Chapter 11 - A Plan to Stop Logan
Elena was on the verge of tears. She wondered how long she was going to have to endure this. Although this was her first time at such a horrendous scene, her people had always lived with fear and pain brought on by disasters like this. Her tears began to flow down her cheeks.
“I guess you don’t need my help anymore,” the man, Gareth, said.
Elena quickly looked around. Like he’d said, the crisis was dwindling. Logan had disappeared, and Elena could see Count Townsend and a group of knights making their way toward her. The people were busy quenching the fires and were, fortunately, having luck in doing so.
Elena looked at the man, her emerald eyes so dark they appeared to have been dyed black. With his short golden hair and pitch-black eyes, just this man’s presence had been enough to send Logan fleeing. Logan, who acted as if no one was superior to him, had run off. Just who was this Gareth?
“Elena!” Count Townsend yelled angrily as she was thinking. He quickly approached, jumping off his horse, “I told you not to go to the village.”
Count Townsend immediately discovered the terrible whip marks left on Elena’s neck. “Let me see.” He examined Elena’s neck with impatient hands and clicked his tongue in a way that said Elena’s disobedience had brought this on herself.
Elena could clearly tell what he was thinking, but she didn’t care. All her thoughts were focused on the man. She wanted to find out who he was.
“Father, I was able to escape from Logan thanks to that man. I’d like to compensate him,” Elena said decisively.
Gareth continued to look at Elena. All he did was turn to her because she was the one who looked at him unflinchingly first. He hadn’t had a reason for meddling except that he disliked Logan—it had just been a personal grudge. However, this didn’t matter to him anymore. “We won’t be able to find a place to stay in this mess. Let’s get going,” Gareth ordered without hesitation.
“Wait a minute. You saved my life, so I’d like to repay you with a night’s sleep and a meal,” Elena shouted urgently, then turned to Count Townsend, “If it weren’t for him, I’d be dead, Father,” she repeated.
Count Townsend only then noticed Gareth. He exhaled, his breath sounding more like a quiet sigh. It seemed that he knew who the man was. “So it was you, Gareth. Thank you for your help.”
Gareth’s indifferent stare was fixed on Elena where she was standing behind Count Townsend. She wasn’t avoiding his gaze, and he saw that her eyes looked like cold, green flames.
“Give me a chance to return the favor, Sir.”
Gareth thought about his answer for a moment. A night’s sleep and a meal were what she was offering. It was a good deal since he and his men had made their way here for exactly that. They had camped outside until now, and Gareth wanted a break from that. His original plan was to go back, but her sudden suggestion made him stop. A night’s sleep…
Elena flinched reflexively. The way the man looked at her seemed to have changed, growing heated. Elena could feel the scorching heat from his pitch-black eyes, and she ended up looking away, unable to face him anymore. Rather, she didn’t know how she had looked into his eyes until now. Perhaps she was out of her mind after inhaling an excessive amount of smoke, or perhaps it was due to the terrible fear of almost being kidnapped by Logan…
Gareth watched the change in Elena’s expression and smiled mysteriously.
* * *
Elena glanced back at the 12 unfamiliar knights following behind her. She could feel a grim atmosphere from them. It reminded her of the crimson color of blood, almost as if they were surrounded by a red fog. There was something creepy about them, particularly their leader, Gareth. He possessed an indescribable coldness.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Lady Elena?” asked William, the commander of House Townsend’s knights, after he helped her get on the horse.
“William, who is that man?” Elena asked as she hunched her shoulders in response to the cold gaze coming from behind her.
“His name is Gareth,” William said, “He is the most expensive mercenary in our country.”
“Yes, I’ve seen him in the capital,” William said with a trembling voice, despite being a stoutly built man.
“Are you afraid of him, William?” Elena asked.
“I don’t want to admit it, but yes. Gareth is a knight I wouldn’t want to face in a war. He is extremely skilled.”
Elena nodded absentmindedly at William’s words. Logan, a relative to the king, had stuttered in front of that man and ran away. And William, who usually didn’t acknowledge others, had just said the man was extremely skilled. “How much do I have to pay to hire him as a mercenary?”
Elena’s words almost took William’s breath away. Did she really want to hire Gareth? Couldn’t she tell what a threat that man was? William chose his words carefully to try and dissuade her, “Gareth is a dangerous mercenary who proposes his own terms and conditions on the person hiring him. He doesn’t even follow royal orders, and he doesn’t care who he has to kill as long as he is paid enough. It’s better not to get close to him at all. He’s probably similar to Logan, and I can guarantee he’s no less brutal. So, don’t even think about doing such a thing. I’m sure Lord Townsend will faint from shock if he heard the idea.”
“But he’s extremely skilled,” Elena replied, unconvinced, “We need mercenaries like that, William.”
“Gareth is a devil. A devil infatuated with blood,” William concluded firmly.
Elena was at a loss for words. She let out a deep sigh and murmured, “I guess we won’t be able to hire him anyway even if we wanted to. Our finances won’t allow it.” Still, if she hired Gareth, it would completely eradicate Logan’s violence. The idea became stuck in her head.
“Don’t even think about it,” William spoke sternly, as if he had read Elena’s mind.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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