Side Story 10
There was a reason why the name ‘Ingo’ was attached to the Ingo Mountain Range.
It was because if you couldn’t endure the harsh hardships that would come upon you the moment you set foot there, you wouldn’t survive.
Even compasses couldn’t find their direction here, spinning in circles.
Poisonous plants were everywhere.
The beasts called monsters, failing to find their prey, ended up eating each other.
The predators lay in wait, hoping for an unprepared human to stumble blindly into their trap
Tristan let out a hollow laugh, looking down at the sleeping Sabina.
She was sleeping with a comfortable expression on her face, clutching his sword as if it were her own.
He couldn’t even be angry.
“It seems she’s asleep.”
The storm was still raging.
The inside of the cave was filled with flickering light.
A bolt of lightning struck nearby, making a sound like a cannon falling.
It was loud enough to cause tinnitus.
But Sabina had already become accustomed to the thunder and lightning.
She let out a small moan, furrowed her brow, and held the sword a little tighter, but there was no sign of waking up.
“I’m glad she’s safe and sound.”
Dustin, a knight from the Black Hawk Knights who rushed here at Tristan’s command, spoke nervously.
‘When I heard that the future Grand Princess was alone in the forest near the Ingo Mountain Range at night, I hurriedly organized a search party…’
He had expected a difficult rescue mission.
Above all, he was worried about her mental state.
He could imagine how scared a powerless woman would be when left alone in the forest.
Dustin looked down at the peacefully sleeping Sabina with confused eyes.
‘Is she a bit clueless?’
At that time, the tracker who was looking around the cave spoke.
“There are several folded leaves at the entrance to collect rainwater.”
Tristan and the Black Hawks’ eyes turned to the tracker simultaneously.
“If she had drunk from the river, she would be lying sick by now.”
All kinds of life swarmed in the river that flowed through this forest.
For example, parasites.
But Sabina had not drunk from the river, but from rainwater before it joined the river.
Thanks to that, she looked fine.
“I don’t know where she caught that rabbit, but as you all know, this forest is not an environment where such weak herbivores can survive.”
As he said, there was meat with the skin removed and spread out on the cave wall.
It seemed that she had caught it in advance, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to hunt if the storm lasted a long time.
“The only rabbits that inhabit this place are carnivorous rabbits…”
The knights who had once been deceived by their cute viciousness turned pale.
They must have recalled the nightmare of that time.
The tracker added as if to confirm the suspicion.
“This is indeed a carnivorous rabbit. They look very cute, but… they are very vicious in nature and love to tear people apart..”
Upon hearing that, Dustin had a realization.
‘She’s not a clueless person, but someone who could survive on a deserted island by themselves.’
It was the moment when the Black Knights’ prejudice that anyone from outside the boundary was weak was shattered in an instant.
Of course, this was only in the case of Sabina.
“So, you’re saying she caught the carnivorous rabbit herself…”
A weak creature in the forest, but a monster by outside standards.
To defeat it with just a single sword.
The Black Knights cried out inwardly.
‘Your Highness, you must not let her go!’
‘She’s the most eligible for Valentine!’
‘If not for her, there would be no woman in the world who can handle Your Highness!’
However, no one dared to say it out loud.
It was because Tristan had a cold and sinister expression in his eyes.
“I see, I can clearly see how peaceful my bride has been here, and how many times she has overcome the threat of life.”
“Is that the end of our conversation?”
Why don’t you try more, huh?
Tristan’s voice echoed softly through the cave.
With his arms folded and his head tilted leisurely, Dustin shouted hastily.
“We’ll take her to the castle right away!”
Dustin recalled an old saying about the one who passes gas claims the throne. (something like he who smelt it dealt it)
Of course, he didn’t lack the discernment to say it out loud.
In any case, no matter how healthy Sabina appeared, she had been abandoned in the forest for a day.
He quickly picked up Sabina.
Sabina had been exposed to the damp, cold wind all along.
They could avoid the rain in the cave, but not the wind.
Because of that, she instinctively clung to the warmth coming near her.
‘Come to think of it, her lips seemed to turn blue from the cold…’
Dustin, who had been worried, suddenly stiffened.
It was because Sabina snuggled into his embrace.
“This, this makes it difficult!”
The knight’s face turned red.
Suddenly, the burly knight who had been struggling was knocked to the ground.
After knocking him down, Tristan trampled on his back and embraced Sabina.
“How dare you hold my bride in front of me? You’re quite bold.”
But she was the one who hugged me.
Dustin couldn’t voice his grievance and sobbed as he was trampled on.
“Yes? Are you saying you still don’t remember me?”
“I know. Justin.”
Tristan, regardless, looked down at Sabina, who was in his arms.
She seemed to like his warm body heat and the strength that had supported him so far, as she showed a comfortable smile.
Not only that, but she also hugged him tightly and rubbed her cheek against his chest.
Tristan unknowingly held her tighter and embraced her more firmly.
When her red eyes were wide open, he was captivated by her gaze and couldn’t notice anything else.
‘Was the touch of silk like this?’
He recalled the texture of the clothes he had casually worn until now, without any particular thoughts.
So light, small, soft, tender, and something he didn’t want to let go of once he grasped tightly…
It was then.
A small, thin hand entered Tristan’s view.
Sabina was gripping something so tightly that her knuckles turned white.
His hesitation was brief.
Tristan gently released her hand and checked the contents.
It was a note.
Supporting Sabina with one arm, he unfolded the crumpled note without hesitation.
To my dear Sabina.
As he read down the note, Tristan’s brow furrowed as much as the note.
It was like a content whispering of secret love to a lover.
Sabina’s eyes widened.
She looked up at the banner on the ceiling with a bewildered sound.
The layers of delicate fabric looked so fragile that they might tear if brushed by a hand.
‘Where am I?’
It wasn’t the cave floor.
No wonder the bed was so comfortable.
Sabina touched the floor.
When pressed with a finger, it softly gave in, and when released, it bounced back resiliently.
It was a soft bed that even insomniacs would fall asleep as if dead once they lay down.
“Madam, have you woken up?”
Sabina looked up at the smiling woman.
She brought some water and politely placed it in front of Sabina.
The fragrance of flowers filled the air, perhaps from the scented oil.
“My name is Danara, and I will be attending to you from now on.”
Sabina immediately showed her displeasure.
Wasn’t that a title that seemed to nail down that she was already the mistress of Valentine?
Of course, since they didn’t know that Sabina was hoping for a divorce, it was natural for them to call her that.
“I’m not used to it yet. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me that.”
“Then should I call you Miss?”
So, it seems that she was moved to the castle while she was asleep in the cave.
She thought she could endure it for at least a week.
She clicked her tongue.
If he planned to pick her up right away, why did he leave her there in the first place?
‘I wanted to show him my determination properly.’
The forest was more livable than she thought.
No wild beasts were seen.
Ah, of course, she heard their cries.
‘When I was about to drink from the river, I suddenly heard the low howling of a wolf somewhere and avoided it.’
She didn’t have the confidence to fight a wolf without getting injured, but fortunately, the wolf didn’t chase her.
And once she left the riverbank, there were rabbits at every crossroads, making it easy to find food.
She thought she could hold out for quite a while, but…
‘Well, it’s fine.’
From the moment Tristan brought Sabina here, he had already lost.
Because he couldn’t break her will.
‘I should just keep doing this.’
Until he gives up.
After washing her face, Danara politely handed her the towel she had hung on her arm.
Sabina awkwardly replied.
It was because she was not used to receiving help from others.
And she tended to be very polite to kind and gentle people.
“What’s there to thank me for? It’s my job.”
Sabina looked up at Danara, who was smiling brightly, and scratched her cheek.
Her attendant was very different from the Grand Prince.
She seemed so soft, as if she had never shown anything but a tender smile in her life.
‘I thought everyone in the Valentine family was like the Grand Prince. Was it a prejudice?’
At least everyone in the Valois family was like the head of the Valois family.
Of course, it was difficult to say that everyone was like that.
There was just one person, her true friend whom she could never forget in her life.
‘But that person can’t be considered a part of the Valois family…’
Sabina rolled her eyes at the unfamiliar feeling, and stiffened when Danara took her hand.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to serve such a beautiful person.”
“Please call me anytime you need me. Just pull the bell rope next to the bed.”
Sabina swallowed her words and nodded.
She couldn’t bear her endless weakness in front of such an annoying person.
She had to escape from here before the wedding ceremony.
Sabina sighed and searched her clothes, but nothing came to her hand.
It couldn’t be.
“It should be here…”
The note she had never taken out of her clothes was gone.
“Are you looking for this?”