CHAPTER 27: FOURTEEN QUEENS
Fourteen Queens and thirty-eight princesses were in attendance at the first family gathering in the history, hosted by the king. The four princes were also present and a strange rumor had begun to make the rounds among the princesses a few days before the party.
“Princess Sang-hee is the first girl to be successfully masculinized.”
“That’s why the princes gave her special treatment.”
“Remember how protective they were during her coming-of-age?”
“Right, there’s no other explanation.”
There really was another explanation. Princess Sang-hee always reminded herself that there was a grown woman inside her. In her former life, she had been known for being an incorrigible tease. In this world. Princess Sang-Hee had used her charms to win over the boys in a world where other girls never dared or know how to. The other princesses had no way to observe this though because they had been kept separate from Princess Sang-Hee.
Seonhwa Lee, the eighth born princess, was chewing her nails.
Princess Seonhwa was quite close with Princess Heeah. They were the same age and got along well. Princess Heeah was telling her, “I plan to apply for masculinization.”
“But that’s never been done and isn’t that just a theoretical conjecture.”
“They’ve managed to do it. There’s something different about Princess Sang-Hee. She’s been isolated from everyone and had frequent contact with the Princes. There’s something that sets her apart from the other princesses.”
“Princess Seonhwa nodded in agreement, So you plan to apply as well?”
“Yes, I definitely will.”
“Maybe you’d be in a better position if you bore a son like Queen Seoyeong.”
Three years earlier, Queen Seoyeong had given birth to twins. Queen Seoyeong’s standing had improved greatly because of the prestige of giving birth to both a girl and a boy with magical ability. The fastest route to gaining prestige was giving birth to a boy, but if you were masculinized, this would be impossible as you’d be sterile.
Princess Heeah clenched her fists. She said, “I think it would be better to be able to use magic than to give birth to a boy.”
Rumors continued to buzz among the princesses.
I had learned a new fact. There were fourteen queens and thirty-eight princesses. The part was called the Title Conferment Ceremony. This grand family gathering had been convened just to confer my title of “Treasure” to me.
Still, this isn’t anything grand to Scumbag.
To him, it was no grand feat to summon the ever-increasing number of queens, the princesses, and the four princes. While I had to be very vigilant of Scumbag, he did not trouble himself thinking of me. He probably hadn’t even given much thought to the title which to confer on me.
But the queens and princesses could not help but be cautious. They had to be watchful of the King’s actions. In this world, one false move by a girl carried grave consequences. Without a doubt, all were dying to know why this family gathering had been convened—for the first time in the Kingdom’s history, no less. This was to be expected. If one of your superiors, who ordinarily paid no attention to you, suddenly summoned you, you’d feel some trepidation too. In this case, the superior in question was an all powerful-king who held your life in his hands, they couldn’t really be blamed for the hubbub.
I, on the other hand, was at ease.
What have I done to deserve this title? This was clearly significant. The name itself meant little, but the trouble the King had taken to plan this family gathering personally and confer this title was something special.\
The King was seated on a high, golden throne flanked on each side by two queens who had borne sons. My own mother, Queen Soyeong was among them.
Scumbag announced: “This family gathering has been convened in Princess Sang-Hee’s honor.”
The princesses stared at me. I had steeled myself for this. After all, the party was in my honor, and I was expected to be conferred a title of honor. I was not particularly pleased by this since the lack of contact had prevented my befriending any of them. I was afraid I’d become the object of jealousy which was the furthest from my intentions.
However, I could not decipher the look they gave me. Their glances seemed to signify great longing rather than jealousy. I found it difficult to describe. It was certainly strange.
“I hereby confer onto Princess Sang-Hee the honorary title of Treasure in commendation of her service to the Kingdom. Please approach Princess Sang-Hee.”
Fighting back my true feelings, I smiled as brightly as I could. I hoped for my expression read as: “I hold my father dear above all things in the world.” Scumbag shot a spell at me as if impatient with my slow pace.
I flew forward, propelled under the spell. I flew lightly as if I were Hwan-Seong’s ragdoll and stopped right in front of Scumbag. I flapped desperately while suspended midair. Then, I saw, with my very own eyes, the corners of his mouth twitching upward. I felt my spirits drop. This was the same face I’d seen for years. I should resign myself to failure now. What had I been fighting for? How hard I’d fought for these meager rewards.
Then, I shrieked in spite of myself. I felt as if my soul had flown out of me. As I was being deftly maneuvered about in the air, I screwed my eyes shut. I felt death was imminent. It might not be his intent, but one slight error, and I might collide head-first into a marble column at breakneck speed and die instantly. It would surely be an ignominious death. Scumbag would just shrug off an error like that with a careless apology.
I pled, “Father! I apologize! Please forgive me.”
I curled into a ball as he tossed me to and fro in the air. He did not appear to have any intention of stopping this game. I had my eyes closed and I could not see him, but I was sure that he was just moving his finger up and down with a nonchalant smirk. I wanted to kill him.
My flight through the air was much more acrobatic and lasted longer than usual.
The King shrugged, “Hmm…you’re not reacting as usual today.”
Princess Sang-Hee must be self-conscious before the queens and princesses. Usually, when he cast this spell on her, she would cry out “Daddy!” But not today. The King decided to generous I think that’s enough for now.
Princess Sang-Hee flew forward to the King, and he allowed her to land. Unaware that she was on the ground, Sang-Hee continued to mover her arms and legs wildly.
Prince Hwan-Seong seemed to have enjoyed the scene. He shouted, “Look at me I’m flying too!” He retraced the course that Princess Sang-Hee had just flown and he looked like a rubber ball.
The Title Conferment Ceremony portion of the party drew to a close this way. The queens and princesses were left scratching their heads at the scene they had just witnessed. It seemed possible that this conferment ceremony was part of a political machination to draw out a conspiring princess. Of course, no princess would dare to do such a thing. However, if someone had made such an attempt, the party might have been use as a pretext to gather clues and heads would roll in the palace. The execution of Princess Suyeong four years earlier was still a fresh memory for the princesses.
Princess Heeah thought, when will they select the candidates for masculinization?
She was disappointed. Maybe it really is just a family gathering. Yes, sadly, that did seem to be the case. It was all part of a political maneuver. Princess Heeah looked furtively up toward the King. His chin cupped in his hand, he was casting a flying spell on Princess Sang-Hee again.
She felt sorry for Princess Sang-Hee, who was desperately pleading and at the same time she was also on the brink of tears as well. That terror was all too familiar to her. She had feared imminent death as well. When something shocking happened as her eyes widened in surprise.
In fact, everyone was taken aback. Time stood still as if it was suddenly leaden. All eyes were drawn to one thing.
The King was embracing Princess Sang-Hee. It was unheard of the stir he was causing. The King spoke then. The princesses were straining to hear. They could not hear anything he said, but they had a foreboding feeling. Perhaps the king thought she was undeserving of an honorary title or he did not plan to proceed with the masculinization. The princesses’ imaginations soared, and suspicions abounded.
I flew straight into Scumbag’s arms, although I didn’t want to. This was a precarious situation, but if I just kept my wits about me, I might get out of this. He said very quietly then: “If you cry, you’ll be dead.”
He was perfectly capable of doing so, therefore, I kept quiet.
“That’s good.” He patted my head, “Was Daddy too harsh?”
The words seemed so drawn out as if time had slowed down. Perhaps I was imagining it. His speech seemed slow. I wanted to say, You royal jerk! All this because you wanted me to call you ‘Dadd’! Don’t you know I can’t possibly do that in front of everyone?
I stood on my tippytoes, “No, I am grateful for all you do for me, Daddy.”
He seemed pleased with me. Casting a flying spell, he let me float to the ground.
Scumbag then gave the words: “All, enjoy the party.”
All the princesses were stealing stares at me. Well, I’d certainly given them a show. It was understandable. I probably should try to become familiar with them before I officially have my adulthood ceremony. I had been too busy looking after the twins and entertaining the princes.
Little Prince Hwan-Hyeok was sending the princesses into terror. He ran to them and addressed them by name, offering them some sweets, and then approached them to chatter with them affably. This was certainly frightening to the princesses, unaccustomed as they were to being approached directly by a prince.
Prince Hwan-Hyeok’s behavior was as jarring as a ferocious predator such as a tiger suddenly mewing like a kitten. He kept inviting the princesses to try different dishes, but the princesses were fearful that he was testing them somehow but in truth, Prince Hwan-Hyeok was genuinely offering them foods he thought were delicious and being kind-hearted though he wouldn’t be downhearted if they had refused and yet the princesses unaccustomed to anything but abuse from princes were frightened to death.
Upon seeing that Prince Hwan-Hyeok ran into my arms.
“I love you the best!” He said. My firstborn brother was staring at the two of us with affection. Both of them represented my only hope for the future.
The party continued, Shortly, Scumbag gulped down his wine and stood up.
“I have a small event planned along with the Title Conferment Ceremony.”
Everyone stood at attention.
“You have three hours to present me with a gift of your own choosing. I will present whoever gives me the gift I like the best with a gift myself.”
Well, he certainly deserved the name Scumbag. This event would be all about him. The princesses gulped. They now knew what the main purpose of the event was. It seemed unlikely that masculinization would be brought up as the King’s words echoed.
The princesses tried to guess what this gift would be. The princess who gave him the gift he liked best within three hours would have the honor of being masculinized. Of course this was what he must have meant or so Princess Heeah thought as she was especially excited. She wanted to be given magical powers more than any other princess.
What should I give him?
The princesses, queens and even the princes scattered.
The twins went out into the garden and started squabbling.
“I’m going to catch the biggest mantis there is!”
“I’m going to catch the biggest cicada!”
“No, I will!”
The toddler prince and princess, casting their immature spells, scampered around the garden. Three hours later, the princes, princesses, and queens all re-convened at the party hall.
The King rose and said, “It is now time, Who would like to go first?”
Queen Seoyeong and Princess Heeah were the first to raise their hands. The King stroked his chin, “Queen Seoyeong, come forth.” (T/n: King, giving his wifey preferential treatment eh~?*smirks*)
“What have you brought me?”
Princess Sang-Hee, who was usually the one to surprise others, was this time surprised by her own mother. This time it seems like Queen Seoyeong caused a commotion.
THANKS FOR READING~ WHAT WILL HER MOM DO??? Oh my ❤