Editor: Areth Kyntaul
“Lucia, Her Highness’ reply has arrived.”
Lucia placed down the piping-hot soup in her hands, got up, and received the thin-paper letter.
The messenger removed his leather hat and sat down next to the fire.
Lucia wiped the snow from her eyes, and read the graceful letters on the page.
Her Highness didn’t say much, but she agreed to let Lucia return to the imperial capital now. She also told her to leave the rest to her.
Lucia earnestly stored the letter away as a blissful, excited, smile crept up on the corner of her mouth. She could finally return. She could finally return to the side of His Highness, whom she had missed so much.
What was his majesty doing in the capital now?
Nobody kept track of the days here, but Lucia remembered very clearly what day His Highness returned. After all, that was the day her love returned.
She could now, finally, return to his side and stroll with him through the city. The imperial capital is very large, and everywhere she went with him was beautiful, because he was by her side. He was the one she loved. She could now return to his side.
If she was lucky the wedding dress should be ready now. She could now appear in front of him in her wedding dress and give him a big surprise. She no longer needed the buffs provided by the wind elves. She just needed him.
Maybe he might not even need to travel between the two nations once they got married, and could always remain by her side. She could have a few kids, too. Her life was too perfect.
The very thought of it made her feel unbelievably blissful. But it was real. The overwhelming bliss was right in front of her. She needed only to reach out to grab it.
“Lucia, seeing your cheerful look, I’m guessing you can return to the capital now?”
The messenger laughed as he patted his hat. He then checked to see if he dropped any letters before standing up and adding, “I’m so envious of you. You get to go back while we’re stuck in this freezing place for who knows how much longer. The winter this year is so strange. It wasn’t so cold last year. If this continues, it might spread to the capital.”
“Don’t worry. Her Highness is coming up.”
Lucia folded the letter properly and then placed it in between her breasts. She looked at the messenger and continued, “And I will be with you, as well.”
Even though she was able to return to the capital and be with His Highness, the messenger was right. If the cold in the north kept up, it would spread to the capital since the capital isn’t far from the north, after all. She could return now, but she didn’t want His Highness to be in danger. She wanted to stay here with the queen. While she might not be able to help with anything, it would at least put her at ease a little.
She could definitely be with His Highness in the future, so there was no need for her to be hung up on chasing a moment of happiness. As long as His Highness was fine, she would definitely return to his side.
Lucia stood up and patted the snow off of her. She then put the fire out and advanced through the snow with the messenger. Her small silhouette quickly got swallowed up by the white snow, but her determined look would never be covered by the snow.
“Galle Village is a really pretty village. Mm, there is an old tree by the village entrance. It has a long history. It is said that the tree was already there when the goldmine was first found. I really liked tree-climbing when I was young, but my mom always told me I was desecrating god so I stopped climbing them afterwards. The temple is at the side of the river on a plain. It is surrounded by flowers and is very pretty. Every time people passed by they would give us food and offerings.”
Luna, who was sitting behind Freya, excitedly told us about the past while looking at me. It looks like she’s really glad to be able to return home. Though she keeps saying that she wants to stay by my side, she got happier and happier the closer we got to the village.
I was glad to see Luna like that too. Luna isn’t a human, after all, so it’s not too good to have her always stay there with humanity. I really want Luna to stay here but it’ll depend on Luna’s wishes.
I looked at Luna who was smiling and asked her with a smile, “Oh right, Luna, I heard that there was a celebration being held in the village recently. What’s the celebration about?”
Luna thought about it for a second and then smiled as she replied, “So it’s time for it already. This is the time for harvests. Once the harvests are over, people are relatively free. They hold a celebration at this time to celebrate a good harvest. Women compete in a harvesting competition where the few fastest ones will then be sent to a special room to live as a gift to God. Everyone will then sing and dance for the whole night. Those women are then only released after three days and will be welcomed by everyone. They believe that they have been forgiven by God and that they will have an even better harvest next year.”
“But is it alright to lock them up for three days?”
“Ah, no, they are not locked up.”
Luna waved her hand and said, “They get meals delivered, and they can move around freely during the day as long as they return at night. Being chosen is an honour since they will be respected by all. That is why many women wish to be chosen, and hence why they have to work diligently to harvest quickly.”
“So in other words, men mine the in the goldmines while women are in fields in the village?”
“That is correct.”
Luna smiled and said, “Galle Village is next to a lake and has very fertile land, so it would be a sin to leave it desolate. That is why the jobs were divided much earlier on. That way, nobody in the village would have to starve. It was thanks to everyone’s hard work that I never starved.”
She smiled proudly and then sighed. She continued, “However, the village got looted by humans and the majority of the villagers got killed. Only very few escaped into the temple. I do not know why but the humans were very careful in the temple. They did not kill or break anything. However, they kicked us all out and then sold us all off.”
I nodded. I don’t think that the human army had some sort of special emotional attachment to the elven god but it was because of the empress. The empress had seen magic before so she believed that the elven god existed, and hence didn’t allow anyone to disrespect that god. Maybe that would help humanity avoid many natural disasters.
“But I don’t know what the village is like now.”
Luna shook her head with a smile and continued, “It has been ten years. Ten whole years. The last glimpse I caught of the village was when it was up in flames. By the tree at the entrance were corpses that were burnt up with black smoke ascending into the air. I do not think I will get to see that verdant and luxuriant tree anymore. Maybe there are still villagers in there, but I will not recognise any of them anymore. Is it still my hometown? Maybe my hometown was destroyed ten years ago, and I am now just a wanderer.”
I shook my head while looking at Luna and responded, “Don’t think like that. Home is not just a piece of land. There are memories too. Even if everything has changed and everyone is dead, your memories will forever be your home. And if you feel that you no longer have a home, treat the royal capital as your home.”
Luna laughed gently. She then wiped the corner of her eyes and said, “My home is right beside you, Your Majesty. My definition of home is a place that can bring me bliss. I can obtain infinite bliss at your side, Your Majesty.”
I smiled and didn’t respond. Instead, I looked at the wide grass plains in front of me.
If a place that brought me bliss was home, then I would have two homes…