Ever After

Idike is a singularity within Ludwig Revolution’s narrative in at least two ways: Firstly, she is the only bride candidate to make another actual appearance after her story has been told. Secondly, it is strongly implied that she is the only woman Lui holds genuine affection — if not love — for. The reason she is mentioned again in later chapters despite not being considered a recurring character (unlike, say, Lisette from Little Red Riding Hood) is that Lui keeps her in his memory, and the story acknowledges that.

Just one chapter after Idike’s passing and still within the first volume, Lui is pursuing Amelia in Bluebeard, willing to go as far as snatching her away from the man she has been promised to after seeing her reluctance to that marriage. When Wilhelm confronts him to ask whether that questionable behaviour is motivated by love, Lui mocks him. He reasons that since he has been ordered to return with a bride, she should at least be to his liking (that is to say she should be well-endowed), which has nothing to do with love.

Lui is written as a superficial character, especially on the outside, and to Wilhelm, his master’s obsession with the exterior — and breasts specifically — is nothing new. These words, however, are followed up with a wistful look on Lui’s face as he thinks to himself “The one I truly love is the one I cannot have…” (“The one I wanted is already beyond my reach…” in the scanlation version), with a silhouette of Idike appearing in his thoughts. It’s a very quiet and private moment, and both Lui and Idike are portrayed very tenderly, as Idike is holding flowers.

The encounter with Idike may still be fresh on his mind because they have only just left what used to be the Briar Castle (Bluebeard is mentioned at the end of Little Briar Rose chapter), but I think this scene can still be interpreted as Lui holding on to his feelings for her without intending to replace her spot in his heart, no matter how his journey ends.

Next, Idike is among the characters who receive a character blurb on the introduction page in the second volume of the series, which serves to (re)familiarize readers. It’s telling that Idike — despite not making a physical appearance in that volume — is deemed important enough to be featured up there with Lui and his companions. The blurb mentions Lui’s affection for Idike.

In the first chapter of the second volume, Lui feels attracted to the titular Rapunzel and decides to get to know her, even though he can’t tell why he feels that way at first. Rapunzel is moody, aggressive and violent, and seems all too willing to ditch her beloved (the young prince who regularly climbs her tower) to join Lui’s kingdom instead. However, when Lui is about to free her from her imprisonment as she wished, she hesitates and her face distorts in anguish. It is in that moment that Lui remembers Idike’s crying face and understands why Rapunzel caught his attention.

She’s somehow similar to her… in the habit of putting up a strong front.

To be honest, I don’t see what about Rapunzel’s first impression was supposed to resemble Idike as Rapunzel was choking a bird at that very moment, but I do love this epiphany and agree that after Little Briar Rose, Lui is shown to be particularly taken by girls and women who try to hide their own pain.

Shortly afterwards, Rapunzel throws out her prince during a temper tantrum. As she gazes at him from atop the tower, she blames her long imprisonment on her parents, the bad fairy and her beloved. Lui says aloud that she’s similar to Idike in that regard too, perhaps more so to himself than to Rapunzel, as he doesn’t elaborate. It’s a well-drawn comparison, as both Rapunzel and Idike seemingly push the blame on everyone except themselves to make their own situations more bearable — the contradiction is that even as they lash out at others, they wish to be rescued from that loneliness. Or, as Idike put it, to break through the thorns, especially the ones they’ve set up themselves.

When Rapunzel has another fit of anger and causes a lot of destruction with dire consequences later on, Lui calls out to her:

“I knew a girl who was much like you. This loss of control is feigned…! When you don’t feel accepted, you wail and throw a tantrum. How unreasonable… You test Silvio’s love, then judge him… But that girl opened her eyes to the truth and fought. You, however, aren’t even trying to accept his love or to love him…” You’re just waiting for a prince to climb that ladder…

It’s such a sweet moment because Lui, who is usually loud, arrogant and pompous, without caring much about what people may think of him and whether or not they understand him, is speaking of Idike openly. What’s more, he’s doing so to reach out to someone in a similar situation, even if it’s served as criticism (as was the case with Idike).

True enough, when Lui checks up on Rapunzel half a year later, she has managed to get her life in order thanks to his words, and has learned to love after giving birth to her children. In one of Lui’s gentle moments, he remarks that she looks more charming than ever in her new-found happiness. He offers her the throne once more as he caresses her, and her response is one of my favourite moments in the series:

“But… Is this truly the hair that you wanted to stroke? You… were always looking into the distance. Don’t we both actually love someone else?”

Lui’s gaze shows his surprise at her accurate observation, and he smiles silently in defeat. What Rapunzel’s words prove is that after all this time, Idike is still in Lui’s heart.

Surprisingly, Idike makes an actual appearance in the last volume during The Salt Princess, a multi-chapter tale that serves as the conclusion of the overarching plot. The witch Dorothea — the one who “cursed” Idike and contributed to her hundred-year-sleep — has been accompanying Lui on his quest, and now that he’s in mortal danger, she has split from the group to carry out a secret mission. Unbeknownst to Lui, she returns to the former Briar Castle to seek out Idike.

By burying a thorn sapling in the earth, she awakens the dormant witch blood in the princess and asks her for help, as her own powers aren’t enough. Idike, however, isn’t too pleased about being woken from her natural slumber, and her figure hovers ominously in the air:

“I don’t know your intentions. But he is an arrogant man who thinks that the whole world revolves around him.”

Dorothea doesn’t ask Idike to forgive her, but beseeches her to lend a hand for Lui’s sake, and confesses that it is in his presence alone that she feels at ease and can be herself. At this, Idike finally smiles and agrees to be taken to Lui’s side, saying that she feels the same way about him. It’s quite the gorgeous scene because the focus is on both Idike and Lui’s bond as well as the mutual understanding and connection between Idike and Dorothea.

Many have tried to enter the Briar Castle. But the only one I could be truly honest with… was him.

During the series’ climactic all-out battle, a lindwurm — dragon — rises as the ultimate threat, but Dorothea returns just in time to stop its rampage — with thorny vines that drain its magic powers. When Lui hears the words “thorns” and “magic”, he immediately thinks of Idike. It is her spirit that channels the thorns which restrain the dragon and allow it to be taken down. Once the battle has ended, Idike’s spirit manifests at Lui’s side and calls out to him, and he responds in kind.

“You’re such a baby… You always need someone to save you. Don’t ever make me come to a place like this again. There’s no other woman in the world who can stand you like I do. When you give up searching for a princess, come to me. Because I’ll always be there for you.”

Lui gives her a melancholic smile and gently accepts her kiss before she vanishes again. It may be a typical romantic scene, but it’s sweet in how it shows two people who know that they are significant to each other, even with one being dead and one being on an indefinite search for a bride.

“Yes, I guess I’ll come one day… My sleeping beauty…”

Ludwig Revolution is set in the land of fairy tales, so Idike “living on” as a spirit also isn’t that strange of an idea. After this exchange, Idike only appears again on the cover illustration of the final chapter as well as on the ending illustration — as an angel at Lui’s side while his quest goes on.