Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 19: A False Peek at Her True Self
Author’s Note: The current events date back a bit to the second prince’s meeting after the farce of a date.
“You look quite happy, Master Edward.”
Silas said, with his lips pursed to Edward, who was performing his official duties.
“What are you mad for? I returned within the day, and I’m currently performing my duties diligently… Aren’t I a great prince?”
“A great prince wouldn’t go out and play so indulgently!”
“How rude. It was just a job- an information exchange job to be exact.”
“You could have asked someone else to do it for you! You only wanted to see Lady Julianna! And using an untrustworthy covert guard to boot…”
“He’s good at what he does… So, Silas, how’s that thing going?”
Silas let out an involuntary sigh as Edward’s expression suddenly turned serious.
He began to report on his investigation of “that aforementioned matter” in a resigned tone.
“The engagement between His Highness, First Prince Douglas, and Lady Isabella, the daughter of Duke Macmillan, was decided by the Duke and Consort Bianca, so His Highness Douglas was not involved and did not want it… Since it has been approved by His Majesty the King, the current engagement cannot be terminated, I believe. However, His Highness Douglas and Lady Isabella seem to be eager to break off their engagement to each other.”
“As expected. I imagine my older brother would prefer Julianna… Although Lady Isabella is also of a decent lineage.”
“House Macmillan has not had a royal descent in recent years. With the Princess of Rowlands and the Princess of Samorta as her respective grandmothers, Lady Julianna’s bloodline is unlikely to be matched. Besides, Lady Julianna is the undisputed flower of the social circles, a gifted young lady who is renowned for how perfect she is… Even if it were all an act, what comes with her is just too different.”
“I think it’s useful precisely because it’s an act. Silas, do you think my brother will stir things up?” Edward asked, the word “rebellion” left unmentioned yet implied.
“It’s hard to say from the information we have at hand. There is nothing certain at the moment… But if I may give you my personal opinion, I believe that the first prince’s faction will take action.”
“I agree. My brother has always been emotional… Perhaps this time, he is going to take advantage of what he can. However, the people he is trying to take advantage of are not the right ones he should be targeting. Father must be very angry. Keep me posted on my brother’s affairs.”
“Understood. Are you not going to make a move yourself, Master Edward?”
“There is nothing I can do about him. To begin with, he hates me, so if I said something to him, he’d be stubborn about it, right? How amusing.”
“That’s why His Highness Douglas hates you so much,” Silas deadpanned.
“Seriously though, it wouldn’t be good for me to interfere. Committing fratricide is not a good look for the future king. In addition, my father had originally sowed the seeds of this incident. His sons shouldn’t have to clean up his mess.”
Edward inwardly resented the fact that the religious faction had gained so much momentum because the side consort had given birth to a prince, before the queen had given birth to a son. Plus, that consort had the same bad taste as his father.
“I will be careful not to make any overt moves so as to not have the nobles realize what is going on. And as for the matter with Lady Julianna… It seems that the Iris Merchants’ Guild was founded by her, after all. The management itself seems to have been transferred to a private party, but the Lewis family still seems to hold the real power. Also, the clothing store, Mayra’s, seems to have grown with Lady Julianna’s investment.”
“A tiny clothing store is now a trendsetter, huh… Silas, don’t you find that strange?”
“Excuse me. Lord Vincent Lewis, deputy commander of the Special Division, is here to see you, Your Highness.”
The maid waiting in the corridor informed them of the visitor.
“Let him in. No need for a server.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“I apologize for the unexpected visit, Your Highness.”
When Edward saw the boy enter the room, he inwardly thought, “Just in time,” and smiled.
His name was Vincent Lewis.
He was Marquess Lewis’ son and Julianna’s brother, but their birthdays were only about two weeks apart because they had different mothers. His mother was a viscount’s daughter; she and Marquess Lewis were childhood friends.
He had the same blond hair as Julianna but had his mother’s blue eyes. He was an androgynous-looking, beautiful boy; however, one should not be misled by his appearance.
He was the deputy commander of the Special Division at the tender age of 17. It was an intelligence organization under direct control of the king.
Edward liked Vincent not only for his excellence but also for his personality.
“I’m glad you came. It looks like you were out of the country for a long while this time.”
“That’s irrelevant, you Barbarian Demon King. Your prince-like tone disgusts me.”
“Pfft, I think your feigned innocence is rather something, don’t you think?”
“Naturally. I wouldn’t do anything that would bother my sister.”
“Please save it for later, Master Edward, Vincent. And Vincent, how dare you speak to His Highness, the second prince, like that?”
“Why should I respect him? I serve the country, not Edward. My immediate superior is His Majesty, and above all, I hope that anyone who uses my sister as a pawn will perish.”
Vincent met Edward on several occasions as a child.
Although this was done by both of their parents to make him a future aide, it gradually stopped because Vincent was a sickly child, and because of his disdain towards Edward.
Later, Vincent, who graduated with honors from the military academy, did not become a member of Edward’s entourage. Instead, he joined the Special Division under the direct command of the king.
In a sense, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Vincent was another childhood friend, which made Silas scratch his head.
Ah, these two were just too incompatible, he mused.
But Edward liked Vincent’s disposition of not respecting him – an ordinary person would not understand.
“You didn’t talk about Julianna much in front of me when we were little… Was it because I found out that Lia was Julianna?”
“You’d have to be an idiot to take seven years– No, perhaps my sister is just too amazing?”
Vincent’s eyes twinkled at the thought of his beloved sister.
Silas and Edward looked at him with disgust.
“So, Vincent. You wanted something, correct?”
“On the contrary. Edward is the one who wants something from me, doesn’t he?” Vincent provoked.
Silas looked between the two of them, thinking that Vincent was the only one that could behave this way towards the second prince, who had revealed his true nature.
“Where have you been for the last three months?”
“That’s a secret.”
“You mean you can’t tell me even by royal decree?”
“My boss is His Majesty the King. Well, you have an idea of where I’ve been, don’t you? I’m sure you have more important things than that to ask me.”
“About Iris Merchants’ Guild and Mayra’s, they were created and expanded by Julianna… Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right. Isn’t my sister amazing?”
“May I continue? Iris Merchants’ Guild’s main products are tea and tea utensils, which are currently very popular among the nobility. In addition, Mayra’s has had such a prominent position that it has set trends in clothing… These used to be the main businesses of House Macmillan. More importantly, even we had a lot of trouble getting our hands on this information. I’ll be blunt—what is Lady Julianna… No, what are you and your sister plotting?”
“Well, I don’t know what my sister is thinking, but I know what she’s trying to achieve.”
“Vincent, do you think Julianna has ever shown her true face to me?”
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think my sister can show her true face to anyone… Even if you think she has shown her true face, it’s not her real self. It’s just a few layers of her mask peeled off.”
“I knew it. Julianna must be the type to devote herself to a role.”
“Don’t talk like you know my sister! You are a brute for using my lovely older sister as a pawn in your game.”
“A lot has happened while you were gone, and I mean a lot. I never really intended to use Julianna as a pawn in the first place… I meant it as a joke.”
“Huh? You were joking!? How nasty… As expected of Master Edward.”
“Shut it, Silas. I wanted to humiliate her a little… But Julianna seriously contemplated it when I told her to be a pawn. So I had a gut feeling that something was going on… and that what I was proposing was a golden opportunity for Julianna, too.”
“Heh. I’m here as an ascertain-er this time, but oh well.”
To ascertain – Edward instantly understood the word as a hint to something.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll be escorting my sister to the next soirée, so Barbarian Demon King, don’t bother. Also, please don’t get in our way. I won’t show any mercy, even if you are the first in line for the throne.”
After saying this, Vincent left his office.
Silas breathed out a sigh of relief that the storm had passed.
“Hey, Silas, don’t you think it’s strange?”
“Why have my interactions with Julianna, my number one potential fiancée, been so little so far? I’ve never been her escort, and I’ve danced with her at soirées only minimally… Why haven’t I questioned that before? Why was it publicly stated that Julianna would not have a fiancée until she came of age? How could the marquess, a loyal subject of the king, do that? Was it really to control the power struggle? Why did Vincent join the Special Division? Why not the military or other knightly orders; why the Special Division…?”
Bit by bit, Edward voiced his doubts.
Hearing this, Silas determinedly raised a question.
“Would you like me to investigate House Lewis?”
Although this might be a move that could turn House Lewis, who were considered to be in charge of intelligence, into an enemy, Silas would not hesitate to do it for the sake of his master.
“No, it is not House Lewis that should be investigated, but… His Majesty the King.”
Silas’ eyes widened for a moment, but he immediately bowed in the most dignified, vassal-like manner he could.
“…As you wish.”
Author’s Note: The little brother has finally made his appearance!! I apologize for the cheeky sister complex. Vincent’s way of talking is only okay with Edward. He is not disrespectful towards the rest of the royal family. Which I’ll get to the reason why gradually when we unfold their past.
Next time, we will return to the present and start when Anna pushes Anne down onto the bed. Ah, there will be no yuri development, okay?