Chapter 42: Ancestral Legacy
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Steps echoed in the narrow corridors that both Maren and Amaragi traversed, torches illuminating the many different hallways at certain intervals, apart from the dim light shining through a few windows. 


"From what I've seen on all those reports, are you worried that Glenrock might try to take advantage of our weakened state?" 


Maren kept his voice relatively quiet, nevertheless, his own worries were clearly seeping into his voice. Thus, Amaragi hummed once as she briefly closed her eyes. 


"... they have taken enough losses on their own previously, but it is a possibility that I am closely aware of. It is not truly just themselves I am worried about… there are many neutral territories that are supporting them against us as well. Byanzinth was just one of those examples."


Truly, this war was still far from over, even if it was too quiet at the moment. It was merely a pause in the current conflict, where each remaining party held back to regain their strength and ponder about their next move before striking out once more. 


A clash for ultimate dominance that would decide the future of the entire continent, with the sole Empire on one side, bolstering itself with its entire arsenal and military might, and the noble led region of Glenrock, standing as a rallying point for each and every faction that would, under normal circumstances, never stand a chance to be a threat against the Empire on their own. 


Maren tilted his head slightly as he pondered about this. 


"We do not have any…? None at all?" 


Suddenly, for a brief moment, Amaragi slowed down considerably in her steps as her eyes slightly opened again, one of the torchlights upon the wall creating an almost solemn but fiery glimmer in her eyes, even though they were downcast. 


"... Almera… our nation… has a long, long history…" her voice equalled a gentle whisper, and before long, she stopped at one of the openings inside of the wall to gaze outside, into the gray, cold, and darkened sky. Thus, Maren stopped alongside her as he tentatively placed his hands together behind his back. 


"A land mostly barren, laced with rocky terrain and mountains, not to mention the icy and cold climate… the land is rich only in one thing: iron. The blood flowing through our country, it is that single resource that we have learned to master. To forge weapons, armor, and numerous war machines alike… all to create an army that is second to none."


She paused, her crimson eyes roaming over the entire town down below. 


"But an army does not sustain our people, iron does not replace the fertile grounds where crops can grow and be harvested. All these things, other territories possessed. And so, with our weapons and troops, our sights trained upon what others had that we so desperately needed, my ancestors chose the solitary path. The path to war."


With that, her hands clenched together, and her voice hardened with an iron resolve. 


"... we don't need allies…" 


Maren regarded her with baited breath. Despite her caring nature, the one that he had so deeply fallen in love with, even if she meticulously hid it from the rest of the world, everything in her eyes in that moment made clear that the ideals and core principles of the Empire still ran deeply through her veins. 


And that, above all, she was still the crown princess of a solitary and hardened country that had always fought to dominate others for their very own survival. 


As these thoughts ran wild through his mind, Maren subconsciously released the small and shaky breath he had been holding as he closed his eyes himself. 


Thus, he almost gasped when he could suddenly feel a hand slipping into his own, followed in the same way on the other side before he was gently pushed against the stone wall behind him. And when his eyes widened, he found himself staring right into her own, her body mere inches away from his own. 


There… was what he had now already seen numerous times before… that predatory glint in her eyes… 


Even though she was smiling so kindly at him, just as she so often did. 


"But I have you, and this is what I will only accept. Any other person… would have never accepted me like this, but you, you…" for a brief moment, her eyes seemed to trail down against his chest in silent contemplation-


"... I… can sometimes truly not articulate what I am feeling when I'm with you, but you…"


-just as Maren was looking into her eyes, never moving in the slightest as he trusted her with his life, her gaze suddenly changed in the blink of an eye, almost as if a reassuring thought entered her mind. 


"... I'm certain you know exactly how I feel, isn't that so?" 


And she smiled at him in the sweetest of ways. The realization that she had shown him every single side of her, and even now, here they still were. 


There was nothing she needed to say that she had not already shown him. And still, he was here, with her. 


She might never need any allies outside of the Empire… but him, he held a special place in her heart that she would never give up anymore. 


He belonged to her, and he always would. 


"You know, I am missing the times from way back then… when it was just the two of us, periodically making excursions outside of the palace just so that I could spend more time with you, while you were still so very sweet and hesitant around me, and you still are…" 


Just as Maren was about to say a word, Amaragi gently placed a finger against his lips, looking him directly in the eyes. 


"... perhaps I ought to do something to bring these times back. Only promise me this…"


At least, before she leaned in to whisper directly into his ear. 


"... never change who you are…" 


And with that, she hugged him dearly for what felt like an eternity. 



AN: Since I am not sure how many I am reaching with my profile messages, I am making a small note here for once as well. I'd like to mention that I have updated my patreon page, where I am, from now on, regularly posting small side chapters and extras. Showcasing what happens beyond the main scenes, exploring the lives of previously only briefly mentioned characters, and more if you are interested! 


Support comes in many ways

A like, a comment, a favorite

Each of them; I know how to savor it

To keep me writing for days~