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“Ugh… H-how long are we going to stay here?” Hilda said weakly with a pallid face. She was lying on a wooden bed with her forearm covering her eyes.
“Maybe in a few hours,” Kasta replied, sitting on the bedside next to Hilda. “Her Highness is in the city and the preparations are in progress.”
Kasta—along with his comrades, Hilda’s family, the slaves, and a few men ordered by Maxwell—remained on the sea of Formos. They were a few hours away from the ports of Piraeus.
Now Hilda, who was just an ordinary village girl, had never been aboard a ship. To put simply, she had been seasick.
In any case, they were not in the same ship that Maxwell lent. Before they crossed the maritime boundary, their first ship hoisted a courtesy flag of Brent and the flag of Brent’s royalty.
This was unexpected of Brent. At least, that was what the naval patrols thought. And since the ship was hoisting the flag of Brent’s royalty, they could not demand a thorough inspection. Having no other choice, the patrols simply questioned the ship’s reason for crossing the border. And their answer was,
“Gifts from His Highness Maxwell for the recent success on the diplomatic alliance. As well as the betrothal between His Highness Argent and Her Highness Clarissa. From what we were informed, Her Highness Amelia would be able to confirm this.”
And so the Navy sent a messenger to Amelia, who had recently arrived in Piraeus.
Amelia, surprised of the unexpected ship from Brent, mulled over the reason for a few hours. Tracing the fact that she sent Kasta, and the fact that Maxwell returned to Brent several days ago, she concluded it was indeed Maxwell’s ploy.
And thus Amelia sent a messenger back, confirming the identity of the ship.
However, since she was busy in partly managing Piraeus due to the lack of a Lord—and the fact that the temporary lord sent by Diane was not accustomed to Piraeus yet—she made Maize handle the situation. Her orders were simply,
“Time their disembarkation with the announcement of the Lord’s execution.”
Maize immediately understood.
They were going to use the announcement to direct the public’s attention. Because in truth, even though slaves were forbidden in Laurel, the people’s disgust and wariness towards a different race remained. It was not something that would easily vanish in a few generations. More so if they were not actively living side by side with non-humans.
To achieve what Amelia wanted, Maize made Kasta and the others transfer into a ship borrowed by Amelia’s Guards. It was a move that would reduce suspicion once the ship reached the port.
“Kasta, it’s time to leave.” It was one of Kasta’s comrades.
Facing the closed door, “Sure. I’ll be there in a few moments,” Kasta replied. Then turning to Hilda, he found her with a slight smile.
Kasta chuckled. “Good for you.”
At that moment, Kasta seemed like a father to Hilda.
With the recent heat dying down, the progress of Amelia’s cleanup was proceeding smoothly. One by one, she tackled the tasks from management down to the transfer of the fief to the next lord.
With the new Lord in line singing thanks and praises for the transfer of the fief, Amelia kept a constant distance.
“Ah, your Highness, maybe you would like to meet my son? He’s quite skilled in several areas.”
“Please forgive me.” Amelia flashed a wry smile. “There are still several workloads I have to handle, and so, if not for the constraint in time, I would have liked to meet your son.”
This was never new to Amelia. In truth, she had been too accustomed to such dialogues that she found it tiring. However, it was not a talk she could avoid unless she was betrothed. Which is why she had been enduring.
It would have been easier to outright deny and inform the other party that she was not interested in marriage as of the moment. But Amelia kept this form of situation. It was something along stringing around hopeful nobles aiming for her royal blood. To tame them, and to curry their favor once in a while.
It was quite a task, but it was something she must do. After all, needlessly creating enemies within her home is undesirable. Much more that she was now uncovering the truth behind the church.
After a day, the announcement of the Lord’s execution commenced.
Amelia stood on a platform with a black dress. Around her, in Piraeus’s plaza, countless people attended. Their reasons varied, but the most prominent reasons were Amelia’s attendance and the announcement itself.
“My people.” Amelia roamed her eyes in the crowd, hinting a tinge of sorrow. “I lament to inform you, but we were not able to retrieve the missing people.”
Naturally, the mood turned sour. The villagers transferred into Piraeus were especially downtrodden.
“I did not know their names, nor their faces… But they too are my people, my family from different a different mother and father.”
Amelia clasped her necklace for a moment and closed her eyes. Soon enough, a tear ran across her cheek. They were genuine tears. However, the tears she shed were not only due to the loss of her people. It included the loss of a few of her Guards and the grave sin she would soon commit.
“I did not wish for battles—for the lives of my people to be needlessly lost. But they did not care. They were selfish and ignorant of the ordinary people’s wishes. To live a stable and peaceful life.”
And so her vying for sympathy continued. Little by little, she grabbed the people’s attention, condensed it, and fleshed out their hatred. And while the smolders of hatred grew, gradually—without a direct mention of Libet and the church—she directed it. Towards the fools who sided with the church and brought a disaster to their own home.
During Amelia’s announcement, just as planned, Kasta and the others disembarked on the port. As soon as they alighted the ship, they were led by Amelia’s Guards to the prepared carriages. From then on, they started traveling towards the Duchy.
Along with them, unsurprisingly, were gifts from Maxwell. They were composed mostly of dresses for both Amelia and his sister Clarissa.
A week after the announcement of the execution of Piraeus’s Lord, Tineva, Amelia arrived on the third and last city along the coasts of Formos.
The Lord of the third city was somewhat new. And according to the reports Amelia received during her stay in Tervin’s dukedom, the Lord had committed mismanagement and plunder. Adding up that the Lord had secret ties with the church, Amelia brought down the original punishment to the Lord’s family.
Though ruthless the decision was, it was a good example to the Nobles who might have ties with Libet and the church.
On the other hand, during that week, Amelia had been visiting the Tree of Origin. And during that course of the week, she noticed a slight change in her body. It was her ability to remain in a normal condition despite the lack of sleep. In addition, due to the numerous tasks she had been tackling, her food consumption has decreased. However, still, her body remained normal.
She had begun to notice these changes after she looked at herself in the mirror. There and then she noticed that the buds that were growing on her horn had slightly grown. In her mind, maybe in about a month or two, the buds would start to bloom. Then maybe, in about half a year, the petals would start to fall.
And then... I’ll become immortal.
Immortal in a sense of age. Body regeneration, or cell reconstruction.
In a different place, someone else shares her thoughts.
“It won’t be too long before it starts huh.”
It was none other than Celestia.
“About a year then,” Fenrir replied, curled around as usual. “But don’t expect everything to proceed well. At worst, you’d appear and take the life of that girl.”
“Meiko.” Celestia gazed on the Tree of Origin while sitting on the twisted-tree-bench she prepared before. “You don’t have to refer to her as that girl. Even if she became a God’s vessel, she still has her original soul within her.”
“It’s a habit. But needless to say, that girl would become someone else once the God manifests. So it isn’t that far off to refer to that girl as that.”
“Then refer to that girl as simply Meiko, and the God that tampered with her body as Nesoi.”
“… You’ve already deduced the name of the God?”
“I tampered with her mind a tiny bit.” Celestia smiled. “But I didn’t expect someone to force himself in trying to manipulate that girl’s mind.”
“Someone is breaking the pact huh.”
“It’s nothing new.”
In several occasions, a few Divines had already perished for breaking the pact. In a somewhat lucky occasion, the hunt for those who broke the pact happened on a different continent. And therefore, there were no traces of those battles in Randia.
“But what do you plan on doing? Would you inform the other divines?”
“No, I won’t. This time, it’s an Ancient’s doing. But if I dig deeper, maybe I’ll find out who is pulling the strings. However, right now, I have my hands full.”
Heroes to observe, pests trying to enter Origin’s atmosphere from space, Tree of Origin’s growth, additional protection on Charon, acting as an Overseer for the divines and several more. It was all on Celestia’s plate.
“Anyway, how is she faring?”
“Hmm… As a human, she’s doing quite well.”
“As a Divine?”
“There’s very little progress.” Fenrir lifted his head and gazed at Celestia. “Her progress would have been better if you would tell her the truth.”
“That would be the least convenient.” Celestia frowned.
“Inconvenient in what way?” Fenrir sat up. “In my eyes, teaching her what mana is, what magic is, and how Origin works is the most convenient method for her to progress as a Divine.”
“I want her to learn it by herself. I don’t want her to hear everything from me. There’s no effort and learning in that. At best, I’ll give her hints.”
“She won’t learn anything if she dies.” Fenrir shot a glance on Celestia, trying gauge her reason behind the minimal information she was passing to Amelia. “Sometimes, I really don’t understand how you think. But mark my words, she won’t be able to match up to those Angels alone—not with the progress she’s showing.”
“True, she won’t be able to live after a fight of that scale.”
“Then why? Weren’t you glad that would finally have someone to treat as your daughter without reservations?”
Celestia shook her head. “I am. From the bottom of my being, I am thoroughly glad Amelia came into existence. But unless she had accepted everything, I shouldn’t let myself be too elated.”
“...” Fenrir kept silent.
“Because, who knows? Maybe after everything is over, and after everyone she treasured dies, she might end herself. In the least occasion, have me end it for her.”
“The concept of life and death of mortals...”
“Even Elena refused to attain immortality, much less grow her horn.” A tinge of sorrow left Celestia with a slight smile. “And so, giving her hints, and tickling her curiosity to unravel the truth, might give her a reason to continue living once her job as Princess Amelia is over.”
“That’s… quite a tightrope.”
“It’s better than having me end her life.”
For some unknown reason, Celestia assumed the worst case.
But she knew. Celestia knew that Amelia would be interested beyond the six main elements of magic.
“Aether or Erebus? I wonder which she would be able to utilize once she reaches maturity.”
“Aren’t you asking for too much?” Fenrir worried. “Utilizing a phenomenon outside of Origin’s capability. That’s beyond us Divines other than you.”
“Who knows? She might be able to.”
“… Maybe in a millennium or so.”
Feel free to point out errors or give opinions.