Waiting and Hope (Part 1)
Lucia held Nona and gave her daughter a kiss on her face. Nona looked at the empty spot next to her mom with a somewhat sad look; she was on the verge of tears. Lucia tightened her hold on Nona just slightly. Next to her ear, Lucia told Nona, “It’s okay; it’s okay, Nona. Dad will be back soon. Dad will definitely be back. Don’t worry. Don’t worry, Nona. Dad will come back to us. He definitely will.”
Lucia placed Nona and Vera in the spot next to her. Vera rolled over and crawled over. The girls didn’t dare to cry after Lucia lashed out last time. The only time Lucia ever lashed out was because they mentioned their father and cried. Nona and Vera learnt they couldn’t anger their mom. Therefore, the two of them lied there as if they were lying in their dad’s arms.
Lucia blankly looked at the way her daughters laid in her husband’s spot. Her voice was hoarse. She caressed her daughters’ heads and let out a long sigh to suppress her tears that wanted to burst forth. She stood up and went to the door. That was when she saw Nier at her door, wiping her tears. Lucia was surprised to see Nier at her room. Nier violently quivered; she did her best to wipe her tears away, but she couldn’t hide the fact that her eyes were moist.
“Nier…” uttered Lucia.
Nier gave a muffled response. She sniffled then covered her face. Voice soft, she said, “Daisy… Looking at the way Daisy is searching for her dad in tears… I really… can’t bear it… I would rather bear with another dozen years of training than watch my daughter wailing and crying for her dad.”
Lucia understood the pain. She couldn’t bear with it and thundered at the girls before. Lucia pursed her lips and softly responded, “He’ll be back; he’ll definitely come back. His Highness will definitely come back. His Highness has never let me down. He’ll return to our sides, because he promised us. He has never disappointed me.”
Nier wiped her eyes, and then took in a deep breath. In a hoarse voice, she replied, “I really shouldn’t have stayed here. I would rather climb mountains and cross oceans to find him. I’d rather overcome all obstacles and die with him than stay here. This is so painful. I can’t bear with this feeling. It’s too painful, too agonising. I dream of him every night. I dream of him walking away and me futilely trying to catch up to him… I can’t bear with it anymore. I really can’t bear with it anymore. I really want to go and find him…”
Lucia gave her a serious nod. She couldn’t be any more familiar with that feeling; she felt it in the past. She wanted to quit on countless occasions while in the Shadow Squad. She wanted to return to the side of the man she loved, but she knew she couldn’t be by his side once she gave up. When she thought of him at night, the memories felt akin to a horde of ants gnawing at her heart. The pain and torment was difficult to forget. That was exactly how Nier felt. Lucia had been freed from that torment, as she had faith in her husband. She believed he would return to her side, and therefore didn’t suffer as much compared to Nier.
Lucia took in a deep breath: “The only thing we can do is wait. Nier, believe in him. Believe in my Prince. My Prince has never let me down, and I’m sure that will be the case this time, too. Everything will be well once my husband returns. There won’t be any more painful separations again.”
Nier nodded: “Her Majesty has been living outside for some time now. I’m not sure if we should go and check on her… Living alone in the wilds… isn’t comfortable by any means… I just don’t dare go there without Her Majesty’s command…”
Lucia nodded: “I think it’s better to not disturb her. It’s normal for her to want to wait for His Highness. She’s his mother; it’s only fair for her to see His Highness first. We should concentrate on taking care of the children and Freya…”
Nier’s gaze turned a little gloomy at the mention of Freya. Frankly, after what happened, Nier wouldn’t hesitate to kill Freya; in fact, she wanted to. From her perspective, the girl who ruined her husband’s career was an enemy. The girl’s rash actions almost cost her husband everything he had.
Lucia, on the other hand, understood where Freya was coming from, so she wasn’t angry with Freya. To the contrary, she looked after Freya a lot. On one hand, she was concerned about Freya. On the other hand, she was trying to keep tabs on Freya to prevent her from erring again.
The two of them paused for a bit. While Lucia felt she was comforting Nier, doubt and despair continued to loom over their heads. When she seemingly couldn’t stand the atmosphere any longer, Nier spoke up: “I really don’t want to wait any longer…”
Although Nier broke the uncomfortable silence, their faith in their husband wasn’t magically reinforced in any capacity. Her husband left after saying he wanted to live. She had no clue where he went or what he did. She, as a matter of fact, wasn’t even sure if he was still alive, yet all she could do was wait for him.
Lucia didn’t comment. After a short silence, she explained, “I have to go back and take care of the girls. Don’t overthink, Nier. You have to believe in my husband. The reason you’re hurting so much is because you’ve never believed in him.”
“I believe in him! That’s a given! Still, I’m worried about him!”
“If you had enough faith in him, you wouldn’t be so scared.”
“I can’t help it! I’m his bodyguard. I once was. It’s natural for me to be worried about my master’s safety. Not to mention that I’m now his wife, so I’m even more concerned as to whether he can make it back or not!”
Nier was irate. The one thing she couldn’t stand was Lucia suggesting her love for her husband was inferior to Lucia’s. That was directly questioning the pride of a wife, something Nier couldn’t accept.
Lucia scrubbed her head in a frustrated fashion: “I don’t want to continue arguing with you on this topic. In short, you stayed this time, so calm down. I believe my Prince will return.”
“Yeah? Well, I don’t want your criticism! I know what I should be doing!”
That was just how their relationship was. The two of them randomly bickered with each other as of recent. Nier was akin to a bucket of gunpowder. Touch her fuse, and she’d explode. The kind and gentle Lucia also had a short fuse recently. The two of them began to quarrel every time the slightest thing didn’t go their way. Nevertheless, the two of shared a common sorrowful feeling of friendship when it came to their husband.
The King was the most important post in the Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace of the North would be in a state of unrest if he was absent. The situation would be comparable to an explosive that could implode at any given moment and similarly to thick clouds and rain that was about to flood the Earth. Freya’s original plan wasn’t incorrect. Though it didn’t apply to the entire populace of the North, the King’s existence was akin to a moon that could light up the darkness.
Lucia and Nier returned to their own rooms. When she got inside, Lucia massaged her face to get rid of the frustration and anger on her face. She couldn’t worry her children, as well. She walked up to the bed. Nona was already snoring. Vera, on the other hand, opened her eyes upon hearing footsteps. She looked at Lucia with an innocent look of anticipation.
“Sleep, my dear Vera.”
She used her previous training with the Shadow Squad to lightly sit down on the bed without waking Nona. She gave Vera a gentle kiss on her forehead, and then quietly said, “Dad will be back tomorrow. If he’s not back tomorrow, he’ll be back this week. Mommy is sure of it.”
Vera gently nodded before shutting her eyes as Lucia watched on. Lucia watched her two girls sleep. She silently rested her head down on her pillow and scanned the ceiling with her lifeless eyes. She didn’t make another sound. All that could be heard was her children’s breathing and the ticking of the clock.
“Tomorrow. This week…? Will my husband really be able to make it back? I don’t know. I lied to my daughter and myself,” Lucia said in her mind.
Elizabeth silently looked at the open fields outside the window for a long time. She was in a small house. It was just a temporary wooden house that she set up for herself. It had a flat ceiling, just one room and all of the furniture was simple items. There wasn’t even a fireplace. Since the wind could get inside, the only way she could stay warm was with a blanket and her own body temperature.
Elizabeth had stayed there for a week. She lived there alone and ate food she ate back in her military days. She didn’t have anybody with her. She wrapped herself up with her blanket and spaced out underneath the dim candlelight.
Her son went to the elves’ forbidden zone, so he had to enter the city from that direction. That was why she stayed at the entrance. She had to stay here as his mother. She didn’t want an empire or anything else anymore. She just wanted to be there; she wanted to wait for her son’s return as his mother. She could be the first to see her son there, so she had to stay there. She was determined to wait there regardless of how long she had to wait even if it meant waiting until the end of her life. She told herself, “I must wait. I must.”