about that.” I immediately nodded.
The fifth prince named Aaron was one year younger than Nolan. Last year, he lost his life from a sudden attack when he was on his way home from watching the hit opera of that year. He was just a 19-year-old young prince. The Royal Capital, at that time, had become a mess, so it was still fresh in my memories.
All sorts of suspects, from a shady vagabond and nearby thieves, to a notorious hitman, were arrested and were released for insufficient evidence and lack of motive.
The killer hadn’t been found to this day.
I tilted my head, wondering why he brought up this topic at this moment. And then I felt a slight nervousness.
Nolan said, hurling his gaze ahead.
“I killed him.”
What are you saying, Nolan…?
He continued without even glancing at me, who was looking at his face in confusion.
“I killed my little brother Aaron.“