Lucia regained a lot of her waking time recently. In the past, she couldn’t sleep at night, so she’d walk about lifelessly during the day as zombies did. She adapted to sleeping at dawn when she was young and trained herself to survive on minimal sleep. After getting married, though, she desperately tried to change her sleep hours, but she had yet to succeed. She could only fall asleep very late at night and would wake up before dawn. However, it wasn’t so bad since she had kids to take care of. Like a spirit, Lucia wandered around in the Imperial Palace by herself at night so that she didn’t disturb us. As a result, the guards would go on frantic searches.
I exited the shrine and went to search for Lucia. She was very easy to find. She seemed to appear by my side whenever I wanted to see her. I found her sitting on the large tree, peering into the distance. I didn’t know what she was looking at. Perhaps she was looking at the scenery of the small island.
“Ah, Your Highness!” exclaimed Lucia, noticing me.
Lucia extended her hand toward me. She wanted to climb down, but I shook my head. I climbed the tree to sit next to her. She watched me with a smile. Her eyes glittered in heart-warming way underneath the moonlight. She grabbed hold of my hand with a smile and leaned onto my shoulder. With a smile, she asked, “What’s wrong, Your Highness? It’s late now. If you don’t sleep now, how are you going to be ready tomorrow? Aren’t we going to go and slay the wyrm? We won’t be able to kill it if you’re not in shape, right?”
“No, I was wondering if I should kill it or not.”
I checked out the scenery. Lots of lush trees grew closely together on the island, thereby blocking out the hazy moonlight. The silver light of the moonlight reflected off the ocean surface in the distance. The light broke off as the water moved. The sound of the waves was relaxing.
Puzzled, Lucia tilted her head: “What’s wrong, Your Highness? Why are you suddenly hesitating? Haven’t you planned this for a long time? Also, we’re ready, so why do you want to cancel the plan now?”
“No… It’s just that I suddenly felt that it’s not such a good idea for me to be putting us in danger for Ying’s sake when we’ve got children. I don’t want Nona and Vera to be orphaned because of us, so… Lucia, do you think we should continue?” I said.
Lucia didn’t immediately respond. Instead, she gently hugged my arm, and then slightly shifted around. She then released me and lied down on my knee. She reached her hand out and gently touched my chin without saying anything for a long time. I looked at her without knowing what to say.
Lucia softly giggled: “I think… it doesn’t matter to me if you want to go. You keep thinking that we’ll die, but can’t we survive? Why won’t we make it when we have Queen Vyvyan and me? Additionally, Your Highness, aren’t you always brave?”
I solemnly replied, “I don’t think that I can be brave anymore. Lucia, I’m now your husband, and Nona and Vera’s father. If I risk my life again this time, I’ll be failing in my duty as your husband and a father. If I must risk my life, it should be for all of you, and not for Ying, who I just met…”
Lucia’s gaze was hard to read. She clasped my face and, in a soft voice, responded, “Don’t you always do this? Don’t you always risk your life for those who you’ve met and haven’t met? That’s the gentle and just man that you are. We never met Ying and Xia before; however they’re in their current state precisely because we came here. Therefore, I think the right thing to do is help them resolve the matter here, and then bring them home with us.”
I nodded then quietly asked, “We’ll be putting ourselves at risk. What are Nona and Vera going to do? Aren’t we being irresponsible if we do this?”
Lucia suddenly comprehended what I was getting at, so she laughed in a soft voice: “Your Highness, are you afraid now? Are you afraid of death now?”
I nodded: “Uhm.”
Indeed, that was how I felt. I was afraid right now. Being afraid to risk one’s neck is a bad habit, but I couldn’t deny I was afraid of losing Lucia, wouldn’t see Nona and Vera again and that their lives would change.
I really didn’t want to die. I once put my life on the line to chase after a horse carriage by myself in order to rescue Luna. I dared to attack the church’s castle, but I didn’t dare to step onto the deck to take on the wyrm. I never knew fear no matter what I faced in the past until Nier mentioned family.
Nier was right. I wanted to see my Nona, Vera, Daisy and Ling Yue. I still hadn’t seen Ling Yue’s child. The huge fox was still waiting for my return. She wanted to see me when she gave birth. I couldn’t afford to die.
I discovered that I was choking on my words when I went to speak. I hugged Lucia tightly, and sobbed “I’m truly afraid.”
Lucia gently hugged me back without speaking. She gave me light strokes on my back, but kept silent for a long time.
“Your Highness… This is the first time… you’ve told me you’re afraid…” Lucia whispered by my ear. She gently stroked my back and continued, “Your Highness, I am now your wife, and also Nona and Vera’s mother, but I’m also Lucia. That hasn’t changed; you’re still the same, too. Though you’re now a father, a husband and a son, aren’t you still Troy Galadriel Rosvenor?”
Lucia released me then cupped my face in her hands. She looked into my eyes. I saw immense sorrow in her green eyes for the first time. She said, “Your Highness, did my marriage become a burden to you? You were originally a fair, just and fearless soldier, but you’re now afraid, because of our children and me. My husband, this year, you… This is your first year as an adult… Have you already become an ordinary man as my father is? My husband, Troy, you’ve only just matured. Don’t look… so scared as though you’re an old man…”
Lucia gently stroked my chin. She ran her hand across my stubble. I suddenly realised those who gave up their stance and only wanted to live for the sake of their family and everything around them, were middle-aged people who lost their sharp edge.
“I’ve just turned eighteen. Troy has only just become an adult, yet he’s already lost his sharp edge?” I asked myself.
No, I wasn’t unhappy with my family… No, I wasn’t dissatisfied with Lucia, Nier or my moms… I just… didn’t want to give up… I just felt… at my age… shouldn’t I… be more hot blooded? Shouldn’t I be a young man going wild at my age?
I asked myself, “Why am I afraid…?”
“Go for it, Your Highness… Consider it your final brave act. Consider it something you’re doing for yourself. Your Highness, you aren’t doing this for Ying and Xia but for you… Go for yourself and your future…”