He had been surrounded by love when he was younger. He had a loving mother and a garden filled with plants that he adored.
The boy’s mother, the 4th Queen, was someone just like a plant. Someone who was quiet and cozy to be around and helped fill the space in the room.
Even after becoming a noble, she was not hesitant to touch soil with her pale and delicate hands. Her love for plants was inherited by her son, Amor. He had learned how to crawl on dirt itself and enjoyed walking on the earth from a young age.
The green sprouts, the droplets of dew hanging off the edge of grass blades, the sunlight cascading through the foliage, the soft paths and the gentle scent of pine trees. Ever since he learnt how to walk, Amor would chase after his mother. He would then vaguely remember how his mother would turn back to look at him and smile like a warm afternoon.
“This is a rafflesia and this is duckweed. That’s an acacia tree and that’s a peony.”
Due to his sickness, Amor coughed frequently and yet he enjoyed talking. Instead of names of others, the young boy would clearly remember the names of flowers and trees. He was a boy who liked the smell of grass and flowers on his sleeves more than the smell of food itself.
Before the day it happened, to him, the world had been so peaceful and gentle.
They had naturally only seen a few people since many were reluctant to approach them because of his mother. So, his mother was his entire world. His world was filled with his memories with his mother.
The 4th queen was someone who hated talking even though she had learnt how to read and write for a short period of time. However, the words she would say to her son sounded just as if she was singing. They sounded beautiful.
His mother had never taught Amor how to love people though she did hint about it very subtly. When it was time to eat, they ate together, When someone was sick, the other would stay up all night to nurse. And on special occasions, they would smile and hug each other.
Those natural interactions taught him how to love.
‘Love was something warm, ticklish, soft and gentle.’
As he followed after the cozy existence that was his mother, he too became more and more like her.
However, when the young boy suffered from a high fever one day, their cozy world began to crack.
“Get a hold of yourself, my child! My child!”
The fever continued to rise unstoppably and he was then sick for 15 days. Thinking that it was just because of the change in seasons, the 4th Queen called for a cleric. Then the cleric, who had visited them before occasionally, arrived. He did his best to make sure that such a young life did not meet the end. (1)
While his loved ones anxiously worried about him, Amor wandered alone in a huge forest within his dreams.
A strange dark forest that was covered in a fog.
“Where are you…?”
Whilst looking at the dark sky, he was constantly searching for a way out.
He was desperate to see his mother. Amidst his journey, he would sometimes cry in the darkness and collapse within the maze-like forest. However, it was strange how he did not feel tired and his legs did not hurt.
It felt more like he was gliding through this forest. Amor then reached the centre of the forest. He did not know why he felt that this was the centre of the forest but it felt as if this place was like a heart that was supporting the entire forest as a whole.
When he arrived, a low thump drummed throughout the forest as if something had been waiting for him. One step. Two steps. The heart of the forest was beating. Three steps. Amor raised his hand after the ninth step.
– I represent all the plants and the earth they grow on.
Something spoke in a very warm and comfortable voice.
– Can you really love me?
Amor nodded. He did not know what love was but he thought he could do it.
– Please address me tenderly.
It whispered as if it had been longing for it.
– Please don’t throw me away…
– I am just a sculpture that fell from the Gods a long time ago. Please help me.
For a long time, there had been no templars representing this God and its sculpture had since been long abandoned. He met the lonely God. And with it, showed him a future of abundance.
– Let me join you.
Amor nodded again. Then, the sculpture bloomed like a lotus flower and spread its fluttering petals as if they were wings. The stem growing from the sculpture thrusted into Amor’s heart. It helped the young boy’s heart beat again while signing a contract with the boy.
But Amor’s face contorted in pain. Ow! It hurt so much! As soon as the thought of wanting to see his mother again entered his head, a pillar of light suddenly erupted from below his feet.
– A kind person.
A melody he had never heard before, the soft smell of the earth and the scent of flowers. As if the plants were celebrating a festival, a forest bloomed under his feet–blooming leaves, petals and roots branched out. When he looked at his feet, he could see young sprouts and fruits growing. Everything that was born and raised on the earth were bowing and praising his birth. Hooray! Hooray! Their voices were full of joy. The voices did not sound human and instead sounded like the winds that blew through cave passages. Their voices were mixing together at first before they became clearer and he was able to hear their utter joy.
– When you’re happy, please let me be happy with you.
Amor widened his eyes.
The world around him was whispering to him. Hurry and come. Amor heard the flowers whisper, heard the salutations of a shy tree and the branches of the wisteria tree wrapping around his fingers and professing their love for him. As if to say ‘We love you with all our heart’.
That was how he became the templar of Tellus.
Soon, Amor would think that if he had turned down the request of the lonely God, he would not have become a templar and would be able to die happily.
“Tellus’ templar appeared?”
Its silence had finally ended after 300 years. The powers of the 6th God that had disappeared for so long, appeared after 300 years.
“That is right.”
The Empire’s God, Jupiter, gave itself the complete number one. The smaller the number, the more powerful the God was. The 6th God, Tellus, who had been missing for a while, revealed himself to the world which caused a stir in the palace.
“Flowers were blooming in the middle of winter. Moreover, the earth is now moist and the trees grew their leaves early.”
On the day the young boy woke up, he unknowingly caused flowers to bloom and fruit to blossom in the middle of winter. It was also around this time that the white outer walls of the Teret Palace were decorated with life.
Even when Amor was not paying attention, the plants were always whispering.
They wanted to know what their little templar needed and wanted. They wanted to protect their hope against unwanted beings.
They became his protectors that cared for and surrounded Amor. They stretched out their hands and feet to fill his surroundings. Amor used to look at these playful and lovely things with a smile. His laughter was as refreshing as the crack of dawn on a new day.
Yes, they came to him.
He loved the plants that loved him back with all his heart.
Even the plants that grew beyond the walls of Teret Palace and the palaces in the west. Even the flowers that bloomed in the central palace.
It was a ripe winter. Red roses which could never have bloomed in this season, bloomed. It was a testament to Amor’s strength.
Soon, an Emperor’s decree arrived.
Castor raised his head and smiled. From that moment on, the brothers who shared the same blood became enemies. Castor announced that he was going to follow the Emperor’s decree.
Little Amor woke up in the middle of the night with a start. The plants were screaming.
‘W-what? What’s going on? Why are they crying?’
He could hear the gradually approaching footsteps of intruders from the far east. They sounded ferocious. Plants were being pulled from the earth, being trampled on and dying, sending Amor warnings.
“Run. Run away. Our precious little boy, run! Please!”
He was only seven years old when Amor heard a horrible scream of pain.
He could not do anything but shiver and cry at the first time he ever felt fear.
He was looking through the perspective of the plants. A man’s neck had just been cut with his eyeballs falling out of their sockets. Amor did not recognise the man’s face but he knew he was a knight guarding this palace.
Castor greeted before killing a maid in the Teret Palace, Paite.
“I like the Prince the most.”
She was afraid of his mother but she was a noble that adored him very much.
“Are you the 4th Prince?”
It was once again horrifying. The next victim was an old gentleman who took care of him for a long time before spending the last of his strength and dying.
“You have to remain healthy for a long long time. Huhu, it’s this old man’s wish.”
Even though his skills were lacking, he dreamed of one day creating a panacea to cure all diseases. He was just a kind old man who wanted to help a lot of people.
‘Why? Why? Why isn’t anyone moving anymore? Nanny. Pirate. Sir Ain. Mister cleric?’
This was the first time Amor had ever used his powers on others and this time it was out of fear.
“Stay away, Your Highness. It’s poison.”
According to the will of the templar himself, all sorts of poison exploded in front of him with the sticky acidity of all of them combined being poured on their feet. An earthquake rumbled causing the earth beneath to crack. Huge roots shot up from the crevices and tied their hands and feet before shooting thorns like arrows. Amor struggled against them. The knights under Castors’ command gradually collapsed but more and more enemies continued to flock towards him.
Most importantly, Castor just stood at the edge and watched him quietly with a gentle smile as if he was not watching a bloodshed.
No one had told him anything but he could feel his powers not working the way he wanted to in front of that person who felt like some absolute being.
“… What’s your name?”
That absolute being finally came before him and asked Amor.
Even after such a gruesome battle, the black-haired boy looked fine. Little Amor looked at him blankly before glancing behind the boy to see the bloodstained footprints.
There were corpses of plants and bodies alike stacked up like mountains in the field behind him.
“I’m you brother. Tell me your name.”
Castor asked one more time.
The boy shook his head.
“It’s a nice name.”
To Amor, Castor’s existence was something akin to the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Lutenais. Castor’s golden eyes were frightening. Ever since that moment, the words needed to describe his majesty was insufficient. The beauty of a monument or a temple could be comparable. However, there was also a fierce aura around him that made him hard to approach. Amor’s back was tingling.
Feeling frightened for the first time in his life, Amor hugged himself with his arms and trembled uncontrollably.
“There are only two alive right now.”
The only people who remained were the ones who lived here, his mother and himself, excluding the two people standing right in front of him.
In a while, Amor was brought into his mother’s arms.
“The templar. I am the templar! It is not my child. It is me. I-I have the power of Tellus!”
This was the same mother who did not like to talk much.
“I, this…! I-I can show you my powers!”
His mother shouted desperately and loudly, trying to use her abilities. She was going to have to break the promise she made to never use her powers. The 4th Queen was a templar candidate.
“A templar candidate… She never awoken but she has powers.”
“That seems to be so.”
After Levitiana realised that she never got the love and attention she was expected to receive from her parents, she decided to sell herself to the Emperor so that they will never receive any help from the Empire ever again. She activated her powers by biting down on her fingers. When the 4th Queen displayed her powers, the plants underneath her feet wriggled around unnaturally.
“… She’s right. Should we take them both?”
Castor replied without a glance.
‘I’ll be fine either way. Saving them will be nice too.”
His eyes were cold but his smile was captivatingly beautiful.
“You said you didn’t need two of them.”
The middle-aged man with white hair whispered to Castor softly. He was the Duke of the Empire, Yusnan Orberfon Develo. He waited for Castor’s orders with a white bird perched on his shoulders. Of course, the results had already been fixed.
‘I want to return already.’
Annoyance and boredom was evidently written on his conniving face and all he wanted to do was to finish this up quickly and go home.
“There’s something I want to do.”
As soon as Castor muttered, Yusnan replied.
“Please be merciful.”
Knowing the Crown Prince too well, Yusnan handed him the sword without hesitation.
“His Highness, the Crown Prince, will only let one of you off alive.”
(1): Just to clarify I used clerics here but its actually templars who specialise in medicine and the sorts. But it’s be too much to keep repeating that so I just used clerics.