We arrived at the outer chamber entrance. The loli turned around, smiled and said: “This is the outer chamber, your majesty. As you’re not too familiar with the palace, it’s best that you get somebody to accompany you.”
I still couldn’t erase the image of the shattered boulder from my mind… I looked at the loli in front of me and with my trembling voice, asked: “Th-… Thank you… Umm… C- could you tell me your name?”
“Aah… I’m so absentminded! I sincerely apologise, your majesty. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alice Gilliante! It is my pleasure to meet you, your majesty. I wish you well.”
She politely lifted her skirt, elegantly smiled and saluted me formally. She then raised her head, smiled at me brightly and said: “I’m pleased to meet you, your majesty.”
I got surprised. I remember Nier’s surname was Gilliante. Could she be Nier’s younger sister?
“Is something the matter?”
I scratched my head while smiling and said: “Oh, no. I was just thinking… Your surname is the same as Nier Gilliante. I was wondering if you were her younger sister or something…”
When she heard Nier’s name, she proudly folded her arms, nodded and said: “Oh… Nier! She’s very skilled with the sword, she’s beautiful and she’s very loyal to her majesty. If she were my daughter, then it’d be perfect. But it’s a pity that all of us Valkyries share the surname ‘Gilliante’. That’s the surname her majesty bestowed us with, so regardless of our names, we all share the surname Gilliante.”
“Huh? Wait!!! Did you just say it’d be perfect if Nier were your daughter?! Daughter?! Daughter?!”
“That’s right.” She looked at me seriously and pulled out a fan from an unbelievable place… How did you keep it there when your chest is flat as a pancake? She looked at me then couldn’t help but laugh and said: “I’m a veteran retainer of her majesty. I’m one of the people close enough to her that I’m permitted to refer to myself as I*. I’m the captain of the Valkyries, your majesty. You got fooled too, didn’t you? Hahaha… I’m the same age as her majesty. I’m the same age as your mother!!”
She couldn’t hold it in any longer and burst out in laughter. I feel like my philosophies, world view and values have been challenged once again. People always talk about legal lolis but I never expected legal lolis to be an actual thing! And this legal loli can even shatter boulders with one punch! Have you ever seen this sort of loli before?!
“Sorry your majesty. I must leave first to attend to some matters. You gave me a very good impression of yourself. You’re neither one with wild ambitions nor a playboy. You’re very polite and simple. You won’t pose any threat to her majesty so I won’t have to worry. Goodbye, your majesty…”
She pursed her lips into a smile and walked past me. I stood there in a daze as I watched her small back disappear, and pinched my thigh as hard as I could…
At the inner chamber…
Nier turned around, looked at the loli with the pink skirt that just arrived, and politely bowed.
Alice smiled and waved back. She then opened her fan, looked towards the front of the door and said: “Nier~ I met his majesty today. He’s a really interesting boy. He doesn’t have any wild ambitions and isn’t a threat for her majesty. He’s a very weak and normal teenager. You don’t have to treat him as an enemy. Just leave him be, he won’t be a threat to her majesty.”
Nier straightened up and replied: “Is that so? I feel that way too.”
Alice looked at Nier with a smiled and said: “But Nier. Since her majesty ordered you to protect him, why aren’t you living with him?”
Nier bit down on her lip. She looked extremely dissatisfied as she said: “I don’t want to protect his majesty. I want to protect her majesty like the rest of you. Whether his majesty is alive or dead has nothing to do with us.”
“So you decided to slack off? That’s not good, Nier. His majesty is her majesty’s only son after all. Her majesty won’t be happy if something happens to him. She didn’t arrange for you to be his bodyguard because she wanted to abandon you and distant herself from you. To the contrary, that’s a sign of her trust towards you. She trusts you enough to entrust the safety of her son to you. A mother must be very trusting towards someone to make such a decision. So don’t be dissatisfied about it. You should feel honoured.”
“I-Is that so?”
Nier nodded, pondered over what Alice said for a moment and then said: “To tell the truth, her majesty ordered me to follow his majesty’s orders just before. I wonder if I’m no longer a member of the Valkyries. We’re her majesty’s children and warriors, yet her majesty is having me take orders from somebody else. Did I do something wrong?”
Alice stopped to think. She lowered her eyes and softly said: “I can’t make any guarantees there, Nier. Her majesty has never given anyone else the rights to command the Valkyries… You’re aware of the fact that we grew up alongside her majesty since we were young. Her majesty has bestowed us with parental warmth, and we wield our swords for her. We’re her majesty’s sword and shield. We only take orders from her majesty. I’ve never heard of her majesty have a Valkyrie obey the orders of another.”
“I’m worried too.”
“Can’t you just ask her majesty directly then?”
Alice looked at the door before her and Nier who was slightly down and said: “I believe her majesty will provide you with a fair answer.”
“I want to, but given her majesty’s current condition…”
“You’ll find out when you go inside.”
Nier pushed the door open. Alice is the captain of the Valkyries but she isn’t responsible for protecting the empress. She’s responsible for assassinating and assaulting warriors. She’s rarely seen her majesty ever since she took the mantle of the first generation Valkyrie captain. To Alice, her majesty is forever that majestic existence which rode on her black steed, with a long sword in hand, and her cloak soaked in so much blood that it couldn’t be blown by the winds.
“No… I Don’t… Want to be hated by my son… No… No… I don’t want to be hated by my son… I don’t want to… Why am I like this…? I’m such a failure… I’m such a failure… I’m not worthy of being a mother… I upset my son again… I upset him again… I want to be a good mother… Why…?”
Who are you?!
Who’s the person lying on the bed, hugging the pillow and shivering?!!
Who’s this young girl who’s sulking like she got dumped by her lover?!!
Where’s my empress?! Where’s my majestic empress that fought an enemy army seventeen times and didn’t go down?! Where’s the majestic empress that makes all her retainers prostrate themselves before her?!
Alice’s philosophies, world view and values took a huge hit too! It was such a big hit to her that she felt dizzy and was ready to die. Nier rushed in to support Alice on her feet. She anxiously called: “Captain! Captain! What’s wrong, captain?! Hold yourself together! Captain! Captain!”
“Haha… Nier~, Nier~… Tell me… What’s the point of our existence? Why are we alive? What value does our existence hold in this world?”
The impact was so harsh that she’s questioning the meaning of her own existence?!!
A moment later…
Alice haggardly crawled onto Nier’s thigh. She lifelessly asked Nier: “Nier… When did this start…?”
Nier sat at the front door and replied: “It started after lunch…”
“No… I meant… When did this phenomenon start…?”
“Since his majesty returned… Her majesty has essentially fallen ill like this each time after meeting his majesty… Her majesty is usually in that state for at least three hours…”
Nier went silent for a moment. She then looked at Alice and said: “Captain! It was definitely his majesty that caused her majesty to become like this! Her majesty was fine before his majesty returned! It’s his majesty’s fault!!”
Alice turned around and sat up. She was feeling weak, but in that moment, her eyes were alight with the flames of vengeance, like a body that passed out and then awoken up after being refuelled. She looked at Nier and shouted: “I was wrong! I got tricked! That prince is evil to the core! He used shady tricks to turn our empress into that state! I take back what I said! That prince is trouble for us Valkyries!! We must eliminate him!!”
Nier excitedly stood up and said: “That’s right!! That’s right! That’s what we have to do! We have to get rid of that plague!”
“Yeah! That’s right! We have to kill…”
“Who did you two say you want to kill?!”
*In Chinese, there are numerous ways of referring to yourself as “I”. She uses a version which no retainer, servant or any other class would use with anyone from the royal family.
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