Prime Respite (Part 2)


Chapter 2

The heavens are smiling down on earth. A river of sands resonates under their joyful spirit. Seagulls are gawking as they soar over them. Crashing waves shake the grains’ formation. The trees rustle as their branches shakes hand. An elegant arrangement. No concerns could linger as the breeze free of urban dust sweeps through the coastline. They flutter and scatter in their presence, away to where the heavens touch the sea.

“Who would occupy an island amidst nowhere with no strategic value?” A boy barks.

“Since the island we’re talking about is not under sufficient central’s watch, any opposition could pile their strength here and stab the capital from the back.”

“I think it’s just Zen who wants to stroll the shores. We still have the watch towers.” Fred responds.

“There’s still people up there, and therefore a chance that they miss something.”

Fred rubs his chin while leering upward. “Maybe we could conduct more discipline…”

“No use Fred.” The other boy exclaims. “No matter how discipline a watch can be, as long as they are human, there will always be a part of an event that went overhead.”

“Hmm.”

“Still though, it doesn’t really matter if the capital falls. As long as the people here are safe.”

As Fred drowns in his contemplation, another boy that they have been following for some time suddenly stops.

“Fred, Lennard, look.” He points ahead of him.

Fred and Lennard squints at the direction he is pointing to. There lies a figure with their face on the sands. Fred quickly rushes over the apparently unconscious figure.

“Fred, wait!” Lennard shouts as Fred gets farther.

He then flips the figure. It turns out to be a female Android, identifiable through the dim hum of the exhaust that Fred catches when he puts his ear closer to her chest. It also indicates that the Android is still active. She has a bright golden hair tied into two small bundles hanging on the back of her head. Her clothing is damp with grains of sands sticking all over.

“Quick, we’re carrying her back.” Fred says turning to Zen and Lennard.

“We don’t know who this lady is.” Lennard responds.

“That is a later affair.”

Just as Fred about to drag her into a shade…

“I-” a faint voice comes out of her mouth. “Where…”

“Y-you’re safe now, don’t worry.” He barks, stuttering in some part. “Can you tell us you’re name.”

It is that moment when her eyes flicker as it greets the bright day again.

“Vi-Vittoria.”

–**–

The sheer size of the mansion left us gaping for ten seconds. Its grandeur stood firm on top of a hill, shining all the way to the horizon. Creatio Genetrix is obviously greater, but this mansion is a personal residence. Before the building are four layers of gardens with decreasing size laid on top of each other. Between them and the outside world are massive walls with magnificent mosaic inscription only the Primus could afford.

The first layer, the largest and the bottom-most, has four-meter-tall trees whose leaves shaped into conics with bulged base along its perimeter. Its timid slope links directly to the plains inside and beyond the outer walls. The second layer is smoothly linked to the first layer, and it is basically an open ground with carpets of grasses. The third layer is where the paving kicks in. There are intervals of stairs connecting the second and third layer. This layer is a haven for gazebos, decorative flowers, and pedestals. And the final layer is on level with the mansion. The fourth’s layer slope is vertical. It houses a fountain, a pond, several benches, chairs and shades. Just on the other side of the main entrance to the outer wall is a cliff that lead directly to the ocean.

We are sent ahead to prepare the gargantuan place. The labor mainly comprises of sweeping the dusts off the place. Rumor is that dust kills the Primus. The truth remains a debate. But the metallic mask everlasting on his face could shift them away from being myths.  The colonel suggests us to hand the task to one person, while the others are assigned to care the respective layers of the gardens. There has to be no room for mistake, especially in the first day. So, the colonel’s suggestion is our way to go. Eri would sweep the fallen leaves at the first layer. Hana shall mow the grasses in the second layer. Rina handles the sweeping of the pedestals on the third layer. And Theo shall restore the fountain and the pond at the fourth layer. I will be handling the dust in the mansion.

The sun almost dip below the horizon. We were just regrouping in the advent of our recently accomplished labor when we are notified of his arrival.

This is it. Our duty begins.

There’s a landing pad some distance from the outer wall. Eri, Theo and I stands by near where his jet would land. The cabin’s hatch opens as soon as the jet lands. And there he is.

The Primus, clad in his black mantle.

With him are his backpack and a suitcase. His stare falls at me as soon as we bow before him. Something about the light from his eyes is petrifying. As if they’re riddling through my body like bullets. I begin to lost count at how many times I told myself to shove it and remain calm. I wonder if Eri felt the same. Theo is probably losing herself. She managed to conceal it somehow.

My instincts led me to believe that Eri has the most energy of us all. So, I task her with carrying his luggage to the mansion. She steps forward when the Primus’ feet are at the landing pad.

“Allow me to lighten your load, sir.”

The Primus hands over his suitcase and his backpack to her. He then nods to me as soon as Eri hustles uphill, before following her.

“Theo.” I say to her.

She nods before turning toward the cabin’s hatch which is still opened. Right now, the crew of the jet is sweeping the cabin in case the Primus left anything inside. Theo would escort those remainder belongings that slipped through the Primus’ attention if there is any.

I followed close behind him. This leads to good news and bad news. The good news is I am walking close to the most powerful man in the world. The bad news is I am walking close to the most powerful man in the world. No one would dare to challenge the grandmaster of a grand militaristic reign. On the other hand, that is also an excuse for him to do anything he pleases toward me. And nothing could stop him due to the former reason.

It’s like marching across no man’s land under constant rain of explosive rounds. My body trembles with each crashing shell. But there are no shells, only our footsteps. I can hear the loud throbbing of my heart with each tick. This drives me to close my eyes and takes a deep breath. Along with it went most of the tension in my muscles. However, such brief interval reduces my awareness. And when I am least expecting it…

Ah…

I trip on my own foot.

Hooaah!! I hold it deeply as much as I wanted to cry it out. I rise back to my feet as soon as my face fell on the path. The Primus notices. He halts and glances back at me. I don’t share his glance until I’m done shoving the dust off my uniform. I nod as soon as I have done that. The pain is infinitesimal, compared to the thought of what would happen next as the Primus glance turns into a glare.

W-what would happen now? What should I do? My thoughts are screaming here and there like a hornet nest. The throbbing of my heart now pummels me into the ground. But on the outside, my face is as composed as it can be. It’s all I can manage now.

Fortunately, he turns back and begins to stride again.

“Watch your steps.” He says.

“Yes, sir.” I respond.

That was startlingly anticlimactic Especially the way it comes from a strict person who enforces discipline to his subjects. Regardless, that cures the tension laid upon me since he landed.

Eventually we pass by the outer wall’s gate, where Hana and Rina are waiting. They then bow before his presence. The Primus sight periodically moves from left to right. I leer back as soon as he reaches the third layer and finds Theo finally made it pass the gate. It appears that the Primus left nothing behind, and that Theo has been trotting from the landing pad all the way to the gate. Hana and Rina close the gate and follows Theo uphill.

Eri stands at attention just before the mansion’s entrance.

“Excuse me, sir. Where do you want me to place your luggage?” She asks. The way she utters that question suggests that this is just another day at the office for her.

The Primus sweeps his sight from his left to his right again, before approaching Eri.

“Hand it over.” He says.

“R-right sir.” Eri complies.

Once he got his luggage back, he turns to me and nods.

He then disappears into the mansion.

I take a deep breath before glancing to the team.

“So how was it?” I ask, with a relieving smile on my face.

Theo crumples with both arms gripping and rubbing each other. Her face looks like she has just been blessed with a pleasure.

“Ahh…The Primus.”

I sort of ignore that response and move on to Rina, who places her hand on top of her chin.

“Boy, walking behind him is surely an experience of its own.”

“How about you, Eri? You don’t seem to be nervous?”

Eri rubs the back of her head, while giggling. “Ehehe. Actually I do, that was just greater than I have anticipated.”

“But you made it.”

“Fortunately.”

Before long, the Primus surprises us once again by appearing through the entrance.

“Lights on. Unless you want something sneaking up on you.” It is the only thing he says before shutting the door on us again.

“Y-yes sir.” The only phrase that came out of my mouth.

I clap my hands before long. “Alright gals,” I exclaim. “Let us keep it up.”

“Ooh!” Eri shouts. Everyone pretty much follows a similar affirmation.

An excellent news it seems. I hope we’re seeing this through to the end.

–**–

“What!?” Hana yells, her voice nearly shook the whole mansion. “There’s no way he would accept this.”

This is a color sergeant standing up and shouting at me. I have expected that she might burst into this after hearing my notion.

“Aren’t you concerned for his health?” I ask. “He has undetermined meal schedules, and he never had any vegetables.”

“Lena,” Eri barks. “I may be up for anything, but not against the Primus.”

“You still plan to live, don’t you corporal?” Rina follows.

“Ah…upsetting the Primus.” Theo covers her mouth with her hand as she chuckles.

Of course, everyone would strive against the notion. There is no bound in wealth and prestige one could chase in the ArC. Such generosity however, comes at a cost. No opposition against the Primus’ will in any form. It has been a stern norm for the citizen to remain silent about what the Primus should do, simply because no one wishes for an unfortunate end.

But discipline is also the norm of this great nation. The Primus, however, doesn’t represent the core value he had imposed upon his people, even in the most basic aspects of his life. If he is to continue representing this nation, this discrepancy has to end. For the order of the ArC, he has to be disciplined.

“What do you wish to gain by taking the risk of upsetting him?” Hana asks, her sight piercing through me.

That firm sight of hers is discouraging, I’ll be honest. But I decide not to let mine down. It’s that voluntary merit which doesn’t provide back for the executors. There might not be any gain for us in several time steps ahead. But I’m sure that the citizens will cherish their leader even more, as he outperforms his current self in the future. This isn’t about us anymore, it’s about the whole nation. Not everyone has the chance like us. Nor everyone who has the chance are willing.

So I say to her, “A better future.” Something about my tone pulls that piercing sight back. “There will be none for us to gain. But the people will certainly appreciate what we did.” I add.

The kitchen room fell silent. Everyone is sharing their glance with each other.

Hana exhales deeply before speaking up again. “I admire your will, corporal. I hope they can brave the Primus’ wrath.”

“You will be safe behind them.” I said, convincing them that they have nothing to worry about.

Hana then turns to everyone else. “Come on, let’s get back to work.” She says.

I’ve ordered Hana to remain in the kitchen and prepare for his dinner with me. Meanwhile Eri will mop up the mansion, Rina will document the interiors, and Theo will inspect the Primus’ office. I bring up my notes as soon as the sound of knife clashing against the cutting board fills the scene. The plan is in motion.

I bring more ingredients closer to Hana so that she could cut them, while I ready the stove. It’s an eight-burner gas stove with a smart feature that allows it to be activated from utilizers. But that feature is currently accessible only by the Primus. I have to ask for permission if I am to use them.

As the pan and pot is on the stove, I notice how the color sergeant cut through the ingredients with haste. That sight left me in awe. I wonder if such haste is necessary to reach her rank.

“Don’t just stand there.” She says to me. “Take care of something else.”

“Oh, right.” I just realize that I was standing still doing nothing, and she pointed that out.

I fill the pot with water and the pan with a bit of oil. Then I proceed to mix the pieces diced by Hana with the seasoning that I’ve made. The kitchen is quiet as we process the meal, apart from the noise of boiling water and crackling oil. Turns out, Hana is not the kind of person who sparks the conversation. Either that, or she’s just lacking any remainder attention to give. Or she’s still in disbelief that we’re about to cook something not of the Primus’ preference.

“So, uh…” I say, in an attempt to reduce the silence. “How long have you dedicated your service?”

“About six years.” She said in a composed tone, in contrast with the one few minutes ago where she was sort of rebuking me. “I got the corporal rank in my third year, and my sergeant a year after for some reason. Maybe they just admire my service, maybe.”

Maid sergeants are the lowest rank allowed to command a group of maids. The one that asks me to deliver the Primus’ dinner is the sergeant I am assigned to. Creatio Genetrix is massive. Many times greater than this mansion and its layered gardens. It’s divided into smaller sections, and the maid sergeants are assigned to those sections. Other than organizing the maids assigned to them, they also are the one who files in reports to the colonel, who oversees everything.

“I take it that being a maid sergeant equals to hard labor?”

“Well it’s the kind that you should be able to handle.” She says to me. “A shift of course. Haven’t heard any sergeants who are handling double shift.”

“Do you think I’m fitted to handle double shift as a maid sergeant?”

She halts her hands and glances at me. “Probably. I can’t say for sure.” Her hands continue to process the meal. “You seem to be keen on becoming one.”

“I mean, if they provide a better salary for it…why shouldn’t I be?”

Hana chuckles. “Hard to believe that you’re such a gold grubber.”

Well…I jerk my head. “I have my reason.”

“Hope it’s good enough.”

I could convince her that it is. But now is not the time.

Eventually, his dinner is ready. We put the meals on the trolley, covering them with cloches. While that is happening, I ask the other maids whether or not they knew the whereabout of the Primus at the moment. Eri says that he is in the living room. So I proceed there with the trolley, leaving Hana alone to prepare our dinner.

I conveniently found him on the couch, his sight fixed to the television screen in front of him. Along with the exquisite narration that comes out of the speaker, the screen shows a cluttered blob of men with swords and shields clashing, topped with flaming projectiles flying overhead. The way I can see just beyond the blob suggests that it is viewed from a slightly elevated position, probably the height of a horseback. It took me a second to realize that those men hold the same stance and movement, which indicates that the scene must be a simulation.

I take a deep breath before approaching the left side of the couch, where his feet are on.

Here we go. Each step adds more to my nerve than the previous. Perhaps it’ll be over this mansion’s roof by the time I reach him. I will be opposing the Primus. Forgive me, mom, dad, if anything goes wrong.

“Sir, your dinner is ready.” I bow to him.

His glance, once more, shifts to me. But this time it’s a bit longer. I can see in his eyes, though they are concealed, that they speak of his disbelief at how this girl decides to ask him about having his meal. This is perhaps the most peculiar situation I have ever been in. It is said that not even the colonel dared to ask him the same thing. Hence the action that I took must be the most daring one.

Whatever turmoil they speak of that should boil within whenever one surfs through the storm are crawling out of every corner of my joints. There is a colossal wave building up behind him, ready to surge at me. But what came to me are mere sprinkles.

“Later.” He replies, turning his gaze back to his television screen.

Again, an unexpected response. But he’s still not moving for his dinner, so my job isn’t done yet.

“Sir, you are advised to have your dinner as soon as possible.”

“And who advised me?” He asks, turning his sight to me.

I think here comes the wave. The very one that probably have enough force to rip me apart. But for his own good, and thus for the country as well, I have to embrace it. Because that’s not how an ArC citizen should behave, let alone their leader.

“Your organs, sir.” I said. “The civilization residing inside of you requires it to function properly.”

It then comes down to a staring contest. Everything seems to have escalated in a rate beyond my comprehension. Just a moment ago I was walking alongside him. Now here I am enforcing a proper meal schedule, to which he’ll probably retaliate with discontent. And whatever grave consequences he has in mind will be upon me soon.

But he just turns down his head, followed by a dim exhale.

“Fine.” He says, shutting down the screen.

He sits up and opens the cloche, before silently gazes down at the group of dishes that Hana and I have laid on the trolley. It’s not long until he glares on me.

“I thought Iva had filled you in.”

“Yes, sir.” I gently nod. “But you are in dire need of vegetable consumption. Hence I decided that these dishes would be best for you.”

He sighs before grabbing the mug of tea that we made for him. He then takes a sip while standing up before leering to me.

“I’m not touching them. I hope you don’t mind appreciating your own craft.” That’s what he says before striding away, presumably to his room.

I attempt to reach out, but reluctance binds me to a halt. And so he got away with his tea. Here I am in the spacious living room, left only with the dish trolley as my company.

            Damn. Why do I even think that he will touch this firsthand?

That is when I am notified by Theo who requests my assistance. I left the trolley and head for the Primus’ office where she should be. The office is at the top floor. The room is visible as soon as one reaches the fourth floor. It is separated by a glass barrier which perhaps bear the same role as those in Creatio Genetrix.

His office here is basically a curved desk encircled by bookshelves filled with old books, folders, and stacks of papers. There’s a screen on top of the sizeable desk with flowery patterns inscribed on it. I assume that’s his personal computer. The floor is all covered by thick wool rug similar to that in his personal lounge.

I find Theo on one corner piling the books on the floor.

“What do you need, Theo?”

–**–

The lack of urban activities equals the absence of manmade lights diluting to the heavens. In turn, the dark sea above is glimmering with bright dots lining up from one end to the other. The brilliant display has kept her face stuck in place, with her sight straight upon them for the last hour. The hut is located on a hill near the shore. Given that everyone there had fell asleep, save for some that has patrol duties tonight, the rhythm of clashing waves is still evident at best. Along with the breeze that tightens one’s skin, once could drown in ponder without any care in the world.

Few minutes later, she notices an increasingly bright floor from the corner of her eyes. She turns her attention to it and finds one of the strangers that took care of her since she came ashore yesterday.

“I’m sorry if you aren’t used sleeping on places like this.”

The girl shakes her head. “It’s okay. It’s not my concern.” Her eyes meet his.

Fred flinches his head. “Good to know.” He says, turning off his flashlight. Putting aside his gears, he then sits beside Vittoria. “Thinking about home?”

Vittoria turns her gaze back to the stars. “You could say that.” She says, her voice serene like a lake amidst the woods. “But here, it is calm. And the stars are all on the stage. Unlike the night sky back home.”

“It isn’t like this over there?”

“My house is as solitary as this place. But the lightings throughout its vast garden deprived me of this feature.”

“But it must be pleasant there isn’t it? Lavish meal, tender bed, and maybe a personal service.”

Something about that depresses Vittoria. Her sight, which was glimmering with the light of the stars, stales and turn away from Fred. She faintly shakes her head.

“If they took my friends away, what purpose does they serve?”

Fred fixes his sight at Vittoria. Her golden hair still doesn’t lose its glow despite the darkness.

“As long as you’re contributing, you can stay as long as you want.”

“My parents will look for me.” She says turning to Fred.

Fred leans closer. “Hey, I get that parents wanted their children safe. But sometimes you have to be frank with them. Tell them that you want to have friends, to touch the society.”

“You…” Vittoria hesitates. She then turns her gaze to Fred. “You don’t understand.”

–**–

The shivering breeze flow through the plains, leftovers from last night. The skies strapped a dark azure hue which grows more vivid with each passing tick. The birds are chirping as they depart their nest. I feed on the mild air to maintain the motion of my gears. So weightless they are that I could dismiss the tension of my muscles. The foliage rises when I come across them, as if they’re saluting me. A beautiful sight to begin the second day.

Here I am marching, along an abandoned highway which leads to a tiny settlement downhill. There is no transport available for the maids in the mansion. Something about discipline and the integrity of the environment here.

The supplies brought from the mainland only meant for dinner on the day of arrival only. After that we have to procure groceries from the local settlement. It’s a regard to local economies. But given the frequency of the Primus’ vacation and their duration, I doubt the significance of this deed.

Then I stumble upon an arching post on this wide yet desolate highway. Leaning against one side of the arch is a boy, seemingly of my age, with dark grey hair and pale beige features. His sight is fixed to the other pillar of the arch. He seems to be of that solitary kind. Not once do I see his detached emotion changes into something else. Anything that should represent what a human is feeling at the moment.

Apparently noticing my approach, he finally turns his gaze at me. His appearance is that of the Proxy but only the coat, which is covered only by an old fiber armor referred as Kevlar vest. His gun is dangling to his right, its strap wrapped around his neck.

For a moment our eyes met. Something suddenly blooms within as that lustrous eyes fixed into mine, something that I’m unfamiliar with. My nerve once more undergoes a rapid development, the same one that occurs during my confrontation with the Primus. Both insisted that I hold my composure. But rather than against punishment like in the former, it’s more of temptation in the latter. And for the first time ever, I’m imagining things that shouldn’t be. A vast grass lands in spring where he offers his hand while wearing a glimmering royal suit.

I snap out of my wild fairy land as soon as he starts to walk in my direction.

“Welcome to Laot. We hope you don’t disturb the peace.” He then steps aside and extends his arm to the end of the highway ahead of me. “This way.”

That’s it? Nothing else? What a straightforward boy. I wonder whether this behavior exists within the vicinity of his friends.

“You don’t even run a check on me.”

The boy is silent for a moment, his indifferent gaze remains on me. “I believe you don’t intend harm to the people.” He jerks his head. “That uniform of yours, despite the blade on your hip, you don’t have the gut to oppose the Primus by harming his people.”

It’s true that I don’t intend harm. But the lack of gut to oppose the Primus? Sort of.

I take a deep breath. His composure is admirable. And the way he deduces that I am safe just by skimming my appearance amounts to the acceleration of my heartbeat, perhaps. The last time I felt this way is on that evening where I lost my parents, and that is due to adrenaline topped with the chaos circling around me. But this time, I feel serene. It’s like I’m safe from any harm.

“Anyway, where could I get groceries in this place?”

“There’s an open market at the town square. There might not be anything, since merchant ships rarely docks here. But I hope there’s sufficient.”

Judging from his manner, he’s probably underestimating the goods available there. They can’t be that scarce, can they? If it is, then it could be a problem. Nevertheless, I appreciate the humility.

I bow to him. As the Primus’ maid, an image of humble, obedient, and elegance has to be emphasized in everyone’s mind. But before I proceed, my mind blurts something that I never thought would even come up.

“I’m Lena. What’s your name?”

Hold on what? Did I just…did I just introduce myself to him and asks him his name as well? There should be no issue but…well, we should do our best to avoid unnecessary contact shouldn’t we? I stand in place as red berries are falling from the branches.

But to my surprise…

“I’m Zen. Pleased to meet you.” He nods.

Phew. I am times grateful when he replies.

“Pleased to meet you too.”

I nod back before clearing the arch. How surprised I am to find the boy still has his gaze on me when I steal a leer to him. I yank back my head to the front as soon as possible.

When I am nearing the market Zen told me about, I pull out my grocery list. There are not much people here in the town square. It is not that different compared to downtown during the end of my second shift. The market consists of individual stand with their particular product, instead of a large store under a single corporation. But the way the owners of their respective stands communicate with each other make it seems like they are an integrated system comparable to supermarkets.

I sweep from one stand to another. It’s exciting how I fill up the grocery list in a span of fifteen minutes. Well, most of it at least.

The last item on the list is available on a stand near an edge of the town square. There stands a young girl with golden hair. She has two little bundles just at the back of her head, each tied with a crimson ribbon. Her expression is quite detached, similar to Zen. But in contrast, the girl appears to be stacking with concerns.

“Four of them please.” I say to the girl while pointing to the items.

She just nods in silence and begins to wrap them.

“Here you go.” The girl says before handing the price, which then I paid with given credits.

“Thank you.” I said, bowing before putting the wrapped items in my grocery bag.

As soon as I turn around, I heard the girl speaks again.

“You are new here.” She says.

I turn back to her. Given that no one is around, and that she’s looking at me, she has to be talking to me.

“Uh, I don’t live here.” I reply. “My master does.”

“Your master?”

“His mansion is uphill,” I said pointing a thumb to the supposed direction of the place. The girl follows the direction of my thumb. “And he doesn’t live there either. He’s on his leave.”

“How long is he planning to stay?”

“About two weeks.”

The girl looks to her feet, her right hand covers her lips slightly. Her face meets mine again a moment later.

“I see.” She says. “Good day, it has been a great talk.” She raises her right hand.

That has to be a parting gesture. But her stiff expression makes it feel unusual. Nevertheless, I bow and wave back before making my way out of the market.

On my way back, I find Zen leaning against the arch pillar again. For a person to stick in the same position, doing nothing but watching over the surroundings this long, I think I’m impressed.

Again, he notices me and stands up. He nods and says, “I hope you enjoy your visit. Please come again.”

I bow in silence. Then I glance at him for a moment, specifically to the seemingly captivating features of his face. For some reason, that warms me and sparks a jolly in my heart. Then I clear the arch. That’s when I heard Zen says something.

“So, you’ve met the girl?”

Huh? That question compels me to turn my attention.

“Uh, never mind.” He says, turning his face away from me.

Perhaps he is talking about the golden-haired girl. Is there anything about her that I should know? Maybe she is a new inhabitant of the Laot? A migrant from somewhere?

But I don’t have the time to interrogate him. Having a meal is most probably the first thing the Primus do as soon as he wakes up. We better have his meal warm and ready by that moment. I continue my trek along the highway back to the mansion. This time, visibility is better compared to my walk downhill.

The maids have already taken to the field. Theo and Eri handle the gardens, while Hana should be sweeping the interior. Rina and I will do the cooking.

As I’m about to make a turn toward the kitchen, the Primus makes a pass. He walks before me leisurely under his polo shirt and his trouser, both black. On his right hand is a bitten block of cheese the size of his grasp. He then halts and glances at me. He still has his visor on, but this is the first time I get a glimpse of his face as his metallic mask is slightly opened, enough for him to shove the cheese to his mouth. What’s even more bizarre is the azure tear visible on his right cheek that left me gaping for the moment.

“Sir…” I stutter. My face is full of astonishment and disbelief.

“I haven’t eaten a whole cheese in a while.” He says before glancing away and continue his walk.

For a moment I stand in silence. I assume he took that from the fridge. If that’s the case, then I have to consider a prevention. I rush into the kitchen with my grocery bag. There I find Rina on one side of the counter, cutting an onion.

“Did you see him took that cheese?” I ask her while putting the bag on the table.

She just nods.

“Why didn’t you stop him?”

My word seems to have struck something as her knife stops midway. She then turns to me.

“Were you expecting me to stop the most powerful man in the world?” Her glance turns into a bitter gaze.

“It’s necessary to keep it that way.” I reply.

She then turns away from me. “I…I can’t Lena.” She stutters. “Abiding to what you’ve set for him is already a thorn for me. Do you really intend to shove our careers further down the stake?”

Damn it.

It appears that these maids couldn’t be brought to advise him directly. I guess I’m on my own. It’s my idea after all, and my responsibility should be the vanguard.

“Fine. You stick to what you’re doing. I’ll handle his control.” I say to her. “Right now, let’s just focus to preparing his breakfast.”

She nods, seemingly in hesitation. She probably thinks that preparing his breakfast isn’t necessary since she knew that he already has a block of cheese for that. And the way she cuts the onion seems like she is doing it to pretend that the Primus isn’t on the fridge, taking the cheese.

Oh well…

So, we make the breakfast and put them on the kitchen table. Yes, on the kitchen table instead of the trolley. Rina concerns me on that matter. I say to her that he will have to walk here and grab it by himself.

Now it’s time to notify him. I again ask the maids through the utilizer on his whereabouts. Eri says he’s lounging on a swing in the fourth layer. I spot him after a minute stroll. The seat of the swing is made out of arrays of teak planks which are fixed to a metallic frame. His head is lying at one of the cushion pillows placed there. He is flicking the air over and over with his right hand, while his legs are hanging over the other hand-seat.

He notices me as I step closer.

“I’ll not have something other than those in the list that Iva gave you.” He says.

“Would you rather not have anything at all for breakfast?”

“I have had a block of cheese. Anything in the fridge should work in a couple of hours, assuming you’ll deviate from my preference list.”

Such is the attitude of the most powerful man in the world. He has no respect toward those that made him his meals. Perhaps even to the meals themselves. As if his preference will always be available to him twenty-four seven.

“Sir, I warn you.” I raise my tone in such a way, hoping that he would hop off from that swing and have his breakfast. “You have to have your breakfast, immediately.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t bring it here, as you were instructed.”

“I see those legs function properly a couple minutes back.”

“There are plenty of things to think about that they barely move.” He responds, his right hand is still flicking the air. “Even if I do, there’s no guarantee I’d have something that you made. Judging by last night’s dish.”

This man…

Has he always been like this? This is the most powerful man in the world. The brilliant beacon of discipline for his citizens. How could he become one with such slothful attitude?

“I take it that you’re not taking your breakfast.”

“Unless you commit to the instructions given.”

So be it then…

I make sure once again that no one is in the kitchen. Then I take his food and throw it in a plastic bag, which then I throw into a bin. I proceed with the fridge thereafter, which I empty. Its content is placed in the kitchen shelves that I lock. The Primus doesn’t bother taking care of his own place. That’s why the maids that accompany him are given such feature, managing the locks and keys of this place.

For a moment, I couldn’t comprehend what I just thought. I felt like a mad woman. But on the other hand, it is the sense of discipline that he had enforced upon his subjects, upon us. It would be a shame if he himself is lacking of them.

Then comes lunch.

He is still in the same swing, only now he is snoozing. Thanks to the swing’s shade, he doesn’t risk overexposure of noon’s light. I attempt to wake him up, but to no avail. Guess he’s also skipping today’s lunch. I made the same decision as with breakfast.

Only an hour later, when I was about to clean the kitchen, I find him standing before the empty fridge. He glares to me as he shuts the fridge’s door.

“Why are you doing this to me?” He asks.

Once more, I let a stream of air in to fill my lungs.

“I have to, sir.” I say to him. “That’s not how an ArC citizen should behave, let alone their leader.”

His glare goes on, but I don’t back down. Rather I decided not to. There lies my fate, behind that glare reinforced by his mask. A fact that pierces through my heart like pikes, a bundle of them. Ironically, the pain isn’t there. Perhaps the previous confrontations have drilled through enough for the pikes to thrust without hindrance. Something that none have ever experienced.

Still, if his glares are pikes, then the consequences further behind is an entire cannonball. He will definitely charge me for this. Perhaps, execute me right here, right now.

But again…

The man takes a deep breath. And just walks past me.

I watch him disappear into the other room, as I stand here wondering whether this could really work out in the end.


Prime Respite

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