"Ow?" it didn't hurt, but it added some intensity to the scene.
"You're not an elf?!" Dominic shouted.
"Apparently not.." Curtis' expectation was shattered in that instant. So all the talk about his past life was a fluke from the beginning? It would have made sense if he were an elf but..
"Odd," Claudia thought deeply about something, "You have that swirl on your hair, and only elves have that though."
Everyone nodded in agreement.
"Swirl on my hair? How do you know these things?" Weren't the existence of elves limited to fairy-tales? How could they exist?
"Master is an elf," Hermit replied.
"That makes no sense?" Curtis stuffed a spoonful of rice into his mouth.
"We'll ask Darwin about it when we get the chance. For now, let's first focus on defeating the pillar guardian."
Curtis choked on rice.
The kingdom conference had revealed Will's identity, as planned. Recognized by King Sartus, he was no longer deemed a threat. A separated guest room had been provided for him. It was just beside the room Louise stayed in. So, where did sleep before this? Nobody knew.
"Will, can't you enter from the window?" Will heard Louise's voice through the door.
He ignored the threat and entered with a shrug.
Stack upon stacks of paper was placed on top of her desk, absolutely imposing. Louise's desk had been rearranged to the centre of the room. The mountain of papers had covered her face.
Walking around the obstruction, Will got a better glimpse at Louise. She was moving her hands at blinding speed as if her life depended on it. Quill in the ink, quill out the ink, pause, think and write. The process would repeat 7 times every 20 seconds, give or take.
Her delicate hand dirtied in ink moved swiftly. Her facial expression was intense, sweat could be seen running down her slight ruddy cheeks.
She wore a dusky green dress today. It wasn't one that would leave her shoulders exposed, but it could be said otherwise for her cleavage was exposed to Will from where he was standing. Will though the dresses she wore always represented her mood one way or the other.
"Your brother sure is ruthless," Will finally spoke after a minute of silent observation.
Louise grumbled when she heard that. "So how's Ellis? Did you find out anything about Curtis?"
The only reason why Louise wasn't able to personally attend to Ellis' situation was due to her brother. Prince Herlock who forcibly piled paperwork for Louise to do, hoping that with this, she wouldn't try anything dumb and leave the castle. With the current situation surrounding Curtis unknown, and the fact that Louise had connections to his case made Herlock worry about Louise's safety.
On the other hand, Louise was deliberately breaking her hand to complete the paperwork as soon as possible so that she could accompany Ellis. If it were not for the impossible deadline the paperwork had due, and the ban on wine during meals if she did not complete it in time, she would've readily ignored it all.
Even her vice-secretary was on her brother's side, how annoying.
With Will around, how could her safety be in jeopardy? Her brother was thinking too much!
Unless… Will played a part in it too...
Which he probably did. Will was also skeptical about the situation. Assuming Curtis had been taken away, the group that did it was without doubt capable. Normal people would've stood no chance against Curtis. Though, Will's assumption had missed a few critical points. He did not know about Curtis' mana emaciation, nor his situation.
"So that's how it is," Louise placed the quill down on the table, ink dripping and soaking the half-crumpled paper below it. Her shoulder finally dropped. Ellis and Curtis were fine.
With light seeping in through the windows, Louise looked at Will.
"And you believe the chances that there exist more groups like yours?"
"In the worst case, scenario, yes."
Louise leaning back on her chair, "We can only do so much, hopefully, they don't cause trouble."
Will remained silent.
"Don't be like that. Let bygones be bygones," realizing she had said something insensitive. Louise stood up and closed the distance.
A delineate, it was something that Louise had asked about before. A veritable spell granting one the ability to communicate over a distance, a system with hierarchical order. Tia had a blue delineate, which meant that her influence over the system was of the lowest tier.
Those who had a red delineate could tag another person and grant him or her a blue delineate. After red would be lilac. Lilac was the highest tier one could normally possess unless the person was of blue blood. Will believe that person named Darwin was the originator, a red delineate holder.
Delineates were originally designed to organize troops and platoons. Up here, in the pillared world, these delineates served a more passive function.
Not all delineates were the same. Since the original intent of the delineates was to categorize troops and platoons, each leader that led a team had a different delineate. The delineate Tia had was different from the one possessed by Will.
His' was a small star with a comical smiley face, the one Tia had was a Roman numeral with a diagonal line that ran across it.
Speaking of delineates, Will hadn't heard from his team for a long time now. Either they sent private messages to each other or had never contacted each other since their disbandment.
"Will," Louise placed her arms around his shoulders.
Will had spaced out.
"Fortunately, Ellis found out the truth, though I do find it hard to believe this was the actual circumstances," she hugged Will, "You've passed the communication crystal to Ellis already correct?"
Louise pulled back, thinking about something before speaking. "Also, my brother wanted to see you. I'm not too sure what the due reason is, but do not follow his order without my consent!"
How cute, Will looked at Louise who yelled like a little child, her index finger pointed straight at him.
After another hug, Will left Louise's room for Prince Herlock.
The guest rooms of the castle were located away from the general offices. Like two separate buildings, each had a design suiting a certain feeling. The formal castle area didn't have flowery patterns, only flat walls that hung impressive paintings. Likewise, the accommodation area had more pronounced decorations, more art. Will made a right turn at a junction and—
He bumped into someone.
Papers flew into the air.
The papers fell to the ground.
Will felt his heartache.
This person in front of him—
Queen Celestia raised her head to look at Will, and a shocked expression spread across her face.
A breeze blew and Will quickly rearranged the paper into a stack. He was about to turn around and leave that instant when the Queen tugged at his hand.
He wanted to shake it off, but at the weak grip of her hands, he just couldn't. Out of guilt, he turned around.
Queen Celestia wore an asymmetrical dress. Her right arm was concealed over a long butterfly sleeve while her left arm was left exposed. Her right arm— that confirmed WiIl's suspicion.
"Don't," Queen Celesta held onto his arm.
Will didn't want to hurt her, not again, not ever.
"It's you, isn't it," she spoke in a gentle soft tone.
Will grit his teeth and lowered his head.
"It is you," Queen Celestia felt frost climbing onto her hand. Even so, she didn't panic, nor run away. Instead, she smiled, " We meet again."
"Let go," Will said coldly.
"Then promise me you would listen to what I have to say."
Not waiting for his reply, she loosened her grip.
Queen Celestia would have never imagined that this person was the one working for the princess of another kingdom. 10 years have passed since then. She knew who Will was, he was to her, a Jester— the Jester that saved her. The one involved in that tragedy 10 years ago.
"What happened to the others?"
Will didn't move, couldn't move, as if his leg didn't belong to him. "We disbanded."
"I see…" Queen Celestia walked around his parameter to attain a clearer look at his face, but each time, he would turn away. "I never told my husband about it. Even if he knew, I don't think he would do anything now, since you are an envoy for the Rozel Kingdom, what's more, the bodyguard for Princess Louise."
Will glanced at her right arm. He could almost see it through the cloth. That scar he made on her, the frostbite that would never heal.
"Many things have happened over these past few years," her iridescent eyes glimmering, "I would've never thought I would obtain this chance to meet you again."
Will finally met her gaze.
"Thank you," Queen Celestia knew that if Will hadn't stepped in that day, she would not be standing here today. She would've never seen her husband's coronation, nor become the queen nor watch her children grow up healthy.
"I'm sorry," that was the only reply Will could muster.
If only he acted faster, If only he confronted his leader, then— so many people would not have died. Many innocent lives could've been saved, and he wouldn't have to bear this guilt of ignorance.
It was too late now. The only thing he could do was as what Louise had said, let bygones be bygones.
Queen Celestia shook her head, "I may not understand why your group did what they did, but I believe you had your reasons," she picked up the stack of paper on the floor, glad that Will had been able to arrange them back so quickly, and back in order too, "Have sympathy for yourself," Celestia stood back up with the papers in her hands, "Though if that still doesn't work and in the end, you still feel like atoning to your wrong then— be sure to protect my husband alright?"
"Protect the.. the king?"
"You'll understand once you met him," Queen Celestia smiled. "He's about to do something dangerous. Please protect him this time."
Will didn't utter another word.
Queen Celestia slowly walked away. He clenched his fist.