Upon hearing the frantic screams, Sonia opened her eyes slowly and Lilian’s terrified face came into her vision . It was sunset . All Sonia felt was the aches and numbness in her body, especially the stinging pain on her back . She sat up slowly, only to find herself on a withered lawn . It was late autumn, where the fresh, green grass was gradually withering and the leaves were drying up . The cold wind from between the forest trees instantly sent Sonia shivering . She lowered her gaze, discovering that her clothes were completely soaked in sewage, suffusing a terrible stench . Lilian was nowhere better . Her little face was covered in strokes of black and white like a kitten . Her cloak was also stained by all sorts of filth . Not only that, but Sonia also felt pain and coldness in her left arm .
It seems like I was still attacked, huh?
Sonia calmed herself at this thought and stood back up .
“Your Majesty, this place isn’t safe . We have to continue moving ahead . ”
“B-But… where are we going exactly? Also… are you alright, Sonia? Why don’t we find a place to rest…”
“No, we have to find a place to wash up, change our clothes, and continue moving forward, Your Majesty . The parliament will widen the search perimeter until they find us . We have to escape before that happens . ”
Sonia gazed at Lilian’s pale expression and was hesitant about her decision . In fact, she wasn’t doing much better than Lilian now . If it weren’t for the fact that Sonia was a swordsman in the Elite Stage with a stronger constitution than most young noblewomen, she wouldn’t be able to walk now . But to Sonia, she had to continue walking even if she couldn’t . She didn’t know what would happen to Lilian if she were captured by Nakvard . But she was sure that nothing good would happen… Moreover, Rhode’s mission for her was to protect Lilian!
That’s right . This is the mission that Master gave me!
Sonia pulled herself together at this thought immediately . Even though she was exhausted and in pain from the constant running, it was nothing compared to the ‘teachings’ that Rhode had given her . And now, the most important thing was to lead Lilian as far away from Casabianca . Once they left this central region, Sonia could use her familiarity with the Country of Light to head to other regions and blend into the crowd . This way, they could avoid detection from the parliament . She was aware that there were regions dissatisfied with the parliament’s rule, so as long as they escaped to those regions, they wouldn’t need to fear the chasing soldiers . The resistance from the regions would be enough to give the soldiers a hard time .
“Your Majesty, let’s move on . ”
“… Okay . ”
Lilian hesitated at the sight of Sonia standing to her feet . But she continued to ask .
“… Sonia, where exactly are we going?”
“… It is no longer possible to board the floating boats and heading toward the Munn Kingdom is equally dangerous . If we walk on foot, we will be interrogated a lot . But if we go via sea, the threats will be similar to those on the floating boats . Also, I heard rumors about the unscrupulous sailors on the ships in the port . Perhaps they will harbor ill intentions if we head there alone…” Sonia pretended to be contemplative, before continuing . “Your Majesty, if you don’t mind, we can head down the Black Mist River and… perhaps pass through the Highland City and arrive at the Void Territory . ”
Lilian stared blankly and Sonia quickly became anxious . Sonia had the initial intention to bring Lilian back to the Void Territory . Even though the other reasons she mentioned were also valid, there were still other solutions, as a matter of fact . For instance, the port . Just like Sonia mentioned, although there were many shady ships, some ships were still legit . Once they sneaked into the ships, they could still head to the Munn Kingdom . But… as Rhode’s devoted servant, Sonia naturally wouldn’t give this opportunity to Lydia .
“Yes, it will be relatively safer, Your Majesty Lilian . We can hitch a ride from the merchants who are heading toward the border region . Actually, many trade associations have no relations with the parliament . We don’t need to worry if they check our identities . Besides, even if there are any problems, it will be easier for us to escape…”
“Sure . ”
Sonia was surprised by Lilian’s straightforward answer . The latter swung her tiny fists as she looked at Sonia with a delightful expression .
“Let’s look for Big Brother Rhode, Sonia . I’m sure Big Brother Rhode will protect us!”
“Of course, Your Majesty . If you’re fine with this…”
Sonia felt like she didn’t have much to say after seeing Lilian’s excitement…
Even though Lilian was excited to visit Rhode, the problems presented before the both of them weren’t easy to resolve . First, the problem with bathing . After the moon rose high up in the sky, they realized how difficult it was to find a place to shower in the wild . They were a wealthy young lady and a Light Dragon, who led easy lives with everything provided . Although Sonia was in charge of looking after Lilian, that didn’t include lodging and food . Thereafter, the duo wandered in the forest for half a day and finally found a small creek . Even though it was chilly in the late autumn night, they gritted their teeth and washed the filth off their bodies, before putting on a clean set of clothes . Then, Sonia picked up several branches . In any case, she often stepped out of the house and had observed enough to manage on her own . Even though she wasn’t a mercenary, she had witnessed guards on night watch in the past and learned some of their methods . Of course, if it weren’t for her sword that contained the flame attribute, perhaps they would be having a freezing night .
Huddled up entirely in Sonia’s embrace, Lilian shuddered while gazing at the bonfire . Then, she instinctively curled up once more . Sonia felt her reaction and hugged the little girl tighter . She held the sword in her right hand, leaning on the tree trunk and watching the surroundings . The forest of late autumn was dark and terrifying . The silver-whitish moonlight shone from above, as though giving life to the dried branches, turning them into the twisting shadows of departed spirits .
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
Sonia asked softly .
“… Why are they trying to capture me? What exactly have I done? It feels so… annoying…”
“Big Brother Rhode… Big Sister Nalea, Big Sister Siena, and even that annoying Ion are also Creator Dragons, so why am I so unfortunate? They are loved and supported by their people, so why am I the only one treated this way? I’m also a Creator Dragon . I really don’t know what I did wrong . Why must the people treat me this way? Have I done anything bad to them before? Didn’t I let them do whatever they want and not intervene? Could it be that it is because I helped the pitiful retired soldiers?”
“No… Your Majesty… I don’t think that’s the reason…”
After a moment of hesitation, Sonia extended her arm and caressed Lilian’s hair .
“… I don’t know how I should put it, but it is the result of Mas-… His Majesty Rhode’s effort for the achievements he has today . Your Majesty, I’m sure you’ve heard about what His Majesty Rhode has gone through . He faced countless threats, including the powerful undead army . But he never backed down and overcame the challenges bravely . In the end, he was victorious and received the honor and respect that he deserves… Your Majesty, everyone is the same . If you want to be recognized by others, you need to take on the path that you’ve chosen, despite it being an arduous one…”
Sonia pondered for a few moments . Wasn’t she the same? She could give up on her mission and live as Sonia of the Lockos Family . She could become a true parliament member, where she would have her own position, status, and honor . But what more could she receive by staying with Rhode? Physical pleasure? It wasn’t impossible to satisfy her needs if she ever wanted to . She was a beautiful woman and there were no lack of men who drooled over her body . There were countless promiscuous gatherings for the nobles . She could consume drugs that would make men lust for her and indulge in the ocean of thrills and physical pleasures . Wouldn’t that give her the same happiness? Besides, she would only remain a slave and a bitch, staying with Rhode . On the other hand, she could still remain a young, honorable noblewoman, at least from her appearance, if she chose the other path .
So why must she continue this future-less path?
Sonia lowered her gaze at the crackling bonfire .
But the answer was determined a long time ago . Just like she had told Lilian .
“We chose our own paths, so we must take them on,” she said softly, while Lilian had already fallen into a deep sleep in her arms .