I looked around for a corner and sat down. I was literally crushed. Except for me, everyone seemed well aware of how to move and act in the forest. I just sat out of their way because I thought that it would be better if I did not disturb them.
Just as Duke Kyron ordered, I sat down by the fire after I received my meal. Not long after that, the sky darkened immediately. It felt a bit mysterious as I watched the forest be engulfed in darkness while the campfire seemed like it was glowing brighter. Just like the man who was watching it silently.
One of the servants pulled a lute out of the wagon that I was in as everyone watched his performance silently. The air seemed to become warm as the friendly melody spread in the dark forest.
The servant hummed for a moment before he started singing. The song made sense even though I believed that he only sang the words that he thought were suited for the melody.
“We’ve gone a long way with a great man. Today, the knights had their swords ready and the servants had their harnesses polished.”
The servant bowed his head towards the Duke when he sang the words ‘Great Man’ and the Duke gave him a small nod in return.
Once when Duke Kyron was younger, he had defeated a group of men who had broken through the barrier. That was when he was given the title ‘Great’ at such a young age. Fearing him as the devil, the people dare not call his name so it was enough for them to call him ‘man’.
Ah… So cool.
The people laughed together and the atmosphere around the campfire was relaxing and enjoyable. Then, the servant’s voice went up in a cheerful tone.
“But the cute maid has a lot of cushions ready. So that she could have a good night’s sleep with her drool flowing. Because she had to sleep soundly so she could serve the Duke well.”
Everyone in the party laughed, including Chaers, I was the only one who did not laugh at that. My face turned red as I gripped the hem of my skirt tightly when I was suddenly hit by such a bomb. I couldn’t think of anything as the shame and anger rolled off and mixed in my head.
When I turned my head and saw that even Duke Kyron was smiling, I sprang to my feet and ran to the woods. The knights made fun of me when I turned around and ran.
—Miss Maid! Don’t go too far, the wolf will come out!
—There are no cushions in the wolves’ den, Arielsa!
I walked away and left the laughter behind me. I followed the sound of the distant running water as I wiped the tears that came out of anger with my fist. I raised my head to look at the moonlight glittering on the stream in front of me.
I really wanted to see you before I died…
There were some things that were too vague to be considered as my life goals but even though they were meaningless, I still could not forget them. One of them was the aurora. I did not expect that my wish to see the aurora someday would come true here.
The cold dark blue sky was dotted with white stars. And a huge curtain of light in a strange blend of green and blue laid above those stars. I could see it fluctuating slowly as if it were hit by a gentle breeze. At some point, it changed colors. A breathtaking sight actually existed in this place.
If Duke Kyron has an aura since he is the protagonist of this world, does this world also exist on its own as it unleashes its own aura?
I breathed deeply as I continued to stare up dazzled by the beautiful curtain of light hanging over the sky.
“I’m the one who prepared the cushions. You thought wrongly.”
Duke Kyron suddenly popped out from behind me.
It was just after I forgot about what happened earlier.
“It was nothing, Duke. You were not the one who prepared the cushions for me so I could stay comfortable. I deserved to be teased.”
Duke Kyron approached the place where I was standing as he looked up at the sky that I was watching earlier. He just stood silently beside me as he gazed at the aurora. I looked at his side profile a bit grumpily.
If you want to see something beautiful then you only just have to look in the mirror.
However, at the same time, my heart thumped wildly. I couldn’t believe that he would care about me, who would have a hard time travelling in that wagon…
“Hurry up and come back. Go and put on your cape.”
And he was even worried that I would feel cold. My face turned red again as my heart continued to thump wildly.
You really followed him well.
Was the thought that flashed in my head. I thought that I should quickly go back to the fire before my stupidity power flared up again. However, my heart just continued to hammer in my chest even though it was for a different matter.
It was because I saw the eyes of a wolf. In just a moment, Duke Kyron was already blocking my way. I couldn’t help but mutter as my tears almost started to fall once more.
“I, I’m sorry, Duke! It’s because I came out too far…!”
The wolves were already closing in on the path with their heads close to the ground as they growled lowly at us. Their bared teeth were gleaming eerily even though the forest was surrounded by darkness.
But Duke Kyron just looked at the wolves indifferently as if he was looking at the grasses on the roadside.
‘This wasn’t in the original!’
I instinctively answered ‘Yes!’ even though I was already tearing up at his call. Then, he spoke softly to me.
“I’ve never seen a Northerner like you who likes the aurora.”
Does that matter in our situation right now?
I bit my lips tightly as I stared at Duke Kyron. The wolf in front of me was also scary but I did not think that I would forgive myself if something happened to him because of me.
He was the center of this world and I decided to protect him and take care of him. But it was all my fault that it ended up in vain.
And just to aggravate my despair, the wolves that surrounded us all rushed out at the same time. I screamed as I felt Duke Kyron wrap his arms around me. I knew that he was wielding his sword but his hold on my body was so strong that the only thing that I felt was some shaking.
Then, the surroundings turned quiet. The stillness was eerily scary but surprisingly enough, I was calm. It seemed like it was because of the pressure that Duke Kyron’s arms were exerting on my body and his body temperature that strangely felt a bit too hot to me.
I couldn’t help but look up when he finally released me from his arms. There were three wolves that were cut in half in front of us. I felt terrible when I saw the blood spreading and turning the ground darker in this bluish darkness.
The rest of the wolves quickly disappeared deep into the forest.
Duke Kyron let me go as he swung his sword once to get rid of the blood. Then, he walked towards the edge of the stream.
I couldn’t stop myself from stuttering in confusion as I watched Chaers approach us from the direction of the camp.
“When will you go to work and serve me?”
“Heok. Ah. Yes…”
I curled up due to the cold as I walked towards the party’s campfire. It was because I felt the harsh coldness in the forest more vividly after the heat of Duke Kyron’s body temperature disappeared.
Chaers, who approached me, looked at me with his most disapproving gaze. It was a face that was filled with irritation but no tension at all.
“Sir Chaers, please go see the Duke!”
“Why did you scream?”
“The wolves, wolves…!”
“Told me to work…”
I told him the truth but I somehow felt that my answers did not add up. But what I said was the truth!
A man who just met a wolf in the forest in the middle of the night just couldn’t go back to work without a hitch!
But Chaers just turned away with a ‘Hmm.’.
When he realized that I was not following him, he looked back at me and told me irritably.
“The wolves will not come anymore.”
“But the Duke is alone now…!”
“Arielsa. The wolves attacked because they wanted to feed on us. They have been following us since we entered the mountains.”
“The Duke has shown them that we aren’t their prey so we don’t have to worry about the wolves on our way anymore.”
Chaers went back from where he came from.
“Hurry up and get back. Don’t let the Duke worry about you because you caught a cold.”
As I returned by the fire to bask in the warmth, the knights snickered as they imitated a wolf howl. It was clear that they already knew what had happened.
What the hell! The master of Harpel Castle was all alone facing a pack of wolves and no one followed to check on him!
I felt angry at that moment. However, I was also shocked. Perhaps this was the reason why the servant who played the lute had called him the ‘Great Man’. He was not afraid to face a pack of northern wolves in the middle of the forest at the dead of the night. He was strong enough to protect his people all on his own. This was the reason why they respect him and follow him.
The emotions rushed into my heart just like the aurora that enveloped the skies.
Aww. Our male lead is so cool…
I knew that they would not stop teasing me even in the future but I couldn’t bring myself to be angry anymore after the intense emotions that rushed to me in waves.
The servant who played the lute earlier placed my cape on my shoulders before leaving. I seemed to be attached to the tune that he played earlier as I hummed it silently.
“Aaaaaah. I don’t have a cushion so I should use this.”
I bowed my head to hide my grin as the great actors waved their hands at me. They looked like they were greeting me. The party couldn’t help but chuckle at me in unison.
I quietly crouched down and fell asleep. However, I only fell asleep deeply when I felt Duke Kyron’s returning footsteps.
I woke up at the sound of the birds chirping away. Their cheerful chirps seemed to break the cold air at dawn.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I jumped up and straightened my thoughts. Then, I headed straight to the woods. I flinched away at the sight of the wolves’ body and went past them to go to the stream and wash my face.
It seemed like I was finally coming to my senses. About where I am and the reality that I was now facing.
When I went back, I saw Duke Kyron, who still looked as good as yesterday, ripping his bread into pieces in his seat.