Written by Tokyo-Panda

An elderly old man slowly climbed the hill of the Kingdom of Helusen with his expensive cane. In a short period of three years, civil war was prevented under the skillful maneuver of politics by the Queen, the supreme ruler of such beautiful country. As her subject, he was very impressed by her transformation from the frail princess of yesterday to the strong mother of today. She cared for her subjects the way the late kings had prayed for. She was righteous and just. As her mentor, he felt immensely proud of her achievements and found great joy in teaching his new protégé. Her sired son was even more of a delight but the young prince's relentless energy tends to overwhelm the wizen old man. He collapsed onto a rock at the peak of the hill and took a deep breath. How he missed this place! More than a decade ago, it was the perfect playground for the bookish young boy, destined to be the fabled one-day King. The old man still missed his young Master and tears welled up in the wrinkled eyes.

"Duke of Nesuhel! I never took you for the emotional type!" a bull-like voice called out jokingly.

The old Duke looked up and found Lord Stephan, the kingdom's Treasurer approaching him briskly. He smiled kindly.

"I am human, after all," was his reply.

"The energy and sharp intuition you possess for someone your age. It is hard to believe such a stern Royal Advisor to the Queen would let tears show. It looks like I found your weakness!"

"And what would that be?" the old Duke asked mockingly.

"I can't seem to put it in words…This hill? It's absurd, I know. But what is even stranger is for you to finally grant me a private audience. And outside the royal grounds. Are you sure our discussion will be safe here?" Lord Stephan looked around suspiciously.

The Duke laughed heartily. There was something peaceful about this hill that made him feel carefree. "Lord Stephan, you worry too much. The late King Helusen purchased this entire land as private property. Our dear Highness had kept the land in his name for my sake. She was too kind for someone like me. You should know this place holds no court rule. Be as un-Lordly here. I believe we will be enjoying the breeze here for a long time."

Lord Stephan sat comfortably on the grass in front of the old man. Smiling, he looked up at the old Duke, "you are unusually talkative today, Sire. So, will you finally stop evading my questions?"

The Duke closed his eyes and leaned on his cane, relaxed. "Yes, you are a hard man to dismiss."

Lord Stephan's smile widened. "You praise me too highly, Sire. First, why did you defend Harry in court? Do you not want revenge on your master's killer?"

The Duke crossed his legs on the rock, perfectly balanced yet uncharacteristic of a royal advisor. "My young master and King would want that if he was still alive. It is a long story. I am afraid I might bore you, my friend."

Lord Stephan sat cross-legged too, straightening his back. "I did not come here to be turned down again. Please begin."

"Where to begin…"

"From the start. Just as any story should."

( The continuation to this series will be uploaded separately by Tokyo-Panda to his account. Please divert to his account for the stories )