The Young Daughter of the Goddess 7

Tina’s body trembled slightly. When she raised her head, her eyes met Metion. Only then did she realize that his gaze, though seemingly indifferent, was different from that of the pursuers. She had just been offered salvation. She had been so fixated on the thought of returning that she hadn’t immediately understood, but Metion had helped her and her baby escape from the castle, away from the grasp of those pursuers. Just a few hours ago, she had been wandering around, unable to eat or rest, believing that capture meant death. Could she afford to weigh the offer of someone who had extended a hand of salvation just as she barely escaped?

Nevertheless, Tina couldn’t readily answer. More than anything, it was sudden, confusing as to whether it was possible, and she felt she shouldn’t decide alone. And there was the baby.

She barely managed to say, “The child is His Majesty’s.”

“Oh, really? Well, I suppose it’s only natural for a baby to be with its father. But do you think His Majesty will make a good father? Perhaps he might. He’s waited a long time for a child. If you want, he might even cut of a piece of the goddess’s robe for you. But to receive His Majesty’s gifts, you must stay alive. Isn’t that the most important thing?”

“If I return to the palace…”

“If you return to the palace, you’ll die.”

Tina looked down at the baby with bewilderment. Although returning was difficult, she firmly believed that if she could meet a trustworthy person and return to the palace, His Majesty would protect her. Without knowing why she was brought here in a carriage or who her partner was, she shared a bed with His Majesty, who did not speak a word while holding her, but things changed after the prince was born. In the afternoons, he would forgo audiences and visit the annex, spending time with the baby without noticing the passage of time. When the prince fell asleep, he would ask her about her life on the streets, request her to dance, and one day, he even taught her how to play a board game. She wasn’t sure if His Majesty loved her, but she believed he wouldn’t abandon her. Most importantly, Prince Politimos was His Majesty’s only child. Even his name meant “precious and rare.”

“Do you find it hard to believe? With His Majesty watching over you, how could such a thing happen? Then why did this happen?”

“I was deceived by a fake letter…”

“You think this happened because you were tricked into leaving the palace? So you think you just need to avoid being deceived again? Do you believe the queen couldn’t kill you in the palace, so she lured you out? The queen has been the mistress of the palace for nine years. She can do anything in the palace if she sets her mind to it. If she failed this time, she will make sure to finish it perfectly next time. Do you think His Majesty will find even a bone fragment of you and the prince?”

Tina trembled silently. She could understand the Queen’s hatred and had experienced it before. From the beginning, she was afraid of the Queen. Of course, Metion’s words might have been exaggerated. It might have been foolish to abandon the position of his Majesty’s favorite consort and run away just because she heard such words.

But Tina had a baby. A baby she wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. He wasn’t only precious to His Majesty. The thought of even a finger of the baby being hurt sent chills through her entire body. Tina wore a frightened expression.

“I hope the queen forgives me, really…”

“Forgiveness? Well, that might be possible once both of you are dust. Of course, you haven’t done anything deserving of forgiveness. But hearing you talk about forgiveness makes it clear you are not ready to fight Queen Sabina. She… will eliminate anything that displeases her.”

Metion’s tone was strangely bitter, making Tina feel uneasy.

“You seem to know the queen well.”

“I do.”

“So…”

“That’s why I brought you here. Otherwise, why would I flee with you to Pyroas? I have to leave my home, risk being hunted, and take the baby away from his father. There’s nothing good for me in this. Except that you and the baby will live.”

“Then if there’s nothing good for you, why are you helping me?”

“I can’t stand seeing a woman holding a baby die.”

It was hard to believe such words. Metion stood up abruptly and began to pace the creaky floor.

“You don’t believe me. Then what other reason could there be? Because I fell in love with you? When have I even seen you to fall in love and risk my life for you? Do I seem so starved for a glimpse of a disheveled woman running into a cafe?”

Tina laughed involuntarily. When Metion turned to look at her, she quickly stopped, but the smile remained in her eyes. Despite the dark circles from the hardships of the previous night, the laughter made her beautiful again. The sky, which had been cloudy, cleared, and light shone through the broken ceiling. The light, like magic, made the cobwebs in the old mill look like fine lace, and the black moss shimmered like silk. Metion paused and sighed briefly, then spoke again.

“This is no laughing matter.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I am determined to save you both. I won’t let you die at the queen’s hands. If you trust me, wait here until I return.”

“Y-you’re leaving me?”

Until they arrived here, she thought he would take the baby and leave, but now the thought of Metion leaving scared her. Though they walked all night, far from the palace, the pursuers would desperately try to find and kill her. For them, Tina and the baby were threats that had to be buried in the ground once touched.

“I wasn’t prepared for this journey when I unexpectedly met you. I have matters to attend to since I will be away from my home for a long time. You must be hungry, but endure a bit longer. Don’t seek food nearby. The pursuers will soon extend their reach to the nearby villages. Country folks remember strangers well. But here in the reed field, even hunting dogs won’t find you.”

“But still…”

“Worried about losing track of me? If you have to leave here, we will meet at the place I will now explain.”

He explained that if she walked southward, the swamp would turn into a forest, and inside the forest, there was a place with scattered white rocks. Among them, a hidden cave could be found. Metion showed her the special way to enter the cave.

“Understand? This place is so remote that no one should come here, but I’m telling you just in case. That’s how serious I am.”

Then, Metion took a dagger from his bosom and placed it in Tina’s hand. It was a brass-colored dagger engraved with a snipe emblem. Tina accepted the dagger and could only look up at Metion without a word. Suddenly feeling a pang of pity, Metion made a resolution.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before nightfall. Get some rest, you must be tired. I’ll be glad if you and Gene greet me when I return.”

Tina finally spoke, “You called him Gene?”

“Yes, if Eugenia is a boy, then Gene it is.”

Remembering how she had insisted the baby was a girl, Tina blushed and lowered her head, making Metion chuckle.

“Let’s call him by a name we use among ourselves. We can’t call him Prince Politimos all the time. By the way, I’m not the son of Urs from Kisa. My name is Laban.”


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