The rows of red and orange roofs made up the beautiful, walled city of Egdiel. The old castle towering in the center exuded personality, but its beauty was by no means old-fashioned.
In the past, the military set up their base there, but now it was the royal residence. One corner of the castle functioned as the center of Heilland’s politics and culture, and presently, a girl with fluttering, shiny hair was pushing through it.
“We’re going, Clovis! We’ll gather information on the north today!”
“As you wish, Princess.”
The one valiantly leading the way was Heilland’s adorable princess, Princess Alicia Chester. Following behind her was a black-haired, handsome man, Clovis Cromwell. He was her aide and obeyed her like a faithful watchdog.
To those who knew nothing of her situation, they would see this as a selfish 10-year-old girl brazenly dragging her servant around the castle with her, but the reality was far from that.
To the retainers who frequently were favorable to the princess and were wholly weak to her cuteness, they would promptly view this scene as pleasant and watch over her. This meant that today wasn’t the first time Alicia made use of the gaps in her schedule and charged the library together with her aide.
Even Naizel Otto, the chief aide and right hand to the king and the kingdom’s top official excelling in a wide range of duties from politics, military affairs, and diplomacy, saw the princess and her subordinate excitedly run past him and pushed up his silver-rimmed glasses.
“What’s this, Naizel? You’re wearing glasses now to change how you look? They suit you, but you should just do that in front of your wife.”
“You jest, my lord. Was it not you who winked at your retainer out of pity and gave me such a gift?”
Instead of a greeting, Naizel rejected King James’ joke before pushing up his new glasses. A deep sigh left his mouth.
“Nowadays, I feel terribly aged. Small letters have become harder to read, my breathing becomes labored from climbing the stairs, and I can no longer drink as much alcohol.”
“That’s why I gave you glasses. My reliable right-hand misread the documents. Being unable to demonstrate your abilities is troublesome. People often say we must spur on the old body.”
“With all due respect, Your Majesty, that is too much. If I possess an old body, then you are plenty old yourself.”
The king pleasantly laughed from the other side of the pile of documents, so Naizel flatly objected. Calling someone past their forties an old body was somewhat rude.
Though saying that, it might be time for him to start thinking of a successor. Naturally, he intended to continue working his post for as long as the king allows, but in the unlikely case that something were to happen one day, they needed to be prepared.
Fortunately, he had no problems if any of the current members among the aides were to become the top. As each of his subordinate’s faces appeared in his head in order, the scene before he came to the office also appeared.
“By the way, Your Majesty, on my way here, I caught sight of Lady Alicia. Together with Cromwell, she appeared to be heading to the library,”
“Hoh, she’s energetic, I see.”
When Naizel looked through his glasses to observe the king’s reaction, the king simply smiled. That harmless and inoffensive response made Naizel boldly take another step forward.
“The princess has changed as of recently. In particular, after she returned from her inspection of the castle town the other day, she grew zealous in her desire to gather information on the internal affairs of the country. Did that person perhaps say something to her?”
“Hmm, did something happen?”
The king looked up at the ceiling, feigning ignorance, but the twinkle in his small, almond-colored eyes indicated that he was ecstatic. It was clear that he was debating if he should disclose this interesting little secret.
The king’s right-hand patiently waited several minutes, and the king finally clapped his hands.
“That’s right. Cia declared her candidacy to become the next king.”
Slack-jawed, Naizel showed a completely defenseless side, though only at this moment before the king. It had been a quick ten years since the current king was enthroned and Naizel rose to the ranks of chief aide. He should have already garnered a resistance to his master’s erratic statements after all these years.
“Um, may I ask, when that happened?”
“Hum, the night after she returned from her inspection of the castle town, I believe.”
Naizel nodded several times in acknowledgment, thoroughly chewing and digesting every word of the king before—forgoing his image of a calm, intelligent gentleman and opening his indigo eyes wide.
“How many times do I have to tell you! That such urgent matters! Have to be conveyed to me! Promptly!?”
“Calm down, Naizel. It’s been a while since you acted frankly with me.”
“Whose fault do you think that is?! Or rather, I’m already old, so please don’t agitate me this much!”
Naizel’s whole body slumped with that deep exhale as he was ashamed for having lost himself. He had often spoken frankly and bluntly like this to his mischievous master who enjoyed playing tricks when he was young, but now that he was old and had many subordinates under his wing.
The king laughed, claiming that Naizel no longer had to be so restrained, before looking at his aide with eyes delighted at a successful prank.
“You should already be aware of my desire to have Cia as the next king. This matter is simply that she was the one to make the move first.”
“So, what was Your Majesty’s response?”
Naizel regained a little of his composure and voiced this important question.