12 Years Old: Chapter 58 – Apologies & Punishments
First published on Ainushi
Cecil-kun went off to call Father as I had requested. Of course, he didn’t say anything more than what was needed.
「My humble apologies. You were dragged into this due to my incompetence.」
Coming forward to apologize wholeheartedly with his head bowed low, was a man whose position had not changed since I got to know him – the King. Bent down as he was, he couldn’t see the stiff expression I had on my face.
For the head of the country to come personally to apologize to me, just what sort of punishment game is being inflicted upon me? To have the leader of the country lower his head to me just quickly added to my stress. Rather, it made me want to get on my knees and prostrate myself in front of him. Yup.
「Your Majesty, there is no need for you to apologize to me. Please lift your head.」
「Diaz, you’re putting Liz on the spot. Let’s save the apologies for later.」
It was an unsightly situation which I didn’t want to witness – a grown man apologizing in all seriousness to a child. Having also picked it up from my facial expressions, Father also sought to control the situation. In any case, it wasn’t appropriate for the King to lower his head.
Shaking his blonde hair that was like the warm sunshine rays, His Majesty reluctantly raised his head. His beautiful face that always looked so youthful was clouded by vivid feelings of guilt and unhappiness.
「Your Majesty. If I might be direct with you, you did nothing wrong. The injuries I have were a result of my own clumsiness. Some of which were self-inflicted.」
I didn’t mention that I had cut myself to anyone but Gilles. At that point in time, I was so caught up with the situation that I couldn’t come up with anything and ended up forging ahead with my self-harm plan. There were other ways I could have dealt with the matter if I had only taken the time to reflect upon it. Although unfortunately, even now, I still have no clue if those measures would have worked.
「Both Your Majesty and His Highness were exposed to those dangers as well. To me, this is of little importance so long as the both of you are safe.」
Personally, it would have been nice if I had also been placed in a secure location but objectively speaking from a political standpoint, as long as the both of them were out of harm’s way, that was all that mattered. I’m not that conceited. My life is of little importance.
In the first place, it is my fault for being unable to defend myself. Ah! I will say that the fault of this lies with those that I despise the most – the Abbott, Lord Alfred and the Earl’s son are to blame.
I was especially grateful that none of the scars and lingering marks were left behind. My skin was the same as if it was before the mutiny. For some reasons, when I stroked it, His Majesty’s face contorted further as if a cloud was hanging over this dignified man.
Women are of the fairer sex. For a woman yet to be of marriageable age to be wounded in this day and age is unthinkable, or so it goes.
… Well, I’m optimistic and fine with it as long as the wound heals. Besides, my body remains chaste.
「Nevertheless, the mere fact that I did not eliminate the members of the revolt was the cause of this situation.」
「Then I’m to blame, for I was the one to give the command.」
A similar looking expression lingered on my father as well. His fist was clenched as he bit on his lips.
「Liz, I’m sorry… It’s my fault. It was difficult, wasn’t it? You even had to go so far as to injure yourself…」
Sorry, with the exception of the ankle sprain, they were all my doing.
「No, I’m sorry for causing you trouble.」
「You did nothing wrong, Liz. The lack of guards patrolling the mansion was my fault.」
「Shouldn’t my inability to defend myself count as well?」
If I had to say who was to blame, it can only be the people that plotted the revolt. Although, to be frank, the opposition made the right decision to kidnap Ruby and I.
The rebel army was short of manpower as it was and furthermore, spearheading the troops was Father, the second in command of the kingdom. This wasn’t commonly talked about but the Abbott wasn’t very popular amongst the populace. Anyone with ties to him was considered dubious. Father, on the other hand, was genuinely well-loved. Scout’s honor! You could tell by how the folks at the Magician Institution interact with him.
Therefore, if there was a surefire way to render him useless, then it only made sense to use it. Father was widely known as an overly doting parent after all. He also had his position to consider though. Ultimately, his duties took precedence over his children… If he was to show the slightest hesitation, they would step all over him. Though that was a miscalculation on their part. I, Gilles and Cecil-kun resisted and messed it up for them.
「Really. There’s no need for you to lament over it. It was just a small matter that involved my chastity but it’s done and dealt with now.」
「What!? Lizbeth-jou… !?」
「Oh, please don’t worry about it. My virginity is still in tact; he only groped me. Though for the time being, I’ll prefer to keep my distance from guys.」
Meh, it’s fine. It’s not as if I have trust issues with all men. I just don’t want to be touched by someone I’m unfamiliar with. For the time being, I’ll just feign ignorance at the sexual gazes guys lavish upon me. As I don’t really have many conservatively designed dresses, I’ll ask Mother to order some for me.
“Sorry to be a bother,” I said shrugging it off with a strained laugh. Father and the king both stiffened on the spot. The King’s countenance quickly darkened. Father, on the other hand… How should I put it? It was diabolically demonic and ferocious. I’m not sure that’s a good expression that a man should have though. To illustrate, his scowl was just like that of the two guardian Deva Kings.
「Liz, I’m taking my leave. Stay here.」
「Hold it, Welf. Let’s talk this through first.」
The Earl’s son had provoked Father’s wrath so I had expected that Father was going to torture him. “You reap what you sow” is what I believe so have at it. Although, I’ll plead the fifth since I have no idea what will happen to him… It’s enough for me to know that Father is terrifying when he’s angry.
「Father, you can do whatever you want with the Earl’s son later.」
Well, the fact that I’m not stopping him is understandable. In my own way, I resented the Earl’s son. To fall into bed with a man I detested was no laughing matter. Taking Ruby hostage was a serious crime.
「More importantly, there’s something I want to ask… No. There’s something I want to request from you.」
It was thereupon that I turned my gaze directly towards the King’s dispirited face. Father couldn’t do anything about the matter in question so it was better to ask his Majesty instead.
「What is it? If it’s within my means, I’ll have it done.」
「How are you going to deal with Cecil-kun and Gilles? If they are to be charged, please sentence them to a lighter punishment. Both of them had a hand in seizing the mastermind and protected me.」
“That’s all I desire”, I asked and bowed my head.
Cecil-kun was Abbott Georg’s grandson whereas Gilles was Lord Alfred’s son. Although both of them had no connection to the crimes committed but in the aristocratic society, the entire family was often punished for solidarity.
From the start, Cecil-kun had been helping Father make the necessary arrangements in secret and Gilles had long since broken ties with his family so I don’t believe there’s a problem… But I needed to be sure, just in case.
They have always protected me; it’s the least I can do.
My hair that I had hurriedly tidied after Cecil-kun had messed it up, swung out of place as I lowered my head, and it wasn’t until his Majesty urged me to raise my head in a flustered voice that I followed his wishes.
「In my opinion, both of them are not to be blamed for this. You might say that I’m being a softie but…」
「Now, the decision to apprehend and behead that person came from both Gilles and Cecil. They had performed their duties to the country. To add to that, Gilles had broken off ties with his family. Therein, I see no issues granting you that.」
「… Is that a promise?」
Folks that change their tunes after giving their word are intolerable so I made sure to stare straight into his eyes. The King laughed at the look I gave, nodded his head and asserted,「I swear in the King’s name.」
I’m pretty devious myself. Asking for a favour when I was aware that the other party felt utterly indebted to me. I never had any intentions of pointing the finger at him. However, by doing this, it would even things out. He wouldn’t feel like he owed me anything since I was asking for a favor and it would give him peace of mind. Compared to him constantly feeling apologetic towards me, this request would be less of a burden to his heart.
In a nutshell, both of them would not be forced to be accountable for this mess. That gave me a sense of relief. Father though, had mixed feelings about that.
「If I were to persecute them… I’m grateful that I wouldn’t have to though. Figuring out how to deal with those bastards is already perplexing as is.」
「Because you can’t mete out their sentence?」
「That’s right. The Steinbert family claims that Georg’s actions were independent from that of the family to begin with. Plus, it was his grandson that arrested him.」
「While it is the correct decision to demote the Sévéne… however, that’s also a headache to deal with. As it turns out, they’re very capable of managing their territory.」
There was a slight hint of distress on his majesty’s handsome face when he knitted his eyebrows… The circumstances surrounding the problem were very troublesome to handle, so it seems.
「Giving the principal leader of the mutiny the capital punishment, imprisoning the other members as well as demoting and seizing lands from them, this is the appropriate course of action, just that…」
「Well, the land seizures will be a headache for the royal family. On the surface, you can’t overdo it otherwise it’ll be harder to pacify the situation.」
Father, after adding to the King’s explanation, smiled bitterly at him. This wasn’t his problem to deal with. Father may be a noble but he’s no royalty… However, his Majesty seemed displeased that Father was unwilling to help.
「The land was given to them by the country, therefore it is only right for the country to take it back. Nevertheless, if done excessively, it will cause problems. Without the lords, there will be no one to manage the regulations in those lands. Let’s say even if the country took it back, it will be too much to govern.」
「Then, what about awarding it to the families that helped secure the battle?」
「Wouldn’t that just increase my workload by tenfold if that was to be done? Afterall, I would be in charge.」
「Don’t shrug it off like it’s a hassle.」
「Do you want to manage the lands then, Liz? If a cute girl like you was to manage it, the populace of the fief will rejoice albeit they are also likely to belittle you.」
I shook my head quickly as my hair flew about, Father grinned mischievously and chimed, “Wouldn’t it be fine if I just lend you a hand here and there?”
… No, I think it’s still too early for me to manage a territory. In the first place, it’s Ruby who will be succeeding the title. I will be married off somehow and it is unlikely that I will have any direct involvement in managing one.
「Haa… At any rate, I’ll keep that in mind. The country will take control of half of those lands, the rest will be conferred to those in the peerage that can be trusted to manage…」
Nowadays even bigshots have it tough, I surmised judging by his expression that was laden with trouble as the King let out a sigh.
Hi. I’m back… temporarily. It’s been over a year since we released Happy Life. In that period, I was still mourning my grandmother, was diagnosed with PCOS and subclinical hyperthyroid, had a foot injury and just spent many months trying to piece my life together. It got so bad that I finally submitted my resignation at work. (Sucks for me because no cash after this but well, I’m too stressed up right now that I can barely relax.) This chapter was something I could finally work on last week as I had a long extended CNY break.
Sorry for taking so long, dear Happy Life fans.
I’ll try to push more chapters out as soon as I’m freed up in April.
If you’re also a Loner and Juliet, and Maid Mother fan, please look forward to a few new chapters in the upcoming weeks too.