Valley Crossing Point
"You saved us a lot of trouble, Miss. Lisana."
Though Kurdak was supported by Vera, he tried to strike up a conversation with the female knight. His wounds had mostly recovered, but he wanted to get intimate and close with Vera, so he sat at the front of the horse, Vera behind him holding the reins around his waist.
"Either way, I have disobeyed orders. I must be punished," Lisana answered resolutely.
"Come on, Alissanda's not such a stiff. Didn't you do this because of hi-- I mean, us? I'll talk to him a little when we get back. I'm sure he won't be too harsh," Kurdak smiled.
"I shall thank you in advance, then, Mister Kurdak," the woman answered distantly.
"Tch, you make it sound like you're close with the prince," Vera mumbled.
"We saved his life! How could we not be close?" Kurdak retorted, puffing his chest.
"Do you have a single humble bone in your body?" Vera asked, "You've not made a single contribution since we met Saron. Ley is the one that saved us."
"Ley's my little brother!" Kurdak said, thick skinned, "The little brother's achievements are his big brother's achievements!"
Vera merely clicked her tongue.
Lisana glanced at Leguna, limp in her embrace. Did the little boy really defeat someone His Highness couldn't? She seriously doubted the scrawny thing had it in him. He was no doubt the youngest of the group, by a few years at least.
"Uuuuu..." Leguna groaned as his eyes cogged open.
"Awake?" Lisana asked softly.
"Ah, I guess--aahh, ssssss... My head hur...ts…"
His voice trailed off halfway through as he realized he wasn't being hugged by Eirinn. Startled, he jerked his head around and stared at Lisana, who merely continued to smile at him with her gentle face. Her short pink hair gave her an air of rare cuteness in the winter sunlight.
"N-n-n-nice to meet you..." Leguna stammered, suddenly unable to speak properly.
"Nice to meet you too. I'm Lisana."
"I'm L-Leguna... a m-mercenary."
The little boy's heart beat visibly in his throat and his face slowly turned a bright orange, then a deep crimson.
Lisana was completely comfortable, and oblivious to the kid's discomfort. She had lived and fought with men for a long time now and wasn't bothered by this level of contact. Rather than be aware of his discomfort, she noticed his red face and thought he was getting sick.
"Are you okay? You don't look good."
Leguna was entangled with three girls, but, besides Vera and Eirinn, he had not interacted extensively with females in his entire life. He didn't know how to act or what to say and not say.
"I'm fine," Leguna smiled shakily, "Can you let me down, please?"
"Huh? Aren't you still injured?"
"It isn't that bad..."
Leguna peeked at his two companions to find them shaking silently as they fought to keep their laughter inside. The damn bastards! If this get to Innie or Annie's ears, he would be skinned alive.
"You're out of danger, no need to play tough," Lisana said seriously.
Leguna's face turned into a scrunched up sheet of paper.
"Hahahahaha… hahaaaaahahaha!" Kurdak and Vera couldn't hold themselves in any longer and nearly fell off the horse laughing.
"Okay okay, we won't tell anyone, okay?" Kurdak gasped as Leguna slowly whitened like a piece of wax.
"You did this on purpose! You shoved me into this trap!" Leguna moaned.
"How can you call it a trap? It's a reward!"
"Y-y-you... Fine! You! Won!"
Lisana stared blankly at the three.
Since he was already doomed, Leguna stopped caring. He stretched and shifted into a more comfortable position.
"Come to think of it, Miss Lisana, why did you think I was playing tough?"
"You're only a 14 strata assassin. If you really defeated someone His Majesty couldn't, then you would have had to push yourself well beyond your limit and severely fatigued your body." she answered clearly.
"You're just like her!"
"You're just like Eirinn, a friend of mine."
"The one you called out when you woke up? You thought that I was her, didn't you?"
Leguna shuddered. How did she not know why he was blushing is she was this sharp? Maybe she was actually a blockhead?
Alissanda came running over at that moment.
"It looks like Stok set up a blockade up front."
"How many, how strong are they?" Kurdak asked solemnly.
The second prince was no different from a normal scout as far as he was concerned.
"Around 30, I'm not sure how strong they are though. They've blocked the entrance to the valley. It'll be hard to break through."
Furrowing his brow, Kurdak turned to Leguna.
"You can count on me!"
Leguna struggled a little to get off the horse but managed it reasonable well.
"Really fine now?" Vera asked anxiously.
"I'm fine. You know what I can do, Sis. I'm only going to scout," Leguna smiled.
He was out cold for a while, but he was surprised that his wounds had mostly healed. He couldn't fight, but reconnoitering shouldn't be a problem.
Was he acting tough again, Lisana wondered.
"Alright, go," Kurdak nodded.
"Wait, let me come along," Vera said as she dismounted, "I know a bit of stealth too. I'll keep watch just in case."
Leguna nodded and the two left.
They returned safely half an hour later, though Leguna was wax-pale again.
"Thirty, just like the prince said. One high-order warrior; four mid-order warriors, 14, 13, and two at 12 strata; the rest are elites with around six or seven strata," Leguna reported, "I probed a little. Their defenses are tight. I can't make it through even alone; we won't get through."
"So circle around?" asked Kurdak.
"That's our only option, but they won't have blockaded only this one." Alissanda said with a shake of his head, "We can't circle around the valley either, our supplies won't hold, nor can we waste time trying to find another way."
"What do we do?" Vera asked.
Kurdak stroked his chin in thought for a few moments.
"How has Your Highness recovered?"
"Quick!" Kurdak exclaimed.
They had only barely treated their wounds, all their recovery had to be done on their own, but he had recovered seven-tenths of his severe injuries already? Was he even human?
"I can take the vanguard," Alissanda said.
"Good. Thanks for the hard work," Kurdak told the pale Leguna.
"I'd rather have something to eat. I've had nothing in days!" Leguna retorted bitterly.
Lisana handed him a biscuit.
"Thanks!" Leguna said, half the biscuit already going down his throat.
"Can you fight?" Lisana asked.
"Enough to not hold you guys back, yes," the kid smiled.
The group found an inconspicuous spot to rest for a while before heading to the outpost. It should be the last obstacle before Fort Kesta.
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