Ferreting Them Out of the Woods
Protecting my family needed to be my priority regardless of who was out for me. The assassins weren’t hooligans trying to rob us but trained assassins. Last night’s attempt was just to see how we’d react. They were skilled enough at concealing themselves and retreat that Angelina couldn’t locate them. They or he was a good plotter. I had no clue who I offended to have assassins on me tail.
Armed at all times both mentally and physically ever since the enemy tested the waters, Angelina brandished a sword and arrow as she rode up to the side of the carriage and quietly asked, “Did you tell Queen Sisi about Veirya’s pregnancy?”
“Yeah, I sent her a letter….”
It was fairly obvious what Angelina implied, but I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t think Sisi was the type who w-, okay, Sisi did tacitly agree to an assassination before. She wouldn’t think that I’d choose her if she killed Veirya, though. If anything, that would result in me completely breaking off my fragile allegiance to the empire. If Sisi were to try that while the empire needed me, she’d have to be drunk silly. There was nothing unreasonable Angelina’s conjecture, having said that, because such professional assassins couldn’t have been ones found in a bar or hired robbers.
“Then, would she be…”
Angelina didn’t dare to make mindless statements since she was literally accusing the empire’s Queen, so she just threw out a vague question.
“It can’t be. It’s not Sisi for sure. She’s not that stupid. There must be someone else who put them up to it. We’ll be safe once we reach the imperial capital. Let’s pick up the speed. Additionally, I need you on high alert at night, Angelina.”
Going out without a bodyguard was a fatal mistake of mine. If we had bodyguards, we wouldn’t be so on edge. In the past, there was Angelina, Anna and Veirya, so I didn’t need them. However, as a pregnant woman, Veirya couldn’t and didn’t want to fight. Ciara, who was positive that I was the target of interest, had to protect her Queen, so Anna and Angelina had to bodyguard three people.
“I’m fine with that. You just need to compensate me fairly,” Angelina demanded.
I’d partially attribute my low energy to Angelina, so you tell me how to feel.
Suddenly, Angelina raised her shield, and I heard a thud soon afterwards. I didn’t know where the arrow plugged into her shield was fired from. Veirya snapped the arrow and threw it aside then told me, “I should. Ride on horseback. I think. You need protection.”
“Veirya, you’re pregnant,” I argued. “What if you’re their target? It’s safe h-”
“No, their target is you,” interjected Angelina. “Though I can’t explain it, based on my analysis, neither Veirya nor I are the target; you’re their target. When we were together outside last night, the arrow was fired at you. This arrow wasn’t figured at me, either. It was fired at the carriage, so they should be after you.”
Leah gripped her arm. I wasn’t certain if she was worried about me or herself. I stroked Leah’s head and affectionately assuaged, “It’ll be all right, Leah. Don’t worry. You’ll be safe.”
“Uhm… Papa, Leah is worried about you. Shall Leah help, as well?”
“Mm… Not for now…”
I light bulb lit up in my head.
Wait… if Leah helps out… I… think I have a good idea… The assassins must’ve looked into me. That’d explain how they knew I was heading back to the imperial capital from the North. That means they must know me well. As that is the case, they would know that I don’t have many people with me. Anna, Angelina, Veirya and Leah, that’s three adult sand a child. Very few people, Sisi, included, in the empire know that Leah can transform. As such, the assassins wouldn’t know Leah isn’t exactly a child. In that case, they would look at us as two adults, a child in the carriage and two adults guarding the carriage, specifically Anna and Angelina.
If I have Leah transform into her adult form and ride outside in Veirya’s clothes, then they would make the mistake of thinking that I’m the only adult in the carriage. They wouldn’t consider a nine-year-old child to be a threat. Since I’m their target, the best time to take my life would be when there’s nobody in the carriage. When they think that there’s nobody else in the carriage, I can have Angelina spring on the rats in the dark. I’m vulnerable, while the enemy is in the dark, which is bad for us. If they show themselves, however, it’ll be easy to put a stop to the plans, and I can capture one to interrogate them to find out who I accosted.
“There’s nobody in the carriage. Veirya has left the carriage. We’ve achieved our goal it seems. It’s time to lure the guards away to kill the man inside and pack up. Don’t worry about the child; just destroy the carriage.”
Dark green silhouettes rushed out of the forest to carry out their order from the dark. Their prey’s struggling had shaken the web. It was time for the spider to kill its prey with venom and then feast. Alas, the spider was unaware that those who hunt their hunters will sometimes lure the hunter with food.
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