Ch. 95 I Promise (1)
“What are you thinking of, Your Highness?”
Carlisle was gazing moodily outside the window with his arms folded. His blue eyes lost its focus and turned clear again, but he didn’t turn away from the window as he replied.
“Just of old memories.”
Presently, Carlisle’s gaze was turned towards Freesia Palace outside the window. He didn’t have many good memories of the place. Perhaps it was only natural. He had a very unhappy childhood.
From the moment he was born, he didn’t stay at the palace, but was raised at the maids’ quarters stayed because of his mother’s humble origins. He had grown up not knowing that his father was the emperor until he was eight years old. Although he was the first son, no one recognized him as a prince.
As a child, Carlisle’s mother was always apologizing to someone. Even if the Empress threw a cup of tea at his mother, she had to bow down and subject herself to the harassment and jealousies of other maids. He couldn’t understand why his mother was this way when he was a child…but when he grew older, he later found out it was for his sake. And yet, his mother would always apologize to Carlisle too.
“I’m sorry, Caril. I’m sorry you have such a terrible mother.”
His mother suffered greatly to protect him. It must have been difficult to safeguard the life of the boy without any maternal relatives in the palace, where plots and scheming were common. When Carlisle thought about it now, he probably survived that far because nobody cared about him.
“Caril, if anyone says something, just say you made a mistake. You can’t even breathe a word against anyone.”
“No. Why should I do that when I didn’t do anything wrong?”
“The moment you are noticed by others, your life is over.”
“Mom, can we just run away together? I don’t want to live as a prince.”
He meant it. He would abandon the position a thousand times over if he could only be with his mother. She answered him with a weak smile.
“Caril, you cannot live like this. How precious is the blood that flows in your body? Look towards the high places like birds flying in the sky.”
He complained countless times that he didn’t need riches, but his mother has pretended not to listen.
The turning point in his life came without any warning. One day, the Orb appeared in Carlisle’s body. He lay in bed for a week and struggled with severe pain. There were no words to explain the way his skin turned black then white again. It was only then that he realized the change in his body meant that he was not a normal human being. The sun and moon rose and set several times before the blue orb finished growing inside his body and separated from him.
The moment he held the perfect bead in his hand, he met his father for the first time. His father told him that the emperors had the blood of the dragon. Carlisle thought he would retch. This wasn’t just the blood of a monster…It was a curse. His mother was completely wrong; The blood flowing through his body was never precious or blessed. He could still remember clearly when Sullivan patted his shoulder.
“You will succeed me, Carlisle. Your father believes in only you now.”
Soon after, Sullivan declared to everyone that Carlisle would serve as the crown prince. Carlisle’s life completely changed after that. Like a lie, Sullivan began to love him dearly, and in turn, the days he saw his mother gradually declined. Then one day, his mother spoke to him.
“I need to leave the palace for a while. Your Highness, can you manage on your own?”
“Where are you going? Don’t go.”
“I’ll be back. Just count on your fingers for ten nights.”
“No, don’t go. Mother!”
No matter how much Carlisle cried and clung to his mother, she turned coldly and left the palace. Since then, he folded her fingers one by one, counting the nights by ten, but his mother never returned to the palace. He realized at some point that she would never come back.
He felt an aching loneliness. Although he lived in palace, his food would often be poisoned and he struggled with death several times. In front of him were smiling faces, but when he turned around, he could not tell who was the enemy. Who was trying to poison him behind his father’s back? The enemy seemed to be on all sides and no one could be trusted. When he was alone and isolated, Sullivan called him. Then he issued a final notice.
“Carlisle, there’s no way to protect you here. Go to the border and enter the war.”
“Father…I’ll die if I go there.”
“You are the child who has the blood closest to the dragon. How can you die so easily? Follow your father’s decision. This is the best.”
My father was a madman, so obsessed with myths that he wouldn’t look at the reality before him. Carlisle was only thirteen years old when his father condemned him to die outside of the palace. What were the odds that a young man who had never even held a sword would return alive? Even if there were people eager to kill him in the Imperial Palace, it would be much worse if he were away from his father’s side.
It was a miserable life. He believed that he would live his entire life in misery. Anyone who married such an unlucky person like him would surely be doomed.
Carlisle felt no more anger, resentment, or sorrow. All he had left was emptiness. His mother abandoned him at the Imperial Palace, and his father was pushing him to a dangerous place, saying it was the only way. The chances of survival were extremely slim, but he didn’t have any desire to live anyway.
‘Everything. … It’s all because of this Orb.’
Carlisle looked down at the blue bead ring in his hand.
Before his mother left, she made him this ring so the Orb wouldn’t be noticed, but he doubted it would be useful. He couldn’t use the Orb for himself or for his family…
In those days even the maids working for the Imperial Palace did not want to make eye contact with Carlisle. Rumors began to circulate that his existence was unclean. The rumor was not wrong in Carlisle’s mind.
“…The sky is so clear. “
On the day before he would leave for battle, Carlisle hid himself in Freesia Palace, the largest palace on the grounds, and looked up at the blue sky. He was in a gloomy mood, but unlike his thoughts the sky was clear. It didn’t matter though, since nothing reflected Carlisle’s mood in his life so far. He was under the sway of other people. He was about to give up everything when–
He heard the sound of light footsteps. When he turned his head in the direction of the sound, a blonde-haired girl emerged through the bushes.
Carlisle was momentarily speechless. He thought it was a fairy. He couldn’t believe there was such a beautiful human being. She had golden hair, pale skin, and jeweled red eyes that stared right at him. The moment their eyes met it felt like eternity.
“Are you a servant working for the Imperial Palace? I’m lost, where am I?”
Carlisle’s eyes widened as she addressed him informally. Although he didn’t care for it, everyone used the crown prince’s title since he ascended to the position. He didn’t answer, and the girl said softly,
“Are you a lost child, too?”
At her question, Carlisle looked down at what he was wearing. He did look quite scruffy, but he was leaving for the battlefield tomorrow anyway. He wanted to reveal himself, but at the same time he didn’t want to hear the girl use his title like everyone else. Although words of respect came from everyone else’s mouths, their eyes and voices were cold.
The girl before him spoke up again, her red eyes lifted sharply as if she were offended.
“Why don’t you answer when people speak to you?”
When he saw this girl like a nine-tailed fox in the palace, he couldn’t help but be surprised.
“Why should I answer your question?”
“Because…because servants have to obey the words of the nobility.”
Carlisle leaned back and responded in a flat voice.
“There’s a strike today.”
“What? No way.”
“Ask someone else for directions in the palace.”
“I’ve been walking around for ages, but I didn’t see anyone else.”
It was easy to get lost in Freesia Palace’s labyrinthine grounds without a guide. The girl’s poor dress was a little worse-for-wear, but he decided that wasn’t any reason to do her a favor. The girl said something else, but Carlisle closed his eyes and ignored her.
Then, at one point, it became quiet. Suddenly curious, he opened his eyes and saw the girl sitting nearby and looking at the flowers. She looked a picturesque image as she smiled prettily at the flowers, unlike the face she made when she was complaining earlier. She was still beautiful before too, but he liked this a lot more.
“Is there something interesting about the flowers?”
“Don’t talk to me. You won’t even give me directions…”
“I told you to ask someone else.”
“Tch, how am I supposed to find someone else here? I’ve been walking around a long time and I only met you…I’m scared to be alone.”
Carlisle chuckled how girl’s voice adorably became smaller and smaller. It had been a long time since he met someone of his age. Unlike the half-brother who always stared at him, she was a perfect stranger.
“I didn’t know it was such a strange flower. You can find it all over the palace.”
“Not where I live. Maybe this flower only blooms here…Have you ever been outside of the palace?”
The girl looked surprised at Carlisle’s answer.
“Then have you ever gone to a bakery or an opera outside the palace?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Wow–Charlie’s Bakery is really good. And children usually aren’t allowed to go to the opera, but I saw it once because my mother took me there. It was so grand and beautiful.”
Carlisle did not reply. It was a story of a world that he didn’t know.
When Carlisle didn’t say anything else, Elena sidled up to the boy’s side.
“Then would you like to come with me?”
“I’ll take you to a fun place outside the palace.”
The girl’s bright expression dazzled him and Carlisle’s heart began beating faster than usual.