*˖:✧ ⑅•.⋅༻♔༺•⑅ ✧:˖*
Anger spread among the knights.
‘So there is no one more fluent in Roymondean than that man in the entire Granoir army?’
Valhayle raised his hand to silence their murmurs. But even he had unconcealable fury in his eyes.
Valhayle listened to the Granoir messenger soldier with an impassive face until—
The messenger soldier stopped reading at Valhayle’s thunder-like voice. Valhayle spoke with gritted teeth.
“Get the letter from that bastard’s hands. I’ll read it myself.”
The knight standing nearby snatched the letter from the messenger and presented it to Valhayle.
Valhayle stared at the letter for a while and slowly lifted his head.
The knights looked at him with curiosity.
Valhayle handed the letter to Sir Luke.
“Read it… To everyone.”
Sir Luke, whose face was flushed from anger, held the paper as if he was crumpling it and started reading.
[Retreat to the South by 4 castles. Maintain that formation for 40 days.
We have ‘Roymonde’s 8th Princess’ with us…]
Glances of shock were shared in the room.
Roymonde’s 8th Princess. There was a living royal heir.
No one expressed their shock since they were in front of their chief commander and an enemy soldier. However, the atmosphere immediately froze.
Sir Luke continued reading.
[When Roheneim’s frontline has receded, we will return the living 8th Princess.
We send you one object the princess had with her to ensure this. ]
A heavy silence fell upon the room.
Valhayle spoke to the messenger soldier in a forceful and overpowering tone.
“So, you have something Her Highness had with her.”
The messenger soldier pointed towards the pile of things that were confiscated during the body search. Valhayle eyed one of the knights. The knight returned with an object wrapped in paper.
Valhayle didn’t open it. He ordered,
“Lock him up and guard it with no flaw. We are not sending him back until we decide on our response.”
When the enemy messenger soldier was dragged out, the tent was filled with rumbles.
“Sir, it’s a trap. They have conquered the palace so they must have found one of the princess’s possessions.”
“That’s right. And 40 days. That is more than enough time for the Granoir’s reinforcement troops to arrive from the North. They are doing this for that very purpose.”
“It could have been taken from the princess’s corpse.”
Valhayle listened to them all in silence and spoke as if he was concluding.
“Whatever it is that’s inside this paper wrap can’t serve as evidence that Her Highness has survived.”
The knights expressed their agreement and Valhayle slowly unwrapped the object.
Inside was a waist ornament.
A blue waist ornament with the royal sigil engraved on it.
Everyone in the room stopped breathing when they saw the royal sigil.
While no one in the room dared to speak, there was one person who recognized that object.
It was a bird inside a basket. The owner of that waist ornament and one of Roymonde’s royal heirs.
It was Princess Zelleine.
The debate continued.
“They are taking advantage of the fact that we don’t know the statuses of the royal heirs.”
“If that’s the case, they are behaving like this because they aren’t sure of it either.”
“And why is that?”
“If they are aware of that, it would be more advantageous to say that that waist ornament is the 1st Princess’s or the 2nd Princess’s.”
“That’s true. But if the 8th Princess is truly alive, then she, as the sole remaining royal heir…”
Valhayle cut the knight off.
No one made a sound as Valhayle scanned the knights.
“The question is: how do they have information about the princess that even we didn’t have?”
Everyone dropped their heads.
“We have been searching for the royal heirs this whole time. We didn’t even overlook a single piece of jewelry out on the market, tracking it with seriousness. Yet even so…”
Valhayle grabbed the blue waist ornament.
“There was no news of the 8th Princess—until we heard it from our very own enemy.”
Sir Luke spoke cautiously.
“Sir, what do you think?”
Valhayle spoke coldly.
“I think they have no reason to lie.”
Sir Luke nodded.
“Yes. Since if the princess’s safety is not ensured when we retreat from our frontline… We can always recapture the 4 castles.”
“Exactly. They must be aware of that as well, so why would they lie about something so unbeneficial?”
The crease between Valhayle’s brows deepened as the knights continued to talk.
One of the knights asked.
“But, with what insurance would Granoir return Her Highness to us?”
“Right. We could always push our frontline back after we have Her Highness back. Besides, they are the invaders, so there’s no reason to hesitate.”
“If it were me, I would have kept the princess to use as a threat.”
Valhayle pressed his temples.
“There’s something strange about this negotiation.”
Sir Luke rubbed his rough chin with a complicated expression.
Valhayle stood from his seat and the knights all saluted with discipline.
“Dispatch the black elite troops. Reinvestigate and search for the 8th Princess’s whereabouts.”
Valhayle stabbed the letter with a dagger and spoke.
“I will request the 8th Princess’s handwritten letter from Granoir.”
The meeting ended there.
When everyone left the tent, Valhayle lifted the basket to let Zelle out.
“It’s fine now.”
But Zelle was too blown away from the shock.
Zelle trembled as she walked out and saw the blue waist ornament.
She had it with her on the day she escaped the palace with her brothers.
It was the only thing she infused meaning to as someone of high status with no ownership over anything as well as her last attachment to this world when she was on the brink of death.
It was the blue satin waist ornament the viceroy had bestowed her with on her coming-of-age ceremony.
Actually, it didn’t matter who she received that from or when.
The only reason she cherished it was because it was her mother’s—her mother who had died while giving birth to Zelle in her 3rd year of marriage.
‘Your eyes are just like your mother’s.’
That was what the viceroy had told her while bestowing her coming-of-age ceremony present. Then, as if he regretted saying that, the viceroy quickly changed his attitude.
‘You are at the age to marry now.’
This wasn’t something the viceroy said to change the topic. The viceroy didn’t care about Zelleine’s marriage. He probably wouldn’t even know her age if it weren’t for the coming-of-age ceremony.
The viceroy seemed to want Linbessy to deal with Zelle’s marriage. But Zelle brooded over his words and dismissed that notion.
Motherhood. And marriage.
If she married, she would have to conceive a child like her mother did. And that wasn’t a scenario Zelle ever thought about before her coming-of-age ceremony.
To begin with, this only applied if Linbessy did have the intention to wed Zelle off and if Zelle was alive until then.
Marrying a man I don’t even know and giving birth to a child in exchange for my life?
I survived this long. I endured this life that no one wanted solely for myself.
Zelle’s thoughts returned to her mother.
Her mother was the viceroy’s second queen. She was a young lady from a not-so-highly-regarded family of the Central region.
It was due to her family’s weak political power that she could become the second queen.
So her mother must have been aware too, that the child she was bearing would have no significance in this kingdom’s history. After all, by the time Zelleine was born, there were already 7 other royal heirs before her.
Yet… She still gave birth to me in exchange for her life? Why?
As Zelle watched the viceroy fondle the 5th Concubine’s hip like usual, she recalled her mother she never met.
The only person in this world who wanted Zelle to live.
If she was alive, she would have been the sole person more obsessed with Zelle’s survival than Zelle herself.
Even though the kingdom’s history and her own father didn’t want Zelle, her mother still wanted her to live. Even more than her own life. Just because she was a mother.
Zelleine never used that waist ornament. She cherished it dearly.
There was not a single portrait of her mother but because of the royal record that said she had blue eyes, the blue satin ornament became a symbolization of Zelle’s intent to live.
That was why Zelle had brought it with her the night she escaped the palace.
And… I handed this over to Granoir?
Zelle mumbled absent-mindedly.
I’m here though. But I’m alive there. Then… Who is inside me right now?
Zelleine, where are you?
No matter how many times she called, she couldn’t get an answer.
Valhayle dipped the fountain pen in the ink and brought it over on the paper. Though he had to write, he couldn’t concentrate.
He had been like this ever since he sent the Granoir messenger soldier back to bring the 8th Princess’s handwritten letter.
Pathetic, yet I call myself the commander-in-chief.
He scorned himself and glanced over at the bird.
It bothered him how the bird remained oddly silent.
The bird had been staring at the blue satin waist ornament for a long time now.
Valhayle looked at the waist ornament that he had tried so hard to hide from his consciousness.
He recalled the owner of the waist ornament. The princess with eyes as blue as that blue satin. The 8th Princess, Zelleine.
Valhayle reiterated her name.
‘Zelline Bmaha Meredith.’
Valhayle recalled the last time he saw Princess Zelleine, which was 2 years ago.
It was the 8th Princess’s coming-of-age ceremony that day.
Valhayle had no connections to the 8th Princess. He had only attended as the representative of the Lumares family.
The 8th Princess.
He had seen her from a distance in big events but never talked to her privately.
It was strange for Valhayle since he was acquainted with all the other royal heirs and had conversed with them.
He had even met the 10th and the 11th Prince when they were not even 10 years old because their mother, the 5th Concubine, invited Valhayle over for lunch with her sons.
It was because Valhayle was Roheneim’s head and her purpose was to request him to help her sons live even during the reign of the next royal authority.
Valhayle was used to these kinds of requests: people trying to meet him and asking for his protection.
But the 8th Princess never did.
Valhayle contemplated finding the right word.
Yes. She fled…
He always got the feeling that the 8th Princess was fleeing from him.
How is that even possible? I never attempted to chase after her yet she would flee from me.
Valhayle had grounds for this impression of her.
As the head of the most powerful family of the Queen’s Faction, he frequently met the royal heirs. And he actually had several opportunities to meet the 8th Princess—except she always stopped that from happening.
Once, he saw her at the end of the palace hallway. But as soon as he was about to greet her formally, she vanished from his sight.
Thinking about it, it isn’t a pleasant memory.
Valhayle peered into the ballroom from outside in the dark. The heroine of the ceremony must be in there somewhere.
He never saw her roaming around the center so she was most likely in the corner again.
However, the night was dedicated to her, so she would have no choice but to meet the people from her spot.
He had no intention to greet the 8th Princess tonight, but he was still satisfied with that fact.
*˖:✧ ⑅•.⋅༻♔༺•⑅ ✧:˖*
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TL/N: It’s been so long readers! T-T Sorry for the sudden disappearance!!! So much happened and so much had to be done during the past few weeks and I lost track of tling :((. So to compromise, I decided to release 2 chapters this time (up to date with the most recent manwha chapter). . I’ll try to tl more chapters so that the novel releases are faster than the manwha releases~
Again, I apologize for taking a break without notice T-T
Also, I read the tled manwha version too and decided to change a few terms to match the terms in the manwha and the novel:
King -> Viceroy
Supporting families/nobles -> Factions
Royal descendant -> Royal heirs