“Of course. I am just putting it out there. God does not force anyone, nor will he threaten anyone. You did what you did for the sake of the people. We too do what we do for the sake of the people.” This time, I sat at the side of the table mortified. The archbishop wore a generous smile and looked at me. He leisurely sat opposite me and drank his tea. Nier stood behind me. She looked at him and said: “Even if you force his majesty, his majesty will never kneel. He represents the royal family’s dignity and honour. I won’t allow you to insult the royal family even if it means that I have to draw my sword.”
“That is exactly why I won’t ask his majesty to kneel down. I was just joking.”
The archbishop laughed like a beaver, tapping his belly as he laughed. He then looked at me, handed me a small container and said: “Your majesty, please do not take what happened today to heart. It is the fortune of the people to have you concern yourself for their sake. We as the servants of god do need to feed ourselves, so let us end today’s matter here. You saw it too, our finances are indeed tight. We need to repossess that block of land. This is our compensation. Please accept it. We shall proceed as planned and repossess the land.”
I looked at the gold coins in the small case in front of me. I clenched my fists tightly, almost enough to stab into my own flesh. My gut felt wrenched, making me feel sick. I resisted my impulse to jump up and get in his face. I was filled with mortification and I felt wronged, as well as feeling the pain of being humiliated.
I thought I could grasp their weak-point, yet I had mine caught instead. I didn’t kneel down as we agreed. If I knelt down this matter would be over. But since I didn’t, they’ll be able to blame me and bad-mouth me behind my back. I represent the royal family’s dignity and honour. If I kneel, it would be the equivalent of the royal family kneeling before the church. If I don’t kneel, the church will accuse the royal family of not keeping its word. So what could I do? I had no choice but to suck it up and drop the matter.
I’m the prince. I can’t joke around with mom’s honour. People might not say anything about me, but her majesty’s honour cannot be tarnished. If her majesty loses her honour and dignity, the people will become frightened. In fact, they might even do something.
I don’t have any plan I can use right now. I don’t have any way of salvaging the current situation. I’ve completely lost. My plan was wrong right from the start. The moment I mentioned wanting to check the church’s current finances, the archbishop had figured out what I was planning. And here I thought I was the one running circles around the archbishop. In reality, he was the one ensnaring me in his trap.
I was like a rat that thought it managed to steal a block of cheese, only to find out the trap had fallen down on me, leaving me in a bloody mess.
I’m out of ideas now. I can only accept this container and then shut my mouth, never asking about the orphanage again. I came here because I wanted to resolve the orphanage’s matter, but my arrival was actually the best way for them to make me give up.
Are my plans useless against these old fat-asses?
I clenched my teeth tightly and silently picked up the small case. The archbishop smiled as he sat back into his chair and then said: “Your majesty, I enjoyed my chat with you this time. I hope you can come by frequently. Although you don’t believe in god, you should have witnessed that god will help his believers solve their problems.”
“I won’t be seeing you out. Goodnight, your majesty.”
I picked up my cape, wrapped it around my shoulders and then turned around and left.
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn iiiiiiit!!!”
As soon as I left the church, I punched a stone wall at the corner of the street while shouting at it. I panted heavily. I yanked my cape off with one hand. The anger in my chest hurt me enough to set me ablaze. I had no way of venting. Who can I take it out on? It was my own mistake. I can only let it burn me. This way, I’ll be able to get a quick death and won’t have to put up with the humiliation!
Bloody hell….. That was so humiliating…… I’m bloody disgusted……. It hurts so bad…… He stepped all over my dignity. I was nothing more than a clown to him. My plan and actions that I thought were perfect were treated as a joke by them. Not only did I fail to achieve my goals, I instead helped them achieve theirs.
“Your majesty, I warned you not to step out of line.”
Nier gave me a cold look from behind. Her tone carried her anger she couldn’t suppress. She continued: “Now do you know why I wouldn’t let you go to the church? Did you manage to discover anything?”
“This isn’t what I wanted!”
I turned my head around. I grinded my teeth as I looked at Nier. I can’t blame Nier because I lied to her. I could only go to the church if I lied to Nier. I got lied to because I lied to Nier. Nier should be the one who’s most hurt in this mess. I thumbed my chest and told her I’d solve this problem, yet I ended up destroying the orphanage with my own hands. If I hadn’t screwed up, the orphanage would’ve had a shred of hope, but now they’re completely done for.
I can’t get involved with the orphanage again. As a matter of fact, I won’t even be able to go there again. I can’t let the church see me there. In other words, Nier won’t be able to see the children again either.
“Are you satisfied now? Not only did you find out nothing, you even sacrificed those kids!” Nier looked at me and angrily continued, “I thought you at least had some preparations, but you didn’t, and yet you went. I tried to stop you, but you still insisted on going alone. That isn’t called courage! It’s stupidity! And you… you’re the one who have sent those kids to their doom!”
“It’s not my fault!”
I looked at Nier and lost it. Even though I kept telling myself it wasn’t Nier’s fault, I still couldn’t resist the torturous anger in my head. I looked at Nier and shouted: “What happened to those children wasn’t my fault! It’s not my fault that they’re orphans! I’m not the one that’s repossessing the land! My original plan wasn’t to save them! Their lives have nothing to do with me! What I want to know right now is who killed my Mera!”
“Did you find out then?! You brought the children into it, so where’s your return?! I told you not to go. Mr. Castell told you not to go. Even her majesty told you not to go. What have you achieved?!”
Nier completely lost it with me. She grabbed her sword handle tightly and shouted at me: “That’s right, those children are nothing from your perspective. They’re just your pawns, am I right? But I care! I know what sort of life they lead! I know the fear of freezing and starving. You have never suffered that as the prince, that’s why you can ditch the children without a care! Those kids are going to die because of you!”
“Shut up! You’re my bodyguard, you have no right to speak to me like this!”
“I am a Valkyrie! I have never sworn loyalty to you!”
“Leave then! Go protect mom! Go protect your empress! I’ll tell mom to get me another bodyguard to replace you! You go and be the loyal dog you are!! I thought we were friends. I thought you had changed the way you saw me. I’ve tried to change, but you wouldn’t even show me a smile! I don’t care anymore! I’m fed up! Go protect your empress! My life has nothing to do with you from here on out!!!”
I went completely bonkers, causing my voice to alter as well. My voice carried a hint of pain as if my anger was going to tear my throat apart. All my strength left my body. I started to feel dizzy because I was short of breath after shouting. Despite that, I still shouted at Nier.
Nier looked at me. Nier’s hands were trembling from her anger. Her beautiful face now looked hideous. This was what Nier had hoped for most. She wanted to leave this so-called prince and return to the empress’s side. But what he said infuriated her. A sense of despair and anger gave her an urge to draw her sword and slash the individual before her. She wanted to cut down the wobbling and despair-filled person before her.
“I couldn’t ask for more!”