TW: Slight gore in this chappie ;-;
“… This is so precious and weighted that I’m afraid of accepting it.”
She used her hands that have been covered by a shawl to accept the flowers. She sounded gentle but her tone was mysterious.
Looking up, I could see her usual cold expression turning flustered. I waited for her to speak.
Suddenly, I heard something fall. It sounded like a piece of paper being roughly torn.
Turning my head in surprise, I saw a tree toppling down. Then the rough sounds of stomps on dry grass resonated. As the short grass leaves collapsed and bent under the steps, the sounds got closer and closer.
Rebecca said hurriedly.
Then finally, the owner of the sounds revealed itself. A black bull-sized watchman. It was the black hound I usually see guarding the fence.
I scanned my surroundings quickly after seeing the red hair flutter about. Then, Rebecca fell into shock.
“Kyack! P-Princess, what’s that? I-It has huge teeth!”
The problem was that it was not just one hound. When the first hound spotted me and Rebecca, it ran vigorously towards us as if it had marked its target.
I grabbed Rebecca and pulled with all my might. When I turned around, I noticed the second hound not too far behind Rebecca. After some rustling noises from our left, another one appeared. A total of three dogs began to approach us whilst growling.
“W-what are those? Dogs? Bulls? M-Monsters? I’ve never seen anything like them before.”
“They are the watchmen that guards the Forbidden Forest! But why are they here…?!”
I could not help but panic as I spoke.
‘But why are there three?’
I held Rebecca’s hand and backed up towards an area where there were no hounds. It would be too dangerous to start running now. In a flash, I looked for an escape route.
From past experiences, I had learnt that hounds chased people instinctively by following their movements. I did not know if those hounds actually acted like dogs, but it was clear that even if we were to run now, they would catch up to us in just a few big strides.
“Rebecca, do you know how to climb a tree?”
“What? J-just a little.”
Rebecca looked at her dress. Anyway, she did seem to know how to climb one. She soon bit her lips and held my hand firmly.
“I’ll try my best.”
“We still have time to run. Do you see that?”
Though her hands were shaking, she was still biting her lips shamefully and showing off her waist like a blooming flower.
“Yes, I do.”
She tried to take a step forward looking as if she wanted to protect me. I appreciated it but I did not think it would at all help in our current situation. I spoke after pulling her back.
“When I give the signal, you have to climb up the tree behind us.”
Rebecca replied with a trembling voice. Then, three, two, one…! Once I finished counting down, I was sure I was running behind Rebecca. And we had reached the tree.
Just then, I saw. The dog on our right had come running after us and Rebecca had just started turning around so she did not see it. I could not remember why there were three dogs here. However, as Rebecca met the hound’s gaze, I made my decision.
I clenched my teeth and pushed Rebecca away. I could not let her die. I stood right at the spot where I pushed her from. Damn, I could think about the future later!
I then felt a burning pain sear through me. I wanted to scream. I could not fight against the weight that had struck me and caused me to fall. Crash. The back of my head ached.
I frowned before opening my eyes. Blood sputtered from where its jaw bit into my arm. Beginning to feel lightheaded, I pushed against its snout. I knew that if Rebecca had been bitten, the hound would have gone straight for her heart and she would have immediately died. The teeth that were sinking into my arm. Its red eyes.
‘Should I just start the day over again after I die?’
But there was not that much time to think.
It pulled its teeth out from my arm. I wondered if my body could actually even make such a sound. And I wondered if I could actually feel so much pain that my eyes were filling with tears. Even though I had died before, I could not even imagine how painful this was.
This was not supposed to happen.
Its bloodstained spout then spat out some of my flesh. Perhaps it was because it saw blood but the animal’s eyes looked more frenzied. Its growls became more violent and its jaws shot down towards me.
I kicked against the ground with all the strength I could muster in my legs and rolled to the side.
Unfortunately, the hound was faster. Its paw or something as heavy pushed against my chest.
I let out a strong cough. For just a moment I thought how this was such a shame.
‘Looks like I’m going to die. Maybe I’ll return to the day before.’
As its big teeth entered my line of sight, a cool gust of wind blew.
I could hear the sound of flapping wings.
A bird? Why was I seeing a bird now? As I slowly opened my eyes whilst coughing, I found a bird blocking me from the hound. What was going on?
My shaking vision slowly adjusted. It was a white bird about half the size of the hound. It looked like a raptor as it pecked at the hound’s eyes with its sharp beak and scratched it with its claws. Somehow its white feathers and blue eyes looked familiar.
Even as my vision began to dim, I continued staring at it.
The bird was something I did not expect.
Soon after, vines began sprouting from the earth and branches from the garden. The vines that attacked with ferocity wrapped around the hound and hovered it in the air.
“… You’re late, brother.”
Let me look at the other hounds. A thin blade appeared out of nowhere and sliced the hound’s neck.
“Is this what you wanted me to do?”
Lord Ray glanced at me with an expression I had never seen before. He then ran over towards the remaining hound.
Rebecca collapsed at my side.
“H-heup, Princess, Princess…!”
Her hands that were grabbing my shoulders were shaking. How else could a Duke’s daughter who had grown up so preciously face such a brutal situation?
“Are you alright? Can you see me? Why are you looking into the a-a-air? Does it hurt a lot? Where!”
‘Rebecca, if you shout like that, I’m only going to get a headache.’
Knowing I could move, I slowly reached out to touch Rebecca’s shoulder.
“… Don’t cry.”
She must have been really shocked so I calmed her down. She was a aristocrat who had always been so proud and arrogant so the sight of her collapsing in a place like this did not suit her image at all.
“What on earth is going on? This doesn’t make any sense! You’re b-bleeding! Please say something!”
“Uhm, it hurts a little…”
“It’s not just a little! Do you think this is the time to be making jokes!”
My lungs ached every time I breathed. The calf I fell on hurt and the back I had most likely broken was hurting as well. Everywhere hurt but nothing could compare to the pain in my arm.
My vision was blurring even further. Rebecca was screaming while looking like a mess. I could only come to my senses at the distant sound of Rebecca calling for me.
“Please. Say. Something. Yes?”
Rebecca was so close she completely filled my line of sight.
‘She doesn’t look alright at all.’
When I fell, the bandage I had placed on my cheek blew away, fully exposing my scar.
‘It won’t be good if my face got hurt at this point in time.’
Soon, the world began to spin as if someone was manually turning my head around. Apart from that, I was gradually regaining my composure. As I stared at the blood on the ground, I slowly lifted my head.
“Does it hurt? Your knight is coming…”
“… Are you alright? Did you get hurt?”
Instead of continuing, she looked at me. Even though I was the one with the injured arm, she looked like she was in more pain.
“Princess, y-you, seriously.”
Blood began dripping the arm Rebecca was grabbing. The fresh blood being spilled looked similar to Rebecca’s red hair. I must look really bad if I was bloodier than her.
“I was afraid you might die.”
I almost killed her because of my mistake. It was my fault.
[Year 825, on the 21st day of the month of Helios.
I went outside to the back garden to play with my lady-in-waiting. Then, I saw a really big dog. Then…
The lady-in-waiting I was taking a walk with got bitten by the hound and died.
I cried my heart out.]
The future in which my lady-in-waiting would get bitten by a hound and died turned into a future in which I injured my arm.
‘Though I almost died.’
I changed the future once again thanks to Amor and Lord Ray who were watching over me.
To make sure no one died.
“I’m just glad you didn’t get hurt.”
“Just worry about yourself. I mean, don’t talk at all! You’re being reckless! Why did you save me!”
“Hmm, yeah, why did I?”
I grabbed her hand.
“At that moment, all I could see was you.” (1)
“… You must be going crazy from the pain.”
She sounded as if she was flabbergasted at my nonsense but at the same time she averted her gaze. But when I held her hand again, she turned back around.
Dark tears flowed down as what seemed like a bright red light flashed in her eyes.
Then, she stroked my hand. She spoke as if she was the one who had her cherished garden brutally trampled on.
“Seriously, no mistress is as stupid as you!”
Rebecca panted to catch her breath after shouting. She then winced as if she had more to say but she bit her lip.
She had been scared. She leaned her shoulders towards me to whisper.
“Heup… I was scared.”
I slowly raised my hand to cover my face.
I knew this method had been foolishly wrong. I did not think this had been a good plan at all. However, other than dying endlessly, I could not think of a better way.
What other method could I have taken? Even if I managed to avoid Rebecca’s death today, a new death could be written for me in the diary. Then what if she were to die in some place I could not reach? That would be unacceptable.
She should not die. Even if it was to be an unavoidable death, I would help her avoid it with my own two hands.
In fact, I did not want to use this method either. Why did her death appear in the diary like Amor’s? Did that mean the people around me are going to die too? That meant I could not let anyone leave my side. I hated that. I mean, I was lonely. No. Why should I be left alone?
I would rather be the one who died instead.
So, I jumped to shield Rebecca.
Ew gore but yay beautiful female friendships
: Is Rebecca going to join Ash’s harem too?