Updated: May 19
In which the traveling party encounter a few enemies...
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Episode 179. About 10 months (56)
We focused on Walter, and he concentrated on the noises around him. Moments later, he nodded towards the stream and spoke quietly.
The knights, who immediately understood Walter's serious expression and its meaning, crouched, and quickly approached their horses standing by the stream.
Nervously, I called out to him.
I followed the knights to the river and grabbed my horse’s reins.
Walter also came towards me with his horse, and he glanced meaningfully at the bushes by the stream.
I looked ahead while I moved to the stream Walter was pointing at, and I saw the Second Prince kneeling in the middle of the road and bending his upper body towards the ground.
When I looked closely, I saw that he was sitting on the ground with his right hand and his ear positioned as if they were touching the ground. And at some point, he lifted his head, nodded to Walter, and moved straight to us.
We moved quickly to the slope next to the stream and through the bushes, we saw a large open space.
“… A place like this?”
“Mark saw it earlier.”
Mark had searched around before we had taken a break. Paul turned around and explained that to us, and then he stopped his horse on the other side of the open field. Seeing that, I also went there and stopped my horse.
Walter was behind me, and the Second Prince followed me into the field. There were bushes behind us, so we could avoid any possible exposure.
“The sound of horse’s hooves and the wheels of a cart were heard at the same time. The wheels rolled heavily slowly. 2nd Aide?”
"There were no plans to move from the military base on Mount Berquinn today.”
I immediately answered the Second Prince's question.
"It must be the remaining ones."
I looked at him in surprise.
“The remaining ones? So, you’re saying the bandits have been caught?”
Walter answered my question right away.
“As expected, the 2nd Aide is quick-witted. The bandits had already been wiped out three weeks before this route was set up. There were some remaining bandits in the nearby base, and we were continuing to round them up.”
“Ah… So, this route…”
Walter nodded and explained it all.
“After questioning the mastermind, about 20 of the bandits have yet to be caught. In the meantime, two of the closest associates of the mastermind are left. And Baron Twolby, who came from the port city of Veroto to the capital, was held hostage and offered to his family in exchange for their predatory mastermind two weeks ago.”
After Walter's explanation, Kyle found a long branch nearby and walked to the middle of the field.
“It was difficult to ambush the remaining bandits as they kept moving from base to base. We just found them, so we’ll take care of it and go.”
"Yes, Your Highness."
I swallowed. Tension began to rise from the bottom of my chest.
“Here, this is where we are now.”
Kyle began to briefly sketch the terrain with the branch.
At the same time, while he was explaining the operation, the rest of the knights and Walter naturally sat around him, and I sat in the middle.
“Paul will immediately go to the nearest unit here and report the situation. Mark will go this way and Edman will go that way and block the road. And catch any fugitives you may find.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
As they nodded with determined eyes, Kyle explained further.
“The hostage may get hurt, so we’ll secure him first and then fight. I’ll wait here and check the status of the remaining parties at this point, then I’ll advance, and Walter will secure the hostage. Don’t ride your horses because they get in the way of fighting.”
Just the two of them?
I looked at Kyle in surprise, and seeing the question in my eyes, he frowned.
“… Who do you think I am?”
“His Highness is a Sword Master, 2nd Aide. His Highness alone is responsible for leading 100 general knights.”
“Actually, you can do it alone, but I’m with you in case of an unexpected situation. Hahaha."
All of this confidence was well-founded, nevertheless, I couldn’t easily accept his swordsmanship, which I had only heard of and had never seen in person.
Either way, they just got up. I jumped up and hastily asked.
“Sir, what about me?”
“If you go up from here at a 10-degree angle, you’ll see a cave behind the fir trees. Go there with the horses, 2nd Aide. The slope is very steep, so move slowly and wait there until everyone moves. Be on the lookout for remaining members of the group that might jump out of the bushes .”
“Yes! I’ll go and hide properly.”
I agreed to it right away. I’d mess things up if I asked to join them when I had no skills or abilities. I knew my place all too well.
"Come on. Let’s go!"
At Kyle's orders, each of them went to their places. The horses left here were Kyle and Walter’s, so I had three horses in total.
I dragged Kyle’s horse up first and went in the 10-degree angle direction. The slope was so steep I couldn’t ride on him, so I had to lead him.
The incline was high, and each step was dangerous.
So I moved more slowly. It was a little easier for him to follow me now as I led him, as if he was aware of this serious situation.
The cave was well concealed by trees. At the same time, I thought I could have a good view of the situation later because the road was clearly visible.
It was the third time, and I had just started pulling my horse up from the open space to the cave.
It started to rain.
The rain, which had been falling drop by drop, changed its momentum at some point, going, “tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk!”
The horse neighed fiercely and started resisting. I held onto the reins.
“Let’s go… We have to go!”
Fortunately, the sound of rain swallowed the harsh rustling noises. The horse, who been stepping backwards for a while, began to follow me again as if he felt sorry for my soaking wet body.
Like a craftsman cutting wood, I stepped forward methodically, struggling in the middle of the slope with the last horse I was dragging up.
“… It has begun!”
Over the bushes, there was a mix of shouts, the clash of weapons, and the sound of heavy rain. I sped up. Even if it wasn’t helpful, I didn’t want to be a hindrance.
I took my horse up to the cave with all my might.
“Ha… It’s over.”
I was coated in dampness. Rainwater was dripping all over my body, and the horses were panting, neighing harshly, as if they were anxious.
"It’s okay… Wow. It’s okay. Calm down… Whoa."
Approaching the three horses, I slowly stroked their necks to calm them down, and then I quickly went to the entrance of the cave and crouched down to examine the situation.
My butt hurt again.
I was so nervous I didn’t even realize my butt was hurting.
The pouring rain didn’t make it easy to see, but it was enough to distinguish who was who.
“Ha… After all, he is a Sword Master…”
The battle was in full swing in the open field that I looked down on from afar. More than 20 men surrounded Kyle and Walter in the middle, continuing the fight.
They were obviously outnumbered, but I wasn’t worried at all.
I couldn't see his expression, but his posture with his sword looked very relaxed somehow.
The men could not easily reach Kyle in the middle.
Still, the men who sporadically wielded their swords against him were often knocked down by Kyle's retaliations, and the blows were so great they couldn't get up as if they had fainted.
“Wow, as expected. Fourteen, eleven, seven… Five, four, two… Ha… Huh… Wow.”
I continued to stare, trembling, and my eyes kept closing. The aftereffects of the cold poisoning were getting better.
But today, this weather was a problem for me.
Maybe because I rode a horse in tension for a long time, and my body was very tired. Thanks to that, the cold and the fatigue rushed in instantly, and I was relieved because I thought the 2nd Prince’s battle would end well.
Was it because of that? My physical condition, which I thought had improved a little, had quickly deteriorated.
So, my eyes closed automatically. Although the aftereffects improved, it was true that I was in a worse shape than before I suffered from the cold poison.
“Haha... I'm not this weak...”
Because of the lack of energy, my words sounded like a whisper. Even so, I tried to open my eyes because I was on a mission.
I'm going to kill Andrei...
With this thought, I had no choice but to lower my eyelids, which I’d been struggling to keep open.
After finishing everything, Kyle flew up to the cave. The momentum had diminished a bit, but the rain didn’t stop.
Kyle became strangely nervous the moment it began to rain.
“… Damn it!”
Just as expected. She sat leaning against the cave entrance with closed eyes.
She was asleep, her face resting on her knees, which she had brought up to her chest.
Her hands were clasped together. Hard breaths came out of her slightly gaping mouth. Red hairs were stuck all over her face. Tightly closed eyes, frowning forehead. And a pale face.
‘Why do you always…’
He gritted his teeth while he approached her, gently shaking her by the shoulder and calling her cautiously.
Her robe, which had turned into a deep purple colour, was terribly wet.
Nothing happened, she was just frowning as if it was annoying. Fortunately, she responded to his voice.
Kyle sighed in relief and shook her shoulder with more force and called again.
"Hey, Tara Elias, are you okay?"
“… Ugh… It’s cold…”
Her brows furrowed and her eyelids seemed to open with a struggle.
“…. Are you okay?”
Raising her head, she half opened her eyes and looked at him.
“How bad is it?”
“It’s so cold…”
“Can you move?”
Staring at him, Tara’s eyes widened as if she was belatedly realizing the current situation.
"Ah, Your Highness!"
"Are you feeling better now?”
“I fell asleep... It's okay, it's okay. It’s bearable."
At the same time, she jumped up and stumbled.
Kyle quickly grabbed her by the shoulders and sat her back down.
“Ah… It wasn’t like this… Ha… Suddenly it started raining a lot… Without realizing it…! Your Highness is in battle, but I, your aide, was sleeping… This is absurd…”
Her eyes flitted back and forth, as she struggled to make excuses. It wouldn’t be strange if she collapsed with such a face. Then, she poured out many words.