Author’s Pre-Chapter Note:
Hi, everyone! You must be wondering: Why do we have a sudden extra here?
It’s actually an extra chapter written when I reached my first goal in Patreon, so thanks for all of my patron supporters! ^^
It can actually be read after chapter 20.5, but since I forgot to put this extra right after chapter 20.5, I think this chapter should be put after chapter 27 as an intermezzo before we’re moving ahead to the next “arc” that will start at chapter 28.
We are shifting the events back to the distant past, when Reinst was still alive…
Year 963, Month 4, Day 13.
Although there are three elements of unluckiness today, which is 6 from Year 963, then 4 from the month, and 13 as the date…
This is still my birthday.
A special one, on top of it.
My name is Reinst Carnatia Grabberton, the only daughter of the Grabberton family, and the one who is glorified to be the perfect queen candidate.
I am not bragging, by any means. I am just stating the facts.
The nobles always flatter me, but never try to really know me.
When I told them that I didn’t think of myself like that, they dismissed me and said that I was being too humble.
The noble girls gave me praises and compliments, yet they talked behind my back. About my pretense and that I was actually a wicked person.
Before I know it, I have gotten used to all that, and nowadays, I don’t really care about them anymore. To the extent that I can’t really remember who is who among them.
Although it is true that…
I often question this world, why isn’t there a single person who would truly want to be by my side just for who I am?
I long for a companion. A true friend. Or a true love, just like the ones they portrayed in the stories I read.
I have given up on the idea of a loving family from my own family members. All they care about is the family’s honor.
In the first place, the idea of a loving and warm family just like what they portrayed in the storybooks and films will always remain a fantasy, especially among nobles whose marriages are not based on love.
I was reminiscing the past as today, I will once more stand in front of the nobles and must prepare myself to be showered by their stares, praises, and ill-talks.
As it is my coming of age ceremony.
Which means, more nobles will attend this year’s birthday compared to the previous ones.
A knock to the door can be heard when I already finished wearing my silver grey dress and emblem, and was just about to wear a hair pin decorated with the imitation of a small red carnation.
The one who opened the door was my mother.
“Oh, your preparation is done already? Good, as expected of my daughter,” she praised me as soon as she saw my appearance.
“You look beautiful. The crown prince should be attending your party. I wonder if he will propose to you right away?”
Oh, it would be nice if that happens, right?
She then approached me.
Just right when she walks…
I noticed tiny hands holding tightly to her dress from behind.
Those hands belong to none other than my little brother—Dominick Robin.
Two small amber eyes just like mine—peered from behind Mother.
There you are.
Mother’s treasure. Her pride and joy.
My heart aches a bit whenever I see him.
Not that I hate him… but do I love him?
I am quite unsure.
Although we are true siblings, we don’t spend that much time together. I am still busy with my studies and trainings, while he also receives the necessary education to be the heir of the family as soon as he can read.
Domi would spend most of his time with Mother, and the other servants.
My time with Mother decreased when Domi was born. As a result, my training and education weren’t supervised directly by her, and started to be more lenient. However, I am still not quite sure whether I should be happy or sad.
Not like my feelings matter, anyway.
Shortly after, Father comes in, as well.
“Are you ready?”
“Take care of your every behavior and words. The others will be watching you.”
“I know, thanks for reminding me.”
And something unusual happened. Well, it has ever happened before, but not that often…
Father lightly patted my head.
“Happy birthday, Reinst. I hope you will grow up to be more elegant, just like the carnation flower that you’re named after.”
“Thank you, Father.”
And before standing on the stage and opening the party, Kania-san and Clyde greeted me and congratulated me on my coming-of-age.
To be honest, I kinda envy the mother and child bond that the two of them have.
They seem to be very close to each other.
After standing on the stage and uttering some sort of empty word—I mean, my UTTERMOST gratitude towards all who attended and my GRATITUDE to be here today, I sit down somewhere nearby and begin to enjoy the food and drinks. Top quality, as always. As expected of my family’s top-rated cooks!!
Whenever I eat, I always come to realize that… perhaps… by any chance…
FOOD IS MY RAISON D’ETRE!!
Nah, sorry for my desperate attempt to find something in life that I can enjoy wholeheartedly.
But my lovey dovey date with my food (most of which have already ended up in my stomach by now, I may be a cruel person for eating my love) is sadly interrupted by the upcoming nobles. Seems like most of them have already finished eating, too.
Yup, I know it’s normal and it’s even the correct attitude to at least show your face to the person being celebrated.
“Reinst-sama, congratulations on your coming-of-age!”
“Reinst-san, happy birthday! You look so gorgeous today!”
“Congratulations, Reinst-san. Should you not be the prince’s suitor, I’d happily take your hand in marriage.”
There are so many faces that I can’t really remember.
I mean, except my classmates and people I have often seen, I don’t pay much attention to the others… with the exception of those that my family deemed important and ordered me to remember.
Most of the noble girls here are my rivals, anyway. Mother would tell me not to be swayed by their words and plummeted below them.
One by one, people who have finished their hypocrite—I mean small talks with me moved to make ways to others to greet me.
“…congrats,” An older noble girl with her golden hair curtly delivered her greetings as she was looking down, seemingly thinking of other things.
Well, there are nobles who are forced by their families to attend, despite how busy they are. As the coming of age ceremony of the Ducal family is important, so most nobles—even those from far away would come.
If it were just another normal birthday, probably those who attended would mostly come from the West area, with some from the other areas.
Anyway, I never saw her before, so she must not be from anywhere around the West Area. Most nobles coming from far areas like her would try to at least make an impression to me since we don’t meet that often, but she didn’t even try!!
Wait… she didn’t even introduce herself to me. Did she not know that I don’t even recognize her?
…ah well, not that I care. I probably won’t even remember the nobles I saw one by one at the end of the day.
“Congrats on your coming-of-age, Reinst-san! I must extend my apologies as that younger brother of mine still doesn’t want to attend to noble gatherings. I sincerely apologize for his rudeness.”
A young man that looks to be in his early twenties humbly bent his body and takes my hand and lightly kisses it.
Hmm, how brave. He must be brimming with confidence.
His white hair is messy—well, it’s his style, I guess. When he finally looks up, I notice that his left eye is yellow, while his right eye is red.
…hmmm, what a peculiarity.
Wait, I think there’s something I need to remember.
Oh, so he is the rumored Hartmann family’s heir.
There are bad rumors about their family, so Father would advise me not to be too close to them. If I remember, he had a brother.
Now, I don’t remember if I have ever met with the younger brother, but if I had—then it would mean I already forgot.
They are from the East Area, after all. We won’t be able to meet one another that often.
The other remarkable nobles would be the Fumitsuna couple.
The heir of the Fumitsuna main family just married a half-oni woman from the South territory. The two of them attended my party and gained others’ attention because of the appearance of the half-oni.
The married couple made their way to congratulate me properly.
Well, we are from the same generation of the Ducal family, despite our age difference, so of course both of them will definitely attend!
A timid girl then approaches me, she seems to be around 6 to 7 years old. There are three boys with the same purple eyes nearby. I am familiar with the two boys who are older than me, as their family’s territory is in the West, so obviously we have often met.
They are all the Schafer siblings who seem to be close to one another, even towards the siblings born from different mothers.
That– I can’t comprehend.
“U, uhmm…,” the girl timidly speaks.
“Sienna, let me say it if you can’t,” the eldest boy–Gilbert, touches her shoulder.
“No, let me say it. It’s concerning my sister and my mother, after all.”
Oh, right. The Schafer has a daughter whose age is the same as me. I rarely see her, though. Maybe because their territory is in another island in the west—the Welsh island. It is quite tiring and time-consuming to be traveling here from there, and vice versa, so some people who dislike traveling wouldn’t bother coming that often.
It’s alright, I understand that. I won’t judge you.
She is not with them, so I assume she’s not coming…? Or are they having some kind of quarrel?
“I apologize, my sister and my mother are unable to attend. They also told me to convey their birthday wishes to you. And… It’s not that they don’t want to, but there is something urgent that they need to attend to, uhm—”
Before the girl can finish her sentence, I cut her off.
“It’s fine, I don’t mind it at all.”
“Ah…,” Sienna seems relieved after hearing my answer, and said nothing more.
Whatever reason they have, it must be an important thing that they decided to not attend a duke’s daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony.
Nevertheless, there are the types of nobles who hate traveling and attending these kinds of parties, and the ones who aren’t forced to attend. I have categorized her sister and her mother in this group of nobles.
After her sister is of age, I bet she will be pressured to be more active in the noble society, so this might be her last time bailing out of the noble parties and relaxing at home, or doing other activities there.
“We also apologize if we can’t attend the party until its very end, because of the said urgent matter, as well,” the second son–Darian talks.
“No problem, you have something needed to be taken care of, and it must take quite a long time for you to go back home. Thanks for coming and please have a nice trip back.”
They bowed down before me and excused themselves.
“Let’s go back to father’s place,” Gilbert said.
“Daddy, Mommy~!” The youngest boy quickly located his parents and ran towards them, causing the other siblings to be flustered and raced after him.
When the crowd gathered in front of me have finally moved on with their life to the other side—I mean, talked among one another—I saw my half-brother with the familiar light-blonde and curly haired girl.
Clyde and Nicole.
“Reinst!! Congrats on becoming 13!! I am going to be 13 soon, as well, so make sure to come, okay?” Nicole shoved a bouquet of white carnation to me.
Among all other nobles, I can say that Nicole is the closest to me—although I don’t think we are that close enough as friends. I am unsure of my relationship to her.
She would strangely approach me over and over again, though I don’t really respond well to her approach. By the way, we are enrolled to the same school.
“Thank you, Nicole. I’ll surely come.” I accepted the flowers from her.
“Hehe!” Nicole smiled happily.
I think it’s like a common courtesy for me to come to her coming of age ceremony, so why would she be happy with that?
I don’t understand.
Then, she gazed behind her.
“Hey, Clyde! Come and greet her, she’s your sister, after all!”
Hearing that, Clyde slowly closed our distance and shortly said.
“Happy birthday, Reinst. Congrats on becoming adult.”
And that’s the end of our short conversation.
We never talk really long. Maybe we have been so used to how we were back when our competition to be the heir was so intense.
I don’t even know how he feels towards Domi’s birth and how our chances to become the heir to the family just got cut off without considering our feelings to the matter.
Regardless, he seems to be listening when Nicole and I talk.
He would often try to enter our conversation—on Nicole’s urging.
He doesn’t look like he’s being forced, though.
As we are talking about our school activities and the like…
… Oh my, another wave of enemie—no, I mean, nobles are incoming!
Huh? Something feels different with this crowd.
They seem way noisier…
Taking a close look at the crowd, I immediately take a notice on the royal family emblem.
Wearing gorgeous golden and white suit combined with the royal family emblem, he is none other than this country’s one and only… crown prince!!
Mother wasn’t lying when she told me that the prince would attend!
Obviously, I have met him before, but not that often. So, every chance to engage in a talk with him is equal to the chance of me scoring some points with him.
I must admit I am not that interested in doing that—but that’s what my family would want.
The way he walks and moves is really elegant. He has the charisma of a king, for sure.
He is 17 years old right now, but there is no announcement yet regarding his betrothal. As a result, the competition between the noble women is still as fierce as the competition between housewives during a sale.
…Sorry, Prince Titus, for comparing you to an item on sale…
When he is right in front of me, the noise that the others made… disappeared in an instant. It’s as if everyone is caught in their breathe—waiting for what will happen.
Yes, this is the long-awaited meeting between the crown prince and the strongest queen candidate.
And the queen candidate, namely me, has just had her coming-of-age ceremony. It is a good timing to talk about betrothal or proposal.
Naturally, I stood up and deeply bowed to him.
“Your Highness, Prince Titus. I am deeply moved by your thoughtful gesture of attending my coming-of-age ceremony,” I speak as I straightened my posture and look into his green eyes.
“No, the pleasure is all mine. Congratulations on your coming of age, Lady Reinst. The rumors about your beauty and elegance are true,” He smiled.
I can hear everyone’s inner gasp. He is indeed the real depiction of the prince charming from the stories.
And a smooth talker.
I am not sure he means every word of flattery he’s uttered.
As we talk to each other, I noticed one thing.
Surely, all eyes are on us at this moment.
They are either the eyes of expectation—or the eyes that desperately wish that the prince won’t fall for me.
I believe if my parents are aware of the situation right now, they must be watching intensely at me, in this very moment, though I can’t see them.
Unfortunately for all of you who have expected things!!!
And fortunately—no, unfortunately…? (WHICH ONE IS IT?!! MAKE UP YOUR MIND, DEAR ME!!!)
For me, nothing happened besides our small talk full of superficial compliments…?
The prince doesn’t seem to have any special interest to me.
Well, it must be hard to grasp the attention of someone as dreamy as he is.
And by dreamy, I mean… not to me, but to others!!
Maybe I am turned off by people’s expectation of me marrying him, or what… but I don’t think I have special feeling towards him.
Like… I don’t really care about him.
But hey, I really DID get the honor of the first dance with him. Not to mention that he’s the one to invite me first.
And our dance managed to mesmerize the others!!
Afterwards, I also danced with the other nobles.
And nope, nah, na-da. I don’t feel really tired, maybe it’s the result of my long and hard training.
After I danced with some noble that I barely know, Nicole who just finished dancing with Clyde suddenly approached me and proposed we’d switch partners for the next dancing round.
Perhaps she is interested in the noble man I danced with, just now…?
Clyde didn’t seem to object, and waited for my response.
I tensed up at that suggestion and slightly glanced towards Mother.
Nothing good ever comes from my interaction with Clyde.
I observed Mother’s expression. She noticed my gaze and responded by smiling proudly at me—with a hint of disappointment that I wasn’t being courted by the prince today.
Her gaze quickly became unfocused to me and turned somewhere else I can’t figure where, but her expression turned cold for a moment.
It seems she was looking at something or someone near me, but before I can analyze where, she shifted her attention to Domi.
Maybe, I was imagining things…?
Ah, anyway, from the look of it, Mother doesn’t seem to mind it if I were to dance with Clyde.
If she is against it, she would usually approach me or give me the sharp look, and she did neither of them just now.
I quickly turned my face back to Clyde—hmm, somehow, it feels as if Clyde barely turned his face to look at me, too.
What was he looking at until just now, I wonder?
The corner of his mouth slightly formed a smile.
“…Shall we, Reinst?” He offered his hand to me.
We quickly dance to follow the music’s rhythm.
Clyde’s dancing skill is not that bad. He is able to gently lead me with ease.
This situation would be impossible if we were still engaged in our heir competition.
Mother’s becoming less strict to me as Domi grows up.
On this birthday, for the first time, I danced with Clyde.
This doesn’t feel so bad.
After the dance, I tried to speak to Prince Titus, together with the crowd of nobles.
But until the end of the party, nothing happened.
It’s quite late at night, so I don’t think it’s wise for me to play with my Provice.
I decided to toss myself to the fluffy bed when I feel all the fatigue.
Today was tiring.
Today, I finally turn thirteen.
I can register myself as a cell donor, and make sure that my life has a meaning. Not that I’m hoping for something (death) to occur, but I wouldn’t reject that offer, as well.
But please wait for until I have finished registering myself as a donor!
I don’t want this tiresome life I had to be totally wasted in vain.
Oh well, not that it would happen.
I’m used to not getting the things I’m wishing for.
From now on, I wonder what should I do…?
If only life was as simple as a game, where I can see the objective and the on-going missions.
Perhaps my life won’t be as boring if I have something like that.
My current objective remains the same from the day I was born, though, to marry into the royal family, to be the future queen. It was an objective decided by my family.
If only I could change everything in my life, I wonder what kind of person will I be…?
Alright, enough imagining the scenarios that won’t happen.
I think it’s about time to start seeing all the gifts I’ve got, but my eyelids are so heavy…
Mmmhmm, yeah… It’s my cue to sleep. I bet this will be another deep sleep for me.
Tomorrow, I need to open and sort out the gifts, ask for a permission to go out alone (so I can register as a donor without bothering to answer a long list of questions from anyone), and… ask the maids what my routine will be.
In the end, I fell asleep while thinking about what little thing I want to do in my life from now on.
–And little did Reinst know that her wish was about to be granted.
And that her life will be turned around. Forever.