Sid, who’d turned back to glare at Tan, saluted Apollonia before leaping onto his horse.
Tan followed him into the distance.
“Even if we only rode a little closer to the mountain, it’ll take us half a day to get there and back here.” Uriel was ready to go back.
But Apollonia had something different in mind.
“What are you doing!”
“I’m going up the mountain.” Her answer was casual and nonchalant, as if she were just talking about the weather.
But she’d already reached the eerie patch of trees that stood just before the base of the mountain.
“What about the promise you just made Didn’t you hear it’s dangerous” Uriel was usually expressionless.
But his face darkened at hearing Apollonia’s plans.
She ignored him.
“Getting there might take all day, since the mountain is enormous.
Sid will understand.
Stay here while I’m gone.
Don’t follow me.”
“There’s no way he’ll understand! He’ll kill me for letting you go alone.”
Uriel’s brows were frowned in panic.
He hated to admit it, but his voice was shaking.
Listen to your master.” Apollonia’s voice was soft, just like how she’d spoken to Sid a while before.
“Your ultimate duty is to listen to my orders.
The same goes for Sid.”
She was right, of course.
But he felt a scorching heat in his heart that was hard to describe.
A question arose in his mind.
“Wait a second… Did you only bring me to get rid of Sid Not because you actually needed me to escort you”
“You’re worth more than that.
Now stop asking me.” Apollonia pulled off her hood.
Her familiar golden eyes glinted at him coldly.
The color of fireworks, but as cold as snow.
Uriel realized something.
To him, Apollonia was a ray of hope that’d given him back his life.
But to her, he was just another chess piece for her to use.
Maybe Sid thought the same.
He had to know the truth.
“…That’s why you brought me to Lishan” His voice cracked.
Apollonia was silent.
He’d hoped she would deny it, but she didn’t answer.
She looked at him coldly before turning her horse towards the mountain.
If he followed her, he knew she would decide that Uriel was unsuitable to be her escort, and punish him without hesitation.
A cold master.
Indeed the successor of the previous emperor with the blood of Leifer.
In contrast to her knife-like attitude, the back of the sun-bright blond hair fluttering in the wind was more beautiful than ever.
Uriel looked at her figure for a long time.
When her figure disappeared among the trees, he jumped off the horse as if he had made up his mind.
So what if it’s an order So what if he didn’t listen Wasn’t she the reason that he wanted to live in the first place
Her face, voice, tone, hair, and eyes.
Her insight, determination, and compassion.
Her meticulousness, cold-heartedness, slyness, and even her way of thinking.
The idea that none of them should disappear dominated Uriel’s head.
His body was already instinctively directed at Mt.
Apollonia climbed the mountain on horseback, leaving Uriel behind.
She focused around to find a hint about the previous emperor’s final wish, but Uriel’s sad eyes remained in her head.
“…That’s why you brought me to Lishan”
It was half true.
Without Uriel, Sid would never have left her alone in danger.
Nevertheless, she didn’t want Uriel to think so.
She admitted it was selfish on her part.
But she had no other choice.
He didn’t want to put the two in danger because of what she had to do alone.
On the mountain path, grotesquely curved gray trees surrounded her.
She even had an illusion that the trees were changing their shape little by little.
There were no living beings around, but the bones of animals that were burned were seen through the trees, causing the hair to stand on end.
Apollonia carefully drove the horse and tried to shake off her thought about Uriel.
At the narrow end of the road, her horse refused to take any further steps.
The road was too narrow for people to pass through.
No, it would be hard to call this place where the monsters lurked in a road.
It’s been an hour since she entered the mountain, but nothing happened, and she couldn’t see anything except the trees.
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