Chapter 2: Acropolis
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Felix thought he was going to ride alone in a carriage, and Sean would ride on his horse. He didn’t expect that Sean would not wear his body armor or ride a horse today. They were going to ride in the carriage together.
Felix asked implicitly why, and Sean said, “It’s not wartime. I don’t ride out in heavy armor all day. Especially at this kind of dinner for peace, I have to be friendly, without any hint of force. Of course, the necessary saber should still be carried.”
“But Lord Duke, you…. Don’t you think it’s disrespectful to be in this little carriage with me?”
“Of course not. Her Majesty wanted the nobles to reduce unnecessary luxury. Don’t you think it’s wasteful for two people to ride in a carriage that’s too spacious?”
Felix, of course, didn’t really feel crowded. In fact, the coach seats are very comfortable. The only problem for him was that he’s too close to Sean.
They set out in the morning and didn’t get to Acropolis until the afternoon. He had to be with Sean the whole time. It was terrible to be so close to him, like going back to the dungeon: locked up in a prison chair, his head bowed in discomfort and fear, and seeing Sean’s long pale blond hair and that polite cold smile on his lips.
After leaving, Felix hung his head most of the time, silent and motionless. Sean talked about the weather in early autumn and complained that a certain gate needed to be repaired. Whatever he said, Felix just nodded in silence. When he had to make a sound, he gave a brief perfunctory ‘Mn.’
Suddenly, Sean asked, “Why are you so afraid of me?”
Felix wanted to ask back: isn’t the reason obvious? You were in charge of interrogating me in the dungeon. Now I have your face in my nightmares. How can I not be afraid of you? But he didn’t say it directly, half because he didn’t have the courage, the other half because he didn’t have the strength. His strength was used to calm down.
Without an answer, Sean sighed and went on by himself, “Well, it’s understandable when you think about it. I captured you and interrogated you. But now that the war is over, the people who coerced you to join the war are dead, and you were pardoned and free again. Why are you still afraid of me?”
Felix thought of a lot of bad words, but he just couldn’t say it. In recent days, Sean has treated him fairly and even looked after him. When he was convicted, Sean voluntarily submitted testimony in his favor. The problem was his discomfort in the face of Sean did not stem from resentment, but a shadow deep in his bones. Sean’s voice and face makes him shiver, and he can’t control this instinctive reaction.
Sean added, “I understand that you were also a victim of that conflict. But from the standpoint of the King’s army at that time, you were the enemy, and you had severely damaged our soldiers. It was hard to avoid questioning you. It wasn’t personal.”
Felix whispered, “I know. I don’t resent you.”
“You don’t have to be so respectful to me all the time,” Sean says. “You can call me Sean, not Lord Duke. You’re my friend.”
With that, Sean covers Felix’s right knee with his left hand. Felix was awe-stricken, subconsciously biting his lips. The temperature of his palm was so clear that the old wound on his right leg almost burned. He tried to stiffen his body and curled his toes in his boots to keep himself from shaking.
Sean only knew that Felix was afraid of him, but he can’t imagine how much his fear was. As a King’s Capital Knight, Sean has fought on the battlefield many times. He has suffered more than one arrow wound or sword wound. He also has the experience of being captured by the enemy. At that time, he was not only tortured but also abused for no reason. And now he is still strong and confident and doesn’t pay attention to those dark experiences.
But Felix was not like him. Although Felix was a battle mage, he is only good at exploration and teaching. He was not a soldier and not used to bleeding and death. Two years ago, he went to the battlefield because of the Lord’s coercion. In the battle, he didn’t gain any sense of achievement, only unprecedented pain.
“Felix?” Sean frowned. “You don’t look very well. Is it because the old injury to your knee is starting to hurt because the weather is getting colder?” He put his hand on Felix’s knee and didn’t move it.
“No, the wound hasn’t hurt recently. I’m fine.” Felix sped up denying it.
Sean was not stupid. This time he asked more directly, “You are afraid of me. Are you afraid that I will hurt you again? I won’t.”
Before Felix could finish, Sean moved his hand from his knee and took his shoulder instead. Not only did the atmosphere not improve, but it became even more terrifying.
Sean sighs, “Felix, what I’m saying now is not sophistry, it’s the truth. At that time, we were enemies, and you hurt my comrades in arms, so I took a tougher attitude towards you. But in fact, I did not inflict any personal violence on you other than the punishment allowed by the law, really.”
There was a sentence in Felix’s throat: shut up, don’t say it. He’s always had a bad mouth that couldn’t keep up with his brain, except when chanting spells, and it gets worse when facing Sean.
Sean’s deep, soft voice was close to his ear, “I remember very well that you were whipped twenty-four times.” He moved his finger down a little bit and rested on Felix’s shoulder blades. “You still have the scars on your back, don’t you? Oh, and the legs, too. I remember you have fifteen marks on your back and nine on your legs. Our prevailing standard is that when a prisoner is punished or tortured, he shall not have for more than thirty lashes in the same area, and the thirty lashes shall not be finished on the same day, no instruments of torture that may injure bones shall be used, and the heart, abdomen, and head shall not be struck. Moreover, considering that you are a mage, not a soldier, I specially changed the heavy whip to a slightly softer one…”
Stop, stop, stop, stop…. Felix felt a chill down his spine, his palms were sweating, and the sound of the whip landing in his head again.
Sean couldn’t hear the cry in his heart, and he was still trying to explain, “I told the soldiers to be careful and not to hurt your hands. I don’t know about spells and potions, but I’ve seen how the mages work. I know that the mages’ fingers are very important…”
Felix was trying to distract his attention to other things and avoid remembering dungeons. He nodded his head mechanically, not knowing what Sean was saying.
Sean went on, “Felix, you’re a good man, but in war, intelligence and intrigue are what people care about. Kindness is a luxury. At that time, we were the enemy, you were my prisoner, so we had those unpleasant memories. Now all this has changed. I have seen your kindness and gentleness. I will not hurt you again, absolutely not.”
With that, he put a slight force on his hand, which was intended to send support and trust, but Felix went pale, his eyes blurred, and his face dropped.
Sean stared at the mage, a little worried. The above persuasion seems to have no effect at all. He reflected that Felix was a civilian, and it was not easy to get out of the shadow. What’s more, his speech was a bit like shirking responsibility, which probably didn’t sound credible. So he came closer and left a kiss on the dull mage’s forehead.
“Felix, I would like to be your loyal friend, not only will I not hurt you again, but I will do my best to protect you. I swear by my title as a knight.”
It’s just the opposite. Felix looked like a drowning animal and Sean didn’t know what to do. The more he spoke, the more mistakes he made. So he simply put his arms around the mage and waited for him to thaw. Sean doesn’t know if this would work, so his posture was a little stiff, and Felix was no better, just as rigid as a stone statue.
The carriage passed through the farmland outside the capital city and drove into the forest road. The thought of spending the next few hours with Sean, Felix’s whole body felt like it was going to collapse.
Sean deliberately planned to arrive at Acropolis in the afternoon, staggering lunchtimes so that he can avoid the meeting and the lunch full of red tape. The Southern Acropolis Gate was damaged once by the siege crossbows and lithobolos. Now it was basically rebuilt, and only some carvings on the outer walls are not finished.
Felix poked his head out of the window and saw a familiar figure in the distance. He was a half-elf with red hair and much smaller than most people; a bowman from the Rand territory. Before the Lord’s defeat, he was captured like Felix. Half-elves were hanging off the gates of the city which were three people high, their backs were shaking outwards and looked very frightening from afar. Fortunately, the carriage soon approached the gate, and Felix saw that the half-elf was very well. He was wearing a safety rope and sitting in his leather pants, painting the newly-painted gate, chatting with the guards at the door.
The guards salute Duke Sean as they routinely check their documents, while the half-elves circle in the air to greet Felix. After a few words, Felix heard that the half-elf was now a member of the city guard, and King’s Capital didn’t hire a painter to save money. So the city guard started painting the gate part-time. The light-weight half-elf was hung in his leather pants and responsible for decorating the details on the door.
The carriage drove into the gate, and the cheering voices of the guards were still coming from behind. The half-elf wanted to pursue some female soldier, but he was rejected. The guards were making fun of him. He cried out shyly and indignantly. Anyone who continued to mention this matter, he would pour the paint on his head.
Felix didn’t notice that he was smiling. Maybe in the eyes of others, his relationship with Duke Sean was friendly and happy.