“We are currently moving to put this matter to rest. But we do not have the power to bring back any plants that have been lost. And so I would like to ask you all to do something. Bear it until we have resolved the problem.”
“We are prepared to open our storages if you are worried about food. But please, do not worry. Believe in Prince Aquasteed.”
The people heard Aquasteed and Tiararose’s words and showed that they agreed.
“Prince Aquasteed and Princess Tiararose have always worked to help Marineforest. There may not be anything that we can do. But we can wait and believe! Right? Everyone!!”
“Of course! I have food that I have saved. We can surely survive without taking from their storage.”
“The prince is working to fix the problem. We cannot get in his way!”
The town would be fine. They would bear it. Such words reached Tiararose’s ears. She had to hold back the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes.
“Prince Aqua. What wonderful people this country has.”
“Yes. I will do my best so as not to betray their trust.”
◇ ◇ ◇
The problem at hand could largely be divided into two.
They needed to give Pheles the bracelet so his power could be stabilized.
Then there was dealing with the vanished stars and dead plants.
Once preparation to go to the ‘Sealed Room of the King’ had been completed, they looked at the members who would be going. This time, Grail and Keith would accompany them, which made it likely that nothing would happen.
Or so Aquasteed thought. But then he saw that Tiararose suddenly looked troubled, as if she had just remembered something.
“Tiara? Is something bothering you?”
“Prince Aqua. Um, when we go down there and give Pheles the bracelet…will that undo the damage to the plants?”
Tiararose was right to be worried.
As Aquasteed hesitated, Keith opened his mouth.
“It is not possible to reverse what happened to the plants. Only the stars will return once Phel is stable again. As for the earth, only the influence will disappear.”
“In other words, just because the cause is gone, it does not mean things will return to normal.”
Keith said flatly. An oppressive air filled the room.
“Tiara…I’m sorry. If only I had more power.”
“It’s not your fault, Queen Lilia. Please don’t say such a thing.”
Liliarge slumped sadly, and so Tiararose told her that she was wrong.
At the same time, she took in a deep breath and closed her eyes as if coming to a great decision.
Olivia saw this and went over to Tiararose with a worried look. ‘What is it?’ Olivia asked.
‘I’m fine,’ Tiararose said with a smile.
And then Tiararose looked at Keith.
Aquasteed called her name, but only Keith was reflected in her eyes now.
“Keith, I have a request.”
“I…I want you to entrust the ring of the Fairy King of the forest to me.”
Everyone but the Fairy King looked surprised.
That ring was able to make plants grow abundantly. Perhaps it would be possible to bring the dead crops back to life with it.
Keith chuckled and muttered, ‘I see, I see.’
“Indeed. My ring may be able to do that. Tiararose. Are you sure that you are ready to use my ring?”
She replied immediately to Keith’s question.
Keith seemed impressed by this and he grinned.
The Fairy King of the forest’s ring promised a good harvest.
But there were conditions.
The first was that it only had an effect within Marineforest.
The second was that if the owner—Tiararose, ever abandoned the country, the ring would no longer be effective and it would return to Keith.
The harvests would grow worse and the plants would not grow like they used to. Tiararose would have to be ready to accept the blame the people would put on her.
“The very idea that I would abandon Marineforest. It is impossible. When I married, I decided that I would live here for the rest of my life…no, I decided it when Aquasteed first asked for my hand.”
Keith saw the determination in Tiararose’s eyes and he smiled happily.
“…I am asking as well.”
“Aquasteed too, eh? Well, I suppose I can’t refuse you now. Very well.”
Keith agreed readily and a smile appeared on Tiararose’s face.
“Thank you! Now there is no fear of the people starving.”
“Yes. …Then we should split into two groups.”
“Indeed. One could go to King Pheles and the other to get the ring.”
Tiararose was quite emotional, but Keith told her that it would not be so easy.
Aquasteed nodded. They did not have much time.
Tiararose heard this and nodded.
The ring would be in the hidden stage of the Fairy King. And the only people that were allowed to go there were those who were blessed by the Fairy King. Which of course, meant that Tiararose alone could go.
“I would worry if Tiararose went there alone…”
“Similarly, I too would be worried about you, Prince Aqua. But the kingdom is what is important now. I will do what is my duty. Prince Aqua, you must go and help King Pheles and Queen Lilia.”
And so it was decided that they would split up. Tiararose would go to the hidden stage with Keith.
Aquasteed would go to King Pheles in the Sealed Room of the King, along with Grail, Liliarge, Elliot, Olivia and Levy.
◇ ◇ ◇
Tiararose and Keith headed for the forest behind the castle.
There was a small tree gate there that led to Keith’s hidden stage.