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Published at 19th of November 2020 08:18:41 PM


Chapter 26

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Chapter 26




 

「You’ve returned, your Ladyship?」

 

“Selene.”

 

Selene, who had been nervously standing in the field of reeds, greeted me. She’d exited the lake area with me on the path that the beavers had drilled for us, and had been waiting for my return while guarding Haniel.

 

「You didn’t come out for such a long time, I thought you’d already been cut open with a sword.」

 

“…The way you say things, seriously.”

 

Maybe because she was an animal, she didn’t have the slightest speck of loyalty or consciousness for me at times.

 

Well, what did I expect? These were times when one lived day-to-day just trying to survive.

 

And I didn’t have the heart to scold her, as all of my concerns were directed towards the basket that lay next to her.

 

“What about the baby? She didn’t cry from feeling trapped or anything?

 

「You know she’s not a kid who’d complain. No matter how much I try to talk to her, she won’t even say one word in reply. 」

 

“…”

 

As soon as I opened the reed-woven basket, the tip of my nose soured.

 

My throat closed up as I looked at Haniel, who had fallen asleep while I was gone.

 

“…Selene, you can go back for now.”

 

「But, Your Ladyship, will you really be alright on your own?」

 

“Don’t pretend as if you’ve ever sincerely wanted to help. If not for the fish jerky, you would pretend you couldn’t even hear me.”

 

「My! How could you say such things…」

 

I chased Selene away with the harsh words I’d said on purpose.

 

After seeing her grumbling figure disappear, I carefully stretched out my arms.

 

“…Eum.”

 

I couldn’t help but hold her. Or else I might really break out in tears.

 

I gripped Haniel close to me and forced my pounding chest to settle down.

 

I’d practiced saying goodbye so many times, but with the child in my arms now, it was hard to stay calm.

 

Fluffy feathers and a black beak. And the cutest tail.

 

“…Child.”

 

My nose kept tingling as I tried to tell her that she was going back to her home.


 

I strained my eyes to stop the tears and brushed Haniel’s head with a finger.

 

“Ugh.”

 

Why is it so soft! How is she going to survive in the rough world with this kind of a small body!

 

As I kept swallowing my saliva and holding back my tears, I took out a ribbon that I’d been holding onto. It was the only red fabric that I could find in the duchess’s closet filled with black and more black clothes.

 

“…”

 

I’m sorry. That I can only give this to you.

 

I lifted her small head and wrapped the ribbon around her white feathers. As soon as I tied the ribbon into a bow behind her head, I was glad I hadn’t fastened it on her earlier.

 

“Let’s see, our little princess.”

 

Why is she so pretty.

 

The red ribbon glistened over her clean, white feathers, and I almost forgot how to breathe.

 

If I had seen this earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to let you go this easily.

 

Ignoring my blurred vision, I lifted up Haniel again.

 

“Ah…”

 

Her fluffy feathers brushed against my cheek. I held her tightly as my last greedy wish, but this was it, no more.

 

When the emperor returns and Haniel opens her eyes and sees him, there’d be no turning back.

 

No, since the time I’d called the tyrant over here, I’d already made my decision.

 

Even though Haniel is in a pitiful situation.

 

Even though she’s the cutest baby swan in the world, and even though she follows after me calling “Mommy Mommy,” fulfilling my one and only wish to have a child, I could no longer be this child’s mother…

 

“Ch-child?”

 

「…」

 

As I lowered my head again, all thoughts in my mind stopped.

 

When had she woken up?

 

Haniel lifted her head and I made eye contact with her red eyes, but that wasn’t the problem.

 

“Wh-what are you doing?”

 

*Lick.*

 

Haniel’s pink tongue swept my fingers.

 


And not just my fingers.

 

It was right at the place that had gotten injured when I’d fallen onto the wooden floor because Lania pushed me.

 

“…Haniel.”

 

I knew better than anyone not to open my heart to anyone but even though I knew this, I had to ask.

 

Haniel had desperately started licking my wound as soon as she’d woken up.

 

“Child, what are you doing.”

 

「…Mwommy, pain, pain go away. The tweacher said to do thish like thish if it hurts. 」

 

*Sob*

 

I give up.

 

In the end, the tears I’d tried to hold back came streaming down.

 

I hugged her white body and buried my head in my hands as I sank to the ground.

 

“Heu-eu-euk. Mommy was wrong, boohoo. “

 

「Mommwy hurt? Dwoes it hwurt? Even if I do thish it still hwurts?」

 

“Mm, no, it doesn’t hurt. I won’t throw you away, my little baby. Mommy will be good to you. I won’t do that ever again.”

 

Forgive your cold-hearted mother.

 

I let go of everything as I continued to sob.

 

Alright. Since I have an unfortunate life already, let’s just try to be a good mom for a day.

 

Haniel seemed frightened at my crumpled face as she raised her head without knowing what was going on.

 

「Bwek Swan-ning?」

 

“Heu-euk.”

 

「Ah, I, I can’t call you Mommwy! It’s Bwek Swan-ning! I, I won’t do it, I won’t call you  Mommwy, pwomise!」

 

“No. It’s Mommy. Mommy’s right. Heu-euk.”

 

After letting go of everything, I didn’t have the energy to stand up.

 

Mommy will raise you well.

 

Even if I can’t raise you as a princess, I’ll raise you to be the happiest baby swan in the world.

 

Promise.

 

“Look at Mommy. My pretty baby.”


 

「…Mwommyyy? 」

 

“Mmhm. Mommy’s here. I’m your Mommy.”

 

With this, everything had been clearly decided, what more could I wish for in this life?

 

My cheeks started bloating a little as my tears continued to flow.

 

“…Mommy’s sorry. Heu-eu-euk. How could I think of doing that!”

 

I held Haniel close to me, as much as I felt my breath squeezed out of me, and rubbed our cheeks against each other. I couldn’t even feel the reeds that were poking my sides.

 

With a fierce cry, all the tension in my body was relieved and my mind became blank as I forgot everything in that moment.

 

“My child!”

 

Including the person I was supposed to meet.

 

◇ ◆ ◇

 

“…It, it’ll be good if we don’t approach, Your Majesty.”

 

The shadows of three men appeared without a trace in the dark.

 

But the hierarchy among the three figures was clear.

 

The two shadows on the side were clearly perplexed as they looked to the larger shadow standing in the middle.

 

“…It just doesn’t seem like the right meeting place.”

 

“How impudent, Tenon. I told you to watch your words and actions in front of His Majesty.”

 

Peyton strongly scolded Tenon, who had spoken with a puzzled look.

 

However, he also didn’t know how to explain the scene in front of him.

 

“Hm. Though we can’t be certain, they must have their own circumstances.”

 

“…Circumstances?”

 

Rashid’s eyes were filled with cynicism as he pointed to the field of reeds at the front of the lake.

 

The three brothers’ faces became solemn as they looked at the woman lying on the ground with a baby swan in her arms and sobbing.

 

“Well, fine, she should at least have circumstances. What is she going to do if she doesn’t.”

 

“Your Highness.”

 

“…”

 

At his eldest brother’s subtle words, the fourth prince Tenon didn’t know what to say and looked to his two brothers. Whether there was or wasn’t a circumstance, the emperor couldn’t stay waiting forever.


 

“Since we can’t leave the Duchess alone, then how about Your Majesty approaches her…”

 

“What!”

 

“…”

 

Why should I.

 

Tenon bit his lips as his older brother’s strong refusal.

 

He’d thought his older brother had been hesitating to do so, but perhaps he’d been mistaken.

 

There was no way that his brother, who, even in front of hundreds of thousands of troops, would smile as he pulled out his sword, would be hesitating.

 

What a disaster.

 

Peyton, who was becoming confused as time went on, had no choice but to gesture towards the duchess.

 

“Then I will quickly call over Lady Lania over here. If, if this is also a family matter then the situation needs to be cleared…”

 

“Not that either.”

 

“Your Majesty.”

 

Rashid turned around, raising a hand to Peyton’s words. The signal to stop and return.

 

No one noticed as the sides of his mouth slightly bent downwards.

 

“At least it was true that she had a lot to show.”

 

◇ ◆ ◇

 

「Your Ladyship! What happened!」

 

「Shhh, quiet. The baby’s sleeping. 」

 

I gestured to Selene, who was waiting at the manor door, as if telling her to be careful.

 

But my face was filled with a smile filled with joy that was out of this world to the point that my mouth started aching.

 

「How, how could you just bring her in like this! Didn’t you say her brother was looking for her?」

 

「Uhh, about that…」

 

My mind snapped back into focus as Selene saw Haniel.

 

Honestly, I had worried about what to say if she asked, but I had made up an answer.

 

「I waited at the place we were supposed to meet, but they didn’t show up, so..」

 

「…Really?」

 

「Mmhm. What did I expect from the people who kicked her out.」



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