Jiwoo opened her eyes with difficulty.
She didn’t know where this was.
She fell from a cliff, so she must be down the base of the mountain.
But it was dark everywhere.
The rain had already stopped, but she felt chills all over her body, probably because she had been soaked by the rain for a long time.
‘I didn’t die even though I fell down the cliff…’
She raised her hand and clenched her fist.
There were scratches from branches and stones, but she did not appear to be seriously injured.
It seemed that she did not die easily because she was the Akarna.
However, she was weighed down by a large tree.
She groaned and barely pulled her legs out to get up, but she almost fell down right away.
It was difficult to stand still because her ankle was injured.
Even the ground was soggy from the rain.
She was the only one who fell down the cliff, so if she waited here, the escort knight who had lost track of her would come to the rescue.
As she was thinking whether to wait here.
There was an eerie sound.
It wasn’t the sound of leaves being trampled on, nor was it the sound of the wind sweeping through the leaves.
A dark shadow was roaming in the forest.
She had a hunch.
It wasn’t a wild animal
‘Is it a beast?’
The carriage was heading far from the castle, and the more it moved, the closer it was to the miasma-trodden land where the beasts appeared.
She was about to arrive, so she could have met the beasts.
The beast didn’t come closer to where she was, but it was terrifying to see that she was being watched by something she couldn’t see.
Drip, drip drip.
Besides that, raindrops started to fall again.
If she stayed up all night in the rain here, she would surely die this time.
It would be better to find a cave, or at least a place where she wouldn’t get soaked to the bone.
‘It was going to be like this, I shouldn’t have let go for no reason…’
It was a very impulsive decision.
Regrets already started creeping in.
Even so, she might not have acted differently if she went back to that situation.
I found one…’
After walking for a while, she finally found a place to shelter from the rain.
It wasn’t a stone cave, but it was a large hollow space created by strangely curved tree roots.
It was wide enough to hide the body.
Even if she waited for rescue, it was difficult to expect until this late.
She was not even in the rainforest.
It would be better to avoid the rain and wait for the sun to rise, so Jiwoo moved further inside the hollow space.
But after walking for a while, Jiwoo suddenly stopped.
It was because there was someone else deep under the root of the tree.
She gulped down her dry throat.
ㅡThese races don’t even want to believe in divine power, and the alchemists on the outer wall think that it’s blasphemy to use divine power.
They looked different from humans, had different views and values, and above all, were hostile to humans.
It was a male individual of the other race.
She had heard that they look different from humans, but she had never actually seen them.
But when she met them like this, it was immediately recognizable.
The color of the hair hanging down one side of his shoulder was mysteriously pale.
She could call it silver hair, but if she looked closely, she could see that there was a blue tinge reminiscent of a forget-me-not flower faintly mixed in it.
The color was more apparent because it was soaked from the rain.
The crown prince’s jet-black hair that didn’t reflect the light was also fascinating, but it was a color that people couldn’t have without dyeing it.
At first glance, she might think that the man has a small body because of how slender he was, but if he stood up on his two feet, it seems that he was quite tall.
Tightly woven muscles were visible through the thin clothes.
Most importantly, those ears were not human ears.
Long ears that are not covered by long hair.
The tip was pointed and it looked like rabbit ears.
The ears, which were erected upwards, seemed to be listening to Jiwoo’s footsteps.
He, who was lying on his back inside the space, glared at her fiercely before Jiwoo could even recognize him.
His eyes were blue, so he looked even more gloomy.
He made a menacing sound with his teeth and got very wary of Jiwoo.
It sounded like a snake hissing.
It wasn’t to threaten her, only to scare her.
But he didn’t attack.
As it should be as he was already wounded.
It was also an injury suffered by the beast.
His thighs, calves, and then ankles, which were exposed through the torn pants, were wounded with cuts from the teeth and claws of the beast.
Judging from the fact that black liquid was dripping instead of blood, it was a wound that was being eroded by the beast’s miasma.
Jiwoo hesitated for a moment, then approached the injured man.
She had already found a resting place, but she had no energy to move around in search of another place.
Most of all, after seeing the injuries sustained by the beast, she did not even want to throw herself into the forest infested with beasts.
The secondary reason was because she did not want to rest or sleep next to a corpse.
“That wound… I can take care of it.”
It was when Jiwoo approached as if reaching out.
With the sound of sharp metal cutting through the air, Jiwoo was startled and fell backwards.
The pain came late.
Not from her hip, but from her arm.
He took the dagger out of his arms and cut Jiwoo.
Blood dripped from the cut on her arm.
This was a wound that healed quickly as the Akarna, but Jiwoo wasn’t a strong-willed person enough to brush off this kind of attack casually.
Above all, since becoming Akarna, she had never met such unconditional hostility.
Calming her madly pounding chest, Jiwoo slumped down and dragged her body, barely moving away from him.
As she retreated closer to the entrance, she felt the rain more intense than before.
Cold water hit her back.
She couldn’t go any further.
She could die of hypothermia.
Fortunately, he didn’t wield or throw his dagger any further.
He seemed to have decided that she wasn’t a big threat to him.
He turned his posture a little and was constantly vigilant about her side, but nothing more.
Jiwoo looked at him from the corner.
After a while, he quickly grasped the situation outside and Jiwoo’s situation and turned his head away.
After staring at his elongated ears, Jiwoo hugged her knees and curled up.
It seemed fine to be next to him.
After all, what kind of threat can a woman with such a dirty appearance be?
‘I was just trying to help…’
The blood did not stop immediately.
Originally, the Akarna wasn’t sensitive to pain, and it was normal for these kinds of wounds to heal quickly.
But now that her body is weak, the wound has been quite painful for some time.
Her body was terribly cold.
Fortunately, it was midsummer, so she would be able to survive in this state for about one night.
The wound on her arm had already begun to heal little by little.
Would it be strange if physical pain was rather more welcome?
Thinking of the crown prince, it felt like a needle was pierced through her heart periodically.
It hurts like she was going to die, but it wasn’t.
It was a pain that was debilitating her more and more because she couldn’t ignore it.
She wished she would have died there.
It felt ridiculous to have crawled all the way to a place like this to live.
She had only been scratched by a dagger, but she felt like an idiot to be crouching in fear.
‘I wish I had died.’
What’s the point of living longer here like this?
* * *
“U, uurk… Keugh… Haa…”
Jiwoo heard strange noises and opened her eyes.
Her body was so tired that she sat down and fell asleep.
Huu… Jiwoo took a deep breath and grabbed her cheek.
She had a fever.
She didn’t feel so good.
Because she was dreaming of the crown prince.
When she first met him, when she sneaked out of the temple to play, and when she laughed while enjoying the meat and alcohol she couldn’t eat in the temple.
When she doesn’t know anything and just gets excited because the person in front of her looks great.
It would have been better if it was an unhappy memory.
Since it was a happy and fleeting memory, her situation became even more miserable after waking up.
As she was staring blankly at the raindrops to wake herself up, she heard that groan again.
“Huu, huhk… uugh…”
The man’s condition, lying injured, seemed to have gotten worse.
The miasma rising from his wounds filled the space.
The dagger that had been used to threaten Jiwoo until before was rolling on the floor as he let go of it.
‘That dagger worked well on me.’
Jiwoo looked at the sharply shining dagger in the midst of the space and raised her body.
“Ku-ugh, haaa, ugh, haa…”
He was groaning while unconscious.
Far from having the energy to swing the dagger again, it seemed that he did not have the strength to stand up and be vigilant against her.
Jiwoo came closer and picked up the dagger instead.
She only ever sharpened knives or scissors.
These weapons were much colder and heavier than expected.
While looking at the miasma contamination of his wounds, she cut her wrist.
She didn’t want to cut multiple times, so she gave it more force on purpose.
The blade cut so well that she couldn’t even feel the pain of being cut.
The cut was as cool as a piece of ice.
Fortunately, it was not a shallow cut, and her blood gushed out.
Jiwoo tilted her wrist, dripping blood, pouring all over his wounds as the man groaned.
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