I didn’t know how to describe it, but what I know is that it was breathtaking.
“It’s beautiful…” I muttered as my silver hair fluttered in the wind as I took in the beauty of nature. “It’s as if the sky is divided into two…”
Silence painted the surroundings except for the wind that whistled to my ears. To the east, was a ball of light that illuminated the dark sky. As its presence grew stronger by the second, the twinkling stars hid in the darkness, shy of the ball. To the west was its known friend, the moon, guardian of the world, the light in the dark. Below us were large clumps of clouds overshadowing the forests, blanketed by patches of thick white mist.
“How does it feel?!” Kanna asked shouting as she held the reins of a White-tail, flying beside me.
In response, I smiled back and said. “A lot better than you riding with me!”
“That hurts my feelings, Lia!”
Having felt a sense of comfort, “I don’t care about your feelings!” I dumped her on the spot.
“Y-you’re breaking up our engagement?!” She replied. “What about the child you’re bearing?! I'm the Father!”
“What are you talking about?!” Playfully, I replied. “I cou-” ldn’t bear a child, I’m no longer human…
Worried that I suddenly stopped, she called. “Lia?! What’s wrong?!”
“No, it’s nothing!” I answered. “I just remembered that they might arrive today!”
Why did I think of that? I’m still human, I thought. Now that I think about it, did I bleed when I was asleep?
“Want to go back now?!”
In reply, I shook my head. “No, I want to scout them from above!”
It’s almost the end of the month, I’ll know soon...
“Hahaha!” She laughed. “I’m fine with that, but wouldn’t they panic if they saw wyverns flying above them?!”
“It’s fine! I’ve written in the record that I’ve acquired a wyvern!” I replied enthusiastically. “They probably won’t be that too panicked! I think!”
“Then let’s go!”
Along with Kanna, I pulled the loose reins to the right while I gently squeezed with my legs. Gradually, Birbly tilted to the right while I moved to the left to keep my balance until I faced north.
“Slowly… Slowly…” I muttered while nervously leading Birby by the reins.
“You’re doing better than last time!”
“Yeah, I’m getting used to it faster than expected!” I replied. “But maneuvers are still too much for me! Flying like this is the best I can!”
“That’s natural!” She replied. “No one can learn to fly in a single day!”
Three days have passed since the council meeting. Day by day we visited one place to another, riding on Birby, a training made by Kanna to learn wyvern riding. Fortunately, he was intelligent enough to follow up on my mistakes.
The day after the meeting, we immediately set our sights towards the Tribe’s tannery. It was located further southwest where it stood beside the river that led to the waterfall I had fallen into during the ritual. The whole tannery, including the lodge for its workers, was the size of a small hamlet.
The tannery aside, the leather it produced varied. In any case, the processing of the leather starts in the curing stage. Unlike the curing done by humans, their curing stage is done by freezing the rawhide due to the lack of salt. The freezing of the hides is done by the water spirits contracted by the Elves. After freezing, the hide is left outside for the ice to melt and prepare it for soaking.
In soaking, the hide is dipped into water mixed with either oil from Oregano, Garlic, or Bay Laurel for several days to restore its water and to prevent molding.
Limestone, which is an abundant resource in Alabaster due to its endless network of caves, is heated into quicklime before mixing it into the water for liming. In liming, the skin of the hide is weakened to remove the hair and to divide the hide into a few layers depending on the thickness while removing the excess flesh.
Afterward, the hides are washed with cold water mixed with wyvern dung or wolf dung while it was attached to a rotating drum powered by a watermill. After washing, the hides are brought to a large open space where the hides are placed on beams to prepare for the tanning. Frankly, it stunk that I covered my nose with cloth I brought.
When the hides are almost dry, they are brought into a house filled with large jars that contained different kinds of tanning mixtures. The mixtures used Tree barks, roots, leaves for vegetable tanning which makes good leather boots, belts, or book covers and animal brains for brain tanning which is great for soft leather clothing and the like.
Regarding the wastes, the water spirits helped in cleansing the water used for re-usage. A very friendly approach that I wished us humans could adapt.
Fond of the leather-made items, I used my authority, and the deal with Sylvar to acquire fur boots, a fur cap, and fur clothing with a design similar to those of the Elves. It was preparation for the cold winter during the months of fall.
Up until that day, I still wondered why we were following a calendar of a lost civilization which contradicts with the actual seasons here in Laurel. If not for the huge clock tower in Academia that displayed the time, year, season, month, and day, we would’ve used a different calendar system despite the history of the kingdoms too short for 1500 years. At best, the oldest is Libet at 637 years including its history before it was named Libet.
“Kanna, do you see anything?!” I asked as I moved my sight looking for any sign of humans scaling the mountain.
“Of course I can’t! We can only see dots at this height!”
“Then use Far Sight!” I replied. “I already gave you a shard with that magic! Just pour mana into it!”
These past few days, I’ve started collecting shards and crystals. I’ve also requested to change the necklace’s string into crystal thread, which was happily accepted by Garfin. Fortunately, the dwarfs do not use them a lot, but they use them to make bombs. It was a god knows how frightening practice which rooted from the book I sent to the Tribe, detailing the effects of incomplete magic circles.
The dwarfs, fond of the exploding shards, knew an advanced magic circle for Fire, Lightning, Earth, and Metal as a result of their racial capability and history, resulting in the creation of magic bombs. At that time, I could only smile while thinking that someday, Alabaster might crumble after excessive bombing by the dwarfs. I hoped that day would never come, at least while I’m alive.
The closest contestant to their magic bombs is bombs made from black powder, an alchemic powder introduced a year ago. Although the black powder is useful, they have been mostly ignored due to the potency of magic. Nevertheless, there are still small groups of researchers in Academia studying the black powder.
In any case, I’ve successfully embedded an intermediate magic circle into a shard. Nevertheless, I was able to do it in 1 out of 6 tries.
“I think I can see them!” Kanna said.
“Northeast near the forest barrier!”
As informed, I moved my sight in search while maintaining Far Sight.
Wait… That many? And why are there two persons with silver hair? I thought as I squinted. Isn’t that Argent? What is he doing here?
“Kanna!” I grinned. “Change of plans! Let’s test that one out!”
“Will it work?!”
“I don’t know!” I replied. “But it’d be great if it did!”
“You look like you're enjoying your time!”
“I definitely am!”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve stayed, but I can be at ease here. I thought. Although it’s a bit late, I should’ve done this from the start… It would’ve been better than releasing it all at Celes…
I reached my hand to the front and patted Birby. “We’re going to surprise them for a bit Birby,” I said. “Please help me this time again.”
As if acknowledging what I asked him, he replied with a low growl.
“Kanna! I’m ready!”
“Then I’ll go first!” She started descending while circling on the people below, but she suddenly vanished.
A smile emerged on my face as I confirmed it. Success! Then I started my own descent in the same direction, then activated the shard I attached on the saddle embedded with Cloak of Concealment.
Noticing the sound from above, the 33 persons moved their sights, searching for the source.
“Argent!” I called when I was nearing the ground.
Recognizing the voice, Argent replied. “Amelia! Stop playing tricks! Show yourself!”
“Over here you blind!” I called as Birby vigorously flapped his wings before landing with a thud, while Kanna landed on the other side after canceling the concealment.
After dropping the arm he used to cover his eyes, he was met with Birby’s snort.
The twenty knights, familiar with our relation, laughed it off instead of moving into action. They wore the familiar crest of the Royals Guards, donning a light armor of steel and leather, carrying shields with spears or halberds.
“Ha ha ha.” Argent laughed forcefully. “There, I’m done laughing at your joke.”
Chuckling, I made my way down Birby’s back. “Your reactions are lacking as always.”
“I don’t need your opinion.” He said. “Besides, you should be acting like a princess.”
“Currently, I’m acting as chief, not a princess,” I replied, “and a playful little sister to her boring elder brother,” I added. “Oh, it’s quite rare for you to wear that outfit. It doesn’t suit you at all.”
Wearing a set of high-quality silk, fitting of a prince, Argent stood gallantly. With his black leather boots and pants, a brown belt with a long sword hanging at the left, and a top that bore the crest of the Royal Family, the silver Bay Laurel, and a falcon.
“My little sister is just like always, deranged.”
“And so is my elder brother, dull.”
“Excuse me, your Highness.” A woman called.
“Eh?” Recognizing the voice, I moved my sight behind Argent
There, a woman approached dressed in a black waist fit clothing topped with white silk, a loose short sleeve with tight ends, and a neat collar typical of my maidservants. Along with her mature brown eyes and affectionate face, she bore a short brown hair tied on the left.
Familiar with the face, I muttered. “Erina?” I said puzzled. “Did you… Cut your hair?”
In response, she smiled. “It seems I cannot surprise her Highness.” Then she began removing the clip, revealing her bob-cut blonde hair and blue eyes.
“Hmm… your new hair suits you a lot,” I complimented. “But I didn’t expect you’d cut it.”
“Am I not allowed to?”
“No, of course, you are,” I said. “Anyway, Erina, I’m back.” I smiled with crossed arms behind.
“As always,” She curtsied, “welcome back, your Highness.”
At the side, Argent watched our conversation quietly before interrupting. “Amelia, you should introduce that girl over there.” He pointed towards Kanna who was excitedly playing with Fae like a child you’d see on the streets.
“Oh, that’s Kanna, and she’s not just a girl.” I emphasized. “She’s an Enarf, and she’s even older than Grandfather.”
“Stop with the joke, that’s obviously a child. She’s even speaking the human tongue.”
“Suit yourself.” Then I left towards Kannas location.
“Kanna, you’re enjoying this too much.” I called.
“Mehehe.” She chuckled. “Don’t worry I’m here so you shouldn’t be afraid of that huge bird.” She said while clinging on Fae, afraid of the White-tail.
On the other hand, Rick was trying to face the White-tail with a small spear.
“Rick,” I said, “calm down, that‘s harmless.”
After confirming with the last look, he relaxed and began approaching.
“Your Highness, can we train again?” Was the first thing he asked. “I want to try spa-”
“A-apologies, your Highness.” Camille apologized in behalf after covering his mouth.
“...” Dumbfounded, I stood there quietly.
This muscle head…
“Don’t worry Camille,” I replied. “I understand.”
“My gratitude.” She bowed.
While Kanna was happily caressing the frightened Fae, Ark approached along with Argent and Erina.
“Good day, your Highness.” Ark greeted with a bow. “A letter from her Majesty.” Then he brought out a parchment tied up with the royal seal.
After receiving the parchment, I placed it inside the sack on my right hip
“You have my gratitude Ark,” I changed my tone. “I’ll be leaving my duties to you once I leave for Academia, would that be fine?”
“My loyalty belongs to you, your Highness.” He said as he kneeled on the ground with his fist on his chest.
In response, I reached out a hand and said. “This princess, thy light.”
Reaching to my hand, “and this servant, thy sight,” he placed his forehead on the back of my hand.
“Thank you, Ark,” I said as he slowly stood. “I’ll make sure the children of your orphanage gets everything they need.”
I silence he nodded and took a step back.
“I’m quite envious.” Argent spoke. “To have such loyal servant.”
“You just have to learn to search.” I said. “There are a lot of rough gems out there. They just don’t have the opportunity to be polished.”
“Then work hard as the next king, Argent.”
“As long as my little sister supports me, then I’ll have no problems.”
“I wouldn’t know about that.” Mischievously, I smiled. “Who knows what I might do.”
“We’ve been close siblings,” He said. “I can at least tell.”
“I might be a busy duchess once you ascend.”
“Ha, that’s nothing new to you.”
“I guess,” I replied. “Anyway, Rick and Fae, want to ride the wyvern to the Tribe?”
“C-can I?” For some reason, Rick was excited.
And Fae, “I-is it scary?” Was worried.
“It’ll be okay, Kanna will surely take care of you.”
“Mehehe.” She laughed. “Of course I will!”
“Argent, Erina, Ark, Camille, and everyone else, we’ll be taking Rick and Fae to the Tribe. For the rest, I apologize, but the saddle is just enough for two.”
““We understand, your Highness.”” They responded.
“Ah, I can bring their mother along.” Kanna added. “I’m fine sitting on the scales, and besides, the White-tail can hold two children and one adult.”
“Then it’s decided.” I nodded. “Camille, you’ll ride with Kanna and Fae, I’ll take Rick.”
We got up the wyverns, tied their belongings to the back, and fixed ourselves on the saddles. As soon as I confirmed that I’ve tied Rick in front of me, “Give way!” I shouted as I made Birby run as he vigorously flapped his wings, starting our ascent.
“Whaaaa!” Holding the handle of the saddle, Rick exclaimed excitedly. “Amazing!”
Rick seems like a fearless one huh…
As we took flight, “Rick, I know it’s a great sight, but close your mouth.” Chuckling, I said.
“Your Highness!” Fae shouted from behind, waving her hand.
In response, I waved back with my right.
Gradually, we scaled the mountain while scouting from the sky, checking for dangerous beasts that Argent’s parade might encounter. Fortunately, it was clear, and so we proceeded to the Tribe without further delay. Upon arrival, I escorted Camille, Rick, and Fae to their prepared lodge while Kanna led the White-tails to the feeding grounds. She also asked other riders to take Elven guides that’ll lead the others to the Tribe. Unlike my lodging, it was a familiar rectangular structure, enough to rival a small manor.
“You can pick any room you like.” I told Camille.
“Thank you, your Highness.” She replied. “Please excuse us.”
This lodge is far more welcoming than the one I have. I thought. I should move here.
With a coffee-brown wooden flooring, couches covered in leather, a checkered rag made of different furs at the hearth, and indoor plants placed on corners, the lodge looked warm and comfortable.
Moving from the stone covered floor to the raised wooden platform, I removed my boots as indicated by the sign near the door. After removing my boots, I moved around the lodge, fenced with harvest-colored wooden walls. On the left, wooden stairs lead to the bed-chambers on the second floor. Underneath the stairs, was a door leading to a large washroom, fitted with shards that dispense cold or hot water. On the right were a pantry, a dining hall, and a door leading to the yard.
Outside the yard, was a circular stone structure topped with a grill. On the side, was a pile of peat covered with a wooden frame, a fuel for a fire.
“Seems like they’ll be given freedom to cook the way they like.” I muttered. “I’ve decided. I’ll move here.”
In the afternoon, Erina, Ark, and the other servants arrived one by one. They were fetched by the other wyvern riders and were brought in advance. Argent, refusing to leave the Guards and the baggage they carried, chose to walk instead while being guided by Elves.