Chapter 2 – I don’t want to go
“You’ve finally come, Fay.”
“Actually, it’s more like I was dragged here..”
Fay Hanse Diestburg.
That is indeed the name of the infamous “Trash Prince”; the middle-aged man who said it is my esteemed father, king Philippe Hanse Diestburg.
“I see you’re as foul mouthed as always.”
My esteemed father, after a sigh, kept looking at me (sitting on the ground) and his eyes narrowed. The mastermind behind my kidnapping was standing next to me, immovable.
“My education was lacking. My humblest apologies.”
Feli’s voice is surprisingly powerful. Maybe because she’s an elf…but I always found it a mystery.
“No, Feli, you have contributed much to our kingdom. That was not meant to chastise you. There is no need for concern.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Fay. There is one reason why I called you. I have been thinking of giving you a task.”
“A task? With all due respect, Esteemed Father…I cannot think of any task this “Trash Prince” could ever accomplish.”
Bringing myself down like this is an old habit too. Because of this, my esteemed father did not seem to care much about what I said.
“That might be true.”
“In that case—”
“However, in the current situation that is not enough to stop. We cannot violate the pact.”
“Yes, the pact. Our Diestburg kingdom and the Afillis kingdom have established an alliance. A pact that states that in case either kingdom is in peril, the other kingdom must send someone from the royal house in assistance.”
Can’t my siblings go?
Before I could speak, however, father gestured at me to keep quiet.
“The war’s current situation is grave. Moreover, the enemy forces have a “Hero” among their ranks.”
In this world, warriors who accomplished certain deeds and reached superhuman abilities were called “Hero”. They were said to possess powers equal to hundreds or even thousands.
In order not to thin the defenses of the Diestburg kingdom, and because of rations and finance matters as well, only about 3000 soldiers could be sent as reinforcements this time.
The kingdom’s whole forces amounted to about 30,000, but the current month was October, the month before the harvest. It wasn’t possible to mobilize too many troops.
Moreover, as long as the Afillis kingdom’s enemy had a “Hero” among their ranks, they couldn’t risk sending the heir to the throne. It would be too risky. The second son, two years older than me, was of weak constitution and unsuited to long journeys. And so the arrow ended up pointing towards me.
I’m not going to just obey like a good boy though.
“I honestly doubt that the Afillis kingdom would be satisfied with reinforcements led by a “Trash Prince”. Would my lady sister not be a better candidate?”
“Her marriage has been decided. If she dies, can you take her role?”
“That leaves only you. I am not sending you to certain death.”
Father’s words are completely right. There is not an inch of room for me to make excuses.
“No need to fret. The pact simply states that we must send reinforcements. There is no need for you to go to the frontlines and fight. The only important thing is to establish the fact that we have sent reinforcements.”
“I, I see.”
The moment I heard that word, I felt something overshadow my heart. I looked at the ground to escape my father’s gaze and started recalling the past, a somber look on my face.
The tragic life of a lone swordsman. Memories burned deeply inside me.
A swordsman that could do nothing but swing the sword all his life. He cut down thousands if not tens of thousands, bathing in their blood, finally reaching the apex of swordsmanship.
When he reached a peak high enough to see everything, however, he was alone. The scenery he saw from the peak he climbed against his will was colored by solitude.
Even after losing his only mentor, the swordsman continued to swing his blade, only finding endless solitude. The swordsman who fought desperately to protect himself could not endure the loneliness and ultimately turned his blade onto himself.
Because of that, he…
I dislike the very idea of swinging a sword.
“Be at ease.”
Father probably took my hesitation as worry, as he uncharacteristically tried to reassure me.
“Feli will be at your side. She is skilled enough to hold her ground against our best knights. There is nothing for you to worry about.”
“Is that so.”
My answer is cold. Without emotion. No, I couldn’t infuse any emotion.
There are many heroes whose stories are narrated through the generations. However, not all heroes are spoken about in such tales. The most beloved stories are the ones with ups and downs. Their dramatic endings are etched in the people’s memories.
Troubadours and storytellers prefer stories with such dramatic endings. In most legends, heroes meet a tragic end.
I do not want my story to be told, however. I have no need for honor. Glory and prosperity mean nothing.
I know that living in peace is a treasure more precious than anything else. So I will not wield a sword anymore.
I choose my words as carefully as possible. Ever since I heard the word “war”, the indelible memories of my days as swordsman keep glancing in my mind. I will not let them influence me, however. That is nothing but the past.
What I am right now is the “Trash Prince”. And that’s enough. I just need to keep acting like one. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I will only go to maintain appearances. If I see that there is no possibility of victory I will flee and will not pick up a weapon and fight. I *cannot even use* a weapon anyway. I might run back to save myself. If that is acceptable, then I will undertake this task.”
“….do you have no ambition?”
Father spoke with a hint of disappointment in his tone.
If the reinforcements you lead saved the Afillis kingdom from their crisis, you might become a hero for them. That’s probably what father means.
I laugh. Laugh at the absurdities father spouts.
“I’m the “Trash Prince”, father. You have taught me about living according to one’s worth. A completely average, mediocre lifestyle is all I wish.”
I stand up.
“When is the departure? Tomorrow, the day after, or the day next, I suppose? You went to all the trouble to have the head maid bring me here, so the situation must be that bad. I am insignificant, but depending on how many soldiers we bring, the situation could be overturned, yes?”
“….if possible, I’d like you to leave tomorrow morning.”
“Understood. I see we have reached the conclusion, then I will take my leave.”
I leave Feli behind and exit the room.
“…sorry to push this mission on you.”
After I opened the door, a young man spoke to me.
Grerial Hanse Diestburg. The first successor to the throne.
My elder brother, heavily favored for the position of future king.
Why would he be here? I can’t help but wonder, but then I recall what Ratifah said: all siblings were summoned that day. I was probably the last to show up, as I didn’t immediately obey the command, while my other siblings probably already finished their business with father.
After reaching this conclusion I replied to my brother.
“Why would you apologize, brother?”
“Originally it would be a task for me to perform. Father, however, did not allow me to go.”
“Of course father wouldn’t. You are indispensable for this country, brother.”
“That doesn’t mean that you’re expendable!! I know that you actually have a kind heart, Fay.”
“….that is quite a high opinion you have of me. There is no need to put up appearances, brother.”
“If you really were a “Trash Prince”, you wouldn’t put yourself down like that…don’t die, Fay. If you are scared, come back. I will cover for you.”
Among us siblings, Grerial and I get along especially well. From my point of view, I just listened to him and gave him my opinion sometimes, but apparently my elder brother does not have many people he can confide in.
You’re the only one who honestly tells me what they think, regardless of position. I can’t forget his smile when he said this to me.
“Brother, don’t tell me I look like a warrior that’s going to achieve a spectacular death on the battlefield.”
“….ha, haha. That’s right. Sorry, I guess I don’t need to worry.”
“They don’t call me “Trash Prince” for nothing, after all.”
“You’re pretty tough, aren’t you.”
“What do you mean?”
Grerial’s words, spoken with a faint smile, left me puzzled.
Me, tough? How ridiculous. Is there anyone as weak and foolish as me?
“You know, when I went to my first battle, I was leading a group of reinforcements. It was a battle we had won from the start. Even so, I couldn’t stop shaking.”
“Oh, I see now.”
I smile too.
Brother Grerial’s shaking is understandable, the most correct response in such a situation. To think about going to a place where death reigns supreme without shaking is simply unnatural.
I find myself a bit stumped. I think about the best thing I could say, and after some twists and turns…
“I think it’s because I’m dumb. I just don’t know what kind of place the battlefield is. As soon as I experience it I’ll probably start shaking.”
I lie to brother Grerial. Battles and wars are forever burned in my memories. It’s impossible for me to tremble. I had cut through too many men.
“…I see. If you’re ever in trouble, just ask Feli for advice. She helped me many times too. You can trust her abilities.”
“That’s very reassuring.”
“Father will send Feli with you because he doesn’t want you to die either. Please don’t think too badly of him.”
“Think badly of him? Of course not.”
I mean, after all I…
“I of all people can’t think badly of others.”
I know well how hopeless I am, more than anyone else.