[34] A City at the Edge
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Fangs pierced skin and Claire shifted her head aside, allowing Alicia to rest her weight upon her. The vampire sucked blood as if she hadn't done so in more than two months. Her expression one of jubilant elation, pure bliss, and without a care like a webnovel author who had somewhat neglected his work for a while. That soft expression of hers, one usually uncaring to most things save for Claire herself, reminded the Ice Queen of why she loved the girl over again.

As Alicia licked her lips of blood, and she drew away smiling, Claire brought her closer instead and stole her lips with her own. Naturally, the former didn't resist.

"Could you two get a damn room. . ." Via muttered. How the hell did they enter their own world that quickly? The aura around them was suffocating.

Claire paused and looked at her. Then glanced at a Lara who was trying her best to look away. A faceless Asta who she couldn't tell what from what. And the soldiers of the city ahead who didn't know what to do with their heads.

"Certainly, once we reach the city," She said.

She shamelessly kissed Alicia once more.

"But, for now, I suppose this will do."

She held Alicia's hand and the two groups finally faced each other.

On one side, there were soldiers entirely confused. On the other, there were 4 girls and an ice-golem. Each of them someone who could easily kill them all so, perhaps, the soldiers had reason enough to be confused.

"Alright," Claire said, "Let's make a deal, shall we, commander?"

"What is it?" Evan Macron asked.

Claire smiled.

"We'll heal your men. But take us back with you, to that city behind you. Perhaps you picked us up from amidst a group of beasts? Isn't that heroic? To save so many damsels in distress?"

Via Goodwill and Lara De. Frag felt themselves shiver, and it wasn't from the cold. The Ice Queen was once more doing what she did best. . .spewing bullshit mixed with half-truths to get what she wanted. As the soldiers rolled their eyes at the word 'damsels', Evan raised his brow in disbelief. Her deal was certainly an odd one.

"And if I refuse?" He asked.

Claire shrugged. What did he expect from her? To kill them all? What was she, a mass murderer? She might be in an isekai, but Claire had yet to kill more than one individual, and that individual had ticked her off rightly so.

"Nothing will happen." Her smile deepened. "We'll still walk right in."

Evan Macron stared at the strange girl. Was it simply her own way of being kind? She almost made herself sound like a villain but, in the end, wasn't she being charitable enough to heal his men for him for free? One would think he would be doubtful of her claim of being able to do so but, when any one individual from her group seemed strong enough to wipe out a horde of beasts on their own, why would he doubt that someone there was capable of healing? Though he was a bit skeptical of her, with her being the 'Ice Queen', it wasn't as if anyone here had the power to stop her.

"Alright, I accept." He nodded.

"Oh? That readily?" Claire raised a brow. "You don't think I could possibly bring harm to your city?"

He laughed. "Whether or not you will, I'm afraid, if you are able to strip a hero of their might, only the city lord could possibly have enough power to stop you."

Claire smiled.

"If it's impossible to deal with something, best leave worrying about it to someone else, I suppose?" She asked.

Evan Macron shrugged. "I have my hands full with my men alone, and with defending the parameters of the city."

Claire nodded. "A man who chooses his poison wisely, I see."

As Alicia healed his men and injuries became memories of pain, Evan Macron was dumbstruck.

"This is ancient magic. . ." He muttered. No incantation and revitalizing a person's body through controlling their blood and using your mana to boost their healing? There was no doubt about it, it was an ancient healing magic lost to the passage of time, with only tales written of its prior existence.

'Perhaps only the Demonic Maiden has such a comparable magic.' He thought.

In the end, Claire and her group followed their procession back towards Felcius, the city located at Tress's southern border. As they approached the outer walls, she couldn't help but raise a brow at the sheer height of it all and the small towers that periodically stood upon the stone behemoth with guards stationed about

"Was this once a fortress?" She asked.

"Yup," Via answered. "Felcius is located right at the southern edge of Tress. Just above Aclair's neutral zone and the kingdom of Arion. There have been wars fought here before."

At the forefront of the group, the commander spoke to the stationed guards at the city's entrance.

"The girls are with me, allow them in. We found them running away from a group of beasts."

Naturally, Asta had already returned into Claire's elemental realm and her Glacial Tower.

"No injuries this time, sir?" One of the guards asked, curiously looking over the still-able group.

"We were especially lucky today," Evan Macron replied.

Though the tale of the morning, and about the girls, would sooner get out due to how many people were present, he wasn't a man that liked spouting unnecessary things. Though he never lied for his part, he was not one to tell the full truth when there was no need.

"Thank the goddess," The guard sighed.

"Indeed." Evan nodded.

With their words spared to one another, the group was free to enter the city. Claire passed between cold, looming, walls and stepped foot into grounds of cobble. She blinked her eyes as her azure gaze fluttered, glancing over a city that seemed built for battle. She noticed, first and foremost, that there was another wall in the distance and its entrance not right in front of them. It seemed the city was built in layers and the first layer, the one at which they were, was densely crowded with all manner of houses, inns, and pubs. The things that could fall without impacting the city much. She suspected the second layer would hold things that were truly important.

"How quaint," She muttered.

The soldiers departed on Evan's orders, and he had returned to the girls' side, upon his horse.

"A first for you?" He asked.

Claire nodded. Naturally, back on earth, the thought of cities being specifically designed to withstand battles and sieges—and be built back together quickly—had long left the minds of people.

"These two are practically country bumpkins, don't mind them," Via commented as Alicia glanced at her expressionless.

"I'm. . .I'm one too. . ." Lara muttered.

Evan smiled then glanced out into the distant, inner, wall of Felcius as his lips moved.

"Be wary, there is a current curfew in place by our lord. Past sundown, no one is allowed in the streets. It's best of you four to find somewhere to stay, and rather quickly," He said, having not an idea of taking them under his own wings. They seemed mighty strong enough to take care of themselves. Still, he added more words to his tongue due to the kindness they showed him and his men.  "I recommend you venture to the adventure guild and look for information on fitting inns, if you will. Though it has been far too long since I stayed at such a place, and I cannot remember which is best, feel free to come to me if your fortune is tight and your change is few. Ask around, and you shall find me, same as with the adventure guild."

Claire smiled at the man. "Well aren't you kind?"

Evan chuckled as he pulled the reins of his horse.

"In this world, miss, kindness is in short order so enjoy the few that remain."

As Claire watched his departing back grow distant, she lingered on his words.

'Curfew?' She thought with a hint of curiosity and not a care in her mind. She'd love to see someone try and arrest her if she were to break it. Though, she wondered, what was the curfew for?

Naturally, she wasn't yet aware that a battle would take place tonight. She wasn't yet aware that the Hero of Heart and the Hero of Light would clash.

Just so you know, 'Ice Queen in Another World' is not my main work, so that's why I've been writing it slowly lately because my main one takes a lot of my writing energy. While this one is just for fun and written as I go, that one takes basically all my effort to the point where I forget to touch this one.

Also, I've forgotten a lot of stuff hahaha. They'll come back, probably. I tried to write this chapter as I remembered the feel of the story, hopefully I got it right.

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