Chapter 17. First Meeting (4)
The carriage set off, and it was not long before it stopped in front of Chermil Palace. Calian stepped out of the carriage, looked around and took in a deep breath. The lake was rippling under the wind.
“There is a little time until 10 o’clock. I’ll be back later,” Yan said, reading Calian’s suffocating expression.
Calian walked the grounds alone after Yan departed. He slowly paced around the lake, then went to the rose garden, where to his surprise he found a mound of black soil. Calian tilted his head.
‘What? Who’s in the garden on a day like this?’
Calian walked towards it in curiosity then stopped, noticing Randall’s presence there.
Calian knew that caring for the rose gardens was Randall’s hobby, but at the moment the expression on his brother’s face was not one of happiness.
Randall’s servant stood behind him stone-faced as he held up the prince’s red cloak from the ground, similar to the one worn by Calian. Meanwhile, Randall was on his knees as he trimmed the bushes.
Calian smiled in amusement. Randall normally wouldn’t have dared to work on his garden dressed like this.
‘It’s King Rumein. Randall must have been shaken by him.’
The battle for the throne occurred several years after the original Calian’s death. A tragic accident occurred when the axel of the carriage carrying the king and crown prince of Tensil broke, and the carriage tumbled down a cliff. The king and the crown prince were both killed at the same time, leaving Randall as the only remaining Tensil royalty. And so, he immediately left Kailis to succeed the throne.
‘Even without Rumein, he had little attachment to the kingdom of Kailis.’
It was an understandable decision. If Calian were in that position, he would not hesitate to leave this country as well.
A voice broke him from his thoughts, and he looked up and saw Randall standing and facing him. The one who spoke was Randall’s servant, who was eyeing him expectantly, and Calian realized that he had been standing in a daze.
Calian bowed towards Randall and offered his greetings.
Randall took off his gloves and handed them to his servant, then looked silently at Calian, his deep blue eyes contrasting against Calian’s gaze.
Randall didn’t scold Calian. He didn’t know why Calian was here alone.
Randall left him with only a single word and headed back to Chermil Palace.
* * *
Rumein was a fair king. He treated all three of his sons equally.
The smell of liquor beside Franz certainly proved it. Calian turned his head to Franz and frowned.
‘That crazy man, drinking at this time!’
Franz’s eyes seemed even cloudier than usual.
Though Calian knew the reason for his drinking, that didn’t mean he would excuse Franz’s unsightly behavior.
It was the moment before they would go outside to meet the crowds. All Calian had to do was stand wordlessly behind the king, but he was still worried that Franz might try to do something crazy.
Fortunately, Calian did not remember a story of a Kailisian prince rioting at a ceremony outside of the royal palace, so he decided in the end that nothing would happen.
As if Franz noticed Calian looking at him, he glanced over at his younger brother. Calian frowned and Franz responded by laughing furiously, but he stoutly ignored it.
“Ten minutes ago. The event will begin soon,” an official announced to the royal family.
Calian, who was seated in a chair near the main gate, took a breath to mentally prepare himself. It may be a familiar occasion for the others, but not for him, and he couldn’t help but feel his nerves prickling underneath his skin.
The square was so packed with people that there was hardly a place to tread. Inside the square, security forces mingled among crowds, as well as knights from the first division of the Royal Guard’s First Battalion. Some knights sat in a cafe or restaurant building surrounding the square, monitoring for any suspicious movements among the people.
Soon the two large crystal displays lit up and began to project images of the empty platform. Anticipation of start of the event rose and filled the square.
“The palace doors will now open.”
At the pronouncement of those words, the main door of the palace slowly opened on both sides. People began to cheer as the Kailis crest, heavily engraved in the center of door, split in half and the door opened, revealing the palace inside.
Before long, the doors of the royal palace, normally tightly closed, were wide open. That door wouldn’t close for three days now.
“Five minutes to go.”
Kaela, the royal spokesperson, began a long speech to the crowd.
The royal family, including Calian, rose from their seats and the servants moved busily about them. Yan, too, quickly made a last minute inspection of Calian’s uniform then moved away.
There was a red carpet stretching from the main gates towards the platform, with knights lined up at either side of the way. Their swords stretched high up into the sky, the clear sunlight reflecting on their sharp blades.
And then it was ten o’clock.
Rumein’s stepped forward, and the booming voice of the knights announced the procession of the royal family. The queen followed soon after, then Randall and Franz.
Calian looked behind him, and closed his eyes for a while. Then, the atmosphere surrounding him instantly changed.
Calian pulled up his back, and raised his head.
He lowered his gaze to where the people’s eyes would be, and smiled.
He was a consummate prince of Kailis.
He took his first step outside.