After the Rain (10)
* * *
Aristine changed into clothes that were tearfully prepared by the court ladies, then she headed for the portal.
“Must you go today? Let’s go tomorrow when it’s bright. It must be dark over there already.”
“Tomorrow will be late.”
At those firm words, the court ladies withered and shut their mouths.
Aristine glanced back at them and muttered as she continued moving.
“Thanks for worrying about me. I know how you feel. But I think this is absolutely necessary so I’m going ahead with this.”
“It’s enough that Your Highness understands our worry.”
“We will abide by Your Highness’ decision no matter what.”
Aristine finally smiled and shook her head.
Tarkan was a pretty good partner, and one of the reasons why she was able to safely adapt to Irugo, but another important reason was because her court ladies were all good people.
As the corridor ended, an open area came into view.
A large, blue-tinged portal stone marked with pure white marble. With silver engraving on the round bottom and golden dust sprinkled on the platform.
Just the appearance alone made you feel divine.
It might be a familiar appearance to the rest of the imperial family, but this was the first time that Aristine had actually seen it.
Ritlen and the blacksmiths, who had arrived earlier, bowed towards her.
Unlike usual, they were armed. They seemed to all have weapons that they had made themselves.
“You do not have to follow me into a danger zone.”
“What are you saying! If we don’t, who will go with Your Highness!”
The blacksmiths exclaimed at the top of their lungs.
Seeing that, Aristine broke into a smile. It seems her fortune lay in Irugo, rather than Silvanus.
“I shall activate the portal.”
The portal guardian said with a respectful bow towards Aristine.
Aristine nodded and climbed up.
Once the portal was activated, she should be at the border in the blink of an eye.
It was at that moment…
A loud voice rang out.
It came from the corridor. But no one could be seen.
‘What is it?’
Then, a moment later, a group of people appeared.
It was the magicians, Asena included.
They were gasping for breath as they arrived at the portal, their hands braced on their knees for support.
Some of them even sat on the ground.
“To make a magician run of all things, huff, seriously…” Asena grumbled while trying to catch her breath.
“You really planned to leave us behind?”
“Well, because it’s dangerous…”
“Don’t underestimate a magician’s desire for experience. We can go anywhere dangerous for research.”
Asena said majestically.
“I thought you were saying you hate scary things earlier.”
Asena screamed at the other magician’s words.
‘Ehem, ehem’ she cleared her throat a few times, then she spoke to Aristine.
“My stamina might not be that great but if we run into a demonic beast, my magic will be quite useful.”
The magicians were wearing different robes than usual, as if they had properly prepared beforehand.
“Thank you, everyone.”
“I will count on you for the hazard pay.”
“Alright, I’m activating the portal now!”
At the words of the portal guardian, they all stood upon the platform.
As they watched this happen, the court ladies called out to Aristine.
“Princess Consort, please come back safely!”
“In case you meet His Highness Tarkan and come back together, we’ll make your bed look—.”
The following words were swallowed by the burning white light that covered Aristine’s eyes.
Her eyes flew shut and she couldn’t hear anything, as if the world was muted.
But that was only a brief moment, and soon enough, noise like running water rushed into her eardrums.
The sound of the wind blowing, the trees rustling, and the sound of falling leaves.
After experiencing complete silence, even the smallest sounds echoed even louder.
Aristine slowly opened her eyes.
She was met with the sight of multiple people prostrating before her.
When her eyes fell on them, a man who seemed like the lord of the territory bowed to her.
“Greetings to Your Highness. Welcome to Avik.”
As Aristine stepped down from the portal platform and approached, he carefully held out his hand as he prostrated himself.
“If I may.” He asked.
Aristine placed her hand on top of his, and the lord placed a careful kiss on the back of her hand.
“It is an honor to meet you, Princess Consort. I am Tallistan, the lord of Avik.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Count Tallistan.”
Count Tallistan was a lord who guarded the border and was a man of high prestige and power.
It was surprising that he received her so hospitably.
“Now that I’ve seen Your Highness in person, I can understand why His Highness Tarkan guards you so preciously.”
Count Tallistan gave a wide smile.
His face looked sharp like an eagle, but once he smiled, he instantly looked friendly.
Aristine returned the smile.
It seems they felt closer to Tarkan and his warriors than the royal capital because they were in regular contact with the demonic beast plains.
This was a good sign for Aristine, who needed their cooperation.
“I am very grateful for such a warm welcome despite my sudden visit.”
“Of course. I heard that you came to offer your help.”
It seems Nephther’s influence was also playing a part in making them more friendly to her.
‘Thank you, Royal father.’
Aristine inwardly thanked Nephther and took back her hand.
“Please rise, Count. Normally, we should sit down for a meal, but I have a matter of urgency. Please forgive me.”
At that, Count Tallistan laughed.
“His Majesty told me that Your Highness would say that. That you seemed so busy to even have a cup of tea with him.”
Aristine smiled awkwardly.
“If you are busy, that is your priority. In Avik, we are always practical. Please rest assured, I shall not take this as a disregard of my goodwill.”
His speech was straightforward, which was as practical as he said.
“That is truly, a wonderful principle.”
“We are next to the border with demonic beasts, after all.” Count Tallistan smiled and escorted Aristine.
As they began to walk, he asked.
“Do you plan to head out to the plains right away?”
At that brief response, Count Tallistan’s sharp gaze turned to Aristine.
“It doesn’t seem like you’ll listen if I tell you that it’s late.”
“I know the night is more dangerous. But I have to move fast. It won’t be too much of a stretch since the warriors should have cleaned up the area close to the castle wall.”
“You are right about that. However.” Count Tallistan came to a stop and looked at Aristine.
“Where exactly do you plan on going? As I will have to hand over my troops, I think I need to know.”
In other words, depending on her answer, he might not give up his troops.
Because she planned on getting help from the border troops, Aristine did not bring separate troops from the Imperial palace.
And she preferred that since she was able to move quickly.
But this also meant that if Count Tallistan didn’t give up Avik’s troops, she would have to go to the demonic beast plain without any backup.
Aristine fell silent for a while and looked into Count Tallistan’s eyes.
Soon, her lips opened.
“The domain of the Great Demonic Beast.”
* * *
Jacquelin solemnly lowered his head as he replied to Tarkan’s question.
Tarkan simply nodded and didn’t say much.
“We’ll press ahead.”
Jacquelin didn’t mention the dangers that they would face if the other divisions ran into trouble and couldn’t group up.
Even though Tarkan knew that, he decided to push ahead with it.
And Jacquelin was well aware of why Tarkan made that choice.
‘With our strategy, every division should be positioned relatively close. If we clash first, everyone will see it and join in.’
The odds of no one joining were less than the odds of being struck by lightning.
‘Unless someone deliberately intervenes.’
But that couldn’t be the case.
Because of the political marriage, diplomatic relations were in unprecedented peaceful state.
Although Tarkan and the queen were enemies, the matter of reducing the number of demonic beasts in preparation for winter was an important task. As a fellow Irugoian, there was no way she would interfere. Because that would be cutting her own flesh to eat it.
‘Right, the expedition is going smoothly. At this rate, we should be back to the capital very soon.’
The reason the demonic beasts were dealt with so quickly was obvious.
Jaquelin knew that Tarkan was looking at his wife’s picture every day and stroking it.
The kisses were a bonus.
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