She tried her best to be firm, but Chesney couldn’t stay still for one single moment. And the strength in her hands and legs kept loosening due to the tension because the stories circulating about Belcansus all contained words like barbaric and ferocious.
“Empress of the Belcansus Empire… If I had to argue, isn’t that the wife of the chief of the barbarians?”
“He is an eligible bachelor for Chesney.”
Unlike Chesney, her sister Uriel, the real princess of the Atelian family, and her friend Princess Celida ridiculed her. This was a foul hobby of theirs: Coming to Chesney’s study–which had a living room and its own bedroom–and speaking ill of others.
“It’s fortunate the emperor of Belcansus accepts a less-than-experienced illegitimate child. If I had to go to the cold and barbaric city of Belcansus, I would cut off my own tongue and die. It is unbelievable that people live in such a place.”
“Hush, Uriel. Chesney might hear you.”
Their giggling, as cheerful as a bird’s chirping, was something natural for girls their age. They were at the age where even fallen leaves made their bellies ache with laughter. Chesney, who spent her days expressionless with nothing to smile about, was different.
Thankfully, their mockeries never did her any damages since their repeated attacks had made her numb to anything.
She had gotten used to them long ago. In the life of a noble illegitimate child whom Duke Atelian had received thanks to his grateful harvest. Sadly, they were Chesney’s only family. Her father, who kept his illegitimate child close but paid no attention to her; her father’s brother who considered her nothing but a leech; and Uriel–one year younger than Chesney–who grew up loved.
If those people often treated others like trees, then Chesney was more like a mistletoe; curled up in a circle in a big tree that could not grow roots anywhere on the ground and lived like that.
It’s alright because I’ll be going to Belcansus soon. Chesney comforted herself so that she wouldn’t be hurt by the words of Uriel and the other aristocratic children. When the wedding first came out, Chesney had been thankful for being the first to help the duke’s family. Finally, she had become someone useful, and this had made her glad. Though she had known that it wasn’t a normal marriage. It was okay even if she was just a consumable item for the sake of adding variety.
As long as they accepted her, an illegitimate child, she needed to send proper courtesy to Sepion and the emperor of Belcansus that she had become the first princess of the historic Atelian family
However, the fact that Princess Chesney Atelian, who had married the emperor of Belcansus, was an illegitimate child born by a maid was the reality of that courtesy.
* * *
The day before the wedding, a parade from Belcansus continued to the front yard of the Atelian’s mansion. Different from the Sepion Empire, the carriages of Belcansus were rugged and huge.
Rejecting all fancy decorations, all they were were black squared rooms with large wheels attached to them. Even the horses proved Belcansus’s coldness as their hairs were long and thick, appearing rather unique compared to the horses of the surrounding kingdoms. Their legs were especially thick. There was no need to point out how big they were.
There was a knock, knock at Chesney’s door. Her bedroom was so small that it was filled with the sound of knocking. The duchess, famous for her strong self-confidence, would never give Chesney any expensive furniture, not even a child born from her own belly. The only furniture in her tiny bedroom was a rock-hard bed like that of the maidservants and a desk, made from an acacia tree, that was all worn out and unpolished.
This treatment was no less than Chesney Atelian not being recognized as a princess. Her biological mother, a maid, had passed away while giving birth. Her few colleagues had raised Chesney, who was not cared for at all, but were not able to overcome the fierce glare of Duchess Atelian and had either left the duke’s mansion or turned away from her. So that’s why every once in a while, until the duke instructed her to, Chesney never wore such a pretty dress and raised her hair.
“His Majesty emperor of Belcansus has arrived.”
Chesney projected a trembling voice at the door. Then she checked her hair with a heavy hand mirror. A maidservant was fixing her frizzy hair with busy hands.
“Aren’t you uncomfortable?”
When speaking to Chesney, they didn’t add any titles like princess and young lady. Of course, Chesney didn’t even hope for such luxuries. Because it was awkward and uncomfortable enough just to be served by maidservants who treated her like she wasn’t even there–just like others normally treated her.
How dare she be fine at a time like this? Chesney cracked a bitter smile on her face. In her younger days, there had been a time when she wanted to be someone who could be angry, like Uriel, and say things like ‘I don’t like it!’ or ‘Do it again right now!’
However, things have changed. It’s been a long time since she had been expected to be treated like royalty in this place.