“My, your majesty, are you heading out already? You really are an action-taker. I might not have been able to see you one last time if I had woken up later.”
I looked at Nara who was in front of me, smiled and said: “Don’t say something so scary. We’ve lost two days already. Thank you for taking care of us the last two days, Lord Nara. Time is of the essence for us now.”
Nara smiled and responded: “Yes, your majesty. Your majesty, you must pay attention to something. Though the four other nations have not been explicit about it they have surely sent out their own teams. Nobody is your friend in that place with no one managing it. You are the team I am sending out. You will be watched as soon as you leave the city. Therefore, be cautious. I do not want my dream to end before it starts.”
“It’s not just your dream alone. It’s my dream too, so I won’t let it end so soon.”
“Yeah? You sure let me feel reassured. I am reassured. I have prepared several things to allow you to be more comfortable.”
She waved her hand and a young man came up from behind. He had really tanned skinned, a common trait of those living in the desert. Maybe it was more a chocolate colour? Beneath his slightly curly hair was a pair of very clear eyes like stars in the desert. Though his skin was a little dark, they didn’t hide his refreshing facial features. His lean and competent appearance made him seem like he was made from the same mould as Castell.
Could it be that you lords all like this sort of guy?!
“This is my childhood friend who is also in charge of the imperial guards, Military Official Tarak Suofurisk.” Nara pinched his face and smiled. Her reserved nature and dignity reduced a little as she revealed a playful nature young girls have which gave off the comfy feeling between childhood friends.
“Y-Your majesty! It is an honour to meet you!”
He wore a stern look and gave me a big bow. Stiff like a toy-soldier, his relatively handsome face now looked distorted. I smiled and patted him on his shoulder. I asked: “It’s alright, you don’t need to be nervous. I am the prince, but I’m also human, so you don’t need to be so nervous. Well then, Lord Nara, are you giving me this young man as a gift or something?”
With a smile, Nara said: “Of course not. Your majesty, I would not give him to you even if you wanted him. He is my childhood friend. We are very friendly with each other. If I was not the lord of the city, I might have had a few cute kids with him already.”
Tarak scolded her with a red face. Nara giggled softly. I looked at Nara’s eyes. She wasn’t joking. The way she looked at Tarak certainly had the same feeling as the way Nier looked at me. That strong hint of love can’t be false. However, she stripped down completely in front of me that night. It looks like she is very determined to achieve her dream and to serve her city, to the point that she was willing to abandon her love as well.
“Alright now. His majesty just said it too. Time is everything right now. I shall not waste anymore of your time, your majesty.” Nara wore her serious expression again. She then took a parchment from Tarak and put it in my hand. With that she said, “Before you came here, I had sent out enough teams to gather information except I did not get anything from it. This is a map I drew. I can promise it is accurate. You will not get lost in that area with this map.”
I nodded and then opened the map. There were a few red areas on the map. Nara pointed and said: “These are the places my people have checked. If you pass those zones, you will see marks they left behind when setting up camp. Those are zones where you can avoid the wind and are comfortable. You must seek shelter at these places when resting at night. Otherwise, a sandstorm may swallow up your entire team at any moment.”
“Alright, thank you for giving me something so important.”
I nodded and put it away carefully. A map is the most important item for any foreign group, especially when I’m heading into an area I’ve never been too with nobody there. This map is more important than anything right now. Now that I have a map, I’ll be able to further narrow down the perimeter I have to search, which also means that I have a greater chance of locating it.
Nara pushed Tarak over to me and while smiling said: “Also, there is Tarak. But I am just lending him to you. You must remember to return him to me, your majesty. Tarak is a professional at living in the desert and he has searched for that sort of metal twice so you could say that he is very familiar with that area. Further, Tarak he is good at communicating with local residents and others. And as the military officer in charge of protecting me, he is an expert swordsman. I therefore believe that he is the most valuable asset there.”
“He’s that incredible?!”
I looked at Tarak astounded. I never thought the young man was so incredible. He looked around the same age as me. They sure were right when they said “young people can make great heroes”. But when I look at Tarak, I have an odd feeling of humiliation and jealousy. We’re clearly about the same age yet he’s so accomplished at many things while I still need to depend on the people around me.
“You flatter me, your majesty. I am but just a military officer. I shall be responsible for guiding you and keeping you safe for the coming journey. I hope you can achieve your wish and of course, Lord Nara’s wish.”
Tarak bowed and then raised his head with a straight-face. I nodded and then responded: “Alright. We shall join hands with sincerity for this journey, since this isn’t just about me but also Lord Nara.”
“That will be all then. Please do not be displeased with the minimal support I have offered. Considering the set-up of your team, do you not feel this combination is perfect?”
“It is. Thank you, Lord Nara. I believe that this will be a very simple job thanks to what you have provided me with.”
Nara nodded. She then grabbed hold of Tarak and told him: “While you have said that you are tight on time, you do have time for me to say a few words with Tarak, do you not, your majesty……? If you would permit it, please allow me to bid Tarak farewell.”
I nodded and then watched them leave my sight. Lorana looked over in their direction with curiosity, sighed and said: “Those two… poor them.”
I nodded and said: “Yeah. They clearly love each other yet can’t be together. There is no one forcing them nor is there any power stopping them, but they have chosen to not be together. That sort of love is admirably but also pitiable.”
“Yeah, just like Elizabeth. Actually, no. Elizabeth isn’t that sort of person. Elizabeth is the type who could sacrifice everything for her love. Honestly, a woman who could betray herself for her city is truly admirable but also pitiable.”
“I think Tarak is the pitiful one. He clearly loves her yet they bound to never be together. But even so, he has chosen to always stay by her side. I actually admire and respect him for that.”
“The woman he loves married herself to Karnashun City after all……”