Evade the Hero and Flee! 219 A princess’s memory (26)
#37 Other circumstances: A villain’s circumstance.
After seeing the weaklings, I immediately went to Rea, and I could barely suppress a curse.
“Sir Ast? What are you doing here?”
Rea approached me quickly to see how my temper was rising, even though she seemed surprised to see me on the day we were supposed to meet our troops.
“Are they yours?”
I could only watch Rea’s troops training and knew immediately that they were elite soldiers. She would be unable to make them elites within the hour it took me to get here by horseback.
“Do you know the standard of my troops?”
Rea shook her head.
“Aren’t they similar to mine?”
I would not have come here if they were even adequate. However, mine drank on duty.
“Will you come with me?”
Rea looked at me with suspicious eyes, but did so after a few words with her sergeants.
“I will go now.”
She ran using magic, and I could not catch a Sword Master doing so. At least I knew she was not in league with this situation, which meant only one person was left.
“What is it?”
The princess did not even try to hide her smile.
“I believe you’re aware of the reason.”
“I can’t read minds.”
However, her eyes told me a different story.
“Is that it?”
That one word meant I had to make the best of her trick. I sighed, and the princess glared at me for a moment before speaking again.
“The elves sent you a gift.”
“You did save one of their nobles.”
She asked her maid to bring the present, and two soldiers carefully brought a large box.
“Is it heavy?”
“No one knows, but I heard it was something rare and should be carefully treated.”
“How can your highness not know?”
“Since the elf you saved sent it, it’s possible.”
The present seemed foreboding. At least I would not get cursed since I am immune to curses.
While her majesty also seemed askance, she asked me to open the present. While there would normally be a complicated procedure for a member of the Imperial Family to open a present, a high elf sent it.
I opened the box and narrowed my eyes.
“What is this?”
I saw that it was a thick tree branch from an old tree and had a surprisingly divine aura.
“What is that?”
Her highness said the same thing as she stood up to see the box.
“It is still fresh.”
“I think it was cut a short while ago.”
“Is it a special tree from the elves’ forest? The tree will be something if the branch is this impressive.”
“I think it would sell well as furniture.”
The branch’s scent calmed one’s senses. That may have been why I opened the letter despite knowing who had sent this box.
“Let’s see…Prince, I am sending a branch of the World Tree you said you needed…”
Her majesty turned cold as her small hand rubbed the branch.
“A branch of the World Tree?”
“It does feel alive.”
I could not reply to her words as I vacantly read the letter.
“What does it say?”
“That she and I are destined to meet again, and that she will…”
“Stop saying such nonsense.”
I went back in the letter as her majesty’s voice turned ice cold.
“I send the branch…which I picked from the World Tree…I did it myself. While it was a difficult job, you wanted it. It was thrilling to smuggle this…Shall I read more?”
Her highness looked like an old woman in her eighties as she sighed wearily. It was like she thought about what she had to go through such ordeals like this.
“Ast. Did you want the World Tree so badly an elf would send a branch?”
“It was a joke. Don’t think I said it seriously. I did not ask for a branch in the first place!”
The World Tree was what the Goddess left behind to protect the enslaved elves due to human greed. The tree was said to have been planted by the Goddess and was the legacy she had left with most of her power. Elves would take a seed from it and wait for it to grow before building a village.
To think an elf would pick a branch off…even wooden canes used only by high-class elves were made of naturally fallen branches.
I could see she was asking me what I was going to do with only her eyes.
I had only said it in jest because I needed a special ingredient for the plan I was hatching. I had only been preparing for my next position as an instructor, as my first job had been filled with many difficulties.
I needed to prepare for a situation where words would not make a difference and for instructees who would not listen.
That was when I thought of a bat that would not harm them but teach them a lesson and keep them from harming themselves and me.
One of my teachers back when I was in Korea had effectively used it on me, and while using it on mere students was bad, to people who may harm others if not kept in line…It was a project worth preparing for, and I acted as such.
Before I came to the palace, I had requested a bat to the dwarves. A weapon that would not kill had struck a chord with one of the dwarf clans, and they began to try.
However, they failed multiple times despite the huge amounts of money that had gone in.
The dwarves told me that normal metal would not work, and there was not enough money to buy special metal. I tried some mithril I had smuggled, but the effort still failed.
That was when I had mentioned the World Tree branch filled with divine power, but I did not think she would actually…
It seemed she was preparing to send me to the elves, and I opened my mouth.
“Your highness, a crime doesn’t exist unless it is discovered.”