I sat atop my steed. Freya stood next to me. She looked up at me and asked, “Onii-sama, are you not bringing me along this time, either?”
I nodded and replied, “Uhm, because Troy City still needs you. If even you leave, who will handle Troy City’s matters? I do have others I can trust, but that doesn’t mean that they can handle everything.”
“That, you do not need to worry about. There is not really anything that needs to be worried about. Onii-sama, your task this time is very crucial. I think that you need to bring me. There is your response at the annual meeting to consider, as well. I can give you appropriate suggestions.”
Freya looked at me while feeling impatient.
‘It was the first time I’d seen Freya so impatient. Freya has always responded to my thoughts in a calm fashion. She always calmly resolved every flaw in every plan. Freya had never taken the initiative to give instructions; instead, she listened to my thoughts before providing me with a plan that would make me most comfortable. That’s also why I trust her. This time, however, she did the opposite. It seems that she really doesn’t have confidence to let me handle it alone.’
“Am I so unreliable to you?”
“No, you are not unreliable, but you deal with human relations immaturely. Although you have already improved a lot, you are squaring off against veterans of the battlefield this time. If you say something wrong, that could affect the entire empire’s future. Moreover, this is the first time you are revealing yourself as the Crown Prince, so it is only natural that you be more prudent in your handling of it. Therefore, Onii-sama, please bring me along. As Troy City is located in the North, it will enter a stable period of development during spring, which means that the things I can do become fewer and fewer. I believe that I have every opportunity to go with you. Your most trusted Guard Unit is in the city, along with the Valkyries looking after the Princess, so you need not worry.”
Freya earnestly analysed her reasons. I patiently listened to her until she finished without cutting her off.
‘To be honest, I really want to bring Freya along, as well, since I can calmly deal with anything with her wits. Freya’s ability to resolve problems with her clever methods, and her ability to adapt on the fly can be of help to me.’
I nodded, “All right then. In that case, come on up. I’m not against you coming, but you must remember to do your best to help me.”
“I understand, Onii-sama. I said what I did precisely for that reason.” Freya nodded with excitement as if the dream she held onto for so long was finally approved.
‘I’ve never known why Freya was so passionate about this time’s annual meeting. She wasn’t excited when I went to the desert. She calmly sent me off as though I was going for tea.’
‘Why is she so passionate this time? Is it for my sake? Freya is helping me so passionately for me to be able to succeed the throne safe and sound. Nevertheless, my ascension would also be of great benefit to her, since she would need the help of an Emperor’s power to revive the glory of her household. Elizabeth isn’t willing to lend her a helping hand at the moment. If I look at it that way, Freya must give her all to make the most of this opportunity with the next Emperor before her.’
“Ah, Son, your squad is ready.”
While we were conversing, Elizabeth had come up behind us, and then called out to us. The Valkyries all saluted her when they saw her. Elizabeth casually waved her hand then looked up to me, sitting on my horse, and smiled. She said, “When you meet the various rulers for the first time this time, be sure to leave a good impression on them. Also, M(ommy)-, I will also go there personally, except I will be a little late, so have a good talk with them during that time.”
I nodded. I gave a small bow atop my horse and replied, “I understand, Your Majesty.”
I noticed the Valkyries behind the Empress angrily glare at me, as I didn’t dismount in Her Majesty’s presence, while she looked up at me. For an Emperor, the only thing that could make an Emperor lift their chin to look up was the sky.
“Sorry, Son. You have just gotten back and yet you have to make another trip because of my wilfulness. Son, if you’re tired, just let the people around you know. Don’t let yourself get sick. I don’t want you to be so tired, but they aren’t always free.”
Mommy Elizabeth didn’t care about all the formalities. She walked straight up to me and affectionately patted my thigh before stepping back and apologetically saying, “Look after yourself, Son. After this hunting event, you can rest however you please. Actually, you’ll need a good break, because you might not have much time to rest later on.”
‘Seeing the way mom had to sort out documents every day, there really won’t be any time for resting after becoming Emperor. Plus, as the brains of the entire empire, I must always be tense. Not everybody can be an Emperor. I might really have no time to rest in the future.’
‘But that’s the future.’
“I will, Your Majesty. I shall take my leave first, then. I will be awaiting your arrival at the Royal Capital.”
“Uhm, all right. I understand. Son, you must be careful. Look after yourself on the road. If you need anything, let the Valkyries know, no matter what it is, steal if required. The same goes for when you’re at the Royal Capital. Don’t exhaust yourself for the annual meeting. If you’re too tired, you don’t have to go see them. Leave it to me.”
Elizabeth took two steps back.
‘Her usual stern and domineering expression was replaced with an expression full of tenderness and concern right now. Her tone carried a prominent feeling of a mother. Even Elizabeth will show her true side when sending her child off. Even if I have her most trusted guards with me who are also elite bodyguards, she would still be concerned for my safety. Every mother imagines their child venturing into an apocalyptic world when they leave her arms, and go into the outside world.’
I looked at Mom. With a smile, told her, “I know. I will look after myself and handle everything adequately. Your Majesty, you need not worry.”
Mom nodded. She then took another two steps back feeling consoled and wiped the corner of her eyes. She nodded firmly and said, “Uhm! Uhm! I trust you, Son. I believe that you can successfully resolve these matters. Didn’t we already confirm that before? You’re an adult now. You’re an adult now…”
‘… What did you just base that judgement off?!’
‘Just on what basis did you determine I was an adult?! What exactly did you see?! That incident doesn’t prove that I’m an adult! Is your idea of my growth my physical growth?! Shouldn’t my growth be my mental maturity and my proficiency in handling matters?!’
‘Where is your gaze affixed on my body?!’