Chapter 18 The Smiling Princess, Part 2

 The Smiling Princess Part 2

 Arm in arm with Bartholomew, you walk leisurely along the path to the temple's ritual room where Martin awaits, letting Annemarie hold your long, trailing veil.

 The knights and maidservants who were framing her congratulated her on her early succession. I couldn't help but blush.

"I'm sure he'll be born soon..."


"I think so too, sis-sama... because they are really close!"

"Lord Martin's love seems heavy but you can take it all in, can't you?"

 Bartholomew's eyes narrowed and filled with a soft affection.

 Alexandra nodded her head, feeling as if he was asking her to fulfill his unfulfilled dream.

"Yes. I wish I could do the same, as Martin-sama wishes for me."

 Having and raising many children of one's beloved is not the only thing a queen should do.

 In reality, it is the most important aspect.

 The people of the Empire are much closer to death than those of the Imperial Kingdom.

 Alexandra, after consulting with Martin, was determined to have and raise as many children as possible.

 She also believed that if those at the top had many children, those below them would be relieved.

"Yes. I'm looking forward to it too."

"Me too, sister!"

 The future of the Empire of Mysia was uncertain.

 Still, the thought that Bartolomeos could afford to look forward to Alexandra's child made me feel a little less anxious.

 The happier and more content he was, the more he wished for the people he had prayed for so long to be happy as well.



 Martin, who was supposed to be waiting for her in the ritual room, came running at a very fast pace.

 As soon as he had Alexandra in his sight, the deadly atmosphere was replaced by a calm one.

"...Is there some kind of problem?"

"If I hadn't physically restrained her because we were celebrating, you know. It's like she saw an opening and ran away. I thought for sure that he was running away to beg for Allen-chan's forgiveness, so I came looking for him in a hurry. I'm glad I got to see you before they did!"

"Who, may I ask?"

 Annemarie asks Martin while holding the veil.

 In her dominant hand, her beloved sword was somehow clenched.

"Who, do you think?"

"The former head of the court mage and his concubine, I think. Am I wrong?"

"As expected of the Emperor. You have a brilliant mind!"

"Don't be flattered. If it's brilliant, Mister Martin. Isn't there something more wonderful?"

 Bartolomeos lets go of Alexandra's hand.

 Annemarie also drops a kiss on her veil and steps back.


 Alexandra's arms are tucked under her armpits, and she is lifted high.

 High, high, high for a little girl.

 Alexandra had done it many times when orphans begged her.

 I'm too old for this.

 She was aware of her cheeks flushing with shame.

"You're so beautiful! Alexandra!"

 But when she smiled happily, the embarrassment seemed trivial and faded away.

"You look great too, Martin-sama! ...Do I deserve to be at the side of such a beautiful Martin-sama?"

"I'll tell you exactly the same thing. My hands are covered in a horrible amount of blood. Normally I would not be qualified to hold the Unsullied. But I just don't want to give up on you. Sorry?"

"Don't apologize to me! I didn't kill anything with my own hands... but many lives have been taken by its protection. I, who didn't even dirty my own hands, am more sinful than you."

"Hmm... That's why I can't let go of you. He's the only one I love. -There will never be a day in the future when I can be next to anyone but you."

 A kiss falls on my forehead.

 It almost moved to his lips, but Bartolomeus pulled his arm away and they could not touch.

"You're not ready for your vows, Lord Martin."

"Seeing such a beautiful bride, are you not allowed to kiss her with joy?"

"A kiss on the forehead would have been enough. Now, Alexandra."

 When asked again, she felt a strong sense of shame at kissing him on the lips in public.

 Martin took Alexandra's wrist, which was red up to her ear, and kissed her reverently through the glove.

"I'm afraid I can't show you any more of my lovely bride's lovely smile. This will have to do for now."


 Alexandra smiled as she received a loving and respectful kiss from Martin, and straightened her posture at the sound of Annemarie's alarmed voice.

 Despite the fact that she is just a few steps away from stepping into the temple, the former chief mage of the court approaches her, unleashing an attack magic.

 Behind her, there was a figure of a lady-in-waiting running awkwardly, lifting the hem of her luxurious dress.

"I forbade you to approach my beloved daughter, didn't I?"

 Bartolomeos silently reproaches them.

 His voice was calm and even.

 It was so cold and unrelenting that it made every hair on his body stand on end.

 "Oh! I am! Alexandra-sama!"

"I will only allow you to call my bride by her name if I allow you to. You'll never be eligible, will you?"

"No! I was just testing your magical prowess! I didn't mean any disrespect!"


 Annemarie was so angry that her whole body was covered in crimson flames.

 It was such a beautiful sight that even Martin couldn't help but admire it, and for a moment, Alexandra forgot to calm Annemarie down.

 She knew that the flames would not hurt Annemarie herself, but it was so beautiful that she couldn't help but admire it.

"Heh! You shouldn't have done that either! For not allowing her to enter the academy! If only Princess-sama had been admitted to the academy, I would not have liked to work overtime!"

 To be honest, Alexandra couldn't understand the former head of the court mage's words.

 When she tilted her head slightly, Annemarie's anger eased and Martin smiled and nodded.

 It seemed Alexandra's question was a natural one.

"Everything regarding Alexandra's magic is in the hands of an old man who knows everything about the Empire of Mysia. His authority sometimes exceeds that of the Emperor. How can a man like you intervene?"

 A thousand years ago.

 In the year of the birth of the Mithyr Empire, a mage with no name was said to be the best mage in the world.

 Never in her wildest dreams did she think that the person whose name she sometimes saw in history books would be the dour but sincere old man Alexandra called her master.

"Oh, that old bastard! That's ridiculous!"

"He's got powers beyond human comprehension, so he's got a lot of restrictions. It seems that the only reason he hides his name is because he doesn't want the rest of us to collect on him."

"Well then! Is it because of the old man that all my attacks on the Princess Sama failed?"

"I wouldn't know about that. Alexandra doesn't know either. But even if he were willing to teach Alexandra how to defend herself, he wouldn't protect her directly."

"In other words! You-sama didn't lose in a magic match, you were touched by the wrath of God! You're lucky, right? I'm not a loser... and my attack on you, Princess Sama, is beyond words. Besides the wrath of the gods and the wrath of the emperor, you also have to bear the wrath of the emperor. You can understand that, right?"

 The hint of defensive magic disappears from the bodies of the former court mage chief and his wife who collapsed on the spot.

 二人を追ってきた者達がじりじりと距離を縮める中, 側室が元宮廷魔導師長の背中を蹴り上げながら近寄ってきた.

“アンネマリー! その姿はどういうことじゃ!”


“その国宝は妾《わらわ》にこそ相応しい物じゃぞ? お前のような軍人かぶれの小娘が身につけて良い物ではないわ!”

“うわー. 信じられない! なんでこんな馬鹿が側室なの? ミスイア皇国大丈夫?”


“ってーか. アレン-chanに助けて貰うために来たんじゃなかったの?”

“妾に! 妾にその国宝を寄越すのじゃ! アンネマリー!”



“貴-samaが欲しがった国宝は既にアンネマリーが正式な持ち主となっておる. 国の正式な手続きを踏んでいるのだ. 貴-sama如きが喚き暴れたところで, どうにもなりはせぬ”

“陛下っ! 酷うございますっ!”

“酷いのは貴-samaの頭だ, カルラ・ツィーゲ. 何故ここにおるのだ? 貴-samaは断罪を待つ身. 定められた場所から動かぬよう命じられているはずだが”

“何と冷たいことをおっしゃるのですか, 陛下! 妾に罪などあろうはずもございまぬ. 全て誤解なのです! 陛下を心より愛したことが罪だなんて神がお許しにはなりますまい!”

 バルトロメオスを心から愛したというのならば, 何故違う男性の子を何人も孕んだのだろう.

 心の底からバルトロメオスを愛していたというのならばそれは, 絶対に忌避すべき事態なのではないのだろうか.

“はぁ…神殿に隔離したのがよくなかったのかな? 全然反省できてないんだね, 二人とも”

“…恥ずかしい…ただ, この二人が私の両親だなんて, 心底恥ずかしい!”


 唇を噛み締めて必死に涙を堪えるアンネマリーを引き寄せて, そっと抱き締める.


“え? あれく, -sanど, ら?”

 アンネマリーを腕に抱くアレクサンドラに, 初めて気が付いたとばかりに側室の視線がアレクサンドラを捉える.

“な, なんじゃ! その格好は! 有り得ぬ! 有り得ぬぞ! エレオノーラの娘なぞが, そんな美しい, ドレスに, 宝石に! あぁ…なんじゃ, その豪奢なティアラは! ミスイアの国宝にもなかったはずじゃ!”

“うん. 帝国の国宝だからね, 当然. 清純なアレクサンドラにとても良く似合う美しいダイヤモンドでしょう? 鉱物資源には恵まれた帝国でも, ここまでの代物はそうそう出ないんだよ?”

 アレクサンドラがヴェールの下に付けているティアラは帝国の国宝であったダイヤモンドを, アレクサンドラの為にと職人が丹念に作ったティアラの中央に嵌め込んだものだ.

 涙《ティアドロップ》の形に美しく整えられたダイヤモンドは, 長く飾られて楽しまれていたらしい.

 今後は帝国の帝妃が付けるティアラの一部として, 代々受け継がれていくとのことだ.

“ネックレスもイヤリングも, ドレスに縫い付けられたダイヤも全部見事だよね? 全てアレクサンドラの為に僕が作った物. 彼女を心から愛しているからね, 僕が全て手配して贈ったよ. ねぇ, 側室-san? -kunは愛する皇帝に何か贈って貰った? 個人的に, だよ?

エレオノーラ妃にも, アレクサンドラにも贈っているからね. -kunが本当に愛されているというのならば, 沢山, 皇帝から貰っているはずなんだけど, 贈り物”

“え? 妾は, 妾は…陛下に…贈り物…”

“当然一度もない. 愛していないのだから贈れるはずもないな”


“…そういえば貴-samaが身につけておる物は, 側室に国から与えられる予算で誂《あつら》えた物だな. 全て返上して貰うとしよう. 少し早いが, 己の罪を自覚できない愚か者には相応しい罰であろう. そのように手配せよ!”

 バルトロメオスの命令により-sama子を伺っていた周囲の者達が, 二人を拘束して引きずってゆく.



『側室に与えられた物を返上ということは…陛下! 妾が正妃になれるのですか! やっと解って下さってのですね! ありがとうございます, 陛下! 愛しております, 皇帝陛下!』

 側室が正気で言っているのか, 狂ってしまっているのか.