Crumbling like a flower petal that withered off its stem, the time felt like it was moving in slow motion as pairs of eyes with the color of magenta and reptile green rounded in deep astonishment for the shock they’re currently witnessing.
‘What’s going on!?’
Cherry nearly screamed like Pam did when they were blinded by a bright blue light that soon turned bronze before it hit her guide straight on her chest.
Panic could be heard in the young hatchling’s aghast voice as he felt his ‘ground’ tilted– eyes fluttering close, Serein swayed to her side, falling unconscious after being struck by the mysterious light.
Cursing in her mind, Cherry was at a distance too far when the adventurer hit the ground, knocked out cold after agreeing to something extremely suspicious.
‘What did he agree on? Was Serein-shi talking to the spirit?? What’s happening?’
Her mind ran a mile a minute as she carefully inspected her party member for any foul play done by dark entities in disguise, or well, she was expecting to find something explanatory because having a blood contract with a spirit shouldn’t cause anyone to just faint like that.
However, much to her surprise, all that she found were fresh bruises from the harsh fall. Whereas, as she couldn’t sense anything bad from the collapsed body, her thought process immediately shifted to another possibility instead. One that Pam then brought up before she could even utter it.
“Pink Human… could it be that our Little Human lost too much red…?”
Worry was evident in the young wyrm’s voice as he now perched on the mage’s shoulder after jumping to the near ground the moment Serein’s body collided with the cold hard floor.
“Ceva-chi always falls like that whenever he loses too much blood!” He exclaimed anxiously before then adding with a frail whisper as if he wanted to be proven wrong–
“Human blood is red right?”
Cherry could hear the hatchling choke up in his sentences as he asked what was in his mind at the moment.
“… Little Human promised not to die. Little Human won’t lie to me, right…?”
Fright of death.
As someone who had always been taught that the Dragonic race were beings of arrogance and individualism despite being highly intellectual, Cherry felt like her stomach just dropped from hearing such a pitiful voice coming from the small wyrm.
It shook her conscience enough that she let her mouth speak before her own thoughts could catch up.
“Don’t worry, Pam-min. Serein-shi is just sleeping from exhaustion. After some good night’s sleep, I’m sure Serein-shi will be just fine.”
The mage was telling a white lie through her teeth when a rumble was heard once again.
The whole place shook again. Though this time, it seemed to happen in their best interest for once, seeing that the throne changed shape into something akin to a cage-like thing.
Although, instead of feeling ominous like how someone would normally feel toward a jail, the beautiful cage drew them closer instead.
‘It’s calling for us.’
Cherry truly felt that the cage was inviting them inside, and truthfully, she didn’t know how to react to it since there was part of herself that was genuinely scared of this unknown scenario. Especially now that she must carry this mission with literally two additional weights onto herself.
“So, um… are we going in there?”
Pam had his head tilted slightly as he peeked down since he had now positioned himself on the mage’s head, knowing that the delicate-looking human would carry the little human like how she carried his big brother Cevahir.
“Yes, we’re going.”
After pondering on how should she, a PRINCESS, carry a young man on her own and for who knows how long, she finally answered the young wyrm in addition to the slight nod of confirmation she performed.
‘I don’t know for how long I can carry him with magic alone.’
Her mana was limited.
Despite being a gifted mage compared to her peers, her knowledge had not reached the point she could take advantage of the mana in their surroundings to supply herself like how her eldest brother managed to do despite only having been a student in his freshman year.
Actually, he deserved the crown more than her in so many aspects—
But either way, if she had to defend or cast an attack spell later on, then casting levitating magic would be hard to multitask.
‘Then… I don’t have any other choice but to carry him on my back… right?’
Cherry inwardly sighed, realizing that there was no other option outside of the obvious.
‘Come on now, it shouldn’t be that bad… I mean, I can help Cevahir-min to walk by supporting him by the arm–’
Granted, Cevahir was said to be part of the draconic race. A being that’s highly worshipped among mankind and all the other living races.
There wouldn’t be any bad scandals attached to her name for helping a dragon-blood. In fact, if Gil were to report this to the crown or be able to swear upon his knighthood that she did help a draconic race in any way, she’d be forgiven for stealing some more of the Dragon Lord’s elixir to herself.
In all honesty, it was because of this very reason that she didn’t even care about any type of punishment from being found out. She did not only steal from the secret safe, but she also used every drop of the elixir in her current possession–
Because Gil, her knight, was alive, therefore he can testify for her that it was used to help a supreme being.
It probably would be the only salvation for her anyway.
That being said, as a princess, she couldn’t touch any men recklessly. Touching or being touched by anyone other than her maids in honor would already provoke enough trouble and would likely be fuel for scandals all around the kingdom, let alone being close to any opposite gender.
—Sadly it was due to this fear, that she almost lost her best friend as well.
‘Serein-shi has helped us.’
Not only did that guide of theirs save them from getting brutally killed by the mutants and the lethal acid, but Cherry could also admit that it was also due to Serein’s help that she could reach this far and even found the resting place of her ancestor.
‘If it wasn’t for him, I might return to the kingdom handless, or worse.’
Honestly, it shouldn’t take her this long to save a life by putting her own at risk.
Even if someone were somehow able to expose that she’s in this much contact with a man, she’ll face the consequences herself.
It’s not like she ever truly wanted to be the chosen heir to the burdensome throne anyway.
She finally reached a conclusion after debating with herself. Now that she had decided on it, she felt rather foolish to actually question herself while a person might be dying before her very eyes right at this moment.
Granted, it’s not like Cherry stopped moving as she was currently healing Serein’s bruises caused by the fall–
She was trying her best to stop the bleeding on the adventurer’s temple, but still, she couldn’t help but feel as if she was doing something wrong by hesitating all this time.
‘Right. Let’s just get going now.’
Carefully repositioning Serein, Cherry then positioned herself to carry the unconscious body of her guide on her back.
The first thing that Cherry noticed upon carrying the roughly smaller frame was how light her guide was even though she hadn’t cast levitating magic to get Serein onto her back properly.
‘Does he even eat—’
However, having her thoughts halted once more, the second thing that she immediately noticed then and there were bumps around the chest area of the body that’s being currently squished onto herself.
Noticing the new ride of his getting stunned as well, Pam couldn’t help but ask in concern.
“You okay, pink human? What’s the matter?”
Two questions filled with worry were uttered, to which Cherry nearly replied with a stammer.
“Ah, well, yes. Sorry. Let’s get going now.”
Slightly embarrassed herself for assuming that her guide was a male all this time, Cherry almost slapped her own cheeks for hesitating on carrying her guide just a moment ago, all due to the silly misunderstanding that she had caused for herself.
‘Though… Even if Serein-shi is a male, that doesn’t justify my hesitation whatsoever.’
Almost instantly Cherry was compelled by her own conscience to remember how her guide did not hesitate in carrying Gil, an opposite gender of herself who’s even more likely to be much heavier than her own body weight.
To be fair, the act could have been fuelled by greed. A good deed that was motivated by 200 gold coins that were promised to her.
But really. Would Serein have known whether they’re able to pay that much of coins before meeting them?
Serein admitted that she found out about her being a princess of a neighboring kingdom due to her hair color. But she couldn’t have figured about that before seeing them in person, right?
The timing was a bit of a miss.
If Serein had been around and in fact targeting them to get the money, she should have come sooner when the men they brought along for protection, were still alive.
‘The only logical explanation left was for her to hear of our distress by struck of luck and took a detour.’
Because Serein comes from the direction of the path that they took afterward.
Yet here she was.
—Being such a wimp over a decision when it’s not even a real question needing a proper answer.
Clicking her tongue, that pink-haired mage scrunched her face.
‘I need to get my act together!’
Raised behind the castle walls without any real experience outside of it like this, this princess felt the whole experience to be an eye opener.
Especially upon the concerning fact that she still prioritized her image while witnessing several people literally up to smoke with her very eyes–
“Eh? what? what? Why are you frustrated, pink human? I don’t think our little human should weigh more than Ceva-chi does. Was I wrong? Are you having trouble? Should I get down?”
Questions after questions were asked. However, instead of getting annoyed, Cherry found this a good distraction from her growing guilt.
“Don’t worry, Pam-min. I got Serein-shi alright. I won’t let her fall.”
Sparing an assuring smile to the green-eyed wyrm, soon enough she found herself stepping into the cage-like thing while carrying her two comrades.
– Clang clang!
Metals grinded against each other as the gates of the cage moved on their own as if they had their own will.
Closed as soon as they all entered the secluded space, there was a soft sound coming from under her feet as Cherry could sense another rune magic being activated and surrounding the cage.
The sound of the wind enveloped the area as a whirlwind formed under the cage and soon moved the whole thing with the three of them inside upwards
The ceiling above them cracked open and moved away in chunks as if making a path for the rising cage to the surface.
“Ooooh~! This is fun!”
Pam sounded rather giddy as the lift rode its way above.
“I can’t agree more with you, Pam-min.”
Quite awed as well, the stunned pink-haired mage watched with fascination as she praised the Great Sage for this innovative idea to move people and items at the same time.
‘Such a marvelous concept!’
As a matter of fact, witnessing how magnificent all of this rune magic was, made her quite intrigued and even motivated to change her choice of course at school. From a simpler way to cast modern spells to ancient magic, perhaps.
Either way, it seems like her guide was right all along.
‘…it’s really a shortcut.’
Because now, right in front of her lay a beautiful field that felt so peaceful and harmonious.
Just looking at it made her heart feel lighter as if all the burdens inside faded away with the wind.
The way the grass swayed.
The way the sunlight felt warm and just right.
It was nothing grand, very unlike the interiors of the throne room they were just in earlier, but Cherry felt like she could stand there for eternity and never get tired of gazing at it.
A vast expanse of green, decorated with various multi-colorful flowers which blossomed gloriously.
It was simple yet great. That was how it was.
In the midst of appreciating the heavenly view, Cherry felt a movement from the body behind her. It was barely a shift, although what assured her that the adventurer was coming to was the weak and raspy voice of the barely conscious Serein that greeted them with—
“…welcome to the heart of The Ervenyl Mountain.”
And so, with that confirmation, at last, they finally arrived at their final destination…
Author Note: Heyya folks! Anemic Bunnicula here~! Here goes another update for the week + Art that you can check on the discussion channel. Hope you all would enjoy it, and I’ll see you again in the next chapter, Chao~!