*˖:✧ ⑅•.༻♔༺.•⑅ ✧:˖*
Zelle darted towards the human Zelleine who laid motionless on the bed.
She aimed straight for the neck.
Her beak pierced through the thin skin.
She could taste the bitterness of the blood.
Zelle clenched her beak and uttered.
If you’re alive then you must be able to feel pain. So, wake up.
But her human body remained still. Zelle was caught up in fear and fury.
Why are you lying so still? How is this considered ‘not dead’? What are you doing just lying there?!
What did you do when they gave you that poison? Did you drink it without any suspicions? Even if they forced it on you….
‘You still wanted to live this desperately.’
Is that why you’re still holding on to your life even in this state? Look at how that turned out. Look at how you’ve done now!!
In fact, it was not her fault. Nor was it Lopecce’s or Roheneim’s. Then who was she to blame? Her father is dead and Linbessy is still missing.
There was no one to cast the blame on.
But it was agonizingly cruel that there would be soldiers who would be killed and civilians who would suffer.
Zelle cried out.
Valhayle froze up in shock at the entrance. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
The bird that didn’t know and shouldn’t know about anything was attacking the princess.
As soon as he realized that, Valhayle dashed towards the bird and grabbed it.
“What are you doing!!”
Zelle writhed in his hand.
She didn’t want to see Valhayle or anyone at this moment. She didn’t want to be blamed or punished. Zelle broke out of Valhayle’s grasp and stormed out of the tent.
The cold evening air swept against her violently.
The cries of the owls resonated from the forest surrounding the camp.
Left alone now, Valhayle hurriedly approached the princess.
Blood slowly oozed out of her neck. His eyes went blurry at that sight.
‘The blood of the royal heir.’
While Valhayle was still petrified, the princess’s blood ran down his finger and soaked the ground in droplets.
He ripped a piece of cloth, pressed it on her wound, and called for the doctor.
He was still shocked from the bird’s unexpected behavior but stopping the princess’s blood was more important.
The doctor sprinted inside the tent.
“Y-y-you called for me, Sire?”
Valhayle immediately drew a dagger to his neck.
“If you blab about this, you will be dead.”
The doctor nodded, sweating profusely. Valhayle then explained the princess’s wound to him.
The doctor brought out a few tools he had with him and approached the princess. Valhayle sat on the chair next to the bed to keep an eye on the doctor.
“I-It’s a relief that the wound is not deep. But at times like this when her blood is circulating slowly, even a small cut is dangerous…”
Valhayle didn’t reply. His head started throbbing.
The doctor saw Valhayle’s pursed lips and started skillfully closing up the princess’s wound without another word.
Valhayle pressed his temples. His head was congested with thoughts. The sight of the bird darting towards the princess’s neck replayed in his head again and again.
‘Why would it do that?’
He sensed an unfamiliar rage and even contempt from the bird as it attacked.
The princess and the bird. The bird and the princess.
No matter how many times he mulled over it, he couldn’t find a connection. The only thing they shared in common was that they were both on Roymonde’s side.
Valhayle rubbed his forehead roughly.
Perhaps one of them wasn’t on Roymonde’s side.
If that was the case, the bird would most likely not be on Roymonde’s side.
A gift Granoir prepared for this moment. A spy trying to harm the princess.
Everything the bird did was for Roymonde’s cause. It brought significant damage to Granoir and became the ‘Eye of the Sky’ they feared.
Even so, it could have been a spy?
He shook his head. It can’t be. It’s just a mere bird.
On top of that, that bird was just a young bird that had never even flown before the day it scratched the soldier and escaped.
His thoughts were getting wilder and wilder.
Perhaps the bird knew.
That victory can be ours if the princess dies. That as long as she lives, Roheneim wouldn’t give up on the princess.
‘Perhaps that’s why it tried to kill…’
Valhayle’s hand balled into a fist.
But you couldn’t.
It was too weak of an attempt to kill in the first place.
Then what is it? What are you, really?
He couldn’t answer that.
Valhayle shook his head softly. It was not right to dwell on these thoughts at times like this.
Valhayle watched the princess who laid horribly still as a needle pierced through her neck.
He looked at the blood smeared around her wound and… Turned away.
He had seen countless blood in his life; however, the moment he saw the blood of a royal heir, he was nauseated.
It wasn’t a revolt for the blood itself; it was a revolt for war.
War shed children’s blood, adults’ blood, soldiers’ blood, and finally even the nobly raised princess’s blood.
Valhayle felt the princess’s blood on his hands grow cold and shuddered.
It was after a long while that Zelle stopped fretting and came back to her senses.
She landed on a branch to rest her overworked wings. She was in a bad state from the multiple collisions with the ground and trees.
However, her emotional agony was so painful that she couldn’t feel her physical fatigue and pain.
She recalled the knight commanders who signed the petition for her yesterday.
Yesterday, she was their symbol of victory.
But today she was…
Zelle shut her eyes.
‘The symbol of defeat.’
But now, she wounded a princess’s body so both she as a bird and as a human would be despised by Roheneim.
Zelle felt sorrow from the desolation of it all.
She mumbled internally.
‘You shouldn’t have appeared at all, Zelleine.’
Then I would have given up on you at one point.
She never wanted to give up her life as a human but she had to admit that her life as a bird felt more like “living”.
In the body of a bird, she fought for her country and assisted its commander-in-chief.
She never really cherished the yellow flag this much either, since she couldn’t show even a grain of her love for her nation when she was a princess.
After being a bird, she knew what being acknowledged felt like. She also knew how it felt to earn someone’s trust and learned what kindness was.
She wanted to speak the human language, share opinions, and live along with them, but she did more of that as a bird than as a human.
When she escaped the body of a princess, she finally became one.
Zelle recalled how Valhayle’s face went pale when he heard that the princess wouldn’t regain consciousness—as well as the hint of anger on the faces of the captive women, the arrogance on the Granoir’s messenger soldier’s face, and the faces the knight commanders would make when they found out about this.
She teared up from the pain.
She was a bird with tear glands too small to even cry; and yet, her eyes dimmed.
A sharp whistle sound rang.
Zelle wiped away her tears and faced the source of the sound.
No one was there. Zelle felt anxious so she decided to stay up in the sky.
‘Where am I?’
She flew for a long time without thinking so there was a chance she flew quite far away from camp. After reaching a certain altitude, Zelle observed the ground.
It was night so she couldn’t tell exactly where but… It was definitely from a human.
Then, something caught Zelle’s eyes.
‘A yellow flag!’
Someone with a yellow flag was lying on the ground.
He must have called for me.
Zelle carefully descended towards the man who looked like he was dying.
Is it a messenger soldier?
He could have been attacked by Granoir while on the way here. Zelle went a little closer to the soldier to check his state.
‘I should go back.’
Just a second ago, she had believed she wouldn’t be able to return to Roheneim camp ever again, but seeing a wounded soldier changed her mind.
Even though she could be punished if she returns, she would be able to save this person’s life.
Zelle approached the soldier to check if he was breathing.
‘He’s not breathing.’
But he just whistled to call me–
Wait. Is it not him that called for me?
At that moment, Zelle realized.
‘It’s a trap.’
As soon as she perceived this—
—something flew past her. It was smaller than an arrow. Startled, Zelle soared up to the sky.
Small arrow-like objects started flying over at her again. Zelle desperately tried to dodge them but she ended up getting shot on her buttocks.
It didn’t hurt as much as when she got shot with an arrow on her leg. There was only a sharp pain like when she was stung by a bug.
What is this?
Zelle flew to a safer altitude and checked. It was ⅓ the length of an arrow…
Then she immediately got a feeling.
‘It’s a poison needle.’
Zelle searched the surroundings. She could see the Roheneim camp she escaped from far far away.
I have to go back. I can’t let the enemies have my bird corpse.
Zelle started flying towards the camp with all her might.
If she was to die from this poison, she must die in Roheneim’s hands.
Since if Granoir has the bird’s corpse, the enemy’s morale would rise greatly.
It was strange how she didn’t get emotional while she was at the brink of death, but Zelle only focused on flying.
Her senses became dull from the buttocks. Now, she couldn’t feel the pain from the needle and could not extend her talons even if she wanted to.
‘I must be getting paralyzed.’
The light of the torches became blurry. The poison reached her wings and slowed her movements.
For the first time, she felt sorry for this bird.
‘I’m sorry to you too.’
For escaping into your body. And for being a weak royal heir who can’t even save a bird’s life…
Zelle crashed into the ground in front of Roheneim camp’s wooden gate. Her whole body convulsed.
‘Sir Valhayle, I’m back.’
With the last of her remaining strength, Zelle smiled.
‘I didn’t fall into their hands.’
And then, she lost consciousness.
*˖:✧ ⑅•.༻♔༺.•⑅ ✧:˖*
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