|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3646 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1599 words|
Stied was put inside a simple cage, which was loaded on a carriage, putting him at full display while we went to the capital. As common citizens, nobles, soldiers, and knights alike looked at him with disdain, he finally seemed to understand his situation, and he began apologizing with a weak voice to Magna. But he was completely ignored, which quickly pushed him to start insulting everyone again.
“Do you have no shame! I’m the rightful heir of the throne! Shame on you!”
“…I don’t recall Father ever recognizing you as the crown prince. Birthright to the throne is only provisional, not something that ties you to the throne. You should’ve learned that much a long time ago…”
He was getting too loud, so Stied got gagged again, but his eyes and attitude remained the same. Traveling by land to the capital is a pretty long trip. Around two weeks for regular carriages, even more when accompanied by a regiment of soldiers and knights. That was why Luvias and I went ahead of them to the capital to get everything ready to receive Magna there.
I had not seen the capital in a while. The streets looked deserted, the usual liveliness gone. At least the people did not look miserable though, now that the black knights were gone. Many of them had already heard about the result of the battle. The two of us glanced at them as we walked through the streets, heading to the palace.
“Is that…Princess Luvias!”
“It’s been a while.”
As we walked next to the guard’s watch house near the palace’s gates, the soldier keeping watch noticed Luvias and came running to kneel in front of her. They probably knew each other. Luvias greeted him, then looked at the palace after being away for so long.
“How’s the palace doing now? Are there any nobles taking care of it?”
“No, only Tannux, the knight commander, is watching over things there. As soon as he came back from the battlefield he sent most of the palace’s guard away, to keep the various territories safe.”
Tannux… He was the knight who seemed in charge when I captured Stied. From my short time talking with him I felt like he was a bit hard headed, but an honest and loyal man.
“I see. Where’s he now?”
“He’s working inside. Most of the influential nobles tried to escape, so he’s doing his best to catch those he can…”
Most of the nobles on Magna’s side had been killed by the black knights, and the survivors were with him, returning to the capital. Most of the nobles in Stied’s side were trying to flee the country, but I doubted there were many places that would accept them. Offering refuge to them would set a bad precedent against Magna, who was likely to be the next king of Bordaule. There was nothing to gain from letting them in, but a lot to lose.
We say goodbye to the soldier and head into the palace. Luvias seemed a bit strange after hearing about Tannux, so I glanced at her and noticed she was looking at me too, our eyes met for a moment.
“Is something wrong?”
“Oh, no it’s just…how do I say this… I’m glad Tannux hasn’t changed.”
That reminded me that Luvias had grown up in the palace. She had probably known Tannux in the past as well.
“You knew him?”
“I guess so, yeah. He was the one who taught me how to use a sword.”
“Ohh! So he was your first Master.”
“You can say that. That’s why I was a bit worried, but I’m glad he’s still alive.”
Luvias had seemed pretty relieved.
As we walked through the hallways, every knight we passed by would kneel in front of Luvias, which was a bit surprising, but it only lasted until we reached a certain office. There were no guards at the door, and after Luvias knocked a voice gave permission to enter. Inside I saw a familiar face that looked shocked at Luvias.
“Oh…Princess Luvias! And Lady Lapis…when did you arrive?”
“Just a bit ago, Tannux. It seems you’ve been taking care of the palace, I really appreciate that.”
“…No need for gratitude. It’s the least I can do to atone for my sins, it’s not my area of expertise but I’m trying my best to serve as a civil official.”
He was the knights’ commander, so it made sense he was not used to office work. But thanks to his efforts the capital was still functioning without falling to chaos.
“My brother is coming too, with Grom’s army. I’m sorry I’m giving you more work, but could you make sure they are well received and have a place to stay?”
“Also…do you know anything about Father?”
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The moment Luvias mentioned that, Tannux’s face changed drastically. He could not hide his distress, and struggled to form words.
“…Is he alive?”
“Yes, but…he’s still unconscious, we had healers and medics look at him, but neither could help.”
I had already expected something like that, seeing how Stied controlled the country so selfishly, but it hurt to see it confirmed. At least he was still alive. The worst case everyone imagined was that Stied had killed him.
“I’d like to see him. Where is he?”
“In his bedroom. I’ll take you there.”
Tannux stood up and guided us through the palace, no one said a single word. This did not feel like the best moment to chat, and neither me nor Luvias knew what to say. I barely remembered my parents, and my relationship with my grandfather that raised me was always bad, so I had no idea how she could be feeling. I hesitated to give her any comforting words.
We headed deeper into the palace, reaching the king’s bedroom. There were multiple knights keeping watch, not letting anything past them. But they recognized Tannux and Luvias, so they let us pass without asking anything.
There was only one person inside, lying on the bed. It was the king, I still remembered him from the last time we met. Luvias ran up to the bed and called him, but there was no response. She gently rocked his body and poked his cheeks, but he would not move a muscle. He almost seemed dead, but he was still warm to the touch. He was alive, but his sleep was unnatural.
“They weren’t able to determine for sure, but they mentioned it could be some type of curse. They tried various spells and drugs, but nothing seemed to work. But his body hasn’t deteriorated at all, even though he hasn’t eaten in months, so they said it could very likely be a curse…”
So unless they figured out what caused this, the king would continue sleeping until he passed away. Magna would be able to take care of the country’s political unrest, but I knew Luvias would never be able to stay still knowing her father was in that state.
“Master, do you have any idea what could’ve caused this?”
“Hmmm…I don’t really know, but I could try looking into it.”
With that short disclaimer, I approached the bed and examined the king. His breath was calm and regular, like he was sleeping peacefully, but I felt something odd on his body. I tried to remain still as I watched his chest move up and down, trying to match his breaths. Then I placed my hands on his cheeks and closed my eyes, slowly channeling some of my mana into his body. Eventually I felt like something was tugging at my mana, something ominous.
I knew that feeling, miasma. I worriedly let go of him and looked at Luvias with hesitation.
“It’s very faint, but I can feel some corruption caused by miasma in him. If the healers’ purification magic couldn’t dispel it, then I’d assume it’s a curse placed by some powerful demon.”
“A demon’s…?! You can’t cleanse it somehow?”
“If I had to guess, it’s the type of curse that only fades when the caster dies…”
“So we can heal him?!”
I looked away uncomfortably as Luvias looked excited.
“See, the problem is we don’t know who cast the curse. I guess we might eventually hit the right one if we kill each and every demon out there. That would take a long time though. So it’ll probably be a long time before the king recovers.”
“…I see. At least that’s a relief then.”
I thought she would be more disappointed, so her answer caught me off-guard. She smiled seeing my reaction.
“I mean, we just have to defeat the demons and everything will be better. The world will be at peace, and my father will wake up. In the end, our objective is still the same.”
“I guess you have a point…”
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I thought she was putting up a strong front, but she seemed to be the same as always.
“…You’ve really gotten strong, Luvias.”
“It’s all thanks to you, Master. I’m sure I would’ve gotten all depressed if I hadn’t experienced life outside the palace.”
Luvias had an awkward smile as she said that with a shrug.
“I’m sure Magna can take care of him. We should focus on defeating the Demon Kings as soon as possible and bring peace to the world.”
“You’re right, that’s the best we can do.”
I was surprised seeing how much she had matured, but we swore once again to defeat the Demon Kings.