Skogul could not help frowning the moment the spirit touched her lips. She was not used to drinking, but drinking that bitter spirit was necessary to withstand the extreme cold. Taking one after another, her body was gradually warmed by the alcohol. At that time, the bedridden Geironul muttered, “Skogul...”
Skogul and her sister Geironul had been hiding their real identity from the very beginning. Their motherland had been vanquished by the Demons’ invasion. Her uncle brought them here to live in relative seclusion, and to stay far away from war. After he had died, her sister became the guardian warrior of the village. As for Skogul, she inherited her uncle’s job as a doctor in the village. During early winter, the village had been raided by roving bandits; Geironul maintained the village's peace, successfully stopped the assault at the entrance of the village alone. Yet, her task had left her severely injured, and semi-conscious throughout winter.
“Sis, get some rest. I’ll be right back.”
Wrapping an overcoat around herself, Skogul went out into the chilly street, and walked towards the town center alone. The lifeless village stood stiffly against the wintry winds. People did not only stay indoors to escape the cold, the war had also caused a sense of lethargy among the people. They all stayed indoors for the war had taken away their liveliness.
Skogul knocked on the village chief’s door. The woman who answered it was visibly surprised by Skogul’s presence; she exclaimed, “She’s here!” The woman then led Skogul inside, where the crowd standing around the old village chief’s desk turned to gaze at Skogul.
“Chief, has the medicine arrived...” Seeing the unhappiness in the village chief’s expression, Skogul ceased what she was going to say. Confused, she asked, “What happened?”
“My Princess your highness! I sincerely apologize for yelling at you in the past!” “Your highness! Please help me find my son! I have heard no news from him since he enlisted in the army two years ago. Please, help me!” In the past, the people had not known Skogul’s real identity. They thought that she, like them, was just another displaced citizen of a defunct country. No one had ever thought that she was a noble princess. Now, encircled by the agitated masses, Skogul had to pacify the crowd despite she herself being perplexed. It was then the village chief halted the people in his sternest voice, “Enough!”
He limped towards Skogul with a cane, and the young maiden hurriedly stepped forward to support him. The chief then passed a letter to Skogul. It said that the Northern Alliance would send their men to escort the two princesses of Baldr, Kingdom of Spring, to the army. Not only were their names written on the letter, Odin’s signature at the end of it was also present.
“Lady Geironul has been fighting off roving bandits for us, while you have also been curing the sick and the injured this whole time... Everyone in this village is dependent upon you and your sister. As the war has already taken away our children, we will not hand you over to the army!”
“Chief, the medicine has yet to arrive, right?” After Skogul had put the letter in the inner pocket of her overcoat, she held the old man’s bony hand firmly, said, “If we go to the army, we can seek more resources for the village.”
“My sister and I are just displaced individuals whose kingdom has been destroyed. Besides, we did not do anything wrong. Odin will not put us in a difficult situation”
“But, didn’t you move here to live in relative seclusion to stay away from the war?”
“Who cares?” Skogul shrugged. Touched by what she said, the old man trembled in silence, while Skogul embraced him. The gesture reminded her of the time she bade farewell to her parents. Her father had embraced her and her sister with a smile on his face. Back then, young Skogul had thought it was just a temporary goodbye, instead of a final farewell. Skogul could not help repeat what his father said to her before, “Live your life to the fullest!”