Chapter 1 Part 1
Suddenly, a branch with no leaf shook and made a sound.
Immediately, a humming voice permeated my mind, as if several voices were overlapping.
It was the tree’s reply. It was a low, raspy voice that seemed quite old.
[You know my name?]
<The forest told me. You’re the Awakened, born after a long time. >
[The horses refuse to go farther. Why is that? Can you tell me? I need the wisdom of the trees.]
The tree replied.
<It seems the forest is angry and wants to test you a bit. >
<Yes, it’ll take an hour or two to walk to the forest, polite little girl.>
The branches shook again as if they were laughing.
I released my palm and returned to the knights, explaining the whole story. I had no choice but to walk.
The knights all gathered around.
“We’ve been training hard, so this kind of cold won’t hurt us. But the princess…”
“I’ll be fine with the artifact.”
“Still, we have to walk for hours on this frozen ground. We can’t let the Princess do this. It’s absolutely impossible. It will be very difficult.”
The knights spoke as if to placate the child.
I calmly looked at them one by one and said.
“Please take me to the forest. There is a reason why I must go there. If I am injured, I will not hold you responsible in any way in the name of the Silver Forest and the Catatel family.”
I took out the amulet with the Catatel emblem engraved on it that I wore around my neck and handed it to the captain of the knights. It was a token of the sacred promise of royalty.
The knights all turned to each other in confusion.
“Princess, it’s …….
They seemed surprised because I was different from the Princess they knew. I had always been a quiet, petulant little girl.
But now I had the spirit of a twenty years old woman in my body.
Even though I was a ghostly princess who had never been in public, I knew how to handle the knights royally.
The knights were amazed at the calm, yet determined ten years old. They bowed and received the amulet.
The horses were tied up along with the carriage and we started walking towards the forest. Walking for an hour or two through the cold wind was not an easy task.
If it hadn’t been for the artifact my father gave me, I would have collapsed long ago. My feet hurt badly, but I never showed any sign of it.
“Excuse me, princess. Shall I give you a piggyback ride?”
I couldn’t let my royal persona be tarnished. I had just set out on my own to regain my power. I wanted to endure.
After walking for a while, we arrived at the Silver Forest. As soon as I faced the huge forest, I felt an unusual energy.
The trees had silvery leaves that could not be found anywhere else on the continent. From a distance, it looked like a forest of birches covered with snowflakes.
“Princess. You’re not going in, are you?”
I shook my head. Only the king of Achaia, the only one who was allowed in the forest.
I could feel the ‘intangible force’ constantly trying to push me away. If I tried to go inside, I would run into that force and my body would bounce back.
It was going to be difficult to carry out my plan of pawing at the silvery tree and trying to talk to it. Instead I approached the sparse grass near the entrance to the forest.
The leaves of the grass were so soft that I wondered how they had managed to take root in this cold land. However, when I looked closer, I saw that they had a faint silvery glow. It was like life that survived by the power of the forest.
I called out to the grass.
[Hello. Could you please pass my words to the forest?]
<What is it? What is it? >
It was the voice of a child, full of curiosity.
[I’m the princess of the Kingdom of Achaia, Usphere Catatel. I’ve inherited the power of the forest.]
<You’re an Awakened One!>
[Yes, but I can’t use my powers at all. Tell it that I’d like to take a lesson from the forest.]
<Wait a minute, please wait a minute! >
The blades of grass wavered under my fingers.
After a while, I heard the grass again.
<The grass beside me, the grass beside me, and… Anyway, I told it your story, and it asked you to come closer! To the forest! To the forest!>
It was then that I suddenly felt the force that tried to push me away, weakened.
I walked step by step towards the forest, as if I was possessed. The knights tried to stop me, but I just shook my head.
I was the only one who somehow managed to step into the entrance of the forest. I placed my trembling hands on the silvery tree.
Soon, a voice that I couldn’t tell whether it was a woman or a man went through my head.
<In this lifetime, you have come to visit me. It seems that you are ready to accept me.>
My heart ached. Before the regression, I had actually thought that I didn’t need this ability. I didn’t even attempt to raise my meager strength.
I wondered if such defeatism was discovered.
[Did the forest do this? You sent me back in time to my childhood. Did you hear my prayer? Thank you so much.]
<No, it’s not because of your prayer.>
<I’m not involved in human life.>
It was true. Long ago, my father went to the forest and prayed for my mother’s life, but it was rejected.
The forest was not involved in one’s personal destiny. Instead, it would only listen to prayers to prevent great dangers from coming to the land.
For example, It would end the drought or stop the flood. These were the prayers of a king who truly cared for his country.
[So what happened to me?]
‘If the forest didn’t do it, why did I go back in time?’
<The answer to that question is for you to find out. So, you want to gain strength?>
<This continent is nearing its end. And the power of my sister, the Goddess Fahar, has weakened.>
The forest continued with words that made no sense to me.
<Hmm, I gave you a little bit of power on purpose because humans are pathetic.Well, since it happened anyway, let’s finally believe in it. It’s going to be fun, so keep at it. >
Suddenly, my heart pounded and my palms felt numb.
The sound of trees colliding with each other rang out loudly. I raised my head in surprise and saw the trees were moving.
The tree I touched grew taller at a tremendous speed. The tree, which was towering over the sky, finally broke through the clouds.
Several knights were startled and fell backwards.
I looked blankly at the tree rising higher than the citadel.
…… No way. Did I do that?
* * *
“Princess Usphere has returned!”
As soon as I returned to the royal palace from the forest, a crowd greeted me.
One of the ministers of state asked me with a slightly buoyant expression.
“Princess, did you do that to the tree?”
It seemed that the rumor had already spread in the palace. Even in the palace, I could see a tall silvery tree that penetrated the sky.
I looked around in bewilderment. The ministers of state, whom I rarely saw face to face, were all out, watching me with great interest.
Even the older ministers seemed to be quite excited as it was a rare opportunity to witness magic firsthand.
Unaccustomed to such attention, I hesitated for a while. Then the knights who accompanied me took the lead and spoke.
“The princess did it! As soon as she touched it, the tree grew like it answered her.”
“The forest called to the princess. The horses, frightened by the power of the forest, refused to move, but the princess walked fearlessly on her feet.”
“No, you didn’t help the princess…?!”
Just as the Minister of State was about to yell at the knights for letting me walk, I interrupted him.
‘Please don’t blame the knights. They tried to stop me, but …… I walked with Catatel’s token.”
“Did the princess do that?”
The minister opened his eyes in surprise.
“I just wanted to see the forest.”
The ministers, who were silent for some time, scrambled to ask questions one by one.
“So…… you’ve been talking to the forest?”
“But I don’t think anyone but only His Majesty can enter! Huh, what did you do?”
I rolled my eyes as I endured the flurry of questions. Then I met Diaquit’s gaze.
His eyes were cold and somber.
I then spoke with a subtle sense of victory.
“The forest allowed me in for a while.”
“Did you go inside?”
“Only one step, but yes. It allowed me to get as close to the tree as I could.”
“Huh, one step into the forest, you say? I’ve never heard anything like it, not even in old books! It’s really amazing. It seems that Achaia’s bloodline is very powerful.”
The people began to buzz more and more.
“It would be great to tell His Majesty, who is lying in bed ill!”
“I will tell him myself.”
In the middle of the commotion, the place was abuzz with a mixture of surprise and cheers. My eyes met with Diaquit’s again, who was standing across from me. This time, the hostility was so blatant that the bones in my back were throbbing.
‘He seems terribly angry.’
If it was before, I would have shrunk back.
But now, I deliberately averted my gaze, ignoring him.
* * *
Since my magic became stronger, people’s attitudes toward me have visibly changed.
It was different from my previous life. They waited a hundred years to welcome one, but the Awakener was completely useless in protecting the kingdom. A half penny princess.
Then I got the title ‘Guardian of the Kingdom’ at 10 years old.
“There’s your princess!”
I made regular visits to the border area where the monsters were kept from invading.
I studied the powers I had gained in this lifetime, and used it to help fighting against the monsters.
In addition to the ability to interact with plants, I developed the power to grow plants right from the seed. This was without sunlight, soil, water, or any other natural help.
Vines sprouted in the palm of my hand and quickly filled the room. Moreover, the plants I grew myself were imbued with magical powers, and their strength was different from the natural ones.
The roots of these plants were so strong that I could use it to stab the enemy as if it was a sword. The thorns could be sharpened like iron swords.
I piled up a hard wooden fence made of my magic at points where the monsters frequently invaded. At first glance, it looked like ordinary wood, but it didn’t crumble easily even under the sharp claws of the monsters.
The captain of the border guards knelt down and bowed as soon as I arrived.
“The grace of the goddess Fahar in Achaia! There has been a noticeable reduction in casualties since the princess put up the barrier.”