As the time reaches the late hours of the night, we continue drinking.
While letting our mind and body go with the flow, we keep exchanging words, a change from the times we usually don't.
White Emperor : "How many victories that can be obtained……"
White Emperor : "I suppose, that might be the meaning of 'life'."
White Emperor : "No, living within the Empire, is synonymous with continuing to win."
As if that action were meant to end his words, the Emperor gulps down the remaining beer left in his glass and orders a new one.
He is not showing any redness or signs of being drunk, and there are no differences from his normal facial expression.
However, the number of words he has spoken has gradually increased.
White Emperor : "If I lose, I'll lose everything..."
White Emperor : "It's not just my honor and status, but also precious people, beloved ones, that must be protected."
White Emperor : "Everything, will be lost."
It's a common philosophy, but when a person such as the Emperor of the White Empire says it, it surprises me how different of a weight those words can carry.
White Emperor : "I do not have a venerable family nor a noble lineage like you."
I already heard from others about his saga; how he emerged from slums, becoming the Commander of the Imperial Knights from his own capabilities, and becoming the Emperor shortly after.
That is why I understand from one glimpse, within him dwells a terribly distant spirit.
White Emperor : "For the sake of defending them, I can't afford to lose."
White Emperor : "Even if the opponent is God himself……"
Those were words spoken without any hesitation...
...and I agree completely, as well.
However, I couldn't just leave my words unspoken...
White Emperor : "……Life, is not only about winning...?"
His stern look changes into a slightly surprised demeanour.
"What's important, is how far you can keep moving forward, even when you lose." As if wanting to boast, I told him a similar success story.
White Emperor : "……When monsters overran the Royal Capital, huh?"
I calmly returned a nod.
"That day, I had certainly lost."
"In despair, that day I was ready to face even death. I almost gave up everything and abandoned my life in misery and disgrace."
White Emperor : "Yet, you did not give up?"
As if agreeing with him, I added another round of words.
"At that time, if I had stopped..."
"If I had given up the courage to take another step forward, I would have lost everything in the truest sense, and I would have been abandoned by everyone."
White Emperor : "……How? How was it that you could keep moving forward...?"
...Upon hearing his question, I replied without hesitating.
"A Prince's status is neither a by-product of superficial lineage pretense, nor a status of pride. Starting with Anna, and together with the determination of many companions, I was able to rise and stand up once again."
"That's why I could walk this far..."
"And now, I can also join hands with you."
"I was able accept those words and feelings..."
"Everything is thanks to those who supported me..."
White Emperor : "……Heh..."
White Emperor : "That's a really immature way of thinking."
White Emperor : "……But still, those are words coming from you..."
White Emperor : "Looking at the Kingdom's rapid advancements so far, I can see that those words aren't just parts of your imagination..."
With that being said, he finishes the drink that had just arrived in one go, and as if breathing a new life, he pours another to fill his empty glass.
White Emperor : "How far can you move forward when you lose, eh?……"
White Emperor : "……Actually, at that labyrinth, I was suffering a defeat..."
White Emperor : "Although my followers were taken as hostages, my body and mind was taken away by the Goblin Queen and the Ant Queen, at that time I certainly lost."
"--But despite all this, you're still alive. This is clearly, an undeniable truth."
White Emperor : "Yeah, thanks to your rescue."
White Emperor : "And under the advice of the Goddess Adamas-sama, the Empire have joined hands with the Kingdom."
White Emperor : "……You know, Prince."
White Emperor : "I wonder if I did make a move forward..."
"At the very least, you're not standing still."
White Emperor : "……Yeah."
White Emperor : "……"
White Emperor : "This is the first time, for me to talk about my own doubts to another person……"
White Emperor : "No, that's wrong……"
White Emperor : "First time other than the late Emperor, to be precise."
White Emperor : "…………"
White Emperor : "But don't get me wrong, alright?"
White Emperor : "You are not comparable to the late Emperor."
"You admired that person", I replied to his words.
White Emperor : "Yeah……"
White Emperor : "……That person was my only friend."
White Emperor : "That's why, I cannot forgive myself, who could not protect the late Emperor."
White Emperor : "I'll show it, that I'll become even stronger than I am now."
White Emperor : "In order to not lose those who are important ever again……"
"We'll cooperate for sure.", I replied, acknowledging his honest feelings.
White Emperor : "Of course."
White Emperor : "……The agreement with the Kingdom is made for that reason."
White Emperor : "Remember this, Prince."
White Emperor : "Don't let me down."
He returns a smile.
It's a daring expression, typical to him.
However, I see a little warmth of trust in it. I grab my glass while smiling naturally.
White Emperor : "You are the only one who is able to stand by my side."
Along with those words, he also grab his glass.
White Emperor : "From a pure white, and an exalted faith without a single speck of cloudiness, we will definitely become the champions and rule the world in the next era."
With his calmly spoken words offering a chance, we toast our glasses, and a small harmonious tone rings.