*˖:✧ ⑅•.༻♔༺.•⑅ ✧:˖*
Zelle studied the landscape as she rode hidden under the cloak..
‘This should be the path to the city.’
Zelle carefully observed the path.
Valhayle always reported to her after everything was over so her eyes had to be busy if she wanted to know about the current situation.
‘We just passed through the center of the Central region…’
She never left the capital before but when she managed the aid for the typhoon, she memorized the map so she was well aware of the geography.
Head straight and it was the capital.
Roheneim must be advancing toward the inner region of the Central region.
‘It’s going as planned.’
Zelle nodded in satisfaction.
‘It’s good that I insisted.’
Sitting behind him made it easier for her to study the surroundings.
Putting less pressure on Valhayle’s wound and keeping myself updated.
Catching two birds with one stone!
‘Good job Zelleine.’
Zelle complimented herself for insisting.
On the break of the advancement.
Zelle sat alone and ate, completely separated from the other soldiers.
She was so used to eating alone so it wasn’t saddening but she couldn’t help but recall the times she ate with other people when she was a bird.
Zelle stirred through her plate glumly.
While she lived in fear of her life all the time, Zelle had a desire.
A desire that one day this fleeing will end.
She thought if she continued fleeing, she’ll get sold to a foreign land for peaceful relations or marry someone other than who Linbessy chooses and finally escape the palace.
And once I left the palace…
‘I wanted to live within the people.’
Hiding my status, living normally.
She purposely used rough words like the servants of the palace to imitate the common life. And imaginations like these made her happy.
Unlike the reality.
Zelle plucked one grape from the bunch and ate it.
The sweet juice of the grape cleared her head.
She stared down at the small grape bundle.
“How did they even get this?”
There were many fruit farms in the Central region but it wouldn’t have been easy to find a grape in such a state during the war.
Even if it were not for the war, Roymonde didn’t produce that many grapes.
Zelle suddenly felt like the grape was extravagant and placed it down.
She then took a bite of the flatbread.
There were walnuts in it.
Ah, so good.
Zelle closed her eyes.
If there was one good thing about being human again was getting a sense of taste back.
When she was a bird she couldn’t taste anything but meat.
But now that she was human, she could taste the sweet fruity flavors and oaty flavors.
Zelle waited for Valhayle to come back for her.
And he came back earlier than expected.
He was a disagreeable man but Zelle was delighted by the presence of another human.
She called, smiling.
Valhayle stood in front of her wearing a surprised expression.
Zelle lifted the grape and asked.
“Where did you get this?”
“From the Central region.”
“I doubt there would have been enough for the whole army.”
Valhayle nodded in agreeance.
“Yes. When we acquire limited food, we usually grant it to the troop that contributed most or leave it behind entirely.”
“If so, why is this on my plate?”
Valhayle abruptly changed his words.
“Do you perhaps not like them?”
He asked and recalled yesterday’s event.
Last night, Sir Luke visited him to report.
“Sir, the Lord of the Brone Castle sent us their regional grapes and a basket of walnuts. Should we send them back like usual?”
Valhayle answered with his eyes still fixed on the documents.
“No, keep them.”
Valhayle had never accepted the gifts or rewards from the lords previously so Sir Luke was genuinely surprised.
Valhayle answered blandly.
“From now on we take all the rare foods with us. For the princess.”
Sir Luke narrowed his eyes.
‘You don’t even update us about her….’
Valhayle ignored the clear message Sir Luke was portraying and ordered.
Not updating the commanders about the princess and presenting food the princess would enjoy were two irrelevant things.
He could hear Sir Luke grumble as he left. It was something on the lines of ‘I like walnuts too’.
And Valhayle, who ignored Sir Luke’s grumbles with such ease, thought after getting questioned by the princess.
‘Does Her Highness not like this?’
Valhayle made the most logical assumption he could make.
On the other hand, Zelle waved her hands at his question.
“No, it’s not that I don’t like it.”
“That’s a relief.”
“Then you wouldn’t have had it too right”
“I only accepted the grapes for Your Highness’s appetite. Also, we have enough distributions of fruits.”
‘So you mean you brought it with the army for me?’
The grape in her hand suddenly felt heavy.
And the soldiers are getting these fruits too?
She was about the ask Valhayle, then remembered.
Zelle recalled the apples she ate before. And how Valhayle would cut them into small pieces for her to eat.
When she was shot by an arrow, Valhayle fed her apples the whole recovery period. Though, back then she couldn’t taste the apple.
At the same time, Zelle thought about the wound that would be hidden under Valhayle’s shoulder cap.
‘From what I heard, grapes are good for recovery.’
“SIr, I have something to discuss with you. Will you take a seat?”
Valhayle distanced himself from Zelle and sat.
“It’s the grapes. Don’t you think Roymonde produces way too less grapes?”
Realizing it is not about the war, Valhayle loosened a little.
“I heard farming grapes here in Roymonde is quite difficult.”
“But I think it would be good for provisioning the army once the production rates are steady enough. Dry the grapes up and they would be a perfect snack for re-energizing.”
Raisins were rare since grapes themselves were rare but Zelle often saw them in royal meals.
They are dried so they would be easy to preserve and store.
“It would be a shame to waste the Central region’s abundance in sunlight so suggest to plant grapes on royal grounds later. They will listen if it’s you.”
Valhayle looked at her oddly. Probably wondering why she would say such a thing when she is a royal herself.
Zelle thought to herself sulkily.
‘Well, you don’t know the life I’ve lived.’
If Linbessy is alive to be empress, Zelle would be removed immediately.
So maybe now is the only opportunity I have.
The opportunity to express my gratitude to the person who saved and treated me several times and risked his life to retrieve my human body.
Even if this is the most I can do…
Zelle handed the bundle of grapes to Valhayle.
“Here, I’m granting you this.”
Valhayle furrowed his brows.
“Grapes are good for injuries.”
Zelle felt her face get hot as she spoke.
“Come on, take it.”
She half-forced the grapes into Valhayle’s hands.
“I do like grapes but I like apples more.”
Zelle grinned because she remembered the apple she ate back when she was a bird.
She also enjoyed the fact that Valhayle will never understand these jokes.
“And I would like to see you eat them here.”
Valhayle looked down at the grapes awkwardly.
Just before he could part his lips Zelle made the face she made this morning.
The, ‘It’s an order’ face.
“…Alright. We will depart soon anyway.”
Zelle watched as Valhayle devoured the whole bundle.
“I was always curious, Sir. Cavier falcons aren’t rare so how do you differentiate a wild one and the army one?”
“Messenger birds have a mark.”
When she was captured by Valhayle when first she turned into a bird, he flipped her and checked that she was Roheneim’s messenger bird.
“What mark is it?”
“We dye the part of the bird where it can’t reach with blue dye. The kind that won’t wash away.”
Blue symbolized the Central region and the Roheneim military. Seems like they differentiate the messenger birds of other militaries along with the wild ones with color dyes.
And since Zelle was Roheneim’s messenger bird…
‘I must have had that mark too.’
As Zelle was deep in her thoughts, Valhayle pulled out something and handed it to her.
“It’s a little late but I wanted to return this to you”
Zelle stared at the object in his hands.
Valhayle nodded shortly.
“Granoir sent it to us, satying it is one of your belongings.”
*˖:✧ ⑅•.༻♔༺.•⑅ ✧:˖*
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