12 Years Old: Chapter 51 – An Omen
QC: Lady Blue
First published on Ainushi
「Liz, you absolutely must not leave the house」
One day, whilst I was still quietly fretting away, Father suddenly told me that.
Once again, I was given a curfew. Nowadays, I was quite free to go wherever I wanted….. Well, with Gilles of course, but the point was that I could go out.
For a split second, I wondered if I had done something wrong and had to control my fears. There was a serious expression on Father’s face, so I knew right away that it wasn’t done for a perfunctory reason. Even Caldina-san had said it when I visited the castle.
「….. Can you give me one good reason why?」
「Because there’s danger」
If I were to ask who would be in danger, he would most likely say me. Well, I once was in danger of being assassinated, so he’s not going to let it happen again. Which reminds me, I absolutely will never come to a resolution with Abbot Georg and the likes.
…. Still, it’s too early to jump to a conclusion before I have all the facts. If that was the case, Father would have blocked the news from me like always or made him incapable of doing anything to me to begin with.
「Gilles, take care of Liz whilst I’m gone」
It wasn’t the expression of a father but that of the head of the family. Seeing through the stern and dignified look on Father’s face, Gilles respectfully bowed to him.
In that still calmness, the air was filled with tension coming from both men.
Father had entrusted me to Gilles. I knew very well that he trusted Gilles, even if there was a time when Gilles tried to kill me. It was obvious to everyone that Gilles would never do such a thing to me like that ever again.
With a very grave expression, Father gazed at me and Gilles. He brushed the top of my head, seemingly reluctant to part with me before exiting the room.
….. What’s wrong, Father? What aren’t you telling me?
「….. Gilles, do you know what Father is up to?」
「He’s only left for work」
「….. That is most definitely not his usual work」
That was not a carefree expression he had on. If I had to phrase it better, it was a determined look. He wouldn’t be this worked up if it was his usual work.
What was Father thinking about and what was he up to?
Even as I clung onto Gilles and asked him, Gilles still wouldn’t give me an answer. Did Father put a gag on him? Or was he not allowed to divulge confidential matters? I reckon it has to do with both.
「….. Are you not going to tell me no matter what?」
「My sincerest apologies」
「….. In that case, I’ll leave it be」
Nothing would happen even if I complained to Gilles. He would just keep his mouth shut even more. I bet Father doesn’t want me to get too worked up by it. That decision was made so that I wouldn’t get involved.
You might say that I’m wilful, and that worries both Father and Gilles. I’m guessing he really is busy. Therefore, this was set in place so that I wouldn’t cause trouble for the both of them.
「….. Gilles, you’ll be by my side, won’t you?」
「Yes. I will protect you and won’t leave you for even a single moment」
「That’s worrying though, if you’re going to be there all the time」
Right now, I get that I’m in some kind of danger. Father….. what are you anticipating? Does it have something to do with me?
Three days had passed since Father left the house. Father had yet to return home.
Even though that often happens with him, why am I feeling so nervous? Is it because he could be in some sort of danger?
「Liz-sama, you have a visitor」
「….. I do?」
Gilles brought a boy over as I obediently stayed in my room.
I stared in amazement at the sight of my friend who would never pay me a visit willingly no matter how much I begged of him. However, it was not a social call judging by his appearance.
「What’s the matter? You look so worn out」
「It’s not like I chose to look this haggard」
There were cuts on the cloth of the Magic Institution robe Cecil-kun was wearing. Traces of it being torn up by something sharp were visible here and there. I had a feeling that this was the aftermath of an attack from his exhausted state.
In comparison, Cecil-kun wasn’t wounded. Rather Cecil-kun seemed slightly reassured after seeing that I wasn’t injured. Was Cecil-kun worried about me too? ….. I had a hunch that perhaps this somehow involves me even though only I have been left in the dark.
「….. I’m glad that you’re safe. This must mean you haven’t gone outside. That’s a good decision」
「….. Is something going on outside?」
「Haven’t you heard about it from Welf or that guy?」
Whilst he smoothed out his dishevelled hair, Cecil-kun shifted his eyes to Gilles as he waited by the side. Up till this very moment, Gilles, who had led Cecil-kun over, had been maintaining an expressionless look towards Cecil-kun. However, as though he was indicating to Cecil-kun not to tell me any more beyond this, he shook his head.
Gilles would never let it slip from his lips. However, there was nothing to restrain Cecil-kun from speaking, so I began to press him about the situation.
「….. Cecil-kun, what’s going on outside?」
「Looks you haven’t heard. Perhaps he was forbidden to talk about it with you. Doesn’t he consider that you won’t be at ease if everyone keeps their mouth shut?」
Cecil-kun countered Gilles’s silence with a chilly voice.
Personally, I am in complete agreement with Cecil-kun, but I understand their fears, and it’s not in Cecil-kun’s place to spill the story to me.
I might be overstepping my boundaries, but if I may be permitted, I wish to hear nothing, except about Father’s circumstances. Although I’m concerned about my own situation, I’m more worried about Father.
「….. Liz, how old will His Highness Julis be this year?」
「….. If I’m not mistaken, he is fifteen this year ….. No, he’ll be ….. fifteen this year?」
I noticed something unusual after Cecil-kun uttered it. That’s weird since it’s him, I would have thought His Highness would have summoned me to his birthday party using whatever means possible. However, he hadn’t summoned me at all.
That’s why I completely forgot about it….. There’s only a month’s gap between our birthdays. If I extended an invitation to His Highness to my birthday, he was bound to show up for it in the past.
Nevertheless, it was odd that he didn’t get in touch with me even if he wasn’t coming. To begin with, it also wasn’t unusual to throw a grandiose debutante, as fifteen was the age of adulthood. It’s strange, I wasn’t aware of it at all. I had invited His Highness to my birthday too, but he never showed up. Something’s awfully wrong.
「Right now, His Highness Julis is in danger of an assassination」
「That’s the reason he hasn’t held his birthday celebration or coming of age ceremony yet. Though the official stance is that he was in poor health, since it’s been a month already, they decided to hold his coming of age ceremony right now. However..…」
「….. He was attacked?」
I was unable to utter a single word when Cecil-kun confirmed it gravely with the word, “Correct.”
….. I wasn’t aware that such a thing had happened. Was it the right call, not informing me?
「The reason you were kept at home is most likely because you’re being targeted too」
「You seem to be close friends with His Highness. They could hold you hostage or kill you if you’re a hindrance. The scope this has expanded to makes this no longer just an assassination, but a rebellion」
「Is that why Father…..」
Was it because he’s been settling the uproar from the assassination, and suppressing the rebellion that he didn’t return home?
Father’s allegiance is to His Majesty. He is His Majesty’s friend, and also the Magic Institution’s No. 2.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that he’s in charge of rounding them up. Rather, it’s reasonable that the duty would fall to him. An uprising….. That means it’s only natural that lives would be at stake.
「–Is Father alright!?」
「He’s in good health! To begin with, he was the one who told me to run off to you. He even told me to use a purposefully concealed passage to get outside. Also, His Majesty the King, His Highness, and the Queen are safe too」
I placed my hand on my chest, feeling a little bit relieved that Cecil-kun conveyed that Father was safe. If Father had died, I…..
While I felt glad as he mentioned that both His Highness, and His and Her Majesties were safe….. There were all sorts of questions and anxieties that rose from it.
Why are they rebelling?
「….. Who is rebelling?」
「….. Is it alright for me to say it?」
He was not checking with me but Gilles. Gilles had a gloomy expression. He chewed on his lips….. But eventually, he slowly moved and nodded his head.
Having verified with him, Cecil-kun turned to look me directly in the eye. His golden eyes seemed to dart apologetically.
「….. Spearheading the rebellion is both my old man and Gilles’s former house」
*Grip* I heard the sound of his hands clenching tightly.
「Although I’m saying that, this has caused our household to split in halves, with my grandfather leading the anti-monarchy faction, and my father with his “don’t rock the boat” faction. My father had immediately gone up to the king saying,『That is my old man’s decision. He’s not fit to be the head of the family』and directly appealed to take over as the head, publicly labelling his old man as a traitor. However even if Father sides with the State, it’s not even reflected in his eyes and it’s a bother for all of us as we’re getting dragged into it」
As far as Cecil-kun was concerned, it was his family that enforced the rebellion. I’m sure it must have been difficult for him to endure the extreme pressure and gazes from everyone. In addition, Cecil-kun maintains an aloof attitude even at the Magic Institution. Since no one knows what’s on his mind, people must have also assumed that Cecil-kun may be a member of the rebel army.
「The Sévéne’s are Grandfather’s yes-men. Additionally, those who can’t stand the king have participated as well.」
「….. How many?」
「Those that have been oppressed. However, even if this is messed up, it’s the head of the Magic Institution that’s leading it, so it’s been giving Welf troubles as well」
Although Cecil-kun was very unhappy, he hurriedly patted my shoulder when he noticed my stiff expression.
「I can’t say for sure that everything will be alright, but your father is strong. He won’t fall to my rotten grandfather so easily」
To comfort me, Cecil-kun patted me on the back. At times like these, Cecil-kun was kind….. He was trying to cheer me up.
Gilles, who had remained silent, came to my side too and held my hand. He crouched down and looked at me. With that usual tender smile upon his face, he whispered 「Let’s believe in Welf-sama.」.
Father, Gilles, and Cecil-kun….. All of them were worried for me. I was the only one living peacefully. If Cecil-kun wasn’t here, I probably wouldn’t have known that there was a rebellion.
Only I….. didn’t know about it. Not a single thing. Even if I had been informed, there was nothing I could do. I know I’ll end up being a hindrance….. But even so, it’s frustrating that there’s nothing I can do.
All I can do is pray that they’ll return safely.
Worried, both the boys rubbed my back as I chewed on my lips. I’m not crying….. I am simply anxious and frustrated.
Please….. be safe. Father, Your Highness.