Lucia and I walked together in the forest. I asked her: “I’ve always wanted to know why we must kill a white deer king for the deer hunting festival.”
Lucia cheerfully listened to the birds while answering me in a disheartened manner: “Because the ancestors of us elves relied on white deer to live. Long ago, white deer were a very valuable animal. When elves were sent to this continent by the gods, they also did battle with the white deer led by a white deer king for a long time. The deer hunting ceremony is to commemorate those years, and thus we kill a white deer king annually.”
If somebody told me humans and elves nearly fought to the death, I wouldn’t believe them. But thinking back to how the rabbit violently bashed me, I don’t think there are any friendly herbivores in this forest. Even if they are herbivores, I don’t think they’re going to be friendly….
“Wouldn’t the group of deer be left without a leader then?”
“No. Once we kill a white deer king, a more outstanding white deer king will take its spot. With our annual kill, there will sometimes be a stupid white deer king which won’t survive because of its inferior intellect. The death of a white deer king isn’t like the change of a dynasty. It won’t lead to their kind undergoing changes.”
Lucia stretched her limbs and then continued: “The horn of a white deer king is also very useful. It’s a miracle ingredient that can negate hundreds of poisons. The grinded powder form of a white deer king’s horn is the best venom antidote in the world. With our annual kill, we can use it to prevent diseases and people trying to poison us.”
“That’s quite pitiful for them to then.”
“It’s nothing really. Hunting a white deer king is just like hunting anything else. Further, we show enough respect to white deer king. Isn’t there a saying that goes like this: The king of one nation shall not kill the king of another nation? They’ll feel wronged if they’re killed by you, your highness.”
I looked at Lucia and said with a chuckle: “Well, you’ll be the one to fire the shot when we find the white deer king anyway.”
We walked for a long time. All I saw in the forest were trees. My sense of direction seemed meaningless in the dense forest. There was very little land beneath our feet. It was primarily comprised of countless leaves. When we stepped on them, it felt like bubbles would bubble up from underneath like walking in a marsh. The temperature was lower in the forest as well, which chilled my bones.
“Let’s find a place to rest.”
Just as we were about to walk over, Lucia quickly reached her hand out and grabbed my wrist before pushing me up against a tree. She then turned around and pressed her back against my body, removed her bow from her back and vigilantly watched the surrounding area. She softly counted, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, five people in total…. Your highness, stay behind me no matter what. Do not leave my side. They aren’t friendlies. They’re definitely not participants. They’re assassins.”
Lucia shouted loudly right after I shouted. A few arrows stopped dead in their tracks in the air. A strong wind blew over and Lucia shouted: “Whoever you people are, either run or surrender! I won’t pursue you. Take the initiative to beg for forgiveness before her highness!”
“As expected of the prince’s personal bodyguard. Impressive senses. We were discovered as soon as we drew our blades. We thought you two would’ve been off-guard while you were busy flirting. It seems we were too naive.”
I couldn’t tell which direction the voice came from. Lucia didn’t move. Instead, she maintained a stance to protect me. Her eyes dilated while her ears moved left and right like lightning. She reached for the flash stone intended to be used in emergencies on her waist. A flash of light like fireworks flashed in the air within the forest.
Lucia didn’t hesitate to call for backup immediately.
“Fufu, you’re calling for backup already? Aren’t you worried about the deer hunting festival ending and your wedding with his highness being thrown into the winds along with it?”
The individual mocked us, but I could sense that there was a trace of panic in their voice.
“Without his highness, there would be no wedding. Protecting his highness is my main mission. You should wise up. I’ve already called for backup. There’s still time for you to escape.”
The person continued with their mockery: “Our comrades are just outside. Who knows when your backup will arrive….? You’ll both probably be dead by the time they arrive!”
“Look out, your highness!!”
Lucia pushed me out of the way and evaded herself. A sword pierced the tree leaning on me a moment ago. Lucia fired off three arrows and I heard them stab into flesh. Lucia didn’t focus on fighting. She instead aggressively threw down a smoke bomb, rushed out, grabbed my hand and we escaped into the forest.
Strong gusts of wind whistled by my ear. Lucia must be moving as fast as she can. Lucia has the buffs provided by wind elves, so they shouldn’t be able to catch up.
However, we weren’t facing common elves.
Lucia suddenly stopped with astonishment. Three sharp blades suddenly slashed downwards before us. Lucia kicked me away and then took on three people. It was the first sight I caught of the assassins. They all wore hoodies. Every now and then I caught a glimpse of a piece of cloth firmly wrapped to their faces which prevented me from seeing their faces. They were dressed in tight black clothing and wielded long swords, similar to what Lucia wore for her night patrols.
I staggered as I crawled, pulled out my gun, aimed at the head of one of the three assassins charging towards Lucia and pulled the trigger. I told you I was confident with my marksmanship. However, this was the first time I aimed a gun at a living person. The bullet flew through the air and created a hole in the head of the assassin, sending him flying off to one side.
The two remaining assassins stopped in their tracks. I aimed my gun at them like I was a madman and pulled the trigger; emptying the five bullets I had remaining. Blood spurt forth from their bodies like fireworks. My bullets are the bullets from this era, just ordinary lead bullets. One dropped to the ground, while the other had yet to. Lucia then rushed forward and ran her blade through his throat.
A person suddenly appeared behind me. I turned my head around with panic and raised my gun up instinctively. I heard metal clang against metal. My hand went numb causing me to nearly drop my gun. The blade in front of me reflected my terror. The tip was less than two centimetres away from my forehead.
His blade got stuck on the gun. Lucia grabbed my clothing with one hand and pulled me to one side. The next instant, I saw blood spray forth from underneath the hoodie of the assailant that was pierced with an arrow, which splashed onto me.
“Pant, pant, pant….”
I sat on the ground paralysed as I panted and gasped for air. The sudden attack left my brain in an absolute mess. My tears flowed out uncontrollably, and my heart felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t feel my legs and had to lean against a tree trunk as I gasped for air. I desperately tried to stop my tears and calm my racing mind down.
“That should be all of them. I can’t sense anybody else’s breathing.”
Lucia vigilantly scanned the surroundings before putting away her arrows, bow and dagger, and turning her head around….
I had yet to speak.
Everything was like a dream. No, more like an event that happened all in a single instant which made me reflect for several seconds before realising I got stabbed.
The person dressed in black before me stabbed a dagger into my chest and then pulled it out. It was like a fantasy. It happened so quick it felt surreal. I looked at my chest spraying blood with astonishment, and saw Lucia shout as she ran over with despair. I could feel my strength and conscious quickly fading away as my blood flowed out. And I slowly lost conscious.
How strong and determined must those characters on television who still speak after being stabbed be? My strength and conscious faded away before I could utter a single sentence.
It was like when I drowned in that lake.
But at the end, I seemed to catch a familiar flower scent.