Chapter 10:

The Princess's Attendant

Painted Tale



I was discharged from the hospital.

My family told me not to push myself, but I felt a pressing urge to do something.

I couldn't keep drowning forever. It was about time I learned how to take a step forward.

I secluded myself in the world of colors.

One after another, paintings were created by my hand.

I participated in every art contest I could find.

Again and again, my works were rejected.

One of the judges told me that my desperate screams would never win in an art contest.

However, maybe posting them online would yield better results, he said as he denied my work.

I decided to listen to him.

Soon, my first work was uploaded on the net.

It was followed by another, and another, and another...

That became the turning point of my life.



I wake up.

Once again, I'm filled with many complicated emotions.

I feel nostalgia and sadness. Bitterness and sweetness...

...As if I'm about to witness a downfall. My downfall.

But what do I mean by me?

Is it me from the dream? Or is it... from right now?


It's been a month since I became her personal attendant.

By her, I mean the girl I've met in the garden, Princess Elisabeth.

She is the princess of The Kingdom and an heir to the throne.

Her Highness recently returned from her studies in The Freiden Republic.

The reason for that is because Renoa is in a bit of a precarious spot right now.

Recently, the king became severely ill, and he is unable to perform his duties. The Chancellor took over all the administrative affairs — however, there are things he's unable to do.

He doesn't have the blessing of The Holy Spirit.

He can't serve as a symbol of royal authority.

Well, it's basically about motivating people. The royals' presence makes people feel at ease. The citizens can't calm down unless someone whos' blessed by The Spirit approves of the decisions made by the government.

That's why the princess was called back home.

Anyway, this month has been busy for me.

From attending governmental meetings, visiting the soldiers' practice matches, and dealing with tons of paperwork — her schedule is packed to the brim.

I basically work all day, all night— Well, not really, but it certainly feels that way.

Who was the idiot who complained about the lack of work? Curse him!

Although, If I had to say, the most troubling thing in this situation is...

"So, have you drawn a new work yet?"

...her interest in my paintings.

We're sitting in her office sorting out the paperwork when she asks me about my paintings.

"...Your Highness, as I once told you before, I am unable to draw on a whim. I only ever take a brush in my hand when emotions overtake me. So to say, It is not something I can do just because I want to."

That was a lie, partly.

While I need emotions to put on the canvas, I can, in fact, paint whenever I feel like it. That's because there are always enough feelings in my chest to give shape to new works.

"That was a lie, wasn't it?"

"...Your Highness, how could you ever suspect me of lying to you. Would I ever lie to the bearer of The Spirit's blessing?" I say, my voice filled with half-hearted courtesy.

"...I can't even tell if you're just being sarcastic or you're just bad at acting."

She sounds exasperated but lets that topic go.

"...Whatever, I'm sure you've drawn several works in this month alone, but if you don't want to show them, I won't force you."

We work in silence for a few minutes. As time passes, I keep stealing glances at Her Highness, wondering if I should ask her something that has been on my mind lately.

After a while, I decide to do it.

"Your Highness... why did you pick me as your attendant?"

"Mmh? Didn't I tell you already? I like your paintings, that's why."

I keep staring at her, knowing that there's must be more to her reasoning.

A few seconds pass. I keep staring.

I keep staring some more.


*Stare* *Stare*


"Ugh, fine!..." Her voice breaks the silence.

Secretly feeling smug, I wait for her to continue.

"This Kingdom doesn't have enough art," she begins her explanation.

"Not just Renoa, the same thing applies for The Duchy and most of the other countries. They don't have the leisure to spend time on that. Life is harsh. Even nobility is too busy maintaining the safety of the masses. You come from a noble family, so you should know that... You are a noble... right?"

I can't believe this girl. Did she not even research into my background? I guess she did pick me as an attendant on the spur of the moment, but... Anyway, apparently, she doesn't know about my family's circumstances.

I was about to say yes to her question — when I realized that I'm no longer a noble.

"Y— No, I am not. I am a commoner."

"Mm? Really? And I was so confident you were from a noble family... Whatever, my point is there isn't enough art. Only big countries are doing well enough to spend time on such things. Countries like the Freiden Republic and Endron Empire."

"And that is why you choose me? To help spread art around The Kingdom?"

"Exactly, I studied literature and fine arts in my time in The Freiden Republic, and I'm convinced that they can be helpful to The Kingdom."

"Helpful? How would arts be helpful, Your Highness?"

I obviously have my fair share of appreciation for creative works and anything that involved using your imagination. However, I can't understand what would be helpful about them.

"Hmm..." She seems to be trying to find the right words.

"What if I told you that they would make humans better?"

"...Ha-ha, surely you jest, Your Highness."

"Well, I partly did mean it... Whatever, let's talk about it from a more pragmatic perspective."

I wait for her to keep going as I think about the subject matter myself.

"...One example of how useful they are would be magic. The ability to use spells is directly related to your ability to visualize. In other words, if you develop your appreciation for visual arts, that can help you in spellcasting. As for literature, fictional stories improve imagination. That applies to both writing and reading. There have been cases in The Republic when writers have created works containing their ideas for improving existing systems. Some of those ideas were later realized. Also, it broadens one's horizons in a way that studying can't." She said that almost in one go. It was as if her words were long prepared and just waited for an opportunity to arise. Or rather, that probably is the case.

For some time, we stay silent as I think through her words.

Soon, she starts speaking again.

"Smaller countries have long since stopped moving forward. The Kingdom is stale. Its systems have stayed almost the same as hundreds of years ago. The people in the upper echelons of this country need to become more creative and daring. It's about time The Renoa Kingdom takes a step forward... Well, it's not like there is no progress at all. Even though they are treated as books for commoners, fiction is getting more popular among the nobility. I admit that a lot of those books can be pretty shallow, but some of them have genuine thought put into them."

After Her Highness finished her long explanation, she closed her eyes in silence as if consumed by her thoughts.

"Your Highness."

"Mm? Yes, do you have any questions left?"

"No, but I would like to advise you to stop pushing yourself so much."

This girl flies full speed ahead into the future, bearing the weight of her country on her shoulders. I feel that, at this rate, she is destined to crash.

In response to my advice, she smiles mischievously.

"What? Worried about my health?"

Your mental health, I wanted to say but refrained.

"More like worried about my future workload."

"Your half-hearted facade is starting to slip."

"I can't even begin to know what you are talking about, Your Highness."

"I can't even begin to understand how someone who became a palace attendant can be this bad at maintaining his politeness."

"Obviously, that's because I'm not even trying."

"You actually admit it!?"

"to cause you any inconveniences. If I did, I apologize for my unbecoming behavior."

She seems—once again— exasperated at my reply. She sighs and voices an unexpected request.

"What a sly attendant... Anyway, you don't really have to be polite around me, you know? You are my age, so you can help me relax by being my conversation partner. There is no chance to rest when everyone around you is so stiff."

"I'm afraid I can't do that as that would be disrespectful towards Your Highness."

"Didn't you tell me to relax a bit more? If so, you have to take responsibility for your words. I'm not saying to do it in public but at least when we are in private... You can start by calling me Elizabeth. Try it."

I thought for a while, but upon realizing that I have no counterargument, I concede.

"...Elisabeth... Is that okay?"

"Yes! It's been a while since anyone called me by my name. Nice to meet you, William!" she said and beamed at me with a dazzling smile.

"Now... Since we got that out of the way, what do you say?" She asks me.


"About helping me spread art, I mean. Do you agree to that?"

"Surely there are people who are more fit for this than me out there. Why won't you get their help instead?"

"As I said, fine arts are not widespread in The Kingdom, like, at all. You're quite literally the only artist in this palace. Well, there is one other person... but he is already too old to help me with my goal. After all, it might take decades. Besides, he hasn't been drawing for six years already... That's why I'm asking you. William, will you help me save The Kingdom?"

I think about her offer.

I find it incredibly ironic that the one who can't take a single step forward will help The Kingdom do just that. However, a part of me feels that this might contain the answer I've been searching for. If I dedicate myself towards such a bright goal, will I finally be able to see the light?

If this will help me find my way... If this will help fulfill Edward's last will...

After a long silence, I finally answer.

"...Fine, I will help you. Starting from today, I will help you spread arts."

"Thank you... Although, I did think that it would be harder to convince you."

She seems puzzled by my willingness to help her. Ignoring that, I ask her.

"I only have one question: what do I need to do?"

"Hmm... Well, how about you start by showing me your paintings?"


We're passing through the palace's hallways.

Along the way, we pass by a knight in his twenties.

He stares at Elisabeth and me.

In this past month, I got used to being stared at.

All of the stares are different.

Some of them are envious of the fake attendant who now serves under the princess.

Some of them are puzzled by my circumstances.

Some of them are filled with respect as they think that my position is only fitting for the hero's little brother.

And finally, some of them are filled with hate and contempt, the source of which I can't quite understand.

This time it was the last type of stare.

We finally make it to my room.

The left side of the room is occupied by the furniture: my bed, closet, writing desk. Meanwhile, the right side is filled up with my works.

Elizabeth looks at them in silence.

A Man in The Forest.

War of The Undying.

At The Crossroads.

And finally, the painting I drew right after the war ended.


...A field of grass is filling the view...

Dark purple.

...Tombstones are scattered all over...

Dark blue.

...A man and a woman are standing in the graveyard, grieving...

Dark Red.

...A bloody red tombstone is before them...

For a while, no words come out of her mouth.

Finally, she speaks.

"...Was one of your family members a soldier?"

"...Yeah, my brother died in the Battle of Eiden Gorge."

"My condolences..." she says and falls silent, not knowing what to say.

For some reason, her expression causes me to feel bitter.

"Don't worry about it...Before he died, he told me to live a fulfilling life. To achieve that, I first need to take a step forward... I need to give it my all. That's why I want to try to help you achieve your goal. Will you let me?"

At first, she seems surprised by my answer. Soon, she recovers and answers me.

"...William... yes, I will be happy to," she says and smiles. Her smile still has a hint of bitterness to it, as if she knows that I'm merely comforting her.

That's how I began helping Elizabeth with her goal.

Mark Ardell, knight of The Renoa Kingdom

I pass by William Arklight and Her Highness, Princess Elisabeth.

I look at the attendant with contempt which I'm sure he notices.

As I keep walking down the hallways, I start thinking about him.

William Arklight. The little brother of Edward Arklight. The brother of the true hero.

And yet. And yet... William Arklight is a disgrace.

Abusing the fact that his brother is a hero to live a carefree life in the capital. I don't know how he became the attendant of Her Highness, but it also probably has something to do with Sir Edward. I can imagine him enticing the young princess by flailing the fact that he's the brother of the hero. 

There's childlike dreaminess to your attendant being so closely related to the already deceased finest knight, so I can understand how this came to be.

I despise William Arklight.

I can still remember Sir Edward telling everyone about his little brother.

How he is incredibly talented.

How he is such a fast learner.

How he is sensitive and fragile yet still tries his best.

I sincerely believed Sir Edward's words. After all, how could I not? There's no one whom I trust more than him.

I'm sure that William was talented at some point. I believe in Sir Edward's judgment. However, now he is a stain on his brother's reputation.

I was disappointed when I heard that he had refused to become a knight.

But I didn't bear any hate towards him.

Even if he's from Sir Edward's family, he doesn't have to become a knight. He can be anyone he wants.

I can still remember Sir Edward saying he knows his brother will shine brighter than anyone else and that he wants to see him at his best.

I was praying for Sir Edward's brother to find happiness. Wherever it's a realization of great success or mundane peace— anything would do.

That's when William arrived in the capital.

As everyone respected Sir Edward's feats, no one forced William to do anything. And so I watched him. I watched and...

He did nothing. Nothing that would make him achieve happiness.

He didn't shine as Sir Edward wanted. Instead, he faded.

No matter how much I watched him, I couldn't see anything in him.

He just kept on existing, mindlessly, purposelessly.

This is nothing like Sir Edward wanted.

I've heard that he left William parting words. And yet, this brat can't even respect his brother's last wish.

Just existing as he abuses his older brother's success and tarnishes his reputation.

I can't stand watching him anymore.

He doesn't deserve to live off of Edward Arklight's name.

That's why I'll teach him a lesson.

Many of the knights agree with me, so my plan should be achievable.

It's nigh time he pays the price for his actions...

As I reach that far, a single thought crosses my mind.

Why am I doing this?

Is it because I hate William Arklight?

Is it because I respect Sir Edward?

Or is it because I'm still unable to let go of the person I respect the most?

Ha... How ridiculous. This is all one big farce...