The King asked me a question.
Are you someone related to Marquis Luminous?
I was unable to respond immediately.
You’re mistaking me for someone else—I couldn’t use the usual stopgap that I’d use any other day. This was a formal occasion, and the eyes and ears of nobility were concentrated on me. I’ll be in for more than just a slap on the wrist if my lie to the King was exposed. Far from lying in the first place, the very act of lying to the King was difficult for me. Ever since my childhood, I was strictly raised as a noble with loyalty to the kingdom, so I felt hesitant on a psychological level to lie.
In that case, should I tell the truth? Do I, after having been exiled from my household, have the right to tell the truth?
After a short silence, I announced to the King.
“…Perhaps you should inquire not me, but Marquis Luminous?”
“…I see, that’s also true.”
He must’ve sensed that there was something deeper going on, as he sent someone to call on Marquis Luminous, who was moving to another room, without inquiring any further.
Father would arrive before long.
It’s been 10 years since I met Father, ever since the day I was banished.
He must’ve thought we’d never meet again, but to think we’d reunite in the presence of the King of all places.
I felt a feeling of discomposure expand throughout my heart.
Every passing second felt like an eternity.
The door opened with a clank. I couldn’t confirm who it was, as I was still kneeling.
However, I heard a voice.
“My King, what can I do for you?”
That was undoubtedly Father’s voice.
“Sorry for calling you so suddenly, Marquis Luminous. Is the man right over there someone you actually know?”
Next, the King spoke to me.
“You may stand, Albert.”
I stood up at the same time.
Then, we saw each other.
I looked at Father.
Father looked at me.
It’s been 10 years since I’ve seen my Father, but his face looked older than his actual age. His body was slim, and the light in his eyes was weaker. It was most likely due to losing Alencia. The sad reality of Alencia’s death sapped away Father’s strength.
Both of Father’s eyes opened wide with shock.
He stayed like that for around 10 seconds.
“Al…bert… why… are you…”
“I see, so Marquis Luminous knows as well. Then I shall ask once more. Albert, are you someone of the Luminous household?”
“…Yes, it’s just as you say. My name is Albert Luminous. I am the marquis’ son.”
The King nodded and spoke to Father.
“Marquis Luminous, Albert participated in this war.”
“…I-Is that true!?”
“Indeed. He achieved great results on the battlefield under his squad, and he received a medal as a contributor to the war.”
Father looked at the sparkling medal on my chest, his eyes wavering with confusion.
He opened and closed his mouth several times as if he was searching for the words to say. Then, he averted his eyes from me just slightly and spoke as if he was squeezing them out.
“…Well done, Albert…”
That’s all he said.
I didn’t think he was being indifferent to me.
Rather, I thought it was the natural response.
Father knew as well—He knew how deep the scars of a 10-year breakup went, as well as the feelings of negativity that loomed between us.
I couldn’t immediately decide how I should respond.
—Shut up! You have the nerve to say that after abandoning me 10 years ago!
It was simple to yell those words at him. I probably at least had the right to say that.
The King was here too, and so were prestigious nobility. If I quarreled over some insignificant family dispute here, then his prestige as the Marquis Luminous would sink.
This was the ideal chance to exact revenge.
However, I couldn’t do it.
Father regarded me as hopeless and gave up on me, but he didn’t abandon me in the truest sense. He granted me a house and sent me a fixed allowance. If it weren’t for Father’s patronage, I most likely would’ve died a long time ago.
I was indebted to Father.
He lost his exceptionally talented, beloved son Alencia—I couldn’t yell those cruel words at Father while he was depressed.
I spoke briefly, like so:
“…Thank you… very much…”
Just by wringing those words out of myself, I felt a profound sense of fatigue.
Father was probably the same. We both looked physically and mentally exhausted to the core as we looked at each other.
A dead silence dominated the atmosphere of the audience. I wonder how long it lasted for. Father spoke to push away the gloomy mood.
“…I’ll contact you again after this… Tell me your story…”
He then faced the King.
“I am deeply sorry. I am exhausted today, so I shall return home.”
“Mmm, I understand. I do apologize for calling you so suddenly.”
Marquis Luminous bowed and exited the audience chamber. After making sure he saw Father leave, the King called out to us.
“You all may leave as well. This was quite the ordeal. Devote yourself to the country from here on out as well, Lihilt Strahm, Albert—Luminous.”
We withdrew from the King’s presence.
When we went back down the red carpet, I felt the unreserved gazes of the nobility standing in line. They stared at me from head to toe.
Who is he, is he an enemy or an ally, should we control him or should we crush him—
“To think that Luminous still has a successor left…!”
“The way they acted… There’s something more to this…”
“…I suppose I should immediately investigate who he is…”
I heard the subdued voices of the nobles. They probably wouldn’t forget about me.
I just wanted to be Albert, though.
To them, I was already Albert Luminous.
I breathed out a small sigh.
It seems like the things which have been set in motion won’t go back to normal—
Today’s second chapter. Some nice story developments. I said I’d be gone tomorrow, but I’ll have enough time for a single chapter. See you guys then.