Socina City is a very simple and unsophisticated city. Although it’s situated in snowy lands, there were no signs that snow was collected on the streets. Perhaps that was due to strict regulations in the city to ensure tidy and unobstructed paths. As we travelled along the street, the people gathered up on the two sides of the streets and shouted something. I, admittedly, don’t quite understand the dialect here.
“The people are welcoming you, Your Majesty.”
“They are? I’m very grateful for the warm welcome, then.”
Karana laughed. She then looked at me and said, “You can, actually, rightfully accept their welcomes, for you contributed a lot toward their livelihood. Were it not for your rationality and courage, I would not have been able to fulfil my promise to them.”
I lingered for a moment. I then smiled helplessly and responded, “I’m in a real dilemma now. Shall I consider that your praise, or shall I consider it your ridicule for me, who was the loser?”
“Of course I am not ridiculing you. Your Majesty, I never thought that I defeated you that time. I believe that there would have been nothing that I could do if you destroyed it at the time. You gave me the map after rational thinking and out of generosity. I have always been very grateful for your help.” Karana looked at me as if she was offended and continued, “I consider you my friend, Your Majesty. Could it have been that you have always thought of me in that light?”
I shook my head with a smile and replied, “No. It’s as you said. I always considered you my friend, as well. If I didn’t, I might not be here at Socina right now.”
Karana didn’t mind my somewhat rude remark. She, instead, nodded and responded, “That is right. You are the strongest Prince of this continent, after all. I believe that it would be much more meaningful to be able to use you, than have the mineral.”
I always said that Karana and Nara were highly capable individuals. They both know very well who they should ingratiate themselves with and what they should reject. They don’t believe in unrealistic futures. They only believe in those that currently hold power. Their trust for me is not unconditional, and they won’t use their nations’ power to come rescue me when I’m in a pinch. If I want to maintain their loyalty, then I must hold the power they desire.
My guard unit didn’t enter the lord’s palace with me, not due to some special reason, but merely because the lord’s palace was too small. As aforementioned, Socina City is only about the size of a district in the Royal Capital, so the palace, naturally, was only as large as a manor. It only consisted of a main building, and then two more supplementary buildings. As a result, my guards had nowhere to stay.
I must say that Karana really does lead a simple and unadorned life. It would be considered normal for Karana as a lord, even if she had a large palace and love for gems. She has the aura of being born into nobility and the wealth of a ruling family. However, she led a very simple and unadorned lifestyle. For example, she came to the Royal Capital in a very ordinary purple dress. The most expensive items on her were her amethyst earrings she wore on her ears. Right now, she was dressed in very plain riding attire. It was basically the exact same as the other members of the escort. Those who came and went from the palace were also dressed in very ordinary clothing.
At the Royal Palace on the other hand, if you weren’t dressed in exquisite robes with pearls for accessories, you’d never be able to enter the palace in the Royal Palace. While my clothes look plain, the materials used for it are the best materials available on the continent, and designed by the dozens of best designers around. There was only one copy of the best treasures made. If they were broken or cracked, Nier would help me repair them. If Nier slipped up and threw them away, they’d make a new one overnight.
According to Castell, the royal family is royalty. If royalty was the same as commoners, how were they to prove they were the rulers? Royalty had to enjoy luxury, as they carried the most overwhelming pressure and mission in the empire. They were the rulers, so they had to distinguish themselves from the ruled.
The ruler had the right to enjoy the best treatment.
That’s why even Mom, who has no greed for money, won’t reject a life of luxury or tributes sent from other places. For her, it’s what a ruler should enjoy. Karana here has, basically, abandoned her special rights as a ruler; or rather, she’s abandoned her identity as a ruler.
Karana looked at me as though she was in a dilemma, “Sorry, Your Majesty, your guards will have to stay in a hotel we have arranged. However, you need not worry, for the hotel we have designated has baths and hot water for washing.
My guards didn’t want to leave. I waved my hand and replied, “It’s fine. Philes, Shusia, you two follow me and guard me. Everyone else can head over. We’re in Socina, and my relationship with Karana isn’t bad, so it won’t be so dangerous here. I believe that Karana will take care of my safety.”
Karana nodded, “Though I cannot promise that you will be able to enjoy anything, I can guarantee your safety. The people of Socina City are simple and honest. There will be no assassins.”
Philes stepped forth and told his fellow guards, “Everybody, go and rest. Shusia and I will guard His Majesty. As soon as something happens, I’ll fire a shot. Rush over as soon as you hear it.”
My guards nervously looked at me. They were very reluctant to leave. I could understand how they felt, since I was always finding myself in danger. Somebody was always after my life. It, therefore, was comprehensible as to why they were unwilling to leave.
I entered the main hall of the palace. I looked at the empty hall, which only had candles and sighed, “Karana, you truly do lead a simple life.”
“I am but just an ordinary individual. Although I am somewhat wealthy, I think that my people need the wealth more. I did not take the mantle to enjoy a life of luxury. A lord’s mission is to serve their people, not enjoy a life different to the people of the city.”
I used to hear that a lot, but that was when I was still alive. When I got here, Castell told me that luxury was the sign of royalty. An Emperor is the most outstanding and venerated existence to begin with. For Karana to be able to have that sentiment, it goes to show that she is enlightened in a different way to others.
I looked at her to ask, “Don’t you think that you should have the right to enjoy what the city has to offer as the lord?”
“What are you saying? Ah, I think that we have different views.” Karana chuckled. Her gaze displayed a hint of disappointment. It was the sort of look revealed when you think that there’s nobody in the world who understands you. It showed her loneliness and self-mockery for herself that she was no longer bothered by. She titled her head. With the same smile, she looked at me, “The people of the city are the city’s lord, are they not?”