“…Okay.” Although Annan was somewhat curious about what she meant by “phantom”, he nodded without further questions.
He knew that Kafni had superb perception. Her ability to see worlds that ordinary people couldn’t was expected.
Speaking of it, he still didn’t know much about Kafni.
But at this moment, an idea flashed through Annan’s mind.
He asked, “Kafni… is there anything you want or like?”
Annan’s inquiry about Kafni’s interests had nothing to do with his plans.
Annan intended to seek out information that would be helpful outside of the nightmare now that Kafni was still young and wasn’t guarded towards him. After all, this was only a nightmare. Kafni would not remember anything that happened here by the time the nightmare was over.
That way, even if he had failed in challenging the nightmare, it wouldn’t be too big of a loss if Annan had gotten crucial information.
Hearing this, Kafni was startled.
She was silent for a while, then replied in a soft voice, “I want… a gift.”
“…What gift?” Annan asked.
“A birthday gift.” She answered softly.
Those clear, glazed pupils always made her seem like an emotionless puppet. Yet only at this time, Kafni seemed to have more “humanness”.
Kafni turned her head away slightly. There was an intensely complicated look on that doll-like delicate and tender face. “Today is August 8th… It’s His Majesty’s birthday, and it’s also my birthday. So his Majesty and I share the same birthday.
“But no one remembers my birthday. They would only remember His Majesty’s birthday…
“I think, maybe only by becoming a king… would birthdays be worthy of remembering.”
Without waiting for Kafni to finish, Annan began to feel around his body.
Seeing his behavior, Kafni was a little stunned.
Is he going to give me a gift?
But then, a sense of urgency and anticipation bloomed in her heart.
Her father had been busy with His Majesty’s birthday ever since he woke up in the morning.
He hadn’t even wished Kafni a happy birthday.
Kafni’s mother, on the other hand, didn’t care about her birthday.
Similarly, her mother had disappeared before Kafni woke up as if she had evaporated from the world.
It was precisely because Kafni was feeling lonely on her birthday that she had snuck through the secret passage to paint in the garden despite the presence of guests.
“I do have a present for you…” Annan answered affirmatively.
He had checked before. Annan didn’t have self-defense weapons on him, but he did have an azure blue ring, a badge, and a marble.
After this badge was activated, it could immediately call upon all Winter’s Hands within the nearby area; the ring was a curse vessel made using the Austere-Winter Dukedom’s craftsmanship. The effect was that it could detect hostility and even freeze all of the nearby hostile units for a while if it was used actively— it contained the frost element, which had to be recharged after each use.
Obviously, both these items couldn’t be given to Kafni.
But that gem marble could.
[Type: Material/orb/gem (blue)]
[Description: Austere-Winter Dukedom specialty, an orb that stays cold even in boiling water.]
[Effect: Active use to attempt dispelling/abolishing mind control and hallucinations.]
[Effect: When equipped, keep the mind clear at all times to stabilize the holder’s mental state.]
[Price: Every time an active effect is used, the body temperature of the holder would drop by one degree for one day. This cost is stackable.]
The blue-grade items were not considered valuable. Annan’s curse vessels and materials would generally start with dark blue grade and then be mixed with hints of purple and gold. For example, the ring and badge were all purple qualities curse vessels.
It would not seem too strange to give such a gift.
Moreover, it was beautiful; it looked as pretty as an ice blue glass marble, just right for a girl.
It was usually in Annan’s inner pocket, and Dmitri wouldn’t ask where it went any time soon. After all, Annan could leave right after he was done with the nightmare.
And according to Annan’s memory…
After a year or two, Kafni would become a Transcended and realize the existence of “Dream Stealer” Danton.
At that time, Kafni overloaded the curses on herself and became highly eroded by them. Only then did she resist Dream Stealer’s Mind Manipulation ability.
If Kafni had such a treasure in the actual history, there would probably be no need for her to go through such a dangerous ordeal.
“It’s for you.” With this thought in mind, Annan handed the marble in his arms over to Kafni.
He explained in a soft voice, “This marble can nullify mind control spells. If you carry it, you can also refresh your mind and help you remain clear-headed. It’s not very useful to me, but it’s an excellent item for you.
“Remember not to use it too much. Otherwise, you may catch a cold and get sick. It is best if you generally have it kept in a treasure box and use it once a day at a fixed time.”
“Is it a curse vessel?” Kafni, who was only tentatively asking for a gift, widened her eyes in astonishment.
She initially just wanted to ask for Annan’s gloves or whatever accessories he had as a souvenir.
After all, Kafni knew what her status was and sorrowfully acknowledged that she and Annan would probably never see each other again after he returned to his country.
Annan was the first person of her age who didn’t think she was a monster nor feared or hated her ever since she was born. He was also the only person, even compared to her parents, who sincerely thought her paintings were beautiful.
He was Kafni’s only friend.
Yet it was unexpected that Annan simply gave her something that was not so ordinary.
The coolness she felt just by touching the “marble” was enough to tell her that it was nothing short of extraordinary.
Although Annan could wield multiple curse vessels, it was simply because there was a limited Austere-Winter family bloodline. But at this time, the Noah royal family had not died to the point where only three heirs were left… Instead, they had a large number of heirs. Plus, almost every heir had many sons of their own because of the old king’s livelihood.
The only exceptions were Princess Royal Elizabeth, who was still single, and the fourth prince, who had only one daughter.
This was indeed a precious gift for Kafni, who had not yet become Transcended and had a low status in the royal family.
It was so precious that she didn’t even dare to accept it.
Annan couldn’t help but sigh as he realized Kafni’s troubled state and vague inferiority complex.
You are a princess… is it normal for you to be like this?
“Accept it,” Annan replied sternly, “If it matters that much to you, you can give me a gift of equal value when you see me again.
“Let’s not waste time. I’ll go now— you must remember to draw, and your voice can be slightly clearer.”
“…Okay.” Kafni agreed softly.
She clenched the marble in her hand, feeling a little touched in her heart.
Credits to MindMatrix for editing this chapter and improving the readability.
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