Claire finally understood Eric's hostile attitude a little. Eric thought she was supporting the second prince?
"Many people are waiting to see which prince the Hill clan will support."
Claire let out a sigh. "It doesn't matter. As long as no one harms my mother. Otherwise, I will not let the matter go."
"Your mother is now the head lady in waiting of princess Maurice. Be careful." Leng Lingyun reminded solemnly.
"Yes, I will be careful. Thank you. I should leave now." Claire stood up.
"Yes." Leng Lingyun nodded. His gaze followed Claire's retreating figure. When her figure disappeared into the night, he finally retracted his gaze. He gazed up towards the endless night sky. It was the first time he had spoken to someone for so long, the first time he had felt such a sense of relief. He couldn't understand what had happened, couldn't understand why he had been so frustrated when he was not able to explain to Claire.
Claire arrived at Hill manor. Jean still had not moved from his original position, waiting.
Once White Emperor and Black Feather saw Claire had returned, they hopped onto her shoulders and started nuzzling her affectionately.
"Jean, why are you not resting?" Jean was still standing still in the middle of the colonnade.
"If Miss is not back, I will not rest," Jean replied seriously.
"Well, now I'm back. I'm going to go rest after visiting Lashia. You should also go rest," Claire said softly, seeing Jean's resolute expression.
"Yes, Miss." Jean turned around and left quietly.
After she gave Lashia an interspatial storage ring, Lashia was as ecstatic as Claire had expected, almost kissing Claire.
The next morning, Hill manor. Duke Gordan had an ugly expression -
because of two visitors in the main hall.
Claire had just returned, but before Duke Gordan even had enough time to present her to the emperor, the Divine Prince Leng Lingyun and Divine Princess Liu Xueqing of the Temple of Light had come knocking on the door, stating straightforwardly they were here for Reverend Claire for business at Snowfall city.
"Big sis, you're so coveted, haha. The Temple comes seeking for you even though Grandfather was planning on bringing you to the palace," Lashia giggled.
Claire remained silent. She appeared at the hall with Jean.
"Claire, you've come." Liu Xiuqing stood up to welcome Claire, her graceful actions so pleasing to the eye. Nobody could see anything wrong with her attitude towards Claire.
"Divine Princess, Divine Prince," Claire greeted indifferently.
"We came here to bring you to the Temple. Because you are a Priest of our Temple, naturally, it is better to stay at the Temple. Also, make a few preparations. Today, we are going to Snowfall city to assist. The blizzards are very serious." The Divine Princess's voice was gentle. She sounded neighborly, as if she were Claire's senior sister.
Claire turned to look at Duke Gordan. Duke Gordan was resigned. "I will order someone to send over Claire's belongings."
"There is no need, your Grace. The Temple has already prepared everything for Claire." Although the Divine Prince was polite, she was somehow hard to refuse.
"Grandfather, don't worry." Claire didn't want to waste her breath. "If the blizzard is really so bad, we should hurry and go already."
Leng Lingyun had not spoken the entire time. Nobody saw the forlorn flash in his eyes.
"Claire, your knight..." The Divine Princess glanced past Claire at Jean. She frowned, about to say something, when Leng Lingyun spoke.
"Jean is Claire's personal knight who has guarded her her entire life. They have never been separated." These words were enough to stop the Divine Princess from finishing what she was about to say.
"Oh, is that so? Then let's go together. The more, the merrier." The Divine Princess smiled, although her smile was not as gentle or natural as before.
And like so, the group left Hill manor, but all the while, Duke Gordan's expression darkened and darkened.
When they were all in the carriage, Liu Xueqing smile and said, "Claire, we should first go to the Temple to prepare.
"No need, let's go straight to Snowfall. I've already brought everything." Claire closed her eyes and leaned back into the carriage indifferently.
Brought everything? Liu Xueqing watched Claire with shock, then turned to look at Jean, but she didn't see then carrying any sort of bags. Perhaps?! Astonishment and jealousy flashed through her eyes. Perhaps Claire had interspatial storage rings?! Such precious treasure?!
Claire rested her eyes, Jean rested his eyes, Leng Lingyun rested his eyes, while the gaze in Liu Xueqing's eyes was strange...
The carriage slowly left out the gates of the capital, silent.
As its name indicated, it snowed constantly at Snowfall city. With its extreme cold, snow fell from October to February every year. The rest of the seasons were short, in total, only seven months. Blizzards occurred frequently, but never too much to handle. Every year, the capital sent relief, but this year, the blizzard seemed more severe, severe enough that the Temple was going to intervene.
The carriage stopped at a small town nearby. "Many villagers are trapped and unable to get out. The relief wasn't able to arrive," Leng Lingyun said softly. He stepped off the carriage and gazed into the endless field of white.
They were about to enter Snowfall, but the road was covered under a thick layer of snow, leaving the carriage unable to proceed. They had to switch to a sleigh in order to advance. The sleigh was pulled by short and stocky magic beasts called snow beasts. Snow beasts had strong limbs, thickly padded paws, and long and thick fur. They all changed into thicker clothes and by this time, Liu Xueqing was certain Claire had a previous interspatial storage ring. She was envious, but also puzzled. How could Claire have such a valuable treasure? Did Cliff give it to her? Impossible, Cliff only had one himself and even then, it was said to be acquired with much trouble. Then where did Claire's storage ring come from?
"We will first go in this direction. There are three villages whose people are trapped in this direction. Soon, they will run out of food," Leng Lingyun said as he studied a map. "The Temple has sent people to the other side. We are responsible for saving the villagers on this side as soon as possible."
"The blizzard this year seems a bit abnormal," Jean said in a low voice, frowning. He gazed into the field of white before them.
"Yes, which is why the Temple sent us. We are here to figure out what exactly is going on." Leng Lingyun sat down onto the sleigh. "Let's go."
The situation would be resolved easily with just the Divine Prince and Divine Princess, but the pope specially instructed them to bring Claire with them. The meaning was clear.
Everyone sat down on the sleigh. Leng Lingyun cracked the whip and drove the snow beasts forward.
The winter winds blew, icy and piercing, feeling like needles on their skin.
White Emperor and Black Feather hid away in Claire's mantle, staring out.
The sleigh left a long trail in the snow as it journeyed to the valley.
Along the way, the atmosphere was strange: silent. Other than silence, there was silence still.
"Chirp chirp!" White Emperor climbed to Claire's bosom, then scratched Claire with his claws.
Claire looked down and smiled gently. Out appeared a tiny, tiny chocolate cake from her storage ring. She dropped it into white emperor's claws. Seeing this, White Emperor hopped down and lunged for the cake. The two little things started fighting in Claire's bosom while Claire tilted her head and watched the two fight with interest. Jean watched Claire's wicked pastime, a little speechless. She was fully capable of getting out another cake, but she purposefully didn't. She simply loved watching the two little things fight.
"Claire, are those two your pets? How cute." Liu Xueqing tried to initiate a conversation.
"Yes." Claire replied lightly. She didn't bother to say anything past that.
"However, what kinds of magic beasts are those two? I've never seen anything like them." Liu Xueqing smiled warmly and reached out at Black Feather.
Jean looked away, his lip twitching.
Such enough, what he expected happened next.
Black Feather viciously clawed at the back of Liu Xueqing, instantly leaving behind three bloody streaks. The three red streaks were especially conspicuous on Liu Xueqing's fair skin.
"Ah!" Liu Xueqing exclaimed in a low voice, quickly drawing back her hand painfully.
Claire immediately grabbed Black Feather and said apologetically, "Divine Princess, I am truly sorry." Although it had existed for merely a split second, Claire noticed a faint flash of malice in her eyes.
"It was nothing." Liu Xueqing said softly. She smiled warmly, stroking the hand that had been scratched. It stung a little. Then, she looked towards Leng Lingyun. There was no doubt Leng Lingyun was aware of what had happened, but he didn't even look back, not to mention offering to treat Liu Xueqing's wound.
Liue Xueqing's beautiful face ashened, and her hatred towards Claire grew stronger.
At this time, the sleigh had already entered the ravine. Each side was lined with steep cliffs with scarce trees. The animals had either gone south or were hibernating.
Suddenly, Liu Xueqing frowned and exclaimed quietly, "Lingyun! There's a Dark aura!"
Claire looked up started scanning the vicinity, but saw nothing unusual. Jean frowned, his hand on his hilt. Leng Lingyun became alert, because Liu Xueqing was very sensitive to Dark aura, even more than he.
"Where?" Leng Lingyun's expression turned serious. They could not see anything out of the ordinary, but Liu Xueqing had sensed something. Their opponents were concealed very skillfully.
She stood up, looking around nervously. "Close by, over there, wait, no! Over there too! It's everywhere!" Liu Xueqing started to become frantic.
"Roar...." The snow beasts were suddenly restless, stamping their feet. Then, they started to charge forward without any sense of direction. The sleigh was about to ram straight into a huge boulder. The four immediately lept off the sleight agiley right before the sleigh crashed into the boulder, then smashed into a thousand pieces. The snow beasts stampeded away, soon completely out of sight.