Hello, readers! Here is the start of Arachnids arc Part 2 , where things start to get a “little” exciting. You still get to enjoy two chapters of sibling fluff first though. Ufufufu. Enjoy the ride, and stay tuned for it!
“Like I said, I’m not returning you.”
“But why? You’ve got nothing to gain from doing this!”
“It doesn’t matter anymore if I gain or lose,“ Vert says, looking straight to my eyes with unshakable determination. “I just… I’ve promised to myself that I won’t let go so easily.”
Then she lowers her eyes and forces the next words out of her gritted teeth.
“Even if it’s an enemy disguised as a reminder.”
Outside, the whistle is blown and the train departs.
“We’re here,” Vert announces as the coach stops in front of a large gate of steel. The bars are pitch black, one story high, and two coaches wide. Beyond it is a lush forest, which content is unknown despite my ability to see clearly in the dark.
“Is this a—” I pause to find the right word, “—park?”
“No. This is my home.”
“Home? But I don’t see any building.” There’s only the high walls, the road, and the forest. We’re so far from the nearest town that it’s amazing to see a road built sturdy enough to let a coach pass.
“Of course you don’t see it. It’s hidden behind these trees. Come on. Let’s get off so Rosalys can return the coach.”
“And let her walk all the way back here?”
“Pffft. Of course not. She got to rent a horse until we got our own.”
I accept the explanation and force myself to get off. It’s actually easier than I thought. I guess after all those close calls and long journey, I am simply too tired to feel scared.
I’m still not convinced there’s a building beyond the trees though. My skepticism only increases as we walk through the lush of greens. The path is unkempt. Mini plants grow between the stone blocks and dead leaves cover most of it. It looks more like the opening of a hiking trail.
Vert sighs when she squishes another mud patch.
“This will be hell to clean up.”
I hum in agreement. Leave it any longer and the path will be reclaimed by the forest. I’m almost afraid to find out the state of the building—if it exists.
“We are halfway there,” Vert announces when we are approaching a sharp turn to the right. “You should be able to see it after this turn.”
And there it is, perfectly visible from the path, a huge white mansion with ebony colored roof. It’s higher than the trees, which is already two stories high, and looks even bigger up close; like four three stories high, ten cars wide building lined up and glued together. The windows are as high as the gate and the main entrance is decorated with white pillars. There’s even a pond with a grand fountain in front of it. I just have to stop and stare.
“Isn’t this a little…”
“Overdone? I agree, but it was on discount. The garden is large too, so why not?”
“You call this—“ I gesture to the whole area, “—a garden? Have you thought about maintenance? Even a mansion a quarter as big as this needs ten people to maintain,” I say, speaking from my experience visiting Azure’s house. I take another look and feel tired just from imagining how much work needed to take care all of this.
“Of course I did. We can just seal the rooms we don’t need. As for the garden, I’ll take care of it. I’m planning to open an herb store.”
“A herb store? But what about your job in the army?”
“I quit weeks ago.”
“And they just allow you?”
“It’s before I kidnap you and I do have a proper reason. My injury prevents me from working in the army.”
“But…” I give Vert a once over. “You look fine.”
“That’s because it’s already healed. But I can’t do anything too strenuous for a long time.”
Considering she can lift me easily and land noiselessly from a three story jump, I wonder what her definition of strenuous is.
“I see. Then gardening should be fine for you.”
“Right. Besides, it’s not like I’m starting from zero. This whole garden is already filled with rare and precious herbs; naturally grown without any involvement from human hands. The soil is already so fertile and this place is close to the Bright Spring—the most nutritious water source in the queendom if you don’t know. The only thing left to do is keeping the weeds and pests from eating too much of the good herbs.”
”That’s good to hear. But if the location is that good, why was it sold cheap?”
“Because it’s too close to the border. Nobody wants to live in a place where you can hear the sounds of battle.”
As if on cue, several booming sounds reach my ears. Like Vert said, they sound close—like someone sounding large drums behind the forest. It’s definitely a worrying sound, but Vert looks unaffected, just like that time with the dragon.
“Are we really going to be fine?” I ask to make sure. The booming sounds continue, each sounds closer than the one before.
“More than fine. No one will expect you and your kidnapper to live so close to the border, where the army’s presence is at its peak. Also, didn’t I mention that the Bright Spring is nearby? That spring is highly protected because it is one of this country’s lifelines. In other words, this is practically the safest place we can stay.”
“If you’re that worried, we can move out,” Vert says, so easily that I doubt it.
Vert nods. “I can sell this mansion again and use the money to buy another home further from the border.”
I’m glad to hear it, but even if she doesn’t show it, I can sense her reluctance.
“Are you fine with it?”
My question seems to catch Vert off guard.
“You seem to love this place. I’ll feel bad if you keep putting my needs over yours.”
Vert smiles wryly. “There’s no need for you to feel bad. I did what I did because I want to. But you’re right; I don’t want to leave before we actually live in here. Let’s see how it goes first. We can consider moving out if it’s not working for us.”
“That’s—“ another booming sound, “—a good idea,” I manage to say, but my eyes twitch and Vert notices it. She smirks.
“It seems like you need to get used to the sounds first. Don’t worry. It won’t take long,” she assures, patting my back with an abnormal amount of force. I just laugh along and say nothing.
I really hope we will be fine, living this close to two threats.
PS: If it’s hard for you to imagine the mansion, just look at the US Capitol building. It was based on it.