There were wagons and horses tied to a tree and a crowd of ten people or so were gathered and were busy talking to each other. Most of them were wearing plain civilian clothes but they could spot a few mercenaries hired as escorts standing not too far from the group.
Senia, who couldn’t just pass by, naturally stopped next to them and asked what was happening,
“Excuse me. Is there a problem?”
A middle-aged man, who seemed to be the oldest, sighed seeing the newcomers,
“Ah, you’re a priest. We are indeed in problem as our four months of hardship ended up in vain.”
“May I ask why?”
“If by telling you, we’ll eventually get the blessing of God, then I will. You see, we are servants of the Great Merchant Farhu on the west continent. I came all the way here half a year ago to get medicine for Farhu who get sick.”
“If it’s medicine…”
“We are looking for water that has been purified by unicorn horn. It’s a special water that is known to have been purified by a single touch of the unicorn’s horn. It is a great medicine to purify all kinds of diseases and poisons in the body.”
Senia’s eyes sparkled at the man’s explanation.
“Aren’t they species that is said to be extinct? It must have been hard to locate them.”
“Which is why I buy any information I can get without caring about the price. We’ve recently confirmed that unicorns come to this forest to drink the water here.”
“Wow, I haven’t seen a unicorn before. Are they just as beautiful as the rumour?”
“Yes. But it has been hard…”
The man let out another sigh at the reminder that he hadn’t found the rare species. He carefully approached Senia and held his hands in prayer,
“…and you are here. This must be a sign from the sun god! Please priest you must help me!”
“Would you go into the forest and get some purified water from the unicorn? It’s not difficult at all and if you are here this must be what God has planned for me!”
Carr’s face-hardened hearing the man’s plea. He quickly tried to stop Senia, but of course, she accepted the man’s request without hesitating.
“All right. It’s indeed a priest’s job to help those in need.”
At those words, the people cheered and Senia just tilted her head slightly, wondering why they were so happy about the simple request.
On the other hand, Carr, who was standing behind him, groaned in agony while rubbing his forehead. Some people said that ignorance could be bliss but at this moment he thought that it was poison.
“What a relief! The young lady, who originally wanted to help to retrieve the purified water, ran away with our coachman. So, this is just amazing!”
“You said it wasn’t difficult, so why is she running away?”
“Well, it is nothing difficult, the unicorn only gives purified water to a maiden request.”
The simple sentence enough to make all blood left Carr’s body. He easily stepped forward, hiding Senia’s behind his body.
“We’re actually quite busy here. Can’t you just get a substitute from the town?”
“We want to do that but there’s no guarantee that we won’t miss the unicorn if we go to the town first. Unicorns never return to the same lake unless it’s their territory.”
“We are sorry to bother the priest. However, there is nothing dangerous in doing this. Of course, you will be rewarded generously.”
Looking at all the expectant eyes made it difficult for Senia to bring up the words that she couldn’t do it. She bit her lower lips, shrugging her shoulder slightly.
“It’s okay, I’ll try to do it…”
She mumbled, looking away from the expectant eyes while Carr let out another frustrated groan.
After walking for half an hour, following the guidance of a young man, they finally reached the lake. Senia, who for the first time, able to take time and enjoy the forest was busy looking around and taking the beautiful sight when sunlight came down through the leave. The lake that brightly shimmers because the sun, mirrored the blue light of the sky was breathtaking.
Carr, who has travelled to many forests, couldn’t help but agree. He has rarely seen such a clear lake. He looked around and noticed Senia kneeling to pray.
“You just need to wait for her, and you will see the unicorn. For your information, you can’t have dark thoughts. Unicorns able to read people’s thoughts and they are very sensitive to that.”
“Are you going to stay here?”
“Yes, don’t worry. I won’t mess things up.”
“Then, I’ll trust the two of you.”
The young man said before he stepped back, leaving Senia and Carr alone. Originally, the young man was assigned to stay with the maiden to keep an eye on her, but right now the person that helping them was a priest which made him trust the two.
After the man disappeared, Senia moves to a flat stone near the lake, staring blankly at the water. On the other side, rabbits and deer came through the fog bowing their neck to drink – not afraid that they would be attacked.
“Ah…. I’m in trouble.”
Senia smiled as her eyes fixed on the peaceful scene in front of her. Carr, who was standing not far, looked up at her.
“I never thought that the fact that I’m no longer a maiden would be a hindrance. Should I be honest now?”
She glanced at Carr, embarrassed about the situation that she was in. Carr shook his head at the question. He was worried about the outcome if Senia told those people about the truth.
Those people only need the horn and Carr was willing to cut it from the unicorn to protect Senia’s circumstance. He had done that in the past and he had no second thought to do it again, so it wasn’t a difficult thing. There’s also the fact that the image of Arte and Lu running after him, intending to murder him was enough to give him chills.
‘Yes, it is better to cut the horn rather than let rumour circulating.’
“Sir Carr, you said you made a living by hunting monster, right? Have you ever hunted sacred beasts?”
Sacred beasts were technically different from monsters but in the eyes of ordinary humans, they were the same thing. After all, parts of the body of sacred beasts were also used as valuable material.
However, unlike monsters, the numbers of sacred beasts were very limited – they were considered endangered and they didn’t bring any harm to humans. It is the reason why some cities had banned any hunting for sacred beasts.
Carr nodded his head at the question. It was something that he wasn’t proud of, but he didn’t want to lie to Senia.
Senia asked, not even changing her curious expression when she learnt what Carr had done to survive.
Carr nodded again at the question, dreaded that Senia would lecture him about his life choices but there was only silence coming from Senia.
“I apologize if it made you uncomfortable.”
Senia smiled slightly seeing the stiffness on Carr’s shoulder,
“I’m just curious and Sir Carr can’t talk about yourself normally.”
Carr shook his head, telling Senia that it wasn’t something that bothered him – after all, sooner or later she would know about that.
“Oh, then do you know any other way to get purified water?” Senia blinked, asking the question seriously.
‘Well, I know how… but…’
It involved cutting the horn from the unicorn directly and Carr knew Senia wouldn’t approve of that method. It was the reason why he was standing a bit far away from Senia, so when the unicorn came it wouldn’t be able to reach the hostility from him.
Senia blinked few times, noticing the sudden stiffness and judging that Carr who didn’t shake his head at the question he seemed to know that there was indeed another way, but he wasn’t keen to share it with her.
“Is it because either one of you will get hurt?”
Senia guessed and chuckled when Carr gave her an affirmative to that question.
As they wait, small animals continued to come to the lake to drink. There were even wild boars and bears but none of them try to attack Senia – actually, they didn’t even show any interest toward her.
It was a peaceful time that Senia could forget about the travel and her worries. She closed her eyes slightly, enjoying the cold wind and the sound of nature around her until a clear echo, violin-like, reached her ears. Senia opened her eyes and glanced at Carr before the two turned toward the other side of the lake.
In a distance, a white horse slowly walked toward the lake. Ivory horns sticking out in the middle of its forehead and eyes as black as the night sky contrasting its pristine glossy coat.
Senia rose from her seat as if enchanted and her heart pounding loudly at the sight of the sacred beast for the first time.
She carefully made her way closer to the unicorn and as she reached out, the unicorn pushed the tip of its nose nuzzling her hand. However, as quickly as the unicorn pressed its nose to Senia’s hand, it pulled away.
[Whoa….wait! You’re not a virgin?! With that innocent face? Is there something wrong?]
A strange voice directly echoed inside Senia’s mind. She blinked a few times wondered if her ears playing a trick on her, but the voice came again.
[Moreover, isn’t that a priest outfit? I can tell that you have divinity…. But you’re not a virgin? I must check this myself; can you roll up your skirt?]
“S-Sir Carr! Is unicorn originally an animal that can communicate? There’s a lot of rude comments coming out from its mouth!”