Chapter 59: Ascending the Castle
At the base of my left ring finger, a red, flickering light shines, as if trapped in a flame.
When I change the angle of my hand, small stars glittering like they’re surrounding the fire shine. It’s a brilliant cut, unattributed magic stone.
Hilka asks in a voice as if she’s amazed.
“Yes, yes, it’s beautiful, so please work. You’re taking a long break.”
I throw myself onto the sofa.
“Oh, Hilka is cold!”
“How many days do you think have passed since then?”
A few days after I received a ring from Lex on my birthday, the maidservants and servants fawned over me saying “Wonderful, wonderful,” but I feel that their attitude is gradually becoming careless.
“Already! I’m working properly!”
“Yes, you’re really competent.”
Incidentally, when I went to see Lord Algren the other day with this ring on, he seemed to have received a shock when he found out that I was “already married” and stumbled home.
“I never thought that my lady Vilhelmina would be playing around so coolly, but it’s all the better that she seems happy.”
She said that while she gave me the teacup I was taking a break with, with a kind smile.
“There’s nothing to play around with.”
Another servant brought in an unopened letter on a silver tray with an uneasy expression.
“Uh… Madam… again.”
I can tell even without looking, this is the third letter. It’s an order to come to the castle from His Highness Elias.
Recently, I and Lex have left the response to the butler Talvo instead of going to meet the messenger from the royal family.
Then the letter ordering the visit to the castle came by mail.
I cut the seal with a paper knife and skimmed the text.
“Maybe it’s time I answered the call and went to the castle.”
“Is it dangerous?”
“Well, yes. However, His Highness hasn’t sent troops to the mansion to try to detain me with his power, so I’m willing to make at least that much concession.
If we leave it alone for too long, we may end up in prison for disrespect.
And so, I stand alone before the royal castle.
It is a place I have visited many times before, but now everything beyond here is considered an enemy. I will approach with that in mind.
I was not led to the audience chamber, but to a building for the Crown Prince.
I was led to the reception room and waited for a while.
Tea and sweets were offered, but I did not touch them. I just waited for the tea to get cold.
A servant brought down the cold tea without a word and when the newly brewed tea became cold again, His Highness’ entrance was announced.
“By the grace of His Royal Highness Prince Elias Sipi Patrikainen!”
I stood up, facing the open door and knelt with my dress turned over. This was not a lady’s bow, but I knelt on the floor with both knees and placed both hands on my chest and lowered my head.
I heard the voice of the chamberlain, but I did not move from this position.
I can hear the sound of rustling clothes and the sound of armor rubbing. It must be His Royal Highness Elias with his guards. He seems to have hesitated around the entrance of the room, as if he had stepped on a footstool.
It was reported that I did not drink any tea. I did not even pretend to drink, even with the teapot in my hand.
This is a clear expression of distrust and rejection.
And now my bow is a formal way of greeting when a commoner meets a royalty. It clarifies my position.
“… It’s been a long time, Vilhelmina.”
A voice was called out from above.
I did not respond to that, also because of etiquette.
This indicated the intention of not speaking ‘casually’ like during a garden party.
Words were whispered above, and the chamberlain raised his voice.
“His Royal Highness, Elias Sipi Patrikainen, the Dawn of the Kingdom, grants you direct permission to answer. Raise your heads.”
I stood up, bowing my head while stepping back.
“I say again, raise your heads.”.”
This was the first time I looked up.
It was a beautiful face like the Crown Prince that I saw after a long time, but its beauty did not shake my heart at all.
“It’s been a long time, Vilhelmina.”
He says that again and greets me again, but I do not return it.
“It’s not Vilhelmina. Please call me Mrs. Peltra.”
His eyebrow twitched. I continued my words again.
“There is no one here who can call me Vilhelmina.”
I showed him my left hand ring, proof that I am Mrs. Peltra.