Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 13: An Indecipherable Love Letter
To my beloved Zeke,
I’m sorry it took me so long to send you a letter.
Autumn flowers have started to bloom in the royal church.
Especially the potted marigold flowers. They are in full bloom, and their sweet scent makes me feel soft.
It’s been almost three months since I came to the royal capital’s church as an apprentice nurse.
I’m finally getting used to my job.
I was at first surprised to find the environment to be very nice, unlike the rundown church I used to work at.
They seem to be putting a lot of effort into medicine in particular.
I really hope that there will be no more sick people.
All I can do is take care of the patients, I suppose.
Oh yeah! The dormitory I’m currently living in is called the White Dorm, but the exterior is made of dark brown bricks.
Apparently, the reason is that the people living here are angels in white.
Although, Ms Martha laughed at me for having such an overactive imagination about the women here.
Oh, Ms Martha is the head of the white dormitory who oversees the apprentice nurses.
She is a charming older sister and is always nice to me, even when I mess up.
I’ve also made friends with Anne and Miria, who are fellow apprentice nurses.
They are both very precious friends of mine.
Everyone has been very nice to me, so I think I can make it as an apprentice nurse.
So don’t worry, okay?
But I’m really sad that I can’t see you, Zeke.
You remember our promise to live together once I get my license as a practical nurse in a year, right?
It will be sad to leave Anne and Miria, but I’m really looking forward to being with you~
I’ll be able to take two days off at the beginning of next month.
There are fewer patients at the royal church than I had expected, so it’s not too strenuous.
Maybe it’s just that my body is too healthy.
Once you get a day off, I’d like to go on a date for the first time in a while~
I want to take a walk in Ceanna Park, go to the clock tower, and eat cake at a popular cafe.
Very selfish of me, right?
But lately, I’ve been thinking about how much I want to touch your golden hair and hug you.
If I don’t see you, Zeke, I don’t know what I’ll do.
The only person who can make me feel this way is you.
I’m happy that you see me that way.
I hope you don’t overdo it with your work at the company and fall ill.
You’re a hard worker, so you’ll probably overdo it anyway, right?
If you ever get sick, I’ll take care of you, Zeke~
I await your reply.
Yours truly, Erin.
I was supposed to receive a report in my office- a letter from Julianna.
But this was—
“Is this a love letter?”
“It’s a love letter.”
“Yup. A love letter.”
Silas and Kiel affirmed my question.
It was a love letter, as I thought.
Sweet to the point of spitting sand- not really, but there was a lot of embarrassing stuff in there.
How much did Erin like Zeke?
“Why did Lady Julianna write this love letter? Could it be that someone else is writing them for her!? I’m worried about Lady Julianna’s safety!!”
“Is Lady Julianna in trouble!?”
“Calm down, both of you. There’s no way that Julianna is going to die. There’s some information mixed in here and there. Like this part, the royal church is focusing on medicine… It is possible that this is a cipher.”
I nodded to Silas, who looked at me questioningly.
“Did you know Julianna’s mother… Marquess Lewis’s former wife, Elizabeth, was said to be Olcott’s treasure?”
“Yes. I’ve heard that she was a beautiful lady who looked exactly like Lady Julianna. I also heard that she was sickly and didn’t socialize much.”
The princess of the Olcott dukedom was the most beautiful woman in the country, but she rarely went out in public.
That was why she was called the Hidden Treasure of Olcott.
“Julianna’s mother was my father’s loyal vassal.”
“Loyal vassal!?” Silas expressed his shock.
He was right to be surprised.
A sickly person, a woman at that, was a trusted vassal of the king.
A vassal could never be incompetent.
House Olcott was responsible for the military affairs of the Rowlands Kingdom.
The current head of the family was a marshal. The future head was a general, and his son was an outstanding, young military advisor.
The younger sister of the current head of the family, who was as old as his son, was Elizabeth, the Hidden Treasure of Olcott.
She was a true patriot.
What could she, a sickly woman, do for her country?
The answer was to become a specialist in cryptography.
She developed several difficult ciphers and was capable of instantly deciphering coded messages disguised as ordinary letters.
She was a woman who spent most of her days in bed yet contributed greatly to the Kingdom of Rowlands’ development.
It was no wonder why the king trusted her.
The few who knew her, called her Olcott’s hidden treasure.
Her loyalty and intellect were the treasures of the country.
She was truly a jewel hidden in House Olcott.
There was no way that a letter sent by her daughter was just a simple love letter.
“The true meaning of ‘The Olcott’s Hidden Treasure’ is a title honoring Elizabeth, a specialist in cryptography. It has never been made public, so the only people who know about it are my father, mother and a few of their close aides.”
“How do you know this, Your Grace?”
“I’m the first in line for the throne, so there is no need to hide it. My father bragged to me about how great his loyal retainers were. But I don’t like it when old people keep bragging.”
That story was followed by the political marriage of Lady Elizabeth Olcott to Marquess Gerald Lewis.
That and the significance of Elizabeth risking her life to give birth to Julianna was a more relevant story to me, though.
“Well… I guess my father didn’t think it was necessary to tell me more about the deceased Lady Elizabeth. …In any case, this letter is not just a love letter.”
“It doesn’t look like anything but a love letter to me. Brainwork ain’t my specialty.”
“We didn’t expect much from a musclehead like you, to begin with, Kiel.”
“That’s mean, Silas.”
“So, I would like to show this ciphertext to an expert as a last resort. I don’t want information about Julianna to get out.”
I handed the letter to Silas, and he looked at it intently.
“If we shift the letters by two… No, there’s no way it’s as simple as that.”
“How about the Caesar cipher1?”
“No. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Heeyy, maybe it’s just a love letter…”
“Shut up, Kiel.”
As I was trying several ways to decipher the message, a knock resounded in the office.
“Excuse me, Your Highness. General Linus Olcott is seeking an audience.”
“Let him in.”
I responded to the maid with an ideal prince’s smile, causing her cheeks to turn red.
How boring. It would be more amusing if she glared at me like Julianna does.
The man who entered the room was a strawberry blond, forty-year-old man, Linus Olcott, a military general and the future head of the Olcott family.
“Hello, Linus. What can I do for you today?”
Linus’ face twisted dramatically as I said this.
“Can you please stop that? It’s gross. Your Highness, the Barbarian Prince.”
“That’s quite the greeting.”
I immediately returned to my usual self. Linus used to guard me when I was a child, so my true nature was known to him.
“Long time no see, General Linus.”
“Silas… I see you’re having as much trouble as ever.”
“It’s unusual to see you in the palace, General.”
“It’s because my lovely eldest daughter asked me to.”
“Eldest daughter? As I recall, you only have one daughter, General Linus.”
“You must be talking about Julianna,” I said straightforwardly.
I heard that Julianna was often left in the care of the Olcott household when she was little.
However, it was only after I found out that Julianna was Lia that I looked into it.
“Well, well, I see that you have done your research.”
“She’s the one I’ve been looking for, after all.”
“I was surprised too. That child’s performance was so perfect, but I didn’t expect that she was capable of beating Your Highness, the Barbarian Prince, at such a young age. Well, I had a sneaking suspicion that “Lia” was Anna. But still, what do you think of Anna, Your Highness?”
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean is, do you intend to make Anna your queen? If you don’t love her, then we, the Olcott family, might become your enemy.”
“Julianna was born for my sake?”
Julianna was born for my sake, the second prince, to become my queen. Elizabeth had risked her life to give birth to her for this very mission.
At the time, Elizabeth and Gerald were wary of the church’s aristocracy –which was beginning to make advances in secret– so they decided to have a political marriage.
The purpose of the marriage was to strengthen ties between the two families and to produce a child possessing royal blood.
The Olcott and Lewis households had been married off to royalty many times.
A child with such a lineage would be an excellent backer for the second prince.
A boy would be a vassal, a girl would be a queen.
“That may have been the case at first, but not anymore. Elizabeth was indeed a dedicated patriot. She even married a man who was also a patriot and risked her life to give birth to a child who would become a political tool. But Elizabeth once said, ‘I can serve my country because I have a family here who loves me. Therefore, I ask you to take care of my unborn child.’ But that man abandoned his children after Elizabeth and his second wife Karen had died. Therefore, the Lewis siblings have come to value each other more than their kingdom. And yet now, that man wants to tie them to the country.”
Linus said spitefully.
“That man” must be referring to the Prime Minister, Gerald Lewis.
“Hmm, I want them both. Both Julianna and Vincent Lewis. What do I have to do to get them?”
“As for Vinnie, I don’t think you can. That child is devoted to Anna. And as for Anna… if she were to love Your Highness, and if Your Highness were to love her back then… Alas, father, Duke Olcott, disagrees. He wants to make Anna a member of the Olcott family. He wishes to betroth her to my son, Theodore.”
“Love, huh… I didn’t think of that.”
“Huh!? Lord Edward is so obsessed with Lady Julianna, though!!!”
“Am I that easy to read, Silas, Kiel?”
“You’re not that easy to figure out. It’s just that you’ve been happily conversing with Lady Julianna without hiding your true nature. You don’t show that dark smile in front of other ladies, do you?”
“You were so happy when the young lady pushed back at you, Ed. I’ve never seen you look so happy.”
“Do I like Julianna…?”
“Well regardless, best of luck to you. By the way, Anna got a marriage proposal from another country’s royalty and a certain nobleman.”
Julianna had many suitors due to her lineage, good looks, and talent.
She was expected to carry out her duties as a queen splendidly, so she was approached by the royal families of other countries for political marriages. But Marquess Lewis had stated that she will not have a fiancé until she came of age, so she has not yet gotten engaged.
“A certain nobleman, huh. Hasn’t that man given up yet?”
When Linus said “a certain nobleman” Silas and I instantly understood who he meant.
It was the same nobleman that we were currently opposing.
“Yes, he’s stubborn, which is troubling me. Both the Lewis and the Olcott houses are too, though. –Now then, I need to finish my business…”
“Speaking of which, what did you come for?”
Linus presented me with a letter.
He then left the office, saying that he had made sure to give it to me.
I took the paper knife from Silas and opened the envelope.
He said he was doing a favor for Julianna.
If so, was this a document of some sort?
I knew it would be difficult to make contact with the outside world from within the royal capital’s church.
In that case, she might have planned to give him the materials before she went undercover.
The letter was as follows…
Dear Prince Edward,
I will skip the formalities, as they are not necessary.
Coincidentally, I hope you’ve received the love letter I’ve written to you by now.
I sent out this letter because I wanted to confirm something; it has no particular meaning.
Well, please reply to it anyway.
If I may ask, you didn’t mistake the love letter for a cipher, did you?
Considering you are the second prince and all…
I will stop writing about unlikely things and move on to the infiltration report.
First, regarding the devil worship—
Having the means to communicate so quickly with the outside world, and knowing that I knew the truth about the Olcott Treasure, and then toying with me based on that—
I was always the one who toyed with people.
That’s why I was called the black-hearted prince and the Barbarian Demon King.
So what about it? Julianna could easily play me.
How very amusing.
I’ll admit it. I love Julianna.
I would love to toy with her, to expose the hidden face behind the mask of her profound acting.
I wanted to touch her, to see the world as she perceived it.
Ahh… There was no other woman who could attract me as much as she did.
So it’s only natural that I would want Julianna to love me, right?
“Silas, give me some writing paper. One that wouldn’t be out of place to send to the royal church.”
Silas looked dumbfounded at my sudden outburst of laughter but handed me a piece of paper anyway.
Julianna, if that’s what you want, then I accept.
I’ll give you the best date ever.
I wrote a letter to Erin as “Zeke”.
I finally got the romantic element out of the story.
Is Julianna a bit of a pitiful prime asset? Nope, she’s a misfit.