I didn’t directly ask Tarak what he spoke with Nara about after we left Karnashun. It’s fair to say that it’s their secret. Lorana seemed to really enjoy teasing him though since she’s carefree sort of character, so she’s always really interested in Tarak who’s straight-laced. Maybe I should say… she found herself a really fun toy to mess with. Lorana dressed as she pleased in the desert. The most unacceptable part though was her butt was exposed underneath her cloak. She’d deliberately bend forwards or face her back to Tarak causing the straight-laced guy to not know where to look.
Lorana looked at Tarak who was next to her and asked with a smile: “Man, Tarak, why don’t you confess to Nara? You can clearly see her feelings for you, can’t you? You’re handsome and she’s beautiful. You two make a good couple. Why do you let yourself get hung up over this and that? Wouldn’t all be well if you two just got together? You’re not young anymore either, so shouldn’t you get married?”
Tarak pulled on the rope, blushed and replied: “It’s our private business!”
Lorana frowned. She looked at the straight-laced Tarak as though she was the voice of reason and said: “But aren’t we companions now? We’re companions who can trust each other with our lives, yet you won’t even tell us about your feelings? That makes it difficult for us to trust you to help us when we’re in a pinch.”
“Of course you can trust me! I took on this mission, so I will protect his majesty even if it costs me my life.” Tarak looked at us anxiously. He was on the verge of going down on his knees to express his loyalty. I waved my hand with a smile to indicate that I wasn’t going to get involved with their conversation and to not drag me into it.
“Are you going to tell me about your romance then? When we travel or when we camp, we all share our love stories to fight the loneliness. You didn’t know that as a soldier? Can’t you tell we all really care about your love? Shouldn’t you share it with us? We’re not going to laugh about you and Miss Nara. It’s hard for us to view you as a comrade if you’re not willing to share this sort of stuff when we’re in the same camp.”
Tarak froze up and looked at me a little fearfully. It appears he wants me to help him out. I smiled helplessly, tilted my head and asked Luna for the water, pretending I didn’t see anything. Sorry Tarak. It won’t be any fun if I help you out. To be honest, I’m really interested in your love story too.
“Well… well… umm……”
Tarak noticed I wasn’t paying attention so he looked at Lorana and got a little flustered. The guards around went closer to him too, though I can’t say for sure if that was deliberate or not. It looks like everyone is interested in the love story of the handsome young man and the beautiful lord. We were currently on a peaceful and steady road so we weren’t too concerned about a threat.
“We… we are childhood friends…… I liked Nara since I was a young.” Tarak had no way of shaking off the interested soldiers around him so he began to speak. Lorana listened in closely. Even Luna who was pouring me water hesitated for a moment.
I looked at Luna and quietly asked: “Want’s wrong? You want to listen?”
Luna jolted her body because I scared her by suddenly talking to her. She quickly shook her head and replied: “No… It is just… it is just……”
I took the water in her hand, smiled and said to her: “Go and listen if you want to. I’m honestly very interested too since I’m curious myself. Love stories always attract people no matter where you are after all, Luna.”
Luna giggled softly and grabbed my hand holding the water. She shook her head and replied: “Not really, your majesty. I actually want to write my own love story more than listening to the love story of other’s, since listening to their stories makes me recall my past which makes me very sad.”
I stroked Luna’s head. Those who have gone through unfortunate things always feel really sad when they listen to blissful and happy stories. I secretly touched her hand, then turned around and said: “Let me go next to you then. Let us listen in together. I’m really curious.”
Luna looked at me and revealed a blissful smile. She then gave me a gentle nod.
I looked at Tarak behind me. Tarak looked at the people around him. It looks like he can’t hold himself back after starting. With a shy smile he told us, “We commonly played together when we were young. At that time, she said she liked the sort of prince that was skilled at martial arts and protected the princess, so I went to learn swordsmanship. I learnt swordplay from countless people, did countless things for her, and put in so much blood, sweat and tears for her. I don’t regret it. I got to watch her put one foot in front of the other over and over to walk the path she wanted to walk. She never was a lovey-dovey girl. She viewed the empress as her ideal, a strong woman who forged forth regardless of circumstances. She was as bright as the sun. She was the one I wanted to chase after. I’ve always loved her, but I don’t want to possess her. I just want to stay by her side. There is nothing more blissful than that to me. I try so hard because I want to have the right to stand by her.”
“I see. You’re a brave one, kid.”
After listening to his story, Lorana patted him on his shoulder so hard he nearly fell off his horse. Tarak forced a smile and said: “What does courage have to do with this……?”
“Of course it’s related. To be able to love a woman and stay by her side knowing you won’t end up together requires an extraordinary amount of courage. Nara loves you too, that we understand. But she chose to marry herself to Karnashun City. That makes her an outstanding lord.”
“That’s right! Nara is very noble! I believe that she is already qualified to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the empress!”
“You could say that, but Elizabeth isn’t the type who would sever bonds to the degree Nara does since she has a husband after all.”
“What?! Her majesty has a husband?! Who is he?”
Tarak reacted like he was scared by someone. He looked at Lorana and me with incomparable astonishment. I looked at him hopelessly and asked: “How would I exist if mom didn’t get married? You don’t know that?!”
“So in other words, Elizabeth has a husband?! So the person Nara respects and admires most did get married! That means that Nara can get married as well then!”
“Nobody ever stopped you two. Love and careers are two separate things. Wouldn’t it be better if you two managed the nation together?”
I turned back to look forwards feeling hopeless. Just when everyone was laughing loudly, a group of carriages came over with a mighty aura from up ahead. I think it’s a merchant group.
Their flag standing upright indicated they were an escort, I mean, merchant group of Rosvenor Empire.
There’s something really odd with that group. They’re evidently a private merchant group yet they dared to use the royal family’s flag. Could they be Castell’s merchant group?
The group didn’t care about us though. They passed by us as quick as they could. I looked at the group. Every single one of them covered their faces with head-cloths and scarfs. Only their eyes were visible.
Once they passed us, Lorana whispered in my ear: “Your majesty, that group is very, very odd.”
I tugged my scarf and asked: “What’s wrong? It’s normal to be dressed like that in the desert, isn’t it?”
“No…… They’re the royal family’s merchant group, yet they didn’t recognise you. That proves that there’s a problem…… But I’m not sure… what the problem is. However… mm… they shouldn’t be an issue for us for right now.”