Princess Verneuil smiles with a childish maliciousness and looks as if she has no malice in her heart.
But the Crown Prince walks up to her and speaks to her without changing his expression at all.
"Aunt, could you return to the palace?"
She shrugs her shoulders as if she were mocking him, and rocks lightly in her rocking chair.
"You know, a man who doesn't know how to appreciate the taste is boring, Bastian boy. I rarely go away from palace. So, this princess would stay here for a while longer. It's good here. The air is clean and quiet. There are no people here who can't even criticize this princess head-on, and yet secretly, behind this princess back, they call me a whore."
But as she smiles languidly, the crown prince makes a decisive remark.
"No matter how long you wait, he won't come."
Immediately she stops moving.
On the other side of the balcony, a white magpie spreads its wings and flies, tracing the shape of the lake.
The faint sound of its cry reminded the heavy silence that had descended upon this place.
"I see... he's not coming. What a weak-willed man he is! His whole family is about to be exterminated, and he doesn't even come here to avenge his family's death? So boring, so boring!"
At the end of a long silence, she somehow manages to speak.
Her voice is moist and trembling, while her words seem to be making fun of him.
"Aunt, that's enough. There is no need for you to act like that. With all due respect, I read the letter you wrote to him."
"...Well, you've seen it, so you know about it. So, you've come to laugh at this miserable princess who was rejected twice, is that it?"
"No, I won't laugh at you, Aunt. I would never laugh at you."
Then the Crown Prince said with a tremor in his voice.
"He can no longer come. He is no longer in this world."
At that moment, she sprang to her feet as if struck by lightning.
It was as if she had been struck by lightning.
It was obvious to everyone that she had received a strong shock.
Her lips remained open and rigid, her eyes fluttered wildly, and she looked at the Crown Prince with an expression that was neither joyful nor sorrowful.
"Uh... no way! Don't lie! Even you have things you can say and things you can't! It's true that this princess mischief has gone too far, but even if it's payback, your lie is too bad!"
"It's not a lie. He was crushed between his engagement to the previous king and his love for you."
"I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I don't believe it! Father is already gone. What's the use of an agreement! The only chain that binds him is the Duke's!"
"Aunt! Remember what kind of a man the Duke of Savignac was! You know better than anyone that he's not the kind of man who would betray a promise he made to the royal family just because time's passed."
"No way... No way, that's impossible... Such a stupid thing, no way, no way, no way..."
She slumps weakly against the back of the rocking chair, which shakes with a dry sound like an old man's groan.
The Crown Prince looked again into his aunt's face.
There was no light in her eyes, and nothing remained that could be called an expression.
The emotion that swelled up in her heart was too big to be taken out from anywhere. It seemed so to his eyes.
Because she is so beautiful to the eye, she even looks like a statue with the title of despair on it.
It was as if something essential for life was spilling out of her body without end.
Her image was that of a woman who was so pitiful and weak.
(But... I must do it.)
He calls out to the little girl who is holding his hand.
"Aunt, look into her eyes. It may calm you down a little."
The Crown Prince's voice is low, as if he is trying hard to keep it from rising to the top of his voice.
After all, he is about to kill his own flesh and blood. The fact weighed heavily on him.
To commit the same crime of murdering one's relatives for two generations, it is too much to bear.
(I wonder if my father had this feeling. I wonder...)
As he quietly turns away, a young girl stands on her knees with her hand on the armrest of a rocking chair.
Princess Verneuil no longer had the energy to think.
In a daze, she turns her eyes to the person who has kneeled down near her.
A young girl with her eyes closed.
She is as fragile as a clay doll.
When she quietly opens one eye, a mysterious eye is there.
No, not an eye. A crystal ball. Under the eyelid was a black jewel.
Inside the ball was a star-like light flickering incessantly.
(A prosthetic eye? It looks as if it could suck me in.)
At the same time as the princess was thinking this in her foggy mind.
"...Tonight, may you rest in peace."
The little girl puts her face to her cheek as if kissing it and whispers in her ear.
And that was the end.
Princess Verneuil does not know what this was all about. But she does not have the energy to think about it.
She does not even want to ask her nephew, who turns away and shakes his shoulders.
Just as the girl stands up with her eyelids closed again, the Crown Prince looks back at her with a wet sound like a sniffle.
"Aunt... I'm going to ask you again. Can you go back to the capital?"
When the Crown Prince asked her this, she shook her head slightly.
Then she turned her head and whispered in a muffled voice.
"I'm sorry, Bastian boy, but could you do me a favor regarding Stellanova?
The Crown Prince nodded his head stiffly and turned his back to his aunt on the rocking chair.
He asked the little girl to leave the balcony first, then turned around and said.
"Aunt, I thought I didn't like you. But...I guess I wasn't so sure."
But his aunt did not reply. All he saw was a hand waving at him as if to say, "Go away".
Then, the sound of the door closing rang out rather loudly.
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