After we returned to the palace, mom grabbed my hand and said: “Son, don’t you want to go and see the white deer king? Besides Mera, you need to deal with the white deer king too.”
I nodded, forced myself to become more alert and walked to the stables. I forgot about it due to the pain of Mera’s death. My mind was foggy due to the blow it dealt to my heart. I looked at my white hands. They didn’t have any scars on them but I could feel the blood stuck to my hand slowly flowing.
I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it…
Mom suddenly pulled me who was walking forward like a zombie and then waved her hand. A flash of light came from the stables ahead like the iron cage that was originally there had been destroyed by mom. I looked inside the stable. A group of war-horses were quivering as they lay down to one side. The white deer king that not even the manger dared to approach stood beside the manger and desperately tugged its neck. It looked like it was tied to the stable with an invisible rope. Even its mouth was stuffed.
The white deer king noticed us approaching and shot its enraged gaze shot over towards us. It swung its horn around angrily and tugged with its neck with even more force like it was violently trying to say: “Let me go if you’re so tough and watch me turn you into a string of lamb meat.” Seeing it clench its teeth like it wanted to swallow me live made me question once again if it truly was a herbivore.
Mom then took in a deep breath, extended her hand out to stop me taking another step forward, and loudly shouted: “Beast! Kneel before me!”
The air swept up into a tornado and passed. The horses didn’t even dare to quiver any longer. They quietly tried to curl themselves up into a small ball on the ground. The white deer king stopped moving like somebody had saluted it. It turned its head around and met mom’s eyes. Mom’s blue eyes had a domineering look that indicated she would not accept any disobedience. She looked at the white deer king without any compassion in her gaze.
A few seconds later, the white deer king lowered its head. It didn’t kneel down, but it stopped moving.
The intense majestic aura caused even me to tremble. The entire space felt like it was oppressive and even the air itself turned stiff and unable to move. Mom turned her head around, gave me a smile, stroked my head and said: “Go ahead, son. If you want the white deer king, mommy will help you subdue it. If you want to let it go, then we’ll let it go.”
The oppressive atmosphere vanished when mom smiled. I trembled as I walked up to the white deer king. The white deer king raised its head and looked at me with a slight look of sadness. I reached my hand out. I wanted to quietly stroke its head but it whipped its head knocking my hand away. I heard mom’s breathing become heavy behind me, so I quickly turned back and shook my head.
Mom looked at me with helpless smile and then didn’t say anything after.
I looked at the white deer king, revealed a helpless smile and said: “Erm… You can probably understand me, right? It’s just that we can’t communicate… But don’t worry. I won’t force you to do anything you aren’t willing to. I’m very thankful to you. Honest. So, do you want to go back?”
The white deer king paused for a moment before finally turning back to look at me. It looked like it was angry from the start because it felt that I repaid its kindness with ingratitude. It waved its horn slightly and then nodded.
I swung the door open. Mom waved her hand and the restraints on the white deer king disappeared. The white deer king kicked its hooves. It then cried out to vent the anger of being locked up for so long, and finally stepped out elegantly. It looked at mom with its eyes filled with terror and respectfully lowered its head. Since mom was a half-deity, I imagine she appeared as a goddess that was not to be offended in the eyes of animals. Even a white deer king was afraid of her dominance.
I looked at its tall physique and reached my hand out to stroke its fur. It turned its head around to look at me and rubbed my face with its head. It then took off and disappeared like a passing wind before our eyes, leaving me with just a vague white silhouette, slowly getting swallowed up by the darkness.
I silently watched its silhouette vanish. A white deer king would make a perfect war-horse. However, I can’t force it to become my steed because we’re actually even. It is a king and I too am a king. I have no right to do anything to it until I subdue it.
Mom gently hugged me from behind, laughed and said: “Are you letting it go, son? Mommy thought you liked the white deer king. The strength of a white deer king’s legs and its mental willpower make it a perfect war-horse.”
“It saved my life once so I should repay it. Furthermore, we are equals. I can’t force it to do something it isn’t willing to do. I’d be happy if it was willing to become my war-horse, but it doesn’t look like it is.”
“It’s hard to get a white deer king to acknowledge you, you know~?”
I turned around to look at mom and resolutely said: “That’s okay. I’ll get it to acknowledge me.”
Mom looked into my eyes and revealed a comforted smile. She gently kissed me on my forehead and said: “Alright, son. Let’s head back and rest…”
Just as we turned around, Lucia’s father staggered as he ran to the entrance of the stable. He leaned on the pillar and excitedly shouted while short of breath: “Your highness! Your highness! Lucia, Lucia has awakened!”
“Ah, alright, let her… Son! Son!!”
I didn’t hear what was said afterwards as my body had already sprinted off, no slower than a white deer king. I had already reached the lawn by the time mom called out. I didn’t care about stepping on the lawn, the soft soil beneath my feet or the shrubs. I desperately sprinted to the palace as fast as I could.
When I tripped over, I got up and continued to run. I even bumped the gate guards out of the way. I pushed the door to the palace open with one hand and rushed up the stairs on my hands and feet like a madman.
Lucia… Lucia… Lucia… Lucia… My Lucia… My Lucia…
I was gasping for air through my nose and mouth to excite my insane heartbeat. My lungs resisted with all its might as well as every fibre in my legs telling me to stop. Every breath I took in carried with it the stench of blood but I didn’t care in the least. I just ran in the corridor like a mad-man, and kicked the door to my room open.
Lucia quietly sat on the ground. Her petite physique looked even smaller after this incident. She was wrapped in a blanket while her emerald eyes released a gentle ray of light into the air. She gripped the note I left behind for her in her hand. She turned her head around to look at me. The corner of her mouth slowly lifted upwards, revealing a happy smile that was like she was about to cry. She then softly said: “Your highness, you’re alright. I’m so glad…. Ah!”
I pulled her petite body into my embrace before she could cry. I sobbed as I tightly embraced her. A complex feeling filled my chest. I wasn’t sure why myself, but I wanted to hold her tightly in my arms. Very, very tightly. I never wanted to let go of her for the rest of my life.
I reached my shaky hands out and cupped Lucia’s small surprised and embarrassed face in my hands. Her face had become thinner the past few days, but her emerald eyes were the same.
Without asking or thinking, I kissed her. I kissed her pale but still gentle and warm lips and wrapped my tongue around hers. Lucia jerked her whole body but she didn’t resist. She closed her eyes, opened her arms and hugged me back. Her tears ran down her still swollen eyes and down to where our lips were firmly pressed against each other.
She responded to my kiss clumsily. Her sentimental movements couldn’t express how she felt, but I could tell that she was hugging me as tightly as she could, keeping us firmly attached together. She let herself fall into my embrace. She responded clumsily and happily to my love.
That was my most blissful and yet most agonising kiss…