༺ The North (7) ༻
Sighing softly, Laura adjusted her steps as she watched her breath disperse quietly into the air.
The chilling weather of Louerg was such that one could easily catch a cold if they were not properly dressed.
However, when considering her own body, which had to be covered in long garments even during the scorching heat, Laura found this atmosphere preferable.
Walking along the corridor for a while, Laura paused briefly as she spotted Yuriel and Ferzen strolling leisurely from a distance.
A faint, acrid scent wafted subtly from close by. It was quite subtle, but that particular scent tickled the tip of Laura’s nose.
Even though it was still midday, were they already indulging in their bodies?
Unable to help herself, Laura could only guess how Euphemia, Yuriel, and Ferzen mixed their scents like beasts, despite her aversion to the scent that occasionally reached her.
“Hn. It would be good if you prepared yourself for our departure tomorrow.”
Nodding her head lightly and murmuring her response, Laura’s gaze briefly met Yuriel’s.
Her expression seemed quite sharp as if her eyes were holding a knife while looking down at Laura.
‘What did I……’
What had she done wrong?
Because Yuriel had been treating her warmly in recent times, Laura’s body jolted for no reason, and she involuntarily hunched her already small shoulders.
After briefly sensing the feeling of a mouse placed before a snake, Laura resolved not to wander needlessly and retreated to her room, deciding to keep to herself.
Instinctively sensing that facing Yuriel alone would lead to an unfavorable outcome……
However, as Laura sat down on the bed, the latch of the firmly closed doorknob turned.
Eventually, Yuriel stepped in beyond the now-opened door, her footsteps echoing softly.
By now, Laura was beginning to doubt whether she had unintentionally done something wrong. However, no matter how much she thought about it, she was resolutely convinced of her innocence, so she didn’t lower her stiffly held head.
As if it weren’t enough that she had to humble herself every time she was in Yuriel’s presence.
Yet, as Yuriel silently locked the door, her distinctive tall figure loomed over Laura, and as she furrowed her brows, Laura sensed an instant fracture in her firm resolve.
“Aren’t you quite the misbehaving child?”
Moreover, it seemed like she had her own solid evidence. In the end, Laura dropped her stiffly held head and remained silent.
And just as always, the only witness to her peril was the serene rabbit plushie……
* * * * *
The following day, as Laura and Ferzen were leaving Louerg in the carriage, Laura stared at Ferzen.
Well, not so much as stared.
It would be more accurate to say that they locked eyes.
It was Laura who first sent a penetrating look at him.
And the injustice etched into those crimson eyes made Ferzen wonder if she had somehow drawn Yuriel’s stern attention or sparked her anger.
“I apologize for not giving you a prior notice, but surely you understand it was necessary to disguise the reason you are accompanying me?”
“And with the importance of this venture, I can’t afford to waste any more time.”
She understood his reasoning.
Yet, it was frustrating how he only spoke the right words, preventing her mouth from uttering even a single word of protest.
Laura, naturally, squeezed her hands tightly, as if wanting to press something. But this time, she hadn’t brought the rabbit plushie, so all she could do was clasp her empty hands.
* * * * *
Feeling the cold intensify little by little, Ferzen closed the carriage window.
The sky was gradually being draped in twilight, with countless white clouds drifting above.
It wouldn’t be long before her curse manifested.
Whether Laura herself was aware of it or not, her gaze hadn’t strayed from the scenery outside the window since earlier.
And as the night of August 7th slowly approached, Laura exhaled a white breath and left a faint mark on the carriage window.
In her past life, she hadn’t overcome her impulses, and that curse had become the very shackles that still held onto her ankles in this life.
These impulses were intertwined with the principles of the world, as night fell, and the moon rose. So, to overcome them would be to……
Perhaps it meant defying the world’s natural order.
‘There is said to be a place in this world… where the night never comes.’
The content of the book she had read in her past life was somewhat vague, but she remembered that the author referred to it as the ‘White Night’.
If she had the time, she wanted to inquire and find that place. But would that man really accompany her?
Even if she found a place where the sun never sets, and her curse didn’t flare up…
Would he really let her go so easily?
There was no doubt that he would hold onto her and drag her along without any hesitation.
After all, Rosenberg was such a tempting prey.
Upon reflection, Laura thought that perhaps she had called upon the wolf to chase away the fox. But now, such concerns hold little meaning. She lowered her head slightly.
Suddenly halting, Laura’s body was flung forward against the window due to her inability to overcome the inertia of the carriage.
“What’s going on?”
Ferzen rose from his seat and asked the coachman.
“……My Lord. The snow has piled up quite high. Without clearing it, it would be quite challenging to proceed as it is.”
“Is that so.”
It was indeed snowing heavily outside at the moment.
It was an inexplicable phenomenon in the summer, but in the North, it was a common occurrence.
Consequently, Ferzen, who had disembarked from the carriage, furrowed his brow for a moment as he assessed the height of the snow that was creeping up to his ankles.
Then, he gently touched the ring on his left hand – His altar, opening the subspace within.
“I apologize for this transgression, Ancestor.”
The fact that he had to trouble his Ancestor’s rest for a mere snowstorm was quite shameful.
So, Ferzen quickly asked for forgiveness as he mustered his mana.
As the vague outline of the territory they were supposed to stay at for the day became visible, there shouldn’t be a lot of snow to melt.
Therefore, Ferzen converted his mana into fire to melt away the snow, gradually advancing despite the increasingly fierce snowstorm, which was far more intense than before.
However, a foreboding feeling came to him.
Compelling by such a feeling, Ferzen looked at the snowstorm once more, which had now blanched the world in a pure white maelstrom.
The snow began to pile up so quickly that his earlier efforts in clearing a path become meaningless.
This phenomenon is known as a whiteout.
In this white hellscape, where one couldn’t even orient himself, Ferzen controlled his Ancestor’s corpse conjuring a solid barrier of fire.
While whiteouts don’t last long, the timing of such an event couldn’t be worse.
Without a doubt, the moment the whiteout faded, Laura’s curse would be manifest.
Perhaps even before that event occurs, she might kill the coachman, leap from the carriage, and disappear without a trace.
“There’s no way around it.”
With a tired sigh, Ferzen summoned the gates of the Underworld.
* * * * *
“Oh no…! Miss! Please don’t go outside under any circumstance!”
The coachman tightly fastened his loosened clothes and sternly cautioned Laura.
However, inside the carriage, Laura paid no heed to the coachman’s voice, as she had no leisure to even listen to them.
The sound of her heart pounding resonated loudly in her ears.
The rush of blood through her body accelerated immensely, and she could feel her entire body heating up.
Clearly, her curse was already becoming active, and her twisted desires were beginning to manifest.
Laura detested this feeling immensely.
It was as if a person sinking deep into the abyss of the sea was struggling relentlessly toward a faint light coming from above, driven by an insatiable desperation.
At least, the whiteout that had enveloped the entire area was clearly a natural phenomenon.
Temporarily, her instinct and rationality were coexisting within her, struggling for control.
‘I just have to wait a little……right?’
Cold sweat trickled down her skin, quickly soaking her clothes.
It would be ideal if Ferzen arrived in time, but if not, she might kill the coachman, escape the carriage, make her way into a settlement, and slaughter everyone in the region.
While she wasn’t sure how long the whiteout outside could last, it seemed to be gradually subsiding, prompting Laura to tightly bite her lips.
Then, she hurled her rosary – her altar – into the carriage and forcefully opened the door.
If she couldn’t use her altar to retrieve a corpse, even if she succeeded in reaching a nearby territory while being plagued by the curse, she could minimalize the damage.
The blizzard, although somewhat weakening in intensity, still exerted enough force to make Laura’s small frame waver.
But Laura didn’t falter. Stepping onto the rapidly accumulating snow-covered ground, she gazed at the coachman, who was sitting on a stone, trying to contain his astonishment and control the horses amidst the raging blizzard.
She needed to flee this area quickly, yet there was a lone human in front of her whom she could play with.
Despite her instincts and rationality coexisting within her, the temptation to shed blood and her primal desires were firmly holding onto her.
The coachman, sensing movement, turned his head and upon seeing Laura and was taken aback.
However, a thought unconsciously crossed his mind: could there be such a beautiful girl in a situation like this?
Given her unique white hair, crimson eyes, and pale skin blending with the raging snowstorm, she appeared as if she was a fairy from a fairy tale.
As even the galloping horses began to stabilize, the coachman vigorously brushed the accumulated snow off his fur coat and hopped down from the coach seat.
He approached Laura, who had stopped trying to muster strength in her legs and was instead bewitchingly licking her plumb lips in exultation.
Although her body was frail and weak, one simple hit could kill the mightiest of men.
Especially when the other person showed no signs of being on guard against her……
The coachman, now approaching her, draped a fur coat around Laura.
From such a close distance, his aged face with its prominent wrinkles was clearly visible.
Those brown eyes seemed to peer into her soul, and the curiosity of what screams he might make if she were to remove the layers of his face’s skin intrigued Laura, making it difficult for her to suppress her overflowing urge for slaughter.
“Ah, miss, are you alright?”
Perplexed by Laura, who was so close to him, the coachman stammered.
The faint warmth that emanated through the fabric, dispelling the cold brought by the raging blizzard, Laura’s soft body beneath her clothes was like an illusion, enough to make the coachman lose himself in a fairytale-like trance.
He didn’t notice Laura’s slender hand rising over his shoulder and approaching his wrinkled face, aged and kind.
As she observed the lines etched on his elderly face and the very moment Laura was about to sink her nails into his delicious eyes……
Even if his strength was slightly diminished, the hand of the man pierced through the snowstorm and stopped Laura’s movements.
With an utter lack of consideration toward her, the man pulled her to his side, tightly clutching her neck.
“You’re such a troublesome child.”
As her breath was constricted to the point that a few stinging tears formed, Laura paradoxically felt an immense sense of relief.
The dense scent of the man mingled with the fading aroma of his old perfume, hit her as his cooling sweat carried his essence.
His voice held an unwavering conviction that he wouldn’t yield, just like a wolf.
The broad, strong chest that enclosed her small body was a refuge that enveloped her.
Yes, Laura instinctively knew who the master of all these sensations was.
“Were you pent up?”
The short question posed by Ferzen’s voice made Laura, with her remaining shred of reason, nod her head.
“Don’t worry. No matter where you are in this world, I will bring you back to my side once again.”
Considering it quite an appropriate remark, Laura restrained her impulses for a moment as her reason surfaced.
“What a reliable little master I have……”
Who would dare to call someone like him little?
Despite being utterly absurd, Ferzen couldn’t help but feel slightly surprised upon realizing that she had spoken without hesitation.
But without giving him a chance to ponder over her words, Laura turned her body, reaching out her hands to his throat while baring her teeth like a rabid dog.
In response, Ferzen calmly lifted her body, applying even more strength to his hold on her, as he turned his head to the frozen coachman.
“Let’s meet in the morning. Once this snowstorm subsides, spend the night in that territory.”
Entering another territory with Laura, who was already under the effects of the curse, without causing any commotion, was almost impossible.
And since the carriage bore no visible crests, even if the coachman entered the settlement alone no one would become suspicious.
“Didn’t you hear me?”
“Oh! Understood, My Lord!”
After hearing the belated response from the coachman, Ferzen embraced Laura and stepped through the curtain of the still-raging snowstorm.
Shortly after, the relentless blizzard subsided.
As the horizon reappeared, revealing the snow-covered beauty of the northern landscape.
Truly, an almost mystical landscape.
And in such a white world, the figures of both master and pet could no longer be seen.
The only difference in this white world would be the celestial bodies.
Where the sun now gave way to the mighty full moon.
And the poor coachman turned his head towards such a new world, seeing that the snow had once again pilled too high, making it impossible to proceed.
Only the horses were aware of the lone coachman’s despairing sigh, as they licked the snow to quench their thirst.
TL note: 6/20
(Editor here, Oh you though it the that deranged wamen writing this one? Well ur wrong. I’m here with the petition. Nay. The command. To make ya’ll watch that Plankton Ai cover songs.)
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