Erna wanted to know this the most: Why them?
Under what criteria were they picked?
Because of their potential talents?
The Haband Palace, where Erna was raised since she was young, had judged that she had no talent in sorcery. Was that not why she became an abandoned princess? There was no way that Hessenguard saw something in Erna.
The same went for Kalion. The Aether royals have given up all hopes on the prince who had nothing to show. Even his mother thought that the only way to earn the king’s love was to give birth to a new and healthy prince.
The abandoned royals. That was what Erna and Kalion had in common. As Erna’s face gradually stiffened, Chenille opened her mouth.
“We needed royalty who would not miss their homeland.” Erna and Kalion were silent. Chenille continued, “Royalty who would decide Hessenguard, not Haband or Aether, as their homeland. To go a bit further, royalty who detested Haband and Aether, and would side with the council of Hessenguard.”
Erna bit her lips as she listened to Chenille. Erna understood why they assassinated the royals that first came.
The royals that came before Erna and Kalion were all people who were loved by the king since they were little—children who were raised under the love and care of their parents, and earned the trust of their people. These kinds of people would miss their homeland even if they were the Grand Duke. But these two had nothing to miss. In fact, the two were glad they had escaped their homes.
Erna thought back to the day Marquis Canavan fled from the epidemic. Smoke from the burning bodies rose from several areas inside the castle. The awful smell penetrated everywhere despite the maids having closed the windows tightly. The maids covered their mouths and noses with a handkerchief as if the disease spread through the smell, and they begged Marquis Canavan to take them with him. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Marquis Canavan could not be bothered to care, so he told them to do as they pleased. So, without leaving a single maid behind, all of them returned to Haband. Erna remembered that day clearly.
In the morning, the room was busty with maids and servants all packing their bags with their faces covered with handkerchiefs. Erna simply looked at them from her bed covered under her blanket. Everyone was returning to Haband. Rather than relief that the people who laughed at her would soon be gone, fear filled her. How different could the people of Hessenguard be? There could be an assassin among them.
The maids in the highest position left the room with their bags first. They did not even say goodbye to Erna. Then other maids also left, and soon there was just one maid remaining. The maid carefully looked around the room despite being anxious about the carriage leaving without her. She then smiled as she picked up an earring that someone had dropped and put it in her pocket as she walked towards the door to leave.
The maid flinched from the voice and then noticed that Erna was still on the bed. The maid did not think of replying. She did not care about a princess who she would no longer see, or who could end up dead any day. She was more worried about the carriage leaving without her.
As the maid tried to walk out, Erna yelled.
“T, take me! Take me with you!”
Erna struggled out of her bed and clung to the maid. Fear had taken over her ego. Right then, a horse neighed from outside. The carriage was about to leave. The maid pushed Erna hard and left the room after hearing the horse. Erna blankly stared at the door that the maid went out through. She then crawled toward the wind sill and looked down.
As they left, the people on the carriage glared at the castle as if they were sick of it. Erna could feel their relief from finally leaving the castle.
As the coachman whipped the horse, the carriage started to move. Erna could see the maid from earlier hastily running to ride the carriage. On her way, one of her shoes fell off but she safely got on board, and just like that, the Haband diplomats left the castle.
Erna looked at the shoe rolling in the middle of the castle. The shoe got hit by the next carriage’s wheel and rolled to one side of the road, and into the waterway. Abandoned. She wondered what the difference between her and the shoe was. Erna went back to her bed and wrapped herself with the blanket. The dead silence in the room weighed on Erna.
Is this how I die?