14 A Father's Plea

After the conversation with the Duchess finished, he met with Edgar again. His older brother had been waiting for him, probably concerned with the amnesia possibly causing a social faux pas.

It was surprising Edgar didn't accompany him in meeting with Duchess Sophily but he supposed the viscount didn't want to present a sign of wariness to the King's younger sister. Or that Edgar didn't want to bring more attention to Mattheus by hovering and, consequently, making the Duchess suspicious.

"Everything fine?" Edgar asked.

"Yes. She just wanted to thank me for my interference last evening and how my actions prevented the situation from becoming worse," Mattheus replied as he started following Edgar at the older man's gesture.

"Did she ask about how you managed it?"

"She did but was satisfied with the vague reply of how I came upon the ability when I got lost in Glashaw Woods two weeks ago. Duchess Sophily was interested but I don't think she wants to… recruit me. More like she saw a magic trick and found it amazing?"

"I wouldn't call what you did a simple trick," his older brother commented wryly. Mattheus was suddenly reminded that magic was the common laymen's term for the occult uses of the so-called "inexplicable energy" Mattheus Crown and his father studied.

"Ah. I thought the royal family…?" Mattheus trailed off in a leading way.

"Just because one has a non-white Color doesn't mean one could manipulate or utilize it."


The empty way Edgar said the words had reminded Mattheus that he might have accidentally stepped on a landmine. Edgar Crown was a Knight-Captain and went the military route despite their father being an academic. He was the first Crown in four generations to have military pursuits.

It had not purely been through choice.

A mediocre—borderline underwhelming—occultist or an exemplary military man.

Mattheus was pretty sure the Crowns never produced someone average and it was doubly expected, when Alfred IV married the most beautiful woman of both looks and wit in the country, that their generation would be excellent.

The nineteen-year-old pursed his lips. The phantom of the Original always reared his head when it came to the prestige and nobility of his family and self. He had a pretty good idea the Original had been a fairly prideful guy—probably even ambitious to the point of destruction.

Edgar sighed. "Duchess Sophily is known to have never been taught and never sought to learn." He lowered his voice, "It's widely accepted it might be another method for her to express her disinterest in inheriting the throne."

"Isn't there almost a two-decade difference between her and the King?" Mattheus inquired in confusion, equally sotto voce.

"It's not the King that would be a concern, Brother," Edgar only said as he patted Mattheus's shoulder pointedly.

What did Edgar mean…?

Silver eyes widened quickly in realization. Right. She was only a few years older than her nephew. The Queen and her family would consider Duchess Sophily a threat to the Crown Prince.

Was that also why Duchess Sophily was still unmarried despite being past the acceptable age in this society?

'Ah, geez. I feel like I'm in a western period novel but it, unfortunately, makes sense. True life really can be stranger than fiction.' His situation was a perfect example of this.

But that only muddled the assassination attempt the previous evening even further. Mattheus had been considering the alliance talks and consequences thereof but the Duchess had been responsible for the ball due to the Queen being pregnant. What if this was set up to ruin Duchess Sophily?

There were simply too many possibilities at the moment.

"Captain. Professor. Good, I managed to catch you before you left, Professor Crown."

The two brothers, who had been walking back to the carriage, Edgar having intended to escort Mattheus through the palace, stopped. They turned to see General William Grant heading toward them with his second-in-command behind him.

Edgar greeted his fellow officers and technical superiors.

"General Grant, did you need something?" Mattheus asked with a slightly bemused expression.

His second-in-command directed a question to Edgar, obviously trying to create a moment Mattheus and the General could talk in private. Edgar, after giving a look to his younger brother, went along with it and the two men stepped a bit aways to discuss work.

Mattheus's brows were slightly furrowed in confusion. The General had been pretty thorough in his questions—and it wasn't like Mattheus knew much—so he had no idea why the middle-aged man wanted to speak to him.

"Is there something you forgot to ask?"

"I have something to ask you, Professor Crown, but it is unrelated to the incident at the ball." The General looked very somber.

"Oh?" Mattheus was getting the slightest bit nervous. Did he get found out?

"It is a rather shameless thing to request of you but I will nonetheless ask."


"Professor Crown, can you take a look at my daughter? She hasn't been the same since losing her child and none of the doctors had a solution that worked."


"The royal physicians had told me what you did was practically a miracle. Maybe, if it is you—"

"General—I… I'm sorry, General Grant, but I technically do not have the right to practice medicine unsupervised at this point. Yesterday had been an emergency and my father had been present. I am… also not sure how I could help with postpartum depression and grieving, as that is more an illness of the heart rather than the body."

The General's head dipped just the slightest bit. "… Yes. I got ahead of myself when I realized what you could do. You are right and the doctors have also told me it is a sickness of the heart. I understand. I hope you forgive a father for asking for the unreasonable for his child."

"No! No apologies needed and there is nothing to forgive. If anything, I should apologize for being unable to help." Mattheus fretted, feeling awful.

Technically, he could probably adjust brain chemistry and hormones enough to "cure" depression but it was a fix he was very leery about messing with. Permanently changing things like serotonin levels would be too dangerous long-term and temporary doses meant he would have to repeatedly treat the patient, like a walking antidepressant.

But the fact was Mattheus still wasn't sure of the consequences of healing the General. He also truly wasn't a licensed physician and acting like a doctor to a patient without qualifications was too much like becoming a quack for his tastes.

All those logical reasons still didn't keep Mattheus from feeling very bad about rejecting General Grant's request.

"William Grant has triggered your weakness of being unable to say no to requests," Brunilda deadpanned.

It was the first thing the cat said as she popped up again later that evening.

Mattheus pouted slightly. "But I did say no," he argued.

"And you feel really bad about it," Brunilda immediately returned. Which, well, she wasn't wrong.

"You don't?" Considering she knew about what happened, Mattheus figured the cat also knew about what General Grant had asked of him.

"Well, I already had an idea of his situation at home but he's been one of the main topics in the castle gossip considering what happened to him yesterday. Some of it I'm not sure is just true or not but what I do know for a fact is that his daughter was widowed early in her second pregnancy, losing her first child with her husband in the accident, and then losing the baby shortly after it was born. The General was an absent father and seems to have regrets considering how his only daughter ended up."

Mattheus stared at the cat with wide eyes.

"Yeah, so she's his only daughter. His wife died from childbirth and he never remarried. The maids believe his heart only had the late viscountess which is why he stayed a widower and lost himself in his military career to 'drown out the emptiness' or something. His son-in-law was also military and married into the Grant family. Both son-in-law and his eldest grandchild died less than a year ago in a landslide during the rainy season. I am not exactly sure how his second grandchild died but I'm pretty sure it at least managed to survive past birth?"

That was literally tragedy after tragedy for the family…

Maybe Mattheus could figure out a way to help the General. The question was how, considering the reality of his hands being mostly tied.

The young man was distracted from his thoughts when Brunilda changed the subject.

"You told me to give you some time last night to think things over. Have you had enough time yet?"

"Ah. Well, as much as I was able to, in any case."

He had been trying to disentangle the memories, yes, but he hadn't managed to get all that many clear answers. Just a lot of unconnected clues that meant nothing at the moment.

"Alright. So, how exactly was the original Mattheus Crown a traitor? You mentioned a secret society. Was he part of a conspiracy? What type of conspiracy, for that matter? There are way too many reasons for someone to attempt to assassinate William Grant that night."

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