Angelina looked completely like a savage, with her tattered and filthy clothes, dishevelled hair, and worn-out shoes with holes that exposed her two pale feet.
After laying down, she hugged her legs and rubbed her feet. She had waited in the snow for a whole night to catch this snow hare. Her feet were almost frozen and lost nearly all sensation.
After kneading them for a moment, she could finally begin to feel her feet and turned to Locke. The savage lying beside her with a full beard, greasy hair and foul body odour was none other than him.
His face remained pale, but not as deathly as it had been. His sturdy physique was now as thin as a rake. He laid quietly on the turf, the only sign of life being the faint undulation of his chest.
Angelina snuggled beside him and fell into a deep sleep. She was up all night and the fatigue had caught up to her. Before dozing off, she placed his arms around her waist. Just like that, the two of them slept in each other's arms inside the cave.
She only woke up in the afternoon. As usual, she looked up at Locke with hope in her eyes once she was awake, but the outcome remained the same. He still looked the same with his face pale and eyes tightly shut.
She sighed, then collected herself to get up to prepare dinner for both of them. In the past half month, they only ate one meal each day.
The hardened snow hare had been left at the entrance of the cave for most of the day and shown signs of melting. She skillfully used Illuminate closely against the hare's fur. Soon, the frozen hare slowly thawed.
Angelina only melted one-third of the hare, leaving the rest frozen for tomorrow and the day after. She pulled out Locke's dagger and began to cook up a meal. A small bonfire was made at the entrance of the cave, and smoke wafted out of the opening, accompanied with the faint scent of grilled meat.
She did not dare to make a fire too large. The snow bear that came following the smell one week before left a deep impression on her. Nowadays, she only retained very little mana every day. In addition, with Locke unconscious, she did not dare to provoke even normal beasts like snow bears. Fortunately, her quick extinguishing of the fire and using snow to block the cave allowed them to barely avoid an attack from the bear.
While she couldn't start a fire with minimal materials like Locke, but she had her own way. She had mastered Illuminate, a spell which a beginner-rank Lehrling could easily learn. Not only could she use it to light up surroundings, she could also distract the enemies with it, raise the temperature, and even use it to start a fire.
Although the past month of wandering had taken her mind off learning magic, she felt that her knowledge of magic had deepened despite that.
The food she made was just ordinary grilled meat, as was nearly all the other meals they had this past half month. It didn't matter if they were sick of eating it; the most important thing was they at least had something to eat. Angelina would never forget the days when she could not find any food. She could only drink icy water while hugging the unconscious Locke to endure her hunger.
The meat was grilled exquisitely. Angelina had mastered her grasp on the heat and got at least half as good as Locke at grilling. She seasoned the meat with salt and spice powder they took with them. Fortunately, they still had more than half of their salt left.
The red powder was grounded from the firecloud fruit Locke found back then. Those fruits had helped a lot in Angelina's hunting. Each time she managed to get something from her hunt, it was thanks to using the fruits as bait.
Firecloud fruit was a spell catalyst. Although it ranked quite low, it was still quite attractive to some wild beasts. In addition, it was harder for animals to find food in winter. All she had to do was place the fruit inside a trap to attract some herbivorous animals. Of course, most of them were small animals like hares and squirrels.
Though, even hares alone were quite good. If they were lucky, one hare could last them for two to three days. The same couldn't be said for squirrels and mice though -- they were no bigger than the size of a palm, and it was only enough for one days. Both of them became thinner over the past half month as food was extremely difficult to find.
The aroma of the grilled meat quickly filled the cave. Angelina cleared her throat but did not rush to eat it. She waited until the meat was fully cooked before stopping, and used the snow beside to put out the bonfire without wetting it completely. The remaining heat given off by the bonfire was enough to warm the cave.
Angelina took the meat back to the quilt. She bit off a small piece of meat and chewed it carefully before swallowing it all while occasionally drinking melted snow water from the wooden container.
After eating a small portion of the meat, she stopped swallowing and started to pass on the chewed pieces of meat to Locke with her mouth. During the first two days, she was quite shy about it, but now, she couldn't care less anymore. He had taken care of her just like that too; now, it was her turn. It is only fair, she thought.
On the other hand, Locke still remained unconscious and didn't respond when Angelina fed him. She even had to push the pieces of food to the entrance of his throat with the tip of her tongue. Only then would his swallow reflex be triggered.
He also started to develop a foul musk, having not washed for the past half month. Even though Angelina used Cleanse on Locke every two days, the odour that smelled of maggots that fed off a corpse remained. Unfortunately, Cleanse only removed the dirt and particles on one's body and had zero effect in removing odour.
It was especially foul in Locke's mouth, which had not been cleaned for almost half a month. It was miraculous that the princess somehow convinced herself to go on.
After she pushed the last bit of meat into his mouth, she stopped feeding him and wiped off saliva with the back of her hand. As she looked at his lips which were bitten into redness, her face became red. After all, she was only a 16-year-old girl. Although doing this had become a norm for her, she still couldn't help but blush when she thought about it. She had even scolded herself for not protecting her modesty and shaming the Faustian royal family.
However, when she thought about how her life was saved by Locke, and the way he took care of her so far, she could bear with it. In the eyes of the public, Princess Angelina had always been smart, sensible, mature and noble since childhood. Even so, she was still pretty inexperienced in matters of life. Being saved by him broke the wall of ice around her and just like that, before she herself noticed, Locke already had a place in her heart.
After feeding Locke, Angelina tidied the cave up. She had gone out yesterday night and came back this morning. In total, she only had half a day of rest with no time left to clean. Angelina, who was a little bit of a clean freak, could tolerate her clothes and shoes being tattered, but not endure living in a pigsty.
After poking a hole in the wall of snow to let in some air, she sat down on the quilt with her legs crossed and began her daily meditation. Although she was powerless in the harsh snowy hills, she at least managed to survive half a month with Locke as a burden by relying on her spells.
The three spells she knew had been mastered perfectly by her. The handy Illuminate aside, she even found many other applications for Cleanse and Featherweight. She had to ensure that her mana did not wither or deplete. Additionally, during her free time and with Locke being out cold, if she did not spend her time on meditation to pass time, she might have gone crazy long ago.
It was already nighttime when she stopped meditating.
She got up and walked to Locke and stretched her hands into his clothes. After a short while of rummaging around, she took out a white, oval crystal core the size of a thumb.
The white core emitted a soft light in the darkness inside the cave. Angelina felt a faint warmth from the crystal.
It was a low-ranked core obtained from the dead moonlight wolf. Light-attribute cores were always valuable and rare. She had seen many middle and even high-ranked cores in her teacher's laboratory, but had never seen a light one like this. The rarity of light cores and their regenerative properties increased its value multiple fold.
After the core glowed for a while, it started to dim, which was the sign that the light essence within had depleted. During the day, the light core could absorb light essence from the surroundings while healing Locke's body. However, it was not possible during nighttime.
Angelina had to place the core close to the entrance of the cave so the moonlight could shine on it and charge it up quicker.
Not long after the core left Locke, he started to shiver, though even that was a precious sign that proved he was still alive.
If one was vigilant, they would notice that apart from a tattered clothing on Locke's body, there was also a blanket that was a patchwork quilt made from various kinds of animal fur. It was obvious that Angelina made it from the sewing work. The insulation provided by the fur was quite weak, and his feeble condition didn't help stave off the cold either.
As she looked at him trembling, she sighed and did something unexpected. She removed her own tattered clothing, exposing her bare body. The moment her fair skin was exposed, she immediately felt biting cold in the cave. Without further ado, she quickly bent over and snuggled against him under the fur quilt and their own clothes.
She laid on her side and faced Locke, looking at the man who was two years older than her. Although his current complexion was pale and his beard was getting thicker, she could still appreciate the hint of handsomeness on his face.
After she hugged him, he finally stopped shivering. Not only that, his hands even involuntarily moved to hug her tightly, and both of them fell asleep embracing each other.
She had done just that since the very first night after the light core stopped working during the night and had never regretted it since.