After leaving the cave where such commotion arose, we started walking through the forest again. If I were an ordinary person, not a reincarnated person who knew the story because of the contents in the novel, I would have still been suspicious of Luka, who identified himself as the crown prince. That’s why I asked him a few more times if it was really what he had told me, and showed him I was going through denial.
Across the forest, smoke was rising from the orphanage’s chimney. Now, it was only a matter of time before Miss Raiolla ran out without even taking off her hair rollers. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be easy for her to track us down through the deep forest we’ve walked in until the break of dawn. We strolled down the path, breathing the fresh morning air.
“So Luka was the Crown Prince…”
I already knew, but it didn’t hit me before that Luka, whom I thought of as only my younger brother from the orphanage, was a real member of the royal family. To me, he was just an adult-like child1 who could only fall asleep if I held his hand tight because of insomnia.
At my words, Luka smiled softly and nodded.
“You know you’ll have to give this older sister a big present later, right?”
“Do you want just a present? If you want even a country–”
‘This one is fine one second, and then spit some weird things out of the blue.’
I could see the sun rising and the sky was getting brighter. Fortunately, as the starlight gradually dimmed, we got out of the woods, found a paved road, and started walking along the railway path. Perhaps because it was a railroad that had not been used for a long time, grass and flowers whose names I didn’t know grew here and there.
I took Luka’s hand and walked while balancing on the railway line, just as I did in my previous life, holding my mother’s hand. I asked him, who was walking next to me while watching my steps.
“Will she have noticed it by now?”
“I guess. We left after cleaning up, so she wouldn’t know where we escaped from.”
Expecting to be tracked down, we left the dug place and the escape route hidden in piles of clothes before leaving. I asked a question that popped into my head.
“You said it was a kidnapping. Do you know who’s responsible?”
“They were well-trained masked knights. They were wearing unpatterned armor, so I couldn’t identify who they worked for.”
Luka frowned as if recalling that time. He was the youngest rookie to manifest sword aura, nevertheless, it would have been difficult for him to deal with several elite knights.
“I was captured, blindfolded, and lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes again, I had lost my memories and was wandering through this forest. I was like that when Raiolla found me and brought me to the orphanage.”
“I see. But why were you in this forest where the Troi Orphanage is located? Possibly–maybe it’s related to the duke of Kavlos?”
I couldn’t tell him directly that the person responsible for his kidnapping was the duke of the Kavlos Duchy, so I trailed my words to help him get closer to the answer. It wasn’t something that would appear in the newspaper Raiolla reads, so I couldn’t do more.
“Duke Kavlos…” He nodded, saying he should check it out.
In the original, it wasn’t long before Luka found out that the culprit who kidnapped him was Duke Kavlos. Right, there was a scene–probably at the center of the battle– when Senia, out of guilt, confided everything she knew, and he would have found out. Seeing Luka suffering from the puppet magic that her father had put on him, she didn’t want to hide it any longer. Luka forgave her, who was suffering from guilt, even though it wasn’t her fault. And since the novel was written from Senia’s point of view, the villain was Ravelia, not Duke Kavlos. Reaching the ending, Duke Kavlos only became a father-in-law constantly quarreling with Luka.
‘If you think a bit, what Duke Kavlos did to Luka is far much worse than the bullying Ravelia did to Senia.’
As we chatted while walking, we met a small village, and passing through it, we reached a bigger town. The bustling streets, full of people I saw for the first time–who weren’t the orphanage’s kids– made me realize that I had truly escaped from there.
My eyes sparkled as I let out a small exclamation and looked around the streets lined with dressmakers and fruit shops. Some people looked strangely at the two children in ragged clothes and barefoot, walking holding hands tightly.
Finally, as we reached the bustling downtown of the big city, we began to see a line of wagons. We picked one of the standby carriages and tried to ride it. At first, the coachman looked at us and waved his hand with an expression as if trying to get rid of some troublesome thing; but after we said our destination, he opened the carriage door as if to greet any other guest. I sat on the cushionless chair that seemed to be made of rice straw and said,
“As I said, please take us to the Rayes Duchy. I will pay when we arrive. My parents work there.”
“Yes, yes. Little Lady.” The coachman responded with a friendly face, closed the door, and started driving the carriage. The moment the horse started galloping, my body floated and then sank.
It wasn’t a very good carriage, but it was moderately spacious for two children. Because I had been walking for a long time, I put my numb legs on the seat next to me. Luka sat across from me and looked out the window where the scenery passed by. Looking at him like that, I understood why he was called the best-looking man in the world. Even though he looked like a beggar right now, he shone. From the soft dark-brown2 hair fluttering in the wind, the red-like eyes like a soft drop of ink in a clear blood-colored lake, to the glistening pink lips, there was nothing in him that wasn’t pretty.
The description of his appearance in the novel seemed unrealistic. Even the heroine, Senia, was depicted as a girl beautiful enough to be courted by all the men in the empire, but it was said she was just a wilted flower next to Luka.
‘Actually, isn’t this face enough to save a country from war?’ I highly believed it.
There was concern showing on that national treasure-like face, so I needlessly spoke.
“Luka, what is it? You don’t look good.”
“Because now, soon, I’ll be separated from Leah.”
“We will meet in no time.”
I lied, fearing those pretty eyes would sag if I didn’t say so. However, even if I didn’t lie, Luka, who had regained his memories, would have roughly known what his fate after returning to the Imperial Palace would be like.
Although the original story was distorted; the fact that Luka would go into a fight after completing his succession lessons and Senia, the original female lead, would follow him as a healing wizard, assisting him in that fight, stayed the same. There was no reason for me to care too deeply. Fate will eventually flow according to the course of the world.
‘Isn’t it to be like that in the first place?’ I followed Luka’s gaze and looked out the window at the swaying reed field. I scowled slightly because of the cold wind.
The wagon ran non-stop to the west.
* * *
Perhaps it was a more remote place than I thought because even in a horse-drawn carriage, we drove half a day to the capital. In the meantime, we couldn’t escape the wagon until the red burning sunset set in the bright blue sky.
In the novels, the heroine used a teleportation spell whenever she moved, or she used a high-speed wagon to go to official places, and I was so envious of her at this moment. As I looked out the window with a crumpled expression, Luka asked anxiously.
“Leah, are you okay?”
‘How can Luka be able to ride a carriage without changing his posture even once in such a long time? Truly amazing.’
Surely, the memories of riding super-luxurious royal wagons were brought back.
“My body is numb. I got motion sickness too,” I said as I stretched. It certainly seemed different from the carriages rode by nobles. My head throbbed as if I was on some deep-sea fishing boat.
“Shall we stop for a moment, then?”
‘No, this isn’t our own carriage, is it?’ Asking the coachman who took two children of unknown origins on a long journey to stop for nothing would be getting on his bad side. I said it was okay because it was urgent, and finally, I just laid my numb body down on the seat. I didn’t mind losing face, and I felt better after lying down.
The coachman said that we had to cross one more mountain to get to the capital, so we wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow morning.
“Luka, you too should lie down and sleep.”
At my words, Luka lay his straight back on his seat and said,
Lying side by side in the swaying wagon, we looked out the window or stared at the ceiling without a word. Only the sound of horses’ hoofs and the rattling of the carriage passing over some stone on the road filled the quiet carriage. Breaking the silence, Luka spoke to me.
“Leah’s still planning to meet Duke Rayes, right?”
I nodded. It’s just going to where the original Ravelia should be, but I’m not really sure if that’s going to work out.
“Because they are looking for me so desperately. And I also lost my parents when I was young.”
The moment the duke saw Ravelia for the first time, he thought of his wife. I wanted to see if I resembled the late Duchess that much. The part I liked the most about this body was the eyes. The fresh green color without a single stain was inherited from the Duchess. As I was thinking about something else, Luka’s red eyes met mine.
“Then, if they say I’m not the duke’s daughter, I can follow you.”
“Wherever Leah goes, I will always follow you.”
Those were some very encouraging words. Ever since I left the orphanage, this world has felt like a vast universe to me. Just like when I was abandoned there. However, unlike then, Luka was by my side now. He must have said it casually, but thanks to him, I wasn’t afraid anymore.
Luka explained to me that the name of the region we were passing through was Gesilla Province. He said it was a unique area that was like a gateway to the capital, and I believed it as soon as I saw it. At first, I couldn’t help but doubt my eyes. There was definitely a beautiful sunset in the sky outside the window, and it was embroidered with meteor showers. The meteor shower, which was flying to some unknown place with its white tail, seemed to draw whatever it wanted in the pink sky.
If the astronomers of my previous world had seen this, they would have turned their eyes inside out, and tried to do all kinds of research. It was undoubtedly a cool space show, but my eyes kept closing because I couldn’t sleep a blink since last night and went through a lot of trouble escaping. I pillowed my head with both hands and took a comfortable position as my eyelids closed slowly. They said they would arrive tomorrow morning anyway, so I just chose to sleep.
I had a lot of things to say before I parted ways with Luka, but usually, when you travel, you wake up at dawn and chat again, so I closed my eyes leaving my regrets behind.
1. [tl/n: adult-like child means he’s a kid who acts maturely, not fitting for his age]↩
2. [tl/n: funny thing, at first Luka, was described as a black-haired red-eyed child, but now it says he has brown hair. I’ll stick to dark brown because I can’t keep up with this author changing features lol]↩
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