647 I Don't Feel Cold At All
When King Armen came back to his assigned chamber, Drayce was able to sense his return. He began to calculate in his head, wondering about the distance where his powers were blocked as well as whether he should converse with King Armen about the ‘others’ he had gone to visit.
‘Their reigns coincided at some point. Surely, King Armen knows the appearance of Queen Esther Ivanov of Megaris. So if I ask him whether he met a woman who looked like my mother…but what if she used a spell to change her appearance? He would not be able to recognize her—’
Amidst his thoughts, Seren stirred in bed, causing Drayce to divert his attention back to his wife. He could only let things go. If his mother had truly come, he would get to know sooner or later.
“Good morning, Dray,” she said as the first thing she saw the moment she opened her eyes was him. However, it took her some time to realize they were in an unfamiliar place.
“Good morning, Seren. Did you rest well?” he asked, his fingers gently brushing her hair away from her face. He smiled down at her, looking completely fine, as there was nothing that bothered him mere seconds ago.
“How long have I been asleep? Were you able to sleep?”
Drayce playfully poked her forehead, not answering her. “You sound impatient. Are you perhaps hungry?”
She threw an annoyed glare his way as she wrapped her hands around his guilty finger.
“I’m not. Just that, I don’t feel comfortable.” Though the chamber was not small, the fact that there was nothing but rocks around her felt constricting. “How long are we going to stay here, doing nothing inside these stone chambers, not knowing who and why they brought us here? Maybe we should ask Martha.”
Her eyes held both worry and impatience in them.
“Soon, we will know why you have been brought to this place. Be patient and do not worry about anything.”
Since Drayce seemed to trust King Armen and the people ‘protecting’ her, she said nothing more and simply nodded.
After everyone freshened up, Martha came to them, leading them to a different stone chamber where rather simple meal had been arranged for them. All the passengers of the boat were present, but there was still not a hint of even a single shadow of the people ‘protecting’ Seren.
There were six plates set on the table, but only four of them ate: King Armen, Yorian, Drayce and Seren. The two knights escorting them refused to eat with them, insisting on standing guard inside the dining room, despite Martha telling them there was nothing for them to do inside that cave.
Yorian and Drayce talked while Seren focused on eating despite her lack of appetite.
“King Drayce, I have been feeling the energy of supernatural beings since earlier. Did you feel them as well?”
Drayce nodded. “At least one of them is powerful enough to block my powers from reaching them.”
“Oh, is that so? Were you able to check what race they belong to? I sensed someone using a water attribute magic. It was familiar and felt like—”
Just then, they heard Martha speak. Seren happened to have finished her meal.
“Your Majesty Queen Seren, if you are done eating, may I trouble you to follow me?”
Drayce looked at them, only to meet Martha’s gaze. “Of course, Your Majesty King Drayce must come as well.”
Drayce turned towards Yorian, who nodded to say that he should go and they could continue talking later. He then made a silent gesture at Slayer, telling him to stay put and there was no need to follow them.
King Armen did not say a single word as he watched the young couple follow Martha out of the dining room. He was aware where these two were headed.
‘It was finally time for these two to meet their mothers.’
He wished everything would go well.
King Armen saw Martha led their way towards a different passage connected to the huge cave. It was not the same one he took to meet Sierra and Esther. He wondered where they were taken.
‘Maybe the place prepared to suppress that cursed power.’
Drayce and Seren silently walked down the long, empty pathway seemingly carved out of the cave wall. The further they walked inside, the darker the place seemed. Fortunately, Martha was carrying a torch with her, and Seren had been holding onto Drayce’s hand firmly the entire time; otherwise, she might have been unable to stop the terror in her heart to resurface.
A cold, cramped place, shadows everywhere…
Soon, they reached the end of that pathway, causing Seren to let out a small relieved sigh. However, she celebrated too soon. Rather than their destination, the small dome-shaped room was more like an antechamber leading elsewhere.
Seren observed that place carefully. Other than having lamps, the place was empty. Also, this stone antechamber felt cold and dry, as if this part of the cave system was far from the river.
To her surprise, Seren, who didn’t like the cold, was not shivering. Was it her imagination? Rather than a chill, the cold felt… comforting?
She belatedly realized it had been a long time since she complained about the cold. Even during the boat ride yesterday, she didn’t feel chilly, which was a direct contrast to how she felt whenever she rode a boat on the crystal lake back in the Royal Palace of Megaris.
At first, she attributed it to her getting used to the climate of Blackhelm, but that did not seem to be the case. It was abnormal how the once comfortable warmth of Abetha seemed distressing these days, and she was starting to long for the crisp cold evenings of Megaris.
‘Is something wrong with my body?’
“Your Majesty, you have to wear this before going ahead,” she heard Martha say as she handed a thick folded fabric towards the young woman. It was a winter coat.
Drayce took the coat from Martha and gestured for Seren to extend her arms. “Let me help you.”
He helped Seren wear the coat, even pulling the fur-lined hood over her head and securing it with a knot under her chin. Martha also prepared a pair of long boots for her. Drayce kneeled to help her put on those boots and Seren gladly accepted the help from her husband.
As she looked at her kneeling husband, she asked, “Why do I feel like I’m dressed like the knights meant to patrol the northern regions?”
She was referring to the thick cloaks she had seen others wear back in Megaris, those heading for the expeditions of the snow-capped mountains further north. They were considerably bulkier than ordinary winter coats.
“You might not be wrong, my Queen,” he said with a hidden smile and secured the boots with the laces.
Drayce also wore a coat. Only after she had made sure the couple was aptly dressed did Martha guide their way once more. She led them towards a door that appeared out of nowhere on the other end of the antechamber. “Please go ahead, Your Majesties.”
The moment it opened, bright light could be seen coming out from the other side of the door. Drayce and Seren walked through the door and the door disappeared once again into the stone wall.
It startled Seren. “We can still leave this place, right?”
“It’s fine,” Drayce reassured his wife, and then they took a good look around their surroundings.
Blindingly white, as if they had stepped into a white canvas.
It was an ice cave.
Drayce and Seren found themselves in the middle of a large cavern, the ground covered with ankle-deep snow and the walls layered with frost. Icicles could be seen hanging from the ceiling, and surprisingly, what they thought was sunlight were actually small stones emitting glows attached on the walls. They gave off no warmth, only pure illumination.
‘Enchanted items?’ Drayce rubbed Seren’s hand gently and checked the red stone bracelet in her wrist, the jewelry he gave her to protect her from cold. “Are you feeling cold?”
Seren shook her head. “It’s surprisingly bearable? In fact, I feel comfortable.” She decided to tell Drayce her guess. “I think I got used to the cold after staying in Megaris for the last few months.”
“It can be possible.”
Seren tilted her head. “But I realized it didn’t seem normal. It’s one thing to not be bothered by the cold, but I feel like…like I’m in the middle of summer. I no longer feel cold no matter how I’m dressed. It is strange, like I am running a fever, but my body temperature is normal.”
Drayce stayed quiet as he gently squeezed her hand. He was thinking something but didn’t wish to say it to her. ‘Seems like that Fire sealed inside her is starting to act up already without us noticing.’
“What are you thinking, Dray?”
“I was thinking it’s good that you are adapting well to the cold.”
Just then, the door appeared on the wall once more, and two figures entered that ice cave, two women wearing white hooded robes.