50. Red Eye (2)
Three years later, I was ten years old.
It was a very hot day. The summer sun shined mercilessly on the ground, and the heat seared the skin.
I was practicing swordsmanship with Henry that day, at the castle training ground.
Henry, my cousin, was two years older than me. I practice together with Henry ever since I was eight. But, never once did I win against him.
My wooden sword almost grazed Henry’s cheek. However, he effortlessly evaded it.
In that instant, our swords clashed. He was much stronger than me—I was immediately knocked off balance.
Henry, not missing the opportunity, launched his sword to my neck.
“This is it—!”
—again, that easily, my defeat was announced.
—…I lost again.
We dropped our swords. I wiped the sweat off my forehead with my sleeve.
Meanwhile, Henry, who stood in front of me, looked unfazed. He was proudly laughing.
“Arthur, I won again!”
Short, ash-grey, hair swayed in the wind. His face was full of laughter—which was as bright as midsummer sun that lit up any darkness. He looked truly dazzling to me.
Henry was a good guy. He never indulged other people because he was confident in himself and he had firm beliefs. That was why I got along with him—
I lowered my head.
“Oi, oi… don’t make that kind of face. Isn’t it natural that I won? I’m two years older than you, after all—!”
Henry seemed to think that I was mourning over my defeat—but I wasn’t.
It was something else—
—when I said nothing, Conrad arrived by my side and uttered to me.
“Come on, Little Lords, let’s take a break under the shade. If you were to faint because of the heat stroke, my neck would be in peril.”
A proportionate, muscular body. Tightened muscles could be found everywhere on his tanned skin. He was Conrad Olsen, one of the kingdom’s knight.
He was taller than us, thus, he had to look down. His smile was full of vigor.
However, Henry didn’t flinch at all. On the contrary, he stared back at Conrad.
“Conrad, I already told you to stop with the ‘Little Lords’—besides, we aren’t so weak as to faint over a little heat—right, Arthur?”
Henry glanced at me, however, I avoided his gaze.
Honestly, I wasn’t that good at physical activities.
Seeing my pathetic state, Conrad laughed brilliantly.
“Hahaha! Little Lord is indeed Little Lord! Other than that, if you two become too strong, we—the knights—will lose our job! That would be a problem! Well, honestly, that should be it for today. I have a lot of work left.”
Conrad’s smile grew deeper. Henry finally relented to his spirit.
We handed the swords to Conrad and returned to the terrace.
This training ground was located at the east side of the castle. It was originally a garden, however, I requested my father for a little space. This place could be seen from my room’s window—
—I wanted to become stronger, even if just a little.
On the terraces, some maids were already present. At the table, we each took a glass.
The lemonade that filled the glass bubbled up—
I felt invigorated, and also comfortable.
We soon downed the entirety of them down. My parched throat moistened in an instant.
“…It tastes superb!”
“Yes, how delicious!”
Apparently, we were quite thirsty. The maids laughed at us as they prepared more glasses of lemonade.
Henry picked it up and gulped it again—his throat made a gurgling, refreshing sound.
I looked around and my gaze ended up on the garden—deep behind the training ground.
The garden had vastly changed from that day, three years ago.
Ever since then, I kept hearing a voice from time to time.
The voice would never appear when I was with another person.
It only came out when my heart was about to reach its limit.
Then, he would substitute for me. He would say what everyone wished to hear, while at the same time, cast them aside.
Before I realized it, all the negative thoughts had dispersed from the castle. Those who spoke ill of me, I could no longer hear them.
My right eye stayed red. However, I could no longer hear the voices of my surroundings unless I willed so. It had been relatively peaceful as of the recent…
For the first time in a while, I felt in peace.
“—oh, right, Arthur—“
Suddenly, Henry called me.
“My father wanted to see you. He wants your opinion regarding on certain matters…”
I frowned. Henry’s father was the Duke of Aldebaran—my uncle.
Three years ago, he helped me drive many people out of this castle. Certainly, I was indebted to him, however—…
“—don’t look like that. You’re really skillful at talking, that’s why, I’m counting on you.”
I understand that.
After all, the plan originated from me. He helped me in executing it—but that didn’t change what I did. By no mean the duke was a bad person. He wasn’t trying to take advantage of anybody—but,
He was a greedy person.
He certainly wasn’t going to bare his fangs against me, and it wasn’t like doing this would cause a massive impact to my surroundings…
The Duke was a strong willed man—
—he would, without fail, make a legitimate decision.
That was also the reason I asked for his help three years ago.
I lifted myself and forced a smile.
“I understand. I’ll visit him next week.”
“That’s awesome! Good! I’ll tell my father!”
Henry laughed—his laugh resembled the sun. Really dazzling—but,
“School will be starting next month.”
Yes. Next month, Henry would enroll in a boarding school. We wouldn’t be able to meet for a while.
I bit my lips.
Changes were gradually happening.
Unlike those olden days, people now met my gaze as we talked. I began to smile. No one was aware of my power. Nobody knew the real color of my right eye.
—still, I couldn’t trust my surroundings.
Once I willed it, I could listen to anyone’s heart. But—what if the voice revealed how much they actually resented me?
When I thought about such a possibility, my knee would become weak and I could barely move.
Thankfully, as long as I didn’t intent on hearing them, I wouldn’t hear them—I closed my ears.
…Henry was the only one I could trust.
But, I wouldn’t be able to see him for a while after this…
“Arthur, what are you looking at? You miss me, already?”
The carefree Henry laughed.
“It will be fine! There’ll be Christmas holidays in December, three months from now! Soon, right!?”
In Henry’s face, no hesitation could be detected.
To him, three months was just a short amount of time—unlike me.
Surely, Henry would soon forget about me. He was such a good and bright lad. He would be making a lot of new friends and would soon forget about these trivialities.
When I thought so, I almost cried. I desperately wanted to scream, but I managed to hold myself back. I didn’t want to bother Henry.
That was why, instead, I tried to laugh as hard as possible…
“That’s right! What is three months, even? It’ll soon be over, so, good luck with your school! Do your best!”
“Yes! Thanks, Arthur!”
Henry laughed innocently, like a child…
He was so dazzling, a deep shadow was cast on my dark heart.
***T/N: Jesus Christ don’t tell me the second volume is about Arthur and his Thousand Issues. WE ARE LIKE, 5 PAGES INTO THE VOLUME 2 AND we already found someone moppier than Amelia
and oh I love how there’s rarely a description about the scenery and everything else but each person’s smile would always get emphasized.