*˖:✧ ⑅•.⋅༻♔༺•⑅ ✧:˖*
At that moment.
Valhayle grabbed a helmet that was hung on a wall in the palace hallway. He couldn’t remember why he did that.
He could see the princess freeze at the sound of the helmet. Valhayle quickly put it on.
The princess approached to check the source of the sound.
“The tail of your dress is wet.”
The princess flinched away at his voice.
Valhayle hoped she would answer him.
Or ask his name or give an excuse about her wet dress.
However, the princess turned around without hesitation and sprinted away anxiously.
After the princess disappeared from his sight, Valhayle mumbled.
“…She can’t see my face and yet, she flees.”
At this point, she wasn’t running away from him; she was running away from people in general. He clenched his jaw.
For some reason, he didn’t like that about her. That feeling that she was always ready to flee from anyone. That feeling that she would be here today and gone tomorrow.
He knew too little about her to sympathize, and felt too uncomfortable to be indifferent to her. Valhayle finally realized that he was actually angry.
He didn’t know why. He didn’t know if it was because of the princess running away in fright, the tears she shed, or even her instability in this world of strict order like Roheneim and the 2nd Princess Demiera’s marriage.
People described her as ‘ordinary’. Valhayle shook his head.
No, she isn’t ordinary. But she isn’t noble either.
Ironically, while she was fleeing like a frightened prey, he sensed strength.
Valhayle leaned against the hallway wall.
He remained there for a long time.
In the present, on the war field.
The handwritten letter Valhayle requested was rejected.
The reason they provided was that the princess was too ill to write a letter.
Obviously, the Roheneim camp was furious.
“Sir! This is a trap. While we were exchanging these letters of negotiation, they earned time.”
“On top of that, they are saying that the princess is too ill to even write a letter. Her Highness was fine before the war, there’s no way she’d suddenly fall that ill. It’s certain she passed away.”
“But there’s a chance that the person Granoir is hiding is indeed the 8th Princess. It’s not like we didn’t have any information…”
Valhayle pressed his temples. Things were getting complicated.
While waiting for Granoir’s reply to his request for a handwritten letter, the soldiers searched for the 8th Princess’s whereabouts using the Central region’s information network.
Most of them replied that they had no information regarding Princess Zelleinie’s whereabouts—except for one place..
In a small port between the Western region and Vishen River, news was heard.
It was said that the Granoir army apparently took a few Roymondean women as captives to translate for and serve someone.
It was also said that the high military officers of Granoir were hiding someone in high confidentiality.
They had a feeling.
It’s a royal heir.
Since the captives were all women, the person they were hiding would most likely be a woman as well. There was an even higher chance of that ‘someone’ being the 8th Princess they claimed to have.
As long as they obtained the handwritten letter, Roheneim was going to retreat to have the 8th Princess returned. The life of a royal heir was worth all that.
However, Granoir rejected it, and things went back to ground zero.
Valhayle lifted his finger away from his temples.
The knights immediately stopped arguing.
“Sir Valhayle. You must make a decision.”
“…I’ll think it over tonight.”
The knights all walked out at their commander-in-chief’s firm command.
When he was finally alone, Valhayle pulled the sleeve strap tightened around his wrist roughly. Fury towards Granoir rushed through his body.
They killed the royal heirs, humiliated the country with their deaths, and attempted to capture the country using the life of the royal heir.
Every single one of their acts infuriated him but the thing that infuriated him the most was that they could possibly have the 8th Princess with them.
And that they made her so incapacitated, she couldn’t even write a single letter.
Valhayle held his desk and cooled his head.
He rather wished it was a lie that they had the 8th Princess with them. If it was, he would have ordered the entire Roheneim army to wipe them out this instant.
He would have charged all the way to the palace where they found that blue satin waist ornament without resting. However…
If they truly had the 8th Princess with them, they would kill the 8th Princess the moment Valhayle started attacking. The first thing they would do when they found out he was attacking them was to behead the princess.
Valhayle slid into his chair and placed his hand over his eyes.
He let out a sigh and opened his eyes, spotting the bird which sat quietly on the yellow cloth. As if it understood his feelings, the bird was also low-spirited recently.
Before, it would come when it pleased and snuggle beside him or demand food—but it stopped doing all that. Valhayle clicked his tongue to get the bird’s attention.
The bird glanced over at him. He tapped the desk softly and called the bird. It hesitated for a moment but soon flew over to him.
When Valhayle extended his hands, the bird hopped on them. He ran his fingers along the golden ribbon tied around the bird’s leg and spoke.
“Do you know why Roymonde’s flag is yellow?”
“Yellow is the color of the Meredith Royalty, the dynasty that stood strong through 3 changes in denomination. It’s a color representing 600 years of history.”
Zelle stared into Valhayle’s eyes. It was something that was impossible for her to not know.
But she was currently in a state where she couldn’t even say that. Her human body was being held captive by the enemy, stalling the war Roheneim was winning. Yet, she was merely a bird that couldn’t do anything about it.
As a royal heir, she was holding them back instead of being some kind of help. So, it was quite cruel for her to be reminded of what the color of the flag meant at this moment.
Valhayle slowly added.
“In the past few days, that was the only thing I could think of.”
Zelle stared at the golden ribbon that ran down his finger and recalled the legend of the origin of the Meredith dynasty.
The tale of the gold-blooded.
It was the legend that if a person of golden blood shed blood for this land, their blood would protect it.
600 years ago.
There lived a person with golden blood.
The blood of The Gold-blooded One had the power to make lands flourish, rivers run undried, prevent disasters, and protect lives.
The Gold-blooded One wanted to make this land the land of abundance. Alas, the people who coveted the golden blood started a war to have it all to themselves.
The land and water were stained with the blood of the innocent. Animals were butchered. The Gold-blooded One was in agony as they watched the land get destroyed.
However, the only powers The Gold-blooded One had was that of revival and restoration. They couldn’t stop the war.
Then, two people helped The Gold-blooded One: a man from the mountains and a woman from the plains.
No one knew if The Gold-blooded One was a woman or a man.
But the man from the mountains believed The Gold-blooded One was a man like him, and the woman from the plains believed The Gold-blooded One was a woman like her.
The two snuck The Gold-blooded One out. They escaped and roamed around the mountains and plains, reviving the dead mountains and fields and helping people.
During their travels, a child was born. They weren’t sure whose child it was but the Mountain Man and the Plains Woman called the child the “Golden Child”.
Meanwhile, The Gold-blooded One was slowly losing vitality from losing so much blood.
The Gold-blooded One said that they wished to return to the Vishen River where they had lived before, to the origin of the river that flowed throughout the land.
When they reached the river, The Gold-blooded One shed their remaining blood into the river and died.
Before their last breath, The Gold-blooded One made a contract with the Mountain Man and the Plains Woman.
It was a contract to protect the Golden Child while their blood protected them and their land.
As promised, the Mountain Man and the Plains Woman gathered people together and protected the Golden Child, serving the child as their king.
Neither of them ever claimed the Golden Child as theirs. They both remained as the child’s servants, equally.
The blood of the Gold-blooded One was scattered over the entire land and the Vishen River. Hence, this land and its golden descendants—the royal heirs—lived forever in destinal connection to each other… That was how the legend ended.
She had looked at her blue-veined wrist before and wondered if golden blood ran in her body. Every royal heir would have wondered this once in their lives like young Zelle did.
However, as she grew, Zelleine saw the truth hidden in the legend.
‘With bloodshed, the land revives.’
With this simple belief, the royal heirs justified killing each other.
Before, in the dark ages, a royal heir killed another royal heir as a sacrifice.
The reason behind so many civil conflicts even after the country was stable was also because of that damned legend.
She didn’t know at all if the blood of the royal heirs really did make this land any better, but Zelle always believed the legend was nonsense since so many people died for its sake.
The blood of the Gold-blooded One that was originally to save people.
The yellow that represented the gold blood of this legend. She couldn’t hate the color of her country.
Zelle looked at Valhayle’s face. It was so obvious what he was thinking right now.
Valhayle brushed the scar on Zelle’s leg and uttered.
“Right now, the Meredith dynasty is in danger of ending.”
Zelle clenched her talons in pent-up anger. Her talons would have dug into Valhayle’s hands but Valhayle didn’t seem to notice.
He was thinking of the royal heirs who were continuously found dead and the 8th Princess who was the first royal heir who could be alive.
Valhayle met Zelle’s eyes.
“What do you think? Do you think… I should give up on the 8th Princess who could be the only surviving royal heir and save Roymonde?”
People would say he was insane for asking a bird about this, but Zelle knew he was actually talking to himself.
If she wasn’t there, he would talk to his wooden table instead.
“Or, should I turn my back on the lives this war threatens and choose the possibility of the 8th Princess being alive?”
Zelle couldn’t easily nod to either of the choices. Whoever he tried to save, someone had to die. It was despairing.
Valhayle mumbled in a self-deprecating tone.
“Isn’t it amusing. How this country’s fate is no different from the fate of one princess.”
Zelle clenched her jaw to the point that it throbbed.
“If the Meredith dynasty were to end, the 3 militaries of this country would no longer be allied. We are only tied by the old contract made with the royalty and have weak trust with one another. Even if we retrieved our country, we would be fighting over the Vishen River… And starting another war to capture the capital.”
Valhayle petted Zelle’s beak.
“But if we retreat 40 days for the 8th Princess, Granoir will have the upper hand again in this war. If the war continues for a longer time and the supplies in the West eventually run out… We won’t last.”
Valhayle placed Zelle on the desk and brought his hands over his eyes again. A great burden was on the man’s shoulders again.
Zelle stood still for a while. Then, with a heavy heart, she took a step forward.
*˖:✧ ⑅•.⋅༻♔༺•⑅ ✧:˖*
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