Time passed by and the toughest, also called the hottest season in the Carpa Kingdom finally came to an end.
Around that time, the atmosphere in the Inner Palace was as tense as never before.
Queen Aura had delayed her morning schedule to stay here and Zenjirou also had resolved himself to not move an inch from here all day, cancelling all his appointments for today. Both of them waited with bathed breaths.
Although the waiting maids of the inner palace had become well acquainted with their masters in the past one and a half year, they simply stood at attention near the wall right now, unable to engage in some casual talk with them, much less fulfil their rightful duties such as serving tea.
The silence was taut as the strings of a bow and continued until the very moment the door was knocked.
Aura’s brash prompt lacked any composure, whereupon the person in question entered the living room of the waiting Queen and Prince Consort.
Unaffected by her tone, a man of middle age answered with a calm voice before he came in. His characteristic long hair and beard were streaked with grey flicks of hair and he wore a white robe.
His name was Michelle, the royal physician.
The doctor closed the door of the wide living room behind him and remained standing in front of it without approaching the royal couple on the couch.
His bearing seemed to be agreed on beforehand, seeing as neither Aura nor Zenjirou reprimanded him for it.
Doctor Michelle looked at the fraught Queen and Prince Consort in equal measure, then
“To cut the matter short: Prince Carlos has caught the ‘Spotted Fever‘.”
reported the situation in a manner of fact tone.
As the wet nurse Cassandra was always by his side, she naturally had noticed the change in the crown prince of the Carpa Kingdom, Carlos Zenkichi Carpa, first of all.
It was nothing out of the ordinary that Prince Carlos, still an infant, woke up crying, but the cry on that night had been different.
Cassandra was made for being a wet nurse as she could distinguish whether his demanding cries meant breast-feeding, pee, poop or simply whining.
As soon as she had heard his cry that was shriller, yet weaker than usual, she had woken up the resting waiting maids and sent one to Queen Aura and Doctor Michelle each.
“Spotted Fever”. Since the name of the disease meant nothing to Zenjirou, he checked with Doctor Michelle without relaxing his strained facial muscles.
“Doctor, what does that mean?”
“Well, as the name implies, it is a fever that causes red rashes on the face or body. The rashes are merely outward symptoms that cause neither pain, nor itch, but the prolonged high fever can bring about the throat to swell up.
The fever attack usually lasts around three days. As a rule, a normal grown-up has nothing to fear as long as he stays in bed and eats properly, but it is not unheard of that weaker people like elders or babies lose their life from it.”
Taking in the doctor’s words, Zenjirou rubbed his cold fingertips against each other as he sat on the couch.
“In other words, Zenkichi’s life is at risk?”
“Fortunately Prince Carlos has been kept well nurtured so far and is growing favourable. He is also blessed with a becoming stamina for a baby, so I do not think we need to be that pessimistic.
I dare to say that it is a nine out of ten chance that he will pull through it.”
Nine out of ten. That statement inadvertently made Zenjirou heave a sigh of relief, but Aura, sitting next to him, cautioned him with a still tense expression.
“Zenjirou, you have to take his appraisal literally. Put another way, it means that one out of ten babies in the same situation as Carlos would die.”
He was at a loss for words after his wife’s indication.
The survival rate was ninety percent. Reversely, that meant a mortality rate of ten percent. One out of ten patients would die. After being told that, it goes without saying that one couldn’t be overly optimistic.
There were hardly any parents that could settle back when their own child was put in such a predicament.
Naturally, Zenjirou wasn’t one of them either. He wracked his clouded brain with all his might to find a way out of this dilemma.
“Ah! Then we can just use the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’!”
The magic tool could heal any injury or illness in an instant. As he remembered its existence, Zenjioru proposed it eagerly, but the “Queen” reacted opposed.
She bit her lip with a stiff face.
“I do not think so. Our country is in possession of only three of them and it remains unclear when we will actually get our hands on another one.
If I were to use the valuable ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’ under these circumstances for the sake of a child that will, in their opinion, most likely pull through anyway, I would get in trouble with the nobles.”
Quite unusually, Zenjirou got exasperated with the heartless words of his wife.
“What! He’s the first prince! Are you saying some stone is more important than our only child!?”
Queen Aura showed a pained expression for a moment as her husband snapped at her for the very first time, but readjusted her mask as the Queen right away and reasoned.
“Carlos is certainly an important figure in our country, but not so important that his passing would immediately affect the country.”
Zenjirou had his breath taken away by the cold words of his wife and before he could come back at her, Doctor Michelle interjected with a calm voice.
“Zenjirou-sama, this may sound a bit relentless, but children in our country catch an illness of this level around four to five times on an average before they reach the age of ten, even amongst royalty and nobility.”
“Four to five times…”
The distinct calculation devoid of feeling was convincing enough to calm his fiery temperament.
The Carpa Kingdom had three ‘Imbued Stones of Cure’ at the present time. On an average however, Prince Carlos would catch an illness like this four or five times during his childhood.
The numbers just didn’t add up.
Even less when considering their plans for more children in the future. If they were to use their trump card for every single illness, there would be a severe shortage of stones. Even Zenjirou himself was gradually brought down to earth by that harsh fact.
“Sorry… I lost my cool.”
As her husband slumped down into the couch, Aura just replied “It’s okay” with a small voice.
In practice, Aura might have used the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’ if it weren’t for Zenjirou.
She was definitely the strongest inheritor of the royal blood, but still a woman. There was a limit to how many children she could bear in her lifetime.
All the more because she lived in a world, where childbirth was anything but safe. At the same time, they couldn’t rule out the possibility that her body may no longer be able to conceive after giving birth once.
Having said that, that insufficiency in childbirth was resolved at once when you factored in an “adult male” with strong royal blood such as Zenjirou.
Moreover, he had already proved himself in form of his child Carlos.
To exaggerate it, Prince Carlos was nothing to get excited about in the eyes of the common nobles, so even if he were to die, they would just say: “That’s too bad. Please make an effort for another child, Zenjirou-sama.”
On the other hand, they would surely demand the use of the “Imbued Stone of Cure” if Zenjirou himself were to catch an illness of this nature, since any sophisticated man in this world knew that a prolonged fever came with the possible risk of impaired fertility, even if it did not claim one’s life.
As cruel as it may sound, Zenjirou’s testicle were currently more important to the country than Prince Carlos’ life.
Aura kept silent about it though, because there was no way she could reveal that fact to him.
Meanwhile Zenjirou, too, had calmed down a bit, but that didn’t necessarily give him any better ideas.
“What about calling a healer from the Jilbell Family…”
“I am currently the only person, who can use ‘Teleport’, so I would have to go to the Twin Country all alone with my magic.”
“Don’t we have a doctor specializing in that ‘Spotted Fever’?”
“You are being rude to Doctor Michelle, you know. He is the finest physician in our country. You will not find a better one, no matter the area of expertise.”
“And I guess there’s no special medicine for it…”
“We would have used it already if there was one.”
Every elementary idea he could think of was immediately shot down by Aura.
A gloomy silence spread over the room.
Nothing could be done. Well, not quite. If truly nothing could be done, he would be able to give up, but there was an absolute trump card in the form of the “Imbued Stone of Cure”, yet the political situation didn’t allow for it to be used.
That was what it meant to be royalty. For the first time, Zenjirou experienced the grave responsibilities of his new standing firsthand.
Quite possibly he could have his way and use the stone, but it would invoke the deep resentment of local nobles and the scorn of foreign royalty if he were to do that.
That would actually be desirable if it only applied to Zenjirou, but it was more than likely that Aura would be caught in the crossfire as well, since she, the Queen, didn’t stop him.
Still, she just couldn’t stop doubting whether or not she lacked parental love, since she hesitated to do what was best for her own child in need, out of consideration for her political standing.
“We would not have to worry so much if he had at least caught the ‘Blessing of the Forest’ first. Your Highness, do you know someone that currently has caught the ‘Blessing of the Forest’?”
Doctor Michelle broached a slightly different subject as to distract from the inevitable reality and Aura answered his proposition.
“None. No one that would be allowed into the Inner Palace has caught it at the moment.”
The “Blessing of the Forest” was a local illness that Zenjirou had caught once before, too.
Its name was meant literally. You only caught it once in your lifetime and it wasn’t really deadly unless something dramatically happened. And because it left you with antibodies that worked against various other illness afterwards, it truly was an “almighty preventive”.
Of course there were some instances of infants dying from the “Blessing of the Forest”, too, but considering the later course of life, it ultimately gave you a better survival rate when you caught it at an early stage.
Due to that, Aura had planned to bring the child of a trustworthy noble into the Inner Palace if it had caught the “Blessing of the Forest” to let Carlos pick it up, but unfortunately that opportunity didn’t come to be and Carlos caught the “Spotted Fever” first.
Another oppressive silence filled the room.
She could do no more for her child. Her duties as the Queen forbid her to come in contact with a contagious patient.
Knowing that, Aura heaved a deep sigh, then quickly got up from the couch.
“Very well. Doctor Michelle, I leave Carlos in your and Cassandra’s care. I have to attend a belated meeting now.
I trust in your skills, so do your best.”
“Yes, as you wish.”
The middle-aged doctor, composed from beginning to end, bowed once and Aura shifted her attention from him to her husband, who still sat on the couch and looked up to her.
“What will you do, Zenjirou?”
Confronted like that, Zenjirou pondered for a moment while remaining slumped into the couch.
“…No, today’s no good. I know it won’t change anything when I stay here, but I’m in no state to do any work in the palace, to say nothing of causing irreparable mistakes.”
“I see. Since your work is not all that pressing, that is fine. However, you are not allow to visit Carlos in person, understood?”
Aura cautioned him just in case and he obediently obeyed.
Even if he were to pick up the “Spotted Fever”, there was practically no danger for him, since he was a healthy adult with the “Blessing of the Forest”, but he still would end up bedridden for two or three days and above all: he shared a bed with Aura.
The “Spotted Fever” would pass on from Carlos to Zenjirou to Aura.
The royal palace would be paralyzed when the Queen was sick in bed, if only for three days. It was one of the duties of a Ruler to stay healthy.
“It may be no use telling you, but do not take it to heart all too much.”
Saying so, Aura left the Inner Palace with invigorated steps as to show an example of “not taking it to heart all too much”.
* * *
Left alone in the living room, Zenjirou had immersed himself in practicing magic in order to vent the irritation he felt towards his lack of power.
The exercise involved the “control over magical output”, something he had slowly gotten better at lately. It was an essential skill to master all kind of magic.
If he were able to use “Teleport” by now, he could have gone to the Twin Kingdom to get a healer.
That thought spurred his magic training on.
The likelihood that he would be allowed to summon an expensive healer for an illness with a mortality rate of just ten percent was extremely low, though, even if he could actually use “Teleport”.
The “control over magical output” didn’t really require any physical strength in particular, so it normally didn’t tire you that much, but Zenjirou hadn’t quite got the knack of it, so he was unnecessarily straining his whole body.
Due to that, he had been sweating all over for a while now.
On top of that, he could barely concentrate, because he was always envisioning the pained figure of his sick son, getting practically no results.
He cursed on a rare occasion, shook his head so that the sweat was flying around and got up from the couch. Then he headed towards the refrigerator near the wall.
“Puh… I just can’t hack it today.”
After pouring some boiled water from the silver jug into a glass, he emptied it in one gulp and uttered wailing without meaning to.
But the practice of magic actually called for concentration quite often, so it was a given that training with an absent mind like right now was pointless.
“Aura said not to take it to heart, but that’s easier said than done…”
Zenjirou felt utmost respect for his wife, who was as worried as him deep inside, but properly got her act together on the surface to deal with work.
“Would I’ve been the same if I had married and gotten a child in Japan?”
That rambling monologue slipped out of his mouth when he got back to the couch.
In that case it would have been a fatal weakness for a salaryman.
At the same time, the medical care in modern Japan had a way better credibility than here, so he might have had an easier time trusting the doctor, though.
“Aw, damn. Time for some game.”
All his thoughts were for the wellbeing of his son, no matter what. In order to distract himself a little bit, Zenjirou took out his game console from the TV stand after a long time and the very moment he plugged it in:
“Excuse me, Zenjirou-sama.”
The door was suddenly knocked and the familiar voice of a waiting maid resounded.
“Yes, come in.”
Although reflexively calling her in, he thought to himself.
What did she want? It was too early for lunch. The waiting maids knew that he disliked having others in the same room as him, so they didn’t call out to him unless it was important.
(Don’t tell me something happened to Zenkichi?)
Understandably enough, his train of thought inadvertently took a turn for the worse under the current circumstances.
A middle-aged waiting maid, neatly wearing a crimson maid uniform, entered the room— It was Supervisory Maid Amanda.
Zenjirou’s tension built up. If the Supervisory Maid came over in person, it must be about something very important.
Whether she knew about her master’s tension or not, the middle-aged Supervisory Maid made a perfect textbook curtsy, then started to speak prosaically.
“Zenjirou-sama, we just now received a message from the Royal Palace, or more specifically, from Fabio-sama.
Apparently Prince Francesco from the Twin Kingdom has expressed his desire to pay Prince Carlos a sick bed visit.”
Zenjirou leaked a dumbfounded sound as the unexpected development went over his head.
After a moment he finally comprehend what she had said and shook his hand in front of his face, signalising that it was out of the question.
“No, we can’t do that, seriously. Nothing good’s going to come of letting a foreign royalty meet with our sick Zenkichi, for neither side. Besides, I would’ve understood if it had been Princess Bona, but Prince Francesco isn’t allowed inside because of the ban anyway, right?
Or is he saying we’re to have a sick child leave the Inner Palace?”
Talking himself into a fury so far, he suddenly realized:
Secretary Fabio would’ve never allowed that a ridiculous request like that was passed on.
As was expected, Supervisory Maid Amanda brushed his outburst aside and continued to relay the message.
“According to Prince Francesco, he is in the possession of numerous ‘Imbued Stones of Cure’ that were entrusted to him by the Sharrow Family for his trip just in case, and he signified his intention to use one of them for Prince Carlos.”
Zenjirou’s reaction was priceless.
“I’ll meet him at once! Get my clothes! I’m going to the Royal Palace!”
“Very well. Please move to the room next door. We have prepared everything there.”
The Supervisory Maid answered her shouting master with a completely composed voice like that.
* * *
After changing in a rush, Zenjirou suppressed his urge to storm down the hallway of the palace as he proceeded at a smart pace. When he entered the room, there already sat Prince Francesco and Queen Aura across each other, talking.
“Hello, Your Majesty Zenjirou. Forgive me, but we have already started discussing things here.”
Aura and Prince Francesco stopped their conversation when he entered and called out to him like that.
For a moment, he was surprised to see Aura here, but on second thought, it was only natural that she was present.
Zenjirou himself couldn’t make a decision about the matter of a foreign prince entering the Inner Palace as well as the matter of receiving an “Imbued Stone of Cure” from that very foreign prince.
So it was only natural that Secretary Fabio had notified Aura at the same time as him.
Once he realized that, he uttered a short apology of “Sorry it took so long” while he sat down next to Aura.
The normal etiquette for a meeting between the Queen, the Prince Consort and the foreign prince called for some kind of address of welcome first, even for an highly informal emergency meeting, but neither was Zenjirou in a state of my mind right now to consider that, nor was Prince Francesco the kind of man to nitpick about such trivial common sense.
“I am glad you came, Your Majesty Zenjirou. Sorry for sending for you so suddenly.”
Like always, Prince Francesco showed an innocent smile and didn’t choose his words carefully. The first thing Zenjirou asked him was what weighted on his mind the most.
“Not at all. It concerns me, too, after all. By the way, I don’t see Princess Bona around. Where is she?”
Upon his question, Prince Francesco grimaced a bit as he answered.
“I didn’t tell her. It would become bothersome if I did.”
“Oh, I can see that happening.”
“A valid point for sure.”
Both, Zenjirou and Aura, had to agree with his reasoning.
It practically goes without saying that the earnest Princess Bona wouldn’t allow the handover of the “Imbued Stone of Cure”.
Prince Francesco and Princess Bona were situated in a foreign country, the Carpa Kingdom. The “Imbued Stones of Cure” were their lifeline for when the crunch comes and Prince Francesco lacked common sense to offer one of them like it was nothing while Princess Bona was just a woman of common sense, since she would stop him if she were to get wind of it.
Having said that, Zenjirou and Aura preferred the unreasonable approach from the prince instead, so they were lucky that the reasonable Princess Bona didn’t partake in this.
They looked at each other in the eyes to coordinate their opinions, then:
“In that case, there’s really no need to bring in Princess Bona as well.”
“Indeed. She must be busy, too.”
Princess Bona’s exclusion was decided on the spot.
“Well then, Prince Francesco, you said you would offer us an ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’?”
Although Aura looked calm on the surface, she, too, was restless deep inside, so she got straight to the point.
As a result, Prince Francesco affirmed it readily.
“Yes. I brought one with me. Look here.”
After he answered like that, he pulled a palm-sized, white stone out of his pocket and placed it onto the table.
It looked somewhat like a “cuboid with cropped corners”. The neatly cut white stone with a bit of a marble pattern was probably not worth much by itself.
However, anyone with the ability to discern magical power could see that the palm-sized stone emitted magical power on the level of an average magician.
“You are giving this to us?”
Aura became a bit wary, because Prince Francesco suddenly showcased the item without discussing any compensation for it.
So far, Prince Francesco had continuously behaved so open-handed that you could only consider him an idiot, such as the secret around the glass marbles, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t want a compensation this time by default either.
The prince’s answer, though, was anything but what Aura had expected.
“No. I’m not exactly giving this to you. I’ll ‘personally use it on Prince Carlos’, so I want to ask for your permission to pay him a sick bed visit.”
He didn’t ask for a compensation, but demanded to meet Carlos, since he was going to use the stone himself.
If his answer didn’t come across as strange, she would have a serious lack of prudence, as a Queen and parent alike.
Aura asked more cautious after Prince Francesco’s more than odd request.
“May I ask why? The ’Imbued Stone of Cure’ should be something very important to you as well, so I would like to know why you are offering to use it for Carlos‘ sake.”
“Well, what can I say? I feel kind of ‘congenial’ with Prince Carlos. Besides, as a Prince of the Twin Kingdom, I can get my hands on a ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’ easier than others.
So it doesn’t hurt when I use one.”
The phrase “congenial” rang a bell with Zenjirou as he listened to his easy-going remark on the side.
(Mh? I think I’ve heard him say the same before… Oh, right, when we first met at the evening party. He said he felt the same with me, too.)
He felt congenial with both, the father and the son. Could that actually be brushed off as just another of his talkative remarks?
For now Zenjirou decided to consult Aura about it later. In the meantime, the conversation between Prince Francesco and Queen Aura continued.
“Then you are offering this out of pure good-will?”
“Yes. It is my avid desire to free Prince Carlos of his suffering.”
“In that case, there is really no need to specifically use the stone yourself, is there? If you wish to see Carlos, then we can bring him to the Royal Palace later on when he feels better.”
“No, that won’t do. This may sound rude, but the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’ is very precious and there’s no guarantee you’ll actually use it, even if the Crown Prince is at stake.”
He put it somewhat blatantly, but his objection was justified.
From a strictly profitable point of view without emotions, it was by no means a bad call to take the “Imbued Stone of Cure”, lie about using it and in fact bet on the “nine out of ten” chance for survival.
Well, they would lose both, the Crown Prince and the trust of the Twin Kingdom, all at once if they unfortunately got the other one out of ten chance, so one wouldn’t usually take that approach.
But as the royalty from a foreign country, Prince Francesco’s worry was only natural.
(Well, either way, one thing is certain now. Prince Francesco is definitely not an idiot. His usual behaviour is an act.)
As he was watching the other two from the side, Zenjirou could keep his cool and conclude this.
An idiot would be unable to make such a logical line of argument, not even by accident.
So his usual behaviour had been an act after all. Then why did he go so far as to take off the mask that fooled the majority in his home country, in order to meet Carlos?
“What do you say? I really just want to pay him a simple sick bed visit and promise not to bring anything with me except the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’. No guards either.
You may even examine me throughout first.”
Since Aura hesitated, Prince Francesco kept making concessions to no end, but persisted on the sole condition that he visited Carlos in person.
At this point, even Aura noticed that Prince Francesco was hiding some greater agenda.
“I beg of you. You have my word that neither the Prince, nor your country will come to harm.”
Prince Francesco pleaded by prostrating himself when seated, which looked hilarious, but the plea itself was anything but funny.
Still, if they actually were to let him inside the Inner Palace under these conditions, there definitely was nothing he could perpetrate.
Without weapons and guards, Prince Francesco could easily be seized in the event of attempting any intrigue.
To begin with, he had barely received any military training as one could already tell from his conduct.
Admittedly, he was relatively tall and well-built, but even Aura herself wouldn’t have trouble apprehending him if she wanted to.
And above all, Aura was a mother and didn’t want to let go off the chance to use an “Imbued Stone of Cure” for her child.
“…Fine. I will assume your sick bed visit to use the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’, to be one from a doctor or healer from the Jilbell Family. You will be allowed into the Inner Palace by way of exception.
It would be troublesome when it gets around that we tried to keep a low profile to get you into the Inner Palace, so we might as well make the sick bed visit to use the stone an official event and have you enter openly from the front. Are you fine with that, Prince Francesco?”
“Yes, I am. Thank you very much.”
Aura finally conceded, whereat Prince Francesco expressed his gratitude with a bright smile.
* * *
One hour later.
Zenjirou, Aura and Prince Francesco walked down the hallway of the Inner Palace.
Before he was allowed inside, Prince Francesco was subjected to a body search and everything except his clothes and the “Imbued Stone of Cure” was taken away from him. On the other hand, Aura and Zenjirou were quite unusually wearing swords at their waists.
Giving Zenjirou a sword only acted as a deterrent, but Aura could use it like any knight.
All alone, Prince Francesco didn’t pose a threat, since he had no combat experience, although he was well-built.
Still, he went to such lengths to get into the Inner Palace and his intention was still unknown, so some worry remained.
At first, they had considered to let Aura’s personal guards accompany them into the Inner Palace, but refrained from doing so after weighing up the pros and cons.
It was practically an act of faith that they had allowed the prince into the Inner Palace. Wearing swords themselves was still fine, but if they brought along armed soldiers, who were actually prohibited from entering, it would signalize that they didn’t take Prince Francesco at his word.
“Oh, they might be both Inner Palaces, but yours is quite different from ours. That said, I only have vague memories of ours from when I was six, so I can’t be too sure, ahaha.”
Like a sightseer, Prince Francesco curiously eyed the surroundings as he walked on, showing no sign of tension.
He was playing the fool so much that Zenjirou once again wondered if the prince maybe was just an idiot after all.
Before long the three reached Carlos’ bedroom.
“It is I.”
She must have notified them beforehand. Upon Aura’s call, the door was opened from the inside without any surprise.
“Doctor Michelle and Cassandra are awaiting you inside, Your Highness Aura, Zenjirou-sama and Prince Francesco.”
The blonde maid, who had opened the door, said so and lowered her head respectfully. A short while ago, a different waiting maid had been taking care of Carlos, but when Aura had notified them earlier, she had issued a change of shift, too.
The maid with the blonde hair was, along with Secretary Fabio and Royal Archmage Espaldion, a trusted retainer of Aura. She would never let it show, but she was one of the two waiting maids in the Inner Palace that had actual combat experience.
“Good. How is Carlos?”
“He fell asleep just a moment ago. Before that, he was crying the whole time as his throat seemed to hurt.”
Biting her lip, Aura proceeded into the room.
Prince Francesco followed after her and Zenjirou followed after him.
Aura had instructed him not to hesitate in the unlikely event of the prince committing anything suspicious.
In the back of the room stood a small bed, in which their beloved child Carlos Zenkichi was sleeping. To the right and left stood the wet-nurse Cassandra and Doctor Michelle.
Cassandra wordlessly bended her plump body into a deep bow. In contrast, Doctor Michelle gave Aura and Zenjirou a sharp glance and said.
“Your Highness Aura, Zenjirou-sama, I have heard the circumstances.
But if you allow me to speak out: You are being overhasty. The ‘Spotted Fever’ is not an illness you will be immune to after catching it once.
And I was of the opinion that you are not to approach the room until I gave the okay.”
Zenjirou inadvertently cowered before the merciless glare of the middle-age physician. The same applied to Aura.
“Sorry, but the situation has changed. Please understand.”
She explained with an apologetic tone.
Any further reprimand must have been contra-productive in his opinion, so Doctor Michelle heaved an affected sigh and interposed waspish.
“So that’s Prince Francesco at the back? You brought an ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’ for Prince Carlos?”
An average physician versus a prince from a major power. Under normal circumstances, it would be unforgivable that Doctor Michelle spoke to him first, but right now, he was the physician in charge of Prince Carlos.
So he was given quite a bit of authority in regards to matters involving his patient Carlos.
Maybe the Twin Kingdom had the same custom or maybe he was just being generous?
“Yes, I did. Here it is.”
Either way, Prince Francesco didn’t feel offended by his words and honestly replied like that, showing him the white stone in his right hand.
Seeing the stone glowing with a strong magical power, Doctor Michelle finally softened his expression a bit.
“I see. Prince Carlos’ condition has been stable so far, but if we can heal him immediately, we might as well do it.
And unlike the ‘Blessing of the Forest’, there is no benefit in overcoming the ‘Spotted Fever’ by your own efforts after all.”
Up until now, he hadn’t shown the slightest insecurity while he took care of Carlos, but there was a ten percent chance that the crown prince could die and shouldering that responsibility must have given him a lot of pressure.
The face of the middle-aged physician clearly displayed relief.
In front of the doctor, Prince Francesco kept smiling and took a step closer to the small bed with the sleeping Carlos.
“Okay, I got this. I will relieve Prince Carlos of his illness.”
Saying so, he tapped himself on the chest with his free left hand.
“Well then, Prince Francesco, I do not like to rush you, but can you get started?”
Aura had casually taken up a position from where she could barge in between the bed and the prince at any time and said that.
Prince Francesco nodded once more, then nonchalantly dropped a bombshell.
“Yes, but before that I have to apologize to you.”
Aura obviously readied herself to jump in.
In the back, Zenjirou, too, reached out for the hilt of his sword on reflex.
The blonde waiting maid bended over a little bit in a natural manner, so that she was able to draw the short sword attached to her thigh under the skirt at any moment.
And Doctor Michelle swallowed hard as he watched the scene unfold. The still smiling Prince Francesco continued with a wry look.
“Indeed. The truth is, I have been lying to you.
I claimed to have numerous ‘Imbued Stones of Cure’, because I’m from the Twin Kingdom, but that was a lie.
The Twin Kingdom has the healers of the Jilbell Family and we of the Sharrow Family basically never leave the capital. Therefore a healer can immediately be dispatched when someone from the Sharrow Family falls ill. Accordingly the Royal Family hardly gets any ‘Imbued Stones of Cure’.”
“Then what is that white stone in your hand? It is not the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’?”
Aura asked sharply with a stern expression and voice that revealed her bloodlust, whereat Prince Francesco retained his smile and answered brightly.
“Oh no, this is definitely an ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’. But it’s the one and only in my possession. Bona will be really angry when I use it.”
“Now then, what do we do?”
Although Aura crouched down some more and set her hand to the sword at her waist, she signalized Zenjirou, standing at the back, with her eyes not to act hastily.
The behaviour of the prince was clearly dubious, but if he actually meant to harm Carlos, it was even more dubious.
Although he had no claim on the throne, Prince Francesco should be too valuable to send him on a suicidal mission, even if you discounted his only forte of being one of the current best practitioners of the Bestowal Magic.
In other words, it was more than likely that it was not his aim to harm Carlos.
Amidst all that tension, Prince Francesco held up his left hand, not the right hand holding the ‘Imbued Stone of Cure’, to the bed with the sleeping Carlos
“I will do this instead: ‘Relieve this person of the sickness plaguing its body. As compensation, I make two-hundred and eighty-six offerings of magical power to the life spirit.’”
The palm of his left hand emitted a pale light of magical power that showered down on Carlos.
The result was eye-catching. The ‘Spotted Fever’ was called like that because of its symptom of spot-like red rashes on one’s body and face.
Until just a moment ago, Carlos’ adorable face, too, had been cluttered pitiable with red rashes.
However, the rashes had completely vanished now. And when you listened closely, you could hear how his rough breathing had changed into a peaceful one.
It was plain as day that the “magic” of the prince had taken effect.
After a while, Zenjirou finally comprehend what had happened in front of his eyes and muttered softly.
On the other hand, Aura just stood there dumbfounded with a surprised expression never seen before.
It was understandable that she was surprised.
Prince Francesco belonged to the Sharrow Royal Family. And yet he had used “Healing Magic”, which was the bloodline magic of the Jilbell Royal Family. According to the common knowledge of this world, this was a practically impossible and insane happening.
“Ehm, could we move elsewhere? I want to explain myself in detail. Ah, but only with the people present at the moment, since I need you to keep quiet about it.”
In the meantime, the perpetrator aka. Prince Francesco was the only one, who kept his carefree attitude, and announced that.
* * *
“Only Doctor Michelle, the wet nurse Cassandra and the waiting maid Margret were with us in the room. For now, I have forbidden the three to leave from there.
I do not mean to scrutinize your magic, but we cannot leave an infant that is still recovering all alone, so they will continue to look after him.
And since I had already forbidden anyone to get near that room when Carlos fell ill, those three will not come in contact with anyone else. That will take care of the secrecy for now.”
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty. I appreciate your consideration.”
Since then, Aura, Zenjirou and Prince Francesco had moved to a room, where they could talk in peace.
This room in the Inner Palace was usually used by Zenjirou for his lessons with his private teacher, Lady Octavia.
It was the perfect location, because it was furnished to receive guests without having any stuff from Earth around.
Aura and Prince Francesco were sitting opposite one another with a table in between them and Zenjirou had taken a seat next to his wife. A typical arrangement.
By the means of changing rooms, Aura had regained some of her composure in time.
“Well then, let us hear what you have to say. There is a lot I want to ask, but frankly speaking: Just who are you?”
Unsurprisingly, Aura’s all too frank question made Prince Francesco smile wryly and scratch his head.
“Who I am? I am Francesco, the first son of Crown Prince Joseph from the Sharrow Royal Family, and no one else.”
“Hmm, I guess my question was misleading, so I will ask one thing at a time.
Are you really a member of the Sharrow Family? No, wait, that should go without saying. I see you using your ‘Bestowal Magic’ every day to make us the ‘Future Compensation’ magic tool.
But why do you can use ‘Healing Magic’ then? Is it some kind of trickery?”
She was questioning him a bit too severely, considering he was the prince of a foreign country and the saviour of her sick child.
However, her harsh approach was reasonable, seeing as he did something practically impossible.
Prince Francesco himself seemed to understand that, too, as he showed no signs of being offended and replied obediently.
“It’s no trickery, but genuine ‘Healing Magic’. To be honest, I can use both, ‘Bestowal Magic’ and ‘Healing Magic’.”
He said happy-go-lucky as though he was bragging how impressive that was. Even in all modesty, the word impressive didn’t come close to describing it, though.
As a result, Zenjirou, who had silently listened to the two of them so far, spoke up about something that had been on his mind the whole time.
“Prince Francesco, you told me that you feel congenial with me when we first met at the evening party, right? And today, you said the same about Zenkichi.
I will be plain with you: Does your so-called ‘congenial feeling’ refer to kindred spirits, who ‘inherited two kinds of royal blood’?”
His question surprised Prince Francesco a bit. The prince blinked, then answered with a grin.
“Wow. So you remembered it. Yes, you’re right.
Just like you and Prince Carlos have inherited the blood of the ‘Carpa Royal Family’ and ‘Sharrow Royal Family’, I have inherited the blood of the ‘Sharrow Royal Family’ and ‘Jilbell Royal Family’.”
Zenjirou and Aura were speechless for a while when Prince Francesco readily confirmed the greatest secret of the century.
Still, one mystery was solved like that.
The accepted theory amongst scholars researching magic, was that it was possible that someone could use two bloodline magic when the person had inherited two royal bloodlines and had more magical power than the average royalty.
Prince Francesco had nearly twice as much magical power as Zenjirou and when he had inherited not just the blood of the “Sharrow Royal Family”, but also the blood of the “Jilbell Royal Family” with that kind of magical power, it was explainable that he could use two bloodline magic.
“Then your parents are…”
Zenjirou had trouble asking as it concerned the dishonour of his parents, but Prince Francesco’s answer was beyond his expectation.
“No, you’ve got that wrong. My parents are without doubt the Crown Prince Joseph and his wife Tosca.”
The prince gave the confused Zenjirou a wry smile and explained.
“Your Majesty Zenjirou, the Twin Kingdom has been established by two royal families hundred of years ago. Do you honestly believe that the two bloodlines never immingled during all this time?”
Although Zenjirou was asked that question, it was the listening Aura, who answered it.
“I see. In a way, you are the same as Princess Bona then.”
Although she was born into an average family of lower ranked nobles, Bona had atavistically awakened to the bloodline magic of the Sharrow Family. On the other hand, Prince Francesco was born as a direct descendant of the Sharrow Family and atavistically awoke to the bloodline of the Jilbell Family. Therefore one could certainly put them on the same level.
“Then that is also the real reason that you do not have a claim on the throne, even though you are the son of the Crown Prince?”
When Aura asked with narrowed eyes, Prince Francesco didn’t stop smiling, but his smile certainly became a bit clouded with tension as he affirmed it.
“Yes. It’s a secret treaty between our two royal families.
When someone in one family awakens to the bloodline magic of the other, that person has to spend to the rest of his life alone to bring his lineage to an end.”
That treaty was most likely arranged to preserve the claim on their respective bloodline magic. Without such a treaty, it would be incredible difficult to run a unique country with two royalties.
Still, no matter how much you sugar-coated it, it must have gotten across extremely unfair to Prince Francesco?
Maybe he was hiding the distress over it behind that innocent smile of his? While pondering over that, Aura inquired further.
“Then your usual behaviour is an act because of that? An act to convince others that you have no claim on the throne, because you cannot make the real reason public.”
By playing a lazy failure, he sacrificed himself for the good of his country. Maybe he felt “congenial” with Zenjirou in that regard as well?
That thought had crossed her mind, but surprisingly enough, Prince Francesco shook his head and denied her assertion.
“No, if anything, that’s actually my true self. I was never smart to begin with and always speak before thinking it through.
Usually I just say and do whatever I want without holding back. Only at times like this I pull myself together and act like I’ve been taught.”
His statement made Aura smile wryly.
He probably didn’t notice the fact that he was no longer an idiot when he could “pull himself together and act like he had been taught”. It would be difficult for an onlooker to overthrow the self-assessment he had ever since he was a child, with just words.
Anyway, it now made sense how his usual “foolish act” come across so naturally.
That left only one last question. And the most important, at that.
Truth be told, Aura had already guessed his answer to the question by now, but she had to pose it anyway.
Sitting straight on her chair, Aura took a deep breath and spoke well though out in a calm tone.
“Okay, one last question, Prince Francesco.
Why did you confide your secret to us? And why did you go out of your way to prove that you can actually use ‘Healing Magic’ by getting into the palace with a lie and healing my child? I am pretty sure it is a secret amongst secrets that not many in the Twin Kingdom even know of.”
Prince Francesco straightened his back like Aura.
And then he showed a somewhat transparent smile that was so unlike his previous innocent smile.
“Yes. The only ones that actually know about it are the king, the pope, my parents and my teacher for Healing Magic. Ah, Bona doesn’t have a clue, of course, so please keep it that way.
As for my reason: I wanted to let you know that someone can really use both bloodline magic when he has inherited the blood from two royal families and has a lot of magical power like myself.”
The answer really was as expected, so Aura closed her eyes and kept silent for a moment.
“In other words…!”
Next to her, Zenjirou must have come to the same conclusion as her, if only a bit later. He couldn’t hide his surprise and opened his eyes wide.
Queen Aura resolutely nodded to her husband, then said with a calm voice.
“Indeed. Our child Carlos can use two bloodline magic, the ‘Space-Time Magic’ as well as ‘Bestowal Magic’. Am I right, Prince Francesco?”
Carlos had a magical power on par with Prince Francesco. That conclusion was inevitable when the earlier explanation from the prince could be trusted.
The affirmation from Prince Francesco echoed rather intensely in Zenjirou’s ears.