The girls were very smart. When they heard Eres mention the word 'mother' and saw how my expression darkened, they immediately understood what they needed to do.
"Master, I think it's late. I'll go to prepare your room for tonight."
"Y-Yes. It's already late and I'm tired. I guess it's time to call it a day."
Following Regina and Liu Ying's words, the other girls also excused themselves and left the training room.
Princess Elwha was even kind enough to grab Toby and Prince Calisto's napes and take them away. Sara, on the other hand, was carried away by her little sister, Gina.
Eve was the last to leave, waving her hand expressionlessly as she walked through the walls of the tower like a ghost.
Finally, only Eres and I were left in the training hall.
"… You have a lot of friends, brother." Eres joked.
"I do. They are great people."
"Is it so?" Eres's expression turned complicated.
She saw how Bloed laughed and interacted with Regina, Liu Ying, and the others. It was so natural, and the bonds between them seemed so strong.
In contrast, her relationship with her brother was a bit awkward.
Although Eres did not want to admit it, she felt slightly jealous..
"Are you hungry?" Bloed asked at that moment. "Regina prepared a lot of food for tonight, so if you want, you can eat anything."
"N-No, I… I'm not hungry right now."
Bloed smiled and did not insist. Instead, he led Eres to a nearby sofa and sat down with Eres beside him.
After they sat down, a strange atmosphere filled the place. Neither Bloed nor Eres spoke up for several minutes.
Right now, Bloed's emotions were slightly tumultuous after hearing Eres mention the word 'mother'. Eres knew it, so she was not sure about how to start the topic.
In the end, she just bit her lips and went straight to the grain.
"… Mother is in the city as well."
Bloed was startled.
One second later, he sighed and nodded.
"She came to find you." Eres continued.
She started to talk about what happened after Sebastian returned to the Kingdom of Alterna. How the information about him somehow leaked and how she and the queen came to learn about it.
Afterward, she told him about how the two of them decided to come to Academy City to find him.
Bloed was not too surprised. He already expected something like this.
In fact, since the moment when he spoke with Sebastian in Diadel Duchy, he knew that something like this could happen.
Actually, this was not the worst result. There was even the possibility of the king sending assassins after him after learning that he was alive.
Fortunately, that did not happen.
Even so, he was not very happy with the news.
In all honesty, Bloed did not want to see that woman ever again.
After several seconds of silence, Bloed took a deep breath and asked with a slightly cold tone.
"… Why are you telling me about this, Eres? Did she ask you to convince me to meet her? Is that the reason why you are here?"
"N-No! Of course not!" Eres denied it hurriedly when she heard the coldness in Bloed's tone. "Brother, I didn't come to convince you. In fact, I have not told her about you. I know that you don't want to see her, so I kept your whereabouts a secret!"
"Is it so?" Bloed nodded convinced. "Why are you here then?"
Eres hesitated slightly before talking to Bloed about her situation in the club.
Bloed listened silently. Soon, though, he put on a strange expression and looked at Eres oddly. He did not know whether to laugh or to cry.
"… Let me see if I understand the situation. You defeated the leader of the human club and became the new leader. But then, you found me and decided to come to my club."
"However, you were told that you can't leave the club because you are the leader and your status as a princess. But even so, you insisted on leaving without caring about the consequences."
"Mm. I don't care about that club anyway. Brother is more important."
"I see, I see. However, the queen appeared. And now you are afraid of leaving the club to join Machine Revolutio because you think the queen will discover my whereabouts after she investigates why you changed clubs."
"Yes… I know that brother doesn't want to see her, so I don't want to inconvenience you. But I truly want to be in the same club as you, brother. Do you have any idea?"
Bloed smiled wryly and shook his head.
"Actually, you have been blinded by your worry, Eres."
"Do you forget? Alterna is the biggest human kingdom in the continent, and arguably, the most powerful. Do you think that such a powerful power doesn't have the means to find me?"
"That is…" Eres was slightly surprised. "Do you mean that she already knows where you are?"
Bloed nodded bitterly.
"She does. She probably learned about it even before you."
Eres fell silent before nodding. Now that she thought about it, she found that Bloed's words made sense.
"Why has she not contacted you then?"
"Who knows? Perhaps she is afraid of meeting me after what happened, or perhaps she wants to investigate me first to find my likes and dislikes. Perhaps she is trying to find a way to make our meeting 'coincidental' and thus to appeal to my feelings. The reason can be anything. However, I'm sure that she must know where I am."
Eres sighed softly and nodded.
Then, she looked at Bloed with a complicated expression
"… Brother, you are not planning to return the kingdom ever, right?"
Bloed smiled bitterly.
"There is nothing for me in that place, Eres. There is no point in returning."
"B-But, w-what about me? I-If you don't return, w-we will have to be separated again!"
Bloed did not reply.
Even like that, he was not going to change his decision.
Seeing that, Eres bit her lips before making up her mind and putting on an expression of determination.
"I will stay here with you then, brother." She wanted to say that.
But after opening her mouth, she stopped.
Because she was a Skysword.
Because she was [Alterna's Loftiest Flame].
Because she had a responsibility.
Eres did not love her family. In fact, besides Bloed, she did not have good feelings for anyone else in it.
She hated her father for exiling Bloed, resented her mother for doing nothing to stop it, and felt disgusted by her eldest brother who envied and felt wary about her talent.
But despite that, she cared about the Kingdom.
The citizens, the land, the soldiers.
After many years being the General Princess, and after many years being supported by her loyal subordinates, Eres had grown to feel a sense of responsibility for the kingdom and for them.
Thus, even though she wanted to stay with her brother forever, she could not bring herself to say these words.
At least, not right now.
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