Beyond that, I had promised to join the knights of Blois who had ousted the hounds.
With that thought, I clenched my teeth and gave strength to my trembling legs.
It would be a big deal if I lost my strength and fell off a horse.
If that happens, I would surely be going to face the king of heaven instead of the Emperor…
I was out of breath.
Entering the crossroads, I was riding my horse to the left side of the road and shouted at the vice-captain during a sharp curve.
“To the forest!”
We veered off the road and went into the woods.
On the paved road, the vice-captain was far behind me.
Nonetheless, he was more skillful on the path and soon caught up with me on the forest path.
The unpaved forest road had too many obstacles for horses to run, although that meant that there were quite a few places to hide as well.
‘…I am at my limit.’
It felt like my legs were going to lose strength at any moment, and I would fall off a horse.
In addition, my thigh muscles were severely cramped.
The next moment, I sat right in the saddle and sprayed Avila’s perfume all around me — it was to get rid of our smell.
Then, I sent a signal to the vice-captain to get off the horse and slap the horses’ back for them to keep running.
We quickly hid ourselves in the grass.
As the hound, who entered the curved road, ran past us, it created a cool breeze.
I waited for a moment, resting my trembling legs.
After the sound of the horse hooves faded away, I crept into the forest and headed the other way.
‘I, I think I am going to die.’
My thighs felt heavy and sluggish.
Eventually, I collapsed on a leaf and had no choice but to be carried on the vice-captain’s back.
‘I am completely at my limit.’
The hunting dogs passing by us may find something suspicious and turn around.
Still, although I knew that I could move faster by getting up and walking with my own strength, there was no strength in my body.
‘If I had known it would be this hard, I would have just gone to see the Emperor.’
Feeling the throbbing pain in my whole body as if I had been beaten up, I wept a little inside.
I was not sure if I could not use my healing ability since my energy was depleted, or perhaps because I could not concentrate as I was being chased.
It was then.
The sound of horse hooves was heard.
‘Did they notice already…’
I immediately froze and looked in the direction of the sound.
The next moment, I opened my eyes wide in surprise.
In disbelief, I rubbed my eyes and stared at him again.
It was really Dimitri.
As he was approaching me, there seemed to be a glow behind his head.
Seeing him like this, I almost jumped on the vice-captain’s back with joy.
It felt like I ran into unexpected reinforcements while running away from a tiger’s den.
Now that he came, it felt reassuring even if the hounds found us.
It was just amazing that a day like this would happen in my life… a day that I would smile in relief when I saw him.
“What about the elders meeting…”
Dimitri replied with a calm face and rolled his eyes.
“After the meeting, I rode the horse around the main road until I reached here.”
It was not yet the time that he would already finish the meeting, needless to even come here.
In addition, it was not the distance to just go for a walk or anything like that.
In a word, it was nonsense.
There was an embarrassed expression painted on his face.
The vice-captain put me down and politely bowed down to him.
At the same time, it seemed that something from his shadow was flying towards Dimitri.
However, they both did not say anything so I thought I had seen it wrong and asked Dimitri, who got off his horse.
“How did you find me”
I must have run away from Count Larscel for a long time, but how did we just meet here…
“I’ve been watching you ever since you stole a horse and ran away.”
He suddenly smirked, looking a little excited.
“You are very good at riding horses.
I was even having trouble following you.
I’ve never seen anyone riding that fast outside the racetrack.”
It seemed very surprising that I could ride a horse so well.
I shrugged and replied.
“Someone I knew was a rider.
I learned from her.”
An hour’s drive from the rural village where my grandmother’s house was located, there was a riding training ground.
There, I was able to meet my mother’s hometown friend, Aunt Eun-hee, a famous professional jockey who once competed in horse races.
It was good to know someone.
Since she was close to my mother, I sometimes received free training from her since childhood and learned horseback riding as a hobby for ten years.
It was a great privilege.
I never thought there would come a day when I would use it like this…
“I’m just trying to imitate her, but I’m embarrassed.”
“Can you ride anymore”
As he helped me, he asked and gestured with his chin behind me.
I glanced back in the direction he was beckoning and was startled.
It was because while I was chatting with Dimitri and muttering, the dog shapeshifters had already turned around and found me.
“Ah… That’s fast.”
What would have happened if Dimitri had not come
It was bittersweet to think that, despite these efforts, I would have been taken away without success still.
Meanwhile, with my lamentation, Dimitri checked my condition and clicked his tongue.
Every muscle in my body was trembling slightly because of over-exerting myself.
Suddenly, some of the emperor’s hounds jumped off their horses and turned into dogs before running towards us.
Blocking behind us to keep us from escaping, they growled and started to drive us towards the opposing side.
As the distance narrowed to a certain extent, the hounds used their power and placed a white barrier around us, locking us inside the area.
A white dome-shaped barrier wrapped around us, quickly cutting out the surrounding landscape and isolating us.
“His Majesty wants to speak with her, Duke of Blois.”
One hound that remained with us in the barrier spoke sternly.
“Then, he could send an official invitation.
What’s the big deal”
Dimitri’s pupils dilated black to their full size as he uttered.
Seeing this, my spine shivered and I held my breath quietly.
It was the eyes of a cat that were three seconds away before it went crazy.
As I expected, Dimitri, who had pressed the hound with his eyes, ran towards him without warning.
In an instant, the swords collided and made a sharp sound.
I shrank back in surprise.
My heart fluttered since it was the first time I saw people fighting each other with blades in front of me.
Though the nervousness was short-lived, since it seemed so dangerous that my sense of reality disappeared.
I watched the fight with my mouth wide open.
‘It is like a movie…’
While Dimitri wielded a sword in both his hands, plowing the hound, the hound also held up his sword and stopped him.
Even though I did not know anything about physical fights, I thought it would be difficult for Dimitri, who had a slender physique, to resist if a two-meter-tall and large hound pressed him down with force.
However, it was rather the hound who hesitated.
The hound blocked his and occasionally attempted to attack, but was pushed back helplessly by the persistent and bewitching attack of Dimitri.
He was fast and scary — the momentum of the rushing energy was truly terrifying.
‘…A dog could not beat a cat in a fight between an unexcited dog and an excited cat.’
No matter how big the difference would be.
‘Cats would not hold back…!’
On the other hand, the dog shapeshifter had come to carry out the Emperor’s orders.
Their purpose was to kidnap me, not to fight with Dimitri.
He must have been patient since it was what he had been trained to do.
“Don’t make things worse, Duke Blois! Count Larscel agreed.
His Majesty didn’t order us to attack, he just…!”
“So what Can’t you see that my wife doesn’t want to”
Lowering his sword into the face of the hound, a long cut was left on the cheek of the hound who turned his head to avoid it by a narrow call.
Seeing the blood, Dimitri grinned with a flash of madness in his eyes.
“Get out of here before my demon excavates your bones alive.”
“His Majesty’s order to enter the palace…”
“Go and tell your master.
If he has something to say to my wife, don’t do anything like this and issue a formal letter.
I myself will visit the Imperial Palace with my wife.”
Dimitri smiled and added.
“Tell him that the Duke gave him this advice.
If possible, accept that he was already defeated and give up because this is ugly.”
…Was he offended by the insult to his master Immediately, the hound frowned and pushed Dimitri away.
“We listen only to His Majesty’s orders.”
As soon as he finished his words, another barrier was created around me, who was far away from the two of them.
Just before the barrier completely covered me, I could see the outer barrier was broken as the hound, who was fighting earlier, turned into a dog.
Consequently, the hounds outside rushed to Dimitri in unison.
“This is why I hate dogs.”
At the end of his annoyed voice, he was trapped in a barrier that blocked the sound and view.
With Dimitri’s remarks sticking close to me, I was isolated.