“Philes, get the unit to pack their stuff as we will be heading out.”
Philes nodded while looking at me and asked: “All right, your majesty. But where are we going?”
I placed the document I was holding down, smiled at him and replied: “The south.”
“The south?” He paused then revealed an “I see” smile. He then asked: “Are we returning to the royal capital?”
I looked at him and asked: “What’s wrong? Do you miss your family?”
“I am all right.” He looked at me and asked me back, “Your majesty, do you not miss home?”
“Me?” I chuckled and then shifted my posture to sit on angle in my chair. I said, “This is my home. Why would I miss home? Plus, I’m not going to the royal capital even if I head south. We’re heading further south.”
I shook my head and replied: “Technically speaking, Castor isn’t in the south, is it? If anything, it’s south-west. You don’t have to guess. I’ll tell you. I’m going to the desert.”
“The desert?! The five nations of the desert?!” Philes looked at me utterly stunned. His throat budged…… That is the source of evil. If he didn’t have an Adam’s apple, he’d be a beautiful young girl…… He continued with hesitation, “Your majesty, the desert is not a fun place to be in…… Contrarily, it is extremely dangerous there. Not only is it a massive area of sand and heat, the scariest part is the sandstorms and bandits that pop up out of nowhere in there. They do everything from murder to robbery and more…… That place is basically an uncivilized place……”
I cut him off with frustration: “If I can’t go to dangerous places, what would be the point of having you guys? Aren’t you supposed to protect me? So go and prepare weapons and ammunition. Also, I think that your rifles will be useless after a couple of shots so make swords your main weapon. How is the new instructor? How does she compare to Nier?”
He hesitated for a moment and then revealed an awkward smile. He said: “She is a bit gentler than Instructor Nier… I would say… very gentle… and very kind……”
“Oh……” I looked at his blushed smile. He looked shy like a young girl who’d fallen in love. The love of a young girl filled up my entire office, making my office feel like a castle from Disney. I smiled mischievously, rubbed my temples, put one leg over the other and… Wait. Why am I becoming more and more like Elizabeth these days……? I narrowed my eyes as I looked at him, smiled and asked, “I don’t really understand how a Valkyrie is so gentle. What’s her name?”
“Her name is Shusia…… Shusia Gilliante.”
Philes looked at me shyly. He placed his hands between his legs and rubbed them together while he pulled his two legs in together…… You’re adamant about not being a girl, so could you please quit with the feminine mannerisms?! You’re even more gentle and soft than Lucia, you know?!
I nodded with my eyes still on him and quietly recorded the name to memory. I’ll mention it to mom when the time comes. She’s a girl my team-captain likes after all. If I mention it to her when she’s not happy, she’ll probably go “Shusia, kill yourself”, and then it’ll be all over. Nier told me she was ordered to kill herself as well, but she defied the order because she wanted to be together with me. As for this Shusia though, I reckon she’d still have a sword run through her if she defied the order.
I looked at him and then picked up my cup of water to the side for a drink. He shuddered and then looked at me like he was on the brink of crying. He pleaded: “Your majesty, I beg you, I only like her. Can you please let me have her? Look, your two princesses are so beautiful… so you do not need more, right……?”
I almost spat the water in my mouth onto his face. I wiped my mouth and said: “Am I the sort of scumbag who has to make everyone he meets his? I’m not one to steal another’s love. Nier and Lucia would never let me have another either. I just wanted to make arrangements to have Shusia protected. You don’t have to worry.”
“I-Is that what it was about? …… Umm… thank you very much then, your majesty……”
He sighed a breath of relief and then looked at me shyly and said: “But… there… there is a rumour going around with us that the Valkyries are actually women her majesty prepared for you, so… so……”
“Where the heck did that rumour come from……?”
I waved my hand hopelessly and explained, “Nier and I are together because we love each other. We’ve gone through lots of things. I didn’t get with her because she’s the sword instructor for the Valkyries. The Valkyries are the empress’s guard-unit. I frankly don’t recommend you being with a Valkyrie because their rules and regulations are very strict. They don’t interact with outsiders. If her majesty finds out about you and Shusia, you’ll both be punished.”
I titled my head and then added, “But don’t worry, I support you. Of course, you need to return alive from the desert first.”
“Thank you so much, your majesty!” Philes looked at me with excitement. He didn’t know what to say and spoke mumble jumble, “You gave me my life. You are helping me with my marriage too. You have truly helped me too much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. You are right. We need to guarantee your safety. I will do my best to prepare for the journey to the desert. I will guard you with my life!”
“Your life alone is pointless. I need everyone to be like you. I only did you this small favour. The others need to be just as loyal.”
“That is not a problem! Everyone respects you greatly and everyone is grateful that you treat us with so much courtesy!” Philes continued particularly seriously, “We will definitely do our absolute best to guard you. Your majesty, since you have decided to go to the south, we will now prepare. May I ask when we will be leaving?”
“In about ten days’ time. You guys get ready.”
I stood up and looked outside the window. It was dark outside already. I’m going to enjoy Nier’s dinner now. Nier actually rarely cooks now because of her pregnancy. The chef has prepared most of the meals recently. However, Nier decided to cook for me before I left. This journey to the desert is a long one. Not even I know when I’ll be able to come back.
I’m presuming I’ll be back around spring.
I knew that they would be very happy if I stayed after listening to what Lucia had to say. However, they would be relieved if I left. After deliberating it, I thought that I couldn’t let them down in regards to their hopes for me. I can’t hide in moms’ arms forever. What they want to see isn’t me leading a simple life, but at least a strong me.
That’s what I want as well as what my wives want.
I have to return alive, and I must get what I want. I must get my hands on that metal. I used to always be by my moms’ side. I was always overshadowed by their greatness. I want to prove myself this time on my journey south. I want to prove that I too can possess strength.
Even if the strength isn’t mine alone. The people around me can become my strength too.