Levin Ornassen Seifer, historically the titular brother of Princess Gryphine.
Compared to his fame before the Aouine’s Civil war, after the war, the name of the king’s eldest son disappeared into obscurity. Some said that he died in the chaos, some said that he became a puppet of Duke Seifer and the Queen, while others said that the princess spared his life and set him free. The historical truths behind the romanticized folk tales felt obvious, yet also surprising..
After Wood’s introduction, Brendel and the princess waited in the vestibule for about a quarter of an hour, during which no one spoke, and the only sound that could be heard was the sound of the Archbishop pruning trees. No one could fathom why the Ampere Seale’s Archbishop would let a man with such a sensitive identity, the king’s eldest son, appear to the public. It did not seem like a wise thing to do.
The princess did not necessarily want to see her brother, nor was it certain that a man who was their enemy not so long ago would want to help them either. Although it might be possible, it would certainly come with conditions.
Brendel could not guarantee that the princess would be willing to compromise with her enemy. But a moment later, he heard soft footsteps coming from behind the green wall, and everyone turned around and saw a maid leading a noble youth through the wall foliage towards him and the princess.
Although they have never met before, Brendel could tell immediately that this might be that prince from history. The man was not dressed lavishly: a plain military uniform, lavender-colored, with a long cloak that spilled onto the green meadow. Blended into the afternoon sun, he looked like a wealthy knight in places like Braggs, Magitan, or Castle Kurco, and not so much an undefeated crowned prince.
The youth had a sword hanging from his waist, not a fragile unusable sword, but a cavalry sword. The leather on the hilt was so worn out that it didn’t even look like it belonged to the royal family. But this could not be used to determine whether the owner of the sword was an expert swordsman. On that calm and relaxed face was a pair of tightly closed eyes with long lashes hanging softly over his eyelids as if he was asleep - or blind.
The prince was extremely handsome, but he was blind. Clearly, a blind person could not practice swordsmanship and could hardly even be involved in complex conspiracies, let alone becoming Aouine's king.
Brendel could not help but glance at the princess beside him. The princess looked surprised too. There was a slight hesitation in her eyes, but she still asked, “Brother Levin…...your eyes?”
She sounded hesitant and appalled.
“It was just a small incident, it’s no big deal, Gryphine.” Prince Levin looked unconcerned. With a smile on his face, he continued, “But rather, having lost my eyes, I am able to see more clearly, as men are often deceived by what they see.”
He added, “ Gryphine, we have not seen each other for nearly ten years since we bid farewell at Winter Castle. Now to think about it, you should be seventeen this year. You must be taller and more beautiful now, I’ve heard a lot about you lately.”
He spoke in a casual tone as if he was really talking to his sister and not his enemy. Though in a way, his sister was the one responsible for his awkward status today.
After a short moment of silence, Princess Gryphine spoke, "That's all in the past, brother, and this time you've committed many wrongdoings. The kingdom, father, the people; no one will forgive you, and everything will turn onto the right track."
“I will not shirk my responsibility, but my position as the prince makes it necessary for me to support my mother. Despite that she has failed, despite that Duke Seifer has died along with his defeated army, and even despite that I’ve become a prisoner. Gryphine, you must think that I hold a grudge, but it is not so, and I have not come here today to seek forgiveness. I hope you understand this. No matter how things change, I am still a member of Aouine’s royal family.” Levin smiled with drooping eyelids.
"So what you're saying is…..." Princess Gryphine was startled, and she looked at Brendel, who was also slightly confused.
Brendel frowned as well, wondering where the prince was coming from. He pondered the history of Levin Ornassen Seifer. What kind of man was Seifer? There were countless rumors of him, and few described the prince positively. At least before now, he never knew that the prince was blind, and did not appear to be newly blind.
What kind of character does such a prince have? Is he headstrong or ambitious? No rumor could not answer these questions, but at least from his current appearance, it was clear that the prince was a complicated man. And it’s hard to tell whether he was involved in the conspiracy between Duke Seifer and the queen.
But in any case, his identity was very sensitive at present. Being the only son of the queen and King Oberg the Seventh, he was the only eligible heir of the Seifer Family. And he was certainly aware of it.
What else would he be after, other than a deal? What could this prince possibly want?
It would be too naive of him to try re-inheriting the Seifer family. Since the king's eldest son had said that he was not expecting forgiveness, presumably, he would not make such a childish request.
Brendel lifted his head. The maid beside Levin whispered something to this prince, and he saw the king's eldest son turn back to him and smile:" This is Mr. Brendel? I have heard of your deeds. Your performance in the first battle of Ampere Seale was indeed heroic. Even the late King Erik could barely compare.”
Brendel looked at Princess Gryphine and saw no displeasure on the half-elf girl’s face, but instead one of agreement. He turned back and replied with ease, “Your Highness is speaking too highly of me, the hero of Ampere Seale was not just one person. And your highness speaks too kindly, everyone just wanted to save themselves.”
"I agree, it is because people know to save themselves and struggle for their life that civilization continues to this day. The history of mankind and other intelligent races is an epic in itself. Thousands of heroes have emerged, not by chance, but by necessity." Levin smiled and nodded, causing Brendel to notice the prince’s long, shimmering, dark black hair. His long hair draped over his shoulders and fell like a waterfall. Such hair color was rare in Aouine, and his hair had a deep purple tint.
“Brother.” Princess Gryphine interrupted, that was not what she wanted to hear, “Archbishop Wood says that you have a solution to the chaos in the north. Are you going to make a deal with me with this?”
The king’s eldest son stopped, then nodded seriously.
“You should understand that it’s impossible-” Princess Gryphine frowned but she was immediately interrupted. Prince Levin smiled, “I understand, Gryphine, but you guessed wrong. I’m not trying to offer this as a condition for anything, how about you two listen to I’m thinking?"
"What you’re thinking, brother?" The Princess was slightly startled.
Levin nodded, then said to Wood beside him, “Lord, may I have a moment alone with the Princess and Mr. Brendel?”
Wood, who was holding a pair of scissors, stopped. He looked at the king’s eldest son and nodded, then casually put the scissors away. He said to Gryphine and Brendel, “Your Highness, I more or less know what your brother is thinking, and although it's a bit radical, it's not a bad idea. At least in the current situation, please consider it."
After saying that, this former archbishop of Ampere Seale gently straightened his robes and walked out to the courtyard.
The princess frowned as she watched Wood leave.
“So, brother, what exactly do you have in mind?” She asked.
“Gryphine, as your former enemy, you must be suspicious of my intentions, right?” Levin did not answer her directly but asked this instead. He sounded casual, as if he was joking with a friend.
However, the question sounded a bit silly, it was natural to be suspicious of strangers, not to mention enemies. Brendel knew that the prince was not a fool, and he clearly had a purpose saying so, so he just waited quietly for the answer.
The princess understood this as well, but she still nodded, “On a personal level, I know what you are like, and I would like to believe you, Brother Levin. But you should understand that politics have no place for personal feelings and weakness.”
“Yes, but you may be mistaken about something. There is no conflict between us, and perhaps from some perspectives, we should even be standing together, Gryphine and Mr. Brendel.” The king’s eldest son said suddenly.
The courtyard went silent.
The princess was silent, and she looked deeply into the eyes of the man who’s technically her brother, “Brother Levin, do you think you can gain our trust by saying that?"
That was actually what Brendel was thinking, but Princess Gryphine's use of 'we' instead of 'I' surprised him slightly.
"No, that was not a lie." The prince's eldest son smiled slightly, "Gryphine, your desire to resolve the chaos in the north is ultimately a desire to end civil strife in this kingdom so that the country can unify."
"Isn't the current situation of the kingdom precisely caused by you?" Gryphine replied coldly.
"Is it?" Levin asked rhetorically, "Was Aouine a unified and stable kingdom even before the Seifer family had their troubles?"
The king's eldest son suddenly raised his head, and although he could not see, he could make people feel like they were being watched. That gaze seemed to be tangible, and his 'sight' swept over everyone present, "Gryphine, you know this very well. Do you remember the words I once said to you?"
The princess pursed her lips.
Brendel saw that her eyebrows were almost twisting together. He knew that Gryphine had had with her titular brother in infancy when Duke Arreck forced King Oberg the Sixth to revise a policy concerning the change of defense in the Year of Astrologer. At that time, the princess was staying at the Winter Castle with her father, and met her brother.
But the records of history only briefly mentioned this meeting, and it was obviously impossible for the conversation between the two children to be recorded. But Brendel knew that the eldest son of the king was right.
Was Aouine ever united?
Maybe it was.
Aouine had been a united kingdom ever since Erik consolidated the South. But from the death of the first king until the end of the Seifer Dynasty and the loss of the Lionheart Sword, the authority of the royal family had been declining, and even during the revival era when the sword saint Darius and Tulman lived, the central government’s sovereignty over local areas was still very weak.
And after Duke Arreck forced King Oberg the Sixth to revise the law concerning the change of defense, central authority shattered, existing in name alone.
How was Aouine ever united?
As the kingdom slowly fell apart, the monarch was no longer able to govern its disintegrating states. And that was exactly what the princess wanted to change.
“Gryphine, Mr.Brendel, do you only want to change the kingdom back to what it was when father was still alive?” The king's eldest son went on, "If that's the case, what's the point of changing names, Seifer, Covardo? That's not what you have in mind, is it?"
Brendel and the princess both fell silent, for that was exactly what they were after.
"The source of the disagreement between you and the northern nobles, and even the source of Duke Arreck’s betrayal, Gryphine, stems from them understanding your ambitions. You want to carry out reforms like those of the Kirrlutz and Sanorso, and turn Aouine into a truly centralized kingdom. So if you ever succeed, it will undoubtedly be a nightmare for those in power right now."
Levin replied, "No one will surrender their profits, so there's no way they'll support you."
"No... there will always be those who will support me, such as the Highland Knights and those who still believe in the ideals of the late king." Princess Gryphine replied.
“And then what? Perhaps with the bankrupted knights and homeless people, you might be able to make it. But Gryphine, don’t forget, there’s not much time left for you.” The king’s eldest son calmly analyzed, “Aouine’s enemies don’t just come from within.”
The words pierced into Brendel’s heart like a spike, and he could not help but narrow his eyes. Yes, reform might be inevitable for Aouine, but again, Aouine’s enemies were not just the feeble nobles.
The fight for time was also something that he had been doing all along.
The princess looked up, "And what can you, brother, do about it?"
The king's eldest son fell silent.
After a short moment,
He answered quietly, "It's simple, make me The King of Aouine, Gryphine."