Author: alyalia

“Your Highness, are you really thinking of returning to the capital?”

 

“I am.”

 

Enok, Prince of Chewin Kingdom, responded calmly to Chancellor Larut’s question.

 

“Why are you trying to die? The Chewin Kingdom has already been occupied by the enemy. It’s better to hide somewhere else…”

 

“There are still the people of our kingdom there.”

 

“!”

 

Larut’s face hardened as if he had been struck by lightning.

 

“…Are you serious?”

 

At Larut’s serious question, Enok smiled playfully and said, “Serious or not, I will head for the capital. Why are you making that face? Didn’t you want to go back to the capital?”

 

Larut did not reply. As Enok said, Larut wanted to return to the capital at once. During the invasion of the Kelteman Empire, even when other nobles fled abroad with their wealth, he remained to the end to protect the royal family and the kingdom. Had it not been for the king’s order to help Prince Enok confront the enemy in the canyon, he would have resisted and fought in the capital even to the moment of his death.  

 

However, the king and royal family didn’t care about the safety of their people. They just create conditions for them to escape and spread the rumor that the royal family was hiding in the canyon and fighting. In contrast, the royal family secretly fled to another place. They left only Prince Enok, the most outgoing and complacent among them.

 

Prince Enok, who was exceptionally affectionate and docile, accepted this silently and performed his duties. Larut realized while being by Enok’s side. The fact that the prince loved the kingdom as much as he did and cared for the people. However, there must still be the Kelteman army in the capital, and Enok was a man who shouldn’t be seen by them.

 

“I’m worried that the people might have been harmed.”

 

“Since the Kelteman Empire only targets the royal family and nobility, they shouldn’t have suffered much damage.”

 

Since there was no army to fight, the Kelteman Empire would have easily taken over the Chewin Kingdom. All the troops were gone with the royal family.

 

“The wheat field… I don’t know if it’ll be okay,” Enok said, recalling the wheat field, the long-cherished desire of the Chewin Kingdom, and the product of love and hatred. In fact, he wished he could take this opportunity to burn them away. It reminded him of the farmer who grew old without reaping any harvest, despite hanging on to the king’s unattainable dream.

 

What did the farmers say in a land where not a grain of wheat grows? The farmers merely followed the king’s command, but did they truly desire to grow wheat? At the moment when Enok was immersed in contemplation, the soldier who had been scouting earlier returned.  

 

“Y-Your Highness! In front of us…”

 

“What’s going on? Calm down, then talk.”

 

Larut quietly approached the soldier, whose face had become contemplative and unable to speak.

 

“T-that’s…”

 

Enok asked the soldier, who was hesitating, again in a calm voice. “It’s okay. Whatever you have seen, don’t be afraid to tell me.”

 

The soldier closed his eyes tightly, opened them, and opened his mouth with a very frightened face. “C-Corpses.”

 

Enok and Larut’s faces hardened at the word of corpses. Corpses were found on the way to the capital of the Chewin Kingdom. It was never good news.

 

“What about the enemy?”

 

“The enemy was nowhere to be seen. They seemed to have already left…”

 

Fear still lingered on the soldier’s face even after the enemy left. Why?

 

“What’s the matter? Why are you shaking so much?”

 

When Enok noticed that the soldier’s legs were shaking enough that he couldn’t stand properly, he asked. The soldier gave strength to his trembling legs and replied as if shouting.

 

“They’re piled up! T-the corpses… piled up in heaps!”

 

“!”

 

Enok and Larut’s eyes met.

 

“It must be him. The Kelteman’s mad dog, Are.”

 

After a while, Larut and his soldiers, who examined heaps of corpses, returned to Enok and said, “No one is alive. They are truly cruel.”

 

“Did you identify the corpses?”

 

At Enok’s question, Larut bit his lips and opened his mouth. “They must be Count Rawi and his soldiers.”

 

“Count Rawi…”

 

Count Rawi was the first to flee when the war with Kelteman began.

 

“Considering that he was the first to run away, the results weren’t good,” said Enok, looking at the heaps with regret.

 

Count Rawi was also born and raised as a noble and lived a luxurious life. However, his wealth and position didn’t prolong his life. Without grand tombs or lavish burials, they just became a bunch of limps.

 

“Everything is useless… until the end.”

 

Enok quietly closed his eyes and prayed for them.  

 

“…”

 

Larut grieved to the death of Count Rawi, regardless of his flawed personality and loyalty. In order to rebuild the kingdom, it was necessary to maintain the nobility. Seeing that even the first to flee nobles ended up in such a state, it was unlikely that the remaining nobles would be alive. And the royal family might not be safe either.

 

If so… Kingdom of Chewin… Larut feared the rebuilding of Kingdom Chewin might not be possible.

 

“Are there any traces of the enemy?”

 

Is he not feeling shaken at all? Larut looked at Enok, who had a surprisingly calm face, and soon dropped his gaze.

 

“The enemy was confirmed to have moved, and the footprints showed that they were heading towards the canyon, perhaps going back to the camp of the Kelteman Empire.”

 

Enok frowned as he looked in the direction of the canyon in the distance.

 

“Baroness Devit…”

 

If she was lucky, she might be able to reach her destination without running into him. But if she was out of luck…

 

I hope you don’t run into him.

 

Enok is just praying for her luck.

 

* * *

Munch! Munch! Munch!

 

“Can’t you eat quietly? It’s so uncultured!”

 

I was extremely annoyed to the point of using the word ‘uncultured,’ which I usually hated. Dondon turned her head, ignoring my remarks.

 

Munch! Munch!

 

And she proudly put grapes in her mouth and sucked them, making an unpleasant sound.

 

Grit. From my fine teeth came the sound of the bloody friction.

“We’ll see. When I achieve my purpose… I won’t let you go.”

 

I’ll beat her on the head so that she will become shorter.

 

Despite my fierce warning, Dondon only sucked and swallowed the grapes.

 

“Let’s see, much! I’m not afraid, munch! Of anything, much!

 

“I’ll let you know that’s a story from before you knew me. You little shit.”

 

There was a good reason for me to be so angry.

 

Dondon used a colorfully decorated cart as a means of transportation, not a carriage. The thin, soft fabric fluttered in the wind where my gaze was directed, revealing Dondon’s relaxed appearance. Our gazes collided.

 

If normally I looked down at Dondon, it was the opposite now. I was fairly tall, but Dondon looked down at me from a higher place with an arrogant expression.

 

“Are you okay?” Charter, who was walking next to me, asked, looking at my complexion.

 

“It’s hot, hard, and annoying.”

 

Obviously, the Harpion Empire had entered a cool autumn, but it was still hot here, and my legs hurt from walking too much. Moreover, this little shit next to me made my nerves sharpen.

 

“Let’s take a break and continue.”

 

Words were heard from the other side of me. It was from Paku. When I said I was having a hard time, he quickly asked Dondon to stop the march.

 

“Noisy. If yu want to stay alive, shut ap and walk quietly.”

 

Dondon was harsh even to her own brother.

 

It was then.

 

(Stop!)

 

Dondon suddenly stopped the march with a loud voice. Then she jumped out from her seat, pulled back the cloth that blocked the sunlight, and began to sniff.

 

Sniff. Sniff. I can smell it.”

 

“What do you smell? All I can smell is the smell of soil and sweat.” I murmured.

 

Dondon frowned and continued sniffing. “It smells… cuning and… disgusting.”

 

“It must be the smell of your breath.”

 

At my sudden words, Dondon blinked and asked, “My… what?”

 

At Dondon’s question, I pointed at her mouth with my finger. At the same time, Dondon’s face turned red and shouted.

 

“What! The top of yur head smells worse!”

 

“What! Then let me wash up!”

 

It had been a week since I was swept away by the river. I hadn’t even washed properly since I got out of the river. Far from shining, I put my loose hair up in a loose ponytail, with the combination of dust and my hair oil entangled in it.

 

“Wat a waste of water!”

 

“It’s more wasteful to go in your mouth!”

 

“What did yu say! Yu insolent!”

 

“You little shit!”

 

Whack! Whack!

 

“Wait!”

 

At Paku’s firm voice, our outstretched hands, as if we were about to tear at each other, stopped in the air.

 

“It smells. Smells like decaying corpses.”

 

“See! I told yu I smelled it, didn’t I?”

 

Dondon crossed her arms triumphantly and looked down at me. I didn’t pay attention to her and asked Paku.

 

“What do you mean by the smell of decaying corpses? Are there even dead animals around?”

 

When I asked, Dondon criticized me with an expression that said, ‘Have you ever seen such a fool?’.

 

“Yu idiot! Dis is not the smell of animal corpses!”

 

“Then what is it? What else is there besides animals in this empty field?”

 

“It’s him.”

 

There was a strong hatred in Dondon’s bright yellow eyes.

 

“Him?”

 

Looking at Dondon’s expression, I felt a sense of uneasiness. Even when she trembled while talking about the emperor, she didn’t look like that.

 

Who on earth is he? Who was the target that Dondon harbored such hostility? I had a strong feeling that the road to the emperor would never be smooth.

 

“First of all, we’ll rest here today.”

 

My face lit up at Paku’s words, and I sat on the ground and began massaging my legs. “Ah. I think there are ostrich eggs in my calves…”

 

Charter, who had been looking at Arianne for a while, moved quietly. “Didn’t you say the deadline ordered by the emperor is just around the corner?”

 

Paku answered the question of Charter, who had approached Paku’s side before he knew it.

 

“There is a troublesome guy.”

 

“…How troublesome is he?”

 

When asked by Charter, Paku answered, wrinkling his eyebrows.

 

“He’s like a spider web. No matter how much you shake him off, he sticks to you and doesn’t come off.”

 

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