Chapter 17: Here Enters a Dress
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author: rilakkuma
editor: jvl

Ludius took a deep breath when he stared at the mirror. Why...

  

did he look so dang good wearing a dress?! 

 

The thought horrified him. Wasn't he a guy? Even if he was a former girl, he was a currently a guy. He had a man's pride now.

Two bundles of his long hair were tied into braids and wrapped around his head, with a tiara on top. He looked like one of those dolls he had always wanted in his past life. 

He was required to show his father his new look and would always step on his long, silk dress every two or three steps. About to bow down to his father, he tripped once more and flew forward.

"Not bad," Nero snickered. "You'll be wearing that to the party."

"Your Majesty, people will be seeing him like this," Firo reminded him, in an attempt to stop the king.

Not many nobles outside the capital knew that Nero had another son if there even were any. Once they saw Ludius like this, they would conclude that he had a daughter instead. That's where the problem would start.

Would the king really let his daughter off? It would be hard to believe that he didn't kill her off immediately after birth. After all, a woman couldn't ascend the throne. 

"He'll deal with it himself," Nero waved it all away.

~~

The party started once the sun was set. It hadn't been long but Ludius' legs were already shaking. He had been standing for too long in high heels, greeting people he doubted he'll ever meet again. 

Firo introduced everyone to him: viscounts, earls, all of that sort. Since he was Nero's child, Ludius had even kings and queens from different kingdoms attending to attempt to get on his good side.

He tried his best to act as naive as possible. He had never thought about it before, but revealing his knowledge to outsiders probably wouldn't lead to good outcomes. Luckily, he had only talked to Nero's trusted confidants.

"Ludi~"

Ludius recognized the voice and became surprised. It was Callidus, the son of the Fox People's ruler. When Ludius had been sent to deal with the issues of Steemer, Callidus had helped him out.

 Glaci saw him and didn't bother to disguise her dislike. They were both the same age yet they were nothing alike, especially their personalities. Callidus was the definition of a fox kin: sly, sneaky and mysterious. Someone like Glaci, who honored the knight's code, couldn't handle those types of people. 

"Callidus!" Ludius waved happily. Callidus came over and picked him up. They spun around together and stopped when they grew dizzy. Ludius contained his happiness and talked with concern. "You're not in the state to be here."

Franzl came to their rescue and had stopped all the revolts, however, they then needed to stabilize their kingdom again and improve it. Ever since Steemer came about, the fox kin began to hate humans even more. Gear, Callidus' father, was hoping to be rid of the concept of isolation that the fox kin had unconsciously set upon themselves. 

"If I don't come here, then Nik will no longer have a state~" Callidus chuckled as he ruffled Ludius' hair. "Anyways... what's that?"

Callidus pointed to his dress.

"I was planning to give up on you when I saw you in pants~ But it seems like there's no need~" Callidus pecked his cheek, alarming Glaci.

"Stop defiling him!" Glaci snatched Ludius away from the fox's arms as if the child was an object. She quickly walked away with him in her arms. "Let's be off. There are better people to greet!" 

Callidus chuckled as he quietly followed.

~~ 

After all the greeting, Ludius was shut in a room and was required to wait until he was called to make his big entrance. While Ludius was rubbing his sore feet, the door in front of him creaked and revealed his brother. 

"...Welcome home," Ludius blinked. The siblings stayed still and stared at each other. They hadn't seen each other for two years, only to find that the other's appearance suddenly changed.

"...Let's go," Franzl picked him up. It was pretty uncomfortable to lift him up with a big, puffy dress in the way. They were only a few centimeters away from each other, yet there was an awkward atmosphere between them. Perhaps it was because Franzl left Ludius all alone during the small fight caused by hereditary stubbornness. "...I never recalled you as a girl."

"We took baths together, Brother," Ludius reminded. Yes... the life-risking baths where Franzl thought it was alright to freeze the water so that the two could skate around naked. Ludius didn't dare to say anything after that. For five years, Franzl had been kind to him, but he still felt that there was a side that he didn't see. He didn't plan to see it either. And with that, the conversation quickly ended.

"...et's" A voice past the doors could be heard. "Now, welcome. His Highness' child, Ludi!" Franzl placed Ludius down and instead took his hand to escort him. Now, he definitely felt like a lady.

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