“So that’s what happened. I understand.” The empress looked at Nier who was kneeling down on one knee in front of her, switched which leg went over the other, smiled and said, “Rise, Nier. It’s not your fault. It’s my son’s fault. I knew that this would happen. I knew he would go there. He’s not the type of child who would sit still just because he heard it was dangerous. It’s just that he was too naive.”
The empress stood up and walked up to Nier who was still kneeling. She stroked her head and said: “It’s been tough on you during this time, Nier. I haven’t had to worry since you were by my son’s side. You won’t need to bodyguard him in the coming days. I think it’s best if you two separate for some time.”
Nier raised her head and looked at the empress. As she raised her head, she met eyes with the empress who was lowering her head. Nier reacted surprised and quickly lowered her head.
“You don’t have to be afraid, Nier.”
The empress smiled and pulled Nier up. She then stroked her face. Nier was shocked to receive love from the empress. When she came to see the empress, she had prepared herself for death. She never expected the empress to not blame her. The empress looked at her face and complimented her: “Nier, I feel that you are very beautiful, even as a female.”
“Your majesty… I……”
“No, I should say that you too are a woman.”
The empress hushed Nier who wanted to explain by placing her finger on her lips. Her pretty flower-petal-like lips that were soft and exquisite gently receded. The empress wore an expression that resembled a smile, but at the same time not as she looked at Nier and then said, “I know that you hate the fact that you are a female because your mother abandoned you and eloped with another man. However……”
The empress ran her finger down her flat neck, down her bosom that was evidently perky even through her chest-cloth, and finally stopped at her lower abdomen. Nier looked at the empress’s hand blankly. She looked at the empress, not knowing what she wanted to say. However, the empress was right. She hated the fact that she was a woman.
In her mind, women were bitches that could abandon their child for a man and money. All women were weaklings and filthy to no end. All women were spineless. She always wanted to kill herself because she was a woman. It was thanks to meeting the empress that she realised women could be amazing like her too.
After meeting the empress, she never allowed anybody to look at her as a woman. She trained like a male, did things males did and forbade anyone from mentioning her gender. From her perspective, the empress was the only complete woman. She wasn’t as powerful as the empress yet. She was still the woman she hated.
“But…… You’re a woman after all. Since you’re a woman, it’s hard to avoid developing romantic feelings for a man if you spend a lot of time with him. That is a law of this world that cannot be opposed.”
The empress looked at Nier, smiled and softly said: “Have you been really enjoying your time outside with my son recently? You should move around together with him as his bodyguard, but……”
The empress gently grabbed hold of the small cloth pouch with embroidery on Nier’s belt. The lollies inside rolled around making a depressing sound.
“But… Isn’t your relationship with my son too good?”
“Your majesty, I dare not!!”
Nier quickly went down on her knees. While the empress was wearing a smile, her killing intent around her virtually froze the air in the room. Cold sweat ran down Nier’s back. The empress’s domineering aura smashed onto her back. It felt like her head would be separated from her body if she were to raise her head even slightly.
“You better not, Nier. While I did give you special rights, I didn’t give you the right to fall in love with my son. You are a Valkyrie. Even if you are pretty, you’re just a pretty Valkyrie. My son’s wife won’t be a Valkyrie. His wife will be a princess if not a ruler of a nation. Know your place as a Valkyrie. Stay by my side for now just as you always have.”
The empress sat back on the bed and looked at Nier. She smiled and her killing intent slowly dissipated. Nier quivered as she raised her head and looked at the empress.
Nier let out a breath of relief, and then looked at the ground and softly replied: “As you command…….”
I lied on my bed looking at the pattern on the roof silently.
“Your majesty, have a snack. You did not have dinner either. Are you not hungry?”
I heard a sound from the door and Luna’s somewhat concerned tone.
I rolled over and replied: “I’ll pass……”
“Are you sure…?”
Her voice sounded slightly sad. After a moment of silence, Luna spoke out again. This time it sounded like she was trying to raise her spirits: “Your majesty, Miss Gilliante has not returned yet… Do you want to……”
“Don’t remind me of her!!”
My shout carrying a hint of my sobs frightened Luna. Luna hesitated for a moment before taking out a key from her chest and then opening the door.
“I apologise, your majesty.”
Luna looked at my curled up posture and sighed. I curled myself up as tightly as I could. The humiliation and pain tortured every inch of my heart. My regret and despair suffocated me. Not only did I fail to accomplish what I promised Nier, I even threw away the children’s’ future. I shooed Nier off a second time and even said mean things to her. What have I done today? I’m just a jerk.
I could only vent at those around me. I’m so hopeless that I hate myself. Why didn’t I listen to them today? Why did I have to be so stubborn? Where did I get my confidence from? Just because I solved the matter with Castor, that doesn’t mean that I’m smarter than everyone.
I suck at fighting, and I lack intellect. My past is completely useless here.
I’m no different to garbage here.
“Your majesty…… did you fight with Miss Gilliante?”
Luna knelt in front of the bed and placed her beautiful face before me. She looked at me with worry. She looked at my tears on my face. She reached her hand out to stroke my head.
“I…… I…… Luna…… Luna……. Am I…… Am I useless……? I… I can’t do anything right…… I can’t do anything……. I can only watch those by my side die… I can only hurt those by my side……. I…… I wanted to change, but why…… Why……?”
“That’s not true. Your majesty… I apologise for my rudeness.”
Luna gently hugged my head, pulled it into her soft and warm valleys. Luna gently stroked my head and let me cry in her embrace. She held me like a mother holding her sulking child and gently said: “Your majesty, I don’t know how to console people. When I performed rituals in the past, I could only comfort kids like this. But I don’t think what you said is right. You are not a useless person. You are gentle, kind and respect everyone……”
“But those things are useless! They don’t serve any purpose! Who have I saved with my gentleness? Who have I saved with my kindness?! Those things are all useless! It would be thousands of times faster if I just set the church ablaze!! Mera died in front of me! The orphanage is going to get torn down! I haven’t saved anyone!!”
I shouted in Luna’s embrace. I was filled with a sense of inferiority and hate for myself. I shouted like I had given up on myself. Gentleness and kindness are useless. I’m fed up. I’m fed up of people seeing nothing but my gentleness and kindness. Those are the most useless things in this world. You can’t save anyone with them!
“No, your majesty, you saved me!”
Luna shouted over my voice in my ear. She suddenly tightened her grip on me and said loudly: “You saved me, your majesty. You saved me from that group of people. It was your gentleness that saved me. It was because you showed me respect that I found my pride. The happiness I now have was given to me by you, your majesty. Your majesty, you are not a useless person. Your gentleness and kindness are not useless. You can save people. You are my hero. You are the hero that saved me!”
A few teardrops fell by my ear. Luna hugged me tightly and loudly called me a hero. Luna’s warmth was right by my side. Luna’s words were right by my ear. I gave Luna everything she has. Luna was the only one I saved.
She was the only one who was truly loyal to me by my side. She was the only person I could completely rely on. She was the only person I saved.
I can save others……
I can become someone else’s hero……
After a moment of silence, I softly said: “Luna……”
Luna sniffed and then asked with a smile: ”What is it your majesty?”
“Just hold me like this…… please……”
“Sure, your majesty.”
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