Chapter 663: 663
A day and a half after the meeting where they had decided on the currency, Eloise was walking down a corridor in the Palace while in deep thought .
Daneel’s grand plans had, of course, placed a lot on her plate, and as always, she took it upon herself to deliver the best work possible .
For instance, she had just had to solve an issue in the newly created ‘Jobs For All’ department where the first flood of those who wanted to make use of the King’s offer had arrived .
These were mostly from Lanthanor, as those who sought after jobs like these would typically not be capable of teleporting over quickly from other kingdoms .
Eloise, herself, had been pretty surprised that there were so many people with capable skills that didn’t have jobs .
On asking around, she had found that there were various reasons for this, chief of which was that they had offended their employer in some way, which had caused them to be blacklisted completely from all jobs in that domain . Other reasons included that they were severely underpaid as there were too many people in a specific job, which was the case in jobs that could be performed by almost anyone such as mining and woodcutting, and that they had not been able to find a job where they were happy with the pay .
The department set up in the Kingdom had taken a good, long look at all the typical salaries that were given in Lanthanor and other kingdoms, and had come up with a minimum salary amount that was needed for sustaining a family . This actually turned out to be a bit higher than what was there out in the world, which brought to light that the reported salaries were higher than those that were being given out in reality, which meant that the rest went into the employers pocket . After all, by quoting more expenses, they could pay less tax on what was left .
Everyone had always known that such a problem existed in all kingdoms, but just the scale at which it was happening, where almost every employer was engaging in it, had shocked Eloise and made her decide that she would be approaching the king in order to see whether there was some way to stop this tax evasion which took place in multiple ways, with this one just being one of them .
The king had dropped off the face of the continent for the past one and a half day, and if it weren’t for the fact that they knew that he was prone to suddenly going away like this, they would have been worried .
Still, when Eloise saw Daneel casually strolling down the corridor right in front of her with a broad smile on his face, she couldn’t help but feel startled .
The King of Lanthanor even looked like he was humming a merry tune to himself, and when he saw her in front of him at the end of the corridor, he immediately teleported over .
Taking her hands in his, he spoke while looking into her eyes .
“Busy?”, He asked first, to which she shook her head, unable to hide the shock she was feeling upon seeing this radically different behavior of the king .
Typically, he would be formal, and even though there are occasional hugs during bursts of happiness, this was different – he had never held her hands like this, and the feeling of coarseness on her palms felt… Different .
Of course, it was a ‘different’ that she really liked, and what he said next made joy well up inside her .
“Let’s take a walk, then . The weather seems great . ”
Nodding with enthusiasm and wondering whether her and Xuan’s extreme efforts had finally borne fruit, Eloise began to think whether she should change into something more… Befitting of a woman accompanied by the king, as she was wearing a typical gown which she thought made her look more authoritarian . Daily, she had to deal with people who were not used to taking orders from a woman, and these dresses which, according to the tailor, even had certain special spells sewn into them helped a lot .
That was not to say that she couldn’t achieve the same effect herself, but it was tiring to always have to shout at somebody in order to make them know that they should just do what they were told without asking too many questions, as they didn’t know the real story behind many things .
This question was followed by whether she should have curled her hair, which was currently falling down her shoulders .
As even more questions started to follow, she tried her best to put a stop to them, understanding that she was feeling exactly like a teenage girl would if she was asked out by her crush .
But this was something just like that!
It seemed that the king had also noticed all these questions and doubts that flashed through her eyes, and even though he could not instantly understand that they were the typical self-doubting questions that would occur to anyone who was attracted to someone else, he said, “Maybe I should just do a few things like these without asking, which won’t give you as much time to think . My apologies . Well, I’m learning . ”
Saying so, he thought for a moment and then flicked his fingers, which instantly made Eloise lose her breath as she realized that she had been teleported away to a place that seemed like it was right out of fairytales .
They were standing in the middle of the sky with nothing but stars above and all around them, and below, clouds in beautiful shapes swirled where they were above Angaria, and rumbled with dark might where they were above the Endless Sea which stretched to the corners of the horizon .
Yet, bringing them here was not the only thing that the king had done – as she was an Exalted Human level mage now, she had the ability to switch on her elementary vision right away and notice that there was a spell in front of her which was magnifying the stats that she was seeing .
Right, the stars had never been this clear and distinct before!
Completely enthralled by their incredible beauty while they twinkled gorgeously, seeming oh, so far away but at the same moment, making it look like they could be reached by her simply stretching out her hand, Eloise widened her eyes and just stared .
Daneel had let go of her hands before in order to cast the spell, but now, he took her right hand in his, again, and began leading her forward .
There was no ‘forward’, ‘backward’ or ‘side’ in this magical place on first sight, but as they walked, she realized that it was almost as if they were gods taking steps that amounted to hundreds of kilometers with each stride .
That was because with each step, the constellations of the stars changed, which resulted in an even more dazzling sight that made Eloise keep darting her eyes around, trying to spot and take in everything .
She squeezed his hand, and he squeezed back, which made her look to the side and notice that he was gazing at her with a small smile on his face .
Oh, right, how could she act like someone silly who was seeing the stars for the first time, when she had the company of the king!
Just this moment was something that she had always dreamt of, but never gotten, and now, when it was finally here, she had let her whole attention be taken away by… stars .
Damn stars, that she could see by herself any time she wanted .
Vowing to not spare any more attention to them as long as they were here, Eloise tore her eyes away and thought for a bit before saying, “You seem very happy . Has something happened that I should also know about?”
This made the king laugh out loud before saying, “Yes, and I was going to call for a meeting to give out this good news anyway, but you can be the first to hear of it . Aran… Will be safe . He will get out of the illusion formation, and when he does, he will be one of the strongest Warriors in the entire continent, even when you count those in the Big Four . And when he becomes a Champion… hehe, just you wait . Angaria is going to have to stock up on drool which will flow when he exposes his power . He deserves it all, though, after everything he went through . ”
The last line was said more to himself than to Eloise, but it struck her, as she hadn’t imagined that the king would have found out about Aran’s past .
Assuming that he must have used the same inscrutable methods which allowed him to know so much that he wasn’t supposed to know, Eloise casually said, “That’s great to hear! He always was a strange one . I remember going to the hospital once, after a fight, and he was laughing! I knew that he would become someone special, so I wasn’t surprised when he entered the Academy and was instantly given resources as he agreed to swear the oath…”
Eloise said this while looking down and continuing to walk ahead demurely, but she suddenly stopped when she felt the king’s hand pause and pull her back .
Turning around, she saw that Daneel was looking at her with a questioning expression on his face .
Wait… So this was not what he had been talking about?
“I thought you found out about his past here in Lanthanor . Is that not what you were referring to?”, She asked, which made the king exclaim, “No! And I can’t believe I didn’t find out about this till now! Tell me more, and tell me why this wasn’t in the records of the kingdom . ”
Puzzled, Eloise instantly answered, as she knew that this was something that the king would be able to find out easily enough even if he didn’t know about it right now . Especially with something like Mind Control at his behest, his reach was practically limitless .
“The King was paranoid, so the backgrounds of all the commanders were purged, and except for what was already known to the commoners, everything else is a secret . ”
It looked like the king had also realized that this was common with all commanders, as an expression of realization flashed across his face, following which Eloise continued to answer the other question he had asked .
“I don’t know too much, but I do know that before he entered the Academy, Aran was known for going to bars and other places where the public gathered even though he was underage, and taking part in fights and brawls in order to try and stop them . Oh, he was supposed to have done a lot of things . Not just in bars – any confrontation that he could get to, he would try and stop with a few jests and an infectious laugh which actually worked more often than not . In fact, I just recalled that he even had a nickname – “the laughing little shrink” . The ‘shrink’ part was because he also loved to talk to and advice people on things that were way beyond his age – such as grief, loss, family and pain . I bet it must have been a strange sight – seeing a kid not even 12 years old going around talking to random people whom he saw were going through tough times . However, maybe that strangeness was what made his words work . Anyway, I do know that he was effective, and it was only when the fights that he tried to stop went south that he was admitted in healing areas where he was healed for free because of his reputation . He was always asked why he did it, and even I asked him, too . His only answer was that…”
“No matter what you face in life, just laugh, and endure . ”
Seeing the King give part of the answer, Eloise exclaimed, “So you did find out! Yes, he always said that sentence which didn’t make too much sense in context, but he followed it up by saying that he doesn’t like seeing people kill and be killed for trivial reasons . ”
After she said this, she saw the King sink into deep thought for a few moments, before he suddenly burst out laughing .
It was as if he was even more happy than he had been before, and he spoke out to himself, as if he had forgotten that he had Eloise for company .
“I thought he was a fit from just what I had seen, but it turns out that there is a lot more to it, and it’s all perfect! There can be no one better in this age!”
Of course, none of this made sense to Eloise, but she simply smiled, as she didn’t remember the last time she had seen the king be so happy, and show it without just letting it stay within himself .
After his laughter died down, he said, “Anyway, enough of that . You’ll find out more about him when he wakes up . For now, let’s talk about you . How has everything been going? It doesn’t need to just be about your job, just tell me anything you wish . I’m here to listen, and I want to listen . ”
This sudden shift of topic startled Eloise, and then made her wonder and hope that she hadn’t heard wrong .
Had he…really said that?
It even almost made her want to cry, as she had never been told anything like that by anyone .
She… Had someone who wanted to listen to her not just because they had to?
Tears swam in her eyes, as no one could understand how much this meant to her, who was used to having to be tough with almost everyone she worked with, and making them listen even if they didn’t want to . Besides, it was the king who said this, which made it all the more special .
“Eloise, this is your chance . Don’t blow it . Don’t go crazy . Just… be yourself . Talk . ”
Giving herself this pep talk, Eloise began, “So, there is a problem with…”
It began with the problem of tax that she had been thinking about, and it then went in many directions, and they even had an incredible discussion about what shows should begin in the Network . Somehow, the king had amazing ideas that were so diverse and creative that she wondered how he was able to think of so many, but she mentally listed them all down, as all of them were so good . Especially the one about an old Enchanter who went into the underworld enchanting business because he had to support his family and battle a costly sickness within him- it felt like it could be a huge hit, and Eloise already saw the potential .
The conversation even touched on personal topics, such as their most favorite experiences from the past, and the things that they liked to do most in the present .
Many hours later, as the sun began to rise, Eloise cursed it, as it signaled that they would have to get back .
After all, the Palace would practically collapse if both of them were absent at the same time .
Even the king understood this, as he said, “I had a wonderful time . We should do this more often . ”
Eloise was all red from the deep blush that had invaded her face, and as Daneel chuckled on seeing this and leaned in to give her a hug, she hugged back tightly, which was a first for both of them .
The next second, as they teleported back to the Palace and as she felt his hand leaving her, it felt empty, as she had gotten so used to it being with her for so long .
That emptiness spread to her heart, too, as her eyes lingered on his broad back after he smiled and said that he would go check on Aran before walking away down the corridor .
As he disappeared at its end, she broke out of the spell, and had to lean against the wall behind her before pinching herself in order to find out and tell herself that had all been real .
Of course, because his back was turned, Eloise didn’t spot the blush that had been present on the King’s face, too, which he had hidden successfully .
She actually had to take a few minutes to compose herself, and as she got back to her duties, everyone under her noticed that she had an additional small smile on her face no matter what she did, and even her mood seemed to have improved, over all . She seemed more patient, and, at times, she even began to daydream with a broad smile on her face, which made many stop their work and stare, as she was just stunning when she became like that .
While they wondered what was the reason behind this, the king stood patiently in the room with Aran, who slowly fluttered his eyelids and finally opened them to see the world again, after a long, long time .