The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin chapter 17

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The Regressed Son of a Duke is an Assassin Chapter 17

Chapter 17. The Emperor’s Tour (4)

Emperor Dionne Severus of the Usiph Empire had two wives.

The first was the former Empress, now deceased, ‘Diana Quizzel’, and the second, the current Empress and the actual power behind the empire, ‘Cassandra Nephelis’.

From the former Empress, a first prince and a second princess were born, and from the current Empress, a third prince and a fourth prince.

But what about the fifth princess?

To the public, she was known to be born from a fallen duke’s family.

However, amongst the nobles central to the court, there was no one who did not know that she was born of a concubine.

Even thought to be the daughter of some nameless commoner…

Although the Emperor personally took her in and named her a princess, compared to her four siblings, she could never receive the same treatment.

One throne and the four children between it.

As a base-born from a concubine, she could never earnestly partake in such ferocious battles.

She was just a princess in name, an empty shell devoid of any real power.

At a glimpse, she may seem powerless, but honestly, what could a woman all on her own accomplish?

She was utterly unable to help herself and even failed to build the slightest support network to protect her.

In the end, she was expelled from the palace due to a civil conflict and eventually passed away quietly from an illness without any significant resurgence—such was the dismal past life of this princess.

Truly an unfortunate princess.

It was a fitting phrase, no matter who coined it.

Though she may now live in peace with an innocent face, tears of blood will fall from those clear eyes in a few years.

“How long have you lived here?”

“About a month.”

“Alone?”

“I live with a maid.”

“I see…”

Our conversation was repeatedly cut short by my indifferent one-word answers.

As I did, the princess’s gaze grew increasingly anxious, and the piercing look from Emily through the barrier shadow grew sharper.

“I should apologize for what happened this afternoon. As a princess, I feel I presented such an unbecoming appearance. As you said, if I can’t be of help, at least I shouldn’t be a hindrance…”

“There’s no need for concern. I, too, apologize for any impolite remarks I may have made towards you, Your Highness.”

As I stood to bow, she awkwardly followed suit and then settled back into her seat.

“Um, well, so…”

The princess hesitated, unsure whether to speak or not.

I decided to silently wait.

“Why did you come to the front lines?”

“I wanted to gain a variety of experiences before enrolling in the academy.”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“I am overcoming it.”

The tent grew quiet with a heavy silence.

Unable to bear it any longer, I broke the silence.

“What do you wish to say?”

“Huh?”

“You didn’t come to inquire about my personal matters, did you?”

“No! I just wanted to ask you about yourself, that’s why I came!”

“Do you speak of inquiring about me?”

[Our master is quite popular, isn’t he?]

Ceyram, lying on the bed and watching closely, remarked sardonically.

“Y-yes. Ever since I first saw you at the defensive line, I felt you were very different. Unlike me, you seemed so mature.”

“For someone who thinks so, you seemed to view me quite unfavorably…”

“Ah, for that, I apologize! It seems my envious feelings were inadvertently showing.”

By now I had a good idea of why the princess had come.

Personal consultation.

The intent was for peers of the opposite sex to talk and get to know each other better.

It was rather abrupt…

Putting aside my own situation, the fact that she would seek out a conversation with a young man she just met today, late at night, was strange.

Does the princess lack company to such a degree?

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is anything I can share with Your Highness. I find it difficult to speak of my personal concerns, and I am not as mature as you may think.”

Even if I felt a moment of pity for her, I’m too busy dealing with my own life to have the luxury of counseling someone else’s. If she cannot be of help, then even if she is of imperial blood, to me, she’s no more significant than a pebble by the road.

[Sigh, what should we do with our naive master?]

Ceyram let out a weary sarcastic response, and Emily’s gaze felt even sharper, though I gave no sign of it.

My business is mine alone, not theirs to concern.

“Why do you think that way?”

Her tone changed abruptly.

“Do you also despise me for being a mere shell of a princess?”

“You misunderstand.”

“No, I can tell by your tone. You want to end this conversation quickly and send me away. Even if I was wrong to come visit you so abruptly, to be honest, it feels quite unpleasant.”

Her gaze settled on me like a sharply honed blade.

“I see. From your perspective, I’m just someone who cannot be of any help.”

“Why would you think that?”

“I know best about myself. I’ve realized it through countless experiences since birth. No one ever tried to show their best side to me because I was a princess.”

I could only respond with silence.

Because I am no different from those she’s encountered,

It was unnecessary to persist with excuses.

With a sigh, the princess rose from her seat.

“Sorry to take your time. I thought at least we could talk, but I was mistaken. You’re nothing like your brother, Asher.”

…What?

For a moment, I doubted my ears.

“What did you just say?”

“I said you seem totally different from Asher. Even if you’re siblings, you wouldn’t necessarily be alike.”

Why?

Why is that bastard’s name being mentioned by the princess?

Unable to control my expression, the princess recoiled in surprise.

“Why do you look at me like that?”

“Asher… I mean, how do you know my elder brother?”

I asked quietly, collecting my thoughts.

“Last year, during a visit to the Royal Academy, I happened to meet him. He’s the eldest son of Duke Vert, who is acquainted with Father. I was naturally introduced to him…”

The atmosphere turned heavy.

My stomach churned, and it was hard to breathe.

I had only heard a name, and yet my emotions surged uncontrollably.

Calm down. What about when you actually confron him?

If I don’t get a grip now, I might really rip him to shreds on the spot.

You must control yourself.

Wouldn’t it be pointless to give him such a trivial and uninteresting demise?

My raging inner turmoil slowly calmed.

Lifting my face quietly, I spoke again with a calm demeanor.

“Is that so? I am sorry I could not present myself in a manner befitting him.”

“Right! You should try to be a bit more like him! After all, Asher sincerely advised me!”

…?

Who would give advice?

“…Are you saying my elder brother gave you sincere advice?”

“That’s right! Despite what others said, he told me not to waver and continue being a dignified and upright princess! He urged me to be a princess that could truly benefit the empire!”

I couldn’t believe it.

That supreme opportunist gave heartfelt advice? I know his true nature better than anyone.

He was the sort of devil who showed absolutely no interest, either kind or malicious, in anyone he deemed of no significance to him.

He only began to pay attention to me after my graduation from the academy.

Back when I was deemed incompetent, we were practically strangers for all the attention he gave.

For that man to offer advice to a princess—no, to a young princess?

Among all the imperial family, the fifth princess had the most insignificant and frail power.

She barely existed in the eyes of power-holders, so much so, that I would expect him to overlook her with nothing more than a formal greeting.

Honestly, I wanted to believe it was a lie…

But I couldn’t see any sign of falsehood in the pure eyes of this naïve princess.

“…”,

Taken aback by my unexpected silence, the princess wavered, unsure what to do.

I’ll repeat, that man never does anything without reason.

If he offered heartfelt advice to the young princess, it was because he saw value in doing so.

He would not have spoken such words simply to offer pleasant platitudes.

And if it was a year ago, then it wouldn’t have affected me at that time either.

Which means this very encounter may as well have occurred in my past life.

Become a princess of real value to the empire…

What an unsuitable thing for him to gab about.

The situation remains unchanged.

The naïve princess ultimately holds no value for me.

It makes no difference whose hands she’s in or how she’s manipulated.

But if Asher’s the one pulling the strings…

Then that changes everything.

Now that I’m aware, I’ll delve into the minutest details and thoroughly ruin any plans he may have.

-Ziing-

After creating a mana sphere the size of a pea on my fingertip, I flicked it away.

The sphere dispersed into dust, forming an invisible magical barrier around the princess and me.

“What did you just do?”

“Nothing important. Pay it no mind.”

I cast an anti-eavesdropping barrier to ensure our impending conversation remained unheard by anyone else. To those beyond the barrier, even the sound of an ant breathing would be inaudible.

“So, a princess who benefits the empire?”

“Yes, I don’t want to live like a puppet. I want to help the nation and its people as a princess.”

“Then I must boldly ask. Does Your Highness have any interest in the throne?”

Stunned by the question, she recoiled.

“What are you saying? The throne? I have no such ambition…”

“So I will ask again. If you have no interest in the throne, how exactly do you plan to serve the nation and its people?”

The princess’s face flushed deeply with embarrassment.

“I don’t wish to be an empress! There’s no chance! I know it’s hard being young, but if I try, I’m sure, even as a princess, I can…”

“How pitiful.”

“What?”

“Do you not understand the reality of the empire? You intend to contribute as a princess? You think it’ll be tough because you’re young? Do you believe anything will change in ten, twenty years? With that attitude, you couldn’t even save a beggar on the street.”

Doubt and trembling, her frail belief crumbled pitifully.

Knowing yet denying.

Regardless, there was a need to thoroughly ensure she understood her circumstances.

Whether woman or child, leniency would only be toxic.

Firstly, it was necessary for the princess to deeply engrain her position.

Tiny dewdrops formed at the corners of her eyes.

“So what should I do…? How should I live to be of help to the empire?”

“Isn’t it simple?”

“…?”

“Become the empress.”

She froze as if struck by petrification magic.

These weren’t empty words thrown about in jest.

Where there’s a will and power, anything is possible for humans.

A beggar might one day draw the holy sword and become a hero, and an emperor who ruled the world might be overthrown by a revolution and become destitute.

If she could become an empress, she would indeed be valuable to me, wouldn’t she?

-Ding! Ding! Ding!

Just then, a familiar sound filled the air.

With three bell tolls, focus returned to the princess’s eyes.

Simultaneously, guards stationed outside the barriers rushed in.

“Your Highness, we must evacuate immediately!”

I promptly dispelled the anti-eavesdropping magic.

“Is it a beast attack?”

“It seems so. We must head to the rear camp quickly…”

-Boom!

A signal indicating the emergence of magical beasts resounded.

The sound was so close and so loud that people instinctively covered their ears.

It sounded near the encampment.

A tremendous beast’s roar followed, sending powerful vibrations through the ground.

(To be continued)

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