Spring has walked in on the continent…
That was how it was supposed to go.
Troy City, which was situated northward, had entered its spring harvesting season, as well, which meant that spring was upon the entire continent. Socina, however, was still showing signs of winter. The closer I got to Socina, the more it felt as if I was heading to the past, as in I was returning to winter – which I had already gone through.
To be fair, it’s not correct for me to say that the situation here is similar to returning to winter, but rather that this place is in this state this all year round. Even if the sun was out, you wouldn’t feel a ray of warmth here. You’ll see bright snowflakes that come from mountains from far away.
The people wore thick hats and wrapped themselves up with their fur clothing as they swiftly walked through the streets with their heads down. It would be better to describe Socina City as an area as large as one section of the Imperial Capital as opposed to calling it a city. I looked at the city ahead of me while sitting atop my horse. There was already a cavalry escort waiting at the entrance of the city.
‘It appears to be the team here to meet us.’
Philes pat me on my shoulder, “Let us go, Your Majesty.”
I touched the furry collar next to me and replied, “Uhm… However, it looks as though Socina’s cold climate isn’t just your average cold climate.”
“Yes. Your Majesty, we should make our winter uniforms thicker when we return… It is really cold here in these clothes.”
“There’s no need for that. It’s not that I don’t want to make you new clothes, but that there’s no need for such clothing at Troy City. Since we’re here at Socina, you guys should go and buy some clothes.”
I touched Philes face that was slightly red from the cold…
‘Wow… his face is so smooth…’
Philes shyly looked at me. That’s when I realised that I had been touching him for a long time… Philes looked at me very shyly. He looked at me with his wet eyelashes, which gave the impression that he wanted to back off, but didn’t dare to. That gave me an odd sense of conquest. I looked at Philes and seriously wanted to pounce him…
‘Shit! Shit! What the hell?! He’s a guy! He’s a guy! He’s a guy! How did I have such a terrifying thought?!’
‘Philes is too scary from every perspective.’
I gently cleared my throat then pulled my hand back. I looked at Socina.
‘I need to see a pretty woman right now or I’m going to err in life. The one closest to me right now is Karana.’
‘Hey Karana, let me check you out!’
Speaking of Karana, she nearly became my wife. If she didn’t resist at the time, I might not have confessed to Nier. If I got together with Karana, Nier wouldn’t have gone to the church, and she wouldn’t have confessed to me for sure. If that all happened, Nier would just be my bodyguard right now.
‘Should I be thankful to Karana, or should I be feeling it’s a bit of a pity?’
We continued moving along together. I was relieved to see my guards behind me. I must say that this trip through the snow and passing through the mountains was not pretty. My men were very eager to relax once they got to the city. We had the flag representing the royal family erected. The flag blew in the wind alongside the snowy mountains and blue sky. The cavalry escort noticed us, and therefore approached us.
Karana, who rode at the forefront, waited for me. She then smiled and dismounted to salute me, “Welcome to Socina, Your Majesty.”
I responded with a smile, “Thank you for your invitation, Karana. I will have to trouble you for the next few days. However, we have no need to speak out here anymore. My guards can’t stand the weather here. If possible, please allow us to enter the city, first. We can continue our talk once we’re inside.”
Karana nodded, but didn’t say anything after. She immediately had the escort make way. Karana and I trotted on our horses at the front with my guards in the centre while their cavalry escort formed their ranks at our rear. Their escort wasn’t armed, but my guards all had their hands on their sword handles. After all, with us surrounded at the centre, we were in a very vulnerable position.
“Socina is a small city, but it is the only city in these snowy mountains. I shall do my best to make you feel as comfortable as possible. But nonetheless, you should not compare us to the standard in the Royal Capital.”
“That’s all right. I didn’t come here as a tourist this time. Moreover, I’m not someone who craves enjoyment. I think that you already know that after seeing me in the desert.”
Karana pursed her lips into a smile before responding, “That is right. Seeing you in a hellish place such as the desert proves that you are most definitely not somebody who craves enjoyment nor are you a good-for-nothing Crown Prince. That is precisely why I had the courage to invite you here. However, since you said that you are not here as a tourist, does that mean that you have other business? May I know what it is?”
I didn’t answer her directly. Instead, I replied, “It’s nothing we need to discuss urgently. I’ll explain it to you once we’re inside the city.”
“I shall shut down my curiosity for the meantime, then. I believe that it is nothing detrimental for Socina City.”
Karana nodded. She knew not to ask me anymore. She had the sensibility to not question me further. I looked at her with a smile, “I haven’t told you what it is, yet. Aren’t you worried that I’d betray Socina?”
“I believe that you will not betray us.”
Karana’s expression didn’t change. She maintained her polite and eloquent smile as she looked at me. Her amethyst eyes were touching and bright. She kept her smile as she said, “Although I have not known you for long, I trust you in a way that is hard to describe. I think it is your eyes. Your eyes are clear as the ice at the peak of the mountains, and I, therefore, trust you.”
“Yeah…? I’ve never had anyone compliment my eyes before.”
I chuckled. I looked at Karana’s amethyst eyes. She was looking back at me, too. Karana truly is a beautiful woman. She’s akin to a lotus in a pond, born with a graceful and composed beauty, which was totally different to Nier and Lucia.
The two of us had been looking at each other for a long time. We both suddenly looked away. Karana giggled in a somewhat shy, yet awkwardly fashion. She lowered her head and looked at her horse. Meanwhile, I chuckled dryly and looked ahead.
It felt as though the cold air was now hot on my face.
‘What’s wrong with me? I’m a married man, and I’ve even got kids, yet I’m acting the same way a young boy would when he falls in love for the first time. It was just eye contact.’
‘Maybe it’s because she’s Karana?’
‘Stop, stop, stop. My wives and kids are still waiting for me at home! I must control myself! I can’t bring back another, not to mention that she’s a widow, too!’