Flowers of Worship - Chapter 33
I wasn’t innocent when I met Cili. I was full of different thoughts. When we first met, it would be more accurate to say that I was engulfed in resignation and despair rather than happy ones. It was at a point where I had lost all hope and forgot how to breathe. Then when Cili suddenly picked me up and completely changed my life. She gave back my lost seasons and breath.
So I came thinking of Cili. They said that Cili’s father died of a curse. I don’t know what curse it was, but there were times I felt like I was under a curse. I was constantly thinking about the truth of what Cili did for me. Things like what I wanted to do for Cili and about me being helpless who can’t reach that person.
I even thought about the thirteen-year-old Cili and an eleven-year-old her. What was she like back then? She must have been lonely. The sword she gave me was still with me. I learned swordsmanship with that sword, and whenever I had time, I would stare at the blade. I couldn’t be happier if I found a small scratch that I had never seen before. It felt like I had touched something inside of her.
She has no family.
I don’t have a family either.
And we are the people who promised to marry each other. We will be each other’s only family, and we will be destined. It felt so perfect that I got scared at times. It felt like someone was going to take her away.
When I was nervous, I went out for a swim at night, and it always feels daunting. It’s an act of feeling the peak when something is going wrong. I swim in fear of someone hitting me in the back of my neck and take everything away from me. And when I returned to my room, my anxiety subsided a little. It’s like I overcame my fear.
When we went to breakfast, Cili was seated first at the table. As usual, she was dressed in a simple white shirt, black pants, and boots. Then she wore a pretty necklace around her neck.
“Cili.” Within the silence, I raised my head as I spoke to Cili.
“Yes, your highness.”
“Who gave you the necklace?”
No matter how I look at it, it wasn’t the design that Cili would buy. She was even bothered to wear dresses. Most of all, Cili was the kind of person who insisted on wearing what was available before putting it on for a party then comes back as if nothing. However, many people, including the ladies, cried and begged the Duke of Hastred, which eventually led her to buy new dresses, shoes, accessories, and makeup before going to the party. I didn’t think she would spend her time buying a necklace like that. Sure enough, she said and smiled at me, “You can tell that I didn’t choose it?” She had a playful voice.
I felt better because the conversation seemed lighter.
“It belongs to my mother.” At that moment, I was speechless and shut my mouth. It was….a keepsake. That’s why she keeps wearing it without taking it off from her body.
“So it was passed down from your mother. It suits you. As expected, your mother knows what suits you.”
I hoped that the atmosphere would not darken. I hurriedly praised her mother, hoping that Cili would feel less pain of her past. But, as if I had touched something wrong, Cili’s face darkened. I soon found out why.
“They said she had difficulty in birthing me, and she didn’t live for a few years as a result of that. Very little is left of my memory,” she said.
“… … .”
“This is also just a matter of doing what I want and choosing the ones with a modest design out of the many things I inherited.”
“I can hardly remember my mother’s face either. It’s not a big deal with my mother and father.”
I talked about how unhappy I am. I guess I was confused, and perhaps I was. My head was paralyzed, and my mouth continued to recite my misfortune at will. After talking for a long time about how unhappy I am, Cili took my hand. The warmth of her hand felt as if I had been burned, and she whispered with a soft smile.
“You have been through a lot. You endured it well.” My face turned bright red at that moment. I felt that I emphasized my misery in front of a person who also spoke her difficulties and had taken them away. No, I opened my mouth. I didn’t want to hear that, and I didn’t mean to say that. I was just perplexed. I wanted to say that to her. Was it hard… That is what I want to tell you.
“I will leave first, your highness. Enjoy yourself.”
Cili patted the back of my hand and got up from the table. She had more than half of her meal left, and I knew I had done her wrong. And perchance, I can’t even apologize because she doesn’t want it.
I could tell her from her stubborn back that what she wanted me to do was to pretend that something didn’t happen. However, Cili,
I stared at her blankly until her figure disappeared. I want to hear more from you. I know I made a mistake, but I apologize for wanting to hear more.
But Cili’s back disappeared and didn’t show up in front of me for several days from that day.
On the fourth day after Cili disappeared before me, the snow fell in the capital. Even it was snowing, it wasn’t dry snow, but it was almost frosty. The brief snowfall at dawn was enough to bring the temperature down, so the fireplace in my room kept burning. As the air in the room became stuffy, the maids had added a few more vases inside.
The floor was covered with white fur, and all the chairs were also covered with it. My sheets were replaced with a light and warm duvet, and my bed topper was also warm and fluffy. It wasn’t enough, so people put a few magical thermal insulation stones in my bed. It was used to sleep warmly. Small things were also used for carrying around in pockets.
“Her grace handcrafts these furs.”
Rizen introduced each item one by one, then introduced the fur and spoke in a very proud tone. I looked at the furs anew. Even to my unfamiliar eyes, the furs looked pretty high-class.
“Looks like good stuff.”
“Yes, this white fur belongs to the Snow Tiger. Everyone was wondering if it was still there before we took it. Especially that the snow tigers are famous for their small stature and fierce temper, they would have to grow enormously to produce such large fur. Selling it is the right price to call.”
“That’s from a leopard deer, and you know, that deer is also very ferocious.”
My room was full of wild, rare, and highly prized fur. Seeing all the skins that Cili handcrafted made me bitter. This is my part. I was supposed to decorate her room like this.
“By the way, where is Cili? Can’t I see her? I read a note saying that we won’t be able to eat together for a while, but haven’t you seen her for a long time?”
I put on a brave face, but I felt terrible inside. She didn’t show her face to me, whether she was angry, disappointed, or worse than that.
Rizen smiled at me, saying, “She’ll be here soon.” His smile was the same as usual, so I didn’t feel any problem at all. On the contrary, it was Rosemary, not Rizen, who felt problematic. With a slight anxiousness on her face, she poured tea for me and touched my outfit. I was going to ask what was going on, but I was upset that I didn’t pretend to know, yet Paul, who had been outside, chirped,
“Your highness, your highness. Have you heard? It is said that Fjord dared to gamble with your title, went to your ears, and suffered humiliation.”
“There is a famous merchant named Hessint Fjord….”
“I know, I know. Fjord. But, what happened to that Fjord?”
“Didn’t her grace go to the northern part to subdue monsters by the king’s order? He says he gambled on whether she could do it or not!”
I was silent.
I bet the largest bet on that gamble, and the person who got the most profit was me…Cili is angry. It was upsetting. Just as I vomited when she said they used my blood as an amulet, I would have been offended enough to find out that Cili would gamble, or be entertained, when my life was at stake.
The problem was that it wasn’t for that reason.
I remembered the last time I saw her. She was smiling and laughing. I’ve been thinking about her smile ever since. How many things did she turn into laughter?
I have to explain.
I have to tell her why I did it, that I didn’t make fun of her life.
Right now, as soon as possible.
I was in a hurry. As I got up and started walking, Paul’s eyes widened as he was about to tell me the fun things that had happened outside. He was embarrassed by me for leaving him and suddenly disappearing. Paul was not alone in embarrassment. Thane and Rosemary rushed after me.
Instead of Thane, who is usually silent, Rosemary, who is savvy, clings to my side and asks in a charming voice.
“Where are you going? Shall we put the carriage on standby?”
“I will ride a horse. I need to see Cili.”