this chapter is brought to you by mio
as translator, proofreader and editor!
“…Ara.” I could sense the complex emotions in Linden’s voice that was calling out my name.
“Lecht. Could you wait here for a moment?”
Lecht had a dissatisfied expression on his face at my request, but he nevertheless still quietly retreated without any hesitation. I took Linden to a nearby room where there were no people.
Linden opened his mouth as soon as the door closed. “Why did you do that?”
“…Did it make you feel bad?”
“I told you not to do anything dangerous…!”
“Linden.” I quietly cut off his words that were said in a choked voice. I smiled slightly at him, who was looking at me with an inexplicable emotion on his face. “I’m Lunar’s child, who is called to be a saintess. In front of me, I have the Lunar religion, and by my side, I have Lecht guarding me. And although it will take some time, I will also have the Little Duke of Darchez, who will become the influential Duke of Darchez, watching my back.”
“Moreover, it wasn’t me that came forward first. It was her and Ziken who broke into the temple and ruined the proclamation ceremony first, and it was also them who aimed their sword at me first. All I did was respond to them accordingly.”
As if it wasn’t enough for them to break into the temple armed, they even tried to attack the saintess. It was a perfectly normal reaction for the Lunar religion to regard them as their enemy and designate them as their number one target to guard against.
“On top of that, the emperor has now turned his back on the crown prince.” He had tried so hard to remove the crown prince from the situation. Yet Ziken simply kicked all of the emperor’s hard efforts away.
“Now, neither the empress, nor anyone else in power, can touch you recklessly.” Even if they did try and touch him in the first place, they wouldn’t have a way to suppress the Lunar religion or Lecht.
Linden remained silent. He understood everything I was saying, so there was no reason for him to refute it; thus, he just looked at me quietly.
“Haa…” It was a sigh that was finally uttered after a long period of silence.
He covered his distorted face with one hand. Only his blue eyes were revealed through the gaps of his fingers.
“My life… it was like I was walking in a very long tunnel.” He slowly began to tell his own story. “Ever since I was very young, I had never seen my mother smiling happily, even when she was alive. Even when I lost my mother and went to live with my grandfather, that long tunnel continued onwards.”
“Although it felt like my grandfather was walking with me now as well, it was still extremely dark, it seemed hopeless. But then, the tunnel that I had thought had become desolate after my grandfather’s death… for the first time, I could feel a warm breeze gushing in.”
His eyes were fixed on me. With the light in his eyes filling with affection and pain. “The warmth that I had finally experienced for the first time was really… it could drive people crazy.” Linden stretched out his hand toward me cautiously. Nevertheless, it stopped before it could touch my face. It hung around that space, as if he couldn’t bear to touch it.
“But do you know what drove me even crazier?” Clenching his fist that was still suspended in the air, he spat out painfully, “The moment that warmth appeared, for the first time in my life, it was like I had begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“The tunnel that I thought had no end… it seemed to be letting me know that the tunnel where I couldn’t even see an inch ahead of me in the dark—it had an end to it.”
Linden let out a huff that was close to a sigh. It was a sigh that seemed to release all the stuffy feelings blocking his heart, as well as his suffocated breath, all at once. He took a deep breath and released all the air in his lungs. After breathing deeply for a while, he met my eyes.
“I’m going to check what’s at the end of it. So…”
“Walk with me.”
I let out an inconcealable sigh.
“You were the one who gave me that light in the darkness and imbued warmth into that desolation. If you just keep walking by my side, I think I’d be able to keep going without losing hope, no matter what happens.”
“I want to see my future with you, who healed my past and made my present reality radiant.” He kept going on heartrendingly, as if he was a person who knew what I was going to say.
He cautiously stretched out his hand again to hold my hand instead of my face. Holding onto my two small hands with his large ones, he pleaded with me. “Is that not possible?”
My heart felt heavy. My chest seemed to be choked up.
I didn’t think that it would turn out like this with such a straightforward tactic. Since he was someone who would always gather information first, instigate a situation, and then gently scheme in secret. However, that’s also why I could see how serious he was right now.
So… rather, I’d also have to firmly convey my feelings as well.
Linden lowered his frowning face. His hand that was wrapped around mine tightened slightly.
“As expected… you can’t.”
“Did you know that word is really cruel?”
He was right. The words, ‘I’m sorry’, were probably the cruellest words in the world. All I could say in response to this person’s loss and pain was ‘I’m sorry’, just these two words. Even though I couldn’t help but say it, it was an extremely cruel sentence.
“To be honest… I overheard your conversation with Lydia and Grand Duke Arvis. About going back to the demon realm after the proclamation ceremony is over.”
“At first, I even thought of abandoning everything that I had lived for here and following you to the demon realm.”
This was completely outside of my expectations. I didn’t know you were having thoughts like that.
Raising his head, Linden smiled awkwardly and added, “But for you to seal it like this, saying that this is the place where I should be.”
I had ousted the crown prince as well as the power of his faction. At this rate, rather than Ziken being reinstated as crown prince again, Linden had a bigger chance at becoming the new crown prince instead.
“Giving me a gift like this is clearly telling me not to follow after you.”
“I didn’t mean it like that…”
Linden grinned at my words. “I’m meant to say that I’m thanking you.”
“Since this opportunity is the last gift you’ll give me. So I’ll handle it preciously and make it so that it will bloom beautifully.”
“I really don’t like those words.”
“I’m thinking of seriously doing it properly. I want to take the position of crown prince and become an emperor that will go down in history. So that when we meet next time, only the words, ‘Great job, you’ve done well, you’ve worked hard’, will come out.”
Next time. He was promising me a next time.
“So if that bastard makes you cry, come back anytime you want. I’ll scold him harshly as the person who won the struggle for the throne in the human realm.”
Linden, the future emperor, who scolds the demon king. You care about how I’m feeling apologetic toward you, even in this situation. He prioritised soothing my pain more importantly than protecting his own wounds. Just like a fool.
Being fully aware of his efforts, all I could do for him right now was just smile at him, just so that his efforts wouldn’t amount to nothing. “Yeah, thank you.”
Only then did he let go of my hand and then reach out to my face. But instead of cupping my face with his large hand, he only lightly mussed up my hair. “If you know, then smile a bit. They say that smiling makes one happier.”
“Mm, you too.”
“Even though I’m going to be busy soon thanks to a certain gift from someone?” Linden said jokingly as he burst into laughter.
He took a step first. However, as he turned the doorknob, just before he left, he stopped and stared at me. “It feels unfair somehow.”
“This is the only image of you that I know, yet Grand Duke Arvis also knows what you were like a hundred years ago.”
How did he find out about a hundred years ago? To be honest, it wasn’t too shocking that he knew. Since now that he knew Lecht’s true identity, it wouldn’t have been too hard for him to find out about our relationship.
“This appearance that I’ve seen of yours is already insanely lovable, yet when I think about how pretty you were a hundred years ago… I feel like it’s really unfair somehow.”
“It was just normal.”
“You? Normal?” As if he had heard something ridiculous, Linden added with a grin, “Like that makes sense.”
He vanished out of the door after that softly added murmur.
* * *
pls do not share this anywhere or u will always stub ur toe when u walk past a door frame !! this translation has been stolen from mioscorner.com, pls only read there i’m begging u :kneels:
Coming out of the temple, Linden left without looking back. Though there were many eyes that were stuck on him, he ignored them all.
“Your Highness, Marquis Rothschild would like to speak to you…”
A subordinate came and reported to him about this and that, but he cleared them all out.
“I’m tired. Next time for all of them.”
That’s how he got out of that place, as if he were running away. He almost ran back to his house.
Occupying the top floor of the Ezzarson residence was Linden’s own space. It was a space that had been occupied by him ever since his grandpa was still alive.
Closing the door with a bang, Linden roughly exhaled a breath that he had been holding in this whole time. “Haa.”
As he leaned against the door, the strength in his legs disappeared as he collapsed. When he leaned his head against the door, the appearance of Ara flickered before his eyes. Although he closed his eyes, he could picture her face even clearer in his head.
She naturally popped into his head whenever he was alone. It was at the level of it being a chronic disease.
‘I knew from the beginning where her gaze was directed.’
There was no way he couldn’t be aware of it, since the way she looked at Grand Duke Arvis became the exact same way he looked at her. He had already expected a rejection from the time he had started to confess his feelings. Nevertheless, his reason for confessing to her was simple.
‘Still… at least you can leave comfortably now.’
If it was her, then she wouldn’t have been able to take a step with peace of mind since she would still be worried about leaving him behind. She must have been troubled thinking about how to vaguely end things with him, who she liked, yet was unable to whisper about love to. Since she was such a gentle and affectionate woman.
So he had no choice but to come forward himself. So that she could completely reject him and be comfortable.
Linden let out a chuckle. As soon as he had let her go, he felt as if his appearance of wanting her to be comfortable was extremely insignificant. Insignificant and pathetic. But he had no regrets. So he kept laughing, because that was even more pathetic.
“Linden, you don’t have to put so much effort in front of me.”
She was the most comfortable existence to him since he never had to package himself in a certain way. But at the same time, did she know that he had to put in double the effort to keep that smile on her face?
“You already know. I’m a pushover when it comes to you.”
No matter how much he thought about it, the pushover wasn’t her, but rather, himself.
“I’m not sure if you know, but I genuinely wish for your peace and happiness.”
Even though she didn’t accept him as her man, he knew that those words of hers contained unrivaled sincerity.
“In front of me, I have the Lunar religion, and by my side, I have Lecht guarding me.”
And because it was her, even her explanation at how she would be safe was simple, as she let him know that that man would be by her side. It was even crazier because she was such an innocent and candidly honest woman.
“Seriously… she takes first place for driving people crazy.”
The fact that she didn’t know what she was doing was the craziest part.
A bitter smile hung from Linden’s lips. His affection for her that he was unable to hide. The futility of having no choice but to give up.
And in the midst of all that, this ‘crown prince’ position that she had left behind for him became exceedingly precious. Yet if he could return it in exchange for her, then he would be more than happy to do so.
His opposing feelings had mixed in several places and penetrated his mind. But there was nothing he could do to make it better, so all Linden could do was let out a dejected smile.
glad this love triangle between ara and linden didn’t drag out for too long and that she was direct with it too—easier to rip a bandaid off fast than slowly ya feel
i’m glad it ended quickly bc i always did think linden was projecting his lack of affection and trying to seek that from ara but yeah, i have hope that the author will give linden someone that only loves him ❤