Chapter 224: Little Rascal’s ‘Consolation’
Translator:?EndlessFantasy Translation??Editor:?EndlessFantasy Translation
Little Rascal sat on a wooden crate in a daze, and watched as the White Blade Guards around her busily tended to their wounds, changed, discussed, and prepared for departure.
Every single one of them had been respectful to her. Even when they were in a rush, they did not forget to clear a spot for her to rest, promising her clean water and food.
But like an alarm, the fear and anxiety that intruded her mind startled her awake as she was close to falling asleep each time.
It made her feel as though she was in between a dream and reality.
‘But this is how it is, isn’t it?’ Little Rascal lowered her head, asking herself bitterly.
‘Was everything I’ve experienced since last night not a nightmare?
Little Rascal sniffled, touching her petite face, which had been wiped clean.
She sat on the wooden crate in loneliness, watching people come and go.
Although the clothing on her body was warm, she felt colder than ever.
She was lost and confused.
She had nowhere to return to, no one to rely on.
“Here you are.”
Little Rascal turned her head and was surprised to see Thales walking towards her with an anguished expression.
The Prince of Constellation sat down brusquely on an empty spot next to her.
“Thales.” Little Rascal was astonished but delighted. “Why are you…”
Wearing a blank expression, Thales scooped up a piece of bread in a plate beside Little Rascal. He ignored the angry glare from a White Blade Guard nearby.
“The food provided for the Constellatiates was lousy—the priestesses are Northlanders too.” Thales bit into the fluffy bread, pressing half of his face into it. The bread offered to the temple was different. He hummed and murmured, “I’m taking some from you.”
Little Rascal gawked at him.
Thales gritted his teeth with great effort, and pulled his face out of the bread.
The prince did not look up. He merely chewed vigorously as he peered at the half loaf in his hand.
His eyes were clouded with confusion.
Seeing him like this, Little Rascal blinked, and forgot her own troubles in an instant.
“You’re not staying with them…” Emotionless, Thales swallowed a mouthful of bread. Feeling his stomach slowly being filled, he pursed his lips and gestured at Nicholas as well as Mirk, who were discussing something a few feet away. “Did they mistreat you?”
Little Rascal looked up, eyeing the two men in the distance with hesitation.
“No, they’ve been very respectful towards me.” The girl shook her head. Nearly shaking off her eyeglasses again, she panicked and quickly held it against the bridge of her nose. Then, in a pitiful manner, she said, “That’s why I feel scared.”
The dishevelled girl bit her lip. “You know, they were there. They knew…”
“It’s not important anymore,” Thales’ voice sounded.
Little Rascal glanced at the prince, feeling surprised.
Thales was grasping the bread in his hand, staring blankly ahead.
His mouth would chew and move once in a while.
Thales narrowed his eyes and said bitterly, “No matter what occurred in the Hall of Heroes, does it matter now?”
He shook his head indifferently. “Once we escape this nightmare, everything about it no longer matters.”
Thales thought in a daze,
‘There is one thing, however.
‘We can escape the nightmare, but the nightmare won’t let us go.’
“Thales.” Little Rascal placed her hands on both sides of her body and leaned forward with concern. “Are-Are you alright?”
Thales recovered from his trance-like state and glanced at her.
“No.” Thales lowered his head and sighed deeply. “I’m not alright.”
Little Rascal smacked her lips, gazing at Thales. She blinked, at a loss of what to do.
Thales stared at the wooden crate underneath the girl and her tiny feet, which were dangling in the air.
“Did you know, even though I wasn’t willing to, I came to carry out a mission?” the prince said blankly.
Little Rascal gawked at him, not knowing how to react.
“But I failed,” he concluded drily.
His voice was filled with hesitation and anguish.
Little Rascal merely nodded subconsciously.
Thales burst into a snicker all of a sudden.
“Now we have to run.” His laugh was sorrowful and dejected. Hearing that, Little Rascal was disheartened. “We have to leave a mess behind us, and then run, dejected.”
Thales listlessly put the half-eaten bread back on the plate. He then leaned back on the wooden crate that Little Rascal was sitting on.
He gazed quietly at the dim ceiling, vaguely recognizing the mural on it— three blurry silhouettes were birthed before a glowing, white sphere.
‘This must be the place that belongs to the gods,’ Thales thought in a daze.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
Based on what High Priestess Holme said, Bright Moon Goddess probably did not care about mortal disputes.
‘It would be great if I could be indifferent to everything like them.’
Thales smiled sorrowfully before he relaxed the muscles on his face again.
Little Rascal stared at him silently like an obedient kitten.
Thales kept his eyes on the ceiling, but his gaze was vacant. His voice sounded distant as though it was coming through a layer of veil, “Do you know, Eckstedt will most likely send troops down south by pinning the accusation of the king’s assassination on me—and it won’t be just one archduke who will do so in the name of Eckstedt.”
Little Rascal nodded slightly.
A shade of gloom clouded Thales’ eyes. The silhouettes of Arracca, Sonia and the falling Fury Guards seemed to surface before him. “We will lose Broken Dragon Fortress and the Northern Territory. We won’t be able to stop them.
“Besides, due to the incompetence as well as failure of the diplomat group and the heir, the Jadestar Royal Family will most likely face the harshest criticism in history. The nobles have been waiting for this chance,” the prince said flatly. He made it sound like it was an inconsequential matter.
“As for Lampard, he’ll get everything he wants, no matter what it is.” Thales rested his head on his arms and said in a daze, “He is the final victor, standing upon our failure—you know, I even spilled my guts in his tent, ridiculing him and saying that he was despicable, shameless, as well as cold-hearted.”
Thales let out a cryptic, cold laugh.
“Little Rascal,” his voice became heavier and deeper, “I’ve failed—and I can’t do anything about it.”
“I always thought I could do it.” Thales emitted a bitter laugh, recalling Gilbert’s advice in Mindis Hall. “I’m not incredibly smart, but I’m not dumb either. Besides, I have help from Putray and the rest…”
Thales felt a pang of sorrow in his chest.
“But I can’t do it,” the prince said sadly. It was as though his tongue weighed thousands of pounds. “It’s too difficult.”
Little Rascal hopped down from the wooden crate, sat down beside him, and nodded slightly. “Mhm.”
Thales squeezed his eyes shut, and exhaled deeply.
Countless waves of sorrow and anguish surged up within him.
“Not only Lampard or King Nuven…
“The imperious Secret Intelligence Department wanted to control everything…
“My so-called dictatorial father, who never considered the willingness and feelings of others…
“They’ve caught me by surprise every time.” Thales rubbed the spot between his eyebrows, as though he was venting a month’s worth of frustration. “I really wanted to do something…”
“Sure, they’ll probably blame me for being a smartass and ruining their plans.” Thales then laughed coldly, and sarcastically said, “Of course, if it weren’t for me, they would perhaps be celebrating their victories in a corner somewhere by now.”
“And I have no right to chastise them, considering my position. Just like you, I am a nobody,” the prince said gloomily.
“Stop saying ‘uh-huh’.”
“Alright, looks like you’re indeed zoning out.”
Little Rascal lifted her head as if she had been abruptly startled awake.
Leaning against the wooden crate, Thales turned his head. His face was filled with a resigned smile, and his eyes were fixed on the astonished girl.
Little Rascal lowered her head. Embarrassed, she covered her face with both hands. “Well, I’m just…”
Thales exhaled a puff of air through his nose and smiled faintly.
He shook his head helplessly. “Alright, thank you for your thoughtful ‘consolation’ and patience in listening to me whine…”
But at that very moment, Thales suddenly felt a weight on his shoulders.
Astounded, he turned his head and saw Little Rascal scooch to his side. Her teeny arms opened wide; one on top of the other, wrapping around his neck from the side, and they were wrapped tightly around his neck.
Thales stared at Little Rascal up close, gazing at her fair, cleansed face—her large eyes stood out behind a pair of thick-framed glasses.
“What are you doing?” he asked blankly.
Little Rascal’s chest was leaning against Thales’ shoulder. She wore an earnest but stern expression. “Consoling you.”
“Consoling?” Confused, Thales was slightly startled. Then he immediately did not know whether he wanted to laugh or cry.
“This was what my mother did a long time ago.” Her arms around his neck tightened. There was a tough, determined look on her face. “When I was sick or hungry, Mother would hug me—if I resisted, she would embrace me from the side throughout the night, until the day broke.”
Thales, who was wrapped in her arms, squinted. “You remember your mother?”
Little Rascal’s pressed her chin on Thales’ shoulder. “Uh-huh, but not very clearly.”
Thales was eyeing her attentive face. He then asked instinctively, “And? What happened to her?”
Little Rascal’s petite torso quivered.
Her expression dimmed.
“She sold me away,” Little Rascal said dejectedly. “She was very poor. She woke up early every day to work and came back home late with very little food.
“She couldn’t afford to keep me,” the little girl said faintly. There was a hint of resolution on her face, which was very uncharacteristic of her. “She wouldn’t have been able to continue living otherwise.”
From afar, Nicholas spotted the two children in a tight embrace.
The Star Killer scowled, striding forward.
But his shoulder was seized by someone’s hand.
“They’re only children.” Mirk clutched at Nicholas’ shoulder with a frosty expression, shaking his head.
Nicholas took a deep look at his old colleague and remained silent.
“So, this is your way of consoling me?” Thales chuckled.
“I have some advice for you. When you grow up, you better break this habit—you can’t comfort people like this.”
Little Rascal nodded as she innocently said, “Oh.”
Thales patted Little Rascal on the hand, chuckling and saying, “Alright, let go of me before Nicholas charges at us with a blade.”
It was then that Little Rascal loosened her arms around the young prince.
“Hey… don’t worry about failing.” She seemed skeptical about the effect of her consolation, and continued to mutter, “The victories and failures of a time are nothing but receding waves. The foundation of a long-lived existence stems from centuries of strategic planning.”
Thales arched one of his eyebrows, ruminating on the quote. “Who… said that?”
Little Rascal’s eyes glinted. She seemed delighted at discovering a topic that interested Thales. “One of your kings.”
Thales frowned. “Ours?”
“The ‘Virtuous King’ who ruled a little over one hundred years ago, Mindis Jadestar the Third.” Little Rascal nodded, appearing to have entered her reading mode. Her eyes gleamed as she said, “He ascended the throne by the end of the Red King’s nightmarish, bloody reign, and he governed the country with excellent political skills. He went through the Fourth Peninsular War in one piece.”
Thales felt a jolt in his chest.
‘Mindis the Third.’
“I remember now. The reign of Mindis the Third was later than that of Midier the Fourth.” A realization dawned on Thales. “But when it came to the Constellation’s currency, Mindis’ head portrait was carved on the silver coin. It’s far more valuable than the Midier copper.”
Both King Nuven and Chapman Lampard had mentioned him before. There were hints of strong feelings in both of their utterances when they mentioned his title.
On their journey to Northland, Putray had also mentioned that Mindis the Third was the initiator of their alliance with Mane et Nox across the sea—he single-handedly changed the result of the Peninsular War.
“The foundation of a long-lived existence stems from centuries of strategic planning?” Thales mumbled.
Thales turned his head abruptly.
“Tell me about Mindis the Third.” The solemn expression on the young prince’s face seemed to have scared Little Rascal. “What did he do to be regarded as the Virtuous King?”
“After Archduke Shawlon, the addition to book collections in the library decreased drastically,” Little Rascal said timidly. “And although he was regarded as a Virtuous King within Constellation…
“Among the famous Three Kings of Constellation, Northlanders admire Midier the Fourth, the Oath Keeper who ventured north to help his allies alone, the most. Second would be the King of Renaissance who pioneered new lands. On the contrary, they don’t hold the Virtuous King, who had significantly less military achievements in high regard. ‘The Brief Political History from Year 500-600 of the Calendar of Eradication’ written by Northlanders even states that he was a spineless king who compromised to commoners.”
He snapped out of it before his eyes turned sharp and grim.
“Continue,” Thales said sternly.