The Lost Food(3)
Veronica tightened her fur coat, revealing her slender curves beneath it, in the same light brown shade as Cruz’s winter uniform- the same shade of brownstone for which Kirrlutzwas famous. She walked past Brendel, lifted the blanket, and looked out with a wary glance. The icy wind was whipping in, sending shivers down the spine of everyone in the tent. The lady put down the blanket, turned back, and said gravely, “What I am about to tell you, you will hear with your ears only, and keep your mouths shut, every one of you.”
“There are three hundred soldiers in this camp, but as of today, the food supply is only enough to last until next week.”
Brendel suddenly understood why Veronica was being so solemn, and if this news were to spread, it would only cause a commotion. The army Veronica had brought with her was the best of the Kirrlutzians, and if it was the private army of the nobles, it might be possible to even cause a riot. The Cruzan tactics called the amount of food needed to sustain an army for a week a basic reserve. Normally, an army engaged in battle would consume two basic units of food a week, while those stationed would consume relatively little. Food supply of less than four basic units would mean that one capable army had to consider retreating. Less than two units and that would be a situation near to death. Less than one unit and if a riot had not arisen, it would be either because the commander had suppressed the news too well, or because the army was extremely elite, or both.
But Veronica, who had fought in the last War of the Holy Saints and was a long-established Cruzan general, would never make such an unaccepted mistake in such a matter. Brendel, on the other hand, seemed to immediately guess why the Kirrlutzians were in the predicament they were in, and asked, “Is part of your food missing?”
“How do you know!?” Veronica snapped, her brows, which had been furrowed, relaxed, but immediately knitted back together again. “Do you know anything, Brendel?” She asked suspiciously.
“Don’t you know what lives in this snowfield? Didn’t I ask Aloz to remind you?” Brendel was equally puzzled.
This snowfield was the lair of that damned Frost baby Dragon, and this little friend happened to be a food lover, and a coward, stealing food from travelers on the sly. This was a business he had done for years in these woods and on the shores of Lake Vallendaren, a business he was so skilled at that the average person could easily get caught if one was not careful. Of course, in addition to being proficient in this business, this Frost Dragon itself was also an expert in the art of baiting and sabotage, but in short, it will never come face to face with you.
If there was an insidious and despicable adjective for it, then they must have been designed for it.
“Aloz?” It took Veronica a moment to remember the exquisite, doll-like little girl who accompanied Mephisto, but the only impression left on her was probably a little bitchy face all day long. She wondered why Brendel asked a little girl to deliver such an important message to him, “Her?”
When Brendel saw the look on Veronica’s face, he realized that Aloz had done something, and she probably had forgotten about it. “That guy……” He suddenly realized that he had made a mistake, he should have let someone more reliable come in a long time ago, such as Amandina.
Brendel only had to retell the rumor about the Dragon on the lake’s shore.
Veronica walked back to her place, took one look at the parchment map, and tossed the hare skin she was holding onto the table, which was stacked with several boxes. “Are you saying that the young dragon was the one who stole our food? But that’s nearly two months’ worth of food, enough for three hundred men, and three whole wagons.”
“The Dragons always have some mysterious spells, and if it is intent on hiding its tracks, it won’t be difficult for you not to find it.” Brendel was also a bit helpless. If a Dragon intended on stealing from you, it would never be easy to deal with.
“Surprisingly, Dragons would use their prestigious spells for stealing, it’s…… a little different from what I’ve read in books.” The girl in the corner had a lovely baby face, a white scholar’s hat, ocean blue eyes, a long robe with two blood-red crosses on the shawl, a pair of gray squirrel skin gloves, a thick book, and a small brass cross ornament hanging from the bottom of a bookmark stuck in the pages.
“I’m sorry, I’m not questioning your words, I’m just curious-” the girl hurriedly explained with a smile when she saw Brendel shifting his gaze onto her.
“And you are?” Brendel saw confidence in the other party’s bright eyes. The young girl was not good at hiding her thoughts, although she tried to appear approachable, she still gave the Aouines present a feeling of being treated like barbarians.
It was typical of the superiority of the Cruzan nobility, but the superiority had not yet turned into arrogance. She must have been a child leaving home for the first time.
“Shido, who is a descendant of Marquis Thun, is now studying at St. Ebony. She is a clever child, with great talent. Brendel, you will like her. There are Witches of the Silver Society who are also impressed by her talent and want her to enter the White Tower for further studies.” Veronica did not reprimand the young girl for her interruption, but looked at the other with pleasing eyes and introduced her without hiding her favoritism.
“St. Ebony’s Academy? Bugas?” Brendel thought about it, one must indeed have an amazing talent to be favored by the Silver Folks, and of course, lucky enough. He asked, “Marquis Thun? Is it the same Thun the conqueror who crossed the sea to conquer Xeverian on a dragon’s head warship?”
“It is that ancestor.” The young woman’s eyes lit up, not expecting there to be someone among the Aouine who could tell her family’s history in one breath, especially since the legend of her ancestor’s conquest of the Xeverian region had always been her aspiration and the family’s pride.
“That’s just viewing Aouine as an uncivilized region, isn’t it.” Brendel saw the look in Shido’s eyes and knew what she was thinking. He took a look at her attire- the cross on her white coat was the typical emblem of the Blood Cross- a prestigious organization of scholars within Cruz, somewhat similar in status to the Royal Academy of Geography in Aouine. But the Blood Cross would not have such a young member, presumably an honorary apprentice by name.
“What about that person?” Brendel looked toward the corner of the tent, having noticed that the man, who had been quiet and had not spoken, was wearing a coat made of mink fur, under which he was dressed in military attire. But the silvery breastplate had no family crest, only an eagle emblem, a costume that looked somewhat like that of a mercenary, except that the brand-new deerskin boots beneath the plaid pants and the jewels on the hilt of the sword testified to his status.
But unlike the frivolous curiosity of the other scholarly teenager, the older youth had never spoken, only surveying them with sharp eyes from the shadows. His silence gave Brendel the impression of a military man of few words.
But it was just before this moment-
“Lenorette Aurelius.” Before Veronica could open her mouth, the young man replied in a cold, loud tone, as if he was proud of his family name. After he answered, he resumed his previous silence.
So it is you! When Brendel heard this name, he thought that the other could be proud of it, for it once belonged to a man with a name like an eagle, and the word associated with it was an empire and supreme power, the emperor.
But Brendel was inevitably and oddly reminded of Laurenna and Filas, for no other reason than that the other was the eldest grandson of Grandottius the Great, the tormentor who had been so recklessly killed in Filas’ dream.
He was the future emperor.