18-19. The Princess's Career
"My, how lovely!"
"Look, look! It's like a bundle of stars desuwa!"
My sisters and mother swarmed around the jewelry while giggling and bubbling.
"Tina, Sistina, come here now. His majesty former king has brought us these lovely jewels as present."
I don't particularly dislike pretty jewels or accessory, but I could never get into it as much as other girls.
"Grandfather, why don't rocks in the garden sparkle like gems?"
I asked the former king who was watching over us.
"That's because they're gems."
I got a non-answer back.
The dejected me was going to say, "Yes, your majesty.", but someone else joined in.
"That's because they're different kinds of rocks. Just like how living beings can be humans, horses or cows, rocks have other types as well."
My father gave the answer to the child me.
Father greeted grandfather before putting me on his lap and resumed his story.
"And even these gems aren't that dazzling when they first get unearthed, you know?"
"How come they shine then?"
"Those beautiful lights are the results of craftsmen scraping those gems, carefully polishing them down for days and even months to end."
Father taught me while patting my head.
"Why do gems shine when they're scraped and--"
"Hahahahaha, you're one smart little lady all right. You won't get married to someone decent like that."
My grandfather's word stabbed at my child self's heart.
"Worry not, father. There are no shortages of houses seeking out talented women."
Father carried me under his arm and went to gaze at the jewels.
I'm sure he was trying to protect me from grandafther's reckless remark.
The young me was looked on as [unchildlike] by my grandfather and a lot of adults for being interested in quenching my thirst in knowledge more than jewelry.
Mother would sigh and my siblings would keep their distance, but only father never grew weary of my [Why?] and hired a knowledgeable elderly private tutor to answer questions he could not.
"As far as my search goes, the castle does not appear to have a library."
I was dejected by Elder Bofman's report.
"You will have access to Royal Academy's library once you're enrolled to the Junior School, will you not, your highness? Won't your highness find the books you're looking for there?"
My escort knight, Mean spoke thus.
I got to have an escort knight even inside the castle when I turned seven.
Partly because of the attempted poisoning incident on the previous king.
"No, Mean-dono. We have already dispatched people to check on Academy's library. These books would likely only be found in the Forbidden Archive."
"Yes, your highness. It is an archive in the castle accessible only to the king. It is said that all knowledge in Shiga Kingdom is contained within."
That fascinating word made my heart race.
"Bofman, quit spreading these irresponsible rumors now."
"Your majesty. Forgive me for speaking out of line."
Teacher and my escort knight knelt at the sight of father who came out of the corner.
Looks like father was listening to our conversation since earlier.
"Father! I want to get in the Forbidden Archive!"
"Sistina, forgive me, but that is one request I cannot comply."
Father who usually always granted my request shook his head with a slightly troubled look.
"That place is rife with forbidden knowledge. It is not somewhere someone so young should be at."
"But I learned a lot from Bofman-sensei already!"
"It's too soon for you. You do not possess the qualification to enter the Forbidden Archive just because you have bathed in a fountain of knowledge. You may stand before the gate only after you have made knowledge as your blood and flesh. Study well and temper a healthy mind."
Father patted my head and left after saying that.
I couldn't really get what father was saying, but I thought that the day I understand that is the day I've been qualified.
"Your highness, please look over there!"
My escort knight pulled my hand as I was lost in thought and shouted in high spirits.
There was a fluffy rotund rabbit-like animal at the end of her sight.
Maids and lady attendants had gathered around to gaze at it.
"What is it doing I wonder?"
"I believe it's being tamed seeing there is a trainer nearby. That may look like a rabbit, but it's a monster."
Bofman-sensei told me.
"Something that cute is a monster?"
"If memory serves me right, that is a monster inhabiting the Blue Territory."
"Is that true... And here I thought monsters were all hideous."
I wonder what sets monsters and animal apart?
As I curiously got closer to it, the rabbit monster drew near my face curiously as well.
I wonder if it wants me to pat its head?
As I defenselessly extended my hand toward it, the rabbit monster bared its fangs.
I was unharmed thanks to my escort knight Mean, but she ended up having to cut down the rabbit monster.
"I-I'm truly sorry."
The keeper prostrated himself while apologizing.
The shaking pale-faced keeper got dragged away by the castle sentries.
Other servants tossed the monster's body to a cart like garbage and carried it away.
"We did bad things to it."
"It wasn't your fault, Mean."
I should have never carelessly approached it.
The question earlier came up again in my pitying mind.
--Wonder what sets monsters and animals apart?
That question took root deep within my mind, becoming one impetus that inspired the theme of my research.
"""Congratulations for your coming of age, your highness."""
"Thank you. I'm delighted to receive your blessing."
The maids congratulated my coming of age.
I tried to gracefully accepted it, but I was struggling to keep my face from smiling.
Because father has granted me the permission to enter the Forbidden Archive now that I'm an adult as he has promised.
"I'll give it my everything in today's feast."
"Oh really, can't wait."
The head maid looked let-down with my brusque reply.
I'm obliged to show up at the New Year Ball as a new adult of Royalty, but frankly speaking, I have no interest in taking part in a flashy ball.
I plan to make my entrance and do a minimum amount of duty before changing to casual wear and head to the Forbidden Archive.
Though father wouldn't let me that day and gave the permission only the day after.
"Your highness, we have received an invitation to an evening party from Countess Litton."
"I'm not going, send her my declination please."
"Again? If you don't show up sometimes, there will be more people badmouthing--"
A senior maid reproved the junior maid for her remark.
I'm aware how the gossipy nobles have been calling me an oddball for showing no interest in socializing.
I'm not keen on the nickname oddball, but it's true that I have no interest in socializing. I find fun in immersing myself in my research. I would have loved to spent my life researching without ever marrying.
But I know. That future would never come to pass to a royalty like me--.
"...Animals cursed by Mass of Miasma turn into monsters."
I muttered back the passage I read in a book found in Forbidden Archive while gazing at the royal capital below through a window.
Then won't it be possible to turn monsters back into animals if you purify them off the miasma?
When I asked Bofman-sensei, he laughed it off and said that demise is the only thing monsters met when purified.
I also asked teachers at the Royal Academy, but most were in the same opinion as Bofman-sensei, or sneering and asking back sarcastically with, "Even if that's possible, won't it be limited to the saint and saintess of the temples?"
I suppose extracting out miasma from monsters to turn them into animals is nothing but a childish nonsense...
"Your highness! Your highness' marriage partner has been decided!"
The thing that had been weighing my mind finally manifested into words.
Looks like the days of me doing research is soon coming to an end.
My fiance as father informed me was the eldest son of Earl Lesseu, someone younger than me.
It must be a residue from the political strife with my mother's family, House of Duke Bishtal. I've heard Bofman-sensei and head maid talking about how by marrying me off to them, they would lower the tariff levied to the capital.
I've got it better than my sisters who got married off to some vestment nobles of the capital, but going away from the capital where I could easily associate with knowledgeable scholars and obtain plentiful of research materials would be a huge blow.
It would be nice if the next Earl Lesseu is generous with his wife's hobby.
But I don't think I could hope much from the man after meeting him once.
Then, rather than lamenting the future, I might as well make full use of the little remaining time I have until the wedding day.
I switched my mindset and immersed myself even deeper into my research.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
Time flew, then one day, when my marriage was only half a year away--.
"Y-your highness! Terrible news!"
The usually graceful head maid rushed in in a hurry she almost tumbled down.
"Calm yourself. What happened?"
"S-something truly terrible! Lesseu Earldom! Lesseu Earldom has been destroyed."
My, that's bad.
Unlike the panicking maids, I reacted to the tragedy like it was not my problem.
The thought borne in my mind was not worry or prayer for my fiance's safety, but instead, the imprudence 'If I lose my fiance here, can I even continue doing research during the mourning period?'
As someone who's sold my soul to science, I feel like I've lost my right to go to god's side after death.
"Your highness! Good news! Kurumash-sama is alive!"
It took me a while before I recalled that was the name of my fiance, the heir to Earl Lesseu.
"Kurumash-sama miraculously survived the territory capital's destruction and is now amassing force in the second largest city, Seusu!"
"That's good to hear."
I replied back monotonously to the elated maid.
"Yes! As expected of Sistina-sama's fiance!"
"To seize the heart of retainers and soldiers at his young age, and to stand against a horde of monsters under demon, ordinary valor and wits are simply not enough."
Contrary to the bubbling maids, I wasn't overjoyed.
I was getting gloomy even when I thought about my research.
No, I shouldn't. Think like that.
This is undoubtedly good news to Lesseu's populace.
Then, the third report came--.
"Your highness! The army led by Kurumash-sama has crushed the demon-led forces."
The well-connected maid stated the result first thing first.
"My, that's wonderful! Kurumash-sama must be talented in leading armies!"
"As expected of Sistina-sama's fiance."
Other maids rejoiced to the news.
Afterward, the head maid came back with information about the partial destruction of army led by Fiance-dono. Due to him choosing to fight out in the fields instead of staying in the rampart.
Moreover, there were confirmations of aids sent by Earl Seryuu's army and Saga Empire's heroes.
"Victory is still victory! Lesseu Earldom has been freed from demons' clutch!"
The maids were overjoyed from hearing that.
But, the loss of many working men would surely be felt hard.
"Your highness, your esteemed brother, crown prince Soltrick has come to pay you a visit."
"Aniue? Let him in."
We have the same mother, but due to the big difference in ages, we rarely associate.
"Sistina, are you well?"
Aniue spoke with his proud face.
"Have you heard about the matter with Lesseu Earldom?"
"Only as far as rumors go."
"Really, then I shall tell you the details."
Confirming the validity of the previous information, Fiance-dono really did foolishly insist on taking on the monster forces which held numerical superiority out in the field.
"Seeing as you are here aniue, has there has been a change in my engagement?"
Either I get married early to help with the reconstruction, or later to wait until it's done. Would be nice if it's the latter.
"Your engagement has been annulled."
"Yes, I understand."
I quietly replied back to aniue who spoke in a business-like tone.
I was holding myself back from letting my joy shown in my voice, but I'm not sure if that worked.
"Fret not. I'll find you a new fiance right away."
Aniue said that before leaving.
I don't need that consideration really.
I'm satisfied as long as I could do my research.
I made new friends several months after my canceled engagement.
"You look like you're having fun, Sistina-sama."
The two girls I met at Royal Academy's library were gifted women that made even the teachers here pale in comparison.
Putting Misanalia-sama who looks young despite her long life as an elf aside, even Arisa at the tender age of 12 is shockingly wise beyond her years. I'm ashamed of my lack of wisdom before these genuine gifted women.
"I mean, we're having a tea party as schoolmates after all today."
"Oh yes, I simply cannot wait."
And we will be having the person Misanalia-sama and Arisa look up to today, Satou.
I've heard of this name Satou before.
A credible rumor about him being involved in the development of fireworks magic that was shown at Oyugock Duchy.
Considering his young age, I didn't think he had a big role in the development of a new magic spell, but I tried to ask him about Liquid Separation magic through Arisa just for fun.
I was just expecting to get some advice at most, yet he overturned that completely.
Satou finished the spell I requested himself.
I did not thought he would actually complete a spell in just a few days.
The gazes the maids sent me stung a bit when I got carried away in celebrating the unexpected present.
"What would you like to use this spell for, your highness?"
"--Will you promise not to laugh?"
"Yes, of course."
I could not give an immediate reply to the question he sent me.
I was afraid he, a talented researcher I look up to, would laugh at me.
"It'll be fine, master won't laugh at earnest people."
"Nn, no worries."
"I'm researching ways to turn monsters back into ordinary animals."
Supported by Arisa and Mia-sama, I told him my research subject.
"In my early years, I came to bear a doubt, 'If miasma turn living beings into monsters, won't the reverse be possible?"
Satou, no, even Arisa and Mia-sama listened to me without sneering.
"--If we can extract miasma out of monsters and turn them back into animals, people's sphere of lives will spread out, extending wealth to the common people."
"That's a wonderful notion."
I could tell from his expressions that it was no mere lip service, and that it truly caught his interest.
"Turning that into reality may prove difficult, but the results of your research will remain for posterity. Keep on tackling your research in hope of it bearing results in the future."
I might have found a new teacher that day.
Though after witnessing how my little sister, Doris's kingfisher transformed into a monster, and how Satou-sama turned it back with a miracle cure [Nectar], there was just no way that feeling did not turn into respect, reverence and adoration.
And when Soltrick-aniue who later showed up joked about making me or Doris into Satou's wife, the thought, 'That'd be nice I think?' crossed my mind.
I have no yearning or desire to become a specific someone's wife, but being Satou's would mean having more chances to ask about spell and magic, and most importantly, I'd get to stay close to Mia-sama and Arisa.
I never expected that joke to become reality though.
Father promoted Satou as Tourism Vice Minister, and I was honestly glad to be given the role of his attendant in his world tour.
But I truly did not expect the words father uttered during the inauguration ceremony.
"Initially I only asked Sistina to accompany you as an attendant, but I have changed my mind after observing you two. Sistina shall be engaged to Sir Pendragon."
I thought it was only ploy to shut down nobles who were lodging their complaints about Satou-sama's ceremony, but even mother and my siblings looked too calm.
Perhaps, they've come to an agreement beforehand?
That conjecture turned into conviction with my father's words.
"--Sir Pendragon. I may have entrusted Sistina to you, however your formal marriage is due a year from now during the New Year Noble Audience. I expect you to treat her like a gentleman you are until then."
"By your will."
Satou-sama bowed to affirm.
Looks like I'm to be Satou-sama's wife.
There's no gloomy feeling like when I was told to marry Earl Lesseu's eldest son.
Satou-sama has a lot other women around him after all, I'm sure I could immerse myself in my research as long as I do my duty as wife.
Oh, maybe I could engage in a discussion with Satou-sama, Mia-sama and Arisa without minding about time?
That sounds like it'll be quite fun.
"Sistina-sama looks super happy."
"I knew it, her highness really did fall for Viscount Pendragon."
"Appealing directly to Soltrick-sama with our career on the line was truly worth it."
A god I am not could never imagine the maids having such a conversation behind Satou-sama's inauguration ceremony.
※Next update is planned for around end of March