~ Chapter 60: An aunt's loyalty (Part 1) ~
[Eliza's point of view]
Not long after we saw the beam of white light cutting through the sky, we arrived at a small clearing in the middle of the Chedelle Forest. Here, my [Mark] spell signaled that we were very close to the location of my target: Leonidas.
“Over there!” I pointed when I saw the disheveled golden hair of my niece, Cassandra.
We all rushed over to her, but the moment we stepped into the clearing, a strong scent of blood hit us. All around us, as far as the eye could see, there were signs of a terrible battle that took place here, and by the looks of it, someone had lost a lot of blood.
When two powerful fighters crossed blades with each other and activated their Blessings from the God of War, there were usually signs of their attacks and movements all over the place. The ground where they stepped held the shape of their soles, and at time formed craters where they jumped from. The grass was stomped hard or ripped out of the ground when they ran.
These scars were the proof of their might, but within this clearing, they were not the only way to tell what happened here. All around us, the blades of grass had been stained with blood, giving off the strong scent of iron and letting us know how the sharp swords had cut their foes. Because of this, the clearing had been turned into a death trap for us. Monsters and hungry wild beasts would soon pick up the scent and rush here in the hope of finding fresh prey.
Luckily for us, we were all strong enough to defend ourselves and push back several waves, but we didn't plan on staying. As soon as we made sure the children were safe, we would flee from this place.
While we got close to them, we kept an eye out for the man who kidnapped them in the first place. We all had our swords unsheathed, yet what bothered me the most was not his absence but rather the familiar feel I got from the scent of blood around me.
When we finally saw the two children... I fell in a state of shock, we all did...
The little girl, Cassandra, was covered with patches of dried blood, a lot of it being on her legs, while her left arm had been completely covered in the stuff. Her right hand was also red starting from the elbow down. Her clothes were in tatters, and it was clear that she had been attacked by a sword and not a monster. Her face was dirty and big tears flowed down her cheeks.
In Cassandra's arms laid her older brother, Leonidas. The boy had suffered the worst. He was thin as a twig, pale as a corpse, and barely breathing. He looked like a completely different child from the one I remembered, but the [Mark] sign pointed at him and no one else. Just like his sister, his clothes were in tatters and soaked with his own blood.
The most curious thing about this boy's condition was his right arm. It was the only part on his body that was clean and showed no signs of injury. It was almost as if that wasn't his arm at all. But the more I stared, the more I became aware of the familiar feeling the scent of blood around us gave me.
This wasn't the blood of just some random adventurer who happened to pass by, it was Leonidas'. His blood, this child's blood had somehow been spread all over this small clearing.
I gulped... and just like before, I froze.
I looked at the children in that state, I sensed their blood all over the place, I saw the little girl crying while looking up at us. I didn't move, but Melissa rushed over to her and the guards formed a circle around them just in case wild beasts or monsters attacked us unexpectedly.
Their voices were like distant echoes... I could barely barely breathe, and a voice kept telling me at the back of my head that this was all my fault. It told me that because I let Leonidas go things turned for the worse. The story ended up like this because of me and no one else, that was what that little voice was telling me, and I believed it.
The world was fading to black around me. All I could see were the children covered in their own blood. All I could hear were Cassandra's cries...
“It's my fault...” I said in self-guilt as I began to breath faster and enter in a state of panic.
In that moment, I was turned around and Reynald appeared before me.
“Eliza Mayorgus! Listen to me! What happened tonight is NOT your fault! Do you understand? It's not your fault!” he spoke these words in a firm tone of voice, like a commander ordering his soldiers.
His grip on my shoulders was strong, and his gaze was serious. Reynald meant every single word he spoke. Thanks to him, I was able to snap out of my frozen state.
My erratic breathing was returning to normal. I closed my eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. I calmed down my senses.
The children aren't injured... They have no open wounds... Everything will be alright. It's not my fault. I told myself to calm down.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too.
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