Chapter 30: Vera Sylvie
“You must be Vera Sylvie. My father also sends his regards. You can count on me.”
“Yes, Alexia-sama. Please look after me.”
“Oh my, you’re so cute! I’m happy. It’s like I’ve gotten myself a little sister.”
“I’m Norm de Alemanne. We may belong to different factions, but we’re both wives who support His Highness. We must not upset His Highness because of our factions. Do you understand me?”
“Yes. Thank you for your advice, Norm-sama.”
“You don’t need to get that worked up… Can I call you Vera-sama?”
――― This was a dream. A memory of the time when Vera Sylvie came to the capital to be the concubine of Crown Prince Jean.
For Vera Sylvie, who had become Jean’s concubine at the age of 14, they were ‘kind older sisters’.
She was welcomed by Alexia since they were both members of the same faction, and Norm taught her many things such as mannerism. Alexia and Norm didn’t have a stormy relationship, in fact, they shared their roles.
Alexia didn’t love Jean, but she was proud to be the daughter of the Emperor and fulfilled her role as the legal wife, and Norm also knew what she had to do. Alexia supported Jean’s ‘public’ side and Norm supported his ‘private’ side. The two seemed to have established a good working relationship.
Vera Sylvie’s new life in the capital had few worries and no complaints. She would have her wedding ceremony with Crown Prince Jean, and from then on, the three of them would support him, or so she thought.
But a wedding ceremony did not take place. War broke out, and Crown Prince Jean, known for his skills in battle, immediately went to the frontline. Vera Sylvie and Jean barely talked.
And then, he never returned.
The news of the Crown Prince’s death was delivered to the palace and the Emperor collapsed the next day. Vera Sylvie had no idea what was happening, but she saw how people were changing… and how malicious they could be.
Norm was becoming weaker. She couldn’t accept Jean’s death and kept waiting for his return. She became mentally ill… and couldn’t even hold a conversation.
And Alexia… acted as if she was being hunted by something and imprisoned the two concubines. She had not only killed the servant who had borne Jean’s child and the child, but also everyone in her family.
Vera Sylvie saw Alexia just before she was imprisoned, and she didn’t look like she was drunk with power or enjoyed the sight of blood. Her eyes showed fear and firm determination.
Vera Sylvie finally understood that Alexia had already realised that she was carrying the next Emperor when she heard about the new Emperor in a letter from her father.
If Norm, whom Jean had loved, had been the pregnant one, it might have ended differently, but fate was cruel.
Vera Sylvie was locked up in the tower and exposed to people’s ill will. The men’s vulgar eyes, their pitying eyes and their condescending eyes… and the aristocrats in the Chancellor’s faction looked at her as if she was a domestic animal.
Vera Sylvie’s father, Count Chamneaux, originally had close ties to Lord Aquicurl. His fief bordered the sea to the west, and the other three sides bordered Lord Aquicurl’s fief, but when his daughter was imprisoned at the sole discretion of Alexia, he was forced to move to the Chancellor’s faction to guarantee her survival. Ever since then, the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies has been eyeing his fief and the Chancellor has been taking advantage of him.
Vera Sylvie was in a better environment than Norm thanks to her father’s sacrifice. She was imprisoned in a way that allowed her to live.
All that mattered to the aristocrats in the Chancellor’s faction was that she was alive. It didn’t matter to them if she was mentally ill or not.
Vera Sylvie could no longer trust humans. She had no choice but to close her mind to protect herself. That was life in the dark and gloomy tower.
The occasional letters were her only emotional support. The letters were from her father and the maids who had once served her. This was all she had left.
She knew that her mind would be broken soon.
Vera Sylvie was overwhelmed with loneliness every time a letter arrived, every time she heard voices outside, every time the birds flew by, every time she smelled the rain, every time the sun shines brightly, and every time night came.
Time continued to tick slowly as if it were mocking her.
“No more… someone kill me.”
Actually, the boy didn’t even have to be a fairy. He could have been the devil or even the grim reaper. She would have accepted it if he had come to kill her. He might even have been a hallucination as she was already unable to tell if she was sane or not.
But the way he looked against the moonlight with his aloof demeanour that didn’t suit his small body really made him look like a fairy. That’s why she found herself saying…
“Hmm… can you… be my… friend?”
That was surely a cry from her heart. Perhaps he had heard it because the fairy looked slightly troubled.
Vera Sylvie’s time then began to progress much faster than it had before. By the night of the full moon, she would have to compose what she wanted to say to him and practice speaking so she could say as much as possible.
“Ermm. Like this?”
“Hrm, close, but I think you can do it if you repeat it a few more times. Vera, you are what is called sensualism.”
Above all, she had encountered a new world of ‘magic’.
The mysterious fairy used magic regardless of the ‘sealing barrier’, and Vera Sylvie could do it too. She was sceptical at first, but she got a grasp of it after listening to the fairy’s careful instructions.
She became obsessed with it. A world she never knew existed, and endless possibilities that she could focus on.
Vera Sylvie was no longer alone, and her life of imprisonment was no longer boring.
“I’ll be back, Vera.”
“Ok, I’ll be waiting.”
Vera Sylvie’s stopped time began to move again.
I came to the tower again on the night of the full moon to teach Vera magic. Count Palatine Vedett seemed busy these days, so I had spare time at night.
At first, I had come to this tower for a change of pace, but then I began to teach her magic seriously. Come to think of it, this is my first-time teaching someone magic.
To say that I am struggling would be an understatement. Vera is a genius. When I struggle to get the message across, she would scream happily, “I did it!” I envy her a little as someone who has gone through a lot of trial and error.
“It’s nothing. By the way Vera, have you grown taller lately?”
I asked her what had been bothering me for a while. She had only grown slightly, and it might have been my imagination… but she certainly looked taller.
“I wonder… if it’s… thanks to magic?”
The girl, who had become addicted to magic, said happily.
… Huh? That’s possible. Or more precisely, magic had stopped her from growing.
“Compared to me? Well, maybe for now.”
I’m going to grow. I’m not feeling rivalry towards her because of this.
“This tower is pretty tall, isn’t it? I wonder which is taller, this tower or the palace wall?”
I had expected this question and was momentarily at a loss for words.
“Which? There’s only one wall.”
“There… are two, you know?”
What? No way. I’m sure I only passed through one wall during the founding parade.
Vera suggested after seeing that I didn’t believe her.
“Why don’t you go take a look?”
She said easily since she believed I can fly around freely. I was riding on a protective barrier… but well, I can get to a certain altitude.
“Hmm, that’s reasonable. I’ll go take a look.”
As it turned out, there were indeed two walls. I can’t believe that the Founding Hill was also inside the outer walls… Wasn’t I told that it was outside the capital!? I was fooled! How would I have known that the capital has expanded since its founding?!?!
“You wouldn’t have known this since you’re a fairy.”
Vera said while smirking and looking smug. I’m glad that she could produce more natural expressions compared to when we first met, but…
“So, you think I’m ignorant of the world?”
You don’t really think I’m a fairy anymore.
“This is what happens to the mouth that says this.”
I grabbed Vera’s cheeks and pulled it. Oh, this is surprisingly fun.
Her eyes widened when she noticed something.
“Where are the bars?”
“Melted. My magic can do that much.”
I looked at her smugly. Iron is powerless against heat energy. I even controlled it so that the heat wouldn’t affect Vera. Aren’t I amazing?
“Can you… put them back?”
… I hadn’t thought about that.
We-well, it’ll harden again once it cools down. No one would care about bars on a window even if it’s a little ugly.
… I’ll reflect on my actions. Also, you have a point about me being ignorant of the world.
Can’t I somehow see the ‘state of the Empire’ first hand…?