Chapter 676: 676
Daneel had no idea what he was supposed to do .
He wasn’t even clear whether he was supposed to hug back, so he could only awkwardly stand there while she sobbed onto his shoulders and made his royal cloak completely wet .
She cried for a full 10 minutes, which felt like the longest 10 minutes of Daneel’s life .
During them, he had no option but to think about various things, as he couldn’t figure out for the life of him why she was acting in this manner .
Was there something about his serious lack of knowledge regarding how to handle women that made him a ripe choice for any one who wanted to let their emotions out? After all, this wasn’t even the first woman who was doing this… Eloise had once clung to him and cried in the same manner, and even though that case had been different, he couldn’t help but notice the similarities and ruminate in this manner .
He even tried to rifle through the memories of the Emperor to see whether there was any other moment in her life when she had shown such vulnerability . After all, her character so far had consisted of showing her strong side that would not bow down no matter what happened, so this was such a serious breach of what was expected of her that Daneel wondered whether he had completely broken her by using that plan of his .
No, that didn’t make sense . She had been alive for millennia, and she must definitely have built up a lot of mental strength over that time, especially because she hadn’t gone crazy like the other Empire Spirits . Hence, even something like this should not have affected her so much that she would do something completely out of character, but reality spoke otherwise .
During those 10 minutes, he also communicated a bit with Kellor as there were still a few things to handle .
For instance, among the people, the idea that the Queen had been the one to initiate the hug had to be completely snuffed out, and for this, the Network was perfectly put to use . Not even a few minutes after the incident had happened, extensive programs regarding it had begun to be played .
This was why Eloise had not participated to deploy the trinket, as she had been on standby to direct those who were employed to maintain the Network so that she could snuff out the truth with these programs . In them, even the angle of the display trinket was changed and modified to make it look as if the king really was the one who had gone ahead to hug the Queen, and as soon as this began to spread, even the notion that such an ethereal existence as the Queen could hug the king by herself began to sound like such an impossibility that it was laughed at even when those who were present in the gathering and had seen it with their own eyes tried to talk about it to others .
This had been the whole point of the programs: to make those who even suggested it seem like laughing stocks, which was a method that Daneel had learned from Earth after seeing the ways governments handled certain situations .
It was the first misinformation campaign that Daneel was carrying out, and because he had taken steps to make sure that he would be successful, everything went according to plan .
The other thing was that this method wasn’t a hundred percent effective in breaking everyone out of the Enthrallment spell . In the records, it was written that at least 50% would be able to reset their minds, and with the added effect of the loud sounds, this could at most reach 60% .
All of those people who had managed to have their minds ‘reset’ had to be given ways to leave and arrive at his gathering, so, instantly, teleportation formations were set up and many resources were deployed in order to create lodging spaces for those who would be coming . For this purpose, the floating structures that had been built during the Olympics were used, and these turned out to be both quite impressive and comfortable, as they had also been expanded to carry even more people .
Finally, after those 10 minutes, as the Queen stepped back, Daneel waited patiently so that he could find the answers for all the questions buzzing in his head .
The Queen once again turned her back to him, as if she didn’t want him to see her expression, and a silence stretched between them that Daneel really wanted to break .
Only… He didn’t know exactly what was going through the Queen’s mind, so he couldn’t tell whether it was the right idea to do so .
If he had known that the Queen was actually feeling embarrassed at the moment, he would definitely have been pretty shocked, just like the little girl in her head who was wishing that she had a corporeal body at the moment so that she could pinch herself and check whether she was dreaming .
Indeed, the legendary commander Queen Arafell was…embarrassed, and she did not want the King to see this . She had already allowed him to see many things that even the man that was in the heart hadn’t been witness to, so she had no intention of exposing any more of herself .
Taking a moment, she tried to think back to what exactly had happened after that realization that it really had been a dream .
In that moment when she had hugged him, the emotions that had been pent up inside her for so many years had burst out at once, but not even a moment later, with the background of the loud sounds of the trinkets that had been activated, she had realized right away that this was not Fenoras .
That was because she knew exactly how it would feel if she hugged him, as he had hugged her once in ecstasy after a very important conquest which was a moment that she still treasured in the deepest corners of a heart .
This wasn’t him . So… It had dawned on her, right away, that she had been cheated .
She had instantly pulled back, but the tears in her eyes hadn’t stopped, and those emotions, which had all been kept at bay behind a ‘dam’, began flowing incessantly as the ‘dam’ had already been destroyed because of the hug .
More particularly, it was because of that moment during the hug before she had realized that it wasn’t him, when she had felt that it was possible that he might have returned to her .
She missed him . Oh, heavens, how she missed him .
And at that moment, she had realized that she had never actually come to terms with his death .
She had been turned into an Empire Spirit and sealed away moments before his death, even though she had begged and pleaded him that she wanted to be with him in his last moments, if they came .
‘No’, he had said . ‘You are needed for the future of Angaria’, he had insisted, and as always, she hadn’t been able to say no to him .
She wished that she could have told him that she just wanted to be with him no matter what happened, and if worst came to worst, she wished to hold him in his last moments and feel happy in his presence, before perishing by his side .
That was all she had ever wanted .
So what if what she felt wasn’t reciprocated? This wish of hers would be fulfilled, and she would have been able to die happy .
However, instead of that, she had had to endure so many long years without him, knowing that all of her wishes would never be fulfilled .
She loved him . She hated him . She was angry with him . She yearned for him . She missed him .
And all these emotions got pent-up more and more inside her, even without her knowing about it .
If they had been able to continue to do so, she could tell that they would have reached a point where they would definitely have been able to cause her to descend into madness .
Yet, she had been forced to face them at that moment when she had seen him and thought that it was really him, which had resulted in her realizing all of these things .
Of course, these realizations only come later, after she had carried out the instructions of the king and those other actions from the icy cold place in her heart that she always went to when she couldn’t deal with what she was feeling .
And hence, when she hugged him, she had only been able to say ‘thank you’, as allowing her to do so might possibly even have saved her life .
As for all those tears, they were, of course, the rest of what had been held behind the ‘dam’ . For each of those seconds, she had relived each and every moment she spent with the Emperor, because she was ready to finally let go and accept that he would never be coming back .
This hurt, more than anything that she had had to handle in her long life . She had never had friends, or family to teach her how to handle these things, and she had always only depended on herself . So, even now, she found herself reverting into that lonely, little, helpless girl that she had been so long ago when she was inundated by all of these emotions that were inside of her .
She had needed some kind of support, and because the King just happened to be there, she had used him .
And as she thought about it, she couldn’t help but remark that she had used him in the same manner that he had used her feelings for the Emperor .
At this moment, she looked back on the rest of her actions, and realized how truly foolish she had been to see the Emperor inside this man .
True, they had some similar qualities, but could he ever be compared in even the same breath with that glorious man?
No, not at all, and this thought also made her understand that it had been those pent-up feelings that had been yearning for the Emperor that had made her delusionally think that she could once again see the Emperor in him . Even the notion that he could replace the Emperor in her heart seemed…laughable .
True, she was ready to move on, but that didn’t mean that she would forget him . Her standards were sky-high, and he simply did not reach them .
One other thing made this revelation even stronger – the emperor would never, ever have used a plan like this, no matter what the situation . He was a straightforward man, and he had known that he would never be able to engage in such acts . Hence, he had sought out and brought those under his wing who could do things like these when necessary, such as that schemer who had been placed in Axelor .
Only, this made her feel even more embarrassed . What was she even supposed to say?
Wait… Why should she even explain herself?
Why couldn’t she just let him roil in uncertainty?
With this, Arafell also realized that she had begun to change in ways that she, herself, couldn’t explain . After all, this had been one of the main things that had resulted in her character being the way that it had been till now, and with it finally demolished, she could finally move on and become someone… Better .
But to understand who she was becoming, she needed time, so this was probably the best decision .
She also realized that she had lost in their competition, but in front of what had just happened, it seemed trivial .
For some reason, a smile appeared on her face as she imagined the king standing there gobsmacked without any answers, so she didn’t hesitate anymore .
Instantly, she teleported away, leaving the king gawking at her fading image .
‘W-what? She just left like that, after calling me here and using my shoulder to cry on? What the f*ck?’
As Daneel stood there scratching his head, he could almost bet that he heard a soft chuckling sound emanating from somewhere, but no matter how much he searched, he just couldn’t find the source, which was something that irritated him even more .
It looked like he wouldn’t be getting any answers, and this…was the most irritating things that Daneel had had to handle in a long, long time .
The next day, the Gathering of the Alliance began with a bang .
Although it didn’t take the same route as that of Arafell, the towering structure above the Gathering that floated in the air brought a solemn atmosphere which allowed Daneel’s words to resonate farther than they would have normally .
Taking a deep breath, he began right away with the two most important announcements, as he had decided that the last one, regarding the Heavenly City, would come toward the end of his speech .
First…was regarding the National School .
A separate, grand city would be built where children from all over the Alliance would be sent to learn everything under the sky . To allow them to mature and to foster teamwork, they would all have to board there for a set period of time, and the fee would be very low .
Second…came the one that made everyone gasp, and wonder whether they were hearing correctly .
All those who entered the Alliance would be getting something called ‘Insurance’, where they would have to pay a small fee every month . If they had to avail medical facilities, they could do so for a large amount much higher than what they paid, and if they didn’t use this option, all the money they had paid would be returned to them at a certain point .
Not many understood it fully, but what it sounded like was that they would basically be paying a little, and getting a lot .
This was, of course, something that was welcomed by all, and they began to cheer .
At the same moment as this speech was going on, though, in the Sect of Hedon, a large contingent was preparing to set off .
In its midst was a large, round ball of earth, inside which there was supposed to be someone who had been sealed .
Indeed, the party that would be going to the most reclusive and mysterious of the Big Four was about to set off, and from a little distance away, the newcomer who had infiltrated the Sect was watching everything with a serious expression on his face .
Something felt wrong, but no matter how much he tried, he just couldn’t place a finger on it .
So, telling himself that there was definitely no chance for anything to happen, he went back to his attempts at raising the hell that he hoped would burn the King of Lanthanor to nothingness .