Editor: Areth Kyantaul
A castle isn’t a nice place to spend a vacation, rather pursuing luxury and comfort in a military building is attending to the superficial and neglecting the essentials. That’s why a castle is not an ideal place to reside but rather a place for military personnel to seek shelter for survival. It’s hard to find a fairy tale here; Sunlight has no way of shining into the narrow windows. Inside the dark castle, a princess would become an old lady.
This was a castle built for the soldiers’ survival, not for enjoyment. It was built on a small island in the centre of a lake and was invincible against attackers.
A fast horse rushed to the side of the lake. The rider dressed in white pulled on the horse reins and looked at the tall castle in the centre of the lake. A moment later, she continued riding and arrived at a small town by the lake to hire a boat.
When she arrived at the front of the castle in the centre of the lake, she knocked on the door. The small window on the door slid open. A guard with a metal helmet looked at her from the door with surprise and asked, “May I ask what business you have?”
The rider removed her hat which was used to keep the wind out of her hair, revealing her ponytail and pretty face. She looked at the guard and lifted up her hand, which held a letter in it. After the wind and dust had blown by, she explained to the guard, “I am here to deliver a letter to your pope under Her Majesty’s orders. Please open up.”
“Valkyrie…” The guard reacted with shock before closing the small window. The door to the castle slowly opened and the gate rose up. Nier entered the city and turned her head around to look toward the north one last time.
She knew how dangerous it was for her to come to the church alone. The church wouldn’t dare to lay their hands on His Majesty, but she was just a mere Valkyrie. However, regardless of how dangerous the place, she had to go because she was a Valkyrie that Her Majesty trusted enough to leave it with her. Furthermore, she herself wanted to come here this time.
The gate came down and made a loud sound. The castle doors shut loudly.
Nier took a deep breath. She straightened up her lonesome and proud torso before continuing forth. She walked towards the dark inner sector of the castle. The person she was missing and worried about was heading north at this very moment…
This was the second time I was returning to the elves, but the weather wasn’t so nice this time. In fact, I got caught in heavy snowfall on the way thereby slowing me down. However, I didn’t feel lonely on my way this time as I had two young girls accompanying me this time.
One of them was Luna. I promised that I’d take her back to her home this time. Though Luna refused to return home and wanted to continue being my personal maid in humanity’s empire, I felt that she should make a trip home to her home in the elven lands, nonetheless. Consequently, Luna came with me back to the elven lands.
The other one was Freya. As a true human, I felt that it wasn’t a very good idea for her to appear in the elven lands, but she insisted that she should come along and take a look as my sister. She further stated that she wanted to see what the lifestyles of elves were like. In short, she kept pestering me and sticking to my horse, so I ended up agreeing.
And so, with the two of them accompanying me the trip was quite enjoyable.
Freya and I dismounted. We shook our capes out to get rid of the snow. Freya carefully helped Luna dismount. Luna doesn’t know how to ride a horse, so she had to share a horse with Freya.
I could sense that Luna got happier and happier the closer we got to the elven lands. She didn’t wear a hat and boldly revealed her ears as well as the head cloth I gave her.
“How many of you are there, dear customer?”
“Three. I’d like two rooms.”
“All right. Here are your keys. Please head upstairs.” Yeah, that three-people-but-only-one-room coincidence isn’t happening because we’re not travelling on a busy route. While humans and elves are trading, there aren’t many goods from humanity in winter while the elves rarely come out to buy goods. As such, the inns are always quiet in winter.
Normally speaking, the first floor of an inn is the dining area and the food and drink offered would vary by location. Many of them have their own uniqueness. However, this is my first time at this one. I previously travelled really fast, so I rarely stayed at inns. This was my first time here, but the fire on the first floor was out. You can imagine how quiet and empty it was.
When we reached the second floor, I handed the key to Freya and then said, “If something comes up at night, just call me.”
“So I can’t call you if nothing comes up, onii-sama? And I can’t go to your room if I feel lonely?” Freya asked me that with a mischievous smile. I rubbed her head and replied, “Don’t tease me like that. We’re almost at the elven lands. I’ll be dead if they smell the scent of another female on me. Elves are extremely jealous. Oh, also, Freya, I’m not ’His Majesty’ anymore, so just call me brother from now.” Luna placed her hand on Freya’s shoulder with a smile and said, “I can confirm His Maj-… I mean, His Highness is telling the truth~. Elves are very jealous creatures, especially when it comes to love. So, we had best separate from his Highness for the meantime to avoid having to have a showdown with Miss Lucia. Your Highness, we shall come and get you at dinner time.” “Let’s eat here at the inn today.”
As a royal family member, usually, my rations would be high-end things like empress-bread, dried meat, and even high-grade grape wine, but because of the horse-carriage, we couldn’t bring much. I don’t want to be on the road with nothing but berries to eat. It’s better to be a little thrifty.
“Alright, on-… I mean, brother.”
Freya chuckled softly and then shut the door with a smile on her face. I pushed the door to my room open. Nice. A simple room. I placed my bag to one side and lay down on the bed. There’s still some time until dinner. I’m going to lie here and relieve my back and butt from all the rocking atop my horse.
“Fuu… Fuu… Fuu…”
The young girl struggled as she trudged through the snow. Her long ears flapped downwards and stuck closely to her skin. She couldn’t stop wiping away the snow above her eyes as her green eyes could only see white. The next encampment was just ahead, but the heavy snow made her feel that her senses were dysfunctional. She had no choice but to rely on her memory to navigate her way. Once she arrived at the next encampment the letter will have been successfully delivered. And once they conduct an investigation on the location with magic flowing forth from it, then her mission will be complete.
She looked ahead with concern. She finally spotted a brown-yellow silhouette in the snow. Her now somewhat stiff body came back to life. She staggered as she tried to run to the handover point.
Elves aren’t well versed in survival in the snow; however, for the sake of seeing her loved one, and for the sake of rushing back, Lucia had to continue forth.
The flow of mana in the north was at a low she had never seen before as if it was virtually going to dissipate. If that continues, it could explain why the temperature was so low this year. However, Lucia was more worried about something else.
And that was more trolls. She alone had slain dozens of trolls. If this continues, there will be quite the big invasion from the trolls. So, not only did she have to pay attention to the snow and wind, but also to her surroundings where trolls looking to commit robberies may be lurking. Frankly speaking, it wasn’t tough to kill those skinny trolls, but Lucia killed a pregnant one with her own hands.
She did it for survival. Lucia was sad about it, but she couldn’t let her tribesmen be put in danger. She couldn’t let His Highness be subjected to danger again. She must protect him from the snow. She was not going to allow him to be in danger a second time.
And of course, she was not going to allow there to be a second woman.