Despite my hesitation and anguish, I reached out my hand as quickly as I could, but it only brushed the air.
I had no time to think. Just when I thought that he would disappear, my body moved on its own.
But I was too late. My tears continued to fall without stopping. I didn’t even know why I reached out my hand, but nothing was left on it.
—The Shal I loved was not the benefactor I sought.
That was a truth I never expected. I sought him without doubt and with all my heart, and before I even knew it, I had already loved him.
I lost sight of my gratitude and love for him when I found out that such a unique person was a completely different one.
That truth came out of nowhere, relentlessly stealing my thoughts away. Flooding me with despair and a sense of loss.
I waited ten years on the throne to be killed. So that I could meet my benefactor again from that day. And to tell him to stay with me if he could.
I dreamed of the day when I would finally be able to say thank you. But he was no longer in this world.
The source of my profound despair was that my dream was a dream that would never come true.
My outstretched hand dropped and hit my knee.
I couldn’t hear the surrounding sounds in the distance, and even though I was still, I felt dizzy, and my vision dimmed. But, being in this state wouldn’t make him go back.
Forgetting to wipe away my tears, I gathered myself up hard. I desperately sought out the pieces of my heart and made them one.
I was guilty of mistaking him for someone I considered important to me. I had no idea where the point of my feelings was.
I overlapped the benefactor of that day and my beloved one who was in my arms just a moment ago.
“You can just be the way you are. You’re attractive enough as it is.”
“I like you more than anyone else in this world… My entire heart is now… yours, alone… You’re the only one I want…”
Shal. Shal. Shal.
Shal. What an endearing name. I wonder which Shal was I calling?
I had lost the target of my gratitude. Just… who was the target of my affection?
In the silent, wide, cold throne room, the death of my benefactor that I had no awareness of, and that person’s feeble apologies as though it were his last breath, were twisting my heart out.
The pieces of my heart I collected had formed into one and gradually took shape. Why did he look at me instead of that hero and shake his head?
Back in the office, when I told him it had been in my mind for a decade, he most likely realized his inconsistency.
“Hehe, I’m not afraid, okay?”
Just as he said, his reaction and expression didn’t seem to have changed in any way.
Even though I had no idea why, I knew something was wrong and felt an inexplicable surge of uneasiness.
He was someone who, even if he wished to go to a place he couldn’t say, would just tell you that he couldn’t and avoid telling lies. Yet someone as transparent as he was had told a lie for the first time.
I could see that now. How much confusion, despair, uneasiness, and fear were behind those words?
Just how much did the truth kill him, brought by a visitor as if to drive him to the edge before his heart could even catch up amid his troubles?
Whenever I thought of his heart, I couldn’t even stand still. What was with that feeling, I wonder?
When the pieces I had collected finally took on an unchanging form—the answer to why I couldn’t stop crying and which ‘Shal’ my heart was seeking, was there within me.
I stumbled to my feet and walked out of the hall without wiping away the tears that kept flowing down my face.
One step. Two steps.
My legs were trembling and felt like they were about to fall, but I gradually increased speed. I soon began to run in the direction of the human realm, even though I didn’t know its exact location.
The reason for my tears was that I had lost an important person whom I owed so much. And that my beloved was not beside me.
I hesitated to reach out, so I couldn’t hold my one and only before he disappeared.
The hero had said. He said my treasure was fake and nameless.
But that was not a reason enough to make me cry.
The only reason I couldn’t stop crying right now was only that—you were not next to me.
I felt so much regret that I failed to take your hand in a moment of hesitation to the point of madness.
Why did I hesitate? If I don’t go and help him, he’ll be fighting alone for a long, long time.
He didn’t ask for help, even though he was falling apart. As if it was just natural for him, he took it all by himself.
“Ngh… hh… gh…”
A sob welled up in the back of my throat. Crying miserably, I ran out of the castle, clutching my chest.
I was going to lose him. It felt as if my heart was being ripped apart.
Hot and endless tears scream for only one person, like blood overflowing from the most important blood vessels.
Shal. Shal. Shal.
It doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care what your name is. I don’t care who you are.
This feeling of love was born when I met you. You cannot be the wrong person, or a fake, or anything. You can only be you.
“I didn’t love you for being a hero, or a benefactor, or because of your name…”
I love you so much because you are you.