Chapter 1. The beginning of everything
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Ellea spoke to the men with ease.
“What do you fear, while all you have are poor weapons. Do you usually aim for wagons crossing the border?”
They looked aghast, as if she had hit the mark. Now was the time to move as planned. She drew attention and quickly picked up the sword that was hidden in the hem of her dress.
It was that sword that the knight had thrown earlier. As soon as Ellea had the sword, she immediately shouted.
“Hurry up and run!”
While everyone was off guard, the knight knocked down the man with the knife and rescued his companion who was being held hostage, and Ellea swung her sword threateningly, creating some distance between her and the pack.
The people to their right and left panicked at the sudden turn of events, and immediately each of them gripped their weapons tightly and took up defensive positions.
Ellea stared at the front, relieved to see the injured knight got rescued by the other knight. Now that she no longer had to worry, she was more comfortable than ever with her sword.
The men felt an unreasonable amount of pressure as the aristocratic lady in the dress stood in front of the knights as if her role had changed.
They even felt like she was a different person from the way she wielded her sword so freely.
“Don’t be afraid. We’re more advantageous in numbers.”
The man who had been holding the injured knight hostage somehow joined the pack and reassured his friends.
As he stood at the front of the pack, Ellea realized at once that the man was the leader. And despite the disadvantageous situation as the man said, she warmed up very comfortably.
“Don’t worry and take care of the injured knight. I’ve been practicing with only wooden swords so I want to test out the real one.”
The knights were worried about Ellea approaching the pack and wanted to stop her right away. But before they could move to help her, she rushed in first.
Ellea was annoyed by her dress, but she was confident that they were not her opponents, just pushing them numerically.
The pack, on the other hand, did not retreat, but instead approached her and tried to attack her, as if they underestimated her.
‘Yes. That’s how it has to look.’
Every time she fixed her sword firmly and swung it at the people who were attacking her, their old swords bounced off from their hands.
And to prevent them from escaping, she deliberately hurt only their legs. The well-honed sword of the knight she was holding could cut through the skin, and their blood got a little on the sword as well.
For those who defied her to the end, Ellea struck a precise blow to the vital point with the hilt of their swords.
‘It’s as boring as I thought it would be.’
The area she had passed was littered with people in pain, with only Ellea standing alone in the middle.
The knights didn’t even think about the fact that they had to help, and before they knew it, they were staring blankly at her. Because despite their own worries, they were amazed at her ability to subdue that many people in an instant.
From the moment they injured the knight, the thought of letting them go had long since disappeared.
“Watch your back!”
When Ellea turned her head at the knight’s shout, a man approached quickly as he swung his sword threateningly.
Realizing that the man was the one who hurt the knight earlier, Ellea deliberately did not dodge.
So when he got into her range, she quickly avoided the attack and swung her sword with a speed that was invisible to the others.
The man who was about to attack Ellea stopped mid-stride, feeling something strange.
He lowered his head to see that his clothes were soaked with blood from the deep cut in his abdomen made by Ellea’s sword.
But before he could feel the pain, Ellea grabbed the man by the chest and pushed him hard against the tree. The man struggled to get out of Ellea’s grasp, but the more he did, the stronger the pressure on his neck became. As he became more and more choked, he begged in an urgent voice.
“Please save me.”
“You can’t ask me to save you this easily. You were so confident earlier.
“Please, we had no choice.”
Ellea didn’t like the way they tried to rationalize their actions with words like that. No matter how hard it was, there were definitely things in the world that they shouldn’t do.
“Hurting others is not acceptable.”
It was not known where her words touched the man, but he raised his voice in a very regretful way, unlike before.
“Then what do you want me to do? This is how we can live. Nobles like you have taken everything away from us. This was the only way to save my family.”
Hearing that much, Ellea roughly grasped the situation. As the man said, their family must be hiding somewhere in this place.
Perhaps the painful memory of that time intensified him, and he said something he shouldn’t have.
“So, this is as good as it gets. I mean, you guys have piled up a mountain of stuff, and I’m going to take some of it with me. You can heal that much of a wound in no time. …………..”
The man’s words didn’t last. A sharp sword was fast approaching his face.
Startled, the man squeezed his eyes shut and gently opened them again, as he felt no pain after a time. The sword had been inserted right next to his own head.
Immediately, he turned his head along the sword, which was being roughly pulled out, and met Ellea’s eyes, which were much colder and sunder than before.
“Do you know who that person is that you stabbed? He’s a knight. Do you know how hard you had to train to become a knight? Do you know that the sword you stabbed him with without a conscience will ruin his life!”
Ellea was so angry that she ended up screaming at the top of her lungs.
She couldn’t keep her composure as she thought of the knights of Zevenica and how hard they had practiced.
“Then again, don’t get me wrong. Not everyone does anything that harms others in a situation like you.”
In the meantime, the knights had gathered the men in one place and had them on their knees, completely subduing them, only to watch Ellea’s actions in silence.
They (the knights) froze at the sight of her for the first time, and were grateful for her words of concern for them. Ellea couldn’t allow this situation to go any further because she used to be a knight.
“If you had stabbed the knight in the arm, my sword would have gone through your body without hesitation.”
Perhaps it was the heightened emotions, but her hands, which were squeezing the man’s neck, became more and more powerful. In that state, even breathing seemed to be too much for him to handle.
There were also plenty of other possibilities that could be possible. If they had targeted herself from the start, knowing that she was an Imperial Princess.
Rubain knew that Ellea would be passing through here, so she couldn’t rule out the possibility that they were sent but Rubain.
“Are you sent by Rubain? You got paid a big price to stop me from going to the border?”
But the answer came from somewhere instead of the man’s.
“I’m pretty sure it’s not.”
The moment the low voice descended, Ellea’s hand that had been squeezing the man’s neck naturally loosened.
It was a voice that was all too familiar, but also a voice that should never be heard here.
‘It can’t be.’
Despite her efforts to deny it, she heard the answer once again, as if she was hallucinating.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t ask these people who don’t have skills.”
Ellea, convinced of the owner of the voice, managed to move her immobile body and found a person standing on the other side of the road.
As soon as she met the man’s blue eyes, her body stiffened. She then called out to him in a trembling voice unknowingly.
It was none other than Terban who appeared in front of Ellea.
*Earlier in Terban’s office*
Terban tried to pull himself together, but he couldn’t seem to get any work done, and his frustration showed no sign of improving. It was as if this imperial palace was constricting him.
So, although he had little interest in the Princess of Zevenica, he decided to pick her up as an excuse to leave the palace.
“Are you really going to go in person, Your Majesty?”
“Yes. I’m feeling a bit frustrated.”
“But you have to go all the way to the border. The imperial palace will be empty in the meantime.”
Bandel was a little puzzled by Terban’s decision. Because Terban had never paid any attention to it before.
“That’s okay. And you’re coming with me on this trip, Bandel.”
Bandel had a hard time understanding Terban’s orders. In fact, it was not his job, as a knight of the Emperor’s direct Order, to bring the Princess of Zevenica.
Of course, there was a reason why Terban wanted Bandel to accompany him.
He could see that after El’s death, Bandel was not able to keep his spirits up. So he gave him a special order to leave the imperial palace and get some fresh air to help him get better.
You need to cool down too. You know exactly what I meant, don’t you?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
But there was no way Bandel remained calm now that El was dead.
The others in the Imperial Palace didn’t dare to speak about El in front of him, but that didn’t mean they didn’t talk about her secretly.
And so it was mostly insulting words against her. It was only natural that Bandel would clash with them when he heard them.
The pick up group was formed immediately. Shanil, who had heard the news, was also present to see Terban off, and showed a look of concern at the sudden decision.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon.”
“Have a safe journey. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Quite frankly, she didn’t like his decision, but she didn’t show it outwardly, deliberately giving him a gentle smile.
With Shanil seeing him off, Terban led the group, his mind even more at ease as he mounted his horse and rode fast with no time to think about anything else.
Just like his feelings, the journey was smooth and they were able to reach their destination safely on the promised date and time.
There was nothing special about it other than the fact that it was a border and therefore covered with forest, and it looked like the Princess of Zevenica hadn’t arrived yet.
“They’re not here yet?”
“They should be arriving shortly. I have received word that they have departed.”
“I’m going to take a quick look around here for a moment.”
“Please come back soon. We don’t know when the Princess will be here…”
Terban nodded towards Bandel and rode his horse into the forest.
As he was riding freely through the ramshackle forest, he heard a commotion in the distance. When he saw a carriage and quite a few people, he slowed down and approached them carefully.
‘What is the situation?’
It seemed unusual at first glance, and there were some who seemed to be knights among them. Then Terban’s gaze went to where all the people were looking.