“If the man is such a fool, then why is he sitting on the throne and playing king?” asked Alice.
Alice tried not to listen to the conversation between Alex and Aaron. Old Alice wouldn’t have cared for it. But that was nearly impossible because they were all cramped in the small carriage together. The brothers usually carried on their conversation as though she was invisible. They looked at her now, shocked.
“I hate to break it to you both,” said Alice, rolling her eyes, “But I have ears, you know? These two organs protrude from the side of my head, like you do.”
She understood their shock. If she was the same Alice as before, she would be lost in her own fancies of imagining herself in the party and pretty dresses. But she couldn’t help being interested in their political talks now. Most of all, she wanted them to be aware that they couldn’t act all high and mighty and ignore her from now on.
Alex was doing good to hide his shock but Aaron looked like he was going to faint any moment now.
“You better not say that at the party,” said Alex, “You might be sentenced to prison on the grounds of contempt towards the King. It’s high treason.”
“I also have common sense, you know,” scoffed Alice.
“Lately I can’t really tell though,” mumbled Aaron.
He had been bickering with her every chance he got, which she realized was better than Alex watching her like a hawk on her every movement. But she was really getting tired of both of them.
She didn’t think her parents suspected anything. Her mother was satisfied with seeing her so engrossed in her botanical books. She seemed to think that her daughter could gather enough knowledge to help her husband rule his estate. Her father was just glad she was safe and well.
In fact, their parents were quite busy. The Marquess was always at the palace in the audience and meeting with the King, while her mother was frequently called upon by the Queen. Everybody was aware of the Queen’s Tea Party, but these days it has become Mrs. Warwick’s fashion ground where she was called on to help prepare the best dresses for the princess. At least, that’s what Madeline said, her mother’s maid.
Alice didn’t understand why mother needed to make Eleanor stand out. She would already stand out because she was a princess. Alice, on the other hand, shirked at the idea of catching everyone’s attention. Maybe it was a remnant from her assassin days: be a shadow; blend in.
From fifteen years of aristocratic knowledge, it could be inferred that the frequent invitation might mean that Alice should not be trying to look more noticeable than the Princess. But if that was true why would Alex have been invited as well? When she asked him, Alex said there might not have been any special reason. He saw Eleanor at the Tea Party but they rarely talked. It seemed her brother wasn’t really interested very much in it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to marry a princess? Then he’d become the King’s son-in-law. And better yet, when Eleanor succeeded to the throne, he would be the Queen’s husband. Damn, that would be a party for the Warwick family. And the title of the Marquess would be passed down to Aaron.
“There’s still some magic left in the Royal family,” said Alex, interrupting her thoughts.
Alice was surprised. “Magic?” she asked.
“It is rumored that they can foresee the future,” continued Alex, “The founder of the country long ago ruled the country in peace due to that gift. Since then, it is believed that this power is inherited by one of the Royal children, who will inherit the throne. The Royals have used this power to crush rebellion and prepare for disasters and such. Their authority has been infallible because of this power.”
“So is there still some magic left?” asked Alice, incredulously. She didn’t really believe it. “The king can foresee the future?”
“Basically, that’s the requirement for the ruler. Anyone with the gift can become the King or the Queen,“ said Alex. “It’s not something explicitly admitted by the Royal family, but it is believed so.”
Alice tried to recall her history lessons and any mention of such power. Alex continued. “However, it has almost always been the eldest child that inherits the throne, unless they reject it willingly.”
Alice remembered her grandmother, the eldest born to King Bionier II, who had voluntarily stepped down and offered her position to her brother. She had always wondered why her grandmother had done that. Was it because she didn’t have the gift of foresight?
Alice’s grandmother had passed away when she was very young. But Alice had always remembered her grandmother as a formidable woman who would have made a great queen. She didn’t seem like someone who would give up without a fight. When she had told her that her mother was very headstrong because she had the blood of a dragon, Alice had believed her, because her grandmother had been the same, fiery and awe-inspiring.
“Right,” said Aaron, he had been too quiet for a while that his voice brought her back from her thoughts. “That still leaves us with the question if the foresight is still left in the Royal blood.”
“It’s convenient because there isn’t a big argument when the first child rises to the throne. The Royals have always had fewer children. If a skirmish breaks out, the country would be split in two.”
“Do you mean that you can guarantee more royal power if you secretly spread the information of the heir having the foresight, irrespective of the truth?”
Aaron stared at Alice for a couple of seconds as if not expecting her to come up with that, then nodded.
“Yes. Whatever it was, if they’ve implemented a policy that’s sometimes timed, they can spread rumors as if they’ve benefited from foresight,” said Aaron, “There were rumors about this quite a few times during the late king’s reign. Though now it is uncertain.”
“They’ve never done anything of that sort to spread the rumor,” muttered Alex, expressing his disagreement.
So the stupid king, thanks to his foresight, was sitting on the throne, giving the politics and aristocrats a headache.
“But the princess…” The two brothers glanced at one another, wondering how much they should tell their sister.
“The rumor that she has the power of foresight was not spread by the king, but the queen,” Alex finally said.