Chapter 4 : The King’s Desire
“… Brother Mocha’s death woke me, and I was able to escape.” Liola explained everything in detail without holding anything back, regardless of whether it was civilians or Dragon Empire Knights around him.
After the storytelling had ended, everyone remained quiet. The only sound that could be heard in the plaza was the breathing noises of the Dragons— it was dead silence otherwise. But they can’t really be blamed; something as bizarre as this wasn’t something the civilians could imagine. Even the Knights seemed shocked during the story, especially when Liola spoke of the truth about the heart of the Dragon Emperor.
“This is some rather unordinary secrets.” Feir smiled bitterly. He had only hoped Liola would explain his earlier actions, so the civilians and Knights wouldn’t misunderstand him, but now that he dragged out such shocking truths… could this be good or bad?
“So that’s how things were. So basically, you were being controlled by the Dragon Emperor, and that’s why you did such things. Then we can’t really blame you, we should blame the Dragon Emperor… Wait, the heart of the Dragon Emperor is the one to be blamed.” Bour said, “I can’t believe there’s such a strange heart in the world; it’s really strange.”
“However, those evil acts were really done by me, and I have nothing to say about them.” Liola tilted his head, trying to look away from the hatred in people’s eyes.
Unexpectedly, Liola’s head connected with a fist. Bour snapped, “What the hell are you saying? If I got food poisoning, am I supposed to blame the waiter for bringing the food rather than the chef who cooked it? Nonsense.”
Liola touched his head in surprise, and his stupefied look made everyone laugh. But Baolilong didn’t laugh; it pounced, pushed Bour onto the ground, and shouted, “Don’t hit my papa!”
“Aiya, I didn’t hit your papa. I was joking with him, joking! Aiya! Stop.” Bour awkwardly tried to dodge Baolilong’s nails. Though it was in its human shape and its nails weren’t sharp as those of a Dragon, Bour still received red scratch marks all over him. He looked like someone who got dragged out by his wife after she found him with his mistress.
“Baolilong, stop acting like that.” Liola was surprised; he hurriedly tried to grab ahold of Baolilong to stop it from putting any more wounds on Bour. However, because he was exhausted, as soon as he grabbed Baolilong, he began to fall sidewards. Bour noticed, and hurried up to grab Liola. But because of the momentum, all three of them fell down together.
Everyone froze. At that moment, no one thought about helping them up. Bour tried to catch his breath and said, “Ah… I can’t believe I’d have the honor in this life to fall with a prince.”
“Ahaha”, someone in the crowd started to laugh. The sound of laughter rippled through the crowd like a rubble thrown into a lake, and finally everyone was laughing: Holy Knight, Dark Knight, women with aprons, hotel owners carrying all of his money, and all kinds of people, all laughed with one another.
After laughing for a long while, people finally refrained their laughs. Feir smiled as he held up the successor, “You’ve worked hard to protect these civilians, let me help you get to a place for some rest.”
Feir said to others, “Everyone else help these civilians sort out a place to live. Don’t forget to get some food for them to eat!”
“No problem, Feir, you go help the successor to get some rest.” The Knights smiled and replied loudly.
Feir helped Liola into a house that was still mostly intact, helped him sit down next to a table, and said, “Sit for a bit, I’ll go help make a bed.”
Liola stopped Feir; when the latter turned around to look curiously, he explained, “You can stop using those honorifics to address me. You know… I’m not a successor, or actually, I should say I’m not even a prince; not like Lanski or Cappuccino, you should know…” Liola couldn’t find the right words to explain it to Feir.
“Really?” Feir smiled warmly, “But in my eyes, what you did to protect those civilians makes you look like a true royalty.”
It was now Liola’s turn to look at Feir curiously.
Seeing this, Feir gave up on making a bed, because the successor looked like he didn’t want to sleep. Feir walked to the table, and asked with a smile, “May I sit down, please?”
“You’re Purity’s brother, you don’t have to be so… respectful.” Liola frowned slightly.
Feir smiled, and didn’t explain any further. If he was truly being respectful, he wouldn’t be asking such a question, and instead of sitting down, he should be standing next to the successor. However, he knew being respectful towards Liola would make him feel strange, so he stopped talking in a respectful tone, and said directly, “Speaking of Purity, why didn’t you go back to find Kaiser? But since he and Daylight are wanted, I don’t know where they’re hiding. However, I believe my sister knows.”
“I’m lost…” Liola said truthfully.
“Lost?” Feir seemed confused, “If you were lost, you could’ve gotten Baolilong to ask Flames. Although Flames was in the Commerce Alliance and we’re quite far from it, the Sacred White Dragon should have strong enough power to communicate with it.”
Liola was silent for a bit, and then he explained, “Baolilong said, it was because I didn’t want to go back, so it didn’t contact Flames.”
Feir looked at him for a while, nodded and said, “I see, that I can understand.”
It was Liola’s turn to pause. Understood? Even though he himself couldn’t understand, Feir was able to understand?
“Don’t worry, this is quite normal. After hearing those complicated secrets of yours, even I began to feel afraid, so it’s understandable for you to be afraid.” Feir said calmly, “However, you can’t run forever. After you rest, you should return and carry out your duties.”
“What duties?” Liola paused.
“The duties of a successor, of course.” Feir stared straight at him, without giving him any chance to run away.
“I’m not… the successor. The Dragon Emperor wouldn’t possibly keep me as a successor.” Liola denied in reflex.
“That’s not what I think.” Feir was deep in thought for a moment, “Think about it, Prince Mocha and Prince Latte are both dead. There are only three candidates left for the throne: Prince Cappuccino, Princess Lanski, and you. As you’ve explained, they both know the truth. Since all three of you know the truth now, you guys are now on equal footing in that regard. I mean, if the Dragon Emperor was still the one choosing.”
“And as such, of course he would pick the strongest among you.” Feir raised his head, “Since you are the strongest, and you already are the successor, instead of changing the successor and make his people feel unrest, he might as well try to catch you instead.”
Hearing Feir’s accurate analysis, Liola’s body shrank and his face darkened. When Feir saw him, and smiled apologetically, “Sorry for making you feel uneasy, but everything I said is true.”
“Besides, even if the Dragon Emperor dissolve you from being the successor, if the only remaining royalty, Cappuccino and Lanski, supports you as the next Dragon Emperor, everyone will still recognize you as the successor. In fact, even if your siblings don’t support you, there were quite a few Princes in history who had successfully usurped the throne despite being hated by their father. Those who had been accepted by the Sacred White Dragon, despite all other factors, had almost always become the next Dragon Emperor, be it usurping or succeeding.”
Feir looked at Baolilong, who was lying next to Liola’s legs, and said, “Therefore, having the acceptance of the Sacred White Dragon is basically half way to becoming the Dragon Emperor; this is something everyone knows.”
“But I don’t want to be the Dragon Emperor.” Liola stood up emotionally, but being as exhausted as he was, he fell back down almost at the same instant. He said bitterly, “I don’t know how to be a Dragon Emperor.”
“Judging from what I saw, you seem to know it quite well.” Feir said casually as he picked up a can on the table with tea leaves inside. He smelled it to make sure it was still good, then poured the tea leaves into a pot, poured in water, and plugged it in to heat up.
Liola frowned, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“What do you think the duty of an Emperor is?” Feir smiled, and patiently began to guide the future Dragon Emperor.
“I don’t know.” Liola shook his head; he really didn’t know how to be one.
“A supposed Emperor means to give everything in his power to make his people happy.”
Liola looked at Feir skeptically. This was far different from what he had experienced.
“This is what my mother taught me.” Feir smiled and said, “She is a great Commander, and also a great mother. Ever since I was young, she kept telling me what the leader of the people must do.”
Liola paused. It wasn’t until now that he remembered, Feir was the son of a Commander, and he would likely be a leader in the future — of course, unless Purity replaced him.
“My other and the other two Commanders actually decided not to continue having three Commanders.” Feir explained, “Their bonds of friendship run deep, so they don’t have to worry about infighting. However, my generation is far different. Jetter hates me to the bone, and he couldn’t possibly work with me.”
“He hates you?” It was hard for Liola to imagine someone hating Feir. To him, Feir was a very amiable person, and so was Purity.
“Mhm, he also hates Purity.” Feir smiled bitterly, “In fact, he probably knew, there will only be one Commander. The current three Commanders told me, that person will be me.”
Liola paused, and asked back, “So you’re also an Emperor?”
“You could say that.” Feir joked, “So, we could exchange some ideas of being a King. It would be great if Meinan was also here, so we could have a small ‘King meeting’.”
“This isn’t funny.” Liola shook his head.
Feir stopped smiling, and nodded seriously, “Indeed, this isn’t funny. If there is a King who was unwilling to be King, the whole world wouldn’t find it funny.”
“Can’t someone else be the King…? Both Cappuccino and Lanski would do better than me.” Liola felt frustrated. Why must he be the Dragon Emperor? He had never thought about being the Dragon Emperor.
Feir shook his head and smiled, “That’s what you think. To me, Prince Cappuccino’s personality is a wanderer. To make him stay in the palace would be like torture to him.”
“Princess Lanski may be brave and honest, but she isn’t adaptable. Being a King can’t always be completely straightforward.” Feir smiled as if there were deeper meanings.
“Your smile looks a lot like Qiusi, very cunning.” Liola looked at Feir strangely.
Feir’s smile froze, and continued forcefully, “Looks like your observational abilities are better than the Princess. This is bad news to both me and Meinan. It looks like it would be hard for us to take advantage of the Dragon Emperor in the future.”
Liola shook his head, “Meinan wouldn’t take advantage of me, and neither would you.”
“Don’t trust me too much.” Feir smiled meaningfully again.
“I trust Purity.” Liola maintained his stance.
Feir’s smile froze again. He began to think, perhaps he would be better off supporting Princess Lanski for the throne?
“As you can see, you are indeed the best candidate to the throne, right?” Feir smiled as he scratched his face.
“I…” Liola drew a blank, “That’s not the same. I-I don’t know how to handle all the politics.”
“You have Kaiser.”
“I don’t understand Knights, so I can’t manage a Kingdom of Knights.” Liola tried to refute again.
“And you have Daylight.” Feir shrugged again, and said, “Even the friends you’ve made are just right. In the Aklan Troublemaking Squad, Kaiser can help you with politics, Daylight can help you manage Knights. As for diplomacy, Meinan is the future Prime Minister of Aklan, and Purity can… keep me in check, although I really don’t want to say it that way. Also, you are friends with the strongest people in this world, such as Mizerui, Barbalis, Lancelot, Blood Wolf, Gladiolus, etcetera. This is all very important.”
Liola revealed a strange expression, and asked hesitantly, “If everything can be handled by other people, then… what exactly do I have to do?”
“You are the center of the net that connects everyone. This is the duties of a King.” Feir stood up and said seriously, “Liola, did you know? You have the big advantage that even I, as someone who had been preparing to become King for the last decade, don’t have.”
Feir suddenly sat back down, and smiled bitterly, “I can imagine, when you become the Dragon Emperor, you will have unprecedented power. What’s funny is, the reason why you’ll have all this power, is because you possess the personality of not wanting those power. This results in everyone standing by your side, and not worried about you plotting against them.”
Hearing Feir’s explanation, Liola was silent. This was all something he had never thought about, but…
Feir probably also knew, something like this couldn’t be hurried. He remembered when he first found out about him being King, he was also terrified and felt clueless. Thinking about that, he couldn’t refrain revealing a smile of understanding to the future King in front of him, who was still younger than him.
He said warmly, “Don’t rush it. Think about it slowly. You’ve exhausted your Aura today, so you should be tired, right? Sleep for a while first. When you’re too tired, you might be a bit narrow minded.”
Liola nodded, letting Feir help him to lie down on a bed.
“Rest well.” Feir smiled, then left the room.
Liola stared blankly at the ceiling. The reasons for him to become the Dragon Emperor went through his mind, but none of them made him happy, nor did anyone made him “want” to be the Dragon Emperor.
‘A few hundred reasons aren’t enough. I just need one reason, one that makes me want to become the next Dragon Emperor.’
* * *
Perhaps as a result of exhausting his Ki, Liola had seldom slept this well, almost to the point of forgetting to put up his guard. It wasn’t until he woke up that he heard and felt Baolilong still lying against him, sound asleep. This young adult had to use all of its energy to spit out lightning balls to attack its papa’s enemies, and now it was probably exhausted as well.
Liola got up, but unexpectedly woke Baolilong. It rubbed its eyes, and then climbed on top of papa’s body, as if it were still a child, and trying to push itself into papa’s arms. It complained with a sleepy voice, “Papa, Baolilong is very, very hungry, meat~”
Liola smiled, and picked up the not-so-small Dragon, then walked out. As soon as he left the room and walked to the place where he talked to Feir last night, he saw a pail full of water and a towel. Liola felt thankful for Feir’s thoughtfulness. Being as tired as he was, he did indeed need some water to wash.
After briefly washing himself and Baolilong, Liola thought about the civilians’ situations. Plus, the Dragon that was now fully awake was moaning loudly from being hungry. He then took it out of the room, hoping to barbecue some meat for civilians and Baolilong before the Lesser-Dragons would decay.
After opening the door, the bright sunlight temporarily blinded Liola. He used his hand to block away the light and awaited for his eyes to adjust, but the Baolilong, whom he was holding on his right hand, had already charged forward unable to wait while yelling “meat”.
“Big brother, this piece of meat is for you. It’s the biggest one.”
When Liola’s eyes finally focused, the first thing he saw was a piece of meat in the boy’s arms, and he was happily giving it to Baolilong. Baolilong happily grabbed it, and began to chew it after a large bite. But when it turned around, it saw the boy gulping as he looked at it eating the meat. Baolilong was generous unlike before, and it tore off a piece of meat the size of a fist, then put it in front of the boy, “You gave Baolilong meat, so Baolilong also give you meat.”
The boy showed a happy smile. After taking the meat, he sat down next to Baolilong, and started eating with it.
Seeing the situation, Liola unconsciously began to smile. Then he noticed what was happening in the entire city: the Knights were all working together; some were cutting the giant Lesser-Dragons into pieces of meat, some were responsible for using their Aura to cook the meat. Perhaps it was the first time they used such a method to cook, since their inexperience were revealed with the frequent smell of burning. Bour was guiding them on the side, telling them how Silver Mask did it, and how great the meat was when he cooked them.
The Knights didn’t seem frustrated; praising the successor they were loyal to, seemed to make them more happy than actually praising them.
That was not all; the city walls that looked like ruins yesterday because of the Lesser-Dragons now looked orderly. Though the destroyed houses had still not been repaired, all the rubbles from yesterday had been completely cleaned away.
The main contributor to that, was of course the civilians as well as the Knights, whose faces and clothes had now been covered with dust, even though the Knights had originally wore clean clothes. Some of the Knights even accidentally set themselves on fire while cooking the meat, and they were jumping around, trying to extinguish the fire from their pants, and this scene made the all civilians around them laugh.
Liola felt the cheerfulness of the scene. In the bright sunlight, the Knights and civilians were all laughing with one another. Even if their homes were in shambles, the gloominess didn’t seem to infect their smiles at all.
‘Ah… if everyone could smile like this forever, how great it would be.’ Liola smiled unconsciously, and he felt warmth in his heart, to the point where it was hotter than the sunlight.
“Aiya, Silver Mask.” Bour finally noticed Liola’s arrival. After shouting loudly, Liola looked towards him, with a bright smile on his face. This made Bour freeze.
Everyone had now noticed Liola. Before the civilians even had time to greet him, the Knights had already stood up straight, and respectfully performed a Knight’s salute towards him, then awaited for the successor’s response.
“Don’t mind me, you guys continue.” Liola tilted his head, then added, “Just smile like you guys were.”
The Knights blinked, obviously not sure of what the successor meant; did the successor want them to smile?
Liola didn’t understand it either; why did everyone stop laughing? This made him feel a bit disappointed. He then pointed at himself, then started to smile brightly, “Like this, smile happily.”
This bright smile made everyone stare in awe. To them, it was like the clouds of a dark night had suddenly dispersed, and the moon had covered the world with moonlight; it was an indescribable feeling of awe.
The crowd still didn’t smile, and froze instead. Liola couldn’t help but touch his own face; did he smile strangely? As for their stares, he looked back at them perplexedly, and his silly look made everyone burst into smile again.
Now, Liola was even more clueless; why did everyone start to smile again?
“Liola, you are a natural talent at being King.”
Liola turned to find Feir holding some food and standing next to him with a smile.
Perhaps because he could see Liola’s doubts in his eyes, Feir raised his brows, then gestured at the crowd’s happy laughter and explained, “Look, every move you make affects these civilians. You dissolved everyone’s suspicions and doubts without even knowing it. You know, yesterday, there were still civilians and Knights who didn’t believe what you said, but just now, those people were the ones who laughed the loudest.”
Liola wasn’t sure what Feir meant, but one thing he was sure of, “I like to see everyone smile.”
“Unfortunately, in the days that follow, it wouldn’t be easy to smile anymore.” Feir said somewhat pitifully.
“Why?” Liola asked back almost immediately.
“The Dragon Emperor had already summoned the Knights to go back. We were originally sent to find you.” Feir glanced at Liola, then added, “We didn’t report the fact that we found you.”
“The Knights were still arguing yesterday, whether to serve you, or the Dragon Emperor.” Feir smiled, “Of course, it’s not possible for me to serve you, as I’ve never served the Dragon Empire’s royalties.”
“They don’t believe what I said? The Dragon Emperor isn’t a good man.”
“No.” Feir showed a strange smile, “They do believe you, but you underestimate how loyal Knights are to the Dragon Emperor. It was a simple desire to take over the world, and perhaps many Knights would interpret the Dragon Emperor as being ambitious and it would be a good thing, just that his methods would bring a chill to people. Nevertheless, even the terrifying existence of the heart of the Dragon Emperor might not be able to make most of the Knights betray their King.”
“These Knights are a bit special.” Feir took a deep breath, “I’m talking about the fifty or so Knights here, and there are two more groups, totalling to about two hundred people. We are a… not exactly an organization, but Knights who share a common factor: we’re skeptical about the Dragon Emperor, and you have resolved that confusion for us yesterday.”
Liola looked with Feir with surprise, but Feir continued as though he didn’t see Liola’s expression, “I’ve been looking for you, Liola. When Purity told me what happened, I’ve always thought you had something to do with the Dragon Emperor’s secrets, and I’m not the only one looking for you — those two hundred Knights are just like me. They hoped to find you and find out what the problems were, and decide whether the person they were loyal to was indeed worth their trust.”
“I think you’ve already help them make up their minds.” Feir smiled lightly, “Since the problem is with the heart of the Dragon Emperor and not the royal blood itself, as long as they support you, a Prince who had not been corrupted by the heart, they can be true to their hearts while still not betraying the Royal Family.”
“Liola, would you be willing to work towards being a King?” Feir turned his head, gazing into Liola’s eyes.
Liola was speechless. At the same time he realized, everyone were now listening close to them: the Knights and the civilians, they had all encircled them, and their eyes were focused on none other than Liola.
Liola suddenly realize: the idea of being the Dragon Emperor was not as repulsive to him as it was yesterday. Why? What changed his own thoughts?
“It would be great if you were the Dragon Emperor.” Bour said earnestly.
Liola asked with confusion, “Why? I don’t know if I could be a good Dragon Emperor; perhaps I might end up being even worse.”
Bour scratched his head, “I don’t know how to say this, but I just think you would be a good Dragon Emperor. You like us, right? That’s great then.”
“You also like to smile, and you like people smiling even more. I believe a person who like to see others smiling would never be a bad King.” The mother walked up, and smiled kindly.
“Because, you would do everything in your power to make everyone smile, wouldn’t you?”
Liola trembled strongly. Making everyone smile? He couldn’t help but began to think. All he could do now was do everything he could to make the thousands of civilians in this city smile, but if he were a King, would he be able to make more people smile? So it wasn’t just civilians, Knights, and everyone else, could be entrenched in smiles like just now. Could this scene of smiles expand to the entire… entire world?!
“I…” Liola raised his head, and the world suddenly look bright to him, because now he had a goal, one that made him feel happy just thinking about it.
Liola’s eyes glanced across everyone, he opened his mouth slightly, but this simple action made everyone hold their breaths and waited, “I want to make everyone happy, so that everyone would smile as they have today. If being King can achieve this goal, then I will do everything I can to be King, and make the world be filled with smiles everyday.”
“Make the world be filled with smile everyday.” Feir showed a bright smile, “Crap, even I want to be serve you.”
The Knights and the civilians all smiled. Wanting to be King for such a reason was probably unprecedented.
“Please accept our loyalty.”
All the Knights half knelt, formed a fist with their right hand, and pounded their left chest.