Asha managed to come to her senses and hastened to gather herbs to help him heal and grass the horses could eat.
She went to the nearby shore and drew up cold water with a large leaf.
As soon as she returned to the cave, she carefully opened Sheppy’s wound.
The bleeding wasn’t as much as before, but blood was still oozing from the open wound.
Asha crushed the herbs with a clean washed stone and placed it on his wound, then tore her dress again and wrapped it around the wound.
She tried his best to focus to the point where a cold sweat broke out on her forehead.
There must have been an uproar over her disappearance, but now she couldn’t think of anything else but to save Sheppy.
Although Sheppy couldn’t talk, he always understood how she felt.
Sheppy could tell right away when she wasn’t happy the few times they met at the Imperial Palace.
He would immediately tell what was troubling her, if she was fine or sad just by looking at her face…
Asha dampened the rest of the dress with water and carefully wiped down Sheppy’s body.
Sheppy’s smooth body was wet with sweat and blood from trying so hard to escape with her.
When she realized that he had come to the imperial palace to look for her even though he was a wandering horse, and had come to save her, tears rolled down her cheeks.
Asha tilted her head back for a moment, forced back her tears, and poured water into Sheppy’s mouth to moisten his dry mouth.
She took care of Sheppy without a break.
She thought that it would have been nice if her healing power would also work for Sheppy…
Asha clasped her hands and prayed reverently to the god Etzheim desperately.
Please save Sheppy…….
Although she escaped, she wished that the god who loved everyone in the Etzheim Empire would also hear her prayers.
She arrived here at noon when she left the temple, and the sun was setting outside the cave as she treated Sheppy.
At the same time, rain began to fall from the gloomy sky.
Asha could breathe a sigh of relief at that moment.
It was lucky that it was raining.
The rain would wash away Sheppy’s tracks, so the knights wouldn’t be able to find them easily.
It was safe for now.
I wonder if Jackal and the others are safe…
Smoke bombs exploded and a commotion began in the temple as if it had been planned.
The moment Karaf yelled that it was a minority act, she knew.
The Lycaons came to save her.
She and Sheppy escaped safely, but she was worried about Jackal and the other members, indeed they were hiding somewhere right now.
But until they found this place, she could only hide and wait.
As the forest went completely dark, Sheppy’s breathing became steady.
Only then did Asha build a small fire inside the cave and fill her stomach with the fruits she collected from the forest earlier.
Then she forced herself to lie down on the ground, thinking that she needed to replenish her energy a bit.
Her dress was now torn and tattered like rags.
The dress was now so short that her thighs were showing and it didn’t help with the cold, but Asha was so nervous all day that she fell right next to Sheppy as soon as she lay on the ground.
* * * * *
“…… Where the hell is boss?”
Gabe muttered with a worried face.
He sent his hawk, but his hawk didn’t come back, and Jackal and Asha are missing.
Sosa also said this with a worried expression on his face.
“If they managed to escape, they will contact us soon. Let’s wait a little longer.”
“How is the situation on the knight’s side?”
“I don’t think any knights have returned to the Imperial Palace yet. They’re probably looking for boss with eyes burning with fury.”
“We have to find them first……”
Gabe frantically paced back and forth, anxiously awaiting his hawk. But then, a hawk flew up in the night sky with the sound of flapping wings.
“Here it is!”
Gabe’s face lit up.
He reached out with one arm, and his falcon perched on it, then gently caressed his wet body with his opposite, leather-gloved hand.
“Did you find Boss and Asha?”
The hawk nodded once, then flew up into the sky again.
Gabe said, looking back at everyone.
“Let’s go right now!”
* * * * *
At dawn, Asha woke up suddenly thirsty.
The silhouette of a man came into view in the light of the small fire.
Asha’s eyes gradually focused and the man’s figure became clear. Her eyes widened.
Suddenly, in front of her was Jackal, naked…
Asha wanted to scream but barely covered her mouth.
Her heart was pounding.
Fortunately, Jackal’s important lower part was covered with a cloth, but she didn’t understand the situation at all.
Why is Jackal here…..?
Asha looked at him blankly.
Jackal’s hair was much longer since the last time she saw him. His long blue-gray hair, like a wild horse, was scattered on the ground, and his bangs, drenched in cold sweat, ran down his forehead.
However, the darkness under his eyes and lips due to the bloodshed had a completely different atmosphere.
Sheppy’s blue-gray hair, blue eyes, and even the position of the wound…
As soon as all the pieces were put together, Asha’s hands trembled in surprise.
No way, Jackal is Sheppy……?
A piece of cloth from her dress bandaged his wound, but Asha could not bear to touch his body again.
But then Jackal sensed movement, and immediately frowned slightly.
Asha was surprised by that small reaction and froze in place.
After frowning several times, he slowly opened his eyes.
Asha was looking at him with a shocked expression right in front of him.
His eyes widened and he held out his hand.
A hoarse, cracked voice came out of his throat.
He was very embarrassed.
As he lost consciousness, it seemed that he had inadvertently unleashed his transformation.
In response, a look of sadness flashed across his face.
While quietly lowering her outstretched hand and lowering her head, Asha said with a trembling voice.
“Answer my question first. Since the day we met on the snowy mountain… Were you Sheppy?”
Jackal pursed his lips and answered honestly.
“…… I’m sorry for deceiving you until now.”
He couldn’t even lift his head.
Asha stared at him without saying a word.
His fever rose again, his face red and his breathing quickened.
But Jackal made no more excuses.
His mane-like hair ran down the sides of his face helplessly.
He vowed to confess his identity to Asha if he succeeded in escaping, but he never dreamt that it would be revealed in this way.
He felt hopeless.
But then, Asha spoke calmly.
“…… It was reckless.”
Jackal raised his sweaty face.
“Did you purposely transform into a horse to get me out of the Imperial Palace?”
The look on her face was sorrowful and serious.
Asha seemed to be overwhelmed with emotion beyond words.
The Lycaons had infiltrated the temple for the sole purpose of rescuing her.
Jackal, not forgetting her, risked his life to protect her from the tyrant until the end.
He spoke earnestly, looking at Asha with eager eyes.
“I promised to protect you from the emperor. But I could not……. I haven’t been able to sleep a single day since I let you go like this. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could remember is your face saying goodbye to me……”
Jackal took a deep breath looking to the sides.
“…… Maybe you won’t trust me anymore. Like you said before, you may never see the horse again.”
….I think your master hates me. I may never see you again.
Asha recalled what she had said to Sheppy before.
“But don’t even think about going back to the Imperial Palace. I’ll take responsibility and get you out of here. Don’t worry about Lycaon, from now on, only think of you. This is my last request as your captain.”
Jackal finished speaking and tried to get up, but then he grabbed his side and fell to the ground.
As he lowered his head while moaning, blood spurted out of the cloth Asha had used to stop his bleeding.
But at that moment, her white hand touched the back of his dark hand.
Jackal’s eyes widened slightly and he raised his head again.
Before he knew it, it looked like Asha was about to cry.
Jackal’s eyes wobbled at the sight.
He wondered why she didn’t avoid him after learning his secret. Also, why is she making that expression to the person who deceives her?
Not understanding, he went blank.
Asha ripped the hem of her already tattered one again and wrapped it silently over his bleeding wound.
Jackal muttered involuntarily.
“You… don’t hate me?”
They were strange words that he didn’t know if he was talking to himself or asking.
Asha said, looking at his wound.
“…… I don’t hate you. Because no creature understood me as well as Sheppy. Besides, no one cared about me as much as you…..”
Asha didn’t avoid him.
That fact alone made Jackal extremely touched.
She’s the only woman who knows his hidden secret and doesn’t avoid him.
Jackal was convinced that she was the only woman in the world who could accept him as he is. So he didn’t want to miss out on it anymore.
He didn’t want to lose the woman he loved who was right in front of his eyes, like a fool again.
Inadvertently, his heart swelled like a torrent, but he did not want to forget this emotion.
He wanted to be greedy ….. For once.
Jackal slowly raised a hand.
Then, he handed Asha’s hair, which was dripping with sweat, behind her ears.
As she looked at him, her eyes widened slightly, Jackal looked into them and said earnestly.
“You said this back then. You want to see the world I see.”
…… I want to see the world you see.
Recalling what she had said to Sheppy before, Asha swallowed.
“I wanted to show you a free and happy world without worries and difficulties……. And that became my life’s purpose before I knew it.”
Asha’s heart started pounding.