I had lost track of time by the time I woke up again.
The wind was whistling outside and sunlight couldn’t be seen from inside the cave.
Water dripped from my hair because it was wet inside the cave. I was covered in several layers of rabbit and deer fur. I don’t know how many animals Lucia hunted, but she used everything you could use to keep warm to cover my body. I couldn’t move my body. I could only stare at the rabbit fur in front of me. The fire went out long ago. There wasn’t even a spark left.
Lucia had left. What day is it now? I don’t know. I felt like the length of time I spent unconscious was getting longer, while the time I was conscious shortened. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. One day? Two days? This feeling of waiting for your death, knowing that it’s imminent is painful. I know my death is imminent and yet I can’t do anything about it. The despair I felt and the fear of death tortured me. I wanted to just kill myself.
But I couldn’t suicide since I couldn’t even budge a finger.
Where is Lucia now?
Is she well? Is she safe? Did she bring food with her? Has the rain outside stopped? What is she wearing? Did she equip enough weapons? Will someone ambush her…?
There’s a lot I want to know. I want to stay at Lucia’s side. The original plan was for the two of us to creep up behind a white deer king, kill it, and then return to get married. Then we’d have three or four kids, and return once every month. If possible, I’d like to stay here forever with the elves.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do. Everything has changed. I no longer have any means to do anything. I can’t do anything aside from thinking. But at the end of the day, it’s pointless to just have thoughts. You can’t materialise a reality just by thinking about it. Guns are what allow people to rule.
I now understand the meaning of power to people. You can have as many ideas as you like, but you can only realise them if you possess the power to. Without power, ideas hold no meaning. Kindness without power is meaningless kindness. You can’t realise anything without power. If you want to make the world a beautiful place, you need to be more powerful than evil.
Being powerless, I couldn’t even protect myself. In fact, I even dragged Lucia down.
I need to obtain the power necessary to protect myself and Lucia.
Perhaps this world isn’t as beautiful as I thought it was. Conspiracies and schemes fill this world. They’re either directed at me or those around me. Does my kindness hold any value in the face of these conspiracies and schemes? I wanted to receive the friendship of others when I treat them friendly, but does my kindness have any meaning if they’re holding a sword in their hand?
Mom wants for me to be kind since she can protect me. Is my kindness a gift from the heavens? Or is it just dead-weight? Or is it just a shackle?
How come I’m starting to question my previous idea of harmony and friendship? I seem to have realised that we were able to express kindness and be reciprocated because we had laws acting as our shield. It allowed us to be kind and punish evil, but what about now? The empress is the law. Nier said that the empress is the one who holds the right to kill. Am I being excessively kind by using the kindness of somebody being protected as criteria for evaluating the one protecting the protected?
Wait… Don’t I need the horn of a white deer king…? The horn of a white deer king… Why…? Why…? I’m sensing a familiar feeling… Like… Like I’ve seen the horn of a white deer king somewhere before… No… It wasn’t when I got threatened by it, but… but…
I feel really light headed. Everything before my eyes was spinning like a whirlpool. My conscious which I had trouble maintaining disappeared yet again and the world fell into darkness once again. As for when I’ll wake up next, I have no idea. Each time I wake up could very well be my last.
Lucia spat out some grass roots. She knelt down by a lake, scooped up rainwater and drank mouthfuls. She then stood up and checked the traces by the lake. The white deer king left behind lots of traces here, which meant that it drank from nearby the lake many times already. That meant the white deer king was close by.
Lucia staggered along as she followed the traces left behind by the white deer king. She held her bow and arrows as she walked like a zombie across the open grass area. She had bloodshot eyes and was so worn out she looked lifeless. She felt like she was going to collapse and never be able to stand back up with each step she took, as though her legs could no longer hold up her weight. Her eyes were so dry she couldn’t form a tear. The remainder of her conscious was focused on just one goal.
Kill the white deer king.
Kill the white deer king.
Kill the white deer king.
She could save his highness if she killed it. The white deer king was definitely close by. The winds weren’t blowing so it wouldn’t detect her scent. Lucia gripped her bow and arrow in her hand tightly. She got rid of everything else to lighten the load she had to carry. If it were possible, she wouldn’t object to stripping either.
Her leather armour felt like a block of lead on her.
Lucia walked in the opposite direction the water flowed and through a forest. She sniffed around like a dog. When she stopped there, her lifeless eyes became alert in an instant. She scanned the vicinity, pulled out a few grass roots and shoved them into her mouth. She treated it as strength replenishment rations. She then took a deep breath and her eyes locked on to the spot beneath a tree.
Her entire body shuddered. She knelt down and impatiently crawled a few steps like a dog. She then crawled on the ground. She quivered as she raised her head and looked in a particular direction.
The white deer king rested there last night.
The rain caused its scent to be left on the grass and easily detectable. It wasn’t just the scent of mana. She could even smell the scent of its skin. Lucia violently widened her eyes like a wolf that spotted its prey. Her otherwise powerless limbs sprung back to life, and her tired heartbeat beat like a war drum. Lucia grabbed all the grass in her shirt and stuffed it into her mouth. She chewed it until it became like mud and spread it on her face. She then plucked tree branches and leaves from a tree to her side, stuffed them into her hair and leather armour, ran to the edge of the lake, took a deep breath and then quickly leapt in.
A second later, Lucia came out of the water and wiped her eyes.
“Your highness… I’m coming to save you now.”
Lucia’s green eyes showed determination as strong as steel. Lucia picked up her bow and arrow, carefully yet resolutely treaded towards the last location of the white deer king. The white deer king rested here yesterday so this should logically be the group’s gathering spot. Therefore, the white deer king will be here for the day.
Lucia now had the chance to give meaning to her existence.
Don’t miss…. I beg you… I beg you, goddess… Please don’t let me miss. Please show pity for your people. Please do not let him die to traitors. I beg you. I beg you, please hear my voice. Don’t let me miss. Please let me kill the white deer king with a single arrow….
Lucia prayed in her heart while she took in a deep breath and entered the shrubs.