Forsaken prince

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Not long after, Hooney's father announced he officially disown his only son. This took a toll on Hooney, not just personally but also his status. This meant, he was stripped of his royalties and his affiliation with his father's functions. Many powerful people turned their backs on him, but his title as the Governor-general remained firm. The imperial palace still recognized his blood as royal and the decision whether he should lose his title or not depended on the emperor himself.

The emperor had been just. He saw the matter as a personal falling out between people involved and nothing more. Although he had an obligation to check after his governor-general.

Soon, a declaration of the second prince's arrival came. Hooney expected all the matters to come down upon him like a hail storm.

Within days, the arrival of the second prince along with the throng of his imperial guards came. He's a slim man pure with grace and elegance, much more elegant than Hooney could ever be. He wore an outfit embedded in fine embroidery, donning a coat heavy with fur. It looked like his clothes and boots alone added another twenty pounds worth of weight on him.

Hooney greeted him at the entrance of the gate, regarding each other casually as if the second prince's visit was a vacation instead of a strict inspection. I sensed vague closeness between the two men and remembered Hooney's stories of growing up with his cousins.

The fair prince started sneezing as soon as he dismounted from his horse, sending his aid in a heap of panic searching for a kerchief. It became evident the prince is allergic to pollen and this side of the country is thick with them.

He sneezed and sneezed - with each sneeze becoming violent each time. He wouldn't stop sneezing that Hooney rushed him inside the manor and ordered the servants to close the doors and windows, blocking the outside from coming in. This gave the prince some form of comfort.

The prince wasted no time carrying on his inspection in Hooney's office, sneezing at his bundle of parchments and scrolls.

Within a few hours, the second prince's sinuses were swollen, causing him to break from picking the dusty scrolls.

"Goodness, cousin." Prince Hoon glared at Hooney. "Do you ever have your servants clean your office?"

"Unlike you, elder cousin. I don't have allergies. I can handle the dust in my office."

The prince crunched his itching nose and said nothing more.

Hooney took him to the main living area to discuss further of his visit. They both lounged to the elegant chairs while Hooney instructed me to serve them with refreshments instead of the servants.

I took the place to Hooney's side once I'm done.

Prince Hoon grabbed the cup and sunk deeper on his chair, sipping on his tea falling into serene. "How are you holding up?" Inquired the elegant prince to Hooney casually.

"It had been a pretty eventful past couple day." Said Hooney admittedly.

"I can only imagine." Murmured prince Hoon taking another sip of his tea.

"Yes." Said Hooney picking up his own cup.

"What about your late wife? Has her body laid to rest, yet? Shouldn't you be busying yourself with that affair?" Asked the prince.

Hooney sighed. "I'm afraid, her father had taken custody of her body and banned me from getting anywhere near. I was stripped of my father's title as his heir, I couldn't get to her funeral even if I want to."

"So, they're holding you responsible for her murder then?" The prince murmured quietly.

"Yes." Answered Hooney shortly.

"I'm sorry for your trouble. I didn't think the imperial palace had to get involved, but since uncle was furious, father had to get his hands involved. This is all a personal matter if you ask me, my trip here is nothing but an utter waste of my time."

"I apologize for your involvement, elder cousin. This is way beyond my control."

The prince sighed and placed his cup back down on the table. He finally regarded Hooney with a glance. "Do not worry about a thing, all these I'm doing is just a formality. I trust you're governing this part of the country in excellent order and you're not going to lose your title because the Prime Minister of Defense lost a daughter."

"Thank you." Said Hooney with the sound of relief. "I'm glad you see it for what it is."

"Hmmm...We're aware of what she did to your pregnant concubine. Nothing gets passed the imperial palace. We keep a tab on yours and every imperial brat's lives, little cousin. She merely paid for her own crime with her life.

You're far too obedient of your father, Hooney." Prince Hoon extended his neck and stole a glance at me. He then leaned back on his chair and cleared his throat. "Now is your chance, you've been disowned by uncle. You don't have to bend over to whatever he commanded. You can go ahead and marry your concubine, and no one is going to throw a fit."

"My sister Ai might, and I know it'll upset father more." Hooney reached out for my hand and guided me into his lap. I looked at his solemn face searching for a hint, whether he considered taking me for a wife just like prince Hoon suggested. Hooney smiled and his tender smile gave me the sense of security I was looking for. I relaxed on his lap and leaned on his arm.

Prince Hoon shrugged, "what's Ai going to do? Disown you too?"

They both gave a soft laugh.

"She probably will at this rate." Said Hooney.

"In any case, I think you should marry your concubine. It'll save you a lot of trouble, you'll be able to protect her more if she's your wife. Your status will extend to her and it'll be difficult for people like the Prime Minister of Defense to go after her."

"Thank you for the wise advice." Murmured Hooney. "I don't suppose you'll extend your visit for further inspection then?"

Prince Hoon loosened a sigh. "No, as I said, this entire trip is a waste of my time. There's no reason for us to get involved in your personal affair. I'll let father know about my findings and he should tell uncle to leave you alone. Plus, I can't leave my wife home alone too long anyway, not with the youngest brother prowling the palace."

"Ah, how's cousin Julong doing?" Murmured Hooney fondly.

"Still the main cause of all of our headaches." Answered the handsome prince.

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