Taste of Ground
(Thank you for reading at bayabuscotranslation.com)
Volume 8 starts.
When I opened my eyes, there was a branch in front of me.
The snow melted, the branches and leaves that fell last year were still there. The rotten skin was black and wet during winter.
My consciousness was floating as if it was like bubbles floating on the water. When my brain recovered and my consciousness became clear, I felt a throbbing pain all over my body.
I checked my body. It seemed that I was floating a bit in the air above my waist, and only my upper body was hanging on the ground. It was a pretty unreasonable situation.
Apparently, I had lost consciousness.
I gradually remembered what happened earlier. I was shot down because I was hit by a dragon and its tail.
The safety belt on the waist hadn’t been untied yet, and it was connected to Stardust. That was why the waist was floating.
‘Oh yeah, Stardust…’
When I quickly untied the safety belt, a heavy pain ran in my lower back. The hip joint was probably put on strain when I was slammed into the ground.
I thought of having a fractured pelvis, so I was terrified.
‘Think calmly. If that happens, I can’t move from this place. No… Negative thought is bad. At such times, I have to be calm…’
As the safety belt came off and there was nothing to support the weight, the lower half of the body fell to the ground. I put my strength into my aching waist and managed to get up. It hurts, but there was no pain like a broken bone.
With half a limp, I looked at Stardust. Even before I saw here, I had only a dark pessimistic premonition.
I look at Stardust from a distance. She was still breathing, and her eyes were blinking. However, both wings were broken and messed up.
The body was lying sideways, and the wings underlay were bent in an abnormal direction from its base.
The wings on the body also seemed to be unfoldable due to the broken bones, and it remained open and sloppy.
She probably scratched the tree when it crashed to the ground. The toes broke like warping, and the nails were peeling off. So, it was unlikely to be useful.
Stardust was breathing thinly with her beak open. In this situation, the internal organs might also have been ruptured.
It seemed that I was saved because Stardust was underlay.
I knew that immediately.
‘But… I couldn’t do anything to Stardust.’
‘An eagle would be weakened even if only one wing is broken. If both wings and toes were broken, they couldn’t sit or sleep.’
‘Experience can no longer help with this injury. Even if this place is the eagle ranch of the Hou Household territory, with the best treatment tools and the experienced Rook, it still won’t help.’
‘Therefore, an eagle that has been injured like this is usually euthanized.’
‘However, what is in front of me is Stardust. I have been together in the sky with her for eight years since I entered the school of Knights. And she is seriously injured instead of me…’
‘Can I do anything to her who saved my life? While I’m owing a big debt, will she die as it is…?’
Stardust made a weak voice.
She was looking at me. Birds had no facial expression, and I didn’t know what they wanted or what they wanted to say.
‘Are you blaming me? Or are you happy with my safety? Do you want to be free from pain?’
‘I don’t know. Even if I know, it’s probably the result of my interpretation at my own convenience.’
‘If you could speak even a single word, I could do what you want at the end. If you have a grudge, I could apologize for my incompetence.’
‘However, in reality, Stardust doesn’t speak. She doesn’t understand the words. There is only one thing I can do for her.’
‘I don’t know if she wants it. Maybe she doesn’t want it, and maybe this is my ego.’
‘Maybe I’m ungrateful for trying to do a terrible thing to my life-saving partner.’
‘However, I have to make a decision. It’s only a cruel gesture to prolong the pain unnecessarily.’
I pulled out the dagger that was put behind my back and checked it. I pulled it out and there was no such a thing that the dagger was bent in the sheath. Instead, it had the same brilliance as when it was stored.
Stardust didn’t show any reaction when looking at the dagger.
‘I wonder if you’re guessing what I’m going to do now…’
I embraced Stardust’s face. She relaxed the muscles of her neck as if she was at ease.
“Thank you. Thanks to you, my life was saved.” (Yuri)
(Thank you for reading at bayabuscotranslation.com)
As I had that thought in my heart, I thrusted the dagger deep into the back of Stardust. Pulling to the side, the sharp dagger cut the medulla oblongata together with the neck bone.
Stardust accepted it without moving at all. As she died, she lost strength and the body became heavy.
‘Aah, she’s dead. A friend who I rode together in the sky is dead… because of me.’
I laid Stardust’s neck carefully and put down my dagger. Then, I took three large flight feathers, and I put it in the bag that was on the saddle.
I wanted to bury her if possible, but I couldn’t do that. I had so many things to do.
‘What should I do from now on?’
When I thought about it, the first thing that came to my mind was the observation unit. I didn’t know how long it had been, but probably Carol and Liao had taken over the command.
I didn’t know what happened to Carol, but there was no doubt that the accident happened, so it was highly possible that Liao was currently in command. They might be still in the air.
I looked up at the sky, hoping for a while. It was obvious, but I couldn’t understand the situation of the sky because my sight was blocked by the branches and leaves that even blocked the sunlight.
When I searched for the tallest tree in the visible range, I decided to climb it. I felt that my muscles were paralyzed, and it was difficult to climb. I suffered severe pain many times on the way, but I climbed anyway.
I reached the top of the tree just like that, and I cut off the branches as much as I could. Then, I saw the sky.
There were them.
The Eagle Kings were flying around directly above me. And, at a far away… about 300 meters from here, the same number of eagles were spinning in the same way.
I blew the whistle.
Anyhow, if I made a loud noise, I thought that I would always be concerned about it. An eagle had come down.
Someone understood immediately. It was Liao’s eagle.
However, an Eagle King couldn’t continue to stay air like a hummingbird for a long time. He tried to do so for a bit, but he immediately gave up and started to make a small turn dexterously while keeping the bank angle large so that he could see the ground.
First of all, I blew the whistle with a predetermined signature. It was a sign ‘Where is the princess?’ or ‘What happened to Carol?’
Liao rang a whistle that didn’t imply whether she was dead or in formation. He stopped turning temporarily and pointed the spear with the flag in one direction. That was where the other half of the eagle was circling.
‘As expected, Carol also crashed to the ground.’
Half of the spear movement was pointing at me, and the other half was pointing at Carol’s crash point. At the same time, I was watching the ground.
I quickly searched the pouch, took out the compass and confirmed the direction. I turned the metal lid with the arrow attached to the outside of the glass surface to mark the direction of Carol. Once I got down to the ground, I wouldn’t be able to know the direction in which the eagle was going.
However, it was a difficult place.
Eagle Kings couldn’t land in the forest. That was probably the reason why its habitat distribution was limited. They were creatures that hunted in rocky areas. It wasn’t possible to stay safe by plunging into the canopy of the forest.
It was simply because the figure was too big to live in the forest. In addition to the structure of the wings, it was even more problematic. The most important of the eagle wings was the flight feathers at the tip of the wings, which make it difficult to fly if it were torn off.
Since the tip of the wings, which was the easiest to get caught, was important, plunging an eagle into the forest, and breaking through the canopy without damaging it, would be a difficult task.
In order to take off and land an eagle safely, it was said that a width of approximately 7 meters in diameter was required. Although it was possible to do it with 5 meters diameter, this was a dense forest where no space of 5 meters in diameter above and below existed. If there was such a place, Liao would have already landed the eagle.
There was also another concern. When I looked at the sky, I could see Liao’s eagle was tired. It didn’t have much balance.
His eagle wasn’t raised by Rook, but it was still a well-trained eagle. The fact that his eagle was tired could be also the limit for other eagles.
At least I didn’t think they would be able to wait until I got to Carol, which was about 300 meters away. If I were in a perfect physical condition, it was a distance that I could reach immediately, but it was doubtful that I could run at full speed with this pain.
Then, I blew the whistle four times, asking for the eagle’s physical condition. The answer had been decided in scale of 5, and 5 meant that the eagle was already at the limit, and it would crash. Liao’s reply could be considered as that, and he was considering returning.
The plan of bringing Carol on the eagle and returning was crushed. The plan of joining with Carol by moving her to an open space, and returning with two riders, wasn’t possible at all.
Also, with whistle-only communication, it wasn’t possible to make complicated strategy plans on the spot, such as meeting at this point at a later date.
I made up my mind, and blew the whistle three times long. It meant returning to the base.
Then, Liao replied by his whistle.
He meant ‘defeat’.
‘Defeat? What do you mean by defeat?’
When I was thinking about it, Liao pointed in another direction with the spear. I checked the compass, and I understood the meaning.
Considering from the forest where I should have crashed, the direction pointed should be the area of the main battlefield.
‘Aah, did the Shanti lose to the allied forces? However, in the current situation, I really want them to win.’
When he replied with the whistle, he raised his spear on the spot. That meant he also agreed with me. Then, when I thought that I was going to do something messy, he dropped the spear near where I was. The luggage tied to the eagle continued to fall.
It meant that I could use this.
Liao immediately turned around, as if his bird was already close to the limit. Then, he arranged the formation and they flew away.
- I cried a little… No more Stardust. 😦
- Please read the map 4 chapter together with this chapter.
(Please consider supporting at https://www.patreon.com/bayabuscotranslation)