58 A Single Moment of Peace
Again and again, Ofris' hand wandered over my back. I had long woken up to greet him, but it seemed as if he still couldn't believe that I had really returned without actually touching or rather petting me. In the end, I had no real choice but to lie down next to him, using a mantle as a pillow and letting him have his bonding time.
Even though we ended up like this, we still had barely exchanged a single word aside from him greeting me when I woke up. I had so much to talk about, so much to say, but I simply didn't dare. He was the same. I knew he wanted to talk about what had happened, but he, too, was unable to find the fitting words.
So I just lied there, let myself be treated like a pet and watch the fox on the other side of the campfire receiving exactly the same treatment by the elf. Sahria seemed enchanted by that summon of mine. She had embraced it like a precious gem and had not let it go ever since she had grabbed it up.
Luckily enough, the poor little fox didn't realize any of this happening. It was quietly sleeping, not having woken up once ever after I had summoned it. If it knew what she did to it, it would probably leave quite a few bite marks on the elf's fair skin. I certainly would.
After staying silent for a few more moments, I could no longer hold my question in, that one curse that had haunted me all those days.
"What is it?"
"About what happened back then..."
Ofris had made his choice. He would just pretend that nothing had happened between us. But I couldn't do that. Not after 'that'.
"No, Rika, nothing happened."
"We can't pretend that nothing happened! What if-" I gulped. "What if I am pregnant?! I don't want to become a mother! Anything but that!"
A long sigh came from above. Ofris' hand wandered to my head, where it scratched behind my ears to almost immediately be awarded with a faint purring sound coming from somewhere inside of my chest.
"You aren't pregnant, Rika," he said. "Nothing happened that night."
"Didn't you say you were a virgin?"
"There wasn't any blood on the blankets or sheets. I checked them all. Several times! We just slept together."
"We just slept together..."
"Think of it as cuddling. Nothing is wrong with that..."
"Now just forget about it. You made a mistake, but that is all. It was nothing but a silly mistake."
"You are right..."
"Never run away again..."
I couldn't help but look up to him. Something in Ofris' voice had felt off. And sure enough, I found the dancing flames of the campfire reflected in his watery eyes. He was close to losing his composure.
"I will never run away again. I promise."
⊱————- ❈ ————-⊰
In the end, we just walked to the nearest road and waited there for help to arrive. Ofris didn't want to risk me fainting again or Goblins showing up and blocking our way. I could understand that fear all-too-well, as he had been severely hurt due to just defending me. Having two women to protect would naturally be even harder.
Of course, I couldn't be compared to back then. By now, I was surely able to kill those goblins by myself, and even if I ran into trouble, I could still use a combination of 「Confuse」 and 「Transformation」 to escape their grasps. But obviously, Ofris didn't want to risk this.
According to her explanation, Sahria had used a magic device to contact Risa while I was still asleep, claiming that she would surely send help. I couldn't trust that woman, as she hated me like cats hated water, but she would never risk hurting the man she was so infatuated with.
When we finally could hear horses approaching, the sun was already tainting the sky into a bright red and orange, making it almost as colorful as the leaves on the trees and bushes surrounding us.
"That should be Risa," Sahria guessed.
Soon enough, a large carriage arrived. It was pulled by two sturdy black horses and elaborately painted with a shiny white color that was further decorated with dark blue emblems and ornaments. A uniformed man rather than the despicable girl we were waiting for was sitting on the driver's seat, with two armored guards right next to him.
Ofris was the first to recognize the vehicle. "The king's emblem?"
"It is probably an emissary. Maybe they are returning from visiting Adorra."
It didn't look that way. Adorra was the town I had ended up living in thanks to Ofris. And even though it was somewhat decent to live in, if you weren't born as a beastkin, it was still hardly worth mentioning in some official document coming from the king itself.
My guesses were proven correct when the carriage slowly came to a hold right next to us: they were here for us instead.
«Did she send them?»
The strangers didn't even wait for me to ask my question. They simply stepped in front of us, as if trying to block our way, though their eyes were glued only on me.
"Good evening," the man greeted us. "Are you Rika the Foxkin?"
I could only nod. What else could I do? I didn't even know who they were! They could be friends, enemies, fox lovers, anything! I would never be able to know without them saying their thing first.
Upon hearing or rather seeing my answer, the second man stepped forth. He pulled forth a magic stone out of his bag, one that looked much like those Risa had used to measure my abilities with.
"Please allow me to confirm your identity, my lady."
«Lady...» That one word echoed through my mind. «So they are no enemies?»
Unable to find any reason to deny his wish, I could only reach out for the stone, place my hand on its surface and let the man do his work. He was done within a few moments. Not enough time for me to prepare for all possible questions he might have.
"I am sorry, my lady," the man said after bowing slightly. "I will have to ask you to accompany us."
"By decree of King Hensin the Third, Rika the Foxkin is to be found and escorted to Korinth so that his Majesty can meet her."
I could only look at the two in disbelief as they handed me a pale beige, wax-sealed scroll. It had the same emblem on it that could be seen on the carriage.
Still in a daze, I broke open the seal, unfolded the parchment and began reading – or at least I had thought so. There wasn't a single line I could read, nor a single symbol, nothing. There was an elaborately drawn emblem and an even more beautiful signature on it, but that was all I could interpret somewhat. It seemed as if it was the king himself who had written this.
Before I could even ask him for help, Ofris had already stepped forward, grabbed the scroll and began reading it. The expression in his face changed several times between surprise and distress, but in the end, it was anger that won over.
"... damn it."
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Sahria: Poke~ poke~
Ofris: Give that poor thing a break.
Sahria: Why won't it wake up!
Ofris: It is exhausted. Like Rika!
Sahria: But I want it to use magic! Now!
Sahria: It irradiates mana! It can do tricks for sure!
Sahria: It's A magic fox! A real magic fox!
Ofris: Let it sleep.
Sahria: Can't wait for- oh, it is a 'her'!
Ofris: I will not comment on what you did just now...
Sahria: Do you think she can turn into a human?
Sahria: Rika can turn into a fox after all!
Sahria: It would be the best! Do you think they would look the same?
Sahria: I can't wait to see!
Ofris: Poor little thing...