If there’s a specific moment when she had to say it, it should be now when they were both in a slightly more vulnerable state.
But she knew that she would not confess those words today in this room even if she died today and came back from the dead in the afternoon.
Would I ever do it?
Deatrice thought she would never know the answer.
“I opened the door with a dagger.” She said out of the blue.
“Dagger? Ah, so it’s why it was there.” Lucius eyed the same fancy dagger he wanted to kill himself with earlier. “I thought it was because you were trying to fight off my advances… Ah, I should stop about that matter.”
He shook his head and stood up as if he didn’t want to dwell on that misunderstanding anymore. He stretched his tensed body and went towards the bed. Perhaps he had given up on waiting for her answer.
He collapsed on the mattress and looked at the ceiling, then lifted his upper body again and looked at her.
In a slightly lowered voice, he called her. Deatrice now knew what that voice meant. He made that kind of voice when he wanted to kiss her.
It was the same voice when he laid her down.
“Love or a joke, whichever you want to call it, would like to do it with me?”
She had never answered him, but maybe what they’re doing now is exactly that.
Or a joke…
She hesitated whether to go or not and flicked her feet. Then she thought that maybe the fact that they mixed bodies last night can help her with her decision.
“And if I go there?”
She asked with a meaningful gaze. Lucius found the question cute at first, but after a while, it became a little difficult.
He had the desire to reenact last night’s events that he couldn’t remember. But it occurred to him that, perhaps, what he really needed to do now was have a conversation with her. Eventually, he relaxed his body and pulled his arms out to the side to make room for her.
“I’ll tell you why I did that.”
Deatrice slowly occupied the space he made. He lay down with his knees slightly spread apart with his head well above hers due to their height difference. He turned her to the side and looked down at her, supporting her head with his hands.
“You know the side effects of divine power?”
“That there are people who sometimes lose their memories?”
“Yes, that one. Simply said, I have something like that.” He filled the silence by touching her hair from time to time. He hesitated for a moment as if he did not know where to start, but soon began talking about how he first met the emperor.
“It was in a forest where I played the role of being the bait that I met the emperor. His legs were stuck under a tree. Of course, as soon as I saw it, my body froze with a sense of disappointment that I may have ruined the chance of gaining a powerful person’s favor. An injured emperor appeared in front of me, but the enemy was chasing me from behind and there wasn’t much area left where I can escape.
“It was cowardly, but for a moment, I just pretended not to know and thought about switching routes. In my head, even if the emperor died and the country fell, I wouldn’t be affected—or at least I wouldn’t die immediately. But then my head reverted to the real meaning of survival. I’m not saying this is right in a moral sense, but realistically speaking, after returning from the war, all that’d be left for me is the small salary I’ll receive from service. I realized couldn’t give this up because I knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Lucius recalled that the emperor had been betrayed by the knights and was put in a tight spot. He ran and came all the way to this forest. Fortunately, the enemies pursuing him weren’t that formidable or he’d already be dead by now.
“The emperor had hurt his leg and I was injured too, so I wouldn’t be too much help. I tried finding ways to escape, but there were soldiers and knights from enemy countries everywhere. We conversed a bit and he made a brief joke as if foreseeing his own death. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I can recall that it was terribly annoying.”
“You might think that his relaced demeanor came from an optimistic personality, but I know better. The emperor knew that he would be saved by the time I showed up. He cheered me on and helped me find a way to escape.”
He noted that, even though the emperor was hurt then, he was much younger and felt more alive than he is now. He had worn shabby clothing and looked like any ordinary knight, but Lucius couldn’t forget the amount of calmness he had.
“The thought of betraying him always stayed on my mind. But truth be told, I didn’t want to give up the possible wealth and glory I might possess if he was the one who won the war. Therefore, I changed clothes with him and handed over my life-saving teleportation scroll.” Then, Lucius glanced down at Deatrice, “Did you know that decoys only ever get one of these when they first enter?”
He didn’t wait for her to respond and simply continued with his story.
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