The Lady of the Lake and the Depressing Departure
“She looked so noble and mysterious with the way she received the moonlight off of the lake’s surface. The glow of the water wrapped around her…oh what beauty! I feared that if I lingered my gaze would defile her, so I quickly left.”
“Percival, you’ve told this story 11 times already.”
“Wrong again prince. That was his 13th time telling it.”
As I let out a loud, sarcastic groan, Percival completely ignored me and continued to recount his riveting tale.
Last night, in order to procure some extra traveling expenses, Percival took a small job and entered the forest by himself.
There, he discovered a woman illuminated in the moonlight, and he was taken by her beauty….
Now he won’t stop sighing, staring off into the clouds, and telling Alexis and I about every little, inconsequential detail. As many as 13 times….. No, it’s 14 now, and I am honestly too annoyed at this point to care about a single word he is saying.
“It’s at 15 already,” Alexis was muttering while holding Concetta.
He was right. The story kept changing since it had first been told–this morning. As time goes on, Percival seems to be remembering more and more as one adjective was quickly becoming twenty.
“The beauty, the elegance in how she moved, and that transience that burned my heart just by looking at her–she was most certainly a noble existence. Surely she is a princess from a foreign country who must hide herself away for some reason, only for her figure to end up being revealed by the moonlight on the lakeside…..”
“I was by the lake, and I did not see nor hear anyone.”
How did we miss each other? That’s the thought that keeps running through my head.
Last night, I entered the forest just as Percival did, and I enjoyed a little soak alongside the lake. But I did not see any sign of some lakeside maiden. On the contrary, with the several spells I placed, it became impossible for anyone to approach the lake, so it could be said that it was obvious that there was no one else there.
So this ‘Lady of the Lake’ came either before I arrived or after my spell dispersed. Or perhaps there is another lake in a different place? …………I cannot deny the possibility that Percival has finally snapped and it was all a hallucination.
Although in the end, the story has nothing to do with me, but my words seemed to have caught Percival’s attention. His blue eyes were no longer staring up at the clouds, and they were now looking a little more serious, a little more focused, and squarely at me.
“Miss Monette was also at the lake?”
“Yes. I was playing by the water with Concetta.”
“I will not rust.”
Percival nodded his head as if he had been convinced by some powerful argument. But near the end, I could hear him mumble a few things about how “if I am going out at night, I should let him know” and “whether there is a cause to be wary or not, a man would be worried if their friend was walking around at night alone, so I should let him come with.”
Honestly, it makes me feel a little uncomfortable, so I gave Concetta’s head a little pat before changing the subject.
“Perhaps Concetta was sent here by the witch to guide us.”
“That would mean that the witch is aware of us. I wonder if she saw us somewhere.”
I gave Concetta one last good pet on the back of his shoulder before handing him back to Alexis as he started voicing off times where the witch might have seen us. It is hard to tell him though that he is most likely correct and incorrect.
The other party is a witch–a genuine witch who wields knowledge that has been passed down and improved for generations. Even without having to actually walk around, she could easily sense when someone has entered her territory.
Above all, I am another witch, and Alexis holds a curse. I am not sure what king of technique she used, but there would be no way for us to respond. Surely the witch who lives in the nearby valley saw that a foreigner had entered her territory and ordered Concetta to guide them.
The only question is, is it an act of hospitality or hostility?
Either way, the witch is willing to meet.
Saying that much, Alexis’s expression softened slightly.
With me by his side, it is true that Alexis had not received too many incidents from his bad luck curse, but if that was all he wanted, then there would have been no need for this trip. No matter that Alexis is a prince, with the other party being a witch, there was no guarantee that he would have been granted an audience with her. Although I would have liked to see him try to force a meeting against all those spells. Even then, though, he would not be able to see her if she just turned herself invisible. Or she cast a spell to confuse him so that he would never be able to find his way out of the valley.
Although I had prepped him for such possibilities, here was a guide sent by the witch the very first day we arrived to town. All the little tragic scenarios I worked my way into his head were blown away into nothingness.
Although I too wanted to meet her, I was still wary.
The witch we are about to meet could be the very witch who placed the curse on Alexis in the first place. It could be that she is inviting us over, and Alexis could end up in even worse condition than he is now.
That is, it could be a trap.
Once I made them aware of this, Percival’s eyes became a bit of serious, and his attention focused. Alexis on the other hand just gave me an overexaggerated nod to show that he understood before saying, “It’s still good.” There was no fear nor hesitation in his demeanor.
On the contrary, he thanked me for warning him and smiled.
I turned away from the both of them and started to rub Concetta’s stomach.
“Um, I have something unfortunate that I have to report to you Monette.”
Compared to when he talked to me before, Alexis’s spirit seemed a little bit dimmer.
After such a mood swing, I could not help but tilt my helm wondering what had happened. Immediately after leaving the inn and preparing for our departure, Concetta seemed ready to guide us on our way, and he has been resting at my feet this entire time. What could be so unfortunate during a time when haste must be made?
But not only Alexis, Percival was also blatantly avoiding eye contact with me, choosing to instead focus on a fluffy looking cloud hanging in the sky. I motioned them to hurry up and get on with it with my iron gauntlet.
“According to what I have heard, it seems to be necessary to go through the forest in order to reach where the witch lives.”
“The valley itself is quite the severe terrain, and it starts immediately after the forest….. so……..”
“…………so we can’t ride a carriage.”
“That is, from here, on foot……….”
As time went on, Alexis’s words continued to get smaller, and I could not hear anything he said after the word, “walking.” But that was all I needed to hear. I promptly turned on my heel back towards the inn, and I told them, “I’m not going.”
I am a little sorry, but there is absolutely no way I am going to walk through a treacherous valley and forest on foot. But at that moment, Alexis and Percival’s hands clutched my arms, holding me firmly in place.
“It’s not impossible! I will carry the baggage, so let’s go!”
“I don’t want to!”
“Miss Monette, please wait! I will carry you the whole way!”
“I don’t want that even more!”
“This isn’t a joke!” I cried.
But Percival and Alexis were not going to withdraw, and their hands only held onto my armor all the tighter. If I were to return to the inn right now, they probably think that their journey would end here and now, and that belief made them not want to let me go. As a matter of fact, they had already started to drag me, and my iron boots gouged out the ground in front of me.
They were truly desperate. The odds of them being able to meet with the witch would drop in a single stroke if I was not with them. Well, it might be more fitting to say that it would drop to none. In fact, Concetta, who was sent to guide us, saw me try to go back to the hotel and ended up making his way back as well. From that attitude, it can be inferred that the only one truly invited was me.
In order for Alexis’s curse to be put to an end, I must face an evil forest and a treacherous valley……..
Based on all that, all three of us were desperate, but I was outnumbered.
No matter my petitions and objections, I was reduced to baggage and dragged along.