Determination at Sixteen Years Old (Part 3)
“Not because you did something wrong or because Her Majesty hates you, but purely because Her Majesty shouldn’t have an adult male by her side looking after her. Her Majesty still sees you as a kid which is why she can behave without any misgivings around you. Would she be getting changed in front of you, otherwise?”
Castell sluggishly listened to Alice’s explanation. His whole mind was blank. He didn’t have a single counterargument. He couldn’t come up with a single reason to retort Alice, who was in front of him, explaining the situation to him. He had no way of taking back his position at Her Majesty’s side.
He had no way of escaping his age. In the past, he told himself countless times that he would be able to obtain power once he came of age, or maybe he never considered if he was a kid or an adult. It was the first time he was cornered by someone due to his age. He had the courage to deal with all of Her Majesty’s problems for her, but he had no way of overcoming this problem.
“So choose a profession that suits you. That way, you’ll be able to continue living well even if you leave Her Majesty. As for Her Majesty, you don’t need to worry.”
Alice gave Castell a shove and then went on, “Shouldn’t you head off to the conference chamber now? Don’t just stand here, then. Hurry and head over. While you might only have to work as Her Majesty’s personal attendant for one more year, you still need to ensure you do your job properly for the year, and leave a good impression with her.”
That day was a dark day as though the sky was grey all day for the young man.
His life had started changing. He was forgetting his depressing past. He thought he found his new purpose in life. He had found his master….
But only now did he realise that he was just a passer-by in Her Majesty’s life. For him, Her Majesty was his everything. But in Her Majesty’s eyes, he was just a little kid. He treasured the Empress’s reward more than anything and carried it with him, while Her Majesty was fine with abandoning him.
His life ended at the point he was no longer her personal attendant. Just last night, he made up his mind. He never expected that this day would come so soon. It has only been one year. It has only been one year, and yet, he has to leave Her Majesty already. What could he do without Her Majesty? Without Her Majesty, he was just a pitiful boy, a boy that was treated as a toy and messed with. That was all he was.
“Castell, have you decided yet?”
At night, the Empress lay on her bed and asked the young man before her again. Castell looked at her with a blank look. His lips trembled a few times and in his hoarse voice he stuttered, “Your Majesty… I… I… I only want to be your personal attendant… Without you, I do not know how to continue living… I… I will be conscious of when I appear… Please… I beg you… Please let me continue working as your personal attendant… Please…”
Castell knelt on the ground with his head pressed to the luxurious mat on the ground and sobbed.
The Empress didn’t say anything. Instead, she sat up from her bed with her blanket draped over her back. She looked at Castell and then extended her two slender legs. She gently stroked Castell’s head then put one leg over the other and said, “Rise, Castell. I can’t make the decision here. If I break the rules in the palace then it will be hard for me to enforce the rules in the future.”
“I honestly don’t hate you. I, actually, really like you. I’ve had several personal attendants, but I like you the most among all of them. Also, I don’t like you just because you’re a qualified personal attendant. I like you, solely because you are Castell.”
The Empress looked at him with a tinge of sadness and pity. Castell raised his head to watch the Empress lie back down. He looked at her with a blank look. That was the first time he heard someone say they liked him. It was the first time he was associated with the word “like,” and it came from the person he admired most.
“Your Majesty… I… I… I, too, like you!”
The Empress stayed silent for a while and then tilted her head to reveal a faint smile. Castell’s entire body quaked, because what she said made him that tense. The Empress reached her hand out to give his head a gentle scrub. In a soft voice, she then replied, “I know, I know. I’m very happy that you like me, very, very happy.”
“But it’s precisely because I like you that I can’t let you continue being my personal attendant.” Her Majesty cut him off. She looked at him and went on, “You’re very similar to my son. If my son was as old as you, my son should look similar to you. I really like you, because of that. I’ve always viewed you as my son and liked you. But that’s exactly why I can’t let you be a personal attendant forever. Look around, Castell.”
The Empress swept her arm around and with a smile, continued, “My territory is half of the continent, but the area I can move around in is only so much. I can only move about inside the palace. Back then, I could ride my horse across the entire continent, yet I can only move around in the palace now. I’m a caged bird right now. If you stay as my personal attendant, you’ll only be able to live here forever. I don’t want a young man, like you, to be locked in a cage, as well. You should soar in the vast sky.”
“Your Majesty… I… I…”
“Castell, you want to only stay by my side right now, because I’m the only one by your side. Once you’ve met enough people and gotten acquainted with enough people, you will discover that this world isn’t as small as the palace. You’re very similar to my child. That’s why I don’t like to see you stuck by my side with no accomplishments.”
“But…But… But I only wish to stay at your side! I only want to stay at your side to take care of you!”
“Honestly speaking, you’re just a replacement for my son…”
“I do not mind! I do not mind even if that is the case! I do not mind how you see me…. Please… I beg you… Please let me stay at your side…”
Castell knelt on the ground with his face covered in tears. He looked as if he was crying and shouting as he looked at Her Majesty. None of what Her Majesty just said meant anything to him. He just wanted to know if Her Majesty could keep him. As for what exactly he is, he didn’t care even if she treated him as her dog.
The Empress looked at him. She looked at the young man’s face of despair after he crumbled. Her expression jerked. She really had no way of rejecting him when he looked that way.
After a long silence on her side, she faintly said, “… Let me think about it.”
She then pulled her blanket around and turned around to face her back to Castell…