Chapter 8 – Deliverance II
That night, just as Claudius was about to fall asleep, he heard a noise amidst his slumber.
Opening his eyelids, Claudius quietly requested a confirmation of identity. He couldn’t be careless. It was when he was careless that he was most vulnerable.
“Do you realize you’re in the room of the prince? If you take another step into my quarters, you’ll be put under a curse by this country’s greatest magicians.”
Even so, if the person had come this far prepared to throw away their life, they wouldn’t have any problem harming the prince. As an alarm bell rang silently in Claudius’s heart, Claudius strained his eyes in the pitch-blackness.
There was a small, human figure.
“Sorry for coming so late at night, Dia.”
The slight voice was like a small, round bell being rolled gently across the floor.
Mii? Is that you, Mii?” Claudius asked, bewildered. He thought he felt her nod.
“Yeah. Sorry, during the day, they had me under watch, so I wasn’t able to come until late at night.”
“You were being watched…?”
“Sort of. They didn’t say I couldn’t go anywhere, though. The guy at the bottom of your tower let me through.”
“I see…” Claudius responded in a complex mental state. Several different words said by various people ran about in his mind. “Mimizuku… I was waiting for you.”
“I know. Thank you.”
Mimizuku seemed to nod. She also seemed to be smiling, just a little.
“Andy and Orietta came here and told me about you. I thought you wouldn’t be coming to see me anymore.”
Hidden in the cloth of his bed’s canopy overhang, Claudius couldn’t see Mimizuku’s face, and thus was unaware of just how much Mimizuku had changed since retrieving her memories.
He closed his eyes in the darkness. Nothing changed. Whether his eyes were open or closed, the world was still the same color.
“… The king came by today. He said that the last ceremony in the destruction of the King of Night is being held tomorrow, and that I have to come… He said I had to participate, as the next king.”
Claudius had understood what the king meant.
The day before, Ann Duke had come and told him. He knew of the whole situation. Ann Duke told him of Mimizuku’s situation, of the meaning of the seal on her forehead, and the reason why she had scars on her wrists and ankles.
And then, Ann Duke told him this: “You’re going to be called for a ceremony two days from now, Claudius. Burn my actions that day into your memory. However… if you can, please don’t tell Mimizuku about this.”
Ann Duke had worn a sad smile as he said those words.
“I figured I’d become notorious and hated eventually, anyway. It can’t be helped…”
Claudius had asked what he could do to help.
Ann Duke simply smiled. He smiled as if he was holding down what he truly wanted to say.
“Dia, you might be able to move your arms and legs soon.”
“I don’t care what happens to me,” Claudius had said. Ann Duke patted him on the head.
“Don’t say things like that. The king wants you to be able to move your arms and legs freely so that you’ll have more confidence in yourself.”
Confidence in himself
Moving his arms and legs would give him confidence? Could he become king just by moving his arms and legs?
“You know, Claudius,” Mimizuku said in a trembling voice. Claudius opened his ears so as to not let any of her voice escape him. “You know…” Even in the dark, Mimizuku’s silhouette was small.