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“You don’t know how to look after yourself. I told you to rest properly!”
Luna was slightly angry as she knelt before me. The green glowing light from her hand slowly disappeared. I let out a long sigh as my body warmed up. My sore and aching body felt like it was injected with an anaesthetic and felt very comfortable. Luna stood up and worriedly said: “I can’t seem to detect… Your mana… But your blood clots and injuries are almost remedied. Please slowly heal your exterior injuries.”
I’m much more relaxed around Luna now compared to before since we’re both elves after all. Further, elves don’t place a distinct hierarchy between themselves. However, we have to ensure that nobody is around when Luna heals me with her magic, otherwise Nier may forbid elves from using magic within humanity’s territory.
“I’m curious as to why you insisted on staying behind. Would it not have been fine if you had both returned together? Would you not have been able to avoid getting hurt?”
I smiled weakly, looked at her and replied: “I would’ve if I could’ve. I was being considerate of two things. First, I didn’t know what sort of methods they had to deal with us. If we both got caught in a death-trap, it’d be all over. If we were to split up, they’ll act somewhat reserved. It’s harder to capture two targets than it is to capture one. Second, there had to be someone who’d stall them. Had we both returned to the palace, they would’ve realised that something wasn’t right, and packed up and left. Had that happened, all our efforts would’ve been for naught… They may look like that, but they did manage to collect three chests of silver coins. When I went there previously, all their horse carriages were ready so they could’ve left as soon as loaded the chests on. When I chose to stay behind, they captured me, which was the equivalent of bringing along a burden. It took time to capture me, time to drag me away and they couldn’t leave with me in tow. The imperial capital has no sea routes for them to leave by, therefore they’ll have to pass the patrol inspections. When they caught me, they basically trapped themselves in the imperial capital.”
“But they could have left if they just killed you off, correct?”
I shook my head and replied: “I made a gamble that they wouldn’t kill me. Firstly, there were two of us. If I sent Nier to report it, then their question would be, to whom did we report to, because they didn’t even know our identities. They could’ve learnt who they had to deal with from me. Secondly, there was no point in killing me. Nier already left. If she had reported it, it made no difference whether I was dead or alive. In fact, killing me would’ve only further complicated things. Thirdly, and also the most important factor was that they had no idea who I was. They had to seek the advice of their superiors before being able to do anything to me. However, he never returned in the end.”
Luna nodded and looked at me sort of like she worshipped me to some degree and said: “Did you think of all that in a split moment? You are a really smart prince! But were you not worried that you would die in the sewers if Miss Gilliante could not find you?”
I smiled. That was something I was proud of.
Everything I previously mentioned was reliant on luck, especially the part about them not daring to kill me. My guess for that was almost wrong. Nier, however, was able to find me. That’s something I must believe. It’s not that we have interlinked hearts between lovers or something. And no, we don’t have some sort of soul-calling system. It’s quite simple.
I smiled at Nier who pushed the door open and said: “It’s because I trust Nier.”
Nier looked at me with a frown and then said: “Please don’t talk about such a sick topic while you’re hurt. Your trust in me isn’t anything good. I saved you because, one, it’s my responsibility to, and two, because I wanted you to make good on your promise…. So, where’s my candy?”
Nier extended her hand out to me. I looked at her with a smile. Luna looked at us both stupefied. We didn’t say anything, but the moment my eyes met Nier’s, we understood what one another was thinking.
Nier looked at me and sternly said: “Your majesty, you need to thank that group of kids properly. Without them, I would’ve lost your traces. It was they who went down into every sewer and listened for your traces which allowed me to find you.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Umm… Umm… Your majesty, what… What exactly is going on? How exactly did you and Miss Gilliante…”
I turned around to look at Luna who was wearing a confused look and laughed out loud. I then pointed at the small bag hanging from Nier’s belt and said: “It’s simple. That should be considered my smartest move. I promised to buy Nier candy, so when I got knocked out, I tore open the bag and hung it from my belt before I lost conscious. So when they took me away, the candy balls rolled out one by one. The kids, of course, wouldn’t ignore the candy balls on the ground. When I was thrown down into the sewers, the candy bag consequently got left on the ground. Nier followed the childrens’ route and discovered I was down in the sewers.”
“The kids go into the sewers in winter to avoid the cold and seek warmth, so they’re familiar with every sewer. They listened in to the sounds in the sewers and found his majesty.”
Nier folded her arms, looked at me and said: “I must say, you’re very intelligent, your majesty. But the important fact is, the credits belong to the group of children.”
“You’re right. I’ll go thank them once I’ve recovered, however… What should I gift them…?”
Nier looked at me resolutely and in a taken for granted tone asked: “How about dolls? Her majesty personally made a doll for every Valkyrie. It’s our most treasured item. Don’t all children like dolls?”
The image of the doll I picked out of the water last time appeared in my mind. Are you sure that’s a doll? Give me a block of wood and few bits of cloth; I’ll make you a doll. While a teru teru bozu doll is considered a doll, it’s completely different to the traditional concept of dolls that kids like have!!
“Mmm… Are you telling me to make dolls myself?”
“No, no, no, no. Only girls actually like dolls. I think it’s better to just ask them what they want.”
I don’t think Nier can provide me with any appropriate suggestions given her life experiences… But to be honest, I don’t know what to gift children either. I’ve given birthday gifts to boys and girls, but never to children. I think that food is the best gift for children living in the slums.
I’ll bring them some empress bread next time.
Alice suddenly came in and knocked on the door. She then politely bowed at the door and shouted: “Her majesty has arrived.”
The empress stood by the door with a ceramic bowl in hand and didn’t dare to come in. Her face looked a bit tense. I tried to get up, but Nier extended her hand out and stopped me.
Why?! Why?! Why did you press down on my arms and legs?! What are you people up to?! Your majesty, what are you people up to?!
“Son… You’re hurt, yet… Mom hasn’t done anything…. That’s unbecoming of me as a mother…”
With the bowl in hand, the empress walked up to me. A weird smell came from the bowl. My warning lights were flashing red. The empress coyly sat by my side and placed the bowl to a side. I took the opportunity to check it out. There was some weird stuff I’d never seen before floating around in the bowl. The entire bowl was a dangerous tinge of purple… You tell me! Tell me why there’s a bowl of purple soup! Even seaweed and egg soup doesn’t turn purple!!
“I… I… Personally went to the kitchen… And made you a bowl of soup…. I recovered immediately after I had one bowl when I caught the cold last time… I’ll feed you. You just have to eat.”
Mom stroked my head and then lifted the bowl up with a smile I can’t describe. Alice and Nier pressed down on me harder, and Nier’s eyes said: “If you don’t drink it, I’ll hack you to pieces”
I don’t have a cold, I’m injured!! I don’t have a cold!! Are you sure that’s edible?! Save me! No! Actually, just leave me alone! Don’t! Don’t!
“Open your mouth, son. Aah~”
I passed out…
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