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【6】Brother’s side

Noel started living in the Gasstrak family’s townhouse, and from the following week on, Mireld stayed overnight at the official building of the royal palace, working tirelessly.

Every year around this time, he became busy with the deliberation of legal bills and the confirmation of the report contents by the census commission.

Two weeks passed in relentless work, day and night.

Regarding the management of the territory, he could leave it to the local governor and Mireille, so there was no need to worry. However, as the tasks at the palace were mostly settling down, it was about time to return home.

Just as he was thinking that, he received a summons from the king.

The chief secretary is the top civilian official, but he doesn’t have direct dealings with the king in his work. In that case, this summons should be addressed to an audience not as ‘Chief Secretary Mireld Gasstrak’ but as ‘the head of the Gasstrak Marquisate.’

…Probably, it’s related to Mireille.

Regarding the annulment of the engagement by Judrich, compensation has already been completed, so there shouldn’t be any additional discussions at this point. In that case, could it be about Mireille’s future?

Mireld headed to the king’s office.

In the room, there were not only the king and the chamberlain but also the queen, so Mireld couldn’t help feeling puzzled.

“You’re here, Marquis Gasstrak. Please, make yourself comfortable,” the king said, gesturing for Mireld to sit on the sofa, with the king and queen sitting opposite each other.

After instructing the attendant to leave, the king remained silent for a while.

“Is Mireille well?”

“Yes, she is in good health both physically and mentally,” Mireld replied.

Upon hearing this, the queen, who had been listening silently, slightly softened her gaze.

The king muttered, “I see,” and then sighed deeply.

“My foolish son Judrich treated Mireille cruelly. No matter how many times I apologize, it’s not enough. I never thought he would be such a libertine.”

Without hiding his dark expression, the king lamented, “The plan has gone up in smoke.”

—The plan has gone up in smoke?

“Your Majesty, may I ask? In accordance with the agreement between the royal family and the Gasstrak family, I have continued to treat Mireille as my sister. However, I do not know ‘who she really is.’ My late parents did not reveal much to me.”

“Today, I called you to discuss that matter. Mireille’s origins are known only to me, the queen, and the late Marquis and Marchioness Gasstrak. If Judrich had been informed, perhaps the absurd incident of the annulment of the engagement wouldn’t have occurred—no, regretting the past won’t turn back time.”

The king, who sighed deeply, appeared to be ten years older than usual. After exchanging glances with the queen, the king spoke with a heavy tone.

“I will reveal the truth to you. Mireille is the orphan of the princess of the neighboring country, Jorn.”


Shocked by unexpected words, Mireld widened his eyes.

“And she also carries the blood of the royal family of the Floren Kingdom. By marrying Mireille into the royal family, we secretly aimed to resolve the hostile relationship with the neighboring country. However—”

The neighboring country, the Jorn Empire to the east, is a nation abandoned by the goddess Floren.

According to mythology, the goddess Floren gave flowers to a certain brother. The grateful younger brother became the first king of the “Flower Kingdom of Floren,” and it is said that his brother, who trampled on flowers, was banished to the desolate land. The country founded by that “exiled brother” is the neighboring country of Jorn.

So, the Jorn Empire and this country are inherently in conflict.

Most of the Jorn Empire’s land is barren, and there are frequent clashes between the impoverished lower class and the ruling imperial family and nobility monopolizing privileges.

On the other hand, the Floren Kingdom, located to the west of the Jorn Empire, is blessed with a warm, humid climate and abundant resources. In general, it is a peaceful country.

The people of the Jorn Empire assert that “Originally, the land of the Flower Kingdom of Floren should have been the place where we, the Jorn citizens, should live,” and they attempt to incite a “reclaiming war.”

Though currently in a ceasefire, until recently, there were minor skirmishes every few years, and in the distant past, large-scale wars continued for decades.

“…However, what does it mean that Mireille carries the blood of both countries?”

“Do you know about the incident when our country launched a retaliatory invasion against the Jorn Empire in the White Lily War twenty years ago, and General Theodore Rubel, at that time, disappeared?”

Mireld was only two years old at the time of the incident, but he was well aware of it.

“General Theodore was my younger brother. Trapped by the enemy’s cunning scheme, he was imprisoned—and by the twist of fate, he met and fell in love with the then princess Yufina.”

And the daughter born from that union is Mireille, the king informed Mireld.

“Due to the affair with Theodore, Princess Yufina was executed, and Theodore also met an untimely death. Mireille miraculously reached our country. Thanks to the wit and dedicated sacrifice of those who concealed Princess Yufina’s pregnancy and childbirth, Mireille successfully escaped to our country. These facts were conveyed by the person who delivered the infant Mireille, along with various pieces of evidence.”

Mireille is a precious individual who carries the blood of both the royal and imperial families of the two countries.

“So, we wanted to appoint Mireille as the crown princess of our country, publicly disclose her origins both domestically and internationally, and actively involve her as a symbol of friendship with the Jorn Empire. However, in our country and, of course, among those who despise the Jorn Empire, there are many who would pose a danger to Mireille’s life if her origins were revealed too soon. Therefore—”

To conceal her origins, Mireille was treated as the eldest daughter of the Gasstrak Marquisate, the king continued.

Mireld carefully chose his words to inquire, “Is the reason you chose the Gasstrak Marquisate from among many noble houses because our house is the leading advocate of the ‘Moderate faction,’ avoiding the extreme conservatism or progressivism faction?”

The country’s noble factions have long been divided into three major factions: the ‘Progressive Orchid,’ the ‘Conservative Gladiolus,’ and the ‘Moderate Nelke.’ Due to differences in political ideologies, conflicts often arise, particularly between the progressive and conservative factions, while the moderate faction emphasizes overall harmony.

The king nodded. “Indeed, political stance is the primary reason, but it was also because of the Marquis Gasstrak’s stern and upright character. He was instructed to raise Mireille not as someone special but as his own child. Absolutely no special treatment; just raise her as an ordinary child.”

…Was that a mistake? Mireld wondered.

His late parents were unable to show a friendly attitude toward Mireille, treating her more like a ‘real daughter.’ Originally, they were strict parents even towards Mireld, their biological son, and their demeanor became even more rigid when dealing with Mireille. Perhaps those parents were burdened with too much sense of responsibility.

“For the future head like yourself, the late Marquis and Marchioness had been instructed to keep the secret until you come of age… If any unnatural behavior were displayed, suspicions could arise at any time. Hence, even as the royal family, we did not go beyond the scope of monitoring Mireille as the Crown Prince’s fiancée.”

There were many points to be pointed out, but Mireld wasn’t in a position to voice them.

“…Your Majesty, what are your intentions for the future?”

“I’m also at a loss. The second prince, Rigel, is only five years old. If I were to marry Mireille to him, we’d need a revision of the marriage laws.”

Don’t be ridiculous, Mireld shouted inwardly. Using Mireille as a political pawn was emotionally unbearable. However, he understood the fact that nobles and their houses were originally pawns of the royal family.

Ranked first in the ‘Moderate’ faction, he understood the limits of his political influence, despite his young age.

Since inheriting the Gasstrak Marquisate at the age of 20, he has protected the interests of the Gasstrak family with blood, facing continuous challenges. Many tried to pull him down, and it had been a series of difficulties. He had tried to conduct himself gracefully so that others wouldn’t perceive his struggles.

Despite being a key figure in one of the three major factions, he hadn’t yet solidified his political influence. Therefore, he currently has no power to challenge the king’s decisions.

(――From the beginning, was there no room for consideration, like marrying Mireille to me?)

His clenched fist on his knee felt the pressure of his nails.

The queen, without expression, gazed at the silent Mireld and quietly questioned the king.

“Your Majesty… Certainly, Mireille has the qualities to be both the Crown Prince’s fiancée and a symbol of reconciliation with the neighboring country. However, isn’t it unreasonable to betroth her to a five-year-old like Prince Rigel?”

“But if she is to be welcomed into the royal family, there is no other suitable man.”

The king sighed deeply, and the queen furrowed her brow.

“Anyway, we must continue to consider Mireille’s future and diplomatic relations between the two countries. Marquis Gasstrak, I would like to ask for your continued cooperation as Mireille’s caregiver.”

Without any other option but to answer, “As you command,” does Mireld have any choices?

As Mireld, intending to exit with a respectful bow, was about to leave, the queen stopped him.

“Marquis Gasstrak… In the eighteen years you’ve played the role of ‘brother,’ you must have thoughts about how Mireille is treated. There are no outsiders here, so if you have something to say, speak.”

—Don’t use Mireille as a pawn.

—Publicly declare that Mireille and I are not blood-related. Then I can confess my love to her as a man.

Keeping those shouts in his heart, he carved a faint smile.

“Mireille is an irreplaceable woman to me. I wish for her to live without any threats. She is my only family.”

That night.

Mireld returned to the mansion after two weeks.

“Welcome back, dear brother.”

Greeted with a beaming smile by Mireille, he couldn’t meet her eyes.

–The child born between the princess of the neighboring country and the younger brother of this country’s Prince Theodore Rubel? Mireille was born under such a peculiar star.

With a curt reply, Mireld returned to his room.

A clear sense of distance permeated his attitude. Sensing this, Mireille looked bewildered, resembling a lost child.

Noel, standing next to Mireille, continued to gaze at Mireld’s back, trying to read his emotions.

(She’s the “apple” of the princess from a distant country and the “royal aide” in this country…?? Mireld’s words are too complicated; I can’t understand.)

“Mireille, is ‘under the peculiar star’ your place?”

“Huh? What’s that?”

Both Mireille and Noel were perplexed, unable to grasp the meaning.







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