180.1 The Abduction of Princess Natalie (5)
After escaping the enemy, they passed through a forest. Gradually, the greenery diminished. On the road where dust danced, a dry wind swirled. They appeared to be on a road that bordered the forest and a desert.
“There’s a temple near this vicinity. That shall be our rendezvous point.”
Upon confirming that the crisis was over, Geraldo slowed down the horse. While holding him, Natalie looked behind themselves. There were no signs of being followed. Despite the relief, she couldn’t muster any positive words.
“Is that, so…?”
Geraldo didn’t seem to care about Natalie’s stiff reply. Nevertheless, remaining silent as it was felt awkward.
What should I say? To introduce myself now, this late, is kind of…
In the end, Natalie decided to say what was most important.
“…Uhm, thank you, for coming to my aid…”
“I merely took responsibility for my errors, don’t think about it.”
He said something similar earlier. He probably felt a sense of responsibility.
However, his sudden polite language, which lacked a shred of emotion, felt strangely disturbing.
“…I don’t think that’s how it works.”
Due to feeling relaxed, she unintentionally revealed her true feelings. Naturally, since she was riding behind Geraldo, he probably heard it.
Despite Natalie’s panic, Geraldo didn’t even turn around. Then, he asked in a business-like manner.
“Do you want me to apologize?”
He was basically saying that he didn’t care either way. His lack of interest towards trivialities was properly communicated to Natalie.
Finally, without hesitation, Natalie glared at him.
“That’s not what I mean. What’s with the business-like tone? Our conversation won’t edure.”
Geraldo frowned. His expression was saying, ‘What are you talking about?’
In response, Natalie laughed softly.
“I bet you’re unpopular.”
“—What’s with that random, completely unrelated, tangent?”
Apparently, he was more flustered than he looked. After being grumpily told off, Natalie spoke once again.
“It’s important for when you get married.”
“In this situation, that’s what you’re concerned with?”
“Well, isn’t that obvious? That’s the reason why I came here. Also, what was with that previous attack?”
Geraldo didn’t say anything. At the same time, he seemed annoyed.
“I have the right to know.”
“…The investigation is still ongoing. However, it’s probably the work of those who want to pit me against His Majesty the King.”
“By that, do you mean your father? Are the rumors about the two of you not being on good terms true?”
“Well, since you’ve heard the rumors, please explain what makes you think that we’d get along?”
The king ridiculed as the Southern King had built a private back palace in the to the southern territory of Kratos. He was endlessly insulted. After being deposed by the talented crown prince, he went into seclusion. Based on the rumors, he was also an awful father.
Natalie laughed bitterly.
“Right. Terrible parents. In this world, there are lots of them—Huh?”
Natalie, who was staring silently at Geraldo, frowned. Instead of answering, Geraldo focused on the scenery in front of him. Before long, he had halted his horse. They seemed to have arrived at their destination.
Geraldo alighted from the horse and extended his hand to Natalie. With his help, which Natalie was grateful for, she set foot onto the cobblestone path.
Tall trees with long leaves were lined up at equal intervals along the path. They were like umbrellas. At the end of the road was a staircase and an eastern styled house. The building consisted solely of columns and a roof, there were no walls.
“This place is…?”
“It’s a place where everyone prays before heading out into the desert. It’s often used as a place for rest.”
When she looked around, she saw destroyed walls and broken pillars in her surroundings.
Was this originally a temple or something…?
Upon climbing the stairs and going into the eastern styled house, Natalie gasped.
There was a lake in the distance. Within said lake, a statue of a woman wearing a corolla could be seen.
That was probably the statue of the Goddess of Kratos. That was her first time seeing her.
“Are you going to join with your allies here?”
“That’s right. Rest assured, you’ll definitely return to the Rave Empire.”
Natalie averted her gaze from the glittering lake and the goddess statue to look at Geraldo.
“Aren’t we going to get engaged?”
“Then, why was I sent to Kratos?”
“It’s none of your concern.”
“That’s not how it works.”
Geraldo sighed at Natalie’s reply. It didn’t seem like he’ll start explaining, and Natalie was sick of his attitude.
“The reason we can’t get engaged, is it because of the lady from the Saber family?”
Not expecting such an immediate reply, Natalie was speechless.
Did he just— …what’s with him?!
Just when she was starting to grow fond of him, too, considering that he came to her aid.
Her impression of him was ruined. The sparkling lake, which should’ve been beautiful, only added to her annoyance. She clenched her skirt, before letting go.
Remember, she’s just 11-years-old!
What good would it do to act out, now? If anything, it’d make myself look as childish as that girl!
If victory was impossible, then she should just give up.
“Don’t worry, after the civil war of the Rave Empire is over, I’ll send you back. After all, it’d be difficult if you were to die here.”
Should I be relieved?
Once again, Natalie commented.
“As I thought, you’re unpopular.”
“…We’re back to that?”
“Well, never mind. That’s right, uh… it’d be a relief if I could stay with you for a while.”
There was still a chance.
Geraldo stared at her with suspicion.
“I’ll arrange for your stay in the royal capital. But, won’t you find it uncomfortable?”
“I can get used to it. Don’t get me wrong, our engagement is still on the table.”
“If you’re doing this to help your uncle, then it’s meaningless. Georg Theos Rave is going to die.”
Geraldo had said something that couldn’t be ignored. Then, he nonchalantly continued.
“Hadith Theos Rave is the true Dragon Emperor.”
“…How do you know that?”
“Right back at you, why don’t you know? Could it be, the dragons haven’t forsaken you, yet?”
She clasped her hands in front of her chest. It was all she could do. Then, as if he had received his answer, Geraldo murmured while staring at the lake.
“Apparently, despite his lack of understanding regarding love, the Dragon Emperor is still capable of being kind.”
“…You, what are you trying to say!?”
“Are you aware of your position?”
To Geraldo’s calm question, Natalie couldn’t muster an answer.
“All the criticism you’ve thrown my way, shouldn’t they be directed at your uncle and brother? Before asking me anything, shouldn’t you be asking them—and yourself—’what you are doing’?”
To the immaculate truth, Natalie could only clench her fist.
“You’re totally unpopular…!”
“…Again, why do you insist on that?”
“Let me tell you, with that kind of reasoning, you’ll only be hated. You know what, the lady of the Saber family probably hates you, too. Don’t tell me, you force your views down her throat all the time? That poor 11-year-old girl.”
It was Geraldo’s turn to be speechless. While raising an eyebrow, he muttered in a small voice, making an excuse.
“…She never complains about it.”
“As if she can do that, she’s 11-years-old!”
“…If she has something to say, she appeals me, and I try to listen. I also visit her regularly.”
“What do you think visiting a girl is? It’s not a court meeting or a military one. Speaking of which, have you told her about me?”
“Of course. I said that it’d depend on the political situation.”
Geraldo blinked. Judging from his expression, he probably didn’t understand the question. Amazed, Natalie asked.
“…You called it an explanation, but isn’t that just a bunch of excuses?”
“There’s no reason for me to make any excuses.”
“Instead, why can’t you just say, ‘I’m sorry for making you anxious.’, or, ‘I’ll make it up to you in the future’—Are you an idiot!?”
“Who are you calling an idiot!?”
“…I even gave her a birthday present!”
Natalie turned her fiery gaze towards Geraldo who was at loss for words.
“Oh, did you choose it yourself? Did you go buy it?”
Silence was the answer.
“W, what are you trying to say!?”
When she saw the complex expression on his face, which was a mixture of anger and impatience, she felt better.
In front of his fiancée, the lady of the Saber family, Geraldo probably behaved like a cool older prince. However, Natalie wasn’t deceived.
“Nothing? I kept hearing rumors about how much of a prodigy you are. That you’re flawless and what-not. Unsurprisingly, it’s just a front.”
Geraldo was thinking with his eyes closed. Seeing that, Natalie continued.
“Why so serious? Not like it’s a bad thing. A perfect prince is boring.”
“I never deemed myself as perfect. But I should try to improve.”
“…Your words are similar to Faelis’.”
***T/N: Oop. OOP. THERE IT IS. HIS SWEET ALABAMA.
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