Four Party Talks Concerning the Duke’s Daughter (Part 1)
The day after her engagement with Algard was canceled, Euphilia, after spending the night in the royal villa, was dressed by a team of maids from the royal palace.
She’d already been told that she would be meeting the King today, as well as her father, Duke Grantz Magneta, who had arrived at the palace. The servants had been busy preparing her since this morning, and it was already noon.
Even though she was being dressed up in a way that wouldn’t shame her in front of royalty, Euphilia still couldn’t shake off her somber mood. The only thing she could think of was that strict father of hers.
(I wonder if he’ll even worry about seeming civil when he sees me…)
Although Anne-Sophia herself had said that her father loved her, Euphilia couldn’t bring herself to believe it.
As far as she was concerned, he didn’t see her as a daughter, only as a future Queen, someone to become a leading figure for the country’s next generation. No matter how much she tried, that idea remained unassailable in her mind.
If one aims to become Queen, one must be able to cut down opponents without mercy or hesitation. One mustn’t throw aside their feelings, but they mustn’t be fettered by them. One must be just for the sake of the country, sincere for the sake of the people. That was what had lain ahead for her in the future.
Without being able to use those teachings and that goal to prop herself up any longer, Euphilia felt as weak and vulnerable as any girl her age in a situation like this would. Without trying to hide her melancholy, she looked out the window.
“Catch the Princess at once! Don’t let her get away, after her!”
“Does she have her flying tool with her?! Alright, quickly, surround and corner her!”
“Royal Knights, spare no effort! We must protect the peace of mind of His Majesty!”
“WE ARE HIS MAJESTY’S SHIELD!!”
“Well said, now begin the assault! Chaaaaaaaaarge!!”
“Follow the knights! As Her Highness’ personal maids corps, we cannot be left behind! Onwards, everyone!”
…And watched a chaotic scene with a small army of knights and maids rushing about.
What’s more, she definitely heard the Princess mentioned more than once. Euphilia couldn’t help but wonder what was going on this time.
“Hahahahaha! This way, knights! Follow the sound of my clapping!”
“Prepare thyself, Princess Anne-Sophia!”
“Your Highness, you’re meant to be meeting with His Majesty and His Excellency Duke Magneta, you must get changed into a dress at once!”
“I refuseee! I’ll dress how I like, thank you very much!!”
“This isn’t a requeeeeest!!”
As she watched, the country’s Princess hopped between the ground and the walls to evade her pursuers, like she was some kind of human grasshopper. And as she jumped around in a strange way, the horde of knights and maids raced after her, creating the strangest sort of scene.
“Hahahaaa! Well then, my dear knights and maids, please do excuse meeee!”
“This is bad, is she going to scale the walls?!”
“Please wait, Your Highness!”
“A Princess waits for no man!”
“…In that case, I’ll stop you by force.”
“A head hunter?!”
Jumping down from the top of the ramparts, Illya descended like a grim reaper towards Anne-Sophia, who was running up the side of the wall.
As they both plummeted into the ground a plume of dust exploded into the air, eventually clearing to reveal Illya pinning Anne-Sophia to the ground.
“Now! Don’t worry about getting me caught up in it!!”
“Illya… Your sacrifice will never be forgotten! Maid corps, get her!!”
“Leave it to us…! Prepare yourself, Princeeeess!!”
“Damn you… Damn yooooou!”
Anne-Sophia struggled with all her might as the ropes were cast over her. Meanwhile, Illya closed her eyes and accepted her fate as collateral damage, as she was bound up together with Anne-Sophia and carted away by a group of knights. As the maid corps were hot on their heels, the rest of the knights let out a victory cry.
After watching the absurd scene play out in silence, Euphilia let out a sigh.
“I’m sorry, but could I have a cup of tea?”
She decided that she would do her utmost to keep herself from seeing any more.
＊ ＊ ＊
“Good day, Princess Anne-Sophia. Your dress looks wonderful.”
“Good day, Miss Euphilia. That’s what all the maids have been saying since this morning… That I look good in it, but…”
Euphilia studied the dressed up Anne-Sophia. She stood somewhat shorter than her and combined, with that young looking face of hers, any stranger would have trouble believing that Euphilia was the younger of the two.
Just like she thought, that skin of hers positively glowed after some care, and that platinum blonde hair that signified the royal family looked glossy and beautiful, woven into an intricate braid. That light pink dress with a fluffy hem was a perfect fit for Anne-Sophia’s youthful looks as well.
If she stayed completely still, and Euphilia erased what she had seen the day before and that morning from her memories, she could almost pass as a normal, beautiful princess. Though considering how beautiful she was when properly scrubbed up and prepared, Euphilia thought to herself that no matter what happened, she wouldn’t ever be able to forget that she was a royal.
Compared to Anne-Sophia, Euphilia had a more feminine look. In particular, her waistline was something that would make others sigh with envy. Although she was fairly modestly built in the chest area, it was the perfect size to balance out the rest of her slender and tall body.
Euphilia’s hair was a light shade of silver, that could almost be mistaken for being white. Under the light, it almost sparkled, it was that lustrous. Along with her lady-like pale skin and pink eyes, although her strong will often left a marked impression on people, nobody could deny her good looks. Simply put, Euphilia was a beauty.
“Dresses are so heavy…”
“Please bear with it for now.”
“Your Highness, Lady Euphilia, His Majesty and His Excellency are awaiting you.”
With a bow, the maid lead Anne-Sophia and Euphilia into the next room. In the room, sitting opposite to Orfans, was a man whose features were reminiscent of Euphilia’s.
Just like Euphilia’s, his sharp eyes left no mistake about the strength of his willpower, and his cold expression betrayed no emotions. A man whose entire being felt like it had been sharpened akin to a blade, he was none other than Duke Grantz Magneta.
“It has been some time since we last met, Lord Grantz.”
“Princess Anne-Sophia, it’s a pleasure to see you once again. You truly have grown up to be a wondrous beauty.”
“Grown up… Oh, my Lord, you really do have a charming tongue. Almost like a Princess’s!”
“Who the hell is supposed to be the Princess here, you idiot girl?! Just hurry up and take a seat. Euphilia, if you would as well, please.”
“…Yes, please excuse me.”
As Anne-Sophia and her father sat next to each other, their usual mood continuing straight from where it had left off the previous day, the mood between Euphilia and Grantz stood in stark contrast, feeling cold and mechanical. After a moment’s hesitation, Euphilia bowed and took a seat next to Grantz.
After Anne-Sophia and Euphilia were settled in their seats, Orfans coughed and started them off.
“I believe we all know why we’ve gathered here today. First of all, I would like to confirm some details about just what occurred leading up to and during the cancellation of the engagement by Algard. Euphilia, I realize this must be hard, but could I ask you to speak on it?”
“…Yes, Your Majesty.”
After being prompted by Orfans, Euphilia began to relay the story. Whilst listening to Euphilia explain what had happened, Orfans’ face began to grow darker.
In contrast, Grantz’s expression didn’t change at all. He merely listened to what his daughter had to say impassively. Whilst occasionally taking brief pauses to wet her drying throat with a sip of tea, Euphilia eventually finished telling the entire story.
“…I see now. So, after breaking into the banquet hall accidentally, you took Euphilia away from there, is that correct, Princess Anne-Sophia?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“And, out of consideration for what will inevitably happen to her reputation, you’ve extended an offer to Euphilia to research magic under you?”
“Only with your permission, of course.”
After listening to what Anne-Sophia also had to say, Grantz stroked his chin. As always, his expression was indiscernible, like staring at a sheet of ice.
Orfans, meanwhile, shuffled restlessly in his seat, preemptively stroking his stomach. Euphilia’s shoulders had begun to tremble, her hands gripping her knees.
Meanwhile, the eccentric princess lived up to her moniker as she casually sat through that tense atmosphere, taking a relaxed sip of tea.
“Until now, if I’m not mistaken, you have never directly involved anyone in your magical research before, is that right, Your Highness? So, why now?”
“Is me liking Miss Euphilia not enough of a reason?”
“If you would, I would like to hear the real reason.”
“Well, we both like each other, right? Isn’t that good enough?”
For the first time in the meeting, Grantz smiled. But, it was a smile like a predator that had prey in its sights. Anne-Sophia, meanwhile, grinned like a Cheshire Cat.
“To put it simply, Miss Euphilia knows what it feels like to be hurt. So, I don’t think I have to worry about her betraying me.”
“What I mean to say is that magic is dangerous, Miss Euphilia.”
As she listened to the words she never expected to leave Anne-Sophia’s mouth, the Princess turned and grinned coyly at Euphilia.
＊ ＊ ＊
Magic is dangerous. Or, at least, that’s what I think.
That’s why, even if I do submit my research papers and reports from time to time, I don’t let anyone see the inner workings of my research process, apart from Illya.
I’ve taken great pains to make sure that all the other maids are kept far away from my workshop. So, apart from me, there are only a handful of people who even understand a part of the research and development process behind Magicology.
“The more research I complete, the more convenient and useful my brand of magic becomes. Making things convenient allows civilizations to prosper, and that prosperity eventually becomes something that can be wielded. In other words, right, it becomes what you could call power.”
“Yes. So, I try to keep as much of my research under wraps as possible, and don’t give out more of this ‘power’ than I need to. It’s fine to use these things for myself, but I’m very careful about what I allow to spread to the wider world. And, I try to make sure as few people are involved as possible.”
“…So, it was because you foresaw what kind of influence Magicology could have that you gave up your right to the throne?”
Euphilia didn’t quite seem to understand, so I explained what I meant. After I did, this time it was Lord Grantz who asked a quiet question.
“No, that’s more because the right to succeed the throne was a pain in the aAAAAGH?!”
Before I could finish my sentence, Father’s hand smacked the top of my head. That was dangerous, I almost bit my tongue. Wincing at the pain, I rubbed the top of my head.
Part of the reason I gave up my right to inheritance really was that it was an annoying bother, though. Because, in the end, ‘my’ values had irreversibly changed, and I was eventually convinced that they would never go back to what they were, even if I stayed in that position.
“All I wanted to do was study Magicology. That, and I didn’t want to get married to anyone.”
“Why is that?”
“Because then I’d have to balance work and kids, right?! I DEFINITELY don’t want to have any children! And also, I don’t hate men, but when it comes to a partner I have ZERO interest in the opposite sex!”
“…So, it really was true, after all?”
Yeah. Honestly, I really can’t see it. I can’t imagine myself being in line for the throne now at all. It’s not as if I completely hate the idea, okay? It’s just so low down my list of priorities it may as well not exist.
If I continued to proclaim my right to succeed the throne and actually achieve it, if I tried to keep going with my magical research, things could get sticky very quickly. I didn’t really think about it too deeply back then, but that’s something I slowly came to realize later.
“If I continue to contest the right to inherit the throne, it could become a real problem for the country.”
“Just why do you say that?”
“Miss Euphilia, just what do you think is valuable about me? It’s my Magicology. But, say I did somehow become Queen, then I’d have to do my magical research alongside all my duties as a leader! I’d have no choice but to choose one or the other. So, would I leave affairs of state to my husband? Wouldn’t that just make me a puppet head of state? In other words, in order for me to keep devoting my time to making my Magicology a success, I have to give up on the right to inherit the throne!”
If I actually became a Queen, I wouldn’t be able to avoid dealing with affairs of state. So, I’d have to cut down on the time spent on Magicology. The problem is, apart from my magical research, I’m not really good at anything else. Besides, I really don’t think I could be trusted with a wallet as big as a national treasury.
If I ended up becoming Queen, I’d probably get so frustrated I’d blow my top eventually. But, if I leave all my duties to whoever I ended up marrying, the schism of power would eventually lead to factions cropping up and dividing the country.
“After that, father began to suggest I be married off for political reasons, but belonging to some man was totally no good either. That would mean he’d hold the power of Magicology, right? The power of Magicology being wielded like that could end up being really dangerous. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in something that troublesome anyways, and like I said before, marrying a man is totally no good in the first place!”
As if he felt a headache coming on, Father touched his forehead. Well, of course, I’m dedicated! Like I’ll let anything get in the way of my fun second life!
“That’s why I stepped back so that Allie could be the next King! And I went a little wild to help seal the deal!”
“Oh, Anise, did you truly act with such feelings in mind?”
“Well, not really, it just sort of ended up that way.”
“I knew iiit!!”
Father looks like he’s grieving. But, well, all’s well that ends well, right?
“However, that plan seems to have backfired.”
Lord Grantz muttered coldly. Father, meanwhile, groaned like he was in pain. Well, I suppose that’s right, huh? With Allie acting out like this, the whole house of cards seems like it’s teetering.
It’s also probably true that, since I was so free, a lot more scrutiny was placed on Allie. Maybe. I’m sorry about that, really sorry.
Well, even if I profited by having the opportunity to approach Miss Euphilia, it’s not like it didn’t come at a cost for most people involved, so there’s no way I could say that out loud. Especially since the fault for this incident lay squarely on our, the royal family’s, shoulders.
“So, in brief, Princess Anne-Sophia, your plan is to restore Euphilia’s reputation by having her participate in your Magicology research?”
“Yes. To be blunt, I don’t think it would work out if I tried to butt into Allie’s affairs. Allie doesn’t really see eye to eye with me lately. So, with that in mind, I figured it would be better to bring her over to my side instead.”
“It certainly isn’t a bad idea. In the sense that it would be of great benefit to Princess Anne-Sophia’s magical research, that is… However, just how would it benefit my house?”
With those words, the pressure exuding from Lord Grantz increased dramatically. I could feel Father wilting slightly beside me.
It was definitely possible to fix Miss Euphilia’s reputation, but, what would all this mean for how people viewed her family? Just like I said earlier, letting someone in on my research presented all sorts of risks.
If it was a family like Duke Magneta’s, I wouldn’t worry about them abusing the knowledge. But, a new problem would emerge in that people would perceive them as having too much power.
“I doubt I should have to explain to you just what I mean to say by that, Princess Anne-Sophia, as you have said it yourself?”
“Yet, despite that, you would still wish to bring Euphilia to your side?”
“Yes. Because I wish for her to be happy. And for her potential to fade away now would be too much of a shame. If anything, I want to help unlock her true potential.”
Personally, I don’t like the idea of a monarchy. Someone has to kill their own individuality and become a living embodiment of the state. But, so long as this country remains a kingdom, I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that. It’s not something I’m capable of or willing to change.
But, that doesn’t mean I personally have to go along with it. I want to live as I like. From the day I regained my memories, I became wholly unfit to sit on a throne.
Well, I won’t deny that there are certain things that are easier because I’m a Princess, and I don’t have any complaints about making contributions to the country. But, if I have to stop being me, then I never want to become a Queen.
However, I knew that my selfishness meant that someone else would have to suffer in my place. And, that was plain to see in what Miss Euphilia was having to go through. So, I want to do everything I can for her.
“…I see. Euphilia.”
“Do you still wish to become a Queen?”
＊ ＊ ＊
As her father asked her that, she looked back at him, but she couldn’t muster any strength to back up her gaze. Her shoulders trembled, and she chewed her lip as she tried to form words.
Grantz, meanwhile, simply looked at Euphilia. Seconds felt like hours, but finally Euphilia opened her mouth to speak, as tears spilled down her cheeks.
“I’m so… truly sorry…!”
“…Why are you apologizing?”
“I’m so sorry… I dragged our family’s name… through the mud…! I will do everything I can to clean it… but… I can’t become a Queen… anymore…!”
Her voice was racked with intermittent sobs. Euphilia’s entire body shook as she put everything into her words, desperately trying to wipe away the tears that stained her dress.
Grantz’s eyes narrowed slightly as he listened to her, as if he wasn’t pleased with her answer.
“Euphilia, I will ask you once again. Do you still want to become a Queen?”
“I cannot become one…”
“I wasn’t asking whether you could or could not. I am asking whether you want to be one.”
“…I can’t become one! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry…!”
Shaking her head vigorously, Euphilia repeated the same words. Grantz’s eyes stayed narrowed as he looked at his daughter.
“Ah, yeah, uh… Lord Grantz, I don’t think you’re quite putting it right. Miss Euphilia, you’re not really answering like you’re meant to, either.”
Anne-Sophia, who was scratching the side of her cheek awkwardly, interjected between the two of them.
“Who said you couldn’t be one, exactly? Lord Grantz is asking you what you would like to do, Miss Euphilia. But, you’re answering him like someone else has made the decision for you. That’s why Lord Grantz was asking you to answer him differently, right?”
Anne-Sophia turned from Euphilia and directed her question at Grantz. Grantz paid Anne-Sophia a single glance, before turning back to his daughter.
“I raised you to become a Queen, so I wanted to see if you still held the resolution to become one. However… If you don’t want to do that, then…”
What happened next caused Euphilia’s eyes to go wide from shock.
Grantz reached out his hand… and stroked her head. With slightly clumsy fingers, Grantz ran a hand through Euphilia’s hair.
“We will end it. The engagement that the King suggested, if you decide that you don’t wish for it anymore, then I shall respect that.”
“No matter who wants to make you into a Queen, if you don’t want that, then I’ll protect you with every fiber of my being. Euphilia, I want you to be happy. Up until now… I haven’t been the sort of Father you deserve.”
“That’s not true at all…! It’s only because of how you raised me that I’ve come this far at all, Father! Please don’t say something like that! It’s all my fault for being so foolish and bringing shame on our family…!”
“There isn’t a single foolish thing about my daughter. But… so be it, if you can’t forgive yourself, then I’ll forgive you in your place. The family I lead isn’t so small a thing to be toppled over by some small mistake of my daughter.”
“Please don’t say something like that… Just why are you saying this, I can’t…”
Euphilia’s voice was barely a whisper as the tears continued to fall.
Ever since she was a young girl, her future as the fiancee of the Prince had been determined for her. It was what had driven her forward, inspired her to become someone worthy of the position.
She had given it everything she had. If she was to be the country’s Queen, she could never burden anyone with her own selfishness. In order to lead the country alongside the King, she had to become smarter and stronger than all the rest.
So, the words her father spoke rang strangely in her ears. She shouldn’t be allowed to do as she liked, to act on her own desires. As confusion boiled in her chest, Euphilia hugged herself tight, as if the wall that had kept heart safe would shatter and disappear if she didn’t.
“So, please tell me that I was wrong… That it was my fault that I couldn’t stop Prince Algard because of my own uselessness, that I was too weak to overturn the accusations, otherwise, I’ll…!”
“You’re acting just like a little girl, Euphie.”
Euphie…? A nostalgic memory that she thought long forgotten stirred in her mind. And, when she raised her head, she saw Grantz’s troubled smile.
Ahh, now she remembered. That’s what her father used to call her, wasn’t it? Such a nostalgic sound. From a time before she became the fiancee to a Prince, when she was just his daughter.
“It’s as if you haven’t grown at all. As if, on that day, time had just come to a stop. You were still my little Euphie, you always have been, but I just failed to notice. As a father, I’m pathetic.”
“I taught you every day how to carry yourself with beauty and grace, because I imagined that one day you would carry the country on your shoulders, so I was strict with you since I didn’t want you to see you fall to the hardships that awaited you in the future. But, all I was doing was coating you in armour, I didn’t pay attention to what lay underneath. What a pathetic father I am…”
“Please, don’t say that. Even if you’re the one saying them, I can’t listen to any words that degrade you, Father!”
“Then, please tell this miserable excuse of a father, who couldn’t even notice the pain his daughter was going through… Do you still hold the hope of becoming a Queen, Euphie?”
He reached out a hand to stroke Euphilia’s cheek, wiping away the tears. Reaching out, Euphilia took his hand in hers.
His clumsily big, but warm hands. It felt just like the hand of her father’s that she remembered as a child. And, as she held it, the stubborn wall that she had put around her heart finally yielded.
“…I’m sorry, Father. But, I can no longer stand by Prince Algard’s side. I have… no wish to become Queen anymore.”
“…Is that so?”
“…I’m so sorry for wasting all of the efforts that you’ve been making up until now.”
“It’s fine. Euphie, the only thing that I wish for is that you can smile, truly smile, from the bottom of your heart. You really did your best. And I’m sorry it took me this long to notice. I’m sorry, Euphie.”
Grantz pulled Euphilia into a deep hug. Euphilia, drawn into her father’s embrace, buried her face in his chest and began to wail.
Looking warmly at his daughter, Grantz gently stroked her back to comfort her.
“Ohh, what a moment, Father! Don’t you think this atmosphere is really great! Look at those two, it’s like they’re in their own little world!”
“Yooooooooooou! Even in this kind of moment, you wouuuuuld??!!”
“My neck! My neck should be off limits! Father, it’s hard to breaaathe! Referee, where’s the referee?! I give, I give!! Ahh don’t squeeze even mooore?!”
With one hand, Orfans wiped away a tear, truly feeling sorry for everything that had lead up to this moment. With the other, he gripped his idiot daughter’s throat.
As Anne-Sophia struggled in Orfans’ grasp, she slammed her fists against his arms as she slowly went pale.
As the royal duo began to get noisy again, Grantz and Euphilia turned to look at them, then turned back to look at each other.
And, as if to say ‘what a bother’, the two of them exchanged a small smile.
Extra: In the light novel, there’s a scene where Euphie and Anise share a bed for that night and talk about themselves. Unfortunately, plot-wise, it doesn’t fit with the way the web novel is written, so I’ve excluded it. I can, however, share the illustration: