“Son, come over here and let me see you.”
When Nier and I reached the side of the horse carriage, I saw Mommy Elizabeth’s excited look where she wanted to smile but fought to maintain a stern look. I went up to the side of the carriage and saluted her. I respectfully said, “I am back, Your Majesty.”
Mom reached her hand out to cup my face. She affectionately stroked it as she said, “It’s good that you’re back. It’s good that you’re back. M(ommy)-… I missed you a lot, son. Head back and rest up well now.”
Elizabeth didn’t show me much affection in front of the crowds, just like when I first met her. I nodded and then mounted my horse. Just as I was about to ride off, Nier grabbed onto my reins and mounted my horse to sit in front of me, which was basically the same as sitting in my lap… I never thought Nier would still be so dexterous even when she’s pregnant. She virtually mounted the horse smoothly by leaping up from where she stood.
Because of her sudden manoeuvre, the Valkyries behind all went pale in the face. It seemed that they were the ones responsible for guarding Nier, wait, no, Nier’s child.
I let Nier sit in my lap and wrap her arms around my neck. I gently touched her belly and asked, “Are you all right?”
I’ve only been gone for a month, so Nier’s body hasn’t shown any obvious changes, so I guess it’s not all that strange that she leapt up onto the horse so dexterously. Nier giggled. She then placed her hand on mine and replied, “I’m fine with you by my side. Otherwise, I can’t sleep and keep missing you.”
I smiled helplessly.
‘I really have no idea if it’s her body that misses me or her heart that misses me. Maybe both?’
I lowered my head and gave her a kiss on her lips. She raised her head up to kiss me back, then pushed me away and hid her now red face. She softly said, “Your Majesty… Wait till we get back… to do this sort of stuff…. the Valkyries are around us right now… I’m a little embarrassed…”
‘I reckon your previous image has been long gone in the eyes of the Valkyries…’
Right now, she’s the Nier, who’s flirtatiously snuggled up in my arms. Back then though, she was the Valkyries’ sword instructor who cut people as though they’re grass. I’d say her flirtatious mannerisms have refreshed her image in the eyes of the Valkyries countless times already.
The Valkyries looked in my direction. Their gazes were certainly a little strange.
As she watched Nier and her son enter the city together, Elizabeth clenched her teeth and then kicked a side of the horse carriage, creating a cracking sound that came from the wooden carriage. She nearly kicked a hole in the carriage. Castell jolted as it gave him a fright. He looked at Elizabeth next to him and nervously asked, “Your Majesty, what orders do you have?”
“Orders? None. I’m just really angry.”
Elizabeth threw another aggressive kick, this time making a hole in the wooden door. All of the Valkyries got frightened and hopped off their horses. Castell quickly pressed his hands down on Elizabeth’s shoulders. Whenever Elizabeth gets angry, like this, she always vents by rampaging and breaking even more things. If he didn’t stop her now, the carriage probably wouldn’t make it back to the palace in one piece.
“What are you angry about? Get off the carriage and go resolve it.”
Castell didn’t have the foggiest clue as to exactly why Elizabeth was angry. To be fair, Elizabeth shouldn’t be angry.
‘Her son she missed day and night has finally returned. Shouldn’t she be all smiles for the entire day? Why is she angry all of a sudden? There were no signs beforehand either.’
Castell has great observation skills, but he couldn’t figure out what made Elizabeth so angry this time.
“It’s got nothing to do with you. It’s my own problem. No. Actually, my anger has to do with all of you.” Elizabeth looked at Castell with a cold gaze and fumed, “I’m my son’s mother. I’m his mother. Why do I have to be considerate of your feelings and be indifferent to my son?! My son has just returned from the desert, and I can’t hug and kiss him? Nier is just a Valkyrie, yet she doesn’t have to pretend and can candidly express her feelings before him? My love for my son is inferior to no one’s!”
“Your Majesty!” Castell raised his voice, emphasising her title. He looked at Elizabeth and explained, “Miss Nier is not a Valkyrie now. She is His Majesty’s Princess. It is totally reasonable for a mother to love her son, but Your Majesty, you are our Empress. You must show that you are the Empress in front of the empire, not a mother.”
“Oh, is that so? So what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t be the Empress?” Elizabeth coldly chuckled then whipped her hand and asked, “Castell, in your opinion, how much longer will it take before my son can become a qualified Emperor.”
“I would think when His Majesty is a little older. Based off of His Majesty’s performance in the desert this time, I would conclude that His Majesty is very smart, but lacks experience. However, His Majesty’s accomplishments and the way he carries himself can convince the vassal states to respect him. Continuing on in that manner, His Majesty just needs to visit all the vassal states and then he will be able to naturally and smoothly succeed the throne.”
Elizabeth shook her head and responded, “I’d be old by then, wouldn’t I? I’m not Vyvyan. I don’t have such a long lifespan. I want to spend time with my son and grandchild for some time. I’m already tired. I became more and more tired after my son returned. I no longer want to stay here. I want to pass the throne on to my son. I want to vacate the throne.”
Castell looked at Her Majesty. Usually his brain would be roaring at him. This time, however, he looked at Elizabeth with a particularly serious and calm gaze. He knew that Elizabeth wasn’t joking. She was speaking to him about the topic with sincerity. Castell looked at Her Majesty in a very calm way and replied, “Your Majesty, you cannot just do that on a whim. If you pass the throne on to His Majesty now, that is the equivalent of killing him. His Majesty is not ready for it. Do you plan to pass the throne on to him, like that?”
“Let’s wait until he’s ready, then. My son is very smart and brilliant. He’s my son, so he will be superior to me. I can wait until he succeeds the throne and I can see his efforts. I’m truly very happy. I was worried about him leaving this time, but at the same time, consoled, as well as a little sad. I never saw my son when he was young and he’s grown up all of a sudden. Sometimes I feel really jealous of Nier. Nier can legitimately live with my son and spend her life with him, while I can only watch him from behind.
Elizabeth let out a long sigh then looked at the pattern on the ceiling of the carriage. She hopelessly went on, “I want to walk with my son through his journey of life, as well. I don’t want to be the Empress anymore. I really hope my son can be ready soon. That way, I might be able to prepare dinner at home and wait for him to return. I’ll be able to look after my grandchild with Nier, too. At night, I’ll be able to take a stroll with my son. Just exactly when will I be able to lead such a beautiful life?”
Castell looked at the Empress’s face. He went to open his mouth, but didn’t say anything in the end. It appears that the Empress’ life is similar to the life of commoners. Even if it was a bit more extravagant, it would only be the life of nobles.
But judging from His Majesty’s slightly flimsy silhouette as he advanced, Castell couldn’t tell when Her Majesty would be able to lead that life which seemed so simple.
It might be in a few months. It might be in a few years. It might be in a decade or so. It might even be decades away.
Or maybe, a lifetime away.