Hilles City. The Phoenix’s Nest.
I was back to the Phoenix’s Nest again. It had been ages since I visited. I didn’t come back after Luna’s mishap. I lost my Luna in this city, and I never thought she could rise from the ashes. When Luna died, I considered the entire city to be my enemy and, thus, never came back.
Perhaps it was because Luna had been revived that I no longer felt upset when I saw the majestic city. To the contrary, I felt relieved and nostalgic; it was Mommy Elizabeth’s city, after all. I had a responsibility to visit her.
I caressed the White Deer King’s neck. The White Deer King wagged her head in delight. She went to lick my palm. I had no idea what happened to her, but she was clingier and less violent after the riot in Duargana. I didn’t know the reason behind it, but it was a good change, wasn’t it?
I headed toward Hilles City at a leisurely pace. Surely, Mom would soon see my white clothing and white steed.
I had yet to see summer and spring in Hilles City. The last time I came was autumn and winter. This time, the wheat fields were filled with the greenery that gently swayed with the breeze as they enjoyed the flowing water and sunlight. The Southern plains produced the bulk of food. It was impossible to see the ends of the sea of green on my steed.
When I reached the stone path stemming from Hilles City, I heard a sequence of horse hooves rapidly approaching. I smiled then tugged on my horse reins. Three girls in white robes sped over toward me. The Valkyries dismounted one after the other upon reaching me. They orderly went down on one knee and welcomed in their loud voices: “Welcome home, Your Majesty.”
To be honest, I was slightly disappointed. I thought Nier would be with them to romantically relive our first meeting. The three Valkyries who came to welcome me were suave and heroic but still couldn’t hold a candle to Nier. Nier’s aura wasn’t something anyone could possess.
I nodded. Mom didn’t come to welcome me, either, so I presumed that she was needed in the Royal Palace. It didn’t matter, though.
I followed the path I was familiar with back to the Royal Palace. Hilles City was different to Duargana. Hilles City wasn’t as peaceful. The faint smell of sulphur in the air, the loud noises and voices of the dense crowd made it lively. Hilles City was still continuing to grow. The thick city walls were also unable to stop humanity’s curiosity and courage. Hilles City would soon need another wall for an outer layer as it developed rapidly.
I had many experiences at the familiar market. The market seemed to be livelier in summer, and a greater variety of things were for sale. With that said, I also noticed there was an individual in a black robe on the auction platform where Luna was sold. He was standing there shouting something. It sounded as though it had to do with religion.
“Is that their so-called preaching?” I wondered.
The church and I had a conflict in the past, but I thought I shouldn’t interfere with their activities that were normal.
I saw the golden “Long live Your Majesty” and majestic eagle. I take that back, it was actually a phoenix… Hilles City’s Royal Palace’s doors were open for me. I arrived at Mom’s Royal Palace once again. This time around, I felt a little excited.
After settling the White Deer King, I quickly headed to the outer court. Under normal circumstances, Nier and Daisy would be living in the outer court. I wanted to see Daisy. I was always with Nona and Vera, so it was a little unfair on Daisy. Frankly speaking, I didn’t know what I should’ve got my daughter. You telling me that her dad isn’t enough?
On my way there, I heard all sorts of pleasantly surprised and plain surprised “welcome home, Your Majesty” salutes. News of my return had yet to be announced in the Royal Palace. I was certain that things were different this time. I used to be someone they could do with or without, a weakling who just relied on his mother. The status quo was different this time, nonetheless. I was longer a simple Prince, but the King of the North.
“Oh, yeah, I need to apologise to Freya when I get back…” I realised.
“Is this humanity’s city? Wow, this place looks totally different to Duargana. It’s amazingly splendid. Also, this Royal Palace is much more majestic,” enthused the woman in my head.
“Whoa!” I exclaimed.
“What is the matter, Your Majesty?”
I shook my head with a smile: “Nothing, nothing.”
Truth be told, I wasn’t not used to hearing a voice in my head… I guess the woman in my head was very excited. She never saw humanity’s lands before, after all.
“Hurry, take me for a walk. I want to see more unique places. Show me the prettier places. I’ve never been here. Let me see the entire Royal Palace.”
“If you want to check out the entire Royal Palace, you’d need an entire day. I want to hurry over to see my wife and daughter now. I promise to let you get a good look later but not now, though. Don’t rush. We’ll be living here for a long time anyway.”
“Well, have it your way. I mean, you’re in control now. I knew you’d never be willing to take me around from the beginning, so it doesn’t make any difference to me.”
She didn’t sound disappointed; instead, she sounded nonchalant. She seemed to know what I wanted to do from the start but just wanted to make a request.
It was quite frightening to know that I had someone in my head… I didn’t really like the fact that she knew what I was thinking. She stopped speaking; nevertheless, I slow down on purpose to satisfy her request. I also did my best to show her all of the buildings I remembered. She complimented the splendid human structures. I could tell that she was envious of humans who lived in the royal palace. Needless to say, the humans living there might not have agreed with her sentiment. Living by Mommy Elizabeth’s side wasn’t necessarily a good thing. You could tell how dangerous she was from the speed at which she switched ladies-in-waiting… I didn’t mention that to her, having said that.
“What is the matter, Your Majesty, have you forgotten how this place looks after having not come back in a long time?”
“I am honoured that you still remember me.”
I turned around to meet with Castell’s usual smile. He gave me a small bow. With a smile, he then added, “Welcome home, Your Majesty!”