Chapter 46: Recovery
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With tentative and slow gulps, a relieved but tired sigh escaped Amaragi's lips as her back was leaning against the frame of the bed. An appreciative and grateful glint reflected in her eyes when Maren gently offered to take it from her hands again, placing the now empty cup upon the nearby nightstand. 


"The water is clean again, the medic said the well proved to be safe now once more…" 


Amaragi nodded slightly, closing her eyes momentarily as she reveled in the feeling of the cool liquid running down her dry throat. 


"I can feel that… and I can humbly abstain from wanting to experience the whole thing again."


She tried to keep her voice light, wanting to keep a slight hint of a humorous tone to it, if only not to cause Maren to worry any more than he already did. 


It was a weird feeling… on the one hand, her head was still feeling as though it was slightly clamped, her body internally feeling weak and fragile, even at the smallest actions… 


Her eyes subtly shifted towards Maren, the latter having grown content to simply place his head near her hands at her lap, careful not to cause her any discomfort. 


… but on the other hand, she internally felt as though she was laying in a bed of rose petals, a comfortable warmth seeping through her body with each minute she was recovering. And the knowledge that Maren had not strayed from her side for a single moment… 


… she had weird dreams. 


Vivid images, mingled with this unbearable heat that had been plaguing her the whole time. She couldn't remember them clearly anymore, only being able to grasp a few slivers at the edge of her consciousness. But at one point, she had remembered the sudden feeling of dread overcoming her in her sleep, seeping to her very bones, for a reason that she couldn't understand. 


However, it was nothing more than a bad memory now, for that feeling had surprisingly faded again not soon after. 


"I hope I didn't miss anything important while I was… unconscious…?" 


In the blink of an eye, Amaragi could almost feel how Maren's body seemed to stiffen slightly as his head was still leaning against her hands, and that was already enough to cause a certain amount of concern to flood her mind. 


"Would you believe me were I to say no…?" 


"Not anymore, I wouldn't."


A small sigh escaped his lips. 


As much as he would have wanted to keep her mind from being overwhelmed with recent events, it was inevitably connected to the reason why she had been unconscious in the first place. 


"Demagogues had infiltrated the town. Causing riots to start upon the streets, but only after they had poisoned the water in the well upon the marketplace."


Amaragi's head lowered slightly, her eyes stuck at the bed sheets beneath her as she was seemingly deep in thought. Maren lifted his own head slightly from her lap, almost managing to tear Amaragi out of her thoughts with the sheer way he was looking at her alone. 


That gaze that spoke of how much it wanted to help… 


"The demagogues have been dealt with, yet… Namagi thinks it might be important to make an example… but… what will you do…?" 


It wasn't long until Amaragi gently shook her head with a small but pondering smile. 


"... no, we will not punish anyone. These demagogues were specialized and trained for their way of speaking, and sometimes, people only need to be given the right reason to revolt… I do not blame them, not in these harsh times… it is up to us now to shape how they will view us in the future, with every action we take." her voice was soft and considerate, but after a moment, her eyes subtly glanced at Maren. 


Secretly gauging for his reaction as she saw the way he was allowing a small smile to spread upon his lips in response


"Nevertheless, it will be crucial in the future to sensibilize our people for this matter, and to promise them that their needs are recognized. And… perhaps…" 


She closed her eyes with a thought entering her mind. 


"... we might need a similar institution of our own to deal with these kinds of threats more efficiently…"


Maren tilted his head slightly. 


"I doubt Namagi would appreciate that from what I've seen, I don't think she is very fond of these kinds of things…" 


"She undoubtedly isn't, she prefers dealing with problems openly and directly. The arts of secret diplomacy are… well, I don't favor them either, far from it. I will ponder about this more, soon."


Amaragi sighed once more, slowly lifting a hand to rub her eyes slightly. 


She was still so very tired… and… 


"But first…" 


With a small glance, Amaragi looked at Maren with a gaze that knew exactly what it wanted. 


"... come here…" 


With a tentative shift of his head, Maren's eyes widened slightly in concern and obvious hesitation the moment he locked gazes with her, his heart feeling an incomprehensible warmth upon witnessing the want and care in her eyes. 


"Wha…? But… no, your condition is far more important than-" 


He was silenced when Amaragi lightly chuckled to herself in response, a sweet smile appearing upon her lips before she wordlessly reached out her arms to wrap her hands around his neck, gently bringing him closer against herself as he was slowly but surely forced to lean further upon her bed. 


And just when he was almost directly beside her, her eyes separated mere inches from his own, Maren could barely suppress what he felt when her warm breath brushed against his cheek as she leaned close. 


"I wasn't necessarily thinking about that… but am I still not allowed to love you regardless…?" 


The moment she claimed his lips with her own with a fiery passion, he could feel her hold around his neck reaching further, her hands subtly tracing down his back just so that she could silently bring him closer ever more without ever breaking contact. 


And during all this, he was reminded that he couldn't do anything against it even if he ever wanted to. 


For in that moment, he had long relinquished any and all control to the one who was holding him so lovingly… 


taking him all for herself



Another harsh gust of wind swirled through the air, forcing general Rena to momentarily cover her face and squint her eyes. Already, several raindrops were falling from the sky, only indicating how much worse it would get. 


However, the general was not to be deterred. Raising a hand with a commanding glance behind at her soldiers, she gestured for them to keep moving, and so they did. With the large caravan rolling along. 


Until suddenly, a loud crack emanated from one of the wheels


The horses were the first to nicker as they were startled in the process the moment one of the wheels broke completely, causing the caravan to fall upon the ground on one side. Processing this, Rena narrowed her eyes before she carefully approached the two horses to gently calm them down. 


Meanwhile, two soldiers knelt down near the place where the caravan was now partly stuck inside the road, inspecting the broken wheel and the damage that was done. 


"Report, how bad is it?" 


As Rena approached the scene, one of the two soldiers ran a hand along the wooden handle where the wheel had been attached, carefully analyzing it. 


"We… cannot say for sure, but it is unlikely that the wheel and handle would just buckle that easily. To my knowledge, this caravan was quite new as well."


Gritting her teeth slightly at their apparent misfortune, Rena glanced towards the pitch black sky once more, going through her options. Behind her, she could hear that, even with each and every soldier attempting it together, they couldn't manage to pull the caravan out of the wet mud. 


And once more, the harsh winds were only picking up again. 


"... fine, there is little we can do now. Set up camp around the caravan, and be thorough with the construction. It will only get worse from here on out."


"Right away!" 


Abandoning their previous objective, the handful of soldiers got to work to set up camp. A part of herself still didn't want to believe it, but as she glanced at the unmistakable state that the caravan was now in, Rena heaved a heavy sigh. 


Was milady right again…? 


That such a misfortune had to befall them now, it only caused her to clench her armored hands together. All that she had wanted was to make milady feel proud… but as of now, as the storm was slowly beginning to pick up in strength while they were sitting upon the road like an open duck… 


… it seemed that, perhaps… it had been a bad idea after all to set out now… 





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