How to Survive as the Wife of the Monster Duke - Chapter 130
“Put the fire on!” he said, handing off the lamp to a knight.
“I’m off to Elo,” Etra said. She turned her horse, her face as white as the snow around her at the news that a few hundred Yesters were coming down upon them – and upon the Master’s army, if they failed.
A gasp came from the knight who’d taken the lamp. Both Emil and Etra snapped their gaze toward him. The small fire from the lamp had flared the instant it touched the wood, growing to cover the full pile of firewood they’d set.
Emil examined the fire; at the spread of the wood they’d laid out. As sensitive to heat as the Yesters were, there was no way they could go through the wall of fire that sectioned off the pass like a barricade. Still, worry gnawed at him.
“If it fails . . .,” he muttered. The words tapered off. He couldn’t bring himself to finish the thought.
If it failed, it would be the end.
All the same, he didn’t regret coming here. He was grateful, in fact. The thought of a few hundred Yesters flanking the Master and his knights . . . even this blizzard, the thought made him break out in a cold sweat.
The Master would be fine, he had little doubt. But he didn’t want to see the Yesters leave his training grounds empty.
“Prepare for battle!” he called to his knights. The Yesters couldn’t penetrate the flame, but if the Mistress couldn’t hold the divine power, if her strength failed her again, the fire would wink out like it never existed, leaving not even the ghost of warmth. If that happened, their swords would be all that was left to slow the monsters.
He watched Etra disappearing into the snow toward Elo. Right now, while the fire burned, the only one guarding their Master’s flank was Ilyin, the Mistress from the warm region.
Idith stayed behind at Elo’s territory to clean up, as Aden had ordered. Aden himself had almost lost his reason at Etra’s news, but he understood why Ilyin had sent her.
She understood the urgency and the confusion of a battlefield. She needed him to hear her message, without doubt or misinterpretation. She had chosen Etra as the messenger, so he would know the truth and weight of the message.
“How far?” he asked.
“Over the Setry Valley,” she replied. She knew the area well, from her time as Delrose Knight.
With Everlasting Fire, she’d said. The words kept circling in his ears as he rode. They were stopping the Yesters at the pass with the Everlasting Fire – which meant she was maintaining a fire large and wide enough to block their way.
Aden spurred his horse faster. With the initial shock of the news past, his reason had returned, but he’d lost none of his urgency. He overtook Etra, who had been leading the way.
“Majesty!” his knight escorts called from behind him. They spurred their own horses as well, recognizing their master’s urgency and fell into formation behind him.
Put out the fire! Fire!
The inhuman voices of the Yesters carried to them through the wind. Aden could already see the Everlasting Fire, burning atop a long pile of firewood across the pass. And above it, he could see the faces of the Yesters on the other side.
Cover it with snow.
A few of them were decently smart. They were trying to put the fire out.
Aden put his hand to his side as he rode. The knight on that side, remembering that the Duke had thrown his sword at the violet-eyed creature, gave him his own sword in its place. Etra gave her dagger to the knight – she always carried a few extra weapons with her.
Why isn’t it going out?
They weren’t smart, by any means, but about half of them could somewhat think. The Yesters were trying their best to tamp down the fire where it met the wall of the pass. That meant they were gathered into a smaller area.
They knew nothing about the Delrose’s divine object, about the Everlasting Fire. Few did. Their confusion was understandable. The Fire burned through snow. Aden smiled.
The Duke of Winter!
There was chaos on the other side of the fire, turmoil between the Yesters that tried to run when they realized he had arrived, and those that were slower to understand the situation.
And on top of all of them came down the divine power, strong enough to make the pass feel like the warm region. Etra covered her eyes at the bright light that came from Aden.
The drastic change in temperature was too much for the Yesters. In an instant, they all melted with the snow. And in that moment, the Everlasting Fire extinguished as though it had never existed.
The Master of Biflten that returned to the mansion showed none of the new softness, however subtle, of the one that had returned from the warm region.
“Welcome back, Majesty,” knights, maids and others greeted him as he approached the mansion. He brushed off their welcome as he brushed the snow from his clothes.
Attendees from Green Mille and Blue North came out as well, welcoming the Master of the winter region out of courtesy. Aden’s cold gaze scanned the face of the mansion but saw none of the yellow ornaments of Shining Elo. No welcome from them.
He marked that as he entered the mansion, walking straight into Elo’s territory. The Delrose maids quickly stepped aside, random whispers of “his Majesty” diffusing behind him as he passed without acknowledging them.
“Ma’am was well when I left,” Etra said, her face slightly white. A former knight, her movement was quick – but even she struggled to keep up with the Duke of Winter. But as trained warriors, even hurrying as they were their footsteps made little sound. The noise in the hallway all came from the bustle of the maids.
“When you left,” he said.
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