──I’ve always been trying to live up to people’s expectations. Yes, from the day I heard God’s voice as a Saint. And yet, why did I have to be treated so badly…?
Born the eldest daughter of a prestigious Duke Household, I, Justine Courrèges, was promised to marry into the royal family in the near future to the first prince, Diaz Alberic Rhine, as the Queen of the Rhine kingdom.
One day, my engagement with Prince Diaz was suddenly decided.
For I heard the voice of God and received an Oracle.
“Listen carefully, Justine. You are God’s chosen Saint. Find a good companion and bear a child. Then the child will awaken as a Hero and save this world from crisis.”
The moment I heard such a voice in my head, I thought, “Oh, did that prophecy come true?”
For generations, the Royal Palace has been served by people who have the ability to see through the future called soothsayers.
One of the soothsayer’s prophecies was that “the Demon King, who was sealed in ancient times, will return and lead demons to invade the villages and towns where humans live.”
To the dismayed people, the soothsayer said: “Fear not, for I am not afraid. A child born of God’s chosen Saint, will awaken as a Hero and will surely save this world from crisis.”
In a word, ‘The Saint who shouldered the role of giving birth to the Hero’ of the prophecy was me.
From then on, things went smoothly.
Awakened as a Saint, I was immediately appointed as the fiancée of the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Diaz.
Indeed, God said, “Give birth to a child,” but it was not specified as “Have a child with the royal family.”
Perhaps the royal family wanted me in order to receive praise from all over the world.
It would be a great honor for the royal family to have a child born between the Crown Prince and his wife become a “The Hero who will save the world from crisis”.
I knew what was in store for me, but I was willing to accept the engagement, partly because I was secretly longing for Prince Diaz.
About a year later, I celebrated my 16th birthday.
I diligently took care of my waist long silver hair every day, and the maid scolded me for being too thin, but I cared about my body figure for the wedding as well.
I was born with eyes of different colors, the left eye was green, and the right eye was the blue, but Prince Diaz praised me for being unique.
In fact, he even said he liked the colors of my eyes.
──I have a good relationship with my future husband, Prince Diaz, and can hardly wait to attend the marriage ceremony.
Then one day, as I was about to get married.
Prince Diaz suddenly called off our engagement.
“Justine Courrèges! I’m breaking off my engagement to you right now! The crime of deceiving the royal family is worthy of all death!”
Prince Diaz, the beautiful crown prince in front of me, said so in a furious manner.
His clear amber eyes were glaring at me, and his glossy ebony-like black hair was disheveled.
The next moment, I am unwittingly captured by soldiers.
“No way, a woman who is a daughter of the prestigious Courrèges family would tell such a lie for her own self-interest… I’m deeply disappointed in you.”
A woman standing snuggled up next to Prince Diaz and continued.
Loosely curled blonde hair, a full breast, a somewhat lispy, sweet voice – everything she had seemed to be well received by men, to the point that even I, of the same sex, was at a loss for where to focus my eyes.
Indeed, she is Ilia Gilarde, the daughter of Count Gilarde.
We’ve only talked to each other a few times, but since I often exchanged greetings at evening parties, we were acquainted.
── Why is she here?
Thinking so, I tried to come up with the reason, but no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t figure it out.
I was not given time to explain, and I was thrown straight into the castle dungeon.
Then I spent a few days in a dimly lit cell surrounded by stone walls.
It was on the morning of the seventh day that I was finally told the reason for my imprisonment.
According to the guards, I was being ridiculed as a “false saint” by the public.
Because, about a month ago, Miss Ilia, who was next to Prince Diaz at the time, claimed, “I am the real saint”.
When I received the oracle, I was granted enormous magical power by God as a testimony of the Saint.
I’m not sure how much magic that is, but even the great mage who stands at the top of the mages in this world would be unable to match it.
The one chosen as a Saint receives enormous magical power from God – this is also as foretold in the prophecy.
For confirmation, I measured my magic power value immediately, so there was no doubt.
However, Prince Diaz called me a liar.
“I believe you are pretending to be a Saint by using magic in your words to charm the person who measured your magic power,” he said. With that statement, I was forced to measure the magical power value again in front of Prince Diaz.
I was approached by Prince Diaz’s aide with a special blue crystal to measure my magic power.
After a while, my magic power was projected on the crystal as a numerical value.
Then, for some reason, the magical power value that was displayed had dropped significantly.
I protested, “If I actually used my magic, the misunderstanding should be resolved,” and I used magic as evidence.
However, none of them were powerful enough, and for some reason I could only use ordinary magic.
I could not accept this. I explained that it was something wrong, but Prince Diaz dismissed me saying, “disgraceful excuses”.
According to Prince Diaz, the man who measured my magic power at that time was also imprisoned as an accomplice and tortured.
The moment I was informed of it, I shuddered at his cruelty, which I never knew of.
Prince Diaz issued an ultimatum, if I confessed that I was “lying”, he would cease the torture.
I certainly heard the voice of God. And, was informed of the testimony of the Saint, and enormous magic power was granted on the spot. That is a fact.
But I couldn’t bear to watch others suffer for my own sake anymore. So I quietly obeyed him.
── Oh, God. Is it right for such unreasonable things to happen? Why do you condone their misdeeds?
I asked that question, but I only heard the voice of God once, and after that, no matter how many questions I asked, he never answered.
A few weeks later.
After being condemned as a false Saint, I was accused of a so-called crime and exiled to a frontier region. I earned a living by helping out at an armor shop in a small village with my father’s help.
Apparently, a “lowly liar” like me was not even allowed to enter the monastery.
Just before I left, Prince Diaz said, “Be grateful you’re not getting executed.”
Not only did he not believe in me, but he was also going to marry Miss Ilia, a real saint.
By then, my love for Prince Diaz was long gone, and in fact I rather hated him, so I left the royal capital, muttering to myself, “Do as you please.”
Life in a poor rural village was never easy, but I felt that it was quite fun to live a busy life.
The villagers warmly welcomed me without discrimination just because I was the exiled daughter of the Duke, and once I got used to the labor, it was worthwhile.
Rather than being in a stifled place like the royal capital, I had a much more fulfilling life.
One day, a few more weeks later, it turned out that I was pregnant.
At the request of Prince Diaz, I was sleeping with him before our marriage.
Moreover, I had not slept with anyone since I was exiled.
The father of the child in this womb was definitely Prince Diaz.
──I hate that man, but this child was born without sin. I must give a lot of love and affection to this child so that he or she doesn’t feel lonely without a father.
With that in mind, I decided to give birth to the child.
A few months later.
With the help of the villagers, I was able to safely give birth to a healthy boy.
I named the child Serge.
Serge, a clever boy with green and blue odd-eyes and his ebony black hair.
Surely, the colors of his eyes were like mine and his hair similar to Prince Diaz’s.
Serge was a very intelligent child, and by the time he was five years old, he had developed not only a talent for martial arts but also exceptional magical prowess.
I was proud of my son’s growth.
As I saw Serge deepening his interest in magic and swordsmanship day by day, I thought:
── Perhaps this child is the one who should be the Hero? After all, I might not have been a false Saint.
One day, when I was spending busy days thinking about such things, a messenger of Lord Diaz visited from the royal capital.
When asked why, apparently the child born between Lord Diaz and Miss Ilia was unsuitable as a Hero, and they seemed to be at a loss.
Then, messenger explained that he had heard the rumors of Serge and came to the village.
There was no more than 15 years left before the year the ancient Demon King was to be resurrected.
It seems that the impatient Lord Diaz and Miss Ilia have had about four children in the last five years, but not only did they not meet the proper conditions, they could only confirm their substandard magic value.
The messenger seemed to be in dire straits and said, “Anyway, please come to the royal castle with your child at once” so I decided to go to the royal capital to hear the details.
A few days later.
After a long journey, I arrived at the royal capital with the messenger.
I immediately went to the royal castle, and as soon as he entered the audience hall, Lord Diaz, who was sitting on the throne, looked very ill at ease.
Shortly after I was banished, the predecessor king died suddenly, so it seemed that he succeeded to the throne at the tender age of 22 years old.
But for some reason, Miss Ilia, who should have been by his side as the queen, was nowhere to be found.
”It’s been a long time, Your Majesty.”
I greet King Diaz with a curtsy.
Obviously, I wasn’t wearing the gorgeous dresses I had five years ago.
However, I did not forget the manners I had learned as a lady of the nobility.
I urged Serge, who was next to me, to bow.
“Now, Serge. Greet His Majesty.”
When Serge replied, he bowed in a humble manner, he did not seem like a five-year-old.
“No need to be so formal. Oh, Serge… my precious son. Come here.”
Lord Diaz told Serge to come closer.
Serge looked a little nervous, but walked up to him as he was told.
When Diaz looked at Serge’s face seriously, he picked him up and put him on his lap.
── Your precious son ……? The hell, are you in any position to say that, I wonder?
To be honest, I felt nothing but discomfort.
Certainly, there is a blood connection between this man and Serge.
Serge himself seemed to be longing for a father, and if he could, he wanted to meet him.
However, this is the man who abandoned me and Serge.
I don’t want such a person to feel at ease with my son.
“Father…? Are you my father…?”
Serge, who knew nothing about the situation, innocently called Diaz “father”.
Then King Diaz happily replied, “Ah, that’s right. I’m your father.”
── Aah, it disgusts me. I can’t stand it. Could you get into the main subject soon? Well, I’m pretty sure I can make a guess….
“Well, let’s get down to business……. Justine. About that time, I’m really sorry.”
Perhaps he sensed that I was getting numb, Diaz apologized as soon as he started the conversation.
“No, don’t worry about it. It’s already in the past. More importantly, could you please tell me why you called me here?”
When asked, King Diaz opened his heavy mouth as if he had resolved himself.
Actually, I was a real Saint, the fake was rather Miss Ilia, that after he was deceived and seduced by Miss Ilia, I was caught in a trap and banished from the royal capital ─ King Diaz confessed the crimes he had committed one after another.
“… I see. Then, the reason why my magic value wasn’t displayed accurately at that time was because the crystal was tampered with…. In other words, is that so?”
“Oh, no doubt. After that, Justine couldn’t use the magic the way she wanted, because a mage in her entourage secretly cast a weakening spell.”
I’m so dumbfounded that I couldn’t say anything.
At the same time, I felt ashamed of myself because I couldn’t see through his human nature.
“I’m really sorry. I was a fool.”
Saying that, King Diaz lowered the Serge, who he was holding, stood up from the throne, and bowed his head to me.
After a while, Diaz raised his head and continued talking.
“Embarrassingly, I believed that I could have a good child of heroic qualities with anyone without the need of a Saint. …… In short, I was overconfident in my genes.”
Once again, I was rendered speechless.
This man’s head, just how far does his gullibly go?
What’s more, even though humanity might have been destroyed for not being able to resist the Demon King over his shallow thoughts, he seemed completely unaware of the fact.
“But there was no excellent child between me and Ilia. If things continue as they are, this world will be destroyed by the resurrected Demon King.”
“In other words, you want to take in Serge and nurture him as a Hero… is that what you’re saying?”
As I had pretty much imagined what Lord Diaz was going to say, so I took the initiative.
If he wants Serge, I’ll politely refuse.
If the day comes when he will embark as a Hero, I will take responsibility and raise him alone in that village until then.
“No, that’s not it.”
Unexpected words came back to me, so I tilted my head.
“I… Justine, I want you to come back too. Of course, I’m divorced from Ilia. Originally, I constantly quarreled with her, and I didn’t get along with her. I need your presence. It took me five years to realize that…. I’ll explain to the people, ‘It was a misunderstanding, the real Saint was Justine.’ So….. could we please start over?”
I was so surprised and stunned.
── To think that you’re such a good man! Trying to bring back your ex-fiancée and child, who had been abandoned so badly, and hopefully reconcile.
The next moment I thought of it, I suddenly came up with a good idea. And then──
“Okay. As His Majesty wishes, I will return to the royal capital with Serge. Let’s wash away everything in the past and watch Serge grow together.”
I found myself smiling back at him as I gave my reply.
Even if I refused to reconcile, I wouldn’t be able to go against the royal order anyway.
In that case, I have an idea, too.
My name is Marian.
A lady-in-waiting to Justine, the queen of the kingdom of Rhine.
Although I still have little experience as a maid, Lady Justine chose me for some reason.
The reason seemed to be that she liked my personality and I was easy to talk to.
It’s incredible that Justine, who I admired, felt that way about me.
Lady Justine is a really sweet person.
I can’t say it out loud, but The King, Lord Diaz, is once divorced.
In other words, Lady Justine is his second wife, but…. because she showers affection on both her own children and the step-children from his ex-wife, Their Royal Highnesses, Princes and Princesses, have all grown up to be kind-hearted and respectable.
It seemed that Lord Diaz and Lady Justine once broke off their engagement when they were young.
However, due to various circumstances, they reunited after that.
Lord Dias often says that he didn’t care that Justine was a Saint or anything like that, but he fell in love with her for who she is on the inside.
Every time he said this, Lady Justine smiled with an unsatisfied air, and the way she smiled as if she was embarrassed was very cute.
I’m of the same sex, but I think I understand why Lord Diaz is so in love with her.
They are very close, and they were truly the ideal married couple from the onlookers perspective.
About three years ago, their son, His Highness Prince Serge, set out on a journey to subdue the Demon King as a Hero.
Since the sealed ancient Demon King had revived in the present day, demons have become even more powerful.
I am very worried about Lord Serge who went on the journey, but he was the only one who could defeat the Demon King. (There were other children born between Lord Diaz and Lady Justine, but Serge was the only one with an outstandingly high propensity as a Hero.)
Somehow, I wish you to defeat the Demon King and return safely.
When I think of how those two are feeling, I too am heartbroken.
Uh … It’s very frustrating that I can only pray for their safety.
“Marian my dear. I’d like to carry this herbal tea and macaroons to my bedroom… could you help me with them?”
When I was indulging in my thoughts, I was suddenly called out by Lady Justine.
Ha…! I of all people, to end up so carelessly absent-minded.
This will not do. They might have thought I was neglecting my work.
“Y-yes! I understand!”
I rushed hastily to Lady Justine and received a tray of colorful macaroons.
Lady Justine had a tray with a teacup on it.
All that’s left is to carry it to their bedroom.
Lady Justine brewed herbal tea with baked sweets herself and brought it to the bedroom where Diaz waits ── this routine seemed to have been going on for almost 20 years now, and the senior who served as a maid before me also helped as well.
“Your Majesty really likes the Queen’s special herbal tea, doesn’t he? You drink it every day, don’t you?”
“Yes, that’s right. He drinks and eats everything I make and he enjoys them.”
“A-ha-ha… you’re so casually talking about love, my Queen.”
“Oh, I’m sorry!”
Saying that, Lady Justine giggled.
Really, whenever we talk she’s always mischievous and cute.
In fact, the herbs used in this special herbal tea are said to have been collected by Justine herself in the forest.
After all, isn’t it an expression of the desire to provide her beloved husband with something special?
Then, the months and days went by.
One day, Prince Serge, who had been on a journey to subdue the Demon King, made a triumphant return with his companions.
That’s right. Lord Serge defeated the Demon King. Peace has finally come to the world at last.
Returning to the royal capital, Serge was married to a neighboring princess who accompanied him to subdue the Demon King together.
They were blessed with children, and Lord Diaz and Lady Justine looked happy to be surrounded by their many grandchildren.
I have supported them from behind the scenes and served them as best I could.
And ── before I realized it, 20 years have passed since I served the royal castle as a new maid.
At the time, I was a young rookie maid in my mid-teens, and now I am a veteran handmaiden.
I was still serving Justine as a lady-in-waiting.
Lord Diaz and Lady Justine have passed the age of 60, but they were still as close as ever.
However, their peaceful days came to an abrupt end.
Both of them were steadily aging, so I thought that they would spend their later years together… One day, Lord Diaz fell ill.
Lady Justine devotedly cared for Lord Diaz, who had become bedridden.
Of course, she didn’t forget to give Diaz her special herbal tea, which was a daily routine.
But… Lady Justine’s care was vain, and Lord Diaz’s illness worsened.
The doctor also said, “It won’t be too long, so you need to be prepared.”
Then, about a year later.
Finally, Lord Diaz’s condition suddenly changed.
I was instructed by Lady Justine to call the doctor right away.
So, I hurried to the room where my doctor was, but I couldn’t find the doctor who should normally be waiting at this time.
I had no choice, so I called out to the servants in the castle and asked them to look for the doctor, and decided to return to Diaz and Justine for the time being.
When I returned to the front of the bedroom, the door was half open.
I had just left the room in a hurry, so it wasn’t closed properly.
I was going to enter the room and report to Lady Justine, but I was concerned about the whispering voice that I could hear, so I peeked in through the gap in the door and listened.
“Hey, Lord Diaz. I’m finally going to be freed.”
I whispered, looking down at Diaz, who was groaning on a gorgeous bed.
“Fufu… Would you like to hear what I’ll be free from? It’s from “good wife” and “good mother”. I have been playing your ideal person for the past forty years. Why? Of course, I wanted revenge.”
At my declaration, Diaz’s eyes wavered in agitation.
He’s old and lost his former beauty, but his clear amber eyes remained the same.
“I didn’t really want to love the child who was born between that woman and you. The only thing I love is the cute child I gave birth to through my own labor pains. But I had to love them all equally for my revenge. I needed it.”
Diaz, who is caught between suffering and agitation, trembled and his whole body shuddered.
“Did you think I wasn’t aware? You have been having an affair with Ilia behind the scenes for a while after you welcomed me as your rightful queen, haven’t you? Before long, you began to depend on me in earnest, and ended the relationship. Oh, that’s right. I’ve heard that Ilia’s life has been awful. As I understand it, after ending your relationship, Count Gilarde’s household was on the verge of ruin, and Ilia landed in a brothel because of debt.”
“Ah … gu … ah …”
“Eh? What is it? I can’t hear you.”
Diaz, with a face distorted with grief, tried to make some sort of appeal to me, but I continued talking without a care.
”And by the way, may I tell you the cause of your illness? It is the herbal tea that you were drinking while saying it was “delicious” every day. The herb used in that tea was actually a toxic herb that I had collected in the forest. Oh, even though it is toxic, it is a very weak poison, so it’s usually not lethal as long as it is brewed as herbal tea and drunk. It is relatively a popular herb among herbal tea enthusiasts, so there are many who actually drink it. But…… what would happen if you keep drinking it every day for decades? Of course, it’s bad for your body, isn’t it? However, just because you continue to drink every day does not mean it would be harmful to your health. So I took the plunge and made a gamble. Well…… the result was a big win for me.”
“… !? Ah … Ah …”
Diaz’s face was becoming more and more distorted with grief.
“You look like you’re asking, ‘Why are you doing such a terrible thing?’. So, on the contrary, I’ll ask you. Did you really think I had forgiven you by washing everything away? If you had thought your past had been canceled, you were a true fool. I wonder how gullible your head is.”
“…… Ju…… Su…… Ti…”
With his eyes wide open, Diaz’s mouth was agape as he tried to call my name.
I exclaimed merciless words to put an end to such Diaz.
“My dear Diaz. I’ve always hated you. …… Yes, ever since that day when I was so terribly betrayed.”
“But you, in contrast, have deepened your love for me year after year. All I could do was focus on me. You became more and more dependent on me.”
I remember the past as I looked back on the changes in Diaz’s feelings.
“If you can have that much love, why didn’t you do it from the beginning? Why did you trample on my love for you? Even before we got engaged, I longed for you! I have been longing for you! And yet……! This is the man you are……!!”
As I approached, tears flowed from Diaz’s eyes and ran down his cheeks.
Perhaps they were tears of regret.
But it doesn’t matter anymore. Even if it did, it was too late.
…… Yes, it was too late for everything.
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. No matter how sincere your apology, you will never regain the trust you have lost. …… In other words, the wound I suffered was that deep. I wonder if you finally understand my feelings.”
I interrupted the words of Diaz as he was trying to convey something, and cut them off without giving even time to make excuses.
“… That’s why. Please die soon, Lord Diaz.”
With as low a voice as possible, I made it sound so terrible.
Then, Diaz looked in despair and opened his eyes even wider ──── the next moment, he was completely dead.
Perhaps, he lost the will to live after being told the truth by me who completely had his trust, and died.
At the very least, I placed my palm upon the wide-open eyes of Lord Diaz, and closed his eyelids shut.
Apparently, I’ve heard something I shouldn’t have.
Perhaps because I usually saw the gentle face behind Lady Justine, my heart was beating fast as I was in turmoil.
But… I couldn’t let it be known that I was eavesdropping, so I simply turned on my heels and went looking for the doctor.
Shortly thereafter, Serge was enthroned.
I didn’t tell anyone about that day.
Since the demise of King Diaz, Lady Justine had become energetic as if possessed.
She enjoyed horse riding, traveling, and sometimes going to the theater to see a play, even calling out to the young male actors in a shrill voice like she was obsessed with them – she was racing through life as if she was regaining her lost youth.
Lady Justine often said to me.
“If you have an unreasonable situation and want to do something about it, take action on your own without relying on God. Even if you wait patiently, God will not help you. God has certainly saved humanity from crisis, but He is not a handyman who listens to each and every one of our wishes. Therefore, take charge of your own life.”
In that way, Lady Justine, who had a strong heart, also passed away a year ago. She died at the age of 80.
I still think of her from time to time. I wondered if Lady Justine, who had titles “Mother of Heroes” and “Saint,” could be said to have been happy in life.
When I first learned of Lady Justine’s circumstances, I thought she was an unfortunate woman who was at the mercy of her destiny.
…… But recently I’ve changed my mind.
Justine’s life was certainly turbulent, and it may not have been very smooth sailing.
But she tried her best to be happy.
Instead of crying herself to sleep, she single-mindedly pushed herself to the ground, persevered, endured ── finally retaliated when the opportunity came, broke the shackles of the past, and lived freely and found happiness in the end.
In such a life, Justine might have been satisfied with herself in her own way…. That’s what I’ve come to believe.
I have no intention of telling anyone about what I learned that day for the rest of my life.
I’m sure Lady Justine doesn’t want anyone to know her secret, so let’s not reminisce on that day anymore.
But… I will continue to look back on the happy days I spent with her and immerse myself in those memories.
I’m sure that the more people who remember you, the better your eternal rest, Lady Justine.
“Now… I’d better get back to work. Well then, I’ll take my leave. Lady Justine.”
Saying that, I bowed to the tomb where Lady Justine rests.
At that moment. Suddenly, I felt like I heard Justine’s gentle voice saying, “Take Care”
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I don’t know. She calls it vengeance, but she did spend a considerable chunk of her life, almost her entire youth, with a guy she despises just to very slowly poison him and let him know he’s shit at the end. We’re talking 40 years, that’s if we’re generous. Only got to really live in the last 20 years of her life. I’m just wondering if it was really worth it.