༺ Dovan (1) ༻
Dovan stared blankly at the table.
A platinum-colored rosary. Dovan was well aware of the implication.
“…You were Apostles of the Holy Kingdom.”
He focused his attention on Renee and Vera.
Dovan knew. There was only one young girl among the Apostles of the Holy Kingdom.
“No, not just Apostles. I was unaware the Saint was also here.”
He let out a forced laugh.
What is happening? It was incredibly shocking and unexpected to learn the identity of the customers, whom he had only previously considered to be unusual.
As others typically did when confronted with an abrupt situation; Dovan waited for Renee’s response with a bewildered expression with his mouth frozen shut.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken carelessly…”
“What is there to be sorry for? It’s natural for the Saint to remain hidden during her procession.”
Dovan shook his head in disagreement as he replied, then corrected his posture and bowed.
This was merely a formality, and Renee’s blindness wasn’t of importance in receiving his greeting.
“I am honored to meet the Saint. Please understand that I am unable to kneel due to my inconvenient body.”
“Ah, no! You don’t have to do that much…”
“It’s only appropriate to show courtesy. I’m not an ungrateful scoundrel who doesn’t even acknowledge the one who gave me the right to grasp freedom with my own hands.”
Renee had a troubled look on her face.
“I didn’t even do anything…”
“If you consider the meaning of the title ‘Saint’, is it not something you can receive? If you’re truly uncomfortable, please think of this as accepting my gratitude to pass onto His Holiness on my behalf.”
Dovan raised his head.
Dovan remembered Renee’s words as she held the rosary in front of him and said, ‘Is there anything we can do to help?’ He was murmuring to himself while deep in thought, and recalled his worries.
Am I allowed to say this? Is it right of me to explain my situation and ask for their help?
As his thoughts continued, Dovan shifted his attention to Aisha.
It was evident by the look on her face, which was frozen with fear that she had caused trouble or was impolite again.
Dovan observed Aisha with a faint smile, and soon opened his mouth.
“Aisha, will you prepare tea for our customers?”
Aisha fled the room as if she was avoiding her impending doom.
Dovan watched Aisha as she shut the door with a loud ‘bang’ and left, then braced himself.
‘…It’s only right to accept help when it is offered.’
If it were only him suffering the consequences of this situation, he would have refused the Saint’s help, but Aisha was with him. Dovan didn’t want that child to experience the pain of loss twice.
“I sent out Aisha because the content isn’t something she should hear. Thank you for your patience.”
“In that case…”
“I will gladly accept your help. I don’t have much to offer in return, but…”
“It’s fine. I don’t want anything in return.”
Renee laughed awkwardly upon hearing Dovan’s words and waved her hands in refusal, then continued speaking.
She then brought up the main topic.
“So, I heard that the army and other nobles are making things difficult for Mr. Dovan. May I know the reason why?”
“Hm, how should I put this…”
Dovan organized the situation in his head at Renee’s inquiry, and followed up with a question.
“I’m asking just in case, but do you know why the Federation of Kingdoms is currently formed?”
“Oh, yes. It’s to maintain the balance of power and prevent someone like Haman from appearing again.”
“That’s correct. On the surface, that is.”
A bitter expression settled over Dovan’s face.
“If so, you would also know this. The Federation presents themselves as well-structured, but they are constantly at each other’s throats.”
Renee flinched at Dovan’s words and shook her fingertips, then nodded her head.
The kind of conflict between the Beastkin Tribes was something Renee knew very well.
How could she not know? When she was first heading to the Holy Kingdom, the Federation was amongst those looking for her.
They searched for her in order to end their fight.
In the end, they were unable to reach her due to the internal noise, but Renee was well aware of what they wanted to achieve whether they put their hands on her or not.
Dovan noticed Renee’s gloomy expression, and explained.
“The five kingdoms all have a single desire. They aim to achieve unity under their own hands, and gain the title of Empire.”
It was a statement riddled with deep disgust. Renee felt his aversion and nodded her head.
“That’s why the war has lasted for 50 years…”
“It’s unending. None of them are willing to yield, and none of them are justified.”
Renee understood the meaning of those words.
She learned about the conflict between the Beastkin Tribes in regard to the continent’s political landscape during her education.
“…Because there’s no legitimacy.”
“That’s right. The leaders of those kingdoms have no legitimate claim to rule. The Imperial Family, whose lineage originally ruled the Empire before Haman seized power, has gone extinct. Therefore, neither side has a valid justification for the claim of Empire.”
It wasn’t a simple problem.
In the society of the Beastkin Tribes, it was absolutely unacceptable to claim the Empire through forced unification without any legitimacy.
This was because the Tiger King Haman had seized control of the Empire in that manner.
The reason was that a forced unification would be a repeat of what happened 60 years prior. When Haman single-handedly invaded the Imperial Palace, slaughtered all of the Imperial Bloodline, and sat on the throne. That was why the Beastkin Tribes required legitimacy for the claim of Empire.
After piecing together her own knowledge and what she learned from Dovan, Renee spoke.
“Is that the reason Mr. Dovan is in a difficult situation?”
Renee asked that question because the causal relationship between Dovan’s worries and the Federation’s political situation wasn’t entirely clear.
Dovan moved his lips slightly, hesitating for a moment before nodding.
Vera and Renee were deeply shaken by the following statement.
“…That’s right. I am the last survivor of the Imperial Family.”
In the backyard of the blacksmith’s forge.
Renee was sitting blankly on her chair while ruminating over what she had just heard. She then said.
“I couldn’t have imagined it. Mr. Dovan can’t possibly be…”
The last survivor of the fallen Imperial Family.
Vera nodded as he observed Renee, who was speechless.
“It’s truly as you’re thinking. This is an unexpected turn of events for me as well.”
Who would have thought that Imperial Blood still remained?
No matter how many times Vera recalled the memories of his past life, this information was still unknown to him.
‘At the end of my previous life, the Federation of Kingdoms was never united.’
It was only natural he was unaware. After all, even until the Empire’s destruction at the hands of the Demon King six years from now, there had been no mention of the return of Imperial Blood.
Vera peered deeply inside the forge.
The sound of metal striking reached his ears before he realized Dovan had begun working.
As Vera was listening to that sound, he pondered over the words Dovan had finished the conversation with.
– When Haman invaded the Imperial Palace, I was just a newborn child and the only one able to escape. I lived at the edge of the Empire without knowing anything, and only after becoming an adult did I discover my origins as a descendant of the Imperial Family.
– I don’t want to be part of their desired unification. I don’t want to be involved in the creation of another Haman. Even if I side with one of them and the war ends, I don’t believe peaceful days will ever return.
– If I could live the rest of my life as an ordinary blacksmith and leave behind a masterpiece, that would be enough for me. However, their tyranny is worsening each day, so I see no way to escape them.
– I don’t want much. Just one thing. Would you keep them under control just long enough for me to complete my masterpiece? After that, I want to live quietly in a faraway place with Aisha.
His words were filled with bitterness and a sense of devastation.
Vera continued his trail of thoughts, weaving together Dovan’s circumstances and the events of his previous life.
‘The masterpiece is completed.’
However, Dovan’s wish will not come true, and he will eventually meet his death.
‘Aisha emerges on the battlefield with the Demon Sword.’
Aisha headed for the battlefield, brandishing a sword in her hand that was the manifestation of deep resentment itself. Therefore, Dovan must have died.
It’s unknown what choice Dovan had made in my past life when we did not come here, but it’s clear that the outcome would not have been favorable.
Vera’s heart trembled.
‘What should I do?’
All he knew was the end result, but the process was necessary in order to change that result. Yet, the process part was lacking.
The only hint was that the nature of the masterpiece was ‘resentment.’
‘The nature of the masterpiece is determined by the work engraved during the forging process.’
The event that engraved ‘resentment’ in the sword.
He had to find out.
As Vera was thinking about why Dovan would harbor resentment towards someone, he turned his head towards the approaching presence.
A small figure was peeking their head out from behind a tree.
Vera’s eyes narrowed.
‘If Dovan harbors resentment towards someone.’
It was certainly related to that ill-mannered kid.
Aisha slowly approached Renee and Vera with a nervous expression.
‘I have to ap- apologize!’
She had to kneel and beg for their forgiveness. If she passed by pretending to be clueless, those Holy Kingdom people might harm her master.
…At least, that was what Aisha thought.
In fact, nobody was paying attention to Aisha’s words and actions.
However, isn’t that a child’s worry? A child becomes anxious at the slightest prick, and their whole body twists as a result of that.
In the same fashion, Aisha suddenly jumped. She had been approaching them for a while by moving between the trees, but began shaking the moment her eyes met with Vera’s.
“If you have something to say, come here.”
Upon hearing Vera’s words, Aisha’s heart began to tense up again.
They sounded like a command in Aisha’s ears. A command saying, ‘If you don’t want to die, come and kneel.’
It was because Vera’s eyes were too indifferent.
In response, Aisha gulped and approached Renee, her legs trembling.
As soon as Renee felt her presence, she immediately asked.
When Aisha realized she almost spoke informally without thinking, she hurriedly glanced at Renee with cold sweat dripping down her forehead.
Her ears were folded back, and her puffed up tail was drooping down.
In such a tense situation, Renee asked her with a smile.
They were kind words, but Aisha knew.
That this heartbroken Saint’s behavior and complexion might suddenly change.
Aisha didn’t hesitate.
For her master, and for herself.
Aisha kneeled on the floor with her eyes firmly shut, bending her torso forward and yelled.
“I”M SO- I APOLOGIZE!!!”
It was a picture-perfect bow.
As Renee’s flustered words were coming out, Aisha continued to grovel on the floor, awaiting punishment for her sins.
“PLEASE FORGIVE ME!!! I’LL TAKE BACK CALLING YOU A RELIGIOUS PERSON!!!”
Her voice sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
Aisha shed tears that looked like chicken droppings, and recalled that she could apologize again.
Aisha was concerned with what she should say, but then remembered Renee’s request from the other day and yelled again.
“I’LL KEEP IT A SECRET THAT THE SAINT WAS CRYING FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!!! CHEATING IS BAD-”
Renee had a seizure.
An unintentional scream due to Aisha exposing her dark history without any warning.
A high pitched shriek burst out from Aisha in response as all of the hair on her body puffed out.
As Vera was watching the scene unfold beside her, he closed his eyes firmly and turned a blind eye to Renee’s shameful behavior.
And thought to himself inwardly, ‘I didn’t see anything.’
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