I Will Not Become an Enemy! – 16

Is the Search still in Progress?

After that, it was often easier for me to get distracted.

It was not particularly bad when I was moving my body. From my seat at the breakfast table, I would look at the Margraves couple and their complete air of friendliness, Alan's exasperated face, Reggie's expression as he looked on and laughed. It allowed me to feel the warmth of ordinary days, and because of that I was able to forget the things I was ‘supposed to think about.'
From my seat at the breakfast table, I would look at the Margraves couple and their complete air of friendliness, Alan's exasperated face, Reggie's expression as he looked on and laughed. It allowed me to feel the warmth of ordinary days, and because of that I was able to forget the things I was ‘supposed to think about.'

But even when I did try to look up magic in the books, the contents would not stay in my head. I would keep remembering it. Remember about that would-be magician, crumbling into sand. I thought about this same thing happening to me and I would become too scared to search any further. And so my attention tends to go after things that give me a real sense of living a peaceful, everyday life.

But then again, I also think.
I was able to escape a fate that should have been mine, perhaps this castle’s fate of being under attack will also alter. Maybe Reggie would not die.
Furthermore, was it not possible that this world had in fact, no connection at all with the game? Such dreamlike thoughts would enter my head, and I would grind my fists with hopelessness.

“I do understand…”
Without thinking, the words spilled out of my mouth.
Things did not go so smoothly as that. I knew ‘what would happen next,’ and so I was able to flee. But everyone else, they have no way of knowing what will happen to themselves next.
This world, it was meant to be a place where people scramble in the dark, trying to move forward.

And that is why I think, think that I must do something as the one who knows more. But it is there that my heart stops me in my tracks.
I don’t want to die. I’m scared. It says.

“Kiara, are you unwell?”
Reggie asks me, and I suddenly return to myself.

“Oh, sorry. I suppose I was daydreaming. I’m so sorry that I’ve bothered you with this searching business.”
“There is no need to apologize. Just… Recently you look like you’ve been drowning in your thoughts. It’s because you saw that magician die, isn’t it?”

His words startled me.
But at the same time, I knew that I had been closing up in a much too apparent way, I hated myself for that. I just wanted to hide the true reason from him. I scrambled for words.

“Um… Well, you know, seeing someone turn into sand like that, it would give you quite a shock.”
I told him that I was merely shocked at the dying look of the magician.
It was not at all strange for a girl of my age to be scared at that sight. It had truly appeared that it was the result of a deal with the devil.

“Really? I feel like you are thinking about it too deeply for it to be just that...really.”
Huh? Really, had he noticed it then?
I sat nervously after his reply, but he quietly continued.

“Did he perhaps resemble an acquaintance? Was that the reason you were especially shocked by it?”
Inside, I just wanted to let out a huge sigh.
...Reggie’s wild pitch had saved me.

But, it was true in a way.
That the dead magician resembled someone that I knew. Because it was me in two years time.
Thinking of it like that, Reggie was quite sharp.
I returned a vague, ‘That might have been it…’ in order to mislead him, and I proceeded to stare downwards. I just knew that he would see through my lie if he saw my face.

Instead, his fingers came under my chin.
What, wait, Reggie is touching me!? As I was scrambling, he lifted my face towards his.
Reggie had at some point come very close to me. He laid one hand on the desk and the other cupped my chin.
The candlelight flickered as it illuminated the room. I could not take my eyes off of Reggie’s face.
I could not even move my body an inch.

What is this! This very romantic situation! And Reggie, he accomplished this so smoothly! Furthermore, he does it with a familiarly, like he’s done this before, thinking about all of this is really confusing me!
Even in my past life, these kinds of bitter-sweet situations were uncharted territory for me. This was the first contact.
And so I had absolutely no idea of what to do or what to say.
I did not know, but Reggie’s fingers sent a tingling sensation through me, and I could feel my face burning hot.
But perhaps that was a good thing, as it seemed to have erased Reggie’s suspicions.

“Well, you have some color in you again.”
He says as his hand lets go of my chin.
While I was relieved, Reggie only continued.

"But it seems that you are not very enthusiastic about the search now, maybe you need a change of pace? We should go outside. As you do not go out with the Margravine, you probably don't leave the castle much at all, do you?"
He wasn’t wrong.
Ever since I had come to Margrave Everal's castle, my attention had been solely directed at the research of magic. I would not even go out in the yard unless my work called for it.
Indeed, I was starting to think that days without sun was a detriment to both my body and spirit.
Reggie took my hand after I nodded, and he proceeded to lead me out of the library.

“Your Highness, where are you going?”
“We want to take a walk around the castle.”
A knight who had been waiting outside of the library heard Reggie's plans and a nearby servant went running off.
After a slow walk with Reggie through the castle, we arrived at the stables. The stable master had known that we were coming, thanks to the servant that had run on ahead. He had prepared Reggie's own horse and what was likely the horse of some knight and he handed them to us.

Two months had now passed since I ran away from Sunday school, and it felt like it had been ages since I was last treated as nobility. Noblewomen did not usually practice riding, but there were people that served you who make the preparations should you show the desire to do so.

“Kiara, can you ride?”
He asked and I shook my head.
I had often thought of riding, but they would never allow me to get near a horse at the house of the count.
...Thinking back, it was probably to prevent me from escaping.

Being a complete novice, I was impressed by the beauty of Reggie calmly placing a foot in the stirrup and mounting the horse. After that, he took my hand and pulled me up to him.
I was surprised by how strong his arms were as he sat me down sideways onto the saddle.

“Oh, it’s quite high.”
Where I was sitting was higher up than I was tall. And looking down made me quite uneasy and I was filled with both curiosity and a fear of heights.
And then Reggie smoothly slid his hands passed my waist and grabbed the reins.

“Don’t lean forward too much, Kiara. I won’t help you if you fall.”
Reggie said with a laugh. I quickly straightened my back as the horse started to walk forward.

The dark brown horse was walking slowly, but even so, it swayed widely to the side.
I frantically grabbed onto the front of the saddle with my hands, but I could still not feel stable. I was scared that I would accidentally slide off the saddle in any moment. Just as I was thinking how I would have preferred to be sitting like Reggie, instead of sideways, Reggie's hands tightened around my waist. At that moment I felt very secure and relieved.

“I’m sorry. I won’t let you fall, don’t worry. You can relax, I’m holding you.”
Reggie said with yet another laugh, and I nodded.

We eventually left the castle grounds, a mounted knight tailed us a short distance away.
The castle did not have a drawbridge or moat, but there was a sprawling field of grass that covered the surrounding hills. Here we continued on over an upward path.
By this time I had grown quite comfortable with horseback riding.
I understood how to react to all the shaking, and I could now allow my attention to take in our surroundings.
After a while, the path started to lead into a grove that was thick with leaves.

“The trees in this grove are quite tall. They seemed to be growing much more sparsely when I first came here, but I suppose I was wrong.”
I said, mostly to myself. Reggie answered.

“You were in a carriage when you came here. Perhaps you could not take in all of the scenery through such a small window?”
“Yes, perhaps I was seeing things. Oh, it ends here.”
Further on the gentle hills turned into flatlands and fields.
There were ridges of raised dirt in some places, most likely seeds had just been planted there. And there were round vegetables growing in another field, were they cabbages?
And what about that other field with little bits of greenery growing?

As I was entranced by the fields that lay on both sides of us, I was suddenly brought back to myself when I heard Reggie gasp.
Something had happened.
I didn’t have time to ask. Reggie immediately turned the horse around and started to gallop.

“Hold on!”
I held on to Reggie for dear life as the horse ran at such a speed that I felt like I was going to be thrown off.

“Wha- what!?”
“It’s your pursuers.”
What did he mean by pursuers? But it was hard enough for me to just stay on the horse, and I could not look around me.
When the horse finally slowed down to a trot, we were back inside of the grove.

“Pur-, pursuers? What do you mean?”
“They came after you when you were on your way here. I saw one of Count Patorishiel’s men. I do not think that I was mistaken.”
But, why? I was shocked.
I could understand if it had been right after, but it had now been quite some time since the encounter at the field of thundergrass.

“You don’t think... Could they have assumed that I was with Alan and have had this place watched over the whole time?”
But surely I was not so important a person that they would go to such lengths to get me back. Especially as I had yet to become a magician.
Reggie looked back at the path behind us and simply said, “I’m not sure.” and started to talk with the knight.

“That man who came out from the cottage up ahead. Did he appear to be following us?”
“No. He did not seem to be riding a horse either, so it would be quite difficult for him to follow.”
“Then, there is no worry…”
Reggie sighed in relief.

“Perhaps they are still looking for you. They might have heard something from the inn you stayed at on the way. And now they are finally here, as late as they may be… It’s been nearly a month.”
Even Reggie had not considered that they would search for me for so long. His face turned dark.

"I don't think they saw your face yet, but we should return to the castle now… It might have been too early to take you out. Next time I will have to have people search the area in advance."
“Um, you don’t have to go to that extent. I will just stay hidden in the castle…”
“But you understand that you can’t hide in there forever?”
The horse continued forward as we talked.
We then saw several men who appeared to be cloaked knights on horseback coming from the direction of the castle and straight towards.

I thought that they were Reggie’s personal guards.
After all, he was a prince. They wouldn’t allow him to leave with only one guard to protect him. They had probably been sent to catch up with him now.
I was naive.
As soon as they had confirmed us as their targets, the men drew out their swords.


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