Uncle Will doesn’t look surprised by my sudden question.
He just nods his head, his gaze serious and steady as he looks at me.
“…..Was that why you were expelled from the Royal Palace”
“No, it wasn’t that.
My little brother and I just didn’t quite see eye to eye,” Uncle Will says, his smile turning lonesome.
“You and the king didn’t get along” Gilles asks, his face darkening, his brows knitting unhappily.
He really doesn’t like the king, does he When I was his age, the king had seemed so regal and imposing, I couldn’t help but have good feelings towards him.
“Will you listen to this boring, old tale of mine” Uncle Will asks us, a faraway look forming in his eye.
“Is it okay to talk about this here” Rebecca says worriedly, glancing around at the people gathered and then back towards Uncle Will.
Certainly, there is quite the crowd… Though, as I look at their curious gazes, I can’t help but marvel at how different they are in comparison to when I first encountered them.
They now seem to house a distinct glimmer of hope that had been entirely absent before.
And also something else.
With only a glance, anyone can tell that their eyes are filled with adamant respect and total adoration for Uncle Will.
“It’s not something that anyone shouldn’t be allowed to hear,” Uncle Will says, his smile brightening.
“We’re half brothers.
We have different mothers, Luke and I,” he continues, his voice casual, yet commanding attention.
Although quiet, it seems to resound throughout the entirety of the silent courtyard.
His words are shocking, and yet the more I think about it, the less surprised I feel.
Thinking back, the two having different mothers would explain why there’s such a big age gap between Uncle Will and the current king.
No, rather than their status as half-siblings, I find the fact that I’ve never heard anything about the king having an older brother much stranger.
There hasn’t even been the tiniest whisper of a rumor mentioning him.
How were they able to hide Uncle Will’s existence so completely
“My mother passed away soon after I was born.
However, with my initial talent in magic, I was able to overcome my lack of political supporters and maintain my position as the rightful heir.
But of course, when I lost those abilities, I became entirely useless in the eyes of the court.
I may have been praised as a genius, but without magic I was considered nothing but a nuisance.”
“And because of that, the king decided to get remarried”
At Gilles’s quiet question, Uncle Will gives a small shake of his head.
“No, he didn’t get remarried.
He just had a new child with his mistress.”
“Wait, I believe I must have misheard you, Uncle Will,” I interject a little more loudly than I had been intending.
“The previous king had a concubine”
….Didn’t this country outlaw such practices
“He was a loose and wayward father,” Uncle Will explains.
As he speaks, faint traces of that lonely smile resurface on his face.
It certainly is unthinkable to allow someone void of magical abilities to assume the throne given the current common sense of this country.
But to think he’d use that as an excuse to impregnate his mistress!
“But the rest of the court surely wouldn’t have accepted the child of a mere mistress as–“
“What other choice did they have I could no longer wield any magic, and the king had since passed away without having any other children,” Uncle Will interrupts before Gilles can finish speaking.
My heart hurts for him….
What must he have thought while going through all of that To a young boy so used to being heralded as a genius, losing his magic in and of itself must have been unbearable.
But, on top of that, to have his seat as the future king usurped by his much younger brother, a bastard child of a mistress, how heartbreaking of a blow must that have been
After experiencing such hardships one after another, and on top of that spending years in this godforsaken filth of a town with the screams of countless atrocities accosting his ears, how is it that he’s still able to smile so kindly How is he still so gentle, so willing to care for others
“Father told me that it was my job to support the king, so in the wake of losing my powers, I earnestly threw myself into my studies.
Every day I focused on cultivating my knowledge so that I could still be of some use.
I began to think that perhaps the real reason that everyone thought of me as a genius wasn’t for my magical talents but rather for my astounding cognitive abilities….
though maybe that was merely my own wishful thinking since I had just lost the one thing that seemed to be the basis for my whole existence,” Uncle Will says wryly, smiling in a way that brings crinkles to the corner of his eye.
Gilles doesn’t smile back at him.
He frowns, a deep wrinkle forming between his brows as he looks at Uncle Will with a pain-filled gaze.
And it’s not just Gilles, all the people listening in are wearing similar pained expressions on their faces.
Just by seeing this, I can tell how dearly everyone here cares for him.
“….Luke assumed the throne at just 17, while at the time I was 28.
As such, initially I was the one who performed most of the king’s duties…..
Back then, this village wasn’t in nearly such a miserable condition as it is now.”
Uncle Will’s smile falters at this, falling into a grimace.
So that’s why all those years ago when I was reading about the impoverished village in that book, the descriptions couldn’t even come close to how cruel the conditions here are.
That means the state of this place must have quickly deteriorated after Uncle Will was expelled from the Royal Palace.
In any case, 17 is quite young….
Way too young and inexperienced to be expected to bear the weight of a whole country, that’s for sure.
“And then one day Luke and I had a falling out.
Whatever relationship we had forged until that moment crumbled as if it all meant nothing.”
Uncle Will stares far off into the distance, as if he’s seeing into the past.
His gaze fills with endless yearning and regret, like his only wish is to turn back time and redo what had occurred that day.