69 The White Fox
Screams and shouts were reaching me from all sides. I didn't see where they came from, but it was easy to guess what had happened. Seconds after the initial panic, the king's orders were already spread around among the guards. They were tasked to hunt down the men who had abducted me right in front of all their eyes.
Naturally, there was no such thing. Nobody has stolen me away. It was the exact opposite: I had never been there to begin with. The 'Rika' they had taken with them to present to the citizens and any travelers who might have reached the capital on time was nothing but an illusion brought forth by my magic.
It had been a risky play as I had never tested it again after using it on those slimes, but in the end, Shiro's explanation from back then had been right.
The 『Illusion』 magic had only one function, which was to confuse my opponents by giving them something I subconsciously judged to be effective in attracting their attention. And it was, to a level that wasn't good to my soul.
When they had told me to ready myself for the speech and introduction to the masses, I had done exactly that. But instead of making sure that my dress was sitting well and my hair looked good, I had undressed, stored away my clothes and summoned the Illusion to take my place.
In my fox form, I hid under the red curtains that hung to both sides of each window and watched them enter the room. It not only was Laurin but the king, too. The later greeted that Rika and asked her if she was ready and the fake... she just smiled at them. A wide smile, the happiest there could ever be.
Without saying a single word, she had enchanted them, especially Laurin, who reached yet unknown levels of redness. Seeing him like that hurt my heart, it really did, but I just averted my eyes and tried to endure it somehow. I couldn't accept being married off just like that. And having all those strangers staring at me was a no-go, too!
When they finally led her out of the room I had already been close to giving up, but my fighting spirit quickly recovered after the door closed. I waited for about a minute, fearing that something could have gone wrong after all, then I ran into the bathroom to transform back and get dressed.
Fleeing in my fox form would have been much easier, but it was a no-go this time thanks to the lazy white fox sleeping on the couch without a single regard to anything happening around it. I hurried to its sides, picked it up and ran to the door. This times, there were no guards greeting me. They all had gone after their king and the fake me, leaving behind an empty hallway.
Naturally, two guards missing meant nothing when there still were countless others doing their jobs at other places of the palace. So while sneaking outside, I had to take dozens of turns, had to hide between vases and in empty rooms and even had jumped out of a window when that was impossible. Luckily, it had only been on ground level.
Now, I was taking a break from all of this, still hidden between the low-hanging branches of the palace gardens' trees and flower bushes. I had transformed back to a fox, leaving my dress on so that it would turn into a soft nest for me to rest and hide in. My sleeping companion waited for me to come snuggling against her, to then greet me with a purr so faint it was barely audible.
«She is awake?!»
She was. Even this sleepyhead of a fox could not stay asleep with all of this chaos breaking loose around us. When I prod her with my nose, she even opened her eyes. I couldn't help but let loose a few yelps.
「You are awake!」
The fox just growled, as if it was angry about me waking it up, but it soon enough raised up to stare into the distance. When I followed its gaze, I was greeted by the silhouette of a man that grew larger and larger. It was a guard.
«He has found us! He has found us!»
It was hardly surprising. Even with all the shouts flooding the palace and likely the whole city surrounding it, the high-pitched yelps of a fox were sure to stand out. And this guard had been near enough to not only hear them but also find out where I was. I had messed up big time.
The white fox was doing its best to protect me. It stood in between me and the man, silently staring directly at his eyes. But the death-glare of a fluffy little pet obviously didn't do much to a seasoned warrior.
"She is here," he shouted. "I have found the saint!"
It did not end just like this. The fox wasn't giving up. It barked at the man, three times, with each of the barks being louder than the one before.
«... three barks?»
I couldn't even finish my thought, as a white mist already begun to spread from the fox's body, making it look as if its fluffy white fur was slowly evaporating into an even softer cloud. The mist turned thicker and thicker, while also increasing in size. Within a few moments, it had already grown larger than the man, to then suddenly dissipate into the air.
A women's figure now stood in front of me. She wasn't wearing a single thing, aside from a long white tail and beautiful hair of the same color.
I knew this woman. I had only seen her once in my life, about two, maybe three weeks ago, but I had never forgotten her. I never could.
⊱————- Extra ————-⊰
Shiro: Wait for a second, please.
Shiro: Nothing to wear...
Shiro: What did you do with the dress I gave you?
Rika: 「Ofris has it! I don't know where it is!」
Shiro: Where did you put it? It was my favorite!
Rika: 「He still has it! He would never toss it away!」
Shiro: Stop talking fox and answer me! I don't understand a single word!