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Author: Cristal Editor: Cristal

In the slums of the capital, “Lilyca Vans” was quite famous.

It was because all the parents were scolding their children saying, “Try to be half as disciplined as Lilyca.” Lilyca, who turned eight this year, was known to be very diligent.

And if there was one burden in Lilyca’s life, it would be her mother.

Several times she helped her mother, who was drunk and tottering, to get back into the house. The neighbours could hear the sound of the bottles breaking and the little girl’s cries since the thin wooden planks did not block any sound.

On days when these violent intonations were heard in their house, Lilyca went to work with red, swollen eyes.

Still, Lilyca was proud of her mother.

Because she had never seen a person as beautiful as her. Plus, she was the only one who knew how to read in these dilapidated places.

Lilyca always thought it was only because her mother, who was originally an aristocrat, was suffering terribly.

Rumour has it that her mother was kicked out of her house because Lilyca’s father, who had gone to sea to trade, was heavily in debt and never returned.

If it weren’t for Lilyca, her mother could have gone anywhere to remarry, and the little girl would have let it happen willingly.

Hair as gold as if she had copied the purity of the sun and eyes bluer than cornflowers, Lydia was so beautiful the light couldn’t even fade in their slum.

With her milky white skin and delicate appearance, she looked like a fairy no matter where she was or what she was wearing.

People could tell men wanted to get closer to her, but none of them had approached her yet, perhaps because her mother seemed unreachable.

Lilyca thought she was lucky. Even when her mother ran behind her with a broomstick, even when she was beaten by the owner of the house to the point where she would almost pass out.

Even though she was now eight years old, her body was so small and slender, that it would be blown up and knocked to the ground if a man struck her with one hand. She had been hit like this before because of the late rent and she had had a hard time coming to her senses.

Her head had turned, her ears had buzzed, and her mouth had tingled with blood.

Her eyes had darkened and she could see twinkling stars.

So Lilyca was worried. She worried about what would happen if bad people approached her pretty mother.

Every night she held her hands and prayed to the brightest star.

“Don’t let bad people near her. Please always keep my mother safe.”

Fortunately, the star granted her wish since her mother used to hang around the bar tirelessly without any problem.

Today was a calm day.

Because her mother had drunk too much and had fallen asleep.

Lilyca tied her dark hair tightly and got to work.

Slum children couldn’t do much. Still, Lilyca worked diligently. She had a reputation for being meticulous and not damaging or stealing food.

Lilyca has always applied the “work is credit” mindset after learning it from the shoe shiner.

Today was the day dedicated to cleaning the kitchen of the tavern.

Repeat the process of removing oil stains from the floor by rubbing them with sand and a brush, then rinsing them with water.

Her arms were shaking and sweat was running down, but Lilyca was scrubbing the floor vigorously with both hands. She liked to do something as simple as that since she could drift off to her dreams and thoughts.

Her first dream was to imagine her father’s return.

In her reverie, her father was fine, but it had taken him a long time to wrap up his business.

She imagined such a father returning with a boat full of gold and silver treasures, reuniting with Lilyca and her mother, and making them happy.

Her second dream came from a secret memory of the little girl.

As she was walking through the streets of the capital, a gentleman took pity on her and threw a silver coin at her.

She was stunned when he told her to open her apron. When she opened it, a silver coin had rolled over it, the little girl was so surprised.

“Buy something delicious and eat it.”

The gentleman had said, but she couldn’t just buy a meal with that precious coin.

Since then, Lilyca had always worn this silver coin as a talisman.

She would use that coin to buy a rooster and a hen, she would raise lots of chickens, and then she imagined herself becoming rich enough to buy goats, cows, and eventually horses.

These two dreams were lingering in Lilyca’s thoughts.

When she thought about them, she didn’t find the work difficult and she finished it quickly.

After rubbing the floor with the sand and the brush, she washed it with water. Finally, Lilyca received a big fairy tale. Five little fairy tales equal one big fairy tale, and one big fairy tale can buy a loaf of bread.

If she collects ten of these big fairy tales, she will get a nickel coin. Lilyca dreamed of having lots of gold and silver coins, but these were very, very rare.

Lilyca bought half a loaf of bread and went home. When she entered the house, she saw that her mother was still sleeping.


Lilyca gently lifted the blanket and the floorboards below. Inside was Lilyca’s secret hideout. A bag was full of coins and little fairy tales.

After caressing and checking her coin bag several times, she put it back in her pocket.

The month’s rent was inside.

If her mother found out, she would go out right away for a drink or do unnecessary things, so Lilyca had to secretly protect the money like that.

The bag was quite heavy, so it looked like there would be money left over even after paying the rent. Just thinking about it made her happy, and Lilyca smiled before closing the floor and covering it with a blanket. But suddenly,


Her mother screamed as she writhed in bed like she was having a fit.

Lilyca froze immediately.

“N-noo! It burns!! Not me! Aaah!!”

Even after her mother fell out of bed, she continued to struggle as if she hadn’t noticed. So Lilyca ran towards her.

“Mother? Mother, are you okay? Where does it hurt?”

“Save me! Live…”

Lilyca gripped her mother’s hand tightly and it wasn’t until she shuddered one last time that she stopped. She opened her trembling eyelids and looked around, but she looked haggard. Lilyca was terrified to see her in this state.

She had heard of people whose minds were damaged after abusing alcohol for too long. She feared that her mother had come to this.

“W-where am I, you, you… Impossible, Lilyca?”

Urgently, her mother lifted her upper body and grabbed Lilyca’s hand which was helping her up. Sitting down nearby, Lilyca replied,

“Yes, mother. It’s Lilyca.”

Her mother looked blankly at Lilyca. Lilyca grew impatient and stared at her.

“Mother, are you OK? We are in our house. Yesterday, uh…”

Lilyca stopped talking. Her mother was always angry when she told her that she drank too much. The little girl didn’t know what to say anymore.

“I think you must have had a bad dream.”

“Lily, you are young.”


Lilyca didn’t know what to say for a moment.

She was eight now, but if she looked younger than she did now, how old could she be? As she rolled her eyes to the ceiling to hide her embarrassment, her mother caught her breath.

“Lily, are you alive?”

“Yes? Yes! Of course, I am alive.”

Could she even dream of dying? Lilyca thought as she patted her chest.

Lydia, her eyes lifeless, looked at her daughter and added,

“Alive. Alive, b-but young. My God, how old are you Lilyca?”

“Eight years old.”

“Impossible. What is happening?”

Her mother suddenly got up from the ground and started running around the house.

“Oh my God, we’re in the ghetto. It’s impossible. This is, oh my.”

She looked out the window and around the house, then she picked up a small piece of mirror, looked at herself intently, and sucked in her breath.

“I returned…”


Lilyca slowly started to get scared. It seemed to her that her mother had really gone mad. What should she do?

She couldn’t even buy medicine, let alone pay for a doctor. She may have to spend her silver coin to call the doctor.

Determinedly, Lilyca rose from her seat.

“Oh my God! I returned! Incredible! How is it possible? Oh my God!”

Then her mother screamed again and her body stiffened.

If you approached her during such a moment, you would think that she is a very enthusiastic mother. However, it is better to avoid people who are shouting with such excitement, even in a bar. While waiting for her to calm down, Lilyca watched her without moving.

Her mother groped her limbs, touched her hair, her face, and repeated the words “I’m back.” over and over.

Then she turned to her daughter. Lilyca flinched. Her mother ran over and hovered her hand on Lilyca’s face.

Yes, it could not be otherwise.

Lilyca closed her eyes immediately, but then two hands gently touched her cheeks.

When she opened them slowly, she met the blue gaze of her mother who was very close. Then, tears streamed down her face.

“Lilyca, you are alive. My dear Lilyca. Mommy is sorry, she had it all wrong. I was so stupid. Mommy was so terribly stupid…”

Lilyca blinked in surprise and her mother hugged her.

Time and time again her mother cried, “My treasure, my precious baby, my Lilyca, I love you.” She whispered those dreamy words.

Lilyca relaxed where her mother’s body heat had touched her.

Lydia’s words began to seep into her heart.

The tears overflowed without her realising it and Lilyca cried.

She didn’t know if what she was experiencing was a dream. Yes, maybe she was dreaming, but her mother was so warm. It was so nice to hold her in her arms.

Lilyca realised it even more afterwards. Her mother stroked her hair, wiped her wet cheeks and embraced her.

After a while, and having calmed down, her mother sighed and hugged Lilyca for the last time before letting go.

For Lilyca, everything was sudden, strange and anxious at the same time. She was also worried about what would happen if her mother changed again.

“Lily, what year, month and day are it today?”

“Today is April 15 of the year 485.”

At Lilyca’s words, her mother thought for a moment, then snapped her finger.

“The Imperial Palace Ball!”

Lilyca was surprised by her sudden words but nodded. The spring ball, which no one in the capital was unaware of, would soon take place.

During this period, the capital is revitalised and even the slums are also infected by this dynamism.

It is said that nobles dressed in splendid clothes go one after another to the capital to participate in a splendid ball held at the imperial palace.

His Majesty the Emperor will also attend this year’s ball, but rumour has it that His Majesty is a terrifying person.

Parents even threatened their children like this; “If you continue to behave this way, I will send you to the emperor!”

Lilyca had heard stories of him ripping out a child’s heart in order to eat it, or freezing to death everyone he didn’t love.

She didn’t know if it was true or not, but it was said that high-ranking nobles had special abilities.

They are said to be able to control water at will, freezing anything or moving objects. Not only that, it seems they have a lot of magical tools.

It is said that His Majesty, with such powers, would have killed people to seize the throne and become the emperor. Rumours also said that His Majesty killed the former ruler.

The current crown prince is the son of the former emperor. However, the current emperor has declared that the prince will inherit the throne when he comes of age, but can we really believe that?

Anyway, most rumours said the emperor was weird and scary.

Lilyca blinked, suddenly wondering why the Imperial Ball was being discussed. Her mother grabbed Lilyca’s shoulder.

“Lily, Mommy has to attend the ball.”

It was so absurd that Lilyca couldn’t even answer.

Her mother’s blue eyes flashed like lightning.

“One way or another, I have to attend the ball and meet His Majesty. We have to take our chance now. We have to prepare today and go tomorrow…”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Lilyca started to get desperate.

She thought her mother had changed, but she was wrong to think so, even for a moment.

She was talking about the Imperial Palace.

She was talking about meeting the emperor.

Lilyca was flabbergasted, everything was so absurd.

Why didn’t her mother know what an eight-year-old knew?

“How could we even enter the Imperial Palace?”

“There is a way in. Of course, you will not wear these clothes. I need to borrow proper clothes from the pawnshop. Once that’s done, Mommy will take care of the rest. So, Lily.”

Knowing what was about to happen, Lilyca spoke with trembling lips,

“No, I don’t have the money. Mother…”

“Lily, please. Trust your mom just this once. Yes?”

Lilyca shook her head. She had to pay the rent right away, and she definitely didn’t want to be beaten again.

Besides, it was for an imperial ball. What if his mother was caught by the soldiers? No, she was definitely going to get caught.

Her mother was gentle and comforting, but Lilyca kept her lips closed.

The stubbornness of a little girl who grew up in a slum should not be taken lightly.

Finally, Lydia sighed and lifted her hands from her shoulders.

“Okay, Lily. If it’s your will, I can’t do anything.”

Lilyca lifted her head. Her mother didn’t seem particularly upset.

After thinking for a moment, her mother seized her again by the shoulders and said,

“Lily, please know one thing. Mommy will do everything she can for you. I know you are a child who can be happy even without these things. It is simply my desire, the greed of a mother who would do her best for her child. Do you understand?”

Lilyca nodded. Her mother smiled and hugged her.

“Then go to bed early today.”

At her mother’s words, Lilyca quickly pulled out half of the bread purchased earlier.

“Eat this to get better.”

At the little girl’s words, her mother looked at half the bread for a moment and said,

“Let’s share.”

The hard bread had to be cracked with force.

After sharing the bread, Lily slept in the narrow bed with her mother. She was so happy that she fell asleep without even dreaming of her silver coin.

When Lilyca woke up the next day, her mother was nowhere to be found. She saw the open wooden floor without the blanket over it.

Of course, the coins in the bag were all gone.

Confused, Lilyca collapsed on the floor. Her legs were so weak that she couldn’t help it.

She didn’t have the strength to run to catch up with her mother.


Without realising it, Lilyca began to cry out loud.

She hated her mother for the first time.

The little girl cried again and again.



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