Editor: Areth Kyntaul
The horses slowly made their way across the lush green plains and up-heaved a bit of the soil when it trod through the fields. There was smoke coming from within the forests in the distance.
“Have a rest here for now. We’ll arrive at Galle Village tonight.”
I dismounted and let go of the reins. The horse neighed like it was stretching out and then paced over to an open spot to lazily curl up on the grass.
Freya carefully helped Luna dismount.
Luna looked at the fire in the distance with excitement. She jogged over to the edge of the soil, opened her arms wide, and spun around with a smile. She held my hand, excitedly pointing at the smoke in the distance.
“Your Highness, that is my village. Look at the smoke over there. That is the gathering spot, and over there is the lake. Can you see that bright line? If you continue forward from there you will reach our temple. I can almost see the gold roof over there!” she exclaimed.
I smiled and followed the directions she pointed in. In my sight, I caught the large land and forests extending into the distance. Next to the lake was a green lawn that was augmented by the colours, which made it look as beautiful as a luxurious single-colour carpet. That must have been the temple Luna lived in.
Freya walked up to us and narrowed her eyes to take a look. She then sighed hopelessly and said, “Why can’t I see anything? I just see a sea of flowers.”
“That’s because we are elves.”
Luna chuckled softly. She then pulled me over to the lawn to sit down.
Freya brought over food and water from the horse saddle and we sat on the lawn for a break.
It’s not comfortable to sit on a horse for an extended period of time. And the farther we went this direction, the fewer inns there were, as though inns didn’t exist for elves. And so, we had to make camp out in the wild.
But the camp we made in the wild this time wasn’t as comfortable as last time when I was with Lucia. We didn’t know how to set up a tent, and as for setting up fires; I had to rely on mom’s potions. I used it extremely cautiously because a single drop was enough to scare me into thinking I’d cause a forest fire.
A few huge rabbits hopped over from below us. They looked at me vigilantly. I didn’t intend to solo them this time. And there were a few of them, so I’d get beaten to death against them.
I still have nightmares after getting pummelled by the rabbit last time. That was the first time I got beaten up like that by my own food. I don’t think even horses are able to fight as well as they can. The corner of my mouth turned up into a smile without me realising when I thought about my adventure in the wild with Lucia last time.
Luna looked at me and asked with a chuckle, “Your Highness, is there something making you happy?”
I swallowed the piece of dried-meat in my mouth, had some grape wine to drink and then replied, “Ah, no, I just recalled participating in the deer hunting festival with Lucia last time. If the events that took place afterwards didn’t take place, it would’ve been a very blissful experience.”
“Is that so? With Miss Lucia? Your relationship with the to-be princess is so good.” Luna laughed softly.
I gave her a nod. It really was a beautiful experience. I will never forget the starry night sky and the warmth of her palm. It’s just that what happened after was even more unforgettable.
*Caw* *Caw* *Caw*
We heard wing flaps and caws from overhead. I raised my head up and saw a black bird… It wasn’t a crow, though. I didn’t know what it was either, but it seemed to be… circling overhead.
That’s the messenger-bird the Shadow Squad uses. I took out a bird-whistle from my pocket and blew it. The bird flew down and landed on my forearm. It stretched its leg out, and I took the letter from its foot. It adjusted its feathers, picked up a piece of dried meat, took a sip of the grape wine and then took off again towards the village.
I opened the letter in my hand. It was a map of Galle Village. It looks like the Shadow Squad have gotten a handle on the terrain of Galle Village. I dangled a piece of meat in my mouth as I earnestly looked at it.
Galle Village is fundamentally the same as every other village. It’s a rounded cluster with the village chief’s residence at the centre on a small higher block of land. There were two gates, one of which was connected to the temple and the other connected to the large plain.
The large plain is a large grassy plain, too. It’s a place humans commonly go to. It’s a bit of an exaggeration to call it a large plain actually. But, the interior of the forest can be considered a large plain. The stables and the house Luna spoke of were over there.
Then there are small houses in the surroundings. Once you exited the gate that’s connected to the temple you would reach the farming fields. But it looks like the area isn’t big.
However, the elven population isn’t large anyway, so I presume they don’t have a lot of cultivated land.
Luna leaned over to look at the map in my hand in silence. She then spoke in a nostalgic tone, “Is this the current Galle Village? How nostalgic. It’s the same as I remember it. Uhm, that’s how it basically looks like, but this map doesn’t reach the temple… To be honest, I really want to go and take a look.”
“Let’s go and take a look then.”
I handed the map to Luna and added, “We don’t have that much time, this time, but not so little that you don’t get a chance to see your home.”
“Really?! Thank you, Your Highness!”
“But let me remind you of something. Do not call me ‘Your Highness’ no matter what. Do not let my identity be exposed. I deliberately didn’t wear my clothes as a prince. Luna, just refer to me by name.” I looked at Luna and said, “Try it out.”
Luna reacted with surprise. She waved her hands non-stop and replied, “That… that is not a very good idea is it, Your Highness?!”
“I told you not to call me ‘Your Highness.’”
I looked at Luna and said, “It’s not an offence. It’s to protect me. I don’t want to alert the enemy.”
Luna looked at me blankly. She slowly started to blush. She pinched her chin and lowered her head. In a soft voice, she called me, “Tr-… Tr-… Tr-… Troy…”
“See, you can do it.”
I scrubbed her head. Luna went red in the face and smiled with embarrassment. Freya looked at us out of the corner of her eye and went “Hmph.”
Nier supported herself with the table and tried her best to keep herself up. She clenched her teeth angrily as she looked at the soldiers coming up to surround her. Even though she was a Valkyrie, she had been affected by the anaesthetic. However, her fury kept the armed soldiers at bay. Nier looked at them angrily. She trembled as she drew her sword and asked, “What… what did you do to me?!”
“Valkyrie, do you feel like your body is burning up while your lower abdomen is numb?”
The Pope laughed out loud and exclaimed, “That’s a symptom of you getting turned on. You can still act arrogant now, but soon you’ll be reduced to a dog begging us!”
Nier picked up the dinner knife by the side and stabbed it into her forearm. The pain cleared her mind for a while. She took a quick step forward and swung her sword. Blood spurted into the air like fireworks going off. A few people dropped to the ground with a thud, but Nier fell to her knees too. Her legs were quaking intensely. Crystal-clear drops dispersed the blood on the ground…
“Give up, Valkyrie. How much longer can you resist?”
The red anger on Nier’s face far surpassed excitement. She stared at the Pope intently and roared, “My body is His Majesty‘s! I won’t allow anyone besides him to touch me! I’ll bite the head off any of you who dares to come near me!”
Not one of them dared to approach her when they saw her expression.
The Pope was astonished. He quickly turned around and whispered to the merchant, “We made a mistake! We made a mistake! She’s not a Valkyrie! She’s… the prince’s woman!”
“Shut up! Shut up! I know that too! We have no way out now! Knock her out and take her away, and then we’ll come up with a plan after!!”