Chapter 12 - A Plan to Stop Logan
Giggs glanced at Gareth as he rode alongside him. For a while, Gareth had only been looking ahead.
“What?” Gareth asked Giggs without even moving his eyes.
Giggs scratched his head in embarrassment and mumbled, “I think they’ll give us comfortable places to rest, but the food will probably be terrible. Count Townsend is known to be cheap.”
Gareth smirked with a cold expression. He and his men knew Count Townsend because they had seen him in the capital, and Gareth knew that Count Townsend thought him insignificant. The count hated even brushing against him. He was one of those noblemen who didn’t even consider commoners people. The count was a stubborn and impulsive man, and the only thing he had left was his hubris.
“The count seems useless, but his daughter is a very beautiful woman,” Giggs commented. Although beauty was judged by different standards, Elena’s appearance had intrigued Gareth. Giggs could tell by how Gareth was looking at her a while ago. “But I think she’s going to be pretty hard to win over,” he said with a mischievous smile. Giggs, who had been traveling with Gareth for six years now, continued shamelessly, “Still, winning a woman like her sounds like a lot of fun.”
Gareth’s lips quirked up slightly at the words, and Giggs became more confident. His superior liked women with a temper. That’s what it was. That’s why he was looking at her with those eyes when he normally didn’t give women a second glance.
Having convinced himself, Giggs continued playfully, “She said she was going to repay you with a night’s sleep, which means you’ll have a blast tonight. Oh, I envy you.”
“Giggs,” Gareth finally spoke.
* * *
When Elena arrived at the castle, Rowena and Marina rushed out from where they had been waiting, their faces streaked with tears from worrying.
“Elena! Are you okay? Did you get hurt anywhere?” Rowena asked anxiously.
“Yes, I’m okay,” Elena said as William helped her off her horse. She quickly covered her wound by raising her collar. “I’m fine, Rowena. Anyway, we have to hurry because we have some guests. They’re the ones who saved us from Logan. We need a lot of bathwater. Marina, go help Father serve them.”
Elena went upstairs to change her dress before returning quickly to give instructions. Her neck throbbed beneath the collar of her dress, and it was very difficult for her to speak. However, her father would get angry at her disobedience if she gave up now by saying she wasn’t feeling well, and her efforts to invite Gareth would become useless. She had to get a chance to speak with him somehow.
Her whole body ached as if she had been beaten, and her heart was still beating unsteadily from the shock, but she could cry later when she was alone. This was not the time to break down. Regardless of what Gareth was going to say, she wanted to have the chance to negotiate with him. Her intense desire to escape the unending crisis once and for all enabled her to suppress the pain and continue directing everyone.
After busily giving the orders, Elena went into the kitchen. She opened the pantry and took out the most valuable ingredients in storage without hesitation. ‘Once I’ve won Gareth’s favor with warm food and provided him a clean, cozy bed, I’ll have the chance to speak with him,’ she thought, continuing to move diligently.
Rowena approached her at that moment, saying, “I’m boiling the water, Elena.”
Elena smiled softly and nodded. “Thanks, Rowena. How is Marina doing with helping Father?”
“She’s doing well. By the way, is Father angry? He didn’t look so happy when I saw him.”
“It’s because of me. I’m hoping that having his youngest, favorite daughter helping him will make him cool off a little.” Even if Elena succeeded in negotiating, it was another problem to persuade her father, but she decided not to think about this for now. Since she managed the castle’s finances, she knew she couldn’t afford to offer Gareth much money. So she planned to suggest something else—medicine. It was something she could find in the forest and make without spending money. She knew Gareth needed things like fever reducers and ointments for inflammations even more than the average person since he was a mercenary.
“Father probably also knows that we need help,” Elena murmured.
Suddenly, she remembered how her father had looked at Gareth—it had not been with acceptance, probably because Gareth was a mercenary. Count Townsend was too prideful. As a blue-blooded aristocrat, her father was likely prejudiced against a mercenary like Gareth. It was clear that her father didn’t want to talk to him. Gareth was only being repaid because he had saved Elena, and the count’s pride did not allow him to ignore the favor.
Elena sighed as she began to think hard about her next steps. First, she was going to give Gareth what she had promised, then persuade him and compromise. After that, she would convince her father and stop Logan.
“Okay. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try everything I can,” Elena told herself encouragingly before going to check if everything was going smoothly. She let out a long, quiet sigh of relief when she realized she had finished giving the necessary instructions.
Going into a corner of the kitchen, she crouched down to clean her face and neck, revealing her unblemished pale skin. Elena covered her neck thoroughly with her collar—it wouldn’t surprise her if the wound didn’t fade for a week—before combing her messy hair with her fingers and tying it back neatly.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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