23 Confide in Me
(From the point of view of Vonerich Lardizabal)
"So, what exactly is this matter that the king wishes from me?" I uttered as I gently closed the door behind me. I didn't forget to wink and smile at the ladies and gentlemen in my room before leaving them in their lonesome to do whatever they want there on this hot afternoon. Varba has never been known as a cold country, so it would be common to see people around us sweat while wearing little to no clothing. "Did he tell you?" I then walked past Frigg, who's standing a few feet away from my doorway with a playful grin on his face. I always told this friend of mine to show that sort of look to other people, too, so they wouldn't be too wary of him. It seems that his attempts aren't working, though.
"No idea, actually," said Frigg as he walked beside me with his hand on the sword on his waist. "I just heard it from a soldier I coincidentally met this morning in the palace's garden."
"Oh? And did you fuck him?" I muttered with a snicker as I covered my bare torso with my see-through and colorful scarf, making it flow into the wind like a thin cape as I let it stick on my sweaty skin.
"What?" Frigg thundered while furrowing his eyebrow as a scowl gradually crept upon his pale face. "No, of course not! I told you I met him in the rose garden. Why would I fuck him there?"
"Hmm... Missed opportunity. It's a rose garden, the feeling is there, and the smell is nice, you're just too uptight!" I sighed as I carefully carried my huge and gem-filled metal sword.
"Wha—the nerve of you! Don't put me in your own lane, Hornyrich!" He said with a grunt as a look of utter contempt blur his usually composed and fresh expression.
"Mmhmm! Yes, sir, that's me! Horny and rich, what else can I say?" I said with a nod as I took a sharp turn at the end of this red porcelain corridor, leading into a stairway down into the first floor of my opulent mansion.
I wish I could give a tour, but I don't really have much time. Time is ticking loudly, the temperature is high, and I have a lot to do with too little to wear. Thus, while wearing only nothing but a macabre-looking colorful scarf and a pair of baggy harem pants, I carried my shield and headed out into the quiet streets outside of my home. For many particular reasons that exist around my shitty life, I chose to live far away from the gorgeous palace where the royal family usually lives, but just know that I have good reasons. Besides, I live in a vast mansion in the best part of the city that the king had personally given me to govern! Not only that, but I also have countless BEAUTIFUL servants and all the time in the world for me to venture into my usual endeavors as an inventor. What really is the point of staying in Rumer Palace along with old bumpkins and smelly bastards walking about the street!
"Looking good, governor!" Someone shouted at me as we walked at the side of a quiet and spotless street outside of my mansion.
"You look great, too, miss!" I don't know who she was, but all I know for sure is that I spoke facts! She was wearing a beautiful blue dress and was not afraid to flaunt her beauty while the clear blue skies embrace her vibrant brown skin. Oh, she is stunning!
"Having fun with your knight, governor?" Another lady told me as we walked through the stone ground of the city I most adore.
"Oh, no, miss, we're not like that! I wish you would respect Sir Frigg next time you meet us." I said with a saddened expression as I placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
The beautiful lady before me then revealed a troubled expression, showing her guilt for offending a member of the royal family. "F-forgive me, governor, I-I didn't know!"
"It's all well, miss. I understand where the confusion came from, but don't do it again, okay?" I uttered with a gentle smile as I tightly covered my body with my colorful scarf. We then moved out of the lady and started greeting more people who were more than willing to approach us with all smiles and giggles. After what I said, the people would either ignore Frigg or compliment how strong he looked. At the end of the day, most of their flattery all went towards me.
Now, I do not mind the flatteries. I would be audacious enough to say that I have done a tremendous job in making this once desolate city into one of the greatest assets of the empire under my rule. Not only have I done a great job in that accord, but I am also, like, I mean, look at me! Face? Check! Body? Uhh... duh, I got it all covered, check! Skills, check, check, check, you can even ask everyone in my city for it! Look, my point is, I have done a great job to satisfy the high demands of my citizens in more ways than one, and I haven't even been here for five years! And there you have it; I'm just merely history's greatest governor, and it is highly exemplified in this city I control: Vonerich City, formerly known as Kreen City. I mean... This is not about vanity, okay? My critics often said that my decision to name my city with my own name was vain, and it's not true, but like, I do not deny it either, aha!
From a distance, one could see the high stone walls of Varba, and it looked just as dull as the rest of the other cities except for the one I handle! You see, Varba stood at a desolate wasteland called Nihilheim, a land in the south of Luxael where it never rains and never snows. I don't know how the founding members of Varba made this city work, but here we are now, one of the greatest empires in Luxael, housing the best wizards in the world! The only reason why that wall is still made out of nothing but regular bricks and concrete is that we have so much more we could use to defend ourselves other than just stupid walls. We are not like Izrecael; we do not rely on scary monsters above our imposing black walls. WE are the scary monsters; Varba is the wall, and we are above it.
The people of our land manage to live lavishly in a world filled with color and grandeur amid this terrible and desolate land that is Nihilheim. In fact, if it weren't for my projects to create roads in my city, people would still find the dirty and ugly black soil that plagues the entirety of Nihilheim. Go on ahead, leave my city just for a few seconds, and take a peek at the other places around us! The first thing anyone would notice is the distinct dry and black soil on their ground that's making their roads a bit mushy. If not for the fact that it never rains in Nihilheim, Varba would have been a muddy and disgusting mess like that of Defuntalac! Amid all that, as you looked around my beautiful city, you can see trees and plant life all over the world that our ancestors would have found preposterous to even imagine! This is all thanks to our wonderful sorcerers and alchemists who conducted research that I funded wherein it could be possible to make plants live in Nihilheim as long as it's being supplied with magic continuously. That's right. There's magic in our soil! This is not a matter of the military and is not at all about walls and defending a great nation; it's just magic.
Perhaps, it is Varba's cockiness on the might of the nation's magic, but—and I'm sure you've noticed—the rest of the empire is not protected with walls. In fact, the only walled-city in Varba is the Imperial City of Cardenon, the city that houses the empire's royal family, nobilities, and all sorts of other people who liked to suck up with my father, the king every now and then. The rest of the other 22 cities of Varba surrounds the Imperial City of Cardenon, thus making it impossible for an attack to reach the king and his family.
You might be wondering as to why exactly is Varba so adamant in not creating defensive measures in case of an attack. Well, that's because WE DO have a defense against invaders. Each city has this huge, cube-like, and tall monument at its center. However, it is unlike the magical ones that are found in Izrecael. For one, the towers in the cities of Varba do not reach the skies, but it is still very much standing high up there and towering the ground in which it stands. In case an attack does occur, which intends to end the empire, each city will be instructed to push a large stone button inside of the tall but thin monuments in their city. After doing so, a massive ball of pure magical energy will appear at the top of their monument. If every single city around the Imperial City of Cardenon pushed the button inside of their city's monument, all of these balls of energy above it would send its magical might towards the very top of the tallest building in Varba. In this case, that tall building in question is the Rumer Palace. Once all of the city monuments send its magical energy above the cone-shaped roof of Rumer Palace like lasers headed towards the core of the empire, it is now the king's decision to fire the strongest wave of pure heat energy towards our opponents.
At the end of the day, with such weapons at our disposal, we really have no qualms that someone in the north would come barging towards Varba with their ships. After all, before they could even dock, they would already be incinerated into nothing but floating ashes in the ocean. We wouldn't be making such a stupidly-strong weapon just to defeat enemy attacks from the other empires around us. No. The real reason why we have made such a potent weapon is not the north—it all boils down to the south.
You see, if people talk about Southern Luxael, they would always think about Varba—magic, sex, opulence, you name it!—but to us Varban people, south means so much more than just that, and it's not at all pretty like me. Nihilheim is a massive monstrosity of land that still remains untapped and not yet fully surveyed; yes, not even Varba can possibly know whatever lies out there way beyond Nihilheim. In fact, Varba might be standing in Nihilheim, but we're not even 10% of what it is. All we know for sure is that there, in the deep south, large tribes of monsters live with countless barbaric kings and bloodthirsty queens that could attack and rip Varba into pieces in just a matter of seconds. Izrecael, Valencia, Caelum? They're nothing compared to the enemies Varba anticipates every single day. If that is not scary enough for you, Vonerich City, the city that I turned into a beautiful paradise, is the city that stood nearest the deep darkness that lies way beyond Nihilheim. If the monsters of the south attack, the first people who will die will be my people, so I'm sure I don't need to tell you why this city was once nothing but an abandoned mess of shit and cum. It's a mess! And yes, it's beautiful now! Blame me for it! Aha!
All of this talk about monsters... haa... we don't even know what they really look like or who these people are. We are too scared to even step foot five kilometers deep in the south of Nihilheim! Even I am aware that, no, that place is a big no—it's the nope place, and I ain't living for it! In fact, it has been the life mission of my father, the king, to unravel the mysteries of Nihilheim once and for all before he dies, but... there might be a problem with that since the old guy has been weakening every passing hour. He just doesn't tell anyone about it, but I see him and the way he coughs and how he would fumble around with weak feet; it's sad! It's not a pretty sight, and, well, I'm starting to be afraid that maybe my father won't be able to finish his lifelong project.
At best... The only thing we know about the south is the mysterious Monument of Cydonia.
"So when will you be coming back, Vonerich?" I heard Frigg say, which threw my senses back to reality once more.
"Huh? What?" Still in a trance, I asked back with a silly smile before chuckling.
"The palace, Vonerich. You're a prince. Even if you keep avoiding it, you're still the first son of the king. You know, heirs and all that stuff, that's you." He then placed his bare hands on my sweaty shoulder with his usual emotionless and machine-like expression. "Why are you hiding here?"
I groaned with a chuckle as a wide grin crept upon my face. "I've already told you all about it, Lars, my dearest friend," I said as I tapped his hand on my shoulder twice before walking even faster towards the Imperial City. "That's just not for me. My younger brother is better suited for it."
"And I'm not disagreeing with you, but that's not enough reason for you to curl yourself up here in the far south!" Frigg said with a sigh as he looked at me with a worried gaze. Wait, did he just outright tell me that I am not suited to be a king? On my face? Rude!...but true, 100%! Aha! "You still have a lot of friends who miss you in the Imperial City, my prince. We miss you, too, you know?"
I sighed after hearing what he had just said. "And I get that, I just..." I then looked at him and looked around the place, ensuring that there's no one looking at us. I then embraced him tightly, feeling the hardness of his stupid metal armor. I am always a hugger, and Frigg will not be an exception from that no matter how much I wanted to stay away from any sexual activities with him. However, he does also hate it when people view the two of us in a sexual way, so I always have to be wary when I do this with him in public. "You know that people will start talking against my brother when I stay there. What would I do if my mere presence hinders him from being the real king that he is?"
"Is that..." Frigg said as he placed his hands around me. Even his hands felt emotionless and cold, just like his eyes. "Is that your reason for being here?"
"Of course, I have a lot of other reasons! This place is... It's like paradise to me; I can do whatever I want and still prove to the world that I am amazing! You know, in bed and legislation, but... I can't do all that in the Imperial Palace." I then pulled my body away from Frigg with a sigh as I shook my head. "And like I said, my presence is a sore thing that would make people start talking against my brother. I get it; I'm the first son, and I should be the king once my father, you know, ugh... you know what I mean!" I said as I walked once more towards our destination while Frigg remained looking at me with his icy stare. "... but my brother deserves that crown more than I do. That's all there is to it." I then sighed as I smacked Frigg's armor lightly with the back of my arm. "Don't tell this to anyone, okay? Especially my father and my brother! They would come running towards here with a caravan just to take me back to the Imperial City after hearing that I have such a stupid reason for staying away."
A sudden pause then enveloped around us while the only sound we could hear is the sound of our footsteps hitting the finely made roads of my city. Suddenly, Frigg started to whisper, "... it's not stupid..."
"Hmm?" I asked, trying to make him repeat what he had just spoken with a smile.
"Nothing. Let's go. The king must be waiting."