Chapter 99 - A New Friend
Azriel saw Charles in the past overlap on his current face. That face was young. It was a 14-year-old boy with soft hair. ‘If I were in the same situation, could I have cut my finger for the person whom I just met?’
She probably could not have done that. Azriel was no saint and neither was Charles. He was not guilty. The guilty were those who kidnapped them, not Charles and Azriel who were dragged into that. She did not know that Charles had been suffering from guilt and shame from the incident of that time. She felt sorry for the man who was looking up at her with blurred eyes. Azriel quietly opened her mouth. “Sir Chalres, you are truly an honorable person.”
Charles was stupefied. “What are you… I…”
“I don’t know well about the qualities of a king, but wouldn’t it be difficult for someone who is generous to himself to become a good king? I think someone who is more strict with himself is more suitable for higher positions,” she continued.
“And Sir Charles, you are like that,” Azriel’s remark made Charles shut his mouth as if he was lost for words. She smiled and continued. “I’ve never regretted helping you. I should rather thank you. I was helped by your policy.”
“My…policy?” he asked.
“I was a slave for a brief period of time,” she claimed.
His eyes widened. “A slave? You? How on earth did that happen…?”
“Umm, I had a complicated situation. Anywho, things improved for me in many ways because you abolished slavery, Sir Charles,” she replied.
“My policy… has been of help to you…,” he murmured.
“Yes, very much,” Azriel smiled brightly. “You are a splendid king. So, please don’t say that you are not qualified as a monarch. Don’t you blame yourself for such guilt anymore as well.”
Chalres’ face was vacant. His blue eyes shook dizzily. His eyes welled up a little. He hastily lowered his chin and covered his eyes with his hand. His hoarse voice came out. “…Thank you, Azriel.”
“You’re welcome, Sir Charles,” she answered brightly.
Charles caught his breaths for some time. Then he lifted his chin. With an already cleared face, he smiled. “Just Charles is enough from you.”
“I shouldn’t call the king like a friend.”
“A mere king won’t be a big deal for you, the pupil of the Wizard of the Horizon,” Charles shrugged and spoke gently. “I’d like to be your friend. Would you not like it?”
“Can a king do that?” Azriel asked.
“Can’t a king make friends? That’s too much,” he said with a sad expression on his face. Azriel could not help but laugh.
“Very well, Then. Let’s be friends. Then can I ask something to commemorate becoming friends?”
“Anything,” he answered simply.
“Why are you ‘the poorest beggar,’ Charles?”
He gave a dry cough as if he had not expected such a question. “I didn’t think you’d still remember that.”
“I was so curious back then, too. Is it a secret? A secret code or a nickname?” she urged him.
“It’s not that…,” he pressed his forehead and sighed. “When I was young, I learned the basics of magic from Pendelok Palaios. Wait, do you know who Pendelok Palaios is?”
“I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with that name.”
“No, it’s understandable that someone like you doesn’t know him. He is the greatest wizard of Aucandor and the current director of magic.”
“He must be an extraordinary man.”
“If Pendelok had heard what you just said, he’d pass out. Anyway, that was what he said after testing me to see if I have qualities to be a wizard.”
“What did he say?”
Charles shrugged and mimicked the old man’s voice. It was a fast and exciting tone. “There’s mana in your body, but it merely exists. Oh, oh, the amount is practically none! I’ve never seen someone who inherited such a poor legacy, Your Highness! You are the poorest beggar among all people I’ve seen in my entire 80 years of life! You might be the poorest mana beggar in the world! May I study you, Your Highness?”
“…So, did you become his research subject?”
“No, I fled. I was lucky that I was a royalty. If not, I might have been dissected.”
“Goodness,” Azriel burst into laughter.
Charles smirked. Leaning his back on the sofa, he looked at her. “By the way, are you truly not going to be rewarded? Is there anything you need?”
“I’m fine. Knowing that you thought of me is more than enough.”
“I have been determined to reward you since nine years ago. I hope you will receive something for my sake.”
“I don’t really need anything,” Azriel shook her head.
Charles rubbed his chin and asked out of the blue. “Why did you come here? Is it for a request?”
“I didn’t come to make a request but to inquire about something. You are the king. Why did you come to the society yourself?”
“I also came to inquire about something,” he said with a grin on his face and crossed his arms. “By any chance, don’t you need a qualification for membership?”