A carriage drove slowly along that road, followed by a team of horseriding bodyguards in black.
The sky was beginning to dim. The setting sun was obscured by layers of thick clouds, only the slightest bit of red light seeping through.
The carriage soon stopped at the end of the road. The old driver steadied it, and turned around to yell,
"This is as far as we can go, the carriage can’t go any further."
"Got it, you can go back now, Old Peter. Come back here to fetch us in two days." The door opened and a young man in tight black clothes jumped out as he spoke loudly.
"Yes, Young Master."
A few more young people dressed luxuriously jumped out of the carriage, two male and two female in total. They were all wearing black clothes that seemed to be for hunting. Their pants legs were stuffed into long breeches, and there were sharp short knives tied to their belts.
"Prynne, where did you guys decide to meet?" the other boy asked casually. He had blonde hair and a handsome face, with a studious air. It was Garen, who had come along with his companions.
"Right over there, we need to walk another distance. Let’s go over there first, I’ll tell a guard to go pick up Aquarius and the others. Do you wanna go along, Cia?" Prynne glanced at Garen.
"It’s fine, I’ll stay with you guys." Garen shook his head. Right now, he was carefully observing his surroundings. "The plants here look pretty old, it does looks like people don’t usually come here."
"Indeed." Prynne looked slightly proud of himself. "I even purposely asked travelling merchants who go out a lot, and finally came up with a place they don’t go. Of course there wouldn’t be anyone here."
"It won’t be dangerous, will it?" Marin was combing her her long maroon hair, and asked worriedly.
"Relax, even if there is something dangerous, we have so many guards here. There’s nothing to be afraid of!" Prynne shrugged, pointing at the team of guards riding behind them. "The people I brought this time are my family’s elite fighters, they’re definitely capable, so you don’t have to worry about safety!"
Prynne walked up to a tall and strong-looking man, with a broad back and thick waist, and patted the man’s chest.
"This is Hanson, he once tore a forest grizzly up alive! He’s the strongest of men! And he’s also the defense captain in charge of our safety this time!"
Hanson was an entire head taller than Prynne, with limbs as thick as an elephant’s. The muscles on his body were about to explode out of his skin-tight armor, keeping anyone who looked at him on edge.
"Leave it to me, Hanson! No problem!" Hanson patted his chest, and flexed his muscles like a bodybuilder. It instantly garnered some laughs from the girls.
"Hanson!!" "Hanson!!" "Hanson!!"
The guards behind him drew their scimitars at the same time, raising them above their heads as they cheered for their captain.
"Our safety is in your hands, Big Brother Prynne." Andel giggles as she got closer to Prynne.
"Speak for yourself, I still think Cia’s side is more reliable…" On the other hand, Marin walked up to Garen. "Big Brother Cia, you gotta protect me~~" she purposely said flirtily.
"Cia is head over heels trying to get Aquarius, he won’t have time for you." Andel didn’t hold back with her words.
Garen shrugged exasperatedly. "I’ll protect you, relax." He turned around to glance at the middle-aged man standing behind him.
This man was wearing a long-sleeved dark green shirt and similar long pants. He said little to nothing, and wore a metallic black armguard on his forearm. He looked to be in his thirties.
His name was Ulun, the bodyguard his father Vanderman had sent to protect him.
Garen lowered his voice helplessly.
"You guys know it too, Prynne had always been in charge of our safety, and we were too lazy to bother with it ourselves. It’s just that there was a huge explosion in my family’s territory this time, so my father specifically sent someone to protect me.
"So you’re saying this guy is really good?" Marin stuck out her tongue.
Ulun was indeed very strong. Even in the previous world of secret martial arts, he wouldn’t be your regular Joe. Judging from the way he walked, his reactions, as well as the killing intect on him and his gaze, he was definitely an elite fighter with several dozen lives on his hands. Only people like these would have that vague sense of disregard and contempt whenever they looked at everyone else.
But Garen never saw Ulun in a fight himself, so he couldn’t quite assess his total abilities. One thing was sure, Ulun might not look like much, but his abilities were definitely no lower than the guard captain Hanson.
Seeing that Garen and Marin were talking about him, Ulun put his right hand on his chest, and bent his head with a smile.
Having more or less introduced the servants, all four of them knew who was who. Hanson took the lead, and the team of guards protected the four of them on both flanks. Only then did the procession continue walking to the edge of the forest.
Axes continuously broke through the bramble, cutting open a path. Snakes, rabbits, and forest mice that darted out occasionally were also cause for the two girls to scream dramatically.
Marin always preferred to stick to Garen, whereas Andel stayed with Prynne.
As the group went further into the forest, the four of them quickly decided on a relatively flat piece of land. The guards started to chop up the bushes and trees nearby, setting up an activity spot.
Hanson and Ulun split up, patrolling the surroundings and chasing away poisonous snakes or bugs.
The four of them had barely stopped to catch their breath when soon they heard the rustle of activity behind them. Someone seemed to have caught up from behind.
Soon, a group of people dressed in dark green approached them quickly.
"It’s Aquarius," Marin whispered beside Garen. Her gaze was slightly complicated, but she hid it well.
Garen looked around him. Prynne, Andel and Marin were all staring at him. He knew he had to do something. After all, the previous Acacia liked Aquarius more than anything else, and even fought with his older cousin who loved him the most over her.
He stood up helplessly, and took the initiative to meet the team.
"Is it Miss Aquarius?" he asked loudly.
"Cia! Is that you?" A response came immediately from the approaching group. The crowd parted, and a girl in white walked out, holding up the hem of her dress. She wore a long one-piece dress, had long dark brown hair over her shoulders, and extremely thick makeup. Garen’s first impression of her was one of those unconventional beauties from Earth.
She had an oval face, with smooth and fair skin. Her eyes were made larger by dark green shadow, forming perfect almond eyes. Her eyebrows seemed to be drawn too, a textbook example of eyebrows like willow leaves, thin, long, and dark green. A straight nose, pink lips. Add that to her thin waist and thick bust, her long legs. There were even dainty crystal pendants hanging from her ears lobes.
At first glance, anyone could see this was a beauty of luxury, and she really knew how to dress herself up. In truth, her real face was nowhere near this level.
But to innocent boys like Acacia, this kind of makeup was more than enough to have him head over heels with her, his eyes stuck to her like glue. Compared to Aquarius, Marin -- who was quite pretty among the four of them, but who didn’t know how to use make-up -- was like the duckling next to the swan."
"It’s been a while since we met. Since I heard you were coming this time, I thought, it’s not like I have anything else to do. Coming to meet you lets me relax at the same time. I wonder, am I welcome here?" Aquarius’ voice was full of calm confidence, giving the impression that she was very in control of herself. It wasn’t too loud or too soft, and even the turns in her voice seemed to be fully calculated.
"You are, of course you are!" Garen imitated Acacia from before, acting completely head over heels for her, his eyes not turning away. He looked as if Aquarius had a hand on his soul. And then he followed Acacia’s actions in his memories, grabbing Aquarius’ hand and making to kiss it. But he was instantly pushed aside.
Impatience flashed past Aquarius’ eyes. Every time Acacia took her hand, he would immediately chew on it for half a day and refuse to let go. So even though she was supposed to stretch out her hand first, she pretended to forget about that.
"Why don’t we first figure out how to make a fire? I have two more friends coming over." Aquarius greeted Prynne, Marin and Andel respectively. There was no faulting her manners.
The five of them began directing the guards to stick the vines and branches that had been chopped off into the ground, forming a simple fence. And then they began to put up each of the tents they brought.
Aquarius’ friends arrived quickly as well. They were two pretty girls, one called Maria and the other Cena. They only brought a couple of guards each, and quickly gathered around Aquarius, chatting merrily.
Garen expressed his love for Aquarius every now and then, acting particularly passionate, but the other party didn’t say even a word to him.
The few tents were set up in no time at all, each of them covered with large nets that had leaves tied to them. This was to camouflage the tents from the eye, merging them into the forest.
The seven or eight guards in total also set up a few large tents a little further ahead for shelter.
While they were putting up camp, Garen took that chance to take a walk around the area to stake out the ground. Marin volunteered to stay with him, and they went on the excuse that they were gathering firewood.
Under Ulun’s protection, the two of them began to gather wood.
"Cia, do you really like Aquarius that much?" Marin asked softly as she gathered the wood.
"Do you still need to ask?" Garen replied simply.
"Then what part of her do you like?"
"I like all of her. Most importantly, don’t you think Aquarius is really beautiful?" Garen copied Acacia’s wods directly. The two of them picked up a few small sticks every few steps. They weren’t gathering firewood at all, but chatting as they took a walk. Behind them, Ulun privately twisted his mouth.
"Then, we’re very close, right?" Marin asked again.
"Of course," Garen replied.
"If… I say if, Aquarius and I fell into the water at the same time, who would you save first?" Marin suddenly asked very solemnly.
"Isn’t it obvious? Aquarius, of course! Don’t you know how to swim?" Garen could also see that Marin liked Acacia, but he was following Acacia’s original memories and impressions to the T. Although this answer was very unlike him, it was the answer that suited Acacia best.
Helplessness flashed past Marin’s eyes, and she became somewhat down.
Garen bent down to pick up a few dried out branches, when suddenly his palm brushed a black-green plant next to him. A small cut immediately opened up on the back of his hand.
He frowned slightly, not at all used to how weak his body was now. He was just about to straighten up when something in the corner of his eye made him freeze.
He carefully peeled apart this unknown plant with its sharp leaves, revealing a small purple-black flower underneath.
"This is… the amejade1 grass!" Garen’s heart began to race. "This world… This world has that legendary, supposedly extinct amejade grass!!"