It was a cool autumn day. A day when everything visible to the eye, like a landscape in a painting, was deeply and clearly embedded. It was the day when Count Macy, the father of Eva, left to participate in a second battle.
Eva, who was now twelve years old and held her father’s hand, walked through the Garden of Moonlight. This was her favorite place. During the day, different flowers emitted their own scents, and at night, the fountain danced under the moonlight. But today…
‘I feel sad.’
Whenever she walked here with her father, she was happy, but now, she was old.
Knowing it was a moment of farewell, Eva held back her tears. Her father was going to do something big for the Empire. She knew that if she cried, her father’s steps would be mirrored.
“Father will surely return with success. So don’t cry, my baby.”
Count Macy stopped walking and consoled Eva’s small shoulders as if he had heard her sniffling.
As she raised her eyes at him, she could see her reflection in her father’s shaking blue eyes. He seemed to be grieving as much as she was, no, perhaps more than she was.
“How long do I have to wait this time, father? Is it like a year like the last time?”
“That…I can’t promise exactly, dear. But, I’ll do my best to come back as soon as possible. I’ll be sure to watch you become the Crown Princess.”
Count Macy relieved Eva by gentle patting on her head.
She was destined to be the bride of the Crown Prince, whom the whole Empire knew all about. The Emperor and Count Macy had always been close friends since their childhood, and so, they decided to make a covenant with each other in order to unite their families. Ever since Eva was born, she was engraved with the qualifications to fit a prince.
“So, don’t neglect your studies, and be sure to always be careful about what you say or do. Because you will grow into a woman who will shine the most in this empire.”
He said, putting a strong force in his words. It felt like he was pushing himself. It even seemed like he was struggling to overcome the anxiety that she was unsure of.
Eva knew the reason. He had failed an investment from the Imperial family of Burg on the previous two voyages. He had betrayed the expectations of the Emperor and the people who trusted and supported him.
Her father had become a traitor of the Empire for wasting the state coffers, and the nobles were busy pressing on the Emperor to prevent this engagement. He failed to live up to the faith of the Lord, to maintain his friendship, and to have the doors of his daughter’s future secured.
Eva knew how much pain her father had suffered from. In the end, he had to borrow money from his relatives and leave again at his own expense. This was his last chance to get back what he lost.
“Yes, father. I’ll be careful, always.”
Whether she was a Crown Princess or not, Eva did not want to be ashamed of her loving father and the people who cared for her.
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