Epilogue 1: Florin’s Secret
Leaving the officers and Evelyn and the red-haired daughter of some noble, who were still arguing, “You’re Duke Folma’s daughter.” “You’re mistaking me for someone else.” behind, Ludwik and Florin raise their voices in laughter as they run out onto the festival streets.
They hold each other’s hand tightly together and both look to be having lots of fun.
“Ahahahaha, we did it! That band of thieves is done for!”
“It’s mission complete for the special knights! I feel so good, just like how I felt when Paulette eradicated all the ogres!”
“I feel great too!”
Ludwik was finally able to do something king-like for the first time.
He had been languishing in apathy, thinking that stamping the royal seal onto documents and smiling at balls and parades are all that kings do.
However, there are things that only the king can do as well.
(I’ve gotta tell Adelheid about the situation and have her assist the guards. I feel like I’m boiling with energy right now. This is all thanks to Florin chasing after that thief.)
Ludwik was quite rattled back then, but thanks to her actions, Elmond’s dirty dealings will be exposed.
(You’re the best, Florin!)
Running senselessly through the streets at night without any destination in mind, they laugh with each other from the bottom of their lungs. Their heads feel completely refreshed, their hearts are pounding passionately, and their cheeks are flushed a burning-hot red.
Running and running, laughing and laughing.
Illuminated by the crystal clear moonlight on an otherwise dark and lonely street, they face each other and exchange smiles again as they pant for air. Florin’s cheeks are dancing with life and her eyes underneath the mask are glittering like the stars.
The sound of cheerful music can be heard from faraway. It appears that the dance at the square hasn’t ended.
Florin breaks into a smile with her lovely lips as she looks up at Ludwik. She extends her pure white hand toward him and says with an exuberant smile,
“Let’s dance! I love dancing!”
Her bright and cheery voice bounces against the walls of Ludwik’s heart. Ludwik takes Florin’s beautiful, flawlessly smooth hand and the two begin to dance.
Covered in a new pair of leather shoes, Florin’s dainty feet spin around with ease. She dances with steps as light as a feather in Ludwik’s arms. When she had hesitated upon Ludwik inviting her to dance back at the square, Ludwik had thought that maybe Florin dislikes dancing.
Yet, she’s laughing so innocently and dancing with such life!
Every time the hem of her skirt expands airily, her pale feet jumps like a fawn as her slender body bends tenderly, teasingly leaning in towards Ludwik then away from him. She looks up and smiles at Ludwik with her charming eyes.
However, no sooner does she do that before she narrows her eyes with a sad tinge,
“Your face has gotten all scratched up again. I’m sorry.”
She apologizes with a regretful voice.
(She’s probably referring to the scratches I got when we rolled right into the thicket while running away from the thieves. Compared to when I was scratched by Kiki, this is nothing at all.)
Ludwik smiles brightly,
“Your face is fair, Florin.”
“It’s because you protected me. You were really courageous, Ludy.”
Perhaps she recalled how her feet had been entangled with his and how she had held her breath with him inside his arms considering that her face is currently flushing red.
Likewise, Ludwik’s cheeks and chest become hot and his heart also begins beating faster.
“I’m a man, so I believed that I had to protect you.”
He confesses, upon which Florin sweetly smiles,
“Yes. You protected me well, Ludy.”
“You caught me when I fell from the tree, and you managed to brazenly sell such a preposterous story when we were found by the thieves with nowhere to hide. I thought you were a meek and unreliable softie, so I was worried you’d be tricked by others. Yet, you were like a different person back there. I was shocked.”
“Don’t you think too lowly of me? Despite the fact that we just met today, do I look that unreliable to you?”
“I, I know someone who resembles you. I mean, I know someone like you. That person is unreliable and gets flustered easily, so I figured you were the same… but you were really dashing when you fooled the thieves. Also, when you announced that we’re the king’s special knights to the guards.”
“Do you mean that?”
“Yes, my heart was beating pit-a-pat.”
As Florin spun around, her soft, flaxen hair would graze against Ludwik’s cheek, giving off an elegant, sweet scent— And when she completed a twirl, she would smile at Ludwik with a face as if she were lost in a world with only the two of them, causing Ludwik’s heart to pitter-patter titter-tatter.
“Ah… sorry for throwing your gold coin away. I’ll tell the guards and definitely have them retrieve it for you.”
Florin shakes her head politely,
“No, it’s fine.”
“To begin with, that’s something I was going to pay you.”
“I can’t give you enough change to accept it, Florin.”
“No, you’ve given me more than enough. You went on an adventure with me where you protected me in a manly way, no? It’s the first time I’ve had so much fun and excitement since I came to this country.”
Illuminated by the clear, bluish moonlight, Florin’s straightforward smile makes Ludwik’s heart beat faster.
(It’s the same for me, Florin. It’s the first time I’ve had so much fun and excitement since I became king. You took me on an adventure with you and are now dancing with me together like this.)
—I love dancing!
Recalling her sunny smile when she looked up at him and said that, Ludwik’s heart begins to melt.
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(Isn’t it fate that I encountered Florin tonight?)
The young girl with blue hair had said that Ludwik shall attain everything he wants except just one.
That he shall part with the Seventh, but that the First to the Sixth shall stay by his side.
Then, what about Florin?
If I wish for it, will Florin stay by my side?
Will she love me back?
Would she be willing to become my lover?
Finding himself in a romantic situation like this right after their adventure, the feelings that Ludwik had suppressed within his heart, believing that he can’t wish for such a thing as the king, steadily continue to surface in the forefront of his mind.
—So, Ludy; when you dance, do so as if you’re the king and your partner’s the queen.
(If Florin is willing to become my queen not just for tonight but beyond as well, I feel like I’d be able to do anything.)
Ludwik gazed sweetly upon Florin who was skipping about innocently. When she began to rush, he would nonchalantly bring her back to tempo, leading her gently. As they continued to dance, Ludwik’s feelings reached their boiling point.
—If you do that, the girl who dances with you will fall in love with you.
Right now, Florin is gazing up into Ludwik’s eyes with a smile that seems to be melting.
“Your dance is very wonderful, Ludy.”
(If Florin has fallen for me as I have for her… She’s looking at me with such enamored eyes, so she, too, must…)
Above them, the moon is covered by a thin cloud.
As if that was the cue,
Ludwik brought his face close to Florin’s, pressing his own lips against hers, upon which Florin’s lips quivered. Florin’s shock is felt by Ludwik on his lips.
Ludwik gently parts his lips from hers, upon which Florin looks up at him.
As if to say that something out of control just happened, she murmurs with dumbfounded eyes,
“Toris karlmaella… diino (What, have you… done)”
Ludwik couldn’t clearly tell how Florin felt about his sudden kiss from the disjointed words she barely managed to squeeze out.
Ludwik initiates seriously,
“Florin, I want to learn more about you; not just that, I want to always be together with you. Won’t you become my lover?”
Ludwik already has a wife in Queen Katerina.
From a political standpoint, he can’t afford to divorce her.
However, if Florin agrees to come to the castle as the king’s beloved concubine, then Ludwik will take responsibility as a man and protect her. He’ll do whatever it takes to persuade his chief retainers as well. Then, they’ll be able to be together forever.
In the morning, noon, and at night, he’ll be able to dance with this cheerful tomboy, this lovable girl whom one can never predict what she’ll do next.
“…I…? Become, your lover?”
Florin’s voice is as faint as a ghost.
If he abruptly confesses here that he’s the king, it’ll only put her mind into chaos. He can just tell her about that slowly, bit-by-bit after their bond has deepened further.
Right now, he just wants a promise that he’ll be able to meet her again after tonight.
He knows that Florin has someone else in mind already. Precisely because of that, so as not to fill the role of a love counselor again, now, at this point in time— he declared his intentions.
“Y… you have someone else already, don’t you? Right, like the flower girl whom you spent a wonderful night with.”
“Like I’ve been saying, I don’t have anyone like that. If I did, it’d be you, Florin. Spending tonight with you, I felt that you’re my fated partner.”
Florin’s throat gets clogged.
Ludwik whispers in the words of Florin’s homeland, the Empire of the North.
“Rui elma amalose (Please accept my love.)”
Florin’s white fingers grip the cloth of her skirt tightly. She bites her pink lips and faces downward.
She remained silent like that for awhile, but eventually her throat starts to tremble as she lifts her face, fixing onto Ludwik’s eyes with her own that look like they’re about to cry, and emphatically pushes him away with both of her hands against his chest.
“Este romena krutose! Vaine luge! Elflorre! Inferdia! Rotersia mertina! Elblouge! Boruboruboru!”
Furrowing her eyebrows and intensifying her face, she yells determinedly in Endrish.
She’s speaking too rapidly for Ludwik to understand what she’s saying.
The one thing that is keenly conveyed by Florin’s expression and voice is that she’s sad and distressed right now.
“Speak a little slower, Florin.”
Ludwik pleads her earnestly so as to be able to follow what she says somehow.
What does the word “boru”, which Florin keeps repeating, mean?
Wanting to understand her feelings, Ludwik tries his damnedest scouring his memory for a definition, but nothing comes to mind.
Florin shakes her head left and right so powerfully that her flaxen hair dances up into the air, after which she turns her back on Ludwik and breaks into a run.
“Florin! If you like me even a little bit, please pay a visit to Boris’s Dressmaker on Red Deer Street!”
Ludwik yells with all he has, but Florin, whose flaxen hair is swinging roughly from side to side, does not look back.
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