I admit it’s a beautiful face, but is it that mesmerizing? More than that, I can’t believe he is staring at her face when he is in the presence of the Grand Duke. Isn’t that rude? When he deliberately coughed, Luzon looked at Kalion and hurriedly lowered his head with an embarrassed look on his face.
“Please grant me your forgiveness of my disrespect. Please have mercy.”
What does he mean by ‘mercy’? I was just looking at him but was my expression that scary? Kalion was deep in thought but Erna waved her hand as if it were nothing.
“There is nothing to worry about. Who are you?” She inquired.
“My name is Luzon, I’m the deputy commander of the Haldis Regional Security.”
“Okay, Luzon. You may get up. I’d like to hear an explanation of the current situation.”
When Erna ordered, Luzon quickly got up and reported the situation so far. “Fortunately, there haven’t been many conflicts since the isolation. The people inside are confined to their homes and food is shared under a fixed time by the control of the security guards. But at this rate, the water will run out soon, so it’s imperative to save the people who are trapped inside.”
This time, Kalion asked him a question. “How long do you think the people will be able to survive?”
“I think it’ll be three days at the most. Most of them are ordinary people who have lived here or who came to visit. They are complaining of extreme anxiety. If the rescue takes long, people are more likely going to get out of control.”
At Luzon’s words, Erna and Kalion nodded at the same time. A nervous person wouldn’t stay sane very long. It was clear that more and more people would move in another direction if the rescue date got pushed back, which would also make the rescue operation more difficult.
Suddenly, there was a splash on the surface of the lake and a stir broke out among the wizards and knights. Several creatures that had prickly heads, resembling a fish, surfaced. Those were the magical creatures that appeared in Lake Haldis.
“They come up like that once an hour to breathe,” the guard explained.
“They’re smaller than I expected. I thought they’d be twice that size,” Erna said unexpectedly.
“Yes, they are smaller than the average size of any magical beast. Their head looks like a fish’s head but their body is more like a dog, and they have webbed claws. When we caught one and looked at it, there was poison in its teeth and claws. It’s possible to heal from the poison, but it causes burning pain, so if you get bitten or scratched, the person infected will lose the strength needed for combat for a few days.”
The expressions of the knights and wizards standing behind, darkened. The knights, in particular, seemed to have troubled faces because they had to fight face to face. But if they had to deal with a poisonous creature on top of that, it would make their situation more difficult.
Then Erna said, “If the creatures have that kind of poison, then it’s most likely that they aren’t too strong.”
Luzon nodded at the intuitive words of Erna. “That’s right. It’s hard to deal with them because there are a lot of them and they have poison, but individually, they are not strong creatures.”
Kalion stared at Erna talking to Luzon. He’d never seen Erna doing work before. When both were fulfilling the Grand Duke’s duty to defend Hessenguard, they never moved together. It was only at meetings at parliament that they saw one another at work.
However, usually at the meeting, sarcastic words came out even before they could speak ten sentences, so they often listened without talking at all. If they felt like they were going to talk for a long time, Kalion would take the lawmakers to another room to finish his conversation.
This was the first time that Kalion saw Erna working outside the Great Castle. To him, Erna was someone full of sarcastic words and always picking fights. But in this situation, Erna was the first to jump into action and take the situation seriously. As Kalion was recalling Erna rolling around on the sofa, she shouted in a loud voice.
Orpé, who was arranging the wizards, immediately approached Erna, “What’s the matter?”
“Remember the magic I talked to you about last time? The widespread protection magic.”
“Yes, I remember. Are you going to use it this time?”
“I think we should. These creatures are difficult to reach, they’re spread out and there are too many. It will be difficult for us to deal with them individually, so we should focus on getting rid of them all at once.”
“I agree. It’ll take about a day to get ready. It would be quicker for you but the other wizards aren’t used to this magic yet.”
“I understand, but tell them to hurry.”
Erna and Orpé proceeded to made plans. Kalion, who was watching the scene, intervened in the conversation between the two, “I want you to tell me exactly when and where, and what exactly, you are going to do.”
“Why?” Erna asked.
“That way, we can move without overlapping each other. It’s hard for us to move when there is magic in our way. I assume you also wouldn’t want the knights to get in your way either?”
“That’s true.” A slight irritation passed through Erna and her face showed her annoyance. She turned to Luzon, and her expression quickly relaxed as she approached him with a friendly smile. “Don’t worry too much. It will take some time to prepare, but I don’t think there will be any problems, so please tell the security guards and the villagers to be on standby.”
“I will do so right away!” Luzon blushed at Erna’s smile, stuttering as he saluted her.
Kalion looked at Luzon, with a look of disapproval. Then he turned to talk to Erna, “You act pretty sweet to other people.”
“How else do you expect me to act?” At his words, Erna glared at him. She seemed to be greatly annoyed and disturbed by Kalion. Erna’s eyes moved from his face and slowly looked down.
Kalion followed her gaze and his expression hardened when he saw where her eyes stopped, “What are you looking at?”
“Um… nothing! Erna quickly turned away and walked over to where the wizards were gathered.
Kalion, who was looking at her back, glanced down again. No way! Erna hated even the slightest touch of his so there was no reason for her to stare between his legs. Kalion walked over to where the knights were standing and he and Erna went their separate ways.
This is going to take about a week. It would take at least three days to get rid of the creatures and another few days to save the people and completely resolve the situation. Kalion sighed. That meant there was no more face-to-face with Erna at night for at least a week or so. It’s supposed to be something fortunate, right? It was something Kalion had wanted, but somehow he didn’t feel relieved. Kalion approached Cedric, as he had to order the knights to recapture Haldis.
Five hours later, Erna and Kalion were facing each other again.
“Why are you here?” She asked in an annoyed voice.
“And why are you here?” He asked, feeling just as frustrated as her.
The place where the two of them stood was in front of a mansion outside Haldis, which was rented as temporary accommodation. This was supposed to be the base until they got rid of the creatures, a place where the area representatives prepared urgently.
As in the Grand Castle, Erna, and Kalion each used half of it, under an implicit promise. Erna and the wizards on the left, Kalion and the knights on the right. Helpers from nearby villages placed tables and large pots in the garden and made food for them, while Erna and Kalion each called in Luzon or other people familiar with the geography of the area, to discuss how to follow through with their plans. The meetings lasted until late at night.
After seeing the wizards magically contact the people inside Haldis, checking their safety, Erna went up to the second floor of the mansion. At the end of the long corridor on the second floor, Orpé was giving instructions to the wizards.
“Duchess, have you been in touch with anyone on the inside of Haldis?”
“Yes. They seem all right and they’re excited that wizards have come to save them. I would like to take a rest now.”
“If you go straight from here and turn left, you’ll see the main hallway on the second floor. There’s a large white door in the middle and you can use that room. The floor plan is similar to that of the Grand castle, with the biggest room being on the middle floor.”
Orpé was willing to guide Erna but was soon intercepted by another wizard. When Orpé asked for a moment to guide Erna first, she shook her head, “I can find a room on my own. I’m not a child.”
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t worry, you should go to the people who are looking for you. I can take it from here.” Erna waved to Orpé to indicate she didn’t need her help and walked down the hall alone. As Orpé had said, when Erna turned left, she saw a wide hallway with a red carpet, and further along was a large, beautifully hand-carved white wooden door.