Chapter 1 Part 1
*The past continues *
Usphere was silent for a moment.
“You look shocked. You’re from the North, aren’t you?”
“I heard the North is a very harsh land. But there’s no slavery, is it worth living more?”
“Did you get into this mess trying to protect the girl……?”
“What? I was punished for trying to do something out of my means.”
“How could they…. You did the right thing. It’s really unfair.”
“Because the Kingdom of Pernen is corrupt.”
Kwanach spoke plainly.
The boy’s life was too hard for him to resent and be outraged by injustice. The incident he had just described to Usphere was only a small part of his intense life.
Usphere felt it too. A look of sadness crossed her face. She, too, had been treated as an Awakener, but she was also a wounded person.
Those with wounds would recognize each other.
Usphere cautiously moved a little closer to Kwanach. She squatted down carefully beside him, glad she wore a dress with a short hem.
It was not the kind of behavior a princess would do. It was far out of her manners and very impulsive. So much so that the encounter with Kwanach evoked unusual emotions in Usphere.
As soon as Usphere sat down beside him, Kwanach flinched greatly and glanced in her direction.
“What? Why are you sitting next to me?”
Kwanach held his breath as best he could. Up close, Usphere was unrealistically beautiful. Her skin was clear and her eyes were a gentle yellow-green.
In Kwanach’s eyes, Usphere looked too perfect. An existence without a single flaw. A princess who looked like something out of a fairy tale, itself.
She was an existence that people like himself should not dare to stare at or even come close to.
Every time he breathed in, Usphere’s body scent hit his nose. It was the first time Kwanach learned that a person could smell this fragrant.
Usphere began to speak quietly.
“I think there are absurdities everywhere. Some people have it hard.”
“I wish I could help you, but I have no power to do so……. I’m from another country, too.”
“I didn’t ask you to help me.”
“But it really bothers me.”
Kwanach deliberately spoke roughly to hide his swaying mind.
She said she wanted to help. Such a beautiful person wanted to help a person who was so dirty and lowly like himself.
Kwanach was sensitively aware of everything as Usphere sat next to him, but on the other hand all of this felt like an illusion.
Kwanach didn’t even know who his parents were. He grew up without receiving any warmth, love or affection.
The nursery where the slaves who would become boy soldiers were raised was cold and rough. The world was an unkind place to Kwanach. From the time he was born until now, not a moment too soon, always.
So he made up some thorny words because it was difficult to accept Usphere’s kindness all at once.
‘You are an extraordinarily feeble girl. I’ve never seen anyone listen to a slave’s words for so long. I’m sure I smell bad, but you just sit beside me without a care in the world. …….’
The truth was, deep down inside, Kwanach was happy.
Usphere’s warmth was like a blessed rain, wetting Kwanach’s dry, parched insides. Kwanach couldn’t handle the kindness he had never met before.
It made his head dizzy. He flinched and sat a little away from Usphere.
‘Now that I’ve said all this, the girl will be angry.’
She should leave quickly.
But Usphere acted differently than Kwanach had expected. She handed her handkerchief to Kwanach again.
“…… Why are you giving me this?”
Usphere lightly touched her lips with her finger. It meant to tell him to wipe the blood from his mouth.
Kwanach pondered for a moment and then took the handkerchief. The cloth was very soft and smelled like flowers.
‘Can I put this on my mouth?’
Kwanach felt that this little cloth was even more precious than he was. He hesitated for a moment, then wiped the blood away.
The handkerchief, which had been a luxury item, soon became soiled.
“You can’t use this handkerchief anymore,” Kwanach murmured.
“You can keep it.”
“…… By the way, why would a girl like you come to a stable?
“A girl like me?”
“At a glance, you looked like a …… precious princess.”
“Is that so?”
Usphere tilted her head. She looked as if she couldn’t understand a word he was saying. But rather, Kwanach couldn’t understand her reaction.
‘Does she even know what she looks like?’
It was a nobility that he couldn’t dare to face head-on. Facing Usphere, Kwanach felt like his existence was the most insignificant in the world.
Every gesture and speech of Usphere was elegant. Kwanach felt overwhelmed by Usphere, who seemed younger than he was.
Thump. Thump. His heart was beating noisily. He didn’t know why. It was the first abnormal symptom he had experienced.
Usphere’s eyes were kind as she stared at him. Kwanach wanted to scream at her not to look at him like that.
The others stared at him condescendingly, and those same slaves feared him mostly because of his power.
The look in Usphere’s eyes, however, did not belong to any of those two. That confused Kwanach.
“Can you talk to a slave like me?”
“But there’s no one here. You think I’m a princess, but you’re treating me this way?”
“…… Are you really a princess?”
Kwanach turned his wandering gaze back to Usphere.
Usphere only stared at Kwanach, neither denying nor affirming. An awkward silence passed between them for a while.
Kwanach’s heart was racing erratically, his fever was rising again and he was going crazy, but Usphere felt strangely at peace. It was much more comfortable than wandering around with Diaquit, who bragged about her as if introducing expensive products.
She didn’t feel intimidated by Kwanach, who was new to her and much bigger than her.
“You don’t talk like a child. I heard a Princess came from Achaia, but I didn’t think …….”
Kwanach murmured in an upset voice.
“I think you heard about me.”
“…… Am I going to be arrested for profanity?”
He thought she was a noble lady, but he didn’t know she was a real Princess.
Kwanach was getting harder and harder to Usphere.
‘Is anything different for the royal family? Is there such a thing as birthright status?’
It was a phrase that she had heard so often as a child. She couldn’t help but be born with a certain status.
Usphere’s appearance was very much in line with her status as a Princess. She looked like someone who was born to be a princess.
“But for a Princess, why do you sit next to a dirty person like me? Even give me your handkerchief?”
Usphere saw the confusion on Kwanach’s face and chuckled.
“I can’t believe that I’m caught.”
Usphere’s laughter echoed in the stable.
At that moment, Kwanach forgot to breathe. When Usphere laughed, the bright light around her seemed to burst into flame. It was a beautiful smile, as light as a bud bursting open.
When she was expressionless, she seemed a little stiff, but when she burst into laughter, the atmosphere changed.
Thump. Thump. Kwanach kept his hand over his raging heart. His body tensed up, the aftermath of the beating not letting up. Heat rose from beneath his forehead, and his eyes ached.
When he looked at Usphere, the pain seemed to be getting worse.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about what happened in this stable. You don’t need to be polite now.”
“Because I’m nothing special either.”
Usphere spoke in a bitter tone.
Usphere thought there was nothing stranger in the world than this.
“What are you talking about….Princess?”
Kwanach belatedly used an awkward honorific. Then Usphere started laughing again.
“There is no need to be polite.”
This time Kwanach’s breath seemed to stop. His head was ringing.
When Usphere laughed, and the blood rushed in his body and hurt. He wished she wouldn’t smile. However, at the same time, he wanted to see that smile forever. He knew it was a vain dream.
Usphere stared at Kwanach, his large body trembling, and spoke sadly.
“I am not strong enough for my status.”
“Why is that?”
“God must have abandoned me.”
“I don’t think so…….”
If God had chosen her, why would he abandon her? Kwanach wanted to protest that it wasn’t true, but he wasn’t good at speaking. He just had to wonder how a girl who looked so perfect would think like that.
A dark light flashed across Usphere’s face and quickly disappeared. She changed the subject.
“By the way, how long are you going to stay here?”
“I don’t know. Until Benan’s anger is gone.”
“Is Benan the one who did this?”
“Yes. He’s the commander of the slave soldiers.”
“Is there any way to protest?”
“Who is going to listen to a slave?”
It was rather peculiar for Usphere to talk at such length with a slave. And this was despite being royalty.
Usphere let out a small sigh and said,
“It’s hard to say, since it’s not my country, but …… there seems to be a problem with Pernen’s status system.”
“It’s as rotten as rotten can get. This kingdom. I won’t have a wish when it’s gone.”
Kwanach said it as a joke, but Usphere reacted quite seriously.
“How long can a country that is festering from the bottom up be sustained?”