Reasons to Protect the Witch’s Son - Chapter 4
Bella’s voice echoed loudly in the forest in the late afternoon as the sun was setting.
“Your elbows are down!”
“Put in some more strength!”
“My flank is open!”
Elaine, whose whole body was drenched in sweat, cried out through the relentless guidance.
“Let’s stop here and take a break.”
It was Espel who saved Elaine from Bella. The slender young man with gray hair smiled, his red eyes curling. “I brought some snacks.”
“Wow, Espel is the best!”
“Espel! Aren’t you spoiling Laine too much?”
“Training is only possible with proper rest. Bella, you would be okay, but humans tire out easily.”
“I know that!”
With a sullen face, Bella took an apple out of the basket Espel had brought with him. Elaine had already taken a second bite out of her apple and laughed happily.
It has already been five years since she’s lived with Bella and Espel. It was always fun to watch squabbles between the two people who were close like family.
Bella gave the seat next to her to Espel as she sat down on a fallen tree stump.
“Give it a few more years and Laine will become a master.”
“Hm, of course. Who do you think taught her?”
A master was someone who reached the point of being able to infuse mana into their sword. On top of long-term training, which was standard for every swordsman, being naturally gifted with talent was another requirement for becoming a master. Because of that, it was relatively uncommon for people to become one.
But the girl who she found stumbling into the forest that night five years ago possessed an extraordinary talent. It wasn’t any old, common talent either, but rather a real gemstone-like talent on another level.
She was born with a constitution that easily accepted mana and had a much stronger will than ordinary humans. Besides, Bella was also an excellent teacher. It was only a matter of time before Elaine—who was taught by someone with extensive knowledge and experience accumulated through her long life—would become a master.
Elaine, who was munching on apples, suddenly remembered what she had forgotten and suddenly jumped to her feet. “Ah! That’s right.”
“I forgot to return the book to the bookstore today!”
Elaine hurried into the house. After a while, she emerged, carrying a bag full of books. “I’ll be right back after I return the book!”
“Nevermind that, it’s okay. Don’t run and take your time!”
“Anyway, you respond well.”
Bella shook her head fondly, looking after Elaine’s back as she answered bravely and ran towards the forest path.
Elaine sprinted straight down the path to a nearby village. No one had come to visit for five years, so the shrubbery was overgrown and lush with tall grass. Yet, Elaine managed to cleverly navigate her way out of the forest path. To her, the forest was as familiar as the front yard of her home. It hasn’t been long since she’s stayed here, but the people were all kind and generous.
Ever since she stayed with Bella, she has traveled all over the continent. During the process, she often came across mountains she had to hike and climb. The place they were staying at this time was a small village in a province.
As Elaine entered the bookstore, the door heavily shook with a loud rattle.
“Haha, the little customer is energetic again today.”
The owner of the bookstore smiled kindly and closed the book he was reading.
“So, did you enjoy reading the book?”
“Yes, it was very fun. By the way, mister. The atmosphere in the village was very noisy on the way here. Did something happen?
On the way across the village to the bookstore, Elaine saw people busily moving about, coming and going, and shouting about something.
“You don’t know yet? A few days ago, the Crown Prince and an inspector visited the province across the river. Everyone has been frantic and busy preparing in advance, just in case they might come to our territory. I’ll have to go out and help later as well.”
After Lloyd de Phillion was declared Crown Prince, he made a trip around the country to inspect the regional territories. No one knew the criteria for selecting the target destination, and the inspections took place without any notice.
“Including us, everyone in the surrounding territories must be panicking. I can just picture the Lord and his Lady getting nervous about getting picked by the royal family, and how they’re going to keep everyone extremely busy.”
“Will they really come visit here?”
“Only they would know. Rather than that, I’m curious about how they appear so suddenly in all of these different territories without anyone knowing.”
Elaine, who was about to answer, suddenly trailed off when she saw the clock hanging on the wall.
“Ah, it’s already this time. I have to get going. Goodbye, mister!”
“All right, get home safely.”
Elaine left the bookstore and decided to stop by the market for a while. She was planning to go inside right away, but she thought it would be better to buy the items she needed while she was out and about.
The bag holding her books was filled with newly bought things. After finishing her trip to the market, she bought a handful of golden waffles for the family on the way home.
I’m going to get nagged at.
The sky was already dark. The two people at home must be worried because Elaine had said she would return home soon, but she was very late. Elaine sped up her pace. She entered the forest and took a faster shortcut instead of taking the path from earlier today. Dashing through the grass, she recalled the story she had heard from the owner of the bookstore.
You don’t know how the Crown Prince appears in the East and West undetected? Just like me and Bella, through the mountains—
Suddenly, a large hand appeared out of nowhere and blocked her eyes. Elaine, who almost hit the hand, jumped reflexively and took a few steps back.
What? A bandit?
Elaine looked straight ahead of her on full alert. However, the voice that followed after came from a different direction.
“Justin, if you just pop out like that, the child will be surprised.”
Looking back, a man with dark-blonde hair and a troubled expression was surrounded by a group of heavily-armed knights. He was dressed in a black uniform, exquisitely embroidered with gold thread, and adorned a red cloak accented with specks of gold. At a glance, anyone could tell he was a high-ranking official.
“I’m sorry. I…no, Lloyd, sir.”
The owner of the hand that had blocked her front emerged from a bush. The man of great stature bowed his head as he answered. He was someone who was many times larger than her, so he seemed much more threatening.
Elaine brought her hand to her waist, where a dagger was hidden under her clothes, so she could strike back at any time.
“Whoa, whoa. Calm down. What on earth is a little girl carrying around?”
“It was going to get dark soon, and I saw a child wandering alone from a distance. I was worried and decided to follow. I had planned to have my subordinate deliver my message first, but I apologize if I surprised you.”
“But apparently, I see that it was useless?”
The blonde man pulled his horse reins and approached Elaine. The cloak on his shoulders fluttered, and a golden eagle embossed on his chest was revealed.
“Nevertheless, the forest is dangerous, whether it’s day or night. I’ll take you to the village. Will you allow me to accompany you?”
“Ah, is it impossible to hide in this outfit?”
The prince smiled good-naturedly and drew over his cloak to cover the emblem. The golden eagle was a symbol of the Phillion Royal Family. One of the knights behind him clicked his tongue.
“It’s too late for you to do that, Your Highness.”
“I know, so be quiet.”
While the Prince gave the knight a good scolding, Elaine laughed silently in vain because the situation was so absurd.
Huh, you’re saying the Crown Prince really came all the way here?
She said nothing and only blinked, but the Prince, who misunderstood her again, gave her an apologetic look.
“I didn’t mean to surprise you again, but it seems like I did anyway.”
“Uh, no, I’m fine.”
“Don’t be nervous. Where do you live? I’ll take you home.”
“You really don’t have to…”
“Hm? I didn’t hear you well.”
If she truthfully told him that she lived deep in the forest, there was no doubt he was going to ask why. That would make things difficult. The Prince seemed like a good person, but what should she say—he seemed to step over boundaries, which was frustrating.
Elaine’s eyes shifted back and forth in search of a good answer. Then, out of the blue, screams broke out amongst the knights.
Elaine hurriedly looked around. A group wearing black hoods quickly surrounded the area. The sound of weapons, which began from the origin of the screams, rang out from the entire group. A bloody battle broke out between the Prince’s knights and the enemies’ surprise attack.
The Prince hid Elaine behind him and unsheathed his sword. “Justin! Hold my back! Protecting the child is the top priority!”
“I can’t do that! Your Highness’ personal safety is the most important!”
“Shut up! The child got caught up in this because of me!” the Prince bit back, his blue eyes twisted with guilt. “Was there a traitor? Damn it. It was my mistake for leaving traces of my power under the mountain.”
Elaine, who was caught in between the two men, pulled a dagger out from her waist.
I have to protect myself.
She just had to hold out a little. There was no way Bella and Espel didn’t hear the commotion. Soon, they will come to her rescue. She squeezed the dagger in her hand.
Several unidentified men came rushing towards the Prince all at once. Yet, the Prince never backed down from his position even though he faced the majority of the enemies alone. He couldn’t move freely, as he had to protect the child behind his back, but he didn’t easily back down.
From observation, he was quite capable. However, there was a limit to fighting while protecting a person. As the Crown Prince faltered for a moment, an enemy aimed to attack him at the back of his neck.
Justin, who had noticed too late, urgently called out to the Prince, “Your Highness!”
Elaine was a step quicker than the man flying towards the Crown Prince. The dagger she threw accurately hit a vital part of the assailant’s chest.
The man fell down with a short cry. She glanced down at her empty hand and clicked her tongue.
If I knew this would happen, I would have brought something else.
Looking at her calm face, Justin doubted his eyes.
Who on earth is that girl…?
The Prince, who knocked down several other enemies again with a surprised face, said with a laugh in his voice, “That was amazing.”
“Now the Crown Prince has to protect me. The dagger I threw was the only one I had.”
“Then, I will try my best.”
Surprised by the outcome, the assailants hesitated for a moment, but soon they began to pounce again. However, nothing happened when they reached Elaine and the Crown Prince.
In the next moment, the men who had jumped into the air were swallowed by blue flames as they floated in the air. The assailants disappeared without a trace, noise, or scream.
A moment of silence overcame the area. Everyone in their spots momentarily forgot that they were fighting each other, and their focus was drawn to one place. A woman appeared with countless gazes on her, and asked in a voice that seemed as if she was singing, “What are all of you doing here?”
The woman walked with light steps into the grass that was soaked in a pool of blood. The devastatingly beautiful woman with pitch-black hair smiled lovingly. “Laine, why are you here?”
Ah, she’s angry. Bella, she’s so angry…
“Hm? What’s going on here?”
Elaine, who said she was going to return the book, was very late coming home. Bella had thought to go find her before it got dark, and she heard the sound of weapons fighting from the far distance. She dropped by on a hunch, and this was the mess she encountered.
Bella’s violet eyes were filled with irritating liveliness.
“Shall I kill them all?