“Your majesty, for today’s battle strategy…….” The empress sliced a piece of meat, put it in between bread, took the plan Castell handed her, tossed it into the stove, and then said: “You may leave, Castell. You’ve done very well during this time. I’m glad to see that. Come to think of it, it’s been five years since I adopted you. I watched your transformation these last five years. It was like seeing my son grow up. I’m very happy to see that.”
Castell’s body quivered. He took in a deep breath to supress his urge to burst out in tears and in a shaky voice said: “Thank… Thank you, your majesty! I… I too have always been grateful for your adoption. I will never forget the past five years.”
“But at the end of the day, you aren’t my son.”
The empress stood up and walked up to him. She stroked his back and then walked to the entrance of the tent. She looked at the lustre gold light shining at the top of the tower in the distance. That was the tallest tower in the elven imperial palace. The gold statue at the top was in the shape of a canopy. That was where the elven imperial palace was, and that was also the place she wanted to conquer.
“I have a son that’s eight years old this year. I’ve seen him once. He’s very cute. He has the same hair and eyes as me. He is my only son, the child I and my most beloved gave life to. But my son is currently trapped in there, in the prison of the elves.”
The empress took in a deep breath. The cup in her hand clinked. She turned around to look at Castell and said: “I will definitely personally lead the army in to attack the elven imperial palace. You don’t need to hand me a battle strategy. I’m preparing weapons. We won’t need to attack for a few days. Let the troops rest.”
Castell took in a deep breath, faced the empress and bowed to her before leaving the tent. He quickly walked to the back of the tent, found himself a corner where nobody was around, looked at the large tree before him, violently drew his sword and slashed at the tree trunk with all his might.
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!!”
His blade swung through the air while the juices of the tree and bark flew all over the place. The young man’s roars scared off the birds. His cries filled with a sense of injustice echoed in the forest.
“But at the end of the day, you’re not my son.”
He knew that long ago. He knew that. He knew that he wasn’t the empress’s son, but he had always viewed the empress as his mother. He was mistreated from a young age. He was abused by shotacons. The empress saved him and adopted him. At that time, he believed that everybody was out to hurt him, believing that the world wouldn’t accept him. The words of contempt and disgust, and the mockery of those who passed him enraged him and made him feel hopeless.
Nobody loved him. He was just trash that was thrown away after people got sick of messing with him.
The empress didn’t care about any of that. When he refused to eat, she sat by his side and gently comforted him. When he was sick, she stayed by his side even when she was busy with national affairs. She didn’t get angry when he threw a fit and splashed hot soup on her face. When he was crying and hurting, she held him in her arms.
It was the first time he felt warmth. There was somebody finally willing to welcome him with open arms. He never had family, but he had regarded the empress as his mother a long time ago.
He had always been desperately trying his best. He learnt swordsmanship with the Valkyries and learnt economics and finance from the ministers. He never stopped trying even when he was bruised all over. All he hoped for was that the empress would one day look at him and feel comforted. Over time the empress started to appreciate him, allowing him to be by her side at all sorts of feasts. He was very happy and blissful because the empress was the value of his existence. The empress was his everything.
He would never be interested in any other woman. He just needed the empress. He was dead-set on the empress being his mother.
But somebody who had never appeared before now suddenly showed up. He was the empress’s son, her biological son. The empress loved him deeply. The empress’s ice cold eyes were filled with warmth and gentleness when she mentioned him just before. Her eyes had the kindness and sadness of a mother. He suddenly understood that he could never be the empress’s son. He was no longer the empress’s son, but her trusted retainer, and that was all.
He would also have to swear allegiance to that guy. He was going to have to watch the empress busy herself for that guy. He was going to have to watch that guy in the empress’s embrace….
The birds that heard his roar flew upwards. How much pain, despair, anger, jealousy and hate must one have to be able to roar like a wild beast like that?
“When I heard that roar, I thought it was a wild beast or elf out for revenge. I never thought it’d be you, Castell. I’ve never seen you so mad before. What’s wrong? Did you do something to make her majesty angry?”
Alice sheathed her sword, looked at Castell who was kneeling on the ground with his hands in his face, sighed and said: “Get up. Castell, her majesty treats you like her son, how would she get mad at you?”
“You… you know, don’t you…? Her majesty’s son……”
“Yeah, I know. Her majesty’s biological son is with the elves.”
Alice shrugged and then said: “But Castell, you don’t have to be jealous of him because she may not see you as her son. Further, are you not going to repay her majesty’s kindness after she brings her son back to her side? Whether or not the prince comes back, your life will be the same. By that I mean that your mission in life will still to be to serve her majesty forever, so what are you getting upset about”
Castell knelt on the ground in a daze. A moment later, he silently stood up, walked in circles a few times, then up to the tree and pulled his sword out of the tree.
“Yeah… you’re right.”
He turned around and looked at Alice with his lifeless eyes. He smiled bitterly and then said: “You’re right, you’re right. Whether it was the past or in the future, her majesty won’t see me as her son, and I’ll still be an orphan… However… however… I need to… I need to repay her majesty’s kindness.”
Alice nodded and then with a smile said: “Did you know, Castell? We Valkyries don’t like anybody aside from the empress. That’s also why we don’t feel guilty about cutting off the head of somebody we don’t know. But you’re different. You’re not a Valkyrie, but we all like you. And that’s because you’re the same as us. You, like us were a life saved by her majesty, and an existence that exists for her majesty’s sake.”
“Maybe… we’re… the same?”
Castell chuckled coldly and shook his head. He then looked into the distance and exclaimed: “But… but taking back his majesty is her majesty’s wish, so I must go and take back his majesty!”
Shotacon = Japanese slang describing an attraction to young boys. The original Japanese phrase for it is Shootaroo Complex (oo is pronounced o with a slight dragged out pronunciation) , written 正太郎コンプレックス