Titan Beneath the Heavens
Chapter 77: Ninth Episode: Chapter 4
Chapter 77: Ninth Episode: Chapter 4
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
What kind of a person was Zoera? This question has been bothering Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette from the moment he headed to the concealed side hall, located next to the recreation room on the second floor of Kenshin Palace.
Perhaps one would agree that she was a rather young lady with a lovely figure, Oscar concluded as he entered the room silently. The proprietress of Dog Biting Club had her back faced toward him, and it appeared that she was quietly admiring an oil painting hung on the wall. This lady wore a royal blue velvet cloak, and on the corners of the dress that lay underneath was soaked in rain. On her head was a top hat, which concealed part of her long and straight reddish-brown hair that rested just a little above her waist. Something shiny seemed to be blinking near her earlobe, Oscar thought those might be her earrings.
"Your Highness, if I’m not mistaken, this is an authentic work of master Furlowe, um… it should be one of his early works entitled ‘The Second Hell’."
Oscar was astonished, he had no idea the lady realised his presence.
"About half a century ago, this painting was stolen from Flouvre Museum in Faran Kingdom. It is such an honor, really, as I have never imagined encountering artwork of master Furlowe ever in my life." Lady Zoera finally turned her head around.
The prince nodded lightly, surprisingly he was not attracted by this unusually beautiful face.
"Lady, you know, this might be the last chance you get to admire this piece of art."
"Your Highness, are you kidding? I believe you would not agree to meet me if you intended to take my life. Moreover, you’re the son of a commander. I don’t see the need for you to do so in Dulin." Zoera’s eyes showed hints of slyness.
"Does that mean… that you are that pure breed, highland dog?" by this time Oscar already positioned himself on the large sofa.
The cautious lady remained in her place. Zoera did not display any displeasure regarding the prince’s scornful remark.
"Yes, that’s me."
Oscar still did not ask the lady to take to her seat. Casually, he poured himself half a glass of red wine.
"Why should I believe you? What if you’re not who you claim to be?"
A gentle smile spread across Zoera’s face as she slowly removed her cloak, and Oscar could not help but pop his eyes. He was not astonished by her perfect slender figure, but was surprised to see that well-pressed military uniform hidden underneath the cloak earlier.
"Your Highness Prince, Adjutant Zoera Brogan of Military Investigation Bureau Dulin Region, report for duty!" the lady said while performing a military salute, "Are you satisfied now?"
Oscar declined to comment. He looked over to the corner for a brief moment before finally nodding at the lady.
Zoera was stupefied at the prince’s action, hence she casted a sidelong glance toward the direction the prince had looked earlier. In a blink of an eye, this lady discovered the little secret hidden at the corner of the room. There was a tiny peephole on the portrait-painting that hung behind the light stand.
"Your Highness, am I not allowed to pay Viscount Golbagd a visit?"
Again, Oscar carefully examined this lady in disbelief. She was incredibly smart!
"That is not necessary, it’s still not convenient for my Cousin Tich to get out of the bed. I was only doing this for safety reasons." Oscar thought about it for a moment, and decided to raise his question finally, "Lady, how did you find out about the peephole?"
"Haha, it was you who told me, Your Highness. Moreover, this must be the room you use specifically to handle unusual affairs. Look, there must be a crossbow or other weapon hidden underneath the sofa you are resting against, and that knight armor decoration stood at the door holding a spear? My guess is that there is an actual knight beneath the cover. Oh yeah! And I’m suspicious of your red wine, the drinks in this room are not made for leisure drinking, it might take your life at any minute."
"Is that so?" Oscar clenched his fist around the wine glass. He did not like that she acted wise in her own conceit, and he disliked even more the way she spoke to himself.
"Lady, take your seat!" the prince pointed at the high-back sofa opposite himself, his expression extremely stern.
"Thank you!" Zoera walked over to the knight armor and hung her cloak on its arm casually. When she was finally seated, she noticed an unusual smile spread across the young prince’s face, it was even malicious, in fact.
She could not see if the young man moved a bit, but on the armrest and also beneath the sofa she was seated, iron hoops sprung out of the blue, and locked her down tightly even before she had time to react.
"Is this necessary, Your Highness?" the young lady could only force out a bitter smile. This young fella was as petty as he had described himself.
"Of course!" he moved away from his seat and walked toward the lady, thoroughly inspecting her from head to toe, "As I mentioned, it is all for safety reasons."
Zoera returned the prince’s gaze calmly, not displaying a tiny bit of nervosity. He was only her master, after all, not her enemy.
The young man was rather disappointed by the lady’s calm composure. Soon he lost his patience, and began to grope the lady brazenly.
"Ola!" Oscar said softly, the lady’s body was indeed worth exploring!
"One dirk, two daggers, three flying daggers, four needles, five hashish pills, Ola! And a total of six gems on your earrings. Hmm… if I guess correctly, inside each gem should be filled with six different kind of potions! Lady Zoera, Adjutant of Military Investigation Bureau Dulin Region, you have spent loads of effort in dressing up for me huh?" Oscar said while holding the lady’s chin and tilted it slightly backward, forcing her to look into his eyes.
"Your Highness, they are required as part of my job," the young lady glowed with enthusiasm, her immensely attractive face shone gloriously. She revealed her tongue in a flirty manner, and began teasing at the young man’s wrist like a dog.
Oscar took in a deep breath as Zoera’s moist tongue sent waves of electric current throughout his whole body, sending his pulse into a frenzy of activity. However, almost immediately, this feeling of excitement was replaced with a metallic cold sensation on his wrist.
Out of the blue, a small blade was attached to the lady’s tongue, its sharp edge resting firmly on the young man’s aorta.
The prince was confused and did not dare to move, he was not sure if Zoera would actually slit his wrist open.
Then, just like magic, Zoera appeared to have swallow the tiny piece of blade to the back of her throat. Her expression still as calm and relaxed as before.
"Your Highness, just a gentle reminder, kill me in this instant if that’s your intention. If not, I’m not sure when will you ever have the chance to completely disarm me."
Oscar moved abruptly near Zoera. Their eyes reflected each other’s, feeling each other’s breath. This extremely close-up exchange lasted only for a couple of seconds, before the young prince pressed on the button on the arm chair which unlocked the iron hooks on Zoera’s wrists and ankles. Then, the young man returned casually to his seat.
"Tell me! Why are you here?" Oscar was a little dejected, he hoped to end this meeting as soon as possible.
"Your Highness, please save those poor girls," Zoera demanded, rubbing her wrists.
"Those poor girls?" Oscar raised his eyebrows, infuriated in the mentioning of this incident, "I have seen one poor girl, and she is now well under my protection."
"Your Highness, there are more girls who need your protection. Do you know that Baron Thomas Aulet mobilized all the hatchet men and the local riff-raff of the lair in the middle of last night? They closed down the entire Red Light Street area early this morning, and it seemed as if they are going to conduct a massacre."
Oscar laughed coldly, "Lady, what does this has to do with me? Why don’t you go to the baron, isn’t he head over heels for you? Perhaps he would change his mind immediately if you perform on him that little trick of yours, the one you did with your tongue earlier."
Zoera could not hold it in anymore. What was wrong with this young man!
"Your Highness, the women in Red Light Street have so much on their shoulders, do you really have the heart to watch them being tortured to death by those beasts of the lairs?"
"Beasts?" Oscar casted aside the wine glass angrily, "Lady Zoera, you might have misused the term incorrectly. Who was the one who turned the girls in your Dog Biting Club into beasts? Oh… that’s right! They are even more inferior to beasts, at least beasts have their dignity, but the girls? They have become some creatures even more degrading than the beasts under your coaching!"
Zoera opened her mouth to argue, but was halted by the prince.
"Lady, I have to tell you the truth." Oscar lowered his voice, "I am unaware of the baron’s action, but I do agree that Red Light Street needs some change."
"Change?" Zoera forced out yet another wry smile, "How is change possible? By teaching men how to respect women? Educating them to not treat women as their play toys? Am I the one who created the suffering of Red Light Street? No! It was the men! It was them who forced the women to sell their bodies. It was them who forced the women into animals that fawn obsequiously. It was them who forced women into the cold-blooded creatures with no wish of living!"
Zoera took in a long breath, "I’m the big boss of Red Light Street, I gathered the poor girls and taught them how to live, how to please men, and how to protect themselves. What have I done wrong?"
Oscar turned his head aside, "You should not have push the girl into hell!"
Zoera laughed sarcastically, "Your Highness, you only care for that one girl, but every day more than ten girls like her are reduced into Red Light Street. And that finance minister whom you met with yesterday, you don’t even need to apologise to him, but what about us women? Yes, you saved a poor girl out of hell last night, but to ensure he would not shed his fury in the club, in Red Light Street, and on more of my girls, I… I had no choice but to send in another innocent girl to his residence as a compensation gift! You…"
"That’s enough!" Oscar’s roar echoed within the four walls.
Zoera bit her lips tightly, she wanted to continue speaking.
"Your Highness, the sufferings in Red Light Street should be put to an end, we…"
"I said that’s enough!" Oscar stood up suddenly, he had had enough of the stories of misfortunes in Red Light Street. The young man forced his way out of the door while shouting loudly at his butler, "Baron Erbe, see her out, the meeting is over!"
"Your Highness… Your Highness!" Lady Zoera’s screams lingered in the hallway, but the young man did not even look back once.
The night has fallen, but the rain continued on, especially within the periphery of the lair. The cold and humidity in the air forced people to shelter themselves under the roof of their house.
In the rain, faces of men could not be distinguished clearly, only strange laughter and occasional coughs could be heard. Red Light Street was completely covered in darkness. If it had been any other usual day, the lights along the street would still be lit up despite the rain. However, today was not the same, and the women in Red Light Street were well aware of that. Some were praying silently in their tiny rooms, and some were guarding at the window cautiously with bow and arrows.
They knew that men in the lair were not planning to let them see another day of light. The women dreaded to think about what a scene it would be if those rascals loitering at the side of the streets were to force their way through into the building.
Baron was sitting in his carriage while his staff informed him about Zoera’s return, and inquired if they should they let her carriage through.
Through the tiny window, Thomas glanced over to the horse carriage that paused at a stone throw’s away, "Zoera…" Baron recited the name in a low voice, lost in his own thought for a brief moment. He had to admit that God of Light praised the beauty of love, but it always ended so quickly. Memories of Zoera came flooding into his mind, but they were soon replaced by thoughts of the miserable night.
Didn’t Zoera want to meet the Prince? Baron withdrew his gaze, by the silence of the lady, Thomas guessed that the Prince had explicitly expressed his stance on the situation.
"Let her through!" Baron said softly. "Also, inform our contact in Ministry of Justice, tell their men to avoid this area and come by tomorrow to collect the corpses."
"Your Excellency, do you mean that we can commence now?"
Baron drew the window without answering.
A shrill sound of whistle rang across the raining night. Women in the surrounding streets poked their heads out of the window, and discovered that bonfires were ignited along both sides of the streets. It appeared that the logs were covered with tung oil, as crisp burning noises were heard when the raindrops fell and met with the burning flames. Dark grey smoke that evaporated into the air produced a strong pungent odor.
Suddenly, a couple of the men who guarded at the end of the streets turned and rushed into the gathering darkness. "Something is certainly wrong!" Mirandez said while leaning against one of the window ledge nearest to the end of the street. Right at that moment she thought of ending her own life. Her worst nightmare was going to happen!
"I shouldn’t have envied the girl’s innocence and beauty. I shouldn’t have tried to destroy her pride. I shouldn’t have brought her downstairs behind Lady’s back. I shouldn’t have insisted to keep her in the club! What was I thinking? It is this damned jealousy that has led the whole street into a crushing blow." Mirandez pulled at her own hair in frustration. She was the one to blame! She was the person to blame for the extermination of Red Light Street. Perhaps things would have turned out for the better if it wasn’t for her arrogant evil mind.
"I wonder how many sisters would escape from this fate?" Mirandez curled herself up at a corner of the window ledge.
"Look!" one lady shouted, and Mirandez glanced over to the end of the street. She was completely in shock at the sight she witnessed in the inner side of the lair.
Numerous dark, tall silhouettes came rushing out from a building located on the end of the street. Burning flames swayed in the midst of cold wind and rain as the steps of boots came together to produce a surging torrent. The men who carried a mysterious smile on their faces soon gathered at the street. Several large wine sacks were passed among them, and each gulped down a couple of mouthful. They were the raptors of the lair, on the mission to prey on the ladies of Red Light Street, and they were to tear the ladies apart and suck on their succulent and bloody flesh. If the baron was the most respectable man in the lair, then this decision of his was undoubtedly fully supported by many of his men. The simple order has been passed down to each and every hatchet men: no fire, no noise, just do whatever you wish in silence. This decision was perfect to satisfy the men who were all burning with desires for killing and for sex.
Finally, someone stood up for the ladies in Red Light Street. The leader of the ladies, Lady Zoera, stepped forward all by herself! The burning fires illuminated her beautiful face, but at the same time the fire also brought up the snickers of the men.
"Zoera! Where’s your tail?" one men shouted from the crowd.
"That’s right Zoera! Why didn’t you bring along your dogs this time?" another man teased.
"Come at me! Zoera!" one rude man removed his pants and fondled his male organ as a challenge to the lady.
Zoera removed her cloak, and the men whistled out a disrespectful call. Only a few men who stood at the front realised what they were seeing, the lady was wearing an armor, and on her hand swung a gleaming sabre.
Women walked out of the filthy prostitute houses on Red Light Street. Some of them old, some of them young, but they had one thing in common – on their hands, which have fondled countless of male organs, were now holding all sorts of weaponries. This was Red Light Street, and there were rules to be abided by. Anyone who wished to take away anything from this area had to pay a price, be it their body, money, or even their own life.
The fires were still burning as raindrops fell lightly on the huge rock that engraved the name of the street. On one side of the street gathered dirty minded beasts who aimed to rape and kill, while on the other hand stood fiercely a group of strong women, fighting for their dignity and their last chance at survival.
A sudden commotion disturbed the gathered men. The ones in the front could not help but backed out of curiosity, and soon discovered a path was cleared for the man coming from behind.
Baron was holding a letter, and a relieved smile spread across his face as he moved his way through the hatchet men to the front of the ladies.
"Good evening, Lady Zoera." Baron removed his hat, and bowed politely to the fully-armed lady.
His Imperial Highness Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette was ready to call it a day and wished his bodyguard goodnight. The King of Assassins guarded outside the door of prince’s bedroom, not budging an inch. It was rumoured that this guy could sleep with his eyes opened.
Although the wife of Captain Vick’s took charge over all the attendants in the palace, she would personally tend the prince to sleep every night. Lady Keegan lighted some incense to create a more relaxed sleeping environment, and added more firewood to the fireplace, not forgetting to perform a final check on its opening for ventilation. She had given extra attention to the final task as there have been many cases where people died in their sleep due to over inhalation of flue gas in cold nights.
The lady sorted out the prince’s bed and bedding. The delicately made pillow stuffed with camel’s hair was placed on his favorite side of the bed, and the tiny hand warmer placed beneath the feather quilt was retreated from its hidden place. Even though the hand warmer could help maintain the temperature underneath the quilt, the young prince preferred it otherwise.
"All set, Your Highness. Goodnight!" Lady Keegan revealed a satisfied smile when the prince was finally tucked in to his bed comfortably.
"Goodnight!" replied Oscar.
"Uh… hold on!"
Lady Keegan turned around with surprised, "Your Highness, do you have any more instructions to deliver?"
"No, everything is perfect. I… I just want to ask you, if you understand how much suffering a woman goes through?" the young man sat up from his bed.
"Your Highness, why the sudden question?" Lady Keegan returned to the bedroom.
"I’ve always been bothered by this."
"Your Highness, I have spent more than twenty years of my life in Damorga, and my husband works in the prison, so I think I’m qualified to say that I understand it more than anyone else. There is so much suffering a woman has to go through her whole life, as many as the candles on that altar. But haven’t you done so much for the poor girls in Damorga? You taught them how to live, you taught them how to fight against the cruel secret agents, and until now they are still praising your name at night. Why would you be bothered by this then?"
"Damorga…" Oscar muttered to himself.
"Lady! Thank you so much!" Oscar was suddenly thrilled, "I have been away from suffering for too long, and it has turned me into a narrow-minded beast like that Godzilla! I’m so glad I delivered that letter, that was the right choice."
"Oh! I understand now!" Lady Keegan clapped her hands in excitement, "You must have saved a poor girl again, someone like Aeolia! May God of Light bless you forever!"
"Thank you once again!" Oscar blew off the candle in delight and fell back into the comfort of his quilt bedding.
For the next few days, His Imperial Highness Prince O’Neil Andrew Morisette became the busiest man on earth! As soon as his relationship with the princess was legitimized, every aristocrat of the capital forced and squeezed their way to Kenshin Palace to pay him a visit.
Some said the cabinet minister who won imperial favour was palace chief Marquis Laston Cambre, few thought it to be person-in-charge of Secret Service Rudolf Hoss, others suggested Marshal Alan or the finance minister, but several people argued that Prince O’Neil should be in the list too. These men were extremely good in reading people’s faces, they understood the uniting of two Imperial family members meant something of huge immediate significance. It would indicate that young man with a prisoner background would soon be bestowed power and authority equivalent to his imperial title.
As a result, Oscar suffered through a long week of parties and socialising, he had no idea how he went through that week of hell! He was greatly astonished by the enthusiasm the nobles showered him with, especially when he appeared in the same room with Princess Alanis, the crowd would go mad!
"What is wrong with these people?" Oscar began to be suspicious, he thought the nobles were going on the offensive on him! However, Alanis reminded her fiancée that the noble families of the capital were one of the most realistic people in the world, and if they couldn’t pick the apple, they would be waiting at the back to exhaust the person who managed to get hold of the apple, because this way more people could benefit from the sweet juice of the fruit.
Oscar did not comprehend fully, was he the apple? Or was the analogy comparing this Princess of Empire who has been so dependent on himself?
However, there was still good news in the midst of this sudden unwanted attention. Oscar recently received a letter from home. His father the Duke of Andrew warned him to be extremely cautious now that he was the fiancée to the princess, and reminded his son to not frequent the brothels and behave flirtatiously like before.
Having read to this point Oscar skeptically picked up the envelope. It wasn’t not a mistake, it was a letter to him from his father, but it sounded like he was mentioning second brother Figg?
Oscar didn’t think much about it and continued reading. As expected, his father spoke about that mentally-ill patient. Oh, that would be Alfa III His Majesty! Oscar preferred to address the emperor this way, perhaps it was because of his old age that made him develop a nervous temperament. Father revealed that Alfa III indeed has the upper hand now that the marriage between their House and the Imperial Family was legitimized, and they should be proactive in giving cooperation to the Imperial Government.
Oscar was not sure if the following news was a positive or a negative one. Flames of war were finally raging everywhere in the Persian civil war! From the rather brief mention of this event, Oscar believed his father was holding back some truth. The chaos of the Persians has always been a discussion of great importance in their House, but his father only stated it in one sentence. Something must be wrong.
In fact, the old man did conceal the truth of the Persian civil war, but he believed that one day his son would understand the reason for him doing so. At the end of the letter, he exhorted: "My young Oscar, I wish you well in everything you do in Dulin. Stay healthy, and remember to watch over your diet, eat more vegetables, drink lesser alcohol, and never be too dependent on tobacco when things go downhill! Lastly, don’t you ever get me into trouble, young lad!"
"Ola! This is what a normal father would say," satisfied, Oscar folded the paper into half.
Next, he read the short paragraph Mam Celia left on the back of the envelope, "Brother Figg is becoming a father?" The young man was pleased by the news, "That fella Figg must be on cloud nine!" His mother then pressed Oscar to speed up his wedding with the Princess so that he could be a father soon like his brother!
"Isn’t it… isn’t it a bit too soon for that? Oscar was pretty shocked from the reminder. God! To have a baby with Alanis?
"No, no, no!" Oscar dumped the letter and its envelope into the burning fireplace, "My wedding with Alanis has still a long way to go! Moreover, I want my wife to deliver the baby in my hometown Narcissus County! My child should be born a local Narcissus as well!"
It was a great pity for the young man to watch the letter from home burned into ashes bit by bit, but he had no other choice as the content in the letter was not meant to be read by another person.
Oscar was reminded of his own promise to visit Swan Lake with the ladies. Hence, on the lovely morning of 1st day of the 11th month, the prince brought along Young Lady, Lady Countess Antonia, and the new member to the family Lady Aeolia, for a picnic in Swan Hill Castle. They planned to spend the whole afternoon indulging themselves in the scenic and beautiful Swan Lake.
Fall has already approached. The prince remembered his last visit to the same destination, which was only a little more than ten days ago, but the landscape of the place has completely turned into a new look. Yellow leaves covered the ground, while maple trees bloomed bright red. Shrubs faded into a lighter green and all sorts of weirdly shaped nuts hung on the end of the branches. Butterflies could be seen fluttering their wings around, but soon they would switch a direction and fly back to where they came from.
The sky was exceptionally blue that day, and the clouds hung low, constantly changing their position. Birds circled up high, detecting the direction of wind and the slight change of temperature in the air. God was trying to send an old mysterious message with the help of the northern wind, which aimed to inform the birds to shift their habitats as soon as soon possible, and fly to the warm southern beach thousands of kilometres away for a cosy winter.
The overall color scheme of the woodland turned monochrome, with brown leaves covering the entire ground. All kinds of tiny creatures occupied themselves running up and down in order to prepare themselves for the long winter. The lake water was still clear as blue, but fishes submerged into the bottom of the lake as the breeding season has passed.
Sunlight filtered its way through the thinning leaves into the woodlands, and the earth was covered with a layer of golden dust. Half-emptied branches swayed slightly, slowly dancing to the rhythm of the wind. Colorful rays of light brought upon a rare glow to even the darkest part of the ancient forest. With the chirps of birds and roars of mountain beasts, nature was nurturing a magnificent symphony in its tranquillity! If one raised their ears and listened attentively, they would be pleasantly surprised to find that in the midst of this beautiful melody, there existed also a harmony consisted of falling flowers, withering grass, rising wind, and hovering clouds.
"Your Highness, should I go check it out?" a knight enquired the prince cautiously.
"What’s wrong?" Oscar poked his head out of the tiny carriage window.
"That carriage has been tailing our back since the moment we left town."
Oscar glanced back and discovered there was indeed another carriage behind them.
"Go express our regards, but remember to be subtle."
A brief moment later, the knight returned with yet another knock on the carriage window.
"What have we got?"
"Your Highness, it is a carriage of the Italia Royal Family, and inside carries a princess."
Oscar laughed softly, and placed his hands over his sister’s, "Look, I told you, they just can’t let me have a moment of peace and quiet!"
Although it was just a casual picnic, but the chief steward of the castle prepared a tremendous feast for them. The young man had a particular liking for Italian seafood cuisine and coincidentally one of the chefs was an expert in this field. Princess Caro Arsia was stunned for a moment when she removed the lid to the rattan basket, inside was loaded with fresh shrimp spaghetti, scrambled egg topped with caviar, grilled trout, and a serving of creamy mushroom. What a truly authentic Italian feast!
"You’re so thoughtful," Italia Princess expressed her gratitude toward the Titan Prince. Was this fella being eagerly attentive to her? She wouldn’t mind anyway if that’s the case.
Initially, Oscar thought this princess would keep pestering him like before, but it seemed like Princess Caro Arsia of Italia Manuel Royal Family has transformed into a taciturn lady.
The picnic ended in an innocuous conversation. Although the food was delicious, the participation of a princess seemed to have lessened everyone’s excitement. The princess was fluent in Titan language, yet she seemed to conduct herself with circumspection toward other people except the Prince. Perhaps the dignified manner was due to her royal background, but the people of Andrew House were aware that their own knights were held accountable for almost turning the princess’ homeland into turmoil.
When they were boarding the boat, Young Lady intentionally dragged Annie and Aya away from the Princess. From their conversation moments ago, she discovered that the Princess was actually the same age as herself, but she has never encountered such a boring person of her own age. Apart from that, Young Lady also sensed that like herself, the Princess was also laden with anxiety. She could relate to that, it was not something uncommon for people their age.
The lake was peaceful and statue still. Only occasionally would a fish hawk flit swiftly across the surface of the calm water, which movements sparked waves of ripples. The sky seemed to have fallen into the depth of water, and the water seemed to be carrying it the same. The blue color of their perfect entanglement sat quietly on one perfect, straight horizon.
The swans have just completed their annual mating period, and they could be seen waddling in pairs across the lake with their new-found partner. With elegance, they kicked at their flippers and bowed their long necks down shyly. Between the water and the sky, it seemed as if everything was born for their procession.
Suddenly, a boat with a sail interrupted the peace among the quiet swans, which caused the leader of this community to raise its long neck with alarm. It was a beautiful male swan with a white feather and a bright yellow mark on its wide forehead. The leader gave out a warning call at the intruders, but the people on the boat did not seem to acknowledge it. Eventually, the leader of the group showed a little frustration and led the rest of his community to the depths of the lake.
"I heard your visit is coming to an end?" Oscar threw some food at the swans, but the latter appeared to be indifferent to his generosity.
"Yes, to be exact, my brother and I will leave for our kingdom tomorrow."
"Oh, really?" Oscar nodded, "I am rather overwhelmed, have you come here just to bid goodbye?"
Caro Arsia kept quiet. Instead, she gazed out into the distant.
"Actually, I don’t know how can I thank you enough!"
"Thank me?" he was a little astonished, "Why? I’ve not done anything special for you."
A gentle smile washed over her face, "Of course you have. If it weren’t for you who listened to my chatter all this while like a dumb goose, I really cannot imagine how I would endure those difficult times."
"A dumb goose?" Oscar glanced over at the herd of massive birds, feeling a little deflated of the princess’ evaluation of himself. "Haha, Your Highness Princess, everything is fine now isn’t it? The war is over, your country has escaped from the fate of a calamity, and the initiator of the war is found out and suffering the consequences. Aren’t you feeling lucky? There was a riot in the south of Titan, which led directly to…"
"No!" Caro Arsia interrupted the prince loudly at the mid of his sentence, "As much as I do not wish to see my kingdom getting violated, I wish the same for every other country in the world, no matter if they’re our friends or enemy!"
Oscar was visibly moved. He noticed the princess grasped her hand tightly around a platinum necklace which had a God of Light pendant. Initially, he only thought the princess had a lofty love for her own country, but now he understood that the princess's heart was loaded with an even greater sentiment!
"Your Highness Princess Caro Arsia, I would like to take back what I said just now, and sincerely apologise to you. You’re the kindest, purest girl I’ve ever seen!"
"Oh…oh no!" Caro Arsia face reddened like an apple after hearing the prince’s compliments, "I am… I am just a believer of God of Light…"
"Plop!" a dull but loud noise was heard near the edge of the ship. The horrified Caro Arsia made an exaggerated high-pitched cry.
"Oh! It’s just a ripe apple!" Oscar placed his arm on the princess’s shoulders and pointed at a massive apple tree which branches loaded with apples casted above the surface of the lake.
"No! No! Oh God! My necklace! It was a token of God’s blessing at the time of my baptism! I… I…I accidentally dropped it into the water!"
It seemed to be a habit of girls to throw things around when they were terrified. Oscar tried his best to calm down the pale and anxious princess, but the latter could not help herself to stop wailing.
"Alright then! Roya! Roya!" Oscar shook lightly at the lost princess, "Take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Pray sincerely to the God, and when I motion you to open your eyes, the blessing of God would return into your palm once again!"
"Trust me! And close your eyes!" Oscar begged again.
Caro Arsia took in a deep breath and shut her eyes as tightly as she could. There was nothing else she could do at the moment, so she might as well listen to the prince and pray earnestly to the God.
A louder plop came from the lake. The ripple caused the boat to shake slightly and the princess felt the boat was a little lighter than before. She kept her focus and prayed with utmost sincerity. She prayed for a miracle, for the blessings of God to bestow upon her again.
After a long wait, Caro Arsia finally opened her eyes, but was completely in shock when she noticed the young prince was nowhere to be seen. "He… where is His Imperial Highness Prince?" she asked Paul the rower, but as soon as the words came out of her mouth she remembered the loud noise she had heard earlier.
"God! Please tell me His Highness Prince did not jump into the water!"
King of Assassin nodded calmly, "You’re right, His Imperial Highness Prince did jump into the water!"
She couldn’t care much for her necklace at that news, "God! It has already been so long! He… Oscar… will he be okay?"
Snowstorm raised his eyebrow at the change of tone of the princess. Did she just call the prince by his first name? That was a good sign! He did not mind adding more excitement into the flourishing relationship.
"Your Highness Princess, something might have happened to him, because His Imperial Highness Prince does not know how to swim!" Snowstorm said while silently snickering in his heart.
"What did you say? Say it again!" Caro Arsia’s sudden eruption of anger was enough to burn down this small boat.
"Your Highness Princess, I said the Prince does not know how to swim!"
"Why are you still here then? God! Save him! He might have…"
"Your Highness, please listen to my explanation," Snowstorm kept cool and adjusted the oar. "first of all, I don’t know how to swim either. Secondly, it has been more than half a minute since His Highness jumped into the water. Lastly, we’re near the shore, so the water is not deep at all."
"Oh…" she had no time in the world to listen to his nonsense. Panicked, she paced around the small boat while calling out the prince’s name.
Just when Caro Arsia was about to throw herself into the water, the left side of the boat appeared a massive spray out of the blue and a silhouette emerged out of it.
Oscar grasped onto the oar passed over by Snowstorm and panted rapidly, struggling for air.
Caro Arsia threw herself at him, her eyes flashed the most wonderful color behind the curtain of tears.
"All grace to the God of Light! All grace to the God of Light! All grace to the God of Light!"
Oscar slowly regained his composure. He revealed his other hand out of the water and threw it over the side of the ship, the string of necklace that held the blessing of God shone with glory under the reflection of water and sunlight.
"My dear Caro Arsia! You should say something else, for instance… you opened your eyes before I asked you to do so, which means you lost faith in me, and what should we do about that?"
The princess of Italia grasped at the chubby hand which was holding the shining necklace.
"I will present you the blessing from God of Light!"
Right then, all Oscar could see was the princess’s full pink lips approaching himself, and once again, his breathe was taken away!<script>chaptererror();</script>