Who Cursed the Prince?
“What does this mean, Lady Monette? Why is Prince Alexis the only one to say the water tastes bad?”
“That’s because he’s cursed, of course,” replies Monette, throwing a piece of chocolate in her mouth as well.
Alexis and Percival exchange glances.
They don’t ask out loud what she means, but their expressions are clearly questioning. Seeing their expressions, Monette chugs down the remaining water and begins to talk. Naturally, it’s water. It’s neither bitter nor sweet.
“The water from earlier that had the charm dissolved in it reacts to curses. It’s just water for people who aren’t afflicted with a curse, but those who are taste it as terribly bitter.”
“That drawing of that ugly creature has a power like that…?”
“It was a cute kitty-cat! Anyways, the point is that since Prince Alexis tasted the water as bad, someone must have cast a curse on him.”
“… I see, so as expected, I’m cursed.”
Alexis lets out a small breath of air, then slowly lowers his gaze. His exhaustion and grief is clear as day from his expression – anyone who was unaware of his words on that day or his current reputation would no doubt feel for him. Perhaps it’s due to his normal grace, but it’s painful just watching him.
But anyone would feel downhearted on learning that they were cursed, that someone wanted them to suffer.
Alexis’ gaze remains lowered for a while, his emotions probably battling it out on the inside. Finally, he weakly raises his head. His face looks exhausted and his deep brown eyes look pained. He stares at Monette with those deep brown eyes of his.
At his stare, Monette swallows inside her helmet.
She wears the helmet so others can’t see her. So, their eyes can’t meet – but still, she stands defensively at his straight gaze. His eyes are spiritless and haggard, and yet she breaks out into a cold sweat at the idea that she’s being stared at.
“Y – yes. What is it…?”
“I understand that you hold a grudge against me. Little wonder, after what I said to you. I will do anything it takes to make it up to you, so please, break this cu–”
“– Like I said before, it wasn’t me!” Monette says, raising her voice on sensing the start of another endless back-and-forth.
“Monette! Who could it be other than you!?”
“I don’t know! Maybe you angered some random witch somewhere!”
“After realizing how terribly I treated you, I worked as hard as I could to be a good prince. I should’ve had good interpersonal relationships!” Alexis insists before lowering his gaze again.
Yet despite his insistences, he was currently cursed.
“They should’ve been good…” he murmurs finally, trailing off into a sigh.
The fringe of his hair sways. His hair is slightly damaged – Monette can tell how tough this past year must’ve been for him.
At Alexis’ state, Monette shrugs with a grinding noise. As she shrugs, she thinks that she agrees with his statement that his interpersonal relationships should’ve been good…
She knows that he was a good prince.
Although she’s cooped up in the old castle, she still goes to town once a week to shop. When she’s in town, she does often hear stories of Alexis, even if they’re nothing more than gossip.
He interacts with people kindly (never abusing his position), he’s gentle, and most importantly he thinks about what would be best for his citizens. If he ascended the throne, the country would no doubt take a turn for the better… everyone talked about this as they laughed in a friendly manner. Not wanting to ruin everyone’s fun, Monette always just obediently listened to their stories and occasionally made noises of agreement.
Now that she thinks back, people stopped talking about him at some point.
In exchange, they started talking a lot more about his little brother, the second prince, but perhaps that was the beginning of the curse.
She had zero interest in the second prince so she had ignored all the stories about him, but now that she thinks back, she feels like the stories had some insults towards Alexis mixed in.
“It’s been about one year since people started saying this and that about you, correct?”
“This and that, huh… Monette, what did they say about me?”
“Do you want to hear?” says Monette before continuing concernedly, “Won’t it hurt?”
Alexis nods his head with a pitiful expression. He probably wants to face the reality that baseless rumors are spreading, lowering his reputation.
That’s why Monette decides to tell him everything. She thinks back to her memories of going to town. If she recalls correctly…
“They said that you played around with women, that you were showing your true self, that you were foolish compared to your brother, Prince Rodell.”
“I – I see…”
“They even said that you should renounce your right to the throne. That they were tricked, that the only thing good about you was your face…”
“Prince Alexis, are you alright? Lady Monette, leave it at there.”
“Oh, and that you were an unlucky bastard who broke chairs.”
“That’s got to be something you said.”
Monette had intended to casually slip in the insult, but Percival caught it and berated her. In her mind, she clicks her tongue.
As she’s feeling refreshed after informing Alexis of some of the abuse hurled at him, Alexis lets out a deep sigh.
“Thank you for telling me,” he thanks her – but she doesn’t think that he’s actually that grateful. He looks like he’s about to cry – or even collapse.
At the sight of him, Monette murmurs, “It’s a curse.”
Monette didn’t think that he would do anything to make others resent him either. This was due to his reputation before it did a one-eighty, and most importantly the gifts of apology sent to her on a regular basis.
The gifts came with letters, none of which she had read. They probably were filled with apologies. As she continued to not reply to his letters, he eventually stopped sending them, probably not wanting to burden her. Instead, he began to send just the gifts of apology. She didn’t even want to see them so she sold them as soon as they arrived, but he probably understood that she was doing that – everything he sent sold for a high price.
A good prince loved by everyone. He even sincerely apologizes for things he did in the past.
That’s why Alexis thinks that Monette was the one to curse him.
… No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he wants Monette to be the one who cursed him. After that thought crosses her mind, Monette scratches her head, thinking that it can’t be helped. On scratching her helmet with a gauntlet-covered finger, the loud sound of iron scraping against itself echoes out.
“I understand. It can’t be helped – I will help you break your curse.”
“I don’t like being treated as the culprit, after all. There’s only so much I can do with my charms, but I am a witch. I believe I will be able to help you a bit.”
At Monette’s words, Alexis’ expression brightens in an instant.
There’s nothing that the two of them can do to break a curse when they can’t use magic. No doubt Monette’s words were like a ray of sunshine in a sea of despair for them.
In fact, at this very moment Alexis is expressing his sincere gratitude from the bottom of his heart. He even stands up to try to shake her hand, thinking that words aren’t enough… that’s when…
He crashes through the floor and falls down into the basement. Dust and wood shavings poof upwards.
“Your Highness!” cries Percival, peering down into the hole in a panic.
“I – I’m fine, Percival. I just fell a little… wait a second, Robertson! Your friend too! Ah – AH-H-H-H!”
Alexis’ indescribable scream rings out.
Monette hears the sound of several bottles of wine breaking.
She wonders which will be first – this old castle collapsing, breaking Alexis’ curse, or perhaps even Alexis succumbing to the curse and dying – and sighs.