"I was instructed by Sir Lawrence to pass that onto you." Jean had not read the letter, but Lawrence and urged him very seriously to send it to Claire as soon as possible, so Jean had done so without any delay.
Claire closed her eyes and sighed quietly.
And it really was all Sir Lawrence could do. To make a breakthrough, Master had actually went to Devil Field and Sir Lawrence had wanted her to stop him. Devil Field. It wasn't a true realm with devils, but an extremely perilous region with unknown and dangerous creatures everywhere. The terrain was also hazardous with an eerie atmosphere. There was a terrifyingly strong barrier around Devil Field that was easy to enter through, but difficult to leave from. Rumors said that they were powerful creatures from the devil realm there and many powerful people who went there to train never made it out. Because Sir Lawrence failed to persuade Cliff, he could only write a letter to Claire to stop him.
"Miss, is the situation dire?" Jean asked softly, seeing her serious expression.
Claire opened the letter again to see the date on it. Cliff had already left a few days ago.
"We must go and stop Master, he is going to Devil Field!" Claire gritted her teeth.
"What!" Jean's expression changed instantly. He was fully aware of what Devil Field was. Once, a powerful man from Amparkland tried to train there. The barrier was easy to enter, but afterwards, he never made his way out. It was rumored creatures from the devil realm had made their way there and the place was also forbidden for high experts. So many experts had entered and never returned, so Devil Field had become a forbidden topic.
"It's already been a few days since Master set off." Claire frowned worriedly. "The Devil Field is far from here. Even if I fly, it's impossible to sustain through the days and nights, I will run out of magic." Claire was now a little frustrated. Even if she persevered and flew without sleep, she would need time to replenish her magic, but it would waste time.
"Miss, don't fret, I'll send you there as fast as possible," Jean said resolutely.
Claire was a bit puzzled seeing how determined his expression and how certain his tone was. He was only a warrior and only knew Dou Qi. What did he mean by those words?
"The situation is so dire, I must give up on caring so much." Jean lifted the curtain of the carriage window and gazed outside, his face tranquil.
What did he mean? Claire didn't understand what he was looking out the window for.
"Coachman, once we arrive at the woods, let us out and you can return," Jean instructed the coachman.
"Yes." The coachman agreed without question. With a crack of the whip, the carriage's speed increased.
"Jean, what are you planning?" Claire couldn't help but ask seeing his solemn expression.
"Miss, it would take months to reach Devil Field by carriage from here. By the time we reached there, Master Cliff would have already entered Devil Field and it would be too late." Jean let the curtains down. He gazed at Claire.
Claire nodded. Indeed, she had known this. But what was Jean planning on?
"Miss, I will send you to the outskirts of Devil Field within three days." Jean's eyes glinted with determination.
Three days? Claire was shocked. How was that possible? Perhaps it would have been possible if Ben were there. Speed and endurance of dragons completely surpassed that of ordinary beasts. But at this crucial moment, Ben was in the middle of cultivating elsewhere. Did Jean have a ride with such speed? Wait a minute, all knights have mounts. What was Jean's mount? Claire searched through her memories, but realized that this piece of information was missing.
The carriage was fast. After it entered an enclosure within the forest, it stopped. Jean and Claire left the carriage and the coachmen left as per instructed.
"Jean, just what are you planning?" Claire asked with confusion.
Jean didn't reply. Instead, he faced the sky, his gaze intense.
"Answer me! My contractor!" Jean called out quietly. His eyes grew vacant.
In that instant, a strange rune surfaced in his forehead. Claire recognized it to be a contract mark. He was summoning something, perhaps his mount?
She pondered. As a knight, it was mandatory to have a mount. The mounts of the royal knights, the Griffin Squad, were naturally Griffins. Further down the ranks, there were war horses while some knights had unique magic beasts. Was Jean's mount a flying type? Is that why Jean said he would send her there in three days?
It must be. Only a flying magic beast could send her to the outskirts in such a short amount of time.
Claire raised her head towards the sky, waiting for Jean's summoned mount.
A moment later, the sky darkened overhead. Claire watched dumbfoundedly as a giant creature circled overhead, completely shocked.
She had guessed Jean's mount would be able to fly and indeed, she was right.
But how was the beast so big? Why did it seem like a dragon?
Because it was a dragon! Jean's mount was unexpectedly a dragon!
(Author's note: Dragon knights are very rare, Amparkland only has two dragon knights in total, Lagark has two, with one being Beluke, and Jean is Amparkland's secret third dragon knight.)
With a "swoosh", the dragon descended before the two. Claire stared at the dragon fixedly, unable to come up with words to say.
The dragon extended its neck, nuzzling Jean affectionately. Jean revealed a rare smile and reached out to stroke the dragon's head.
"Vermilion, let's go. Bring us to the outskirts of Devil Field." Jean guided Claire over by the hand.
But the dragon puffed out cold air in a displeased manner, completely losing its previous affectionate air. It kept on snorting while glaring at Claire.
Claire instantly understood. The dragon was rejecting her, not willing to let her to ride.
"Vermilion!" Jean warned coldly, his face darkening.
The dragon whimpered, then lowered it head, its eyes dimming.
"Miss, this is my mount, Vermilion. She still doesn't know how to talk. In dragon years, she's still a baby, a little temperamental. But it's ok." Jean patted Vermillion on the head.
Claire nodded. She understood why Vermilion protested. Mounts of knights were supposed to be exclusively for their contractors only, so naturally, she rejected Claire, who was not her knight.
"Let's go, Miss." Jean helped Claire mount onto the dragon, then seated himself.
"Go, Vermilion. I'm sorry it will be arduous this time. Use all your strength to bring us to the outskirts of Devil Field." Jean patted the dragon. The dragon roared, then shot up, gliding swiftly into the sky.
Wind whipped by her ears. Claire looked at Jean who was sitting in front of her, her mind full of thoughts. Jean had originally hidden his real strength and followed her. Then, she found out he was secretly helping the second prince under her grandfather's orders. Now, it turns out he was actually a dragon knight. There were only two known dragon knights out of all of Amparkland, mysterious and powerful. But as far as she knew, Jean was not one of them. That meant his identity as a dragon knight was secret! Jean. How many more secrets was he holding from her?
Vermilion flew as fast as she could under Jean's urging, not stopping to rest for an entire day. Only at night did they land at a secluded area to rest. Vermilion was so tired, she just laid there, unmoving.
Seeing how Vermilion was simply sprawled on the ground, unable to move an inch, Claire couldn't help but suggest, "Jean, isn't this too tiresome for a young dragon? Let her rest tomorrow."
"If we continue flying tomorrow, we can reach Devil Field by late evening. We must stop Cliff from entering, or it'll be too late," Jean insisted.
Claire turned to look at the exhausted Vermilion, then thought of the consequences of Devil Field and soon became conflicted. "Vermilion is still a young dragon. If she continues like such, she will overwork herself. What would happen then?"
"It's fine. After a good night's rest and another day of flying, it'll be over." Remorse flashed in his eyes, but when he thought of the consequences of Devil Field, his eyes hardened.
After the two ate, they went straight to sleep.
Early morning the next day, Vermilion started flying again.
Exhausted, Vermilion finally reached the outskirts of Devil Field at nightfall. Much to her surprise, Claire noticed the below, mountains and rivers stretched as far as the eye could see, however, such a vast area was covered by a barrier. As soon as she landed, Vermilion collapsed onto the ground. She still controlled herself enough as to not crush the two people who fell off her back.
"Vermilion!" Jean cried out worriedly.
Claire had landed lightly just as Jean had. She stood to the side, watching Vermilion lie on the ground with a complex expression.
Vermilion tried to raise her head desperately. She licked Jean's worried face with her tongue, trying to console him.
Jean stroked Vermilion softly, eyes remorseful and tender.
Claire remained silent, sighing in her heart, but not knowing what to say.
"Right now, Cliff shouldn't have arrived yet." Jean stroked Vermilion's head.
"Yes," Claire replied softly. She scanned the surroundings. They had landed at a valley with deep forests between two steep mountains that were so high, they disappeared into the horizon. This was an entrance to Devil Field?
She couldn't see the end of the barrier. Who had created it? How powerful were they to be able to create such a field?
"Jean, stay with Vermilion. I'm going to explore the area," Claire turned around and instructed Jean.
"Miss, not matter what you do, don't enter the field," Jean cautioned solemnly.
"I know." With a wave of her hand, golden fire wings extended from her back instantly. She flew up into the sky and started to scan the general vicinity.