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Chapter 86: Let’s Get Married

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

Even putting aside the problem of Arvel, the bigger problem was meeting the advance team. Two higher undeads with two acolytes was a strange combination even in the best of times, let alone in a precarious situation like an undead hunt of all things.

Unlike Justin, Pavlor probably won’t be as easily fooled. Being a senior member of the Church and an archpriest, he didn’t need to unquestioningly accept Barsig’s written orders, which meant Carmen wouldn’t hide behind a false templar identity.

There was also the problem of Kagriss. In such an expedition, even an acolyte could contribute in some way with their magic. Her very presence was suspicious, since it didn’t make sense that Carmen, Anne, and Fleur would bring along someone who couldn’t cast magic. Logically, the thing to do would be to leave her at the communication replay post, not let her accompany them.

Although Kagriss could hide her undead aura under normal circumstances, that changed when she had to cast even minor magics.

How to explain Kagriss?

And if Kagriss became exposed, then Carmen, Anne, and Fleur instantly became subjects of suspicion for traveling with a hidden undead. And if Carmen acted like she knew Arvel, then her old friend will be implicated too.

So how to solve the dilemma?

Well, after meeting Justin, Carmen got a pretty good handle on the advance team’s total power. Summarized in a single word, it would be “weak.” A total glass cannon without a single templar to shore up their defenses.

They couldn’t afford to involve a templar for fear of leaking their secrets!

Carmen wanted to smack everyone involved with planning this expedition on the head. If the Church didn’t fall for the mysterious traitor’s trap with the crystals, then none of this would be happening.

Luckily, since the Church group was so weak that Carmen and Kagriss combined could easily take them out, they had some leeway in dictating terms upon meeting. In other words, Carmen and Kagriss planned on strongarming Pavlor into…not asking any questions at first, and then prove their friendliness by helping the Church capture Orlog.

Finally, she’ll tell Pavlor what she told Justin. If he had any kind of brains and love for the Church, then he’ll work together with her.

Hit him with the stick and then give him a carrot before threatening to drop a huge boulder on him if he doesn’t submit. That’ll work out…probably. Given the unusual circumstances, it was the best idea she and Kagriss could come up with.

If it worked on Justin, it’ll probably work on his teacher. As long as Kagriss became accepted, Anne and Fleur will naturally escape suspicion.

If not, well, there was always the boulder if all else fails.

Hopefully everything went according to plan, because they were heading straight in.

The soft forest floor did much to dampen the sound of hooves drumming against the ground, but templar-bred horses were huge and the noise from their ironshod hooves were loud enough to be heard despite the loam.

All four horses were galloping at full speed through the forest, or at least as fast as they could without getting hurt. Orlog didn’t follow an existing path and instead cut straight through the huge forest, and the forest was riddled with thick underground and treacherous terrain including hidden dips and random roots that stuck out of the ground.

The obstacles were much when Carmen and company were going at a swift walk, but once speeds reached above a trot, the land became much more difficult to navigate, even with Carmen and the acolytes extending the horses’ stamina with magic.

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Carmen even tested some of her newly developed strengthening spells that used blood mana. Although the spells were only in their infant stages, they worked only slightly worse than holy recovery magic. As expected, blood was closer to the living compared to holy and thus worked better.

After rushing for the predicted hour, managing only a fraction of the pace Carmen anticipated, she realized that catching up so quickly might not be realistic, so they slowed down to give the horses a break.

The whole time, Fleur had a huge smile on her face.

During a mini break where the horses were peacefully walking instead of trotting, Anne finally got around to asking her for the reason. “What’s gotten into you, Fleur? So giddy like that. Not that it’s a bad thing,” she said quickly, waving her hands in denial.

“Ah, am I giddy?” Fleur looked surprised. “I’m not…or maybe I am…”

“Stop teasing me,” Anne said, pushing the girl sitting in front of her in the saddle.

Fleur laughed. “I’m really not giddy or anything. Just excited, since when I last saw Father, I didn’t have a girlfriend. I can’t wait to introduce you to him!”

“W—well, it’s not like we haven’t met before…”

So that was the reason. How embarrassing that it was related to her. On the other hand, family introductions usually happened later in the relationship, didn’t they? That’s how it worked for the young couples that sought blessings from the church.

Anne blushed. When did her and Fleur’s relationship progress so far?

“You’ve met?”

“Yeah. Father Arvel is a teacher at the Church too after all, so I more or less know what he’s like,” Anne replied. “I don’t think he’ll remember me though.”

“Probably not, but I’ll make sure he doesn’t forget you this time!” Fleur vowed. Then, she seemed to realize something. “Ah, speaking of Father, he’s totally going to be your father-in-law in a few years!”

Of everything Anne thought Fleur would say—which wasn’t much—that was the last thing she expected. “Father-in-law? A few years? Wah…isn’t it a bit early to be thinking about something like this?” Anne sputtered. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing Fleur say out of the blue.

She must be dreaming. There was no way Fleur would be saying this otherwise. That or Fleur was having a fever because of her wounds…yes, that might be it.

Anne reached around and felt Fleur’s head, shocked to find it cooler than her own hand. No fever from Fleur, and Anne didn’t have one either. So Fleur’s words were real…

“Isn’t it too early?” she repeated, still doubting her ears.

“Just two years. That’s not long,” Fleur said, so matter-of-factly that for a moment Anne was lured into her lunacy.

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“It is long!”

Wasn’t she the one obsessed with Fleur? Based on personality, she should be the one taking the lead, so why did Fleur become so proactive and…bold? Anne realized that she had been completely swept up in Fleur’s pace with no way to recover.

Fleur didn’t let her recover.

“It’s really not! Two years is a long time to get to know each other again, since we’ll be together all the time from now on. And then, once I’m old enough, we can get married.”

“M—marriage?” Anne couldn’t do it. She couldn’t keep up.

She thought she knew everything about Fleur thanks to her—okay fine, it was stalking—stalking those years ago before she decided to give up, but as it turned out, she didn’t. Did Fleur just change that much over the years or did she just not know Fleur’s true side the whole time?

It might actually be the latter…

Why was Fleur trying to move so fast anyways. Anne almost forgot who was the one with the messed up mentality. It was supposed to be her…

But that side of Fleur was fine too. If she couldn’t keep up with Fleur right now, then she just had to change until she could.

“Okay! Let’s get married in two years!” Anne said, gently hugging Fleur from behind, being careful not to put too much pressure on Fleur’s ribs. “We’ll be family then…Ah.”

She froze as she said that word. Family.

Family…such an unfamiliar word. It was so elusive.

Even though Anne used to have a family, she lost them when she could barely remember anything. All she could remember was the violence, and some brief images of her gentle birth mother. After that, it was just memories of the church orphanage.

Then, when she thought she would finally get to know what a family felt like once more, the nice lady who had been her foster mother died, leaving her behind the week before her adoption.

Twice now, family slipped past her fingers. She was afraid…afraid of what that word might bring to her in the future. Perhaps it would be best if she and Fleur didn’t become family, or something terrible might happen. But she didn’t want to let Fleur go.

“—Ah. Anne!”

Anne blink.

“Anne! Let go, you’re hurting me!”

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Huh? Something was pulling weakly on her arms and with a start, Anne realized that she was tightly squeezing Fleur, something she should not be doing because of Fleur’s injuries.

Panicking, she threw her hands back, letting go of Fleur. “I—I’m sorry! Are you okay? Does it still hurt? Can you still breathe okay?” she asked.

She hurt Fleur!

Her hands hovered over Fleur, afraid that Fleur might fall off the horse, but at the same time not daring to touch Fleur again.

Then, a cool hand closed around her arms and brought them closer to Fleur’s body.

“Geez, what’s gotten into you? You should worry about yourself before worrying about me,” Fleur said, twisting a little to look back at Anne. Thanks to that, she almost lost her balance and Anne’s heart almost jumped out of her chest as she stabilized Fleur just in time to stop her from falling.

Fleur laughed sheepishly. “Thanks…eh? Anne?”

Anne had put her head on the back of Fleur’s neck, resting her forehead against Fleur. “…You should be more careful, I don’t want to lose you too.”

“What’s this all about? You won’t lose me.”

“I’m just afraid…”

“I’m not, because you’ll protect me, won’t you? Ehehe.” Fleur laughed.

Fleur was such a dummy, not even worried about her own safety. Anne sighed. She did have to get stronger, so she could have the “family” she always wanted.

Time passed quickly, and soon enough, several hours had passed. Even though it took longer than expected, the traill they followed had gotten more and more fresh, until the group from the Church seemed just minutes away.

Suddenly, a powerful pulse of holy mana swept over them, followed just seconds later by a wave of that strange undead mana, coming from just a short flight away.

Fleur’s face whitened.

Axiom’s Note

A reader brought up a good point about how the disconnect between how Victoria appears at first, and how she actually is seems to be a bit big. However, I’m not really sure about how to resolve that disconnect.

Be sure to support the author, TypeAxiom, by subscribing to his Patreon!


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