When I woke up the next day, I was almost incapable of standing up.
It wasn’t because my legs were frozen numb, but because our clothes from yesterday were covered in snow, which the fire melted. The air behind us, on the other hand, was very cold, thereby causing the parts of our coats that were in contact with the ground to freeze up and attach to the ground. It was frozen stiff. Philes had to break it with his sword in the end.
The weather outside was the same. It was still snowing and blowing cold winds. We made ourselves a warm breakfast using the fire. It took ages for the rye bread we boiled in water to soften up. However, that was the most appropriate food to bring on our journey. I couldn’t bring luxurious foods in these conditions, so I had no choice but to suffer with my men.
After we finished breakfast, we exited the cave, only to discover that our horses oddly formed a circle.
Under normal circumstances, horses gather together instead of forming a circle, like this, as gathering together would help each other stay warm. Forming a circle, like this, made it clear they were trying to protect something inside the circle.
I walked over to the centre of their circle and paused.
I didn’t see anything that surprised me, but it was the contrary. I was bewildered, for I didn’t see anything.
There was nothing, but white snow on the ground. The only difference from yesterday was that our traces from yesterday had been covered by the snow.
Karana wrapped her thick cloak around her then walked up to me to ask, “Your Majesty, did something happen?”
I scratched my head and replied, “It’s strange, precisely because nothing happened…”
Karana smiled, and then responded, “I feel the opposite way. I am very glad that nothing happened. If something happens in this weather, it will be very dangerous. Since nothing happened, let us not waste any more time. Let us get going, Your Majesty. We will see a small path once we reach the top.”
“All right, let’s get going, then.”
Just as I turned around and went to grab my horse, my horse suddenly bit my cloak and pulled me with all its might. I looked at my horse, feeling dumbfounded. I was completely baffled by what it was trying to do. It pulled me into the centre of their circle then faced up to the sky and neighed. I was still baffled when I looked at it. I had no idea what it was trying to do.
Karana looked at us, feeling dumbfounded, too. She then, suddenly, bent over at her waist and quickly swept the snow aside, revealing a red silhouette in the white pile of snow. It resembled a scene of blood flowing out from it.
Karana picked up the red body. She nervously looked at me. She passed me the small body and stuttered, “Your Majesty… Wh-Why… is there an anthropoid here…? Why….?”
I blankly looked at the girl in my arms. She was wearing very thin clothing. Her face under her hoodie was frighteningly pale. Her black eyebrows were virtually glued together by ice. Her lips were totally pale. She was curled up as though she wouldn’t ever wake again.
My suspicion was soon proven, because where she had two holes at the top of her cloak, there were two long, pointy and furry ears sticking out of them. They were different to elves’ ears. Her long ears were covered with short and smooth red fur. I could feel something fluffy with my arm I was carrying her with.
‘Is this a tail?’
“Don’t move out for now!! Don’t move out! Return into the cave! Guards, gather at the entrance! Prepare for battle! Stay vigilant!!”
I carried the girl in my arms into the cave. Karana looked at me with confusion and followed in behind me. I turned my head around to look at her sternly and said, “The back of this girl’s cloak was cut open with blades, which indicates that she’s being chased. Whatever the case is, an anthropoid being chased by other anthropoid, is an anthropoid that I need. I’m positive that there are pursuers chasing her right now. I won’t let a god-sent gift to me get snatched away!”
After carrying the girl that appeared who knows when or where, I desperately grabbed a handful of snow from outside and brought it in. After removing the girl’s plain clothes, her entire body was revealed to me. She had a perfect body. She was an anthropoid, but the only beast parts she had were her long furry ears and her long and furry red tail. Her tail was particularly smooth. Her tail was also the only warm body part of hers.
I desperately rubbed her body with the snow.
‘I don’t know if my knowledge from the other world is applicable here, but I think it should be fine.’
Karana helped me out. I removed my clothes, and then tightly embraced her before wrapping us both up with an overcoat.
“Don’t die… Don’t die… Don’t die, damn it…! Don’t die!”
I leaned the girl’s small, but beautiful face on my shoulder. Her long ears were lightly touching my head. I tightly hugged her as I desperately attempted to warm her up.
When I thought about it after, that must’ve been our first skin-to-skin contact.
Our skin was tightly glued together. I used my body heat to warm up her frozen body. I made physical contact with the pretty and cute young girl the first time we met. We didn’t know each other’s names. I didn’t know where she came from or even what race she was, but here we were, tightly glued together, exchanging our body temperature.
“Your Majesty! We have an enemy! We are under attack! We are under an enemy attack!!”
I heard the sounds of blades clanging outside, as well as howls that sounded akin to the cries of beasts. Karana, who was next to me, looked on edge. She stared outside without looking away. Her lips quivered, “Your Majesty… they are this anthropoid’s pursuers, right…? Your Majesty, I need to tell you that the anthropoids are much more formidable fighters than humans are… They have very thick fur. and even if you pierce their fur, unless it is a fatal wound, they do not seem to… We lost seven or eight men just to hunt two of them…”
Philes came over to us completely covered in blood while the racket was going on outside. His cloak was covered in blood that had frozen. The fierce wind couldn’t even get a corner of his cloak to budge. He walked up to us and tossed two furry heads with fangs down. He panted and reported, “There are over ten of them left outside. I think that you would not wish to see so many, so I brought back two.”
Karana looked at Philes with utter disbelief. Philes didn’t pay attention to Karana’s gaze. He, instead, scanned the heads on the ground with curiosity, and then asked, “Your Majesty, are these anthropoids?”
“No, they’re dead people.”
I looked at the girl in my arms. I grabbed hold of her hands and noticed that her hand was gradually warming up, while her body was slowly regaining suppleness. I looked at Philes and added, “Continue standing on guard. Prepare the horses. As soon as this girl comes to, we’re returning. It’s baffling to me that there are only about a dozen of them. There might… be even more coming.”