‘She’ kept the truth to herself till the end. ‘She’ had decided without much difficulty that it was better not to mention it.
She had always blamed herself for being stupid but it turned out that she wasn’t that bad after all.
After being lost in thought for a long time, the girl raised her head.
Under the sun, her clear innocent purple eyes reflected its light.
Her gaze had been cold but when she glanced at the letter, in the blink of an eye, her gaze turned warm and affectionate.
‘What do you know?’
What were the words carrying?
Her fingers traced the last sentence.
[I’m begging you. Please be happy.]
If she really had amnesia and if the fact that she lost her memories was the truth, there must be a ‘me’ she didn’t know about.
‘What did I lose?’
The more she thought about it, the more she realised that though she was dim-witted and not the smartest, she was not foolish. So, all this time, she knew what piece of her had been missing. As the rest of her memories begin to take their place in the puzzle in a flurry, she realised that all her memories related to death were missing.
‘I see. I…’
The girl, who had forgotten about her repeated deaths, had also forgotten about the moments she had faced death. Be it assassination or poisoning attempts from the last few years, she was finally remembering every moment she had been in trouble. Her alertness, vigilance, fears and bravery. Except for her memories of death, the rest of the memories which had been blurred by divinity were returning to her one by one.
“It had been too peaceful.”
The diary which heralded her many deaths. And the fact that she had to face the intensity of being in front of death for so long. The moments in which she lived like fireworks had brainwashed her into living a carefree life without any sense of urgency. Without realising it, she had wanted to continue living like this and soon, she got used to it. Times of peace had made her a lifeless stringless puppet. She kept her head down.
In order to solve the problem, one had to first face the problem.
Come to think of it, she had always been the one on defense. There was no reason why she couldn’t be on attack first but she had always been passively waiting for her opponent to make their moves. Honestly, that didn’t suit her.
She had been someone who made a manual in anticipation of customer complaints. She was the type of person that prepared countermeasures in advance. But she had never been the type to first adapt to the situation. Because she had always been better at planning and preventing things from happening than dealing with problems and rushing to solve them when they arose.
‘That’s right, was there any law that states that I couldn’t go first?’
Whichever way I do it, I wouldn’t be able to arrive at an answer without doing anything.
Now, what should she do next? The girl smiled softly.
Now that she knew what the problem was, it was now time to solve it.
‘I’ve left another answer behind.’
The walls that seemed to have trapped her in such a suffocating manner had been torn down to reveal a blurry light. She was not going to miss it. In the girl’s turbid eyes, a glint of inspiration swirled like a dawn star.
In this huge space, a lone man was passing through. As he walked along the corridor that stretched for more than 100 meters, hundreds of portraits welcomed the man. The lively and realistic paintings had been painted by the God who guarded art and paintings.. The work of their templars had a variety of subjects, including scenes from myths, a hero’s epic and a shepherd tending their sheep.
And the huge painting that adorned the end of the crowded corridor, where there were also five templars grovelling on the floor, was a painting of the Imperial palace, the Domus Aurea.
The man glanced down. Through the railing on the 2nd floor, roaring sounds blended together to create a loud cacophony.
This was the place where the commoners’ trials were held and also where templars looked for jobs. The place had always been crowded with templars and non-templars alike and as a result, numerous stalls were put up. A spicy aroma stung his nose. Come to think of it, was it already time for lunch?
“… Have you eaten?”
When he spotted a young man coming towards him, his business-like expression collapsed for a moment so that he could smile. In the area where sunlight lit their backs, a smooth outline of his profile could be drawn with a turn of his head. His soft brown hair covered his tender forehead as it fluttered down with soft gentle waves like a woman’s.
“Brother, you shouldn’t be starving yourself.”
He wasn’t sure if Fleon could get the job done but when his older brother’s temper and useless stubbornness flared up again. Ray would be there to deal with it.
Come to think of it, he hadn’t been able to visit Ashley for a while now because he had been busy with work.
He wondered if anything bad happened to her but then again, he could not easily rid himself of his worries because she always had something going on.
‘Leaving it to him makes me anxious.’
When he removed his hand from the railing, a gust of wind fluttered the hems of his long clothes. The long piece of red cloth covering his white robes made Dane look very classy but his face looked tired.
‘That’s why I’ve been rushing to get my work done so I can return.’
With busy footsteps, Dane hurriedly walked out of the corridor. He was heading to an area on the Central Square that was north of this administrative building.
It was where the ones who inherited the powers of the 12th strongest gods laid the foundation for the Empire by joining their hands with the First Emperor a long time ago.
Whether they had been ministers for thousands of years or were once ministers, this was Curia, the assembly hall for members of the senate to gather before every Ministerial Temple in existence.
The doors opened.
“The Head of Rome, the descendant of the wheel, the 7th Prince has arrived!”
He spotted the emblem of a snake which had been cut in half. The snake clearly engraved in ink symbolised the Lord of the Gods, on its right was the rope which symbolised the Goddess of Wisdom, the trident which symbolised the God of Snow and the Sea, the chariot symbolising the God of the Sun, to its left was the hammer and anvil symbolising the God of Blacksmiths and… Dane’s eyes, which have been scanning his surroundings, slowly closed.
‘Were daffodils the symbol of the God of Death?’
When he opened them again, a gentle smile spread on his face.
The floor he was on had been made of expensive marble which had been engraved with elegant patterns.
As he walked along the floor, dozens of pairs of eyes and their attention were drawn to him. The structure of this place was much like a small colosseum so there was a stage at the end of the stairs he was lowering himself on.
The seats where the 12 representatives of the senate sat had high podiums with backrests. And the chairs were all occupied.
“You’ve arrived, 7th Prince.”
One of them spoke. Dane silently climbed onto his seat before gently smiling towards the left without panicking.
Regardless of their age or gender, his beautiful and enchantingly reverent smile calmed the tumultuous atmosphere. One of those sitting even thought that the Goddess of Beauty had possessed him at that moment.
Then, Dane, who was elegantly dressed in traditional Imperial attire, spoke in a gentle and soft voice that matched his beautiful face.
“The reason why you called me here, is it regarding the fact that I’m protecting the desert princess?”
Each of the 12 representatives symbolised each respective temple of 12 gods. The 12 strongest gods out of the 24 who came to this land. And amongst the 12 representatives, some were temples of weaker gods who replaced those who have become less relevant or had disappeared altogether.
For example, in the place of the Temple of Winds which had disappeared, a Templar of Air and Feathers took its place.
“It’s not necessarily because of that.”
The one who spoke was the Head Templar of the Goddess of Wisdom and the current consul. He was also the 2nd Prince’s maternal grandfather. (1)
When he was inventing the lightbulb, it had been reported that Edison had suffered 2000 failures. Hence, it could be said that to realise an idea, numerous difficulties were to be expected.
‘So, this is not something only I’m going through.’
The girl who was facing a crisis had comforted herself like that.
She was practising with him once again.
A musician who was playing just for the two of them blew a long horn trumpet. Under the lead of the Templar of Music, a unique high-pitched melody resonated throughout the hall as their fingers flew across their instruments.
The girl struggled to hide her uncomfortable expression as she gripped onto her skirt and smiled. From here on, that man was the Lord of the Gods and she was the First Emperor.
With long strides and loud footsteps, Castor walked proudly towards her before lowering his head and pulling her hand to kiss it.
The way he kissed every finger signified the love that the Lord of Gods gave a single human being. It was a way for the Lord to express their lament at the finity of a human’s life when they were willing to give the human everything.
And being the Lord of the Gods was Castor’s role.
Whilst thinking about how pure love didn’t suit the tyrant, the girl shifted her feet so that she wouldn’t mess up her steps.
In fact, when the bass started playing, the girl was already dancing very badly out of nervousness. Because of that, she didn’t think it would be strange if the infinitely tyrannical tyrant ordered for her head to be stepped on so many times that all her hair would fall off one day.
‘Just because I’m trying to be careful, it doesn’t mean that I am.’
Sometimes, her body was impossible to control. Even though she had practised so much, the actual practise was too different.
“It’s alright. Should we try again?”
He was indifferent.
He didn’t look like someone whose feet had been stepped on this whole time. It made her wonder if his feet were made of ice for a moment.
“I didn’t see any mistakes today.”
“… How embarrassing.”
She felt really sorry for Rebecca.
“I think I’ve showed you too many flawed sides of myself.”
Rebecca had taught her so devotedly and passionately but in the end, Ashley had taken her patronus away. And during the actual practice, she kept stepping on his feet. She felt even more remorseful because she knew how good Rebecca was as a teacher. She had once even left her speechless by forgetting what she had just taught her after learning something new.
“Why am I only this nervous in front of you…”
Ashley smiled awkwardly and ended their conversation ambiguously. It was better to get rid of awkward conversation topics quickly.
“Aren’t you busy today? I don’t see the ministers who always accompanied you or any of your documents?”
Castor locked his gaze with hers.
“They can’t always get in my way, right?”
He narrowed the distance between us.
“To continue having such fun times.”
Her nervousness tightened her chest.
Well, wasn’t it only fun for the tyrant himself? Just when she was going to let out her thoughts, he embraced her tightly so that his enchanting voice could drip into her ears.
‘Because I couldn’t let him see my real feelings, they’ve been piling up inside of me. Should I flip him the finger?’
She grimaced in his embrace. But she wanted to live a long life.
“… I’m glad that you feel that way about being with me. I also look forward to spending time with you, brother.”
“You do? With me?”
It’s true. To be exact, she looked the most forward to ending her time with him. Anyway, she wasn’t wrong to say that since she had to be with Castor for their time together to end.
“So, we feel the same towards each other?”
She relaxed a little. Of course, that was only until Castor smirked and brought his face closer to hers.
“Do you really think that way?”
“My Ashley, I can tell the difference between the truth and the lies very easily.”
Even though his voice was addicting and charming enough for her to lose reason when he whispered sweetly into her ears, she wondered why she still had chills.
“I am able to read the thoughts of everyone in this hall. I can do that now but I don’t want to. Why’s that?”
“… Why don’t you want to?”
“Because it’s not fun if I get to know everything by reading their thoughts so easily.”
Castor’s firm body could not be easily pushed back.
“Because I adore you.”
“So much that I don’t want to lose you this easily.”
(1): Just in case anyone forgets because it’s been a while since this word appeared again, consuls are the annually elected chief magistrates who jointly rule the republic. Do take note that the author might have changed its meaning to fit the story but this is what’s officially known.