After the war ended, she attended Milton’s wedding and returned to her homeland.
Of course, she did not return empty-handed.
Although this war was officially recorded as a defeat, she herself made quite the meritorious contribution on the battlefield while operating with Milton, for which she was acknowledged and awarded immensely by Queen Leila. The Florence Principality itself received a grand financial award of 3 million gold, along with the opening of five years of customs-free trade.
This would be more than enough to return home in glory in any other nation.
But when the princess returned home, all she was met with was coldness. Unlike the enthusiastic welcome with which Milton’s return was met, none of that awaited her when she returned to her fatherland.
It went without saying that Princess Violet was bitter – but more than anything, she felt sorry for the good knights and soldiers who chose to follow her. Even if they were not met with the fanfare of a welcome ceremony, the least that could have been done for them was to respect the blood that was spilled fighting in an expedition to a foreign country.
The princess could not help but be overwhelmed with sympathy, as she knew all too well that she was the reason that they did not receive this bare minimum.
That was not all.
After dissolving the army and sending them home, she had to sit through the reprimanding of the Principality’s Archduke.
“You stupid little thing!”
That was the first thing the father said to his daughter who had just returned from war.
Lawrence Graham Florence.
The current Archduke of the Florence Principality, it was difficult for one to say that this man was competent in any faculty.
If there was one thing he was good at, it was having children.
And by that, one meant it entirely by standards of quantity - and certainly not quality.
In order to solidify his grip on what was essentially a king’s authority, he took the daughters of any House he saw as remotely relevant as his own concubines, and thus had countless sons and daughters under him.
Was it because he had so many children?
The Archduke did not have a strong sense of attachment or love for any of his offspring.
To him, all his offspring were merely a question of who proved to be more useful to him.
In that aspect, Princess Violet was not a daughter who had much value in Archduke Lawrence’s eyes.
Unlike offspring born from the women of influential Houses, he was only having some fun with a housemaid who unexpectedly fell pregnant – and the resulting child was Violet.
He never had an interest in her childhood and early development, as she would not be of any help in strengthening his position. When she grew some more and it was discovered that she had a talent for swordsmanship, he assigned her to crack down on bandits in the name of maintaining social order – which she succeeded in with flying colors.
And that was why the Archduke – or rather, King Lawrence – sent her off to war.
He expected her to leave her mark in this war, and contribute to clearing the dishonor of the Florence Principality being known as the weakest nation in the continent. In essence, he intended to send his own daughter to the battlefield and reap the rewards.
But that war ended with defeat.
Though the Lester Kingdom was able to accept this defeat as they had regardless found themselves with some rather large benefits, the same did not apply for the Florence Principality. The defeat was just that: a defeat.
“As you have returned from battle in defeat, you must take responsibility for it. Do you have any differing words to offer?”
At Archduke Lawrence’s words, Violet bit her lips and remained silent.
In reality, though the actual war itself ended with their loss, they had indeed managed to earn some substantial rewards by the way of the Lester Kingdom. The army which she took to war also had a casualty rate of less than 10%.
Yet to be demanded to shoulder the full responsibility of a defeat…
All of it was truly unfair.
“I do not.”
She knew all too well that her father would not have a change of mind just because she voiced her objection. If Queen Leila was in her position, she would have at least tried to negotiate and politick her way out – but Violet did not have that know-how, so she merely bowed her head and accepted what was to come.
“Good. You will be taking responsibility for your actions in the near future. I expect that you behave yourself until then.”
“Furthermore, I declare that the knight order under your command is to be disbanded, and their posts demoted from capital knights to probationary knights.”
Shocked, Princess Violet raised her head.
“Your Highness, I believe that is a most unjust decision.”
“This is my decision to make as monarch of the Florence Principality,” King Lawrence yapped at her. “Do you dare to object?”
“These men dedicated their lives to fight for our nation. How could they be demoted?”
Princess Violet went outside her usual demeanor and voiced her defiance. She could accept any amount of punishment if she was the sole receiver, but she could not bear seeing the knights that followed her being punished as well.
But her defiance only served to enrage King Lawrence further.
“The audacity to go against a royal order… I see you have become plump with arrogance.”
“I implore that you reconsider your decision. This is a most reckless decree.”
“This is a what? Are you daring to rebuke me?”
“No, I am not-”
“And you still have words left to say. Guards, hear my order: subdue Princess Violet at once and lock her up in her royal quarters. Do not let her take a single step outside her quarters until I give my word!”
The knight order of royal guards moved in to restrain Princess Violet as commanded, approaching her with caution.
“Princess, come in peace…”
“This is a royal order. Please…”
Despite the Archduke’s stringent order, the guards were careful as they approached her.
Princess Violet trained together with the royal guard knights from a young age. In other words, they knew that Princess Violet was in fact stronger than them. On top of that, they knew there was no way they could handle her if she exploded.
But thankfully, Princess Violet did not show further defiance. She obediently followed the guards and came to reside in her palace quarters.
“Disgraceful little thing. She’s only become more unruly, with none of the usefulness to show for it…”
Archduke Lawrence huffed after detaining Princess Violet, his rage yet to be quelled.
Reciprocal to his incompetence, he had a strong sense of his own royal authority and responded sensitively to even the smallest of objections, and his children were no exception to this rule.
In fact, this held even truer for his own offspring. To him, his children were sleeping competitors who could challenge his rule at any moment.
Thinking that he could not let this show of defiance go unpunished, Archduke Lawrence moved into action immediately.
“Like the saying goes, if a bull refuses to listen…”
The Archduke summoned a servant and gave his orders.
A few days later.
Princess Violet received a bolt straight from the blue while she was under house arrest.
“Yes. That is the order of His Highness.”
She had been ordered to be wedded.
Violet asked with a trembling voice, to which the servant replied firmly.
“It will be to the successor of the Marquis House of Tol of the Valance Kingdom, the Young Master Ward Tol.”
The Marquis of the Valance Kingdom was not a bad groom. In fact, one could say that it was a satisfactory match, considering the status of the Florence Principality as one of the weakest nations of the continent along with Princess Violet’s complete lack of political value.
“It has been decided that you will become his seventh consort, Princess.”
Princess Violet was at a loss for words.
The seventh concubine?
Someone who was no royal, and not even a Marquis himself but the future successor of the title of a Marquis, had six – officially known – wives?
This was too much.
“The marriage will be solemnized in one month. Then if that’s all…”
The servant left, indifferent to Princess Violet’s dumbstruck expression.
“What? The seventh concubine?”
“What kind of mongrel would dare to!?”
“F**k! Is this what you call a nation!?”
The ones who were most infuriated with the news of Princess Violet’s marriage were the knights who fought side-by-side with her in war.
Though it seemed at first glance that there was no one on Princess Violet’s side in this country, that was not true. She had quite the network among the knights, herself having received a knight’s education from childhood and being cast aside into doing the work of subduing bandits, which she did together with the knight orders.
The loyalty that they had for Violet did not arise because she was a princess. The emotions the knights had for her were closer to comradery: the only royal in this nation who dove headfirst into danger when a battle occurred was her. It was only a given that the knights would then hold her in high regard.
If Princess Violet’s political acumen was only half of Queen Leila’s – no, even a quarter – this situation would not have emerged in the first place. She had the fearsome potential to rally the support of the knights nationwide, clutching the country’s military strength in her hand. If she properly formed her own faction, she may have very well been able to bend the entire Florence Principality to her will.
Princess Violet herself was not aware; but if she only reached out a hand asking for help, there were countless individuals who would have answered her call. And this time, those individuals moved of their own accord out of fury.
However, the caveat was that there was not much they could realistically do on their lonesome.
The majority of Princess Violet’s potential backers were no more than common knights – and recently, a considerable proportion of these supporters had been demoted to the level of a probationary knight.
Unless they took the most extreme of measures by consolidating their strength and raising a rebellion, it would prove difficult to have their voices be heard and aid Princess Violet through aboveboard means.
That was when Thomas, a recognized leader and right-hand man of Princess Violet, proposed a plan.
“Let us request for aid from Grand Duke Forrest of the Lester Kingdom.”
“Do you think that will work, truly?”
“It does not sit well with me that we need to drag in a foreign power, but they would not turn a blind eye to the princess.”
Thomas’ suggestion was accepted, and the letter they sent contained the information that reached Queen Leila.
Unaware of these wider happenings, Princess Violet sighed as she continued residing in her palace quarters.
‘If I knew this was how things would turn out, I might as well not have returned from the battlefield.’
There was only one guest who came to visit her while she was under house arrest.
“Princess, Her Highness the Seventh Queen Consort has come.”
“Tell her to come in.”
The servant ushered in a woman in her late thirties with brown hair and a simple dress. Her face was filled with sympathy as she approached Violet.
“Are you fine? Your complexion looks worse than yesterday…”
“I’m fine. There’s no need to worry yourself so much, mother.”
Indeed, the woman before her was none other than Princess Violet’s biological mother, the Seventh Queen Consort Jane Lune Florence.
She had been a maid who so happened to catch Archduke Lawrence’s eye and become pregnant with his child; and consequently, though she was the seventh wife, she had nevertheless received a royal’s castle and life.
However, that did not mean her life was now all roses.
Her powerlessness meant she was easy pickings for the other members of the royal family, with Archduke Lawrence neglecting her and leaving her unprotected. In these cold palace halls, the only one she could trust was her own daughter born of her flesh, Princess Violet.
She was well aware of how much Princess Violet had toiled from a young age to protect her.
From learning to wield the sword from when she was a little girl…
To spilling blood alongside the knights on the battlefield…
To the development of her split personality, a result of the mental instability brought by the pressure…
She knew far too well that all these things were done to protect her… and that she could not do anything for her daughter in return.
At least until this day.
“Violet, I have something to tell you.”
“What is the matter, mother?”
Queen Jane silently placed a small pouch in her daughter’s hand.
“What is this?”
“These are savings over the last ten years from my share of the royal privy purse. It’s not much, but it should be enough to lay low for the time being.”
Violet was astonished.
“Mother? Don’t tell me you’re suggesting…”
Jane cut off her daughter, her eyes alight with resolve.
“Since you have received a knight’s education and have much strength, it should be possible for you to leave for another nation and start afresh with a new identity. So make a run for it before it’s too late.”
“That’s preposterous! If I flee, mother, then you-”
“I will be alright.”
Though Queen Jane tried her best to appear nonchalant while she said she would be fine, Violet knew.
She knew that the hands with which her mother clutched hers were trembling ever so slightly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter