Thank you Latifa90 for the kofi~ 2nd chapter is here!
In its wide-open mouth, I could see rows and rows of shark-like teeth, and, oh my God, were those… skeletons?
Goosebumps erupted all over my skin. I stumbled back in fear, biting my tongue to avoid screaming. The monster made a strange sound and flapped its short arms. Instead of cute, animal-like paws, it had claws in place.
“Po, po, po, po.”
Its growling should have felt threatening, but somehow it sounded funny instead. Its flapping arms didn’t look all that terrifying either.
“Don’t come closer…”
“Po, po, po.”
In spite of all of my desperate efforts, the curious monster waddled up to me, making strange noises all the while.
The sight of its wide-open mouth filled with skeletons was nightmarish, so I involuntarily closed my eyes, praying hopelessly that I wouldn’t end up like those poor souls. Then, I felt my body get thrown up into the air.
Foreboding cries rang out from afar.
It sounded like someone was wailing. Maybe it’s just the sound of my racing heart.
Wasn’t it too pathetic for a girl to die like this? I had been trying to not get killed by my husband, but that didn’t mean that I wanted to die by a Popo monster instead!
The monster clutched me tightly with its short arms and waddled around, searching for something. Then, its ears pricked up and I was dragged to a nearby rock. I wanted to scream, but it would most likely tear off my head in one bite as soon as I dared to make noise.
A sudden and ominous chill rose in the air, making me feel suffocated. The sound of hooves approaching resonated across the forest.
A scream was stuck in my throat. My gut, twisting with anxiety, was telling me that I should not show any signs of being here. Sparing the Popo monster a glance, it seemed like it was also holding its breath.
The horse and its rider that had been steadily approaching me and the monster, finally came into view.
If it hadn’t been for the moonlight, I would have thought that it was just a knight. Sitting on a gigantic pale blue horse, it certainly looked like one. It just didn’t have a head.
In its armor-clad arms, I could see it holding a decapitated head.
Was that a Dullahan?
It was even more horrifying than I could have ever imagined. The Dullahan stopped its horse for a moment and stood still. Only when the Popo monster and I were about to die from holding our breath for too long, did it slowly continue to move the beast forward down the road.
Cold sweat ran down my back as I saw it move further away.
My feet touched the ground. The monster had put me down on the forest floor and waddled away. I was numbly watching it walk into the distance, when I suddenly noticed shadows moving around me. The thick, python-like vines that had dragged me down my horse were shadows.
My ankle throbbed.
I raised my hand and wiped off the sweat dripping down my chin. Looking at my palm however, I saw that it was blood, and not sweat, that was stuck to my face.
The Popo monster came back from the bushes it had rummaged around in and placed a large green leaf on my forehead. I gazed at its eyes while dumbstruck.
“By any chance… Did you save me?”
It shook its giant body back and forth, as if it tried to nod.
“Can you understand me?”
“Do you understand humans?”
This time, it shook its body from side to side.
Do you mean to say that you understand me because I’m not human?
“If you can understand me… Can you help me one more time? I have to go back home, but I don’t know the way out of here…”
I had no clue of how deep I was dragged into the forest. Moreover, seeing as the moon was high up in the sky, it looked like I had been unconscious for quite a while.
I was bleeding, and if I tried to find a way back alone in the woods like this, I would definitely get eaten by an animal, let alone a demon. The monster, who I had inadvertently been calling Popo inside my head, stared at me for a moment, and soon drooped its ears and shook its body back and forth.
Hey, why do you look so down all of a sudden? And why do you look so cute even though I know you’ve got skeletons in your giant mouth?
Popo picked me up again. This time, it lifted me up higher than before and pushed me on top of its head. It seemed like it wanted me to get on, so I gently grabbed its long ears while trying not to slip down. Those ears were surprisingly soft.
I couldn’t help but let out a shriek as Popo began running at such a high speed, that it seemed more like it was flying. My body swerved from side to side, so I had no choice but to hold on to its ears for dear life.
I couldn’t believe that the monster could run this fast with such a big, round body and short, stocky legs. The cold wind hit my face and I closed my eyes tightly, the blurring of the trees flying past making me feel nauseous.
I wondered how far it had run.
Finally, Popo skidded to a halt and tapped my foot, signaling me to get off. As I tried my best to lower my legs without slipping and falling to the ground, it extended its short arms to support my feet and helped me down.
It was noisy everywhere. Green torches were lighting up the dark forest from not too far away. Seems like they were looking for me.
“Thank you for taking me back.”
This time, Popo flapped its arms as if to say goodbye, and turned back and disappeared into the woods.
Trying to calm my racing heart, I watched it for a while before turning around and limping through the bushes in the direction of the torches.
I was taken aback to see some of the knights scream in shock right in front of my face as soon as I pushed past the undergrowth.
“W-We found her! She’s safe! We found her! My Lady, are you all right?” Andymion, who was standing closest to me, looked positively exhausted. Had the knights been looking for me all night long?
The whole area rejoiced and the Paladins began to head over this way. Their collective cries and sighs echoed through the forest as they alerted one another of my return.
I should have been relieved, but nervousness overtook me, and my heart began to pound with fear.
“You’re safe now, My Lady, I’m so glad! Are you hurt anywhere? It’s… It’s…”
Andymion had been looking at the giant leaf stuck to my forehead. I was amazed at how it hadn’t fallen off yet, but as the young apprentice knight noticed the red hidden underneath, he trailed off and gently reached out. The blood-soaked leaf fluttered away.
“Andy, move aside. My Lady, please come this way.” Sir Ivan pushed his way through the other Paladins and extended an arm to me. He had a certain expression on his face I had never seen before, one that made me tremble with anxiety.
It was then—
“It seems that my wife cannot last a single day without wanting to cause trouble.”
I could not help but flinch and cling to Sir Ivan’s arm when I heard that cold voice.
Andymion, wincing at my husband’s words, weakly opened his mouth, “Sir, your wife…”
Andymion shut his mouth immediately and glanced at me with pity. I understood very well that no one could go against Izek’s orders right now. His blood-red eyes, burning like the flames of Hell, reminded me of the Dullahan I saw a while ago.
“Didn’t I already tell you that you don’t need to do all of this just to get attention?”
“I-I’m sorry for the trouble… I caused. B-But I couldn’t help it…”
“You couldn’t help it?” The corners of his mouth pulled up into a smirk. Cold, cold ridicule written all over his face.
Then what was I supposed to do, you b*stard? Don’t tell me you thought I had myself dragged to the ends of the world on purpose?
Sir Ivan stepped in as I tried to find a way to fix this situation. “Let’s calm down for now. You should listen to her side as well.”
“There’s nothing to listen to.”
“Just calm down and…”
“I’ll beat you bloody if you keep talking.” The sight of Izek’s terrifying figure coming closer filled my entire vision. He was gritting his teeth and then snarled, “Get out of the way.”
Having lost his patience, he tore off Sir Ivan’s arm that was holding me up and pushed him away. “F*ck off.”
Sir Ivan, half outraged and half stupefied, fell to the ground. “You f*cking *ss!”
Regardless of that, Izek picked me up and moved on.
I couldn’t stop the tremors.
I knew I made a mistake, so I decided to keep my mouth shut because he might really throw me away this time. Izek put me on top of a horse that a squire had been attending to and quickly drove the beast forward. My injured ankle throbbed, but I bit my lip and tried to hold it in.
The mansion was lit up all over. Ellenia, who was sitting on the sofa, immediately rose up as soon as we entered the hall. Unlike her usual self, her face looked upset. Freya was with her, too.
Tears fell down the blonde’s cheeks as she held up a soaked handkerchief. “Oh, My Lady, you’re safe! I’m so relieved! I don’t know how much—”
“Ruby, what happened? Why are you hurt?”
I was about to open my mouth to answer when my husband said, “Call Sergei. You, come with me.”
“Don’t follow me.” He snarled in such a cruel tone that even Ellenia backed down.
The head maid glared at me from behind Freya. The expression on her face as she pampered the two girls left a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t know what to do at the sight of her looking at me with such accusing eyes.
I tried to hide my limping and followed my husband.
I don’t want to follow him. I’m so scared.