The countrymen highly welcomed the Hessenguard knights’ routine patrol. Recently, monsters have been seen more often, but over the past couple of months, it has become quiet again. When the knights asked how often the monsters appeared, the villagers answered joyously.
“Nowadays, there are barely any. The only monster we’ve seen was around the size of a bat.”
The villagers expressed how they were relieved as they could work until late night. Then an old man said, “It used to be like this in the past… It’s all thanks to peace in Hessenguard.”
Kalion first thought the man just said so to please his ears. But the man’s words were oddly stuck in Kalion’s head.
Definitely… Barely any came up before Grand Duke Richard’s death.
Relatively minimum number of monsters appeared in the Hessenguard continent compared to other nations. When Richard died, the number grew exponentially. Only after Erna and Kalion had ascended as dukes, the number reduced.
However, it only reduced by a small percentage that there were still more monsters appearing than the past.
And there are barely any coming out just recently.
Kalion looked back at what had happened at the point where reports on the number of the emergence of monsters had reduced. There was no notable event. The reduction allowed him to be with Erna almost every night.
Then, Kalion flipped the way he thought.
Could it be that the reduction was due to him and Erna being together?
Kalion shook his head. Erna would have laughed at him saying the two have no relevance. She would have told him to stop looking for excuses to sleep with her one more time.
Hessenguard knights followed the same designated route for patrol every year. They had set up the tents at the designated area in advance and planned to stay there a couple of days while they searched the nearby mountains.
By the time the afternoon sunlight started to sting, Kalion, on his horse, said to Cedric, “I’m thinking about checking around here. I’ll return around tomorrow dawn, so take good care of the knights until then.”
Cedric asked, “Where will you go?”
“I can’t get over the woodsman from the village saying he saw traces of a monster deep in the woods. He said he saw them rising from the ground which might mean they have a passage near here. Or it might even be related to ancient artifacts.”
“That’s all good but… Take others with you.”
“No, I’m too lazy to.”
Cedric grumbled that although Kalion was being honest, such blatant comments hurt Cedric’s feelings.
It was common for Kalion to go alone like this during the routine patrol. So, Cedric didn’t think much of it and just told him to be safe. After leaving Cedric, Kalion slowly rode his horse through the mountain trails. By the time he checked and could not see any sign of the knights, he immediately turned his horse’s head and whipped it.
* * *
After two hours, Kalion arrived near the village he had told Erna. He noticed carriages here and there entering the village as if there was a festival taking place.
Kalion changed to casual clothes and put on a hat to hide his face. He then hid his horse in the nearby woods.
The horse was smart enough to understand Kalion when he patted its head and told him to stay. The horse neighed shortly and sat behind the bushes.
The horse let no one but Kalion on its back and, except for big monsters, the horse could handle all kinds of beasts by itself by kicking them away.
Kalion left the horse and headed to the village entrance.
The sky dimmed and turned to a beautiful color. It seemed like there actually was a festival happening as he could see people from other villages coming in.
That’s a relief.
Centis, the town Chenille Regis lived in, was quite large. Still, the place was not as advanced that people could easily recognize outlanders.
Furthermore, Chenille’s house was located at the main streets, not the outskirts. He had worried how he could go around undetected, but it seemed the heavens were helping him this time.
His biggest concern had been solved so Kalion sat down and waited for Erna.
Will she make it here safely?
He explained several times the location of Centis and the time they would meet. Erna could easily remember things just from listening once so she would not be lost.
Kalion rested his chin on his hand and watched the people enter the village. Merchants were now setting up their carriages outside the entrance of the village as if the inside was already full.
Each carriage sold different random items, such as homegrown fruits, snacks, combs, plates, and more.
People stopped as they walked by to take a look at the items. Many couples could also be seen as it was a festival.
Kalion watched them with envy. Then his eyes locked on to this one person.
It was a lady who stood by herself in ordinary clothing. It looked like she was taking interest in something from the carriages as she had stopped on her way to the village.
Kalion stood up and walked toward the lady. And he wrapped his hand around her waist right when she reached for a necklace with a round pendant.
“You want it?”
The lady turned her head in shock and looked at Kalion. The merchant who was selling the item looked at them for a while then turned his attention to other customers.
She was a very ordinary lady with black hair and black eyes. She looked at Kalion with her eyes wide open. She then noticed his face behind his hat and lowered her guard.
As she opened her mouth to speak, a familiar voice came out.