“Welcome home, Onii-sama.”
When I got to the palace where I work, I came across Freya ,who happened to be leaving. She smiled when she saw me then bowed and greeted me.
“Ah, Freya. Long-time no see.”
Come to think of it. Freya was the calmest one when she saw me. It was as though I wasn’t in the desert fighting for a month, but just went to the elven side to pay Lucia a visit and brought some souvenirs back. I looked at Freya who was smiling and wanted to say something but couldn’t.
Freya looked at me and then said, “I am very sorry, Onii-sama, but due to the challenges with my identity, I could not welcome you with Her Majesty. I, therefore, hope that you will not reprimand me for not welcoming you. I actually wanted to see you, Onii-sama, after all…”
I watched Freya lower her head. Though Freya is my adopted-sister, few actually acknowledge her as my adopted-sister. As Her Majesty doesn’t make her stance on the matter clear, whenever members of the royal family make an appearance, Freya won’t be present if I’m not. I don’t think Freya got to see Her Majesty while I was gone.
‘I’m aware of it, but I can’t say anything, either. I do feel sorry for Freya, though. Freya is very loyal to me. It’s just that Elizabeth doesn’t want any other child other than me.’
I hugged Freya and then asked, “I won’t find fault with you. To the contrary, I’m a little worried. You weren’t present when I came back yesterday, were you? You didn’t come back at night, either. Have you been that busy with work recently?”
Freya raised her head up and leaned on my chest, seemingly reluctant to let go. She looked at me while she was leaning on my chest. Her expression was still very serious, nonetheless. She replied, “There have, indeed, been a lot of matters to take care of recently. Did you come to any agreements while in the desert, Onii-sama? Socina suddenly gave me a trading agreement that they wanted me to sign. Being clueless as to what happened, I did not dare to sign it, and therefore, it is still pending…”
I nodded, “Ah, just agree to it, since I’ve agreed to it.”
‘I think that’s about it for the matter with Socina. I need to make a trip to Socina too, since their lord invited me. I assume there’s business of some sort, or maybe she just wants to speak with me. I’m very interested in Socina, myself. I’ll head there after a one-month break here. ‘
“Is that so? I shall ask that you sign it yourself then, Your Majesty.”
Freya didn’t ask me what happened.
‘I was wrestling with whether I should tell Freya about the agreement in the desert or not. I don’t know if Freya will laugh at me after hearing how I obliviously became someone’s pawn and got the map snatched right off of me. I don’t think she will, but it’s not a suitable time to be telling a story right now.’
“There are also the preparations for the hunting event. It will soon be early spring. Her Majesty holds a hunting event once annually. All of the rulers of the various vassal states will also come. It will be a most splendorous event. However, how should I put it… Mm… This time, Her Majesty ordered Castell and me to prepare it together. It is my first time organising such a large event, so I feel as though I do not have what it takes to do what I wish.”
Freya smiled embarrassingly then touched her head and continued, “I think we will have to make a trip back to the Royal Capital, since that is where the event will be held. I wonder if you will be participating, Onii-sama… It will begin very soon, in about a week.”
It suddenly hit me.
‘I thought Nara was talking about something else when she said we would meet again soon when we left. So this is what she was referring to. I can’t believe it’s already spring. I thought it was still winter this entire time. But I guess it is. It’s warmer now and the water outside isn’t frozen, so spring must approaching soon.’
“Primarily large wild animals are hunted for the hunting event, so I presume there will be dangers involved. As you have just returned from the desert, your body has yet to fully recover, therefore I advise against your participation, Onii-sama. It is enough for you to be a planner and supplier at the Royal Capital.” Freya looked at me and earnestly went on, “Onii-sama, there was no need for me to partake in the planning this time, because it is a hunting event Her Majesty is organising, but she asked me to get involved. You know what that implies, right? It implies that you have to show yourself before all of the vassal states.”
I dawdled for a moment.
‘Honestly, I still have traumas toward the word “hunting”. Last time, we hunted a White Deer King, only for Lucia and me to almost die in the wilderness. But okay, put that aside for a second. Mera died in my arms at the end. I deeply hate the hunting subject and it still hurts me. I will never be able to forget the pain.’
‘Thus, I won’t be hunting anything this time regardless of how I’m expected to perform. I’m going to stay in the Royal Capital in peace. I won’t bother anyone, so don’t come bother me. Mommy Elizabeth might want for me to show myself in front of all of the vassal states this time, but I’m not leaving.’
‘I’m not going no matter how much she wants me to go. I can’t shake off the feeling that something serious will happen if I leave this time.’
“I won’t go hunting.” I resolutely declared my stance. My resolute attitude caused Freya to freeze up.
Freya then chuckled. She replied, “I never thought I would see you so resolute, Your Majesty. Could it be that you are afraid of hunting? Well, it does not matter. After all, you are not really expected to show yourself and hunt. Hunting is her majesty’s pastime. Where you truly need to show yourself is the annual meeting that comes before the hunting event.”
While looking at me, Freya explained, “Yes. It is a new year, after all. Her Majesty wants all the vassal states to come, too. You will be meeting all of the rulers of the vassal states at the annual meeting. You are the main star this time. It appears that Her Majesty wishes to announce your presence to everyone. Perhaps she is thinking about how to make you the next Emperor.”
‘I understand that since Mommy Elizabeth has already mentioned it. I mean wanting for me to be the next Emperor that is. I want to say, please find somebody better than me. I’m honestly not modest… wait, shit!! Why are curse words surfacing in my mind all of a sudden?! I think I can do it. I’m not modest. I think this is an opportunity mom prepared for me.’
“This is an opportunity, Onii-sama. Please ensure that you prepare well. Although you do not need to prepare any clothes or ceremonies, what you need to prepare is more abstract. And that is to show them what sort of monarch you wish to become.”
Freya looked at me with a serious look and told me, “Please do not take it lightly, Onii-sama. You must do that if you wish to wear the crown. You must also carefully consider what you want to show them. That is how you must display yourself in order to get the vassal states to obey you. That is what is most important. I apologise, Onii-sama. You have just returned and have yet to rest. Nevertheless, you may not have time to relax as what we must do next is more serious than your journey to the desert.”