Eight years ago, Lorek’s winter was exceptionally brutal.
Back then, It didn’t snow as heavily as it is now, but there was a severe famine all year long. Many starved to death since there was very little to harvest.
Those who held sickles and pickaxes for life had to climb mountains to catch animals to make ends meet.
The lord allowed the entry of Nordard, the estate of Bertrand, and reduced taxes, but extreme poverty was not an easy problem to solve.
At that time, the situation of a girl living in an abandoned tower near the border was not much different.
However, the girl’s father had a goat that he kept very carefully. He was grateful that he could give his little girl goat’s milk every morning, and be able to make it through the day.
He prayed to the one and only God of the empire to let this little life go on.
“Ruelli, are you going to the mountain again today?”
Fadenos Bedivier asked as he looked at Ruelli, who was rustling for a long time from the second-floor warehouse.
Their original residence was a five-story stone tower, which was built long ago to examine the outskirts of the border or stage a sit-in.
However, after the war, when Lorek was incorporated into the Imperial Elma, it became useless, and Fadenos took care of it and set up a living quarter.
She lifted her head up but didn’t answer.
“Yes, Father. I’ll be right there!”
“It’s not a matter of being right there.”
Fadenos shook his head, trying not to say another word.
He thought it would be better to endure it because she wouldn’t even listen to him anyway, yet he opened his mouth again thinking that he couldn’t leave it at that.
It was a more emotional voice than the first time.
“Ruelli, you’re not going to Mount Nordard, are you?”
The echo was loud enough to circle the tower and come back, but there was still no reply.
The young girl seemed to have made up her mind.
“Ruelli, Nordard is now very dangerous because men with guns are flocking to catch wild boars or wolves.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Thinking it was a bad idea, Fadenos used the ladder to get upstairs.
It would be better if he could go to the mountain with her, but he couldn’t because of work.
When the creaking stopped, a small, pretty girl came into view.
The tower was in the shape of a watchtower, with holes here and there in places where one could shoot a bow. The girl was busy with something, relying on the light that shone through the holes.
“Ruelli, what are you doing now…….”
“Father, look at this.”
Fadenos pretended to look at what Ruelli was showing, but he actually had no idea what it was.
“The grass that was pulled from Nordard mountain works pretty well. Simon’s father was hurt so badly that he needed stitches, but after applying the ointment a couple of times, it healed very quickly. But now that he has pain, I’m going to mix the paste that has an anesthetic effect.”
Ruelli Bedivier was a geek whose hobby and specialty was making medicine.
However, she was also a very beautiful girl with red eyes and platinum hair, which would burn if observed closely.
At first glance, she looked vulnerable to the wind, but she was more confident than anyone else, and she was intelligent enough to do more than anything if she was taught more.
“Grass with an anesthetic effect?”
“Yes, I read in a book.”
“What kind of book are you reading?”
At the age of four, she was able to read and write the language of the empire perfectly, and by the age of seven, she borrowed all the books in the village.
At the age of twelve, she dug herbs in the mountains and mastered their effects. She even mixed herbs in moderation to create new medicinal herbs.
However, there was a more important fact.
“A book that the abbot lent me. I thought I knew most herbs, but I was wrong. The world is so big…….”
In fact, Ruelli was feeble, but she had a purifying capacity.
Fadenos always urged Ruelli to hide the fact. As soon as it’s revealed, she wouldn’t be able to stay the way she was.
“I want to know, and there’s so much I need to know!”
“So, Father, please allow me to go to Mount Nordard.”
Fadenos knew better than to refuse Ruelli’s request, and he couldn’t say no to the begging face right in front of him.
“I shouldn’t have come up here,” Fadenos dropped his shoulders.
“Ruelli, I like that you’re having fun, but I’m worried.”
“Why? You said it was important to help people.”
“Of course it is.”
“This ointment is enough, and lawmakers are asking for too much money.”
“Yeah, but there’s light, there’s shadows. It’s good to help people but sometimes it’s not.”
He needed to hide Ruelli’s purification ability.
It was rare for anyone to have divine powers in Empire Elma. It was a blessing bestowed by the gods, for only one or two were born from the greatest families.
If the daughter of a handyman living a wandering life used her ability, she would likely be caught up in dangerous things.
“But there are too many sick people.”
In recent years, people who were not used to hunting had often been hurt while climbing mountains.
Rather, it was fortunate if the limbs were scratched. If the arm or leg was broken or the wound was deep, he could lose his life due to sepsis.
So Ruelli would make medicine to help reduce pain and recover and distribute it away free of charge in the town.
“And you can’t keep doing it forever. Technically, you’re neither an apothecary nor a doctor, Ruelli.”
“It’s just an ointment. I know how, and I can’t pretend that I don’t know.”
Fadenos had never thought of himself as a righteous human being.
But when he had Ruelli, everything changed.
“I’ll be careful, but please allow me. Simon’s father fell down the mountain and hurt his leg. If his father can’t work, Simon and his brothers will starve.”
Simon Henrietta was best friends with Ruelli.
“People can get better if I help, but it’s so painful to stay still when I know how to heal him.”
Only a twelve-year-old child, Ruelli, was very convincing.
“Yes, but you must come back before sunset. You know how scary the dark is, don’t you?”
“Yes, of course. I’m not that stupid, father.”
Ruelli smiled lovingly and hugged Fadenos. Patting the girl’s back, Fadenos wished her the blessing of God Alamies.
Of course their god was not on their side in the past or today.
It was early in the winter, before the freezing cold weather started. But as she got further into the mountains, the air became much colder.
Ruelli carried a basket made of woven straw on her shoulders as she hurriedly walked up the mountain. After walking for a while with a somewhat combative expression on her face, her legs slowed down at some point. It was due to the fact that she saw a cluster of trees for the first time.
As she slowly looked around, there were footprints that appeared to belong to a beast, as well as marks where the grass had been roughed up.
“It looks like a wild boar.”
Of course she had to be careful of the mountain beast she suddenly encountered, but the hunter who was chasing it was also dangerous.
She thought of her father’s face and how he reminded her how dangerous it was in the mountain again and again before she left home.
‘You must never go deep into the mountains, Ruelli. Do not go up to where you can see the tracks of the mountain beasts.’
It was at this moment that Ruelli was about to turn back, thinking that it would be better to go the other way. As she turned her head to look at the afterimage that had passed her, she saw a foreign color in the bushes.
“Oh, that’s why I have to come to the mountain!”
The white flowers that poked its clear face out were clearly Quercus serrata.
The stem and leaves of the flowers were very effective at soothing pain, and the petals hardened and healed quickly when applied to minor wounds.
However, it was not easy to obtain, as the conditions were harsh to grow, and the flowers were lost quickly.
Ruelli gently pushed her hand through the grass.
“My goodness, you guys have been hiding like this here!”
She was hoping to find one or two more flowers, but the flowers were crowded in between the round bushes.
Ruelli with a delightful face took out a small knife and cut away the lower trunk.
“I’m sorry, but such good fortune doesn’t come along often, so I’ll be greedy today.”
Carefully stroking broken grass, she saw a faint light. A new trunk would soon grow at the cut site.
So she went around and filled her basket, and the sun began to slowly set as if quite some time had passed.
“I must hurry.”
Ruelli brushed off the hem of her skirt and stood up. Her hands were a mess, but her heart was full.
“I guess we’ll have to say goodbye now, won’t we?”
Because Nordard had no set path and the mountainous terrain was too steep, Ruelli tied a yellow ribbon to a large birch she came across on the way up to point her in the right direction.
However, she didn’t see the ribbon she had tied. There was no sign of human presence, so it was unlikely that someone had untied it, or that it was untied naturally by the wind.
All that was left in the cool air was the tension shed by the nameless grass and trees. It was at that moment that Ruelli took a step back with an uneasy gaze.
“Who left marks on my private property without permission?”
Ruelli turned when she heard a voice coming from behind her.
Revealed among the dense bushes was a boy with a beautiful white face.
A face without blemish, like the flowers she picked so many earlier. But the expression on his face was so cold that it could not be compared to the petals.
The black hair that covered his forehead, combined with the boy’s cold energy, gave him a strange impression. The dark green eyes located underneath it were also beautiful as rare jewels.
However, now was not the time to admire the unfamiliar boy’s appearance.
“Who are you?”
That’s when Ruelli was struck with fear.
“Who are you?”
The boy snickered at Ruelli’s reaction and grabbed his sword with his small but firm hands.
“You’re the one who needs to answer. Who dares enter my land?”