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Translated by Wook
Edited by Iris Sakura
As the sun began to set, the forest gradually darkened. But Rosaline did not care and went back into the woods.
Nestor, who wanted to follow her, asked, “If it doesn’t get in the way, can I go with you?”
“It gets in the way.”
Dispirited at Rosaline’s words, he went to prepare the wild boar. After a while, Rosaline came out of the woods with a deer on her shoulders. The hunter-turned-guide struggled with a wave of emotion and, unable to continue his words, merely raised his thumb. Many people wanted to talk to Rosaline, but she only looked through the deer she had caught. She later gave a weak sigh of relief, but the people around her did not understand why.
Anyway, since then, Rosaline had caught more rabbits, birds, and a few more wild hens. In addition to that, several people succeeded in hunting. The Ricardis Hunting Tournament successfully concluded with a harvest sufficient for everyone in the barracks to eat.
Ricardis was also satisfied with the lavish meal for a camper. It was a good night to give vitality to those who were exhausted. People gathered in groups and grilled meat. Rosaline was also in one of the groups. Compared to the male knights who plainly skinned the meat and roasted it in moderation, the female knights were grilling meat sprinkled with salt and pepper on a sizzling stone plate. They also had herbs that no one knows from where they had gotten. They seemed to put as much effort as the chef in charge of the Imperial family’s meals in the delegation. Perhaps, Ricardis thought, there is not much difference between the meat on his plate and the meat the female knights cooked and ate.
The female knights handed the roasted meat to Rosaline first. The fragrant aroma of roasted garlic and the delicious smell of herbs constantly stimulated the appetite. She swallowed her saliva and couldn’t take her eyes off it. Her blank face filled with intense emotions of joy. Most of them ate the food little by little with a dagger, but Rosaline took the whole meat with her bare hands and chewed it. She took a large bite, and the juices spilled into her mouth. Rosaline ate as vigorously as she could, which made the female knights laugh. Their voices were about three tones higher than when they were on a mission or dealing with the male knights.
Rosaline closed her eyes and ate the meat, savoring it to the fullest. Happy gazes fell on her. She looked so joyful that an optical illusion appeared, making it look as if her cheeks were blushing.
“How do you like it, Sir Rosaline?”
“Very, very tasty.”
“Good to hear. I marinated it with lime and rosemary for 20 minutes. Then I used herb butter mixed with lemon balm and garlic powder before roasting it.”
Rosaline nodded her head with a slightly shocked expression. Ricardis was also shocked. ‘They even marinated the meat…?’
“I see… That’s why it tastes this good… Wonderful, Sir.”
Once again, laughter erupted from the group of women who had reached an unknown consensus. In an instant, Ricardis realized that he had not taken his eyes off the female knights, especially Rosaline.
‘What is this… Not even a 15-year-old adolescent boy…’
Ricardis became annoyed, and then he devoted himself to chewing the meat on his plate. Ricardis, having emptied his plate a while ago, looked around the scenery slowly. Not far from his place, Diech was also eating. He was staring intently at something while he was eating, and the direction in which his eyes were touching was familiar. It was the side of the bonfire where the female knights were sitting. Here was another adolescent boy.
Ricardis grinned but soon was forced to harden his expression. It was because he realized that Diech’s gaze didn’t leave Rosaline. Ricardis’ eyebrows twitched. It bothered him as if he had a needle in his mouth.
The tumultuous evening was over. Everyone went to the barracks to relieve the fatigue accumulated from the arduous journey. Many fell asleep as soon as they put their head down. A few groups stood to guard the quiet barracks. Rosaline perched on a tall tree near Ricardis’ barracks. Even the senior knights guarding 2nd Prince’s barracks were unaware of her presence.
Rosaline nodded and fell asleep with her head resting on a thick branch. She used to be alright even if she didn’t sleep that much. But now, Rosaline has to sleep at least once a week, even though it was only a very shallow sleep at the level that one would wake up quickly from even the slightest noise and subtle intentions. Still, she closed her eyes to relieve her fatigue to some extent.
Instead of sleeping, her sharp sense felt the footsteps of a small creature climbing the tree. It was a tiny vibration from a feathery weight. Rosaline opened her eyes.
It was the squirrel that was also the deer she had saved. It was a strange little creature that didn’t think to run away even with Rosaline in front of its nose. The squirrel jumped and climbed onto her lap. Thanks to that, their eye level adjusted to some extent. The squirrel twitched her nose and made a rat-like noise. Squeak. ‘It looks like it’s saying something…’ Rosaline frowned at it.
“I’ve never eaten a squirrel.”
‘I don’t understand squirrels.’ The little animal in front of her understood the omitted words. With round eyes sharpened, it seemed to say, ‘How inconvenient,’ then it looked down at the group of people and came down from her lap. The squirrel’s fur began to turn black, and it spread wide like smoke. The lump of black sand gradually swelled and grew to the size of a single person. Magical power swirled inside of the trembling black form.
Rosaline noticed it from the moment she realized it understood what she was saying. ‘It seems that this one has eaten humans too.’ Gradually, a human form began to take shape. It was a young, pretty woman with long brown hair. She had no clothes on, so her voluptuous curves were eye-catching.
Rosaline looked down at Ricardis’ barracks a short distance away. The senior knights were far away, so no one was close enough to hear them. The brunette woman clenched and opened her fists and started to move her body. It was an awkward gesture. Ah. Ah. While checking her voice, she looked at Rosaline with soft eyes.
“This human body is still not very good. The muscles are weak.”
“You speak well.”
Rosaline remembered when she had just become a human. It took her a lot of time and effort to get to the level she was at now, only clumsily imitating the words she heard. However, the woman in front of her was speaking the language much more skillfully than her. The woman noticed the light of respect in Rosaline’s eyes and smiled.
“I have lived as a human. I used to live with an old lady who was crazy. They mistook me for her granddaughter.”
At first, she said that she pretended to be a mute, unable to speak at all. She just waited until she could talk to some extent. ‘Oh my God, so there is that way.’ Rosaline was amazed.
“Still, as a human being, there are a lot of troublesome things. Living as an animal is much more comfortable, and I like it. So it’s kind of weird. Do you live among humans? Aren’t you uncomfortable? We are naturally reluctant to be human. Are each of us a little different?”
‘Are you saying that we are naturally reluctant to be human?’ When she thought about it, she certainly used to avoid humans when she lived in the deep forests of Vista. Beasts and animals much stronger than humans were not scary, but she felt a primitive fear of humans. It was something she had been slowly forgetting since she became Rosaline. ‘Could it be because I committed a taboo?’ Rosaline spilled out the words that she had been thinking about without realizing it.
“Is it because of a taboo?”
“Taboo?” The woman widened her eyes. Her voice grew a little louder. Rosaline held her index finger in front of the woman’s lips. It meant speak quietly.
She slapped Rosaline’s index finger with her hand. ‘Speak quietly for what.’
“You ate a living human, didn’t you?”
The woman hit Rosaline’s forearm one more time. It made a sharp sound but did not hurt much.
“Are you crazy? Many of the younger ones of our kind live without thinking, but isn’t this too much for you to do? Are you stupid enough to go against your instincts? Seriously, how could you?”
Rosaline was a little morose. She had her circumstances. The woman slapped her one more time, even when she saw Rosaline’s unhappy expression. Even Rosaline’s mother, Edelweiss, had never scolded her so much…
“You can’t even run away now, you genius! You must die in that body now!”
“‘Umm’? You’re sitting there saying ‘umm’? Do you even know how serious this is?”
Instinct was already engraved without anyone telling them. Like an animal instinctively avoiding poisonous mushrooms. ‘That poisonous mushroom is dangerous. You can’t eat it. You don’t know what will happen when you eat it, but it will be dangerous if you eat it.’ It was a memory passed down from blood to blood. The taboo of ‘It’ was also the realm of such instincts.
‘You must not absorb living things.’
It was only recently that she realized the true meaning of the taboo. It had already been over two months since she had lived in Rosaline’s body. The food of the human world is delicious, but they are only nutrients that make up the human body.
To maintain the existence of ‘It’, it was necessary to return to the original form and absorb something. It was a quiet night. She prepared an animal carcass in advance and released the mimicry. No, she tried to release it, but magical powers only convected quietly within her shell, and nothing else changed. Rosaline was shocked as if struck by lightning. ‘Nothing changed?’
Read only at Travis Translations
She's quite a character, isn't she? XD