*˖:✧ ⑅•.⋅༻♔༺•⑅ ✧:˖*
Zelle started thinking deeply.
Hm, let’s see… There were about 40,000 soldiers in Roheneim, 40,000 in Lopecce, and 30,000 in Voymont before the war so…
Sir Luke’s voice interrupted her course of thought.
“Granoir won’t let that happen. They would know for themselves that the Black Defense Wall is geographically advantageous in battle.”
“Battle is inevitable anyway. But before that…”
Valhayle paused abruptly.
He looked down at Zelle who was still in his hands.
Zelle erased her clever expression and hurriedly pretended as if her leg hurt.
She noticed that Valhayle seemed displeased.
He continued in a different tone from before.
“Order the Black elite troops to cover the tracks of the five paths. We should move at dark.”
After Sir Luke left with a pile of papers, Valhayle sprinkled a minty powder over Zelle.
“Your leg will get better soon but your body will ache for some time.”
Zelle quickly placed her injured leg down and looked over at the wound on her body.
Valhayle stared as if he knew Zelle was pretending to be suffering.
He spoke in a cold manner, “I don’t know what you are trying to eavesdrop on but…”
“There’s nothing a bird would be curious of in the warfield.”
Valhalye brushed the rest of the powder in his hands and tied a long rope around her uninjured leg.
“Eat and rest.”
He pointed at the bowl on the ground.
Zelle followed his fingers with her gaze. The quality of the food looked better than the ones she had so far.
Is this special food for recovery?
She felt a sudden surge of hunger and thirst.
It felt like she had lost all the weight she had gained in this mission. Her once chubby tummy was now flat.
Zelle began to eat.
After Valhayle saw her eating, he sat in front of the mountainous pile of papers on his desk.
Zelle purposely ate slowly because she didn’t want to be put in the birdcage yet. She glanced up at Valhayle. That pile of paper didn’t seem to reduce.
‘I wonder what work is he doing?’
She didn’t know much about military duties.
She just thought all a chief commander did was train the soldiers, fight in wars, and manage labor.
Then what is that pile for?
It was undoubtedly an amount a person couldn’t finish alone.
He already did share some of that pile with the commanders of the orders.
While Zelle stayed in Valhayle’s tent, she saw Sir Luke, the commander of the 3rd order, distribute the work to the other commanders.
So that pile seemed too much to be just for the army.
Plus, Valhayle has been spending every evening to dawn after the tactical meeting on that paperwork.
The tactical meeting should be his last duty of the day, so it was suspicious that he started the paperwork after it.
Even if she knew nothing about the military, she could assume based upon her experience as a princess who spent her whole life in the palace that the military paperwork would never be that much.
Zelle scrutinized the man who was focused on the paper on his desk.
‘I thought a military chief commander was a really cool position.’
Now that she was looking at the job they did, it just felt like an exhausting and burdening position.
However, Valhayle never let his exhaustion be noticed by anyone.
Not even by Sir Luke who seemed to be closer to him.
From morning to night, he spent his time outside giving commands; overnight, he did the paperwork; and at dawn, he took a short nap.
That nap was the only time Valhayle rested.
What’s so important about that paperwork?
Zelle flew over to his desk out of curiosity.
Valhayle flipped the paper over with displeasure.
…I didn’t even get to read one word.
Tch. Sensitive jerk.
Zelle glared at Valhayle.
‘But still, you are the first one to ever treat me like a human being. Even though you treat me more like a spy to be exact.’
He spoke in a tone that sounded like he was repressing his anger.
“You need anything?”
Zelle repressed her annoyance too and looked around to find anything she could read.
Valhayle spoke coldly.
“Ah, the confidential message.”
Then he pushed the papers away and met Zelle’s gaze.
“This confidential message was very important.”
He added wickedly, “And you have no right at all to know its contents.”
Zelle’s eye twitched.
So you wanna get nasty with me huh?
The rope around her leg was currently loose so this was the best time to peck his eyeballs if she wanted to.
Zelle prepared herself for the leap she was going to make towards his eye.
“But… Good job.”
Then she stopped.
I don’t think I heard that right. Could you repeat that?
Valhayle ran his hand through his hair with a slightly tired expression.
“You contributed greatly on this one. Thanks to you, we don’t have to risk any more soldiers’ lives communicating with Lopecce.”
Zelle grew solemn.
Valhayle continued as he stared into Zelle’s eyes.
“The commander-in-chief has to write a war record after a war. I give you my word that I will write about you in that book.”
Zelle’s jaw dropped open from the shock.
‘He’s going to write about me in a history record?’
A weird feeling flowed through her after utter shock.
It was horrible resistance.
And something even scarier– overflowing joy.
The promise she made to herself at her 8th birthday throbbed her heart.
The promise that she would not leave any trace of herself on earth.
If that was the cost of her survival, she would gladly do it to live on.
She reminded herself every time that no honor would be allowed to her in this life.
Even though it is not in my real name, he would write about me…
Zelle’s head drooped.
Pitter patter. Pitter patter.
Raindrops fell on the tent.
After a few drops, it soon started to pour.
It seemed like a downpour was passing over.
When the tent was filled with the sound of rain showering against the roof, just for a split second…
Zelle cried sorrowfully.
She was going to be recorded in history for the first time in her life other than that one line of her name. But she didn’t know how to cry as a bird.
She didn’t even know why she was crying.
Joy. Misery. Despair. Fear.
Valhayle silently watched the bird’s tearless cries surrounded by the ambiance of rain.
It was the day before she was going to be sent for the 3rd mission.
She finally heard about the status of her siblings.
“There’s news that the 3rd princess’s body has been located.”
Valhayle’s face darkened as soon as he heard that.
But from his rather unsurprised reaction, Zelle could sense that this wasn’t the first death reported.
Zelle’s 3rd older sister.
The sister that was not close to Zelle at all.
The sister she barely met once a year…
“Where is the body.”
“The first report was from the Black Defense Wall…”
The soldier couldn’t continue.
The Black Defense Wall was still under the captivation of Granoir. Even if they located the body, it was impossible to retrieve it.
The distant sound of Valhayle ordering something to the soldier flowed into the tent.
Zelle was lost for words for a while and began thinking.
My 4th older brother.
He was born to the same mother as the 3rd princess. Was he not found with her?
On the day of escape, the two escaped together in the same direction. Their mother, the 2nd consort, had been with them.
If they got away successfully, they would have survived together; if they were caught, they would have died together.
Granoir wouldn’t needlessly dispose of the body in separate areas so it was strange.
If the other’s bodies were not found…
‘Could they be alive?’
Zelle grasped onto the hope of the 4th prince’s survival.
The 4th prince was the favorite child of King Lespelle the 1st and the most supported royal descendant in Voymont.
If he was alive to aid the 1st princess, it would be really beneficial in rebuilding the country.
But the thing that made her uneasy was that the 3rd princess and the 4th prince didn’t get along.
Zelle ended her thinking there and shook her head.
Now was the time to mourn for the dead.
After the soldier left with Valhayle’s orders, Valhayle slowly sat down and pressed his forehead with his palm.
That was the 5th death out of the 11 royal descendants.
The king and the 4th consort ended their lives in the castle so only 10 of the royal family were alive.
4 consorts and 6 royal descendants.
All the consorts were from powerful families so if they did escape safely, they could have contacted their families for protection.
But none did.
By now Valhayle was starting to suspect if there was anyone that was purposely hiding their news of survival.
If not, why is there absolutely no news on survival?
But there was no reason behind his suspicion.
The royal family had no reason to hide their survival from Roheneim since Roheneim would risk anything to save them.
Valhayle calmed himself and reined in his suspicions.
It wasn’t always easy being logical in wartime.
There was just no news yet.
Or they are just not in the right situation to make their survival known yet.
Or perhaps they are being really, really careful.
Valhayle mumbled despairingly.
“At least one of them should be alive.”
He reassured himself and turned towards the birdcage.
There was a bird sitting on a porch with a weird bummed-out face.
“You have to go to Lopecce again tomorrow.”
He subconsciously talked to the bird again.
The bird nodded as if it understood.
Valhayle’s face stiffened.
Whenever the thought that he was talking to a bird crossed his mind, he couldn’t help but feel like he was losing his mind.
“By the time you come back, this camp could possibly be wiped out.”
The bird widened its eyes as if it was surprised.
Valhayle clenched his jaws.
“If that happens, you will return to Lopecce and stay there.”
Valhayle thought of the battle that was soon to happen after this bird was dispatched.
He thought about the battle so many times that now his imagination felt so realistic
There was no hope if they lost this battle, so this was planned meticulously and fiercely.
But the bird seemed uneasy.
Valhayle gave the bird a piece of meat left over from his meal earlier.
“But if things turn out in our favor…”
He could feel the bird holding its breath and listening intently to him.
Valhayle spoke with certainty.
“The distance of your return will be way shorter than the distance you traveled.”
Since if they won, they will be able to push the front line much further.
The bird didn’t even glance at the meat and looked into Valhayle’s eyes.
And that feeling came back again.
That feeling of uncomfortable pressure.
When he tried to find the source of that feeling by staring back, the bird floundered and hurriedly ate the meat.
Although he felt like he was being tricked, Valhayle dismissed that feeling.
It felt reassuring that the bird wouldn’t be in the tent alone during the battle.
This bird could perhaps feel the clouds of war or perhaps it could hear the bloody battlefield.
No one in the camp here could avoid this battle but he was grateful that he had the authority to keep the bird away from the battle.
No, get your head straight.
There’s nothing to be grateful for about that.
Valhayle shook his head.
The bird looked at him warmly.
Then he left the tent to attempt to forget about the bird and the dead princess.
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