I was quivering all over as I crawled along the ground. That kick he gave me to my gut hurt so bad I couldn’t even groan. I could taste the blood running down my mouth. I was feeling wheezy. If it weren’t for my body being in pain all over, I probably would’ve passed out already.
“Far out, it would’ve been much better if we captured that woman instead. We have things we need to do too. What are we going to do with a guy? What else can we do besides beating him up?”
The two mercenaries rubbed their fists and feet as they complained. I struggled to sit up from the ground and huffed and puffed as I leaned against the wall. I know what I did was the equivalent of digging my own grave. I let Nier go so that I could be captured because if I get captured, they’ll never leave the imperial capital. And if they can’t leave, then they can’t take the coins out of the country. They don’t have the guts to kill me either. Thatch has been for a long time and hasn’t come back.
Either Nier or I had to be captured. The time that it’d take us both to return to the palace to report to Castell and the empress would give them ample time to pack up and leave. There had to be someone who’d stall them and it couldn’t be Nier, since she’s the only one who can get away unscathed while I’d end up captured half-way there.
“Alright, let’s go again.”
The two mercenaries came over towards me again. I forced a smile. While I wasn’t going to get beaten to death, it wasn’t like I was getting hit with cotton balls or something. The two of them bashed me viciously. A single punch from them made my entire body jerk. Unfortunately for you two, you’re facing a man from a race that gave birth to countless heroes since ancient times. Regardless of how painful it is, I won’t…
What the hell am I talking about?! I could just tell them that I’m the prince and this would be over!
Can this be considered as me having protected Nier…?
Probably not. It’d be more accurate to say I offered myself up. My relationship with Nier can’t be considered good, can it? Nier hass pointed her sword at my throat so many times despite me being the prince of a nation. I’ve been treated sarcastically and even been encouraged to kill myself by her countless times. But why do I never get angry at Nier?
I spat out a liquid which came from my gut. I don’t know what it bloody is. It carried with it the taste of blood and my anguish. My body was sent flying to another corner and then crashing into the wall.
Yeah… How come I don’t get mad at Nier? Why do I stand up for Nier? Why do I apologise to Nier? Nier is always sarcastic with me, despises me and mocks me, but why is it that I can’t get mad at her? I don’t like her or love her, because I know I love Lucia.
But why? In that moment, I was recalling that time we were on the street where Nier knelt down on one knee with a thud.
“Welcome home, your majesty! I, Nier Gilliante, am here to welcome you into the city!”
I have a home here too…
I was stunned by her emerald eyes in that moment, and I was touched by her background. I’ve never come across a girl like Nier before. Am I just curious about her, or have I considered her a family member?
“Mr Thatch still hasn’t returned. How should we deal with him? I’m worried he’ll die if we keep beating him up.”
“So what? How about we just kill him and be done with it? He’s probably going to end up dead anyway. I’ve had enough down in these sewers. Let’s just kill him and get out of here.” I heard the sound of a long sword being drawn.
Ah, I’m really sorry.
I thought wrong.
Thatch may not dare to kill me, but these barbarians don’t care about that much. That’s right. I really will die since Thatch has left.
Sorry, Lucia… I can’t return to you. I couldn’t even die with your pendant in hand. I sighed and shut my eyes. I’ve already died once, so I’m not scared of dying a second time. Who knows, maybe this is a world where I’ll be resurrected in mom’s arms.
I quietly muttered: “Mom…”
I felt the tears from my eyes run down my face which had turned numb.
What a mistake…
I shut my eyes and waited.
I suddenly heard a loud explosion sound in front of me. A few stones landed on my face and clean air blew towards me, bringing the smell of dust and moss with it. I opened my eyes and was surprised to see a white cape in-between myself and the mercenaries. The mercenary before me had a blade through his body.
His body pulsated a few times and fell to one side. Nier expressionlessly whipped her sword to get rid of the blood on it. Her stunning yet compassionless eyes were trained on me. A light from the hole she jumped down from shone through and illuminated the dust as well as her beautiful face. She was the only light down in these dark sewers, shining brightly like an angel.
Nier knelt down on one knee, looked at me and said: “I apologise for my tardiness.”
“Please don’t call me in a sobbing tone like that. As a prince, you must maintain your dignity at all times.”
Nier reversed her sword in her hand and slashed behind her. A spurt of blood was seen in the air once again and its scent started to fill the air. Nier slashed off the mercenary’s entire torso. She kicked his corpse away, sheathed her sword into its scabbard and said: “I sincerely apologise, your majesty. I killed without you giving prior permission.”
“No, it’s fine…”
I used my last ounce of strength to sit up and looked at her with a smile. She paused before frowning and said: “Please don’t look at me with such a disgusting smile!”
I lowered my head, not because I thought I was disgusting, but because I seriously had no energy left to raise my head. Nier walked up to my side and untied me. She then knelt behind me and didn’t move. I didn’t have the strength to say anything. But right now… I honestly feel really safe.
“I-It’s good that you’re alright.”
Am I imagining things because I’m hurt too severely? Why do I hear Nier whispering?! Nier didn’t give me a chance to be surprised. She piggy-backed me and shouted. Two people jumped down from the hole that was created by the explosion, and then somebody up top helped to pull me up and out of the sewers.
I see, they opened a hole from the street.
“Your majesty!! Your majesty!!”
I heard somebody’s cries from my side. A petite figure came running over and hugged me. I struggled to open my heavy eyes and noticed Luna who was down by my chest. I laughed lifelessly, reached my hand out and pat her on the head.
Nier from behind me uninterestedly said: “You’re so lucky to still be alive after being beaten up like this. You really are weak, your majesty. If it were her majesty, forget two men, she’d kill her way out even if there were two-hundred men. Carry his majesty back carefully, and call a doctor to be on stand-by.”
Hey, hey, hey, you people got an injured person on a stretcher here!! Could you please not toss me onto the ground so excitedly at the sound of horse hooves?! I got tossed onto the ground again and puked again.
But before I could complain, I was pulled tightly into an embrace. Her body was very warm. Warm to the point that it helped me relax, and so comfortable my eyelids didn’t want to move. She was shivering. She was shivering with fear. She held me tightly in her embrace with her strong arms as though I’d vanish if she loosened up.
“Son… My son… I… I was so worried about you… I… I… I was so scared… Son… Son… I… I was so scared…”
Is this the empress?
I’ve never seen the empress cry before.
Her voice was cracking. Her tears were landing on my forehead and her body was shivering from fear. Everything was like when I just arrived in this world where I was up against the Earth Dragons.
Her reaction was the same as mom’s reaction.
“Son… I beg you… Please be alright… Son… I beg you… I’m so scared… You’re my only child… As long as you’re alright… As long as you’re alright…”
Her majesty… Regardless of how tyrannical and bloodthirsty she may be, she’s still my mother nonetheless.
This sort of compassion and love is something only a mom would possess. Only a mother would react like this when she sees that her child has been hurt. She wasn’t the empress in that moment, but a mother who was concerned for her child.
“I’m okay… Mom…”
I mustered up all my strength to lift my arm up and lightly place it on mom’s back. Mom jerked her body when I touched her, and then she burst out crying.
She too is my mom…