“Like this type which is larger than a white deer. It’s the type of deer that has a sharp horn, not the fork type. That’s a white deer king.”
In the evening, Lucia and I were on the bed, shoulder to shoulder like two young kids reading a comic book as we read a simple picture book on the bed. I really suspect that kids drew this.
“White deer lead very structured lives. During the day, they move from place to place to rest, but their resting spots are always located next to water sources, whether that’s a river or a lake. They drink water there at sunset and dawn. However, they’re on high alert during those times. As such, those are not good times to try and hunt them.”
Lucia drew randomly on the book. The pens that elves use are a type of plant-stem where a black liquid like ink is released if you squeeze it. I looked at the graffiti that looked like the handiwork of a kid on the text and pictures of the book. I think I need to remind Lucia that I borrowed the book….
“White deer usually move in groups. Of course, we don’t need to kill normal white deer. Normally, white deer king mix themselves into the group, so it’s hard to distinguish which one is the white deer king. However, we can’t act rashly because if we get detected, then they won’t return to that resting spot for a long time and we will have to go to another resting place. Consequently, we need to find a chance to find the white deer king hidden among them at night while they’re asleep and kill it with an arrow. That’s the ideal method. If we wanted to be crueller, we could poison the entire lake… I just said it for the sake of it, don’t actually do it. Otherwise, we’ll be hung up and hit even if we do kill the white deer king.”
While she said that, Lucia’s expression didn’t change. She chewed on what like a sugar cane stick as she spoke. I don’t know what it’s called either, but it tastes like sugar cane. The good part is that you don’t have to spit out bagasse. You can swallow it once you’re done chewing it like an apple.
“White deer have extremely good eyesight, but of course, its best sense is its sense of smell. I mentioned that they can smell the mana on elves and flee as soon as they smell it. White deer flee really fast. I think that I’m the only one who can catch up to them, which is why when we hunt white deer, we need to ensure we follow the direction the wind blows.
Lucia looked at me and then rolled over onto my body and said: “That’s about it. It doesn’t sound hard to accomplish, but in reality, it’s hard. We first need to locate a few of the white deer resting places, and then find the most suitable method. Using a bow and arrow is the best option, but there may be locations where we can’t use it.”
“How about setting up a trap by the lake then?”
“We can catch white deer like that, but not a white deer king…. Actually, it’ll be tough to catch even normal white deer. White deer are very sensitive about their habitat and hence will leave if there’s even a minute change to it. White deer king are more vigilant than white deer. The only time a white deer king fell for a trap was when all its other routes were unfeasible and it was forced to take that route, and happened to fall into the trap.”
I watched Lucia draw precautions to pay attention to and silently pondered to myself. I’ve never gone hunting before. I’ve only seen deer in the zoo. I don’t know what sort of living habits deer have. Traps are out, and poison is a no-go. My only option is to work according to Lucia’s experience then.
“So we need to find their resting place, then follow their migration habits for some time and finally find a chance to kill the white deer king. Of course, the other challenge we’ll face during the deer hunting ceremony are the other participants. Since everybody wants to kill the white deer king, there is bound to be tussles. But it’s alright. Participants won’t try to kill each other. If somebody gets hurt, everybody will give it their all to help out. It’s just that not everybody will help each other or provide directions. While you are the prince, they won’t help you either because all participants have things they want to realise.”
Lucia rolled over, and ate the remaining snacks. She then spoke with a mouthful making her speech unclear: “That’s about all. Goodnight, your highness. I need to head out on patrol duty now.”
I glanced at the sky outside. It was night, but I could see the dense raindrops. I looked at Lucia, feeling sorry for her and said: “You don’t need to, do you? I’ve been here for so long. It’s safe here in the elf nation. Nobody will try to kill me. It’s raining so heavily outside, so you don’t need to go out on patrol, do you?”
“Your highness, you’re safe because there are people on patrol outside.” Lucia looked at me with a serious look and continued: “The poorer the weather, the more we need to emphasise patrols. Your highness, never treat your life lightly. There are definitely people out there after your life!”
“Uhm, you’re right… In that case, I’ll be counting on you.”
I looked at Lucia and lowered my head with shame. Lucia was right. It’s exactly as she said. I’m able to happily lie on my bed and eat precisely because they’re protecting me. Lucia took out a black rain-cap from the wardrobe and wore it on her head. She then turned around to open my window and leapt out.
“Oh, yeah, Lucia. I have something I want to ask you.”
Lucia turned around to look at me and asked: “Is something the matter, your highness?”
I sat up to look at her and asked: “Everybody has a reason for participating in the deer hunting festival, so what’s your reason Lucia?”
“Didn’t you want to participate?”
“But you didn’t refuse me and you even prepared everything….”
“Idiot! Of course it’s… I… I want to get married with you too!”
Lucia quickly covered her blushing face with her black cloak, left me with some embarrassing words and quickly leapt out the window. Lucia was the one that said it so she’s the one who should be embarrassed, yet my face was burning up. I’ve never dated a girl before, and now I want to get married to such a cute girl like Lucia on a whim, so it feels surreal to me.
However, this surreal feeling makes me really happy.
Present time at some location.
Big raindrops splashed onto the leaves. A few black shadows passed by and the shadows that came from every direction sat at the table at the centre of the pavilion, and placed a cloth bag down on the table. The rain fell heavily on the tree leaves and bushes. The heavy rain covered the already suppressed voices so nobody could hear what was discussed inside.
However, what they were talking about and what they were going to carry out was on a much larger scale than the rain.
Atop the watchtower of the imperial palace
“Lucia, let’s not practice anymore since it’s raining so heavily.”
“No, I must train.”
Lucia removed her rain-cap. Her hair was soaked from the rain and was heavily pressed against her head. She desperately wiped the rain in front of her eyes. Her usually lazy looking green eyes were focused and vigilant like an eagle in the rain. The troops behind her laughed helplessly, opened the cage and a crow cawed before flying out. Their surroundings were pitch-black and the feathers of the crow seemed to disappear into the night in an instant. Lucia picked up a bow soaked by the rain, took a deep breath, aimed into the darkness and drew the bowstring.
The raindrops on the bowstring popped and scattered as mist. The death-cry of the crow rang through the air. Lucia took in a big breath of air and looked into the lights that were out in the dark. Those were the lights from his highness’s room. She took another deep breath and said: “I… I definitely must…get married to his highness! Fire!”