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Chapter 5:The Vanadis' Castle 
The Vanadis' Castle
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On the mountains northern Zhcted, snow is present all year round. Zhcted is surrounded by sea to the east, Muozinel to the south and Brune to the west. Zhcted has a cold climate with longer winters than other countries/kingdoms and is occasionally referred to as the “Land of Snow and Forests” due to the scattered coniferous forests. The country can produce apples and potatoes, catch fish from sea and has an abundance of gold and silver mines in the center of the kingdom.

Zhcted was formed around 300 years ago. More than fifty tribes were fighting to control a hegemony. The war lasted for more than a century and at least 30 tribes were destroyed or absorbed into others. Then one man casually appeared and declared himself as the incarnation of the Black Dragon. He became the king and as long as he remained, he would bring victory. Seven tribes believed his words and followed him while others mocked him. The seven tribes, as proof of their loyalty each presented a beautiful woman who excelled in martial skills and as a wife. To these 7, the king granted them a weapon called a Viralt (Dragonic Tool) and they would be then called as “Vanadis”.

Then the seven tribes led by the King, won the war by suppressing the other tribes/clans. The King continued to fight even after that, conquered neighboring countries and expanded his territory. Thus, the Kingdom of Zhcted was established. He made 7 Dukedoms within the kingdom and with the ability to collect taxes and various autonomous privileges, granted each to his wife.

No one was ranked above the Vanadis except the King and he declared before the Vanadis – “The Vanadis will offer fealty to the King, protect the King, and fight for the King. Do not forget it”. The candle near the King’s throne cast a dark shadow not of a human but a dragon.

Tigre, on the roof of the Imperial Palace, finishes reading the History of Zhcted. Since he is not familiar with the Zhcted writing, he had trouble reading it and it also used old words and terminology and more than half of the book was unreadable. When he asks Rurick for help, he informs him that he cannot not read it either and Tigre, who has received education to match the status of an Earl is better than him/most. Rurick tells him to try and ask Lim or Elen. He can see the tall trees and the flower beds from there. He spots the young dragon, Lunie, basking in the sun and he thinks that it is like a cat.

From the roof, Tigre spots Elen moving through the trees and going towards the rampart. Tigre informs Rurick that he will go to Elen and return to his room afterwards. After Rurick leaves, holding the history book jumps of the roof, and uses the branches of the trees to soften his fall, surprises the gardener. He approaches near Elen and calls out. Elen surprised blushes and with her face red stutters while responding.

Elen’s appearance is different, her hair is braided upto the nape of the neck, her hemp dress is clean, and her sword sheathed at her waist is covered inconspicuously by cloth. She looks like any girl on the street, except that she is very beautiful. Tigre tells her that he wanted to talk to her and spotted her. Elen then takes Tigre with her outside the Imperial Palace.

The Castle Town is about a half belsta (approx.. 500m) away from the rampart. There are stone houses and the streets are neatly paved with cobblestones and wide enough to allow a large wagon. Tigre comments that it is much busier than Nice, the Capital of Brune. Suddenly, girls of his age pass by laughing as they notice Tigre and comment about Elen and Tigre’s intimate relationship. Elen removes a leaf from Tigre’s hair, to show why they were laughed and ridiculed at and Tigre finally explains how he found her, prompting Elen to call him a monkey. Tigre then asks her why she snuck out of her house. Elen only replies that the answer is obvious. Tigre then buys two potatoes at a stand, using the money he won while betting with the soldiers. They sit beside each other near a flower bed while eating the potatoes. Elen then boasts how she choose good potatoes. Looking at children gathered around a puppeteer, Elen explains that the winters in Zhcted are very cold that sometimes reports are that people have frozen to deaths. Tigre wonders if Elen grew up in a small village as Elen seems to be reminiscing her past. Tigre then asks if she came to inspect the surrounding area of the castle. She tells him that it is one of her few pleasures to pretend to be a normal girl having fun. Elen throws away the clay bowl after eating and explains that there are people who collect such things and earn small change. Tigre compares it to Nice where it will be considered a disgraceful act. Elen asks if he wanted to talk something with her and points at the book Tigre is holding. He replies that it can be done later and Elen then tells him to accompany her till she is satisfied.

They look around various places and Tigre, who rarely left Alsace, finds it vibrant. Elen gives him rye-based alcohol which is not strong and even children can drink it. Tigre then eats at more food stalls asking Elen about the foods which are novel to him. Elen tells that it is his money and upto him on how to use it. She boasts that long ago she ate thirty potatoes with butter in an eating contest in the castle.

When Tigre jokes that she must be making the food in the kitchen disappear, she tells him that she did steal food once but since it was the “Eleonora-sama” that proudly and stealthily ate their foods, they bowed down respectfully. Tigre then wipes off the jam around Elen’s mouth which surprises her. Next she as well wipes the jam from Tigre’s mouth with a finger and licks it. This act makes Tigre look away shyly.

Elen then takes him to a shooting stand. The aim is to shoot and knock down the knight dolls (of different sizes and poses) with a cork-shooting toy crossbow and depending on the doll knocked different prizes are won. Elen asks for two large dolls and it has to be done within 4 shots. Tigre is not fond of using crossbows due to its mechanics but he is very enthusiastic to play. With the first shot he determines the trajectory as it hits the head of the doll and bounces over the curtain. With the second direct hit, the doll shakes but doesn’t fall. While Elen is disappointed Tigre realizes that Elen hasn’t noticed the support behind the doll. He shoots the third cork shot through the feet of the doll and the cork rebounds off the stand wall and hits the doll, the doll getting pushed from behind falls forward. The stall owner gets annoyed and declares Tigre’s shot as invalid as it has hit from behind, Tigre ignores him. Tigre’s fourth shot hits the second doll from the side and the doll falls down. Tigre whispers to the stall owner that he only wants these two which he has won. Tigre tells him that to let him off with the dolls and he won’t make a fuss about the cheating. The stall owner is surprised that Tigre could figure it out in just 1 or 2 shots. Tigre tells him that such things are done everywhere.

Tigre wins the prizes, a large stuffed bear and a purple decorated ribbon. He puts the large bear and his history book into a sack and Elen puts the ribbon in her hair. The purple ribbon suits her white hair very well and Tigre compliments her while feeling mortified of the ordinary words of compliment. However, the compliment makes Elen blush while saying that she never much interest in these things and also since she always came alone, she finds it better to come with someone occasionally. Elen tells Tigre that the stuffed animal is for Lim which surprises Tigre completely. She tells that Lim will yell at them when they get back, but the gift will make her mood better as it worked when Elen gave Lim a stuffed animal before.


Highlighted NotesEdit


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