Chapter 357: Tribute to the Crown
“Hateful. So hateful.” There was nothing but hatred in Philos’ heart. Her eyes flared up while widening.
“This man, Lugis, has the name of great evil engraved on his chest, and behaves without any shame or dignity.”
“It’s no different this time. He showed me a friendly demeanor, saying that if something happened, he would be on my side, but in the end, didn’t he use me for the Heraldic Order?”
…The daughter of Ameraitz Gharast, the illegitimate princess.
Philos didn’t know how much of that nonsense was true and how much of it was an obscene scheme. However, looking at the nobles’ movements, Philos could tell that not everything was nonsense.
“So how did he find out? And how did he get hold of the nobles’ expectations? Who is this man?”
Originally, Philos would have flooded her brain with all those suspicions at once in order to cast them aside. But she couldn’t cast all of them aside, not right now.
She could only think of one thing.
“I knew it. This man is no different. He only sees me as something he can use.”
“He is no different from the family members who once made me raise a poisonous cup with my own hands, and from the people in the Assembly Hall who imprisoned me.”
Philos Trait opened her sharp eyes and raised her hand, changing the emotions that were in her brain into tears. Her outstretched palm was glaring at Lugis’ cheek.
Philos knew there was no point in doing this. It was just a moment of anger that was stuck in her chest, an abomination that only exposed her emotions.
She knew those feelings had to be avoided. Despite all that happened, she was still a ruler and a noble. That’s why unnecessary feelings should be avoided. But not now. She couldn’t endure her anger.
“At the edge of my vision, I can see a silver hair swaying. However, that girl won’t be in time to catch my own arm. All that’s left now is to swing my arm down and pierce his cheek.”
However, in the meantime. Philos looked at Lugis’ face as she was about to swing her arm down in a flurry of emotions.
Lugis didn’t show any signs of resistance. He lowered his eyes and seemed to accept her palm.
Philos even felt the nerves that held her emotions being jolted.
“Lugis is a great evil because he sways the people around him with false promises. Even with that kind of behavior, he looks like he’s swallowing it up in his heart. Is it redemption?”
“…Or a sense of guilt?”
Suddenly, Philos had a realization. She realized that after the turmoil in this city ended and after many citizens were killed, Lugis had that same expression.
An expression that didn’t deserve the name “great evil”. It was a face that seemed to have felt pain. At the time, Philos thought she had seen something unusual in him, was that it?
“If so, does he feel guilty? Perhaps there’s a fragment of guilt in his chest.”
Philos’ white eye narrowed in response. And then, the hand that was raised stopped its momentum. She clenched her hand with force in order to contain the bursting emotions. She acted too suddenly since the area around her hand creaked in response.
Then, she ripped her lips as she swallowed her quivering emotions into her petite body. She could tell for herself that her voice was trembling.
「…So you intend to use me to impose a new sovereignty in the Gharast Kingdom. That’s right. You thought I would agree with you and easily raise both hands to follow you.」
You don’t understand the human heart, do you?
Philos said so as she opened her eyes wide and approached Lugis to a point where their breaths could cross each other.
She formulated her words with the intention of chopping the person in front of her. Although it was only slightly, Lugis’ expression stiffened in response.
When people felt pain and compassion, they all made this kind of expression. Philos could feel something warm rolling into the bottom of her viscera.
As expected, Lugis felt bad about himself. He even thought it was wrong to take advantage of Philos’ supposed birthright.
That’s why her own words resonated well with him. Lugis couldn’t help but notice the number of thorns unraveled in those words.
“Ah, if that’s the case…I’m not going to hit him. How can he atone for his sins? Maybe he should live with a sense of guilt towards me. I will never let him lose that guilt.”
“That’s it. In order to make the great evil aware of what is right and bring him back to the right path, he needs to be aware of his crimes against me. He’s going to feel guilty forever. That is, until he puts himself in a coffin.”
Philos said while looking straight into Lugis’ eyes. She desperately tried to hold back her quivering cheeks.
「You’re mistaken. I’m a little girl who couldn’t even rule a small city. How can you think that you can decorate my chest with royal power?」
Philos felt in her heart that it was an undeniable fact.
“I couldn’t manage to rule a single rural city called Philos. On top of that, I even exposed the citizens to danger unnecessarily.”
“There’s no way a person like me can lead a kingship, even if it’s just a temporary position. Even with all those allegations, there’s something I lack. A legitimate bloodline, or a rulership that surpasses it. Or maybe just a charm to attract people.”
“I don’t have anything like that.”
“It will only be a nuisance to have expectations. Even if I used those claims, I’d throw them away in the end. In that case, it will be better if I didn’t even look at my own characteristics from the beginning.”
“Therefore, I must say the following.”
「Sorry…I don’t think I’ll be able to answer to any of your wishes. You’re a hero who has done everything well, so I don’t think you’ll understand my situation.」
Instead of acting like a ruler like she usual did, Philos spoke as a regular human being. Under the name of Philos Trait, she did everything she could and still failed. Now, she spoke as herself, a little girl who exposed her true nature.
Philos could see the silver eyes, and then the black eyes, quivering in her vision as she spoke.
She could see their true identities without looking directly at them. Caria Burdnick, who followed Lugis, and Filaret La Volgograd, the Sorceress.
They were ferocious. Their eyes were more like the eyes of lions and eagles than humans.
Those eyes emanated a huge amount of heat that could kill an ordinary person. They were showing an unmistakable golden sparkle.
But that’s why Philos thought.
“I’ve been trembling like a weathervane at the giant’s gaze. That’s how the city of Philos survived. But right now, I don’t feel that way. And for some reason, it even makes me smile.”
Philos’ gaze pierced only Lugis. At the sight of this, silver-eyed swordswoman jumped into the conversation.
「Lugis. I have a rough idea of what your intentions are. But isn’t it a little too early to say it out loud…」
Caria’s words didn’t even try to hide her concern.
Those were common sensed words, and they weren’t unreasonable either. Rather, those were unbiased words in this rough place.
「…Caria. Sorry, but I’m talking to Philos right now. I can’t afford to do that. 」
When those words came out of Lugis’ mouth, Caria shook her silver eyes greatly. Her lips, which drew beautiful lines, were distorted as if perplexed.
Philos, on the other hand, narrowed her eyes when she saw this. Philos didn’t think Lugis would be willing to talk to her any further, not until he had his right-handed woman shut her mouth.
“I wonder if he wants to use me no matter what.”
A feeling of surprise and a slightly growing feeling of superiority stroked Philos’ cheeks. Now, she was quietly staring at Lugis’ lips, wondering what he was going to say.
「Philos. I don’t have any excuse, nor do I have words of apology. I’m sure I’m exactly what the people of the Great Holy Church would say.」
Great Evil. Traitor. Great Demon Vrilligant. His given name was almost nonexistent if it weren’t for the Heraldic Order. Lugis said with the chewing tobacco on his mouth.
「But you’re not a little girl who can’t rule a small city. That’s a ridiculous statement. Besides, there’s a big difference between a city and a country. This place is too small for your coffin. A puddle in the ocean. There’s no way a great eagle can hunt small birds.」
Upon hearing those words, Philos slightly narrowed her eyes.
He professed words that were very convenient. “As expected,” Philos thought. Heroes often talked about things that they didn’t fully understand. How could he understand her circumstances?
From an unknown origin, he raised his legs and achieved success in the fall of the walled city of Garoua Maria. He participated in the civil war of the Hanging Gardens of Ghazalia and forced the mercenary city of Belfein to fall under his blade.
He grabbed victory during the Battle of Sanyo and showed bravery in the city of Philos. For better or worse, he was a symbol in the Gospel War.
A nightmare for the Great Holy Church. A glory to the Heraldic Order.
How did a human being who had grabbed so many things knew about Philos herself? What could he possibly say about a frustrated human being with a broken heart?
At least Philos thought so. She wanted to believe in this reasoning, nevertheless.
Lugis’ glowing eyes were looking directly at Philos.
「Listen, Philos. I won’t say a word if you decide to live your days on your knees. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, you know. It would be arrogant of me to order you to stand up and show your courage like an idiot. No one has the right to decide whether you should stand up or not.」
Lugis continued to talk while speaking with passion. His eyes intertwined with Philos’, and she could only see her figure reflected in his eyes.
“Stop. I don’t want him to talk like he knows everything about me. I’m fully aware of a human’s nature. People who speak sweet words shake off their own hands in the end. So don’t say any more words.”
Philos’ heart jumped. She heard a throat ringing unconsciously. She didn’t know whom it belonged to anymore.
“It feels as if he wants to cut off all the other heads and put a crown on mine. I believe he has the talent to do that.”
“I loathe him. What a horrible person he is.” Philos involuntarily had those dark thoughts in her mind, and her white eye distorted at the same time.
Her heart was beating vigorously, and she could even feel a sizzling heat. Her breath became increasingly hot and rough without notice.
“How can he say such a thing with that dignified attitude? How can I possibly cast aside the title of a daughter of a minor nobleman and lift the national crown?”
“I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I don’t want to feel hope. The more people hold such things in their hearts, the more they become unable to move. I don’t want to receive any expectations.”
“…Ah, even though my thoughts are correct…Why are my eyes feeling so hot?”
Philos carefully thought for a moment. Then, she took a deep breath and replied.
「What are you betting on, Lugis? If that fails, what will you give me in return?」
That was the best choice of words that Philos could do right now. If she didn’t do that, the emotions she couldn’t show to others would burst from her throat.
Lugis opened his eyes for a moment, but then he narrowed them slightly before saying.
「…I’ll bet everything I can reach, and I’ll definitely reach out and show it you.」