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Translated by Wook
Edited by Iris Sakura
“Thank you. You’ve worked hard.”
As she prepared to return, Rosaline passed through the bustling crowds. Ricardis was chatting with his entourage: Kairo, Duke Brulite’s representative, Knight Commander Starz, Deputy Commander Nathan, Secretary Isserion, and Raymond, in addition to escort knights Hale and Pardict. They looked at Rosaline as she just entered the room and reorganized their conversation.
“… Anyway, I think it went well.”
“From this point on, let’s leave it to heaven.”
Ricardis crossed his arms and raised his chin slightly.
“Right. Are you ready to go home, Sir Rosaline?”
“… Really? I admire you… It’s nice to see someone so honest… I’ve always been thinking…”
Rosaline pulled a dark red crystal from her pocket and held it out to Ricardis. He shifted her gaze to the piece on her palm.
It was clearly visible in Ricardis’s eyes. A dark red mist, moving like smoke within the crystal. It was an object he had never seen before, but it was so clearly visible that it was impossible to mistake even if he did not know anything about it.
“This… Could it be… magic?”
Isserion softly exclaimed as he sounded excited. Ricardis received the dark red gem from Rosaline. His blue eyes reflected the piece of stone that was the size of a finger.
A dark red mist slowly moved inside the surface, shining in the sunlight. It looked ominous but at the same time beautiful. Ricardis couldn’t take his eyes off it, and he rubbed the uneven surface with his fingertips. It felt like a hard, cold stone. ‘Crystalized magic? How could such a thing exist?’ He had never heard or seen it before. ‘Was it made by Balta? How to use it correctly? What is the use? What is the connection with the synthesized poison?’ Ricardis’ mind became complicated.
“By the way… Where the hell did you get this, Sir Rosaline?”
At Isserion’s question, all eyes in the room turned to her. Ricardis also took his eyes off the jewel and looked at Rosaline. Come to think of it…
Where the hell did she get this…?
Rosaline smirked, avoiding their fervent gazes. There seemed to be something within. Everyone’s eyes narrowed. ‘W, What did you do this time, Rosaline!’
“… stole it.”
The word ‘Macaron…’ did not come out. Rosaline was aware that the others thought Macaron was an eagle, and it was difficult for an eagle to hide in a secret place underground.
Raymond let out a gasp and covered his mouth with both hands. Ricardis shut his eyes tight. Fatigue came in an instant.
“Did you get caught?”
“Who was likely to see you?”
Rosaline shook her head from side to side after pondering. Even if there were eyewitnesses, wouldn’t it just be a lot of cats in the palace?
“It’s fine, then.”
“Your Highness!” Isserion opened his mouth wide. ‘What have you become!’
“If Prince Haqab notices it, things could go awry, Your Highness!”
“There were a lot of these. Missing only one…”
‘They wouldn’t know…’ Her words were a little scattered.
Isserion was furious. It embarrassed her to see his reprimanding eyes. ‘Who brought it upon herself?’ Rosaline shut her mouth like a clam. She was always expressionless, which made her look more sullen.
“Don’t go too far, Isserion. We expected a dirty battle anyway. The presence or absence of a single gem doesn’t make much of a difference right now. What do you think would happen if you added a handful of dirt to a mud bath?”
“Moreover, Sir Rosaline said there were no witnesses. This Sir Rosaline.”
Ricardis directed his eyes towards her. Isserion knew exactly what his master was saying.
He could not describe her in the single word of ‘strong’. What kind of modifier should be attached to a person who can read the way leaves would fall and even the minuscule signs of flying insects? Isserion placed the evaluation of ‘competent’ in front of her name, but even that was not enough.
If Rosaline said there were no witnesses and if she said she wasn’t caught, then that must be the truth. Isserion groaned and ruffled his hair. ‘Can’t help it.’ There was no way he could tell her to go back and return it.
Ricardis seemed to have shaken off the feeling that had been bothering him for a while. He even looked happy. He picked up the black crystal and looked back and forth at it in the light. The cold, hard jewel looked like a living creature, with slow movements inside. It was like an unknown world to him.
“Because of Balta’s preaching, the influence of magical powers is widely spread across the continent. At a time like this, this little gem will be a great food that will make one salivate. It will be the same for the nobles of Illavenia and those who wish for the corpse of the 2nd Prince Ricardis.”
Isserion said, “Oh,” and his eyes lit up. He, too, had a grin on his face, unlike before.
“Surely. That’s right. This is perfect. Well done, Sir Rosaline.”
Rosaline received some sweets from Isserion as his way of showing his sincerity. The cookies came from Raymond’s pocket, anyway.
Raymond looked at the robbed sweets foolishly but decided to move on. In the first place, all the snacks he always carries in his left pocket were for Rosaline. Isserion was still looking at Rosaline with satisfaction.
“Sir, don’t be like this next time. Do you understand?”
“In the future, get permission before stealing.”
“So, I should tell the owner first?”
‘If you tell the owner first, can it still be called stealing?’ Ricardis laughed, letting out a whistling sound.
“…. No. It would be best to ask His Highness, but if there’s an unavoidable situation, you may ask the people around you as well.”
“You have to ask first before you act.”
‘I think I’ve heard this somewhere…’ Rosaline replied that she understood. Isserion nodded his head. However, he still felt anxious, so in an instant, he added, “You must.”
It was pointless to think about what they should do if they got caught stealing something. Livita’s palace didn’t even show a sign of disturbance. Of course, there was no guarantee that the silence meant they had not heard anything. Strict control was still required in the future. The senior knights severely cracked down on every single act of the knights so as not to get caught doing something fishy. While Rosaline ate her delicious snack, the other members were working hard.
The week’s schedule, in any case, was over. Prince Haqab went out to see them off right in front of the palace. Then he kissed Ricardis on the cheek again. Compared to the first greeting he had given, Haqab was a little more insistent, and Ricardis was eventually forced to return his greeting to the cheek. Diech laughed upon seeing the friendly appearance of the two but soon received the same ‘greeting’ from Haqab. Diech had a look similar to that of Ricardis from a few days ago. Haqab burst out laughing as he looked at the rotting faces of the two men.
“May the spirit of Hiksala be with our distinguished guests of Illavenia during your journey. I wish you peace.”
Haqab made eye contact with Rosaline one last time. He smirked and moved his mouth.
‘I wish you good luck, Rosaline.’
Rosaline didn’t answer that. Under Haqab’s relentless gaze, she held her index and thumb in her mouth and blew hard.
Her warm breath squeezing through her fingers made a high-pitched noise. An eagle circled over the heads of the delegation, who began to depart towards the opposite side of the palace. As if in response, Macaron made a sharp cry that rippled in the air.
“Get out of Balta as quickly as possible.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The decisive battle would definitely take place on Baltan land. No matter how strong the Black Moon was, they would not be crossing the border and directly bumping into the forces of Illavenia. Fortunately, everyone’s stamina was in perfect condition. They had to leave the land of Balta as soon as possible. They should reach the border in two days. Macaron followed the delegation, circling them in the sky.
As the sun went down, the group stopped moving. The blackened forest covered the eyes of allies and hid the enemy’s face. Moreover, the possibility of getting lost was hard to ignore. The delegation busily erected tents and fences. Their vigilance strengthened as they could not move at night. While sneaking into Ricardis’ tent, Rosaline was caught by Raymond and dragged away.
Only Ricardis’ entourage remained in the barracks. Isserion spread the map in the center, and Deputy Commander Nathan wiped his chin and opened his mouth.
“Thillac, Tsavo, Darion. I thought it would be the point where the three villages intersect…”
“Prince Haqab likes to catch others off guard. It’s in his nature.”
“I suppose he’s not going to touch us on the first day when we’re the most vigilant.”
“As the Prince says.”
Starz picked up stones from the ground and placed them one by one on the map.
“Here, and here. These are two places where you can hide a lot of people. Due to the nature of Prince Haqab, he will not come fairly. There is a high probability of an ambush.”
“Should we turn around?”
Ricardis shook his head at Nathan’s question.
“Our path will become longer if we turn around. Besides, those are such obvious ambush points. Haqab would think we would have noticed. There’s a good chance he has planted an army behind us.”
“A battle will be unavoidable.”
Ricardis nodded. Black Moon’s new poison, ‘Fragment’. A method to detoxify the powerful poison had not been found yet. The difference between the number of soldiers and their strength was also evident.
‘There is no way to win! If you can’t win, you have to avoid it. The only way out is the border crossing into Illavenia. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the defensive like this.’ Ricardis smirked.
“I just hope that the border will come to us on foot.”
Everyone laughed bitterly. The place where Starz placed the stone was not far from the delegation’s current location.
Read only at Travis Translations
This marks the end of Book 1. Book 2 will start with the (characters) blood, (our) tears, and (my) sweat. Trivia: I finished translating Book 1 in under 20 days.