22 We All Sleep Alone
(From the point of view of Lars Frigg)
I opened my eyes just the same way I did when I closed my eyes: swift and calculated; my eyelids opened, and it will close later with nothing else clouding my mind. That is how I lead my life then; this will be how my life will look like in the future. I am content with this life; this brings me joy. Oh yeah, I like it.
Some people might call it boring, but it is the sort of monotony that gives my life an unbearable feeling of euphoria. I raised my upper body, placed my feet on the floor, yawned slightly, and left the bed just like how I always do and just like how it will always be. My room is made out of nothing but cement, painted white, while the walls are painted red because one way or another, no matter how much you hate it, red will follow you; after all, you will never escape that color in Varba.
I stood in front of my large and perfectly rectangular-shaped glass and stared at my unusually pale skin and silver hair. I am unlike any people in this empire, for I actually wear something when I sleep. It's a white tunic and a baggy but comfortable gray pair of pants. My clothes made my skin appear even paler; oh yeah, I like it.
Some people say that the way I utter words sounded mechanical. I do not blame them, for I must have been one of the very few unfortunate souls in the world to have been reduced into so much nothingness that I pretty much became nothing myself. I am nothing but a lifeless and unfeeling little machine that only needs a loud metallic hissing and cranks around my body to pair well with my expressionless face. I do not hate it; after all, no one is free from gossip in Varba.
I am unlike my dear friend, Vonerich. I feel nothing when I hold the bare skin of a woman, and I feel nothing when I bed a man. The only thing in my head when I do such a lowly thing is the desire to know when it will end. I envy my best friend, not because he's a prince, but because he can face the world and say that he genuinely loves what he's doing. The best I can do is fight like I was made for it. Oh yeah, I like it.
Some people in the world are like my dear friend, Vonerich, and everyone else other than me in Varba is just like him. It is a common occurrence in this empire to have countless lovers and bed multiple people at once—there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in my head. However, the way they looked at me with their mocking eyes simply because I do not desire what they would otherwise seek on a daily basis is something that only a hypocrite would say; after all, everyone is alone in Varba.
I shook my head. Another day is here, and I need to stop myself from this almost mechanical way of thinking. I have to focus. I then placed an iron armor on top of the clothes I wore in my sleep as I looked at my tall and muscular stature on the humongous rectangular-shaped glass. I then slapped my face lightly with my bare palms as I readied myself for another barrage of sharp gazes at me. Oh yeah, I like it.
Some people are just like that: blind to the truth of this world. No matter who you are, no matter how many lovers you seek in a day, and no matter what authority you hold in this world, just like me, you will still sleep alone. That is the truth of Varba: we all sleep alone. I just took the first step of doing it literally in the confines of my concrete hall. Everyone else would feel and touch everyone around them willingly for the entirety of the day until they fall asleep feeling nothing; after all, you cannot ignore sex in Varba.
ENOUGH WITH THIS! I must leave soon. I still have something to do. Ha... Sometimes, even I feel like I do sound like a machine.
I stepped out of my hall with my armor on; since I'm living inside of Varba's palace, the only thing I saw when I stepped out of my room is nothing but the red halls of the empire's famed palace: Rumer Palace. The entire gigantic architectural marvel is made out of nothing but red terracotta other than some rooms like mine.
Luckily, it seemed like I stepped out of my hall a bit too early; there's no one outside of my room yet, and the only thing anyone could hear is nothing other than the silent moans of a few men and women in the other closed halls around mine. Well, as long as they're not doing it in public, right? However, when I finally stepped out to the palace's vast rose garden, one glance at it was enough for me to see that there were a few people out there flirting haughtily enough that they might as well just do the deed right then and there. In particular, there's this couple making love on a rather exposed part of the rose garden. They were kissing intently with their eyes closed, not even minding if there's anyone out there who might be looking at them. It doesn't matter, though; who would stop them? It's definitely not their prince; he might even join them. From the looks of the way the man caresses his female partner's thighs, I knew exactly where this making out session would lead into later. I shook my head as I moved my gaze away from them.
I just don't get it.
What even is such a deed supposed to mean anyway? I have asked this question to countless people, and their answers are usually the same. Some of them would say that sex is a delicacy that's already served before you, and you would be stupid if you won't eat it. And I find that hard to believe because, believe it or not, I tried doing it once or twice in the past, and I just cannot see where exactly in it is the delicacy that they speak of all the time? If sex truly is similar to a food that the gods have served us for us to devour happily, then I simply cannot understand why the gods would serve us a porridge with no seasonings.
Meanwhile, another argument they would sometimes throw at me is the fact that sex is this sacred way that only living creatures can do as a silent statement for their love to their partners. To be fair, I almost fell for this trap too. Think about it. Love is such an abstract concept that one could never truly define through words or magic alone. The fact that sex exists as a way for people to present their definition of love to their partner is an interesting thing for me to ponder upon. However, it has come to my attention that the divorce rate in Varba has steadily increased while sex culture became a more rampant part of Varban identity. How then, pray tell, can sex be the envoy of love when it seems to be the one that steadily ruins it for everybody?
I just don't get it.
Isn't sex ultimately is just about a person using a flesh pole to penetrate an opening in our body? How does that differ from, say, digging your finger into your nose? Why is it that when a fool openly pick a booger from his nose using his finger, other people would find him socially repulsive while a similar act in essence, which is sex, can be flaunted in the streets?
Thus, I stepped into the garden's brick pathway with my head high up but also with a scowl that can and will ruin someone's horniness. Thinking about such things had really made my head hurt so much. I looked at them and saw that, well, they're happy, but I know how it would all turn out later once the fire in their eyes is gone; I saw it every damn time when my friend Vonerich made me watch him give and receive someone else's love in his quarters. He told me that it was his way of unlocking the beast in me somehow; he seems to be hinting that I should take him sometimes as his partner at least once. However, after an entire month of him showing me his sexual endeavors in his musky room, he finally gave it up and respected the fact that I simply do not... like it, saying that it's all useless and apologized wholeheartedly even to this day for forcing me to do it. I couldn't really refuse it since I was appointed as Vonerich's personal knight, even though he hated it when I stood around his side throughout the day.
Nevertheless, Vonerich still made me follow him everywhere he went during that entire month as he does his "usual gig"—that's what he called it. It didn't really work, though. He said that it was one of his greatest failed experiments to convert me into a "normal Varban citizen."
I do not understand what he meant with those words and why he thinks the entire "experiment"—I'm merely using the word he used here—is useless. After all, I personally gained some wisdom after that gruesomely tiring month. I learned that I do not feel anything sexual to anyone ever in this whole wide world and that Vonerich, as much as I love him as my dearest friend, is a disgusting person who views people as nothing but sexual tools and pieces of equipment that he can use in his experiments. The whole month made me realize how special my friendship is with him because he never touched me sexually, and he never involved me in any experiment ever again after that month.
However, the most significant thing I learned is that... there's nothing else that comes after once they're done with the deed. I learned that Vonerich wouldn't even look at his partners in the eyes and just allow them to leave wordlessly out of his hall one they're done with it. Sometimes, they would just sleep right after they're done with such an intense activity without even facing each other. And when I saw those things occur before me, I finally realized that one way or another, everyone in Varba feels the same emptiness I do once they're done.
And like I've said earlier... We all sleep alone in Varba. I'm just doing it too literally.
In the distance, I saw that as I was daydreaming about such trivialities, I had already reached the metal gate of the palace's rose garden. What else can I say about it? It's just the usual metal gates with tiny railing all around it that one might usually find everywhere they go in the world. However, to us knights who serve the royal family of Varba directly, it means the start of our duty. Once I reached the metal gate, I promptly turned my body around to face the palace and knelt before it.
Thus, I saw the magnificence of Rumer Palace once more today. It looked like a dream turned into a gigantic building. It has a stunning red color plastered all over its strangely placed buildings that are placed in such a surreal fashion. If it weren't for the white geometric lines accompanying its red walls, it would have looked dull. However, because of such a fascinating design choice, the building turned into an opulent marvel that showcases the world just how flamboyant Varba is, both in spirit and design. All of Rumer Palace's buildings had these great cone-shaped and vibrantly colored roofs that would make one believe that they placed a hardened peacock's tail on them. I said so because they used countless fan-shaped and colorful asphalt as a roofing material.
I knelt before such a marvelous sight every single day because it is what the knights serving the royal family had vowed when they accepted this position. However, it was all just formalities, and it seemed that I may be the only knight living in this palace who's still doing it. Nevertheless, people might snicker at it, but I take this part of my job seriously.
"Glory be to Varba!" I exclaimed in a low voice before standing up and going back into Rumer Palace once more to do my duties. I then stepped back into the rose garden and saw that the couple whom I saw making out earlier on that exposed bench in the rose garden was done with whatever it is that they were doing. In fact, the only one who's sitting in that same spot was the man as he flaunted his bare torso while looking at the morning sky. Meanwhile, his partner was already about to leave with a blank expression that both of them had. It is a stark difference from the passionate appearance they both had earlier.
I decided to ignore them once more as I moved back into my hall.
"Wait up, S-Sir Frigg!" The hardened voice of a man resounded before me before I stepped back into the palace.
"Yes?" I said with a smile. Vonerich told me that I should at least smile at people when they talk to me, and I feel like I'm getting the knack of it. It seems to be working, too, since people have been more inclined to talk to me these days.
"W-would it be okay if I asked a favor from you?" This soldier looked a whole lot bigger than me in comparison, but he's still shaking in my presence. I wonder why? Is my smile stiff again this morning? Maybe I should start appraising the quality of my smile once more in front of my mirror.
"If it is in my power to do so, I am willing to help," I said politely as I tried to change my smile differently this time. However, instead of making the soldier standing before me feel a bit more at ease, he just became more nervous as I saw the way his face suddenly turned pale.
"Uhm... it's about the prince, ya see?"
"Prince...? You mean, Your Highness Vonerich? Or Your Highness Venne?" I said with a raised eyebrow, finally showing the usual stiff expression without a smile. Haa... It gets really tiring if I plaster such a fake smile on my face for a long time.
"It's regarding Your Highness Vonerich, Sir Frigg." I saw then that the soldier before me had started to look a bit at ease now as he suddenly approached me. He then placed his hands on my shoulders as he whispered intimately into my ears with his body firmly stuck towards me. "The king said he wishes to speak with him regarding a sudden emergency in the north." I could feel his breath touching my ear as his hands moved down onto my exposed arms. "But, I just can't approach the prince, you know what I'm saying, Sir Frigg? He's so terrifying for a new soldier like me. So... Please help me, won't you, Sir Frigg?"
"Oh, sure. I'll go there myself to escort him." I said with a blank expression as I lightly pushed him away from me. I then showed the soldier a bit of my smile again, which made the soldier take a step back away from me with a flinch. He then sighed as he looked at me with a pair of disappointedly droopy eyes. "Is there anything more, soldier? I can also summon Prince Venne if it is also a part of the king's instruction unto you."
"Oh... no, that's it, Sir Frigg." The soldier said as he scratched the back of his head. "I'm sorry for the trouble beforehand."
"No need for apologies." I then widened my smile on my face, which made the soldier scowl poorly while looking at me with furrowing eyebrows. "Well then, good day to you, soldier," I said before stepping away from him to go towards Vonerich's stinky room.
"Well... It's worth a shot." I heard the soldier whisper behind me weakly as I step away from me.
Hmm... What is he talking about?
I then grabbed my chin while moving my jaw, thinking that maybe the soldier thinks my attempt to smile failed again. Ah... Perhaps I should ask the princes for some help again with this...