Fleur leaned against the parapets of the tallest tower in the outpost, staring up at the clouds. How light they looked and how freely they drifted as they floated over her, all fluffy. If she had a next life, she would like to be a cloud.
It was already her second day up here. This was one of the only things she could do.
Without her right arm, she was clumsy with everything. She couldn’t do the dishes in the cafeteria, she couldn’t clean the halls, she couldn’t…it was easier to list the things she could do, like feeding the horses or standing guard up here. Keeping watch didn’t require the usage of her arms, after all.
On paper, this posting was an important job. It was up to her to keep an eye on the distant surroundings for any abnormalities, especially in the direction of the necropolis, but reality was that nothing happened. At all.
Perhaps Amaranthine Point was a name given to this site after the guard up here realized that the job was endless boredom.
But Fleur didn’t have a choice. Since she couldn’t do anything right, they assigned her up here. Even though she wanted to help, she couldn’t.
Was there anyone in this entire outpost as useless as her? Technically, there were, since there are those that lost limbs in the battle a few days ago still in the infirmary. However, because they were war clerics wounded in the line of duty, they will retire and the Church will support them for some time.
Priests and priestesses were a bit different…to say nothing of acolytes.
Fleur sighed and leaned over the low wall, looking at the ongoings of the things in the courtyard below. She could see the stables from where she was, and sometimes she spotted the horses’ heads. Rather than keeping watch here, she preferred working with the horses, but here, efficiency came first.
The height made her a little dizzy, making her legs weak. The more she looked over, the more she had the feeling that any moment now, the stone she leaned on will simply vanish into thin air and she’ll fall forward…
“I wonder if it’s instant death if I fell from here?” she wondered. “No, I still need to become a priestess and…Father Arvel is still waiting for me to go back.” She backed away from the edge and fixed her eyes on the large southern gate of the ancient fortress.
And it was during those rare moments when she was actually doing her job of keeping an eye on Amaranthine Point that the door behind her opened.
Fleur jumped like a startled cat and turned around to see two soldiers who stared at her overreaction with suspicion. Fleur waved at them and smiled awkwardly. “It’s not time for a shift change yet if that’s what you’re here for…”
“No, it is. The vice captain asked for you. I’m here to take your place.” The soldier stepped forward, and held out a wooden badge with the word “Watch” engraved and inked on it.
With that, all doubts that she was being relieved of watch duty was gone. She took the badge and saluted him, and him back to her. Because he was from the kingdom and she was from the Church, the movements were different, but the intentions were conveyed.
Still, what could the vice captain possibly need her for?
Holding the badge in her hand, Fleur followed the second soldier down the spiral tower steps.
“Do you know what the vice-captain wants me for?” she asked the man walking in front of her.
“Not the details” he said, “but apparently there’s a guest here to see you. I don’t know anything more than that.”
A guest? Who could possibly be here to see her? She didn’t even know anyone.
The answer made Fleur even more confused than she was before, but she could only wait to receive her answer. After swinging by the assignment hall to return the watch badge and report, she followed the soldier to the vice captain’s room.
After bringing her there, the soldier left.
Standing in front of the door with her hand poised to knock, Fleur hesitated. However, before she could rap on the door with her knuckles, a woman’s voice sounded through the door. “Come in.”
Although she was confused about how they knew she was here, she pushed inside. The first thing she saw was the vice captain, Sir Barsig, sitting behind his desk, but as the door opened wide and she stepped in, she saw Lady Camilla.
The young-looking lady sat on a chair next to Sir Barsig’s desk, and in her lap was a huge black greatsword that exuded an aura that made her hair stand on end. Despite the sunlight that leaked into the room from a window, the room felt cold. It was the same chill she felt that night in the fortress.
“Hello, Fleur. It’s been a while,” she said.
Fleur stared at her. If the guest was Lady Camilla, then everything made sense, since for some reason Lady Camilla had a strange fixation on her. At the same time, why call her?
“Who are you?” Fleur asked. “Why do you need to see me?”
She realized too late how rude she sounded and was about to apologize when Sir Barsig spoke up first.
“Acolyte, please be more respectful to our gue—”
“—It’s fine,” Lady Camilla said, waving her hand and cutting him off. “Her reaction is understandable.”
Sir Barsig nodded and sat back. However, behind Lady Camilla’s back, the vice captain glared daggers at her, as if daring her to make another misstep. Fleur swallowed and resolved to be beyond her best behavior.
Lady Camilla had long eyelashes and now, she looked at Fleur through those long lashes. For some reason, Fleur had the urge to hide herself from that gaze and her face began to heat up.
“Don’t be so tense, Fleur. I just want to talk to you. May I?”
Fleur tried to dodge the lady’s gaze, but failed.
Whenever she looked away, her eyes were inevitably drawn back to Lady Camilla’s until she was staring into those strangely familiar golden eyes that looked like pools of honey. “Y—yeah…”
“Then, do you want to talk here or should we go on a walk?”
“H—here’s fine!” Oh, why was she so flustered? Fleur’s heart pounded whenever Lady Camilla spoke. There was a quality to Lady Camilla’s voice that made it so that her mind could barely form a simple sentence. Okay, maybe she was exaggerating a bit, but…ah. “What do you want to talk about?”
Lady Camilla giggled. “Calm down, Fleur. You don’t have to be like this in front of me. You’ll soon see why.”
While Fleur waited for Lady Camilla to start and talk about whatever it was she wanted, Lady Camilla instead turned and faced Sir Barsig. Unimaginable words came out of her mouth and Fleur heard every single one of them.
“Barsig. I need some privacy with Fleur. Do you mind leaving us and making sure we’re not disturbed?”
And the worst thing was Sir Barsig actually made to get up!
“Wait! No, I’ll walk! Let’s go on a walk insthea—Ow!” Fleur shouted, wincing as she bit her tongue in her rush to stop Barsig from getting up. Who was Lady Camilla anyway, and who gave her the courage to tell Barsig to leave his own office?
Why was Barsig going along with it?
In the few seconds since she came in here, it was like the whole world was falling apart, and during all that Lady Camilla was chuckling like she had seen something funny. But…Lady Camilla’s laugh sounded really nice.
Lady Camilla should laugh more.
Fleur’s mind spun as she tried to sort out the wonders of her mind that refused to listen to her. She barely registered Lady Camilla standing up and taking her hand to lead her out of the room.
She stood in the hallway, dazed, as Lady Camilla closed the door behind them, only snapping back to reality as her hand was once grasped by a cold hand with skin as soft as satin, sinking in where it touched her own.
Lady Camilla was too close…the smell of the forest washed over her.
“Fleur? Let’s go.”
Fleur allowed herself to be led through the halls, her hand firmly gripped in Lady Camilla’s. Strangely, Lady Camilla seemed to know where to go, as if she knew the place like the back of her hand. Had the vice captain already given her a tour around the outpost?
When they passed by groups of soldiers and clerics, they’d stare at them—mostly Lady Camilla who carried that huge, black, ominous sword on her back. Although the primary object of their interest wasn't her, Fleur still felt gazes sweep over her and her empty right sleeve that freely swayed as she walked.
Wanting to get out of the center of attention, she sped up her steps until she had passed Lady Camilla, pulling Lady Camilla with her.
At the front door of the castle hold, they ran into a group of clerics who were returning from patrol. Fleur picked out Anne’s face from among the crowd. Anne’s eyes widened as she spotted her in turn, growing even wider when she saw who Fleur was with.
Leaving the other clerics, Anne ran over to them. “Fleur, where are you going? Why is she here?”
Before Fleur could answer, a shadow swept from the corner of her eyes in front of her, blocking her from Anne’s view. “Your name is Anne, right?” Lady Camilla asked.
“I am.” Anne stood before Lady Camilla without flinching at all. In fact, she had the height advantage, looking down at Lady Camilla from above when they stood nose to nose. “Where are you taking Fleur?”
Although Fleur couldn’t see Lady Camilla’s expression, her voice dropped low, taking on a sharp edge. “Anne, don’t you have to report the results of your patrol? Where Fleur goes is not something you should be worried about right now.”
Although Anne looked like she was about to argue, her mouth opening in preparation to retort, a tall cleric grabbed her from behind and dragged her away, bowing to Lady Camilla. “Sorry for the trouble,” he said, bowing.
There was a hint of awe in his eyes.
Lady Camilla nodded and proceeded to ignore him. They went all the way out of the outpost, crossing even the dirt path across the moat. They walked so far that they entered a forest and continued to walk.
Trees surrounded them and Fleur recognized the same scent of the forest that she had smelled from Lady Camilla, damp and mossy.
The wind blowing through the forest and the sound of the rustling leaves pierced through her spinning ahead and Fleur felt her head clear a little.
While Lady Camilla was still as cute, beautiful, and enchanting as she had been, Fleur no longer felt like she couldn’t think. Even with the dizziness gone, the strange feelings she couldn’t identify that she felt toward Lady Camilla didn’t go away.
Lady Camilla stopped walking and turned to her. Fleur stopped as well and looked around. They were deep in a forest and the forest was full of insects and birds, each with their own sound. She could no longer see the outpost behind her through the trees anymore.
Finally, she turned back to Lady Camilla, who wore a charming smile on her face as she stared straight back at her. The smile included the slightest hint of arrogance and mocking that looked oddly familiar.
“Lady Camilla?” Fleur asked, hesitantly. ‘Why are we here? What did you need to talk about?”
“There’s no hurry. That said, it’s really been a while, hasn’t it?” Lady Camilla asked.
“What do you mean? We just saw each other four days ago,” Fleur said. “Even if it wasn’t, we’ve never met before that time, so ‘a while’ might not be the best choice of words…”
Lady Camilla shook her head. “No. We’ve definitely met before then. Let me help you remember.”
Fleur tilted her head in confusion.
Without any further warning, a frigid wind blasted from Lady Camilla’s body, filling Fleur’s very soul. A hundred skeletons reached out of a hole in the ground, grasping at her feet, trying to pull her in with them.
“Ahhh!” she screamed, backing away. But the moment she took her first step, her heel bumped up against a root and she fell backwards.
As if the wind was just a passing illusion, the winds suddenly disappeared. A cold hand grabbed her once more, pulling her up. But this time, cold meant something totally different. It was no longer calmingly cool. It was deathly cold.
“You’re an undead!” Fleur cried.