"...... The legends of the Green Folk of the forest have a long history, and the mountain folk of Manoweirl and the Lantonilan region refer to them as the Treetop People. Some say they are descended from the Miirnas, and after the War of the Holy Saints, a portion of the Miirnas did travel the route we pass through today to avoid the middle of the Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth. They went over the Falling Needle Hills Avenue, out to sea from the area of today's Silver Pine Coast, and headed north, never to be seen again."
"No one knows where they ended up, but some say that the Miirnas of the forest split in two back then and that the leader of the group who led them was unwilling to give up his worldly power and coaxed a group of them to stay. These descendants came with predictable results, and the horses that remained became the Green Folk that followed. But they had assimilated into the forest - cheeks like the grain of the wood, dull eyes sunk deep in, and bodies covered in roots. And they always wandered the forest, regretting the decisions they had made day after day. "
"The dark magic turns this regret into resentment, and they are like heartless ghosts lost in this forest, killing all the creatures they meet. Most of these Mirrnas who remain are noble among the Mirrnas, and they are adept at using language to confuse people, especially when that language contains the magic of the forest. Many who have seen them go on to never return."
The young prince was the only one who huddled in a corner, shivering from what he had heard. He intended on going away and not listening, but he could not resist his curiosity.
“Where are the Miirnas who left?” Medissa was a little curious. She put a dead branch into the campfire, the brightening up of the fire reflected the redness of her face.
Brendel picked up the roasted fish from the campfire and tossed it over to the side of Haruz, and the young prince froze, unconsciously reaching out to catch it and throwing it away with an ‘ouch’. Then he reacted and hurriedly grabbed the wooden stick to pick it up, but was somewhat at a loss for words as he stared at the mud and snow dust that was smeared all over the grilled fish.
Brendel sighed and shook his head. He handed the other grilled fish to Maynild beside him, who reached out to take the grilled fish from the young prince's hand before replacing it with the one she received.
"Thank you ......" Haruz muttered quietly, with his face blushing like an apple.
"To take on responsibility, Your Highness, you must first learn to overcome your fears." Maynild reminded him, "The world is full of legends, but Your Highness you are long past the age of believing in bedtime stories."
“I am… I am not afraid." Haruz stared at the grilled fish in his hand, a little aggrieved, "Because my sister said that Lord Marsha would shelter every one of her people ......"
This reason to comfort himself made Laurenna on the other side of the room giggle, "Prince, you're so cute." She replied with some amusement.
Brendel shook his head, he really could not expect much more from this prince, at least these days he had become much more independent than before. He would not have dared to say what he was thinking in front of so many people if it was before, so this was at least an improvement. So he went on to answer Medissa's question, "Those Mirrnas went over the Falling Needle Hill Avenue, and some were seen going out to sea from the area around today's Silver Pine Coast, but it was just too long ago. Instead, the souls of those dead Mirrna ancestors still linger in the Gorge of the Ancient Days, north of the Falling Needle Hills Avenue, and pieces of shipwrecks are often recovered from the ocean floor in that area."
“What about the knights who have lost heart?” I've heard similar legends like that." Laurenna asked, every day these days Brendel had told them many tales of this forest. It seemed to her that there was nothing that this Count Trentheim would have not known.
“The knights who have lost heart? That’s another story-” Brendel was about to open his mouth when an almost mournful wail from the distant forest interrupted him, a sound that rose and fell beneath the forest beneath the silver moon, almost like a wolf howling. But Brendel heard it, it was a human voice, a woman's voice.
The young prince shuddered with fear, while everyone turned back in that direction at the same time, the sound coming from the south of the camp, in the direction of the hunters' original camp.
With a 'clatter', someone suddenly rushed out of the bushes, and it was Scarlet, who was carrying a spear. She looked at Brendel somewhat at a loss for words, but the latter already understood, "What's happened?"
"She ran out ......" the young mountain woman replied in a whisper.
"Ran out?" Brendel was slightly startled, "You didn't stop her?"
"But she said she was going to find her brother."
"Her brother? Is her brother among those hunters?"
Scarlet shook her head slightly, indicating she wasn't sure.
The second time Brendel had seen the female hunter was when he was in that hunter's camp during the day, when she was kneeling in the snow, sobbing quietly. The young girl had long, thick, dark brown hair that fell over her shoulders, slightly curled, and was gorgeous. She was wearing a thick hunter's leather outfit, but the longbow and quiver of arrows on her lanyard had been nowhere to be found long before she was found, and the bare skin around her hands and neck was somewhat dark, somewhat like Sue, who looked no more than sixteen or seventeen years old, but was much more mature than Maynild or even Freya.
The young female hunter was lying on the edge of a hole that had been dug in the snow, her hands gripping the frozen earth, making an almost beastly whimpering sound, which gradually turned into a low wail. Freya, who was beside Brendel, was somewhat unbearable at this sight and walked over to help the other girl up, but Brendel stopped her. He looked at the body of the hunter that had been re-excavated from the pit and asked back, "Is her brother in there?"
Maynild shook her head gently, "The bodies buried earlier were identified by her, there were no remains of her brother in them. The surrounding woods have been searched as well, and no trace has been found."
"Which means her brother might still be alive?"
"Not necessarily, or maybe the corpse was taken by a wild animal in the forest. Or maybe like the corpse we encountered earlier, it fled further away to die." The female knight was not optimistic.
Brendel nodded slightly, acknowledging the speculation. But also added, "We can't rule out the possibility of him being taken away, as Arreck will always need a guide."
Maynild did not reply.
"Brendel?" Freya, however, looked at the girl kneeling in the snow with some concern, she was worried about the other girl's wounds, not to mention that she still had a high fever. Although there was Hippamila, the sacrifice of the mountain, in the team, only the Great Priest Farnezain was good at dispelling diseases, and it was a very dangerous thing for a wound to become inflamed in such an environment.
But Brendel took a look at the young girl and replied softly, "Let her let it out for a while, her brother may not be dead, but a normal person would not be able to handle such a big shock. At least let her calm herself down first."
Freya pursed her lips lightly, she had a large part of her sympathy for the other woman stemming from her own experiences. The humiliation and powerlessness of that night in Bucce as she watched her loved ones fall deep into the fire and her former home burnt to the ground. It was hard for a normal person who had not been through it to relate.
But she thought of her own experience at the Royal Cavalry Academy - one has to rely on their own in order to overcome certain difficulties, and it was Brendel who had taught her that. So she stopped and looked at the other in silence.
Fortunately, the female hunter was much stronger than anyone thought, she suppressed her voice for a while as she wept in the snow. Then silence fell upon her. It was only after a while that she got up and wiped her tears. The appearance of the female hunter who had collected her out-of-control emotions startled everyone. She did not have that admirable beauty about her, but her dark eyes were like those of a female beast, filled with the light of untamed wildness.
"Thank you for saving me." Her voice was a little hoarse, it was not hoarse from crying but it was how her natural voice was. But just like what Brendel said, she had calmed down slightly after saying that, and she asked softly in a raspy voice, "May I ask you, knight lords, are you going into the Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth?"
All eyes turned to Brendel.
Brendel, on the other hand, retorted, "I would like to know what kind of thinking led you to ask that question."
"If I say that I can act as a guide for your lordships, may I ask if you will bring me along, Sir?" The female hunter immediately stared at him closely in question, her eyes full of hope, and though she tried to remain calm, her unavoidable hint of nervousness was present as she was afraid of Brendel’s refusal.
Brendel was slightly startled, although he had expected this. But he had heard Maynild and the others relay this female hunter's exact words before, saying that it was the reluctance of the hunters to enter the Stained Frost Forest that caused Arreck to kill them that day, and he had not expected her to take the initiative to make this request at this moment.
"That said, but you want to run into the forest to find your brother right?" He asked.
The female hunter hesitated, but finally nodded, "Yes, I don't want to hide anything from you, my lord. Dead or alive, at least I want to see my brother's body." Brendel was pleased with her honesty, but still asked, "But we are in a hurry, and you are wounded, will you be able to keep up with us?"
"I can! This little wound is nothing to us hunters!" The female hunger immediately answered aloud but induced a cough.
"Have you ever entered the Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth?"
"No, Lord Knight, but my father had entered the Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth three times in his lifetime. He was the only one of the hunters around the Shallow Water Town to return alive from the forest, but his companion who entered the forest with him stayed there." The female hunter paused here as if remembering something unpleasant from the past. "For that reason, he was secretly called the cursed one by those people, and after my father's death, Yaruta and I were ostracized by the hunters of the town."
She sighed grudgingly, "Before this entry into the forest, the nobles offered great prices, and many hunters were tempted. But the patron needed someone who knew the north side of the Anserra Forest well enough, and in the Shallow Water Town, such people would be my brother and I-"
"I had thought that with this money, I would be able to leave here with my brother and head to Karsuk. But I didn't expect ......" the female hunter's eyes became red and she hurriedly wiped them with her hand.
"Your brother may not be dead, so don't feel overly sad yet, it's unlikely that Arreck killed everyone. By the way, you should be familiar with the hunters in the town, have you counted the bodies, less those people?"
“Arreck?" The young woman was slightly startled before she realized what Brendel meant, "I counted three people missing."
"Two, plus your brother." Brendel hesitated, that was a bit too many. If Arreck needed a guide, in fact, two people would be perfectly sufficient. He did not say those words though, he looked at the female hunter, "What is your name?"
"My name is Peya, my lord. My father's name is Tycho, he's a slightly well-known hunter in the Shallow Water Town, and my brother's name is Yaruta, he's only fifteen." The female hunter immediately introduced herself humbly.
But Brendel did not really care about her self-introduction, he asked seriously, "You think about it, Peya. You're with us, and even though you might run into your brother, I may not allow you to move freely when that time comes." To the others, it seemed like a different person to Brendel at the moment, but they did not know that this was due to Brendel's habits as the head. The Stained Frost Forest Labyrinth was not an entry-level quest in the game, not to mention that in the game, players could start over, and here they would not have the chance to do it again. And so he would never allow an unsettling element in the team. "Remember, you are joining us as a guide, not for us to take you to save your brother."
Peya looked like she was struggling, but the fact that Brendel was saying this backfired on her, at least there was no need for her to make such a promise if she was just being tricked into being a guide. Eventually, she nodded a bit and raised her hand to swear, "I know, Sir. I swear on my dead father's honor that I will keep my promise at this moment."
With that, Brendel nodded.
As if showing a look of relief, Freya on the side rushed over to help the female hunter up from among the snow. Brendel turned around, he did not actually need a guide, but he did not want to break Freya's heart.
Besides, if he left the female hunter alone, he might have been overwhelmed as well.