As Nier knelt on the ground holding the children tightly while crying, she thanked me in a hoarse voice: “Your majesty! Thank you! Thank you, your majesty!”
The children had been drugged. We had to expend a lot of effort to wake them up. Those bastards didn’t consider the children’s well-being at all. Some of them had yet to wake. However, we managed to save most of them.
“This was my promise to you.”
I gently stroked Nier and the children’s heads. Nier held the children as tightly as she could. The frightened children reciprocated her sentiments by hugging her tightly and crying loudly.
I walked around Nier who was worked-up and up to Freya. Her small and slender body looked particularly pitiful next to Alice. She held a seal tightly in her hand. I suppose it’s the church’s seal. Maybe that was what she wanted. She noticed us leaving. It took a lot out of her for her to stand up. She bowed and said: “You have worked hard, your majesty.”
It was like how Luna calmly welcomed me at the outer court. I looked at her small slender body as well as her hands that were covered in wounds. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. What had this young girl gone through? Maintaining her elegance and calmness with such determination despite what she had gone through made me admire her, but at the same time, feel sorry for her.
Beneath her weak small body was her dignified soul which I admired. She didn’t change her pride and demeanour as a noble despite going through so much. This is what you call nobility.
“Alright, it’s over. We’re getting ready to head back now. Let’s go, Freya.”
“As you command.”
When Freya took a step, she almost dropped to her knees. A strong will can’t help one overcome their body’s limitations. I walked up to her and crouched down. She paused for a moment and then said: “Your majesty, you do not have to worry about me. I am fine… ah… your majesty……”
I had already taken my cape off and wrapped it around her. The thick cape wrapped her inside like a blanket. Alice stood still in silence since it was the cape of royalty. The royal family’s things were never meant to be given to others to use on a whim. I crouched down in front of Freya and helped her do up all the buttons. I then picked her up with my arms.
“Your majesty!! Put me down! Put me down!”
Freya who was shocked desperately fought back. A tinge of pink appeared on her pale face from embarrassment and surprise. She lost her graceful behaviour and became shocked. I held her and said: “It’s fine, I don’t care. You can’t ride a horse anyway let alone come back. While not everybody is allowed to ride on the prince’s horse, you’re a noble to begin with. It’s not too much for me to take care of the daughter of a noble family of mine.”
“I-Is that how it is……?”
Freya blushed and looked at Alice slightly concerned. It looks like she has realised that Alice is the eldest here, although she was the shortest….. Alice shook her head as she looked at her and said: “Even if I were to object, his majesty wouldn’t let you down. Just accept his majesty’s kind gesture. But it will only be this once.”
“Thank you… very much then, your majesty.”
She relaxed in my arms and finally stayed still. She was a little too light for a girl roughly fifteen. I felt like her nutrition was worse than the kids Nier was holding. I held her and walked to the entrance of the church. The young men came crowding over. I looked at them and said: “You all did fantastic today. Go to the stores around here in a bit and tell them I sent you to collect your reward. They’ll provide you with your rewards.”
“There is no need, your majesty. Allowing us to vent our anger was the greatest reward. We followed you just to destroy the church, not for reward money. You really are different to the other nobles, your majesty. Should you need us in the future, we will not hesitate to go through hell for you.”
They looked at me with faces brimming with excitement and inspiration. Most importantly, I could see the joy of getting revenge. I smiled and then turned my head around to look at the torn-down church. I came for revenge too. I’ve been giving it my all until now to avenge Mera’s death. I’ve killed a number of people and saved a number of people, as well as getting what I wanted. But why don’t I feel happy at all? In fact, I still loathe myself.
It was just as Vyvyan said. When I take up the sword, what I feel isn’t ecstasy but disgust and hate. But even so, I’ve taken revenge even if I wasn’t willing.
I don’t know how many more people I have to kill or how much further I must walk, but I know Mera will always be behind me watching me. I’ll tread this path even if I shall be covered in wounds. I hate killing people and don’t want to destroy things. But if I must do so, I won’t hesitate.
When we got to the horse, Alice looked at me and said: “Your majesty, Nier did not come out.”
“Don’t worry about her. Let her stay with the children for a little longer. I need to head back first. I think her majesty is getting a little anxious.”
I carried Freya up to the horse and then let her sit in front of me. Freya leaned on my chest somewhat worn out as she looked forward. I tapped my horse with my foot and the horse started to head back while trying its best to remain stable. The citizens who came out to see what was going on watched me. They weren’t all merry and cheering out after I destroyed the church. They just whispered among each other and looked at me with a weird gaze. Their voices and gazes were extremely distrustful. It was like having a heavy boulder pressed down on my chest that wouldn’t go away.
It looks like the church didn’t give their apprentices too much trouble. By privately trafficking salt, the people could purchase salt at a cheaper price. Nobody suffered because he kidnapped the elves. They didn’t extort the people. To the contrary, it was the palace that repossessed the copper coins. That makes it hard to blame them for not being pleased with our actions.
“Your majesty, you do not have to worry about them. Building a regime centred around the people is like building a foundation on sand. The people can only see what’s around them. They don’t know about all the schemes in the dark. They’re ignorant like stray dogs, running in whatever direction food is in.” Alice seemed to notice the way I was looking at the people was off and therefore comforted me from the side.
I smiled helplessly and replied: “But they are the foundation of the empire. You can’t build the foundation on them, but they are the foundation of the empire. Citizens that are ignorant and hold beliefs are easy to stir up. We didn’t give our reasons for destroying the church this time. This could very well be a fuse.”
“That’s not a problem. When it comes down to it, we can arrange for some people to kill a few people and show evidence of their crimes. It’s just that the evidence won’t appease the people.” Alice chuckled and then shrugged as though it was no big deal. She continued, “Your majesty, you do not have to worry about these people. They are like weeds. Kill a batch and another batch crops up.”
Freya who was in my arms suddenly said: “His majesty’s concern is not wrong. If weeds were set on fire, it could burn the entire field.” She looked at the people around us and continued, “The reason the people are confused is because they have no direction. The church did not pick on them so they will not be hostile towards the church. The private salt and elf trafficking has nothing to do with them, so they will not hate them for it. Moreover, the god they believe in is the god the church speaks off. That is precisely why the church is fearless.”
Alice looked at her and asked in a mocking tone: “What suggestion do you have as a bankrupt-homeless mistress then?”
“Of course there is a way. We only need to modify the evidence of their crimes a little. We change the salt they illegally trafficked into trafficking salt with poison, cut the ears off the dead elves and say they forcefully kidnapped women and sold them, then take the money in the palace and move it to their storage to say they extorted people. All we have to do then is distribute the money to the people. The church was never violent towards the people, but they never did them any favours either. If we do the people a favour, the people will turn to us.”
Freya looked at me and calmly said: “The people are not ignorant, but confused. They are not sand but running water. As long as we provide them with direction, they naturally will not go against his majesty. To the contrary, they will help us.”
I looked down at her with surprise. She looked at me, smiled and said: “Your majesty, you believe me when I say that I can help you destroy the church now, right?”
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