“Maynild…” The rest of the sentence was swallowed up by Brendel unobtrusively putting his hand over the little prince’s mouth. Brendel turned around to look at the woman standing below the carriage: hair the color of ebony against skin as fair as snow made her ruby red lips stand out on that face. There was a smile on the corners of her mouth and her ink-black eyes were clear. Her mage’s outfit, which enveloped her amazing figure, was red as fire.
That uniquely warm smile was so familiar to Brendel, as if a sealed memory is now resurfacing and causing ripples to spread out in his mind. That familiar face once again stood in front of him.
Brendel almost wept.
“What’s your ID? Is this your first time playing?”
“Join my team, Sophie.”
“How cute. Who uses their real name in the game?”
“I’m Bai Jia, I’m a couple grades above you. Haha, I never thought that our college had such cute little boys.”
Brendel’s heart turned into a gigantic whirlpool and the waves crashed about. But he inhaled quietly and forced himself to calm down.
“I am Viscount Cauldell, and you are?” He could almost feel his hand trembling. He knew that this was the memory of the past and everything has long since turned to dust, but he couldn’t suppress the desire to ask how the other has been.
Just being able to talk, even if it’s a simple exchange, would be amazing. He could longer see the Bai Jia from his world.
“Hello Viscount, we are the mercenary group ‘Scarlet Travelers’. Perhaps you’ve heard of us? For today, we are responsible for the security outside of the Kinten Palace. You could call me Bai Jia.” Bai Jia gave a small smile as she introduced herself.
But the past has already vanished into history. Everything that he saw now has already happened. Bai Jia back then had been so optimistic. Scarlet Travelers had originally represented those who would always march in the direction of the setting sun. Everyone promised each other to cross the Black Forest and discover what was hidden on the other end of the world.
But in the end, everyone’s destiny was tied up with this kingdom’s tragedy.
That night, the lights of Monsterrors shone just as brightly and warmly as today. Back then, he had stood by the door with Bai Jia. But now, only Bai Jia remained in his memory. In a little bit, all that was left of the Monsterros of his memory would be a palace in flames and the team, which had been a home to him, splintering and fracturing.
Brendel nodded at Bai Jia. “I know you. You’re travelers.”
Even though there were adventurers in the original inhabitants of the world, but NPCs often referred to players as travelers. This nickname was very accurate as players were just passerbys in the world of Vaunte. Though they may participate in events, what happened in this world had nothing much to do with them.
“Oho, this NPC is kind of interesting, Bai Jia.” A voice interrupted them. A girl ran over to them from somewhere. She had the skin of caramel, short hair, and wearing dragon scale armor while carrying a huge sword on her shoulder. She looked at Brendel and said curiously.
Players could be this careless, but Brendel had to laugh wearily at the fact that, at some point, he had become an NPC.
“Oh dear - I’m sorry. I know I’m being rude. Bai Jia, let me apologize to him first. Sir Viscount, I am really sorry.” The girl said nonchalantly. “But I might still say it again the next time we meet. I can never remember not to. I am so sorry.”
“Not to worry. I know your personality, Lady Black Tea.” Brendel smiled slightly -- it was very interesting to talk to his old comrades in his memory.
Black Tea paused and then her beautiful eyes widened. “Wow, am I that famous?” She turned around and grabbed Bai Jia, saying with some surprise, “Bai Jia, did you see? I’m famous too! It really wasn’t a waste to spend two months to increase my reputation!”
Brendel shook his head. Black Tea was the second-in-command in the group, but she was a go-getter through and through. Obviously that was the nice way of saying it. A more direct way of describing her would be someone who did things without thinking them over first.
Bai Jia smiled. “That’s enough. Her Royal Highness has been waiting for you, Viscount.”
“Her Royal Highness?”
“And Miss Bessidine. Her Royal Highness has prepared a private party for you two. I’ll have Black Tea take you straight there.” Bai JIa answered.
Brendel knew that Princess Gryphine had no way of knowing Viscount Cauldell and Bessidine since Viscount Cauldell should have died already as the nameless person. Princess Gryphine being assassinated didn’t happen until the end of the first era. At that time, Her Royal Highness naturally would not have interacted with this Viscount. The only possible explanation is that his and the Viscount’s memory overlapped again. History was filled with coincidences, which meant the Viscount had probably experienced something similar.
Maybe he had been the confidante of some princess in a dynasty that preceded the Aouine Kingdom, or maybe he had been the confidante of a princess in a neighboring country. He might have been assassinated on his way to deliver a message that had to do with the Princess’s life. Maybe his regret came from the failure of the mission.
Brendel thought further: but what did that have to do with the Viscount’s fiancee? Why did the Viscount choose Haruz as the person to patch up the dream? There were better choices in the team.
Brendel anticipated the private party as he followed Black Tea through the Kinten Palace in Monsterros. Princess Gryphine resided near one of the gardens deep within the walls of the Kinten Palace. Ever since the Arrack returned to Corvado, she had lived there by herself.
The Kinten Palace seemed destitute after the civil war. There were barely any people moving about in the sprawling palace, just the rare glimpse of ladies-in-waiting hurrying by. Black Tea chatted while they walked, with Brendel responding occasionally so things didn’t seem too lonely. In his previous life, Brendel had a pretty good relationship with Black Tea. He made a point of following Black Tea’s lead in the conversation and the latter exclaimed that there actually were NPCs who really understood the players.
The private party was held in the gardens. The three of them quickly arrived on scene. Naturally Black Tea didn’t have the privilege of attending such a secret gathering of NPCs, so she departed. Brendel believed that she had been assigned the mission and received her experience points. He had to exclaim that once upon a time, that had been him.
But this dream was so real that every little detail came from his mind’s eye.
Only then did Brendel walk with the little prince towards the garden. He detoured around a small hedge made of roses and saw a figure in the pavilion, not too far in the distance.
His heart trembled when he saw the figure.
This was the 22nd year of Princess Gryphine’s reign. During this year, the Crown Princess had lost a lot of the shyness about her and gained the elegance and sophistication of someone in charge. Princess Gryphine stood there like a rose carved out of ice. Her slightly raised chin represented the pride of royalty. Her clear eyes now turned slender and the determination in them turned into a sense of mystery and wisdom. What hadn’t changed were her long silver locks, which still fell on her favored silver gown.
She was taller than the little princess Brendel had seen before. Her forehead almost reached the tip of his nose and she no longer had to look up to meet his gaze.
If Princess Gryphine had been an adolescent during the first War of the Black Roses, she was now a mature and charismatic woman. She had the beauty of authority about her; she was above every in her station of life and she accepted it.
Before she noticed Brendel and Haruz, the Crown Princess -- more accurately speaking, the female ruler-to-be of Aouine -- was thinking about something by herself. Her closest lady-in-waiting, her confidante, stood beside her and indicated with her eyes for Brendel and Haruz to stop.
What hadn’t changed on her was the sharp and clear gaze from those eyes. It represented her stoutness, or what others called her stubborn determination. She never changed, not even in the last moments of her life.
As the gaze swept over them, Haruz’s hand tightened in its position on Brendel’s hand. The ‘little princess’ lowered his head out of fear and mumbled subconsciously, “Sis-sister…”
Maybe this was an instinct borne from blood, but though Princess Gryphine had changed so much, Haruz still recognized this strange yet familiar person as his sister at first glance. Though he didn’t understand why his sister was like this, as if many years have gone by and he was now even more afraid to meet her gaze.
Brendel sweat chilled as soon as he heard Haruz’s voice. He thought the prince had become slightly braver, but he reverted as soon as he encountered his older sister.
“Sister, Viscount, you’re here.” But Brendel hadn’t expected for Her Royal Highness to nod slightly at them and speak those words. Her voice was soft, as if in an elven song.
Brendel blinked and then recovered himself. The nameless one depended on the dreams of others to recover, bit by bit, the past that he was afraid to face. In this dream, Bessidine was Gryphine’s sister, which meant that Viscount Caudell’s fiancee could really have been the sister of a princess -- the Viscount had recovered another piece of his memory.
No wonder he chose Haruz. According to Haruz’s relationship to Princess Gryphine in the dream, he was the choice that best matched Viscount Cauldell's memory.
“But did the guy not have a sense of male and female?” Brendel opined sarcastically in his mind.
“Viscount Caudell, I have asked you and Bessidine to come today despite the dangers. You should know what I mean, right?” Princess Gryphine was speaking again.
Brendel looked at the Crown Princess weirdly. Her words made no sense to him, but it was fortunate that he knew this wasn’t entirely just his memory. The one directing the dream was Viscount Cauldell, which meant this dream might be both familiar and foreign to Brendel.
Now that he was mentally prepared, Brendel calmed down.
“Tonight, Duke Arrek will be attending as well --”