Chapter 56 : What I should have protected: What I wanted to protect
Leopold and the others who ran to the bridge looked down from the edge.
At about the same time, there was a loud splash of water below.
On impulse, Leopold reached out to place his foot on the railing, but stopped himself, and first unsheathed the sword at his waist.
When Rembrandt saw him start to take off his jacket, he guessed what he was going to do.
Immediately, Rembrandt looked around at the soldiers around him and raised his voice.
“We need one person to rescue them.
Someone come and go with him.”
At Rembrandt’s request, a soldier in armor volunteered.
I’ll be counting on you.”
Nicholas quickly started to remove his armor.
But when Leopold looked at the soldier who had volunteered to jump in with him, he saw his face as he took off his hood and he stopped moving.
“…Nicholas, Nicholas Trad…?”
A voice filled with astonishment escaped from his mouth.
He was the former classmate who had left school at the end of the first year because he loved Natalia and fell into the trap Alejandro set up for him.
A heavy clang echoed in the place, and the armor Nicholas was wearing was thrown to the ground one after another.
Then Nicholas, wearing only a light shirt and slacks, also stepped onto the railing.
“…I thought you joined the Royal Guard.”
Leopold swallowed the question that came out of his mouth mid-sentence.
Now is not the time to talk about this.
Rembrandt stood by the railing and stopped Leopold and the others who were about to jump into the water with great vigor.
“If the rescuer gets hurt, the whole point of it is lost.
Get into the water as safely as possible.
Go over the railing and hang down outside the bridge.
Lower your body to the very edge.
Remember to check the position of the rescue targets before you let go.”
They nodded and hung outside the bridge as Rembrandt instructed, looking out over the water below.
They’ve checked the position of Alejandro and Natalia.
Both have not drifted very far yet.
“The current in the summer season is less severe than in the winter season.
But it’s still going to be difficult… be careful.
We’ll be going to the shore now.
They nodded back at the instruction and took one deep breath.
Leopold and Nicholas both let go of their hands gripping the foundation of the bridge.
The sound of Rembrandt and the others stepping onto the ground echoed in their ears, and then was followed by the floating sensation in which time seemed to have stopped.
This river is deep, and there is no danger of hitting the river bottom.
With arms raised, they threw themselves into the water with a big splash.
After sinking deeper and deeper, he held his breath and aimed for the surface.
With no time to follow Nicholas’ signal, Leopoldo frantically kicked the water toward the light above the water.
He sucked in all the air he could and hurriedly looked around.
It would be meaningless if he missed the target of his rescue.
He glanced towards the spot he had identified before taking his hand off the bridge.
He saw what appeared to be the figure of a person in the distance, and at the same time recognized his companion floating slightly ahead of him.
When he called out with a loud voice, Nicholas also responded by lightly raising his right hand.
Leopoldo’s right leg is in pain as he kicks the water.
He seemed to have been hurt by the impact when he landed in the water.
I wonder if Nicholas will be okay.
I hope it is only a minor injury like myself.
He looks up from below at the bridge he jumped from and exhales at the height of it.
Then, both Leopold and Nicholas looked at the rescue target drifting far ahead.
My right ankle is throbbing.
But not so bad that I can’t kick the water.
The cold water of the river tingled and stained the scars that had been inflicted on his entire body last night and at dawn.
His wounds were only treated briefly, and now he has a low fever.
But the pain made Leopold’s mind cool down.
Floating up and down while being swept along, Leopold and Nicholas struggled hard to reach the distant mass that is slowly drifting away.
Why, oh why, did you follow him instead of listening to the shadow guard?
Why did you choose to run up to him, climb the bridge, and fall into the river with him?
His body was cold, and his right ankle and whole body had wounds all over, complaining over the dull pain.
Now this seemed to be proof that Leopold was alive.
I don’t understand.
What was Natalia thinking and how did she make the decision to do what she did?
Even though they are lovers.
The person you promised to share your future with.
Leopold had never seen Natalia like that.
He never knew she had that side of her.
Natalia, whom Leopoldo knew well, was a sweet girl with a lovely smile.
She was a cheerful girl who was not shy and could talk to anyone.
She was lonely and easily became anxious when left alone.
Her face was so cute, and this made him want to protect her.
Natalia is Leopold’s princess and Leopold is Natalia’s prince.
So I promised myself that I would always protect her.
I thought, I thought I would be able to overcome any difficulties, I would crush them, so I accepted Rembrandt’s proposal and even pretended to be a slave, and I promised myself that I would expose his schemes.
— “She’s too much for you to handle.”
Rembrandt’s voice came to him.
What nonsense, he thought at that time.
What part of Natalia, an innocent woman who had not yet lost her maidenhood, was beyond my control?
— “Not everyone is what they appear to be.”
— “If you are going to be the head of the Reinalpha family, if you still want to take that girl to be your wife, you must change.
A man, who can’t do anything without help, is unconvincing.”
— “In a way, that man knows more about reality than you do.”
I want to laugh at myself for being so green at that time when I countered that it was not true.
That’s right, Rembrandt.
I didn’t know then.
I didn’t understand anything.
Rembrandt, you were wrong, or so I thought.
I was immature to the point of being blind.
And that there’s a certain scope and depth of people, both front and back, and a hidden side that even my parents and siblings don’t know about.
I knew nothing about any of it.
You were right about everything.
Because I don’t know what Natalia is thinking.
She was supposed to be by my side more than anyone else.
When Leopoldo and Nicholas finally caught up with the two rescue targets, Alejandro, who had lost consciousness, was still holding Natalia in his arms.
Alejandro’s body was curled up, holding Natalia’s petite body firmly in his arms and covering her.
Grabbing their arms, Leopold and Nicholas swam in between them and headed for the shore.
Leopoldo and Nicholas kept on kicking and stirring the water, silently, just to keep going.
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