“Son… You… Mera…”
I don’t know how I found my way out of the dungeon, but I knew my body was covered in blood. I was covered in Mera’s blood. I don’t know how long I held Mera’s corpse in my arms and wept. I then got staggered to my feet and exited.
Mom pulled me who was like a zombie over and looked at me. She then pulled me tightly into her embrace. She choked on her tears as she stroked my head. She didn’t care about me being stained with blood. She just hugged me tightly as though she was trying to comfort me, and like she wanted to protect me. She stroked my head and choked as she said: “It’s alright. It’s alright…son… Don’t be scared… Don’t be scared… Mommy will protect you in the future… Mommy won’t let you leave mommy again… This sort of stuff won’t happen again… It won’t… Mommy will definitely protect you. Promise… So… don’t look so despaired… Mommy… Mommy will provide you with a safe and peaceful environment….”
I hugged mom tightly and breathed in her body fragrance to intoxicate myself. Large teardrops fell from my eyes onto mom’s body. My body shook as I hugged mom and wept. I don’t know why I was scared or why I was crying. Maybe it was due to the terror of killing for the first time, perhaps because I was sympathising for Mera….
But I definitely didn’t regret it.
Mom cupped my face, looked into my eyes and anxiously asked: “Son, tell me, are you happy right now? Do you feel the joy of revenge?”
She was looking in my eyesas though she was searching for the world’s most valuable treasure. I lifted my chin up, looked at mom and shook my head. I wiped my tears and said: “No… I’m suffering… It’s a bitter pill to swallow… I’m truly very hurt… But…I don’t regret it.”
Mom looked into my eyes. My eyes were indeed filled with pain and hatred. She tightened her grip on my face and I noticed that her entire body was overcome with despair. She dropped to her knees helplessly. She knelt on the ground as she sobbed and said: “I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have let my son trial Mera…. I shouldn’t… Mera succeeded… Mera succeeded in the end… My son… My son…”
Mom suddenly pulled me into her tight embrace and cried aloud. I had no idea what the matter with me was. Why did mom say something like that? I could feel that mom was in despair like me. My belief that kindness could change the world got destroyed, while the naive and kind world mom created for me had crumbled.
Perhaps that was why mom was in despair. She had tried so hard for so long and yet I couldn’t maintain my kindness and naivety in the end. I picked up the sword in the end.
However, I wasn’t happy because I killed Mera. I found no joy in vengeance. My body that was soaked with Mera’s blood irked me. It felt like her blood wouldn’t come off regardless how many times I washed myself.
“What’s wrong son…?”
I hugged mom tightly and while in her embrace, quietly said: “I want to wash myself…”
“Alright… Alright… Mommy will help you wash… the blood off.”
Mom wiped her tears and took in a deep breath. She then wore a worn out smile and grabbed hold of my hand.
After mom carried me into the water, I sat in her lap again and leaned against her breasts while her hands glided around on my body. I always felt like my morals and heart were killing me when I washed with mom, but this time, I wasn’t concerned with mom’s body. I was so sad I didn’t feel anything. I just silently floated in my thoughts.
I didn’t know what to think about. My brain was a mess. I usually felt that it felt better to wash in hot water, but I can’t feel the water here in the elf nation. My body which lost all sense of touch reminded me of the time I spent with Mera in the stone cave and her words weighed on me.
I wasn’t regretting it. It was more like distress. While killing Mera was my decision, I was genuinely sad about Mera’s passing. My only friend died by my hands just like that. She couldn’t protect her tribesmen she desperately tried to protect. And her salvation was death at my hands.
What did Mera do in the end? Why did I let Mera fall into despair? No… It wasn’t my fault, but I was still powerless to protect her, was I not? Castell wouldn’t let anybody threaten him, and nobody would try to bribe Lucia. My friends on the other hand, could all become a risk. So does that mean that I don’t have what it takes to protect them? If that’s the case, then everyone I consider to be a friend could be a threat.
“Your highness… If… if… you weren’t… a prince… perhaps… perhaps… our ending… could’ve been better…”
“Son, mommy knows what you’re thinking.”
Mom suddenly hugged me tightly from behind. Mom placed her head next to my face and gently rubbed it against my face. She then quietly said: “Mommy knows what you’re thinking. Mommy knows that you’re a gentle boy too… The matter with Mera was not your fault. It’s not always your fault that bad things happen. Son, mommy noticed that your gaze lost its naivety and kindness. Mommy is heartbroken, you know? Son, you were the root of the violent war ten years ago… You carry far too many debts of blood. Mommy doesn’t want you to live through such times, so mommy didn’t teach you anything, not swordsmanship, not archery, not warfare strategies. Mommy just wanted for you to be able to live a simple life… Mommy didn’t want you to get caught in turbulence and conspiracies. Mommy will be satisfied as long as you can live kindly and happily play.”
Mom bit my ear and endearingly kissed my head. She then sad in a melancholic tone: “However, mommy failed. The world mommy tried to maintain for you got shattered. You were still targeted in the end. Both mommy and that woman know that if an assassination were to take place, it meant that somebody was trying to instigate another war between elves and humans once again. While we are aware of that, we will still fight because you’re mommy’s one and only source of hope. Without you, it would be the same as dying. I might as well let off some steam before I die.”
“Mommy wants to let you live a simple life. In fact, mommy doesn’t want you to be a prince. However, that woman is different. The lifespan of humans is short and she therefore has no way of staying by your side forever like me. As such, she wants you to shoulder the responsibility of the crown. This is one of the reasons we can never reconcile.”
“Right now, your eyes carry determination and a will that a child shouldn’t have. The last time I saw that gaze was when that woman went back. Those are the eyes of a king. You didn’t grow up the way mommy had in mind. Mommy’s plan has crumbled. You couldn’t maintain your childlike nature forever. You’re now walking the path of a king. Mommy is really sad. Truly very sad. As a king, you will inevitably have to witness and shed blood, and you will finally become used to its scent.”
Mom tightened her arms around me. She smiled bitterly and said: “Even I can’t forget the feeling of killing someone after trying my absolute best to fulfil the roles of a mother because I’d witnessed far too much bloodshed and killed far too many people. The same applies for that woman. A king is bound to be soaked with blood. Son, you’ve already been involved with too much blood. Mommy is afraid that you will stray from the right path if this happens again.”
“Remember, son. Killing is not violence, but killing the innocent is a sin. When you wield your sword, you must be filled with pain and respect, not joy and insanity. Son, you’re still kind. Don’t let your kindness disappear. Mommy will protect you. Mommy will definitely protect you. When you’re sad, suffering, and in despair, mommy will definitely protect you, promise. Mommy loves you. Mommy will love you always… You’re my dearest son… Mommy won’t stop you if you decide to shoulder all this. However, mommy will definitely protect you, look after you and love you until mommy’s heart stops beating.”
Mom lowered her head and sobbed by my ear as she hugged me tightly.
I couldn’t move, nor could I shed a tear, otherwise I would’ve hugged mom tightly and cried loudly.