She skillfully opened the large picnic basket.
Inside were various snacks and a bottle of grape juice that could quench anyone’s thirst.
There were sandwiches filled with cold chicken ham, maple-glazed chestnuts, and a large cherry cream pie.
There was also a glass-lidded dish filled with sablé cookies that would melt in your mouth as you took a bite.
While fiddling with the cork of the grape juice bottle, Ariel suddenly looked up at the sky.
The autumn sunlight was warm and soothing, making the weather exceptionally pleasant.
‘It’s so hot…’
Although she was wearing a hat, she felt a little concerned that the sun was shining directly on Lucian’s fair skin.
‘I should have brought an umbrella for shade.’
Lost in thought, she didn’t even realize that the grape juice bottle in her hand had somehow ended up in Lucian’s hand.
Lucian opened the bottle with his mouth, elegantly tipping it back to drink the juice.
The boy’s white throat moved as he swallowed the liquid, his movements commanding and determined. Ariel, squinting her eyes against the dazzling sunlight, pondered for a moment and then clapped her hands together.
‘Ah, that’s it!’
With a bright smile, she turned to Lucian and spoke.
“Lucian, would you like to see my magic?”
He looked at her intently, pausing in his sipping.
“Attack magic is off-limits.”
“N-No, it’s not like that!”
She thought that’s all she ever hears from him.
It seemed like in Lacartel’s mind, there’s only room for offensive or destructive spells.
To immediately prove her point, Ariel stood up.
The magic she was about to show Lucian was one of the elemental magics.
“Okay, let’s clear this area first…”
She activated spatial magic, moving the picnic table and food into a different space.
As if asking when those things were ever on the grass, she neatly erased their traces.
As the items disappeared, Lucian asked with curiosity.
“Can I put something in there too?”
“Well, you can, but… Lucian is not going to stay here all the time.”
There were limitations to the spatial magic that Ariel could currently perform.
She could open a different space in a certain location, but she couldn’t use that space to move around. So, the interconnected space within Ariel’s room could only be used within the room, and the one created here could only be used in this place.
If she were to confine Lucian here…
‘I don’t want to think about what comes next.’
It was obvious that this interconnected space would shatter into pieces.
Finishing the spatial magic, Ariel approached the baby Prakatia tree.
Lucian grinned mischievously and said, “I’m looking forward to it.” His words made Ariel unnecessarily tense, causing her to take a deep breath.
She took a ribbon from her pocket and carefully tied it to the top branch of the Prakatia tree. It was a ritual to remember the baby tree.
Ariel summoned the mana flowing within her body and started resonating with the earth element surrounding the ground.
As she communicated with the earth through the soil where the tree’s roots were, she felt Prakatia gently accepting her.
Ariel concentrated her mind.
“By the light permitted to you, turn back time, as I command.”
Grow into a mighty tree.
In an instant as she infused mana, the Prakatia tree emitted a bright light.
And the tree, which had been as small as Ariel’s knee height, began to grow, shooting up with light. In an instant, the tree’s stem shot up, its branches spread lushly, and it soared toward the sky. As the space occupied by the tree expanded, Ariel, who had been standing right next to it, was pushed back along with the ground.
The earth elementals responding to her mana gently supported the young girl, guiding her to safety as the ground gave way. Panting for breath, Ariel eventually stopped the magic.
The light surrounding the tree gradually faded and vanished.
Ariel lifted her head and gazed at the tree in awe.
The baby Prakatia tree had grown into a massive tree, big enough that Ariel couldn’t encompass it with her arms in a full circle. Even when she strained her neck, she couldn’t see the top.
The shadow cast by the outspread Prakatia tree covered the ground around her and Lucian.
Although Ariel had practiced a few times before, this was the first time she had successfully made a living thing grow like this. Overwhelmed with joy, she embraced the tree.
The ribbon she had tied fluttered from the far heights.
Lucian walked over slowly and touched the tree, emitting a similar energy to Ariel’s.
With a joyful expression that made it seem like she was about to jump, Ariel exclaimed, “You saw it, Lucian, right? You saw?”
“Yeah. Now it’s truly a magnificent tree.”
Even though Lucian was teasing her, Ariel was thoroughly delighted. She summoned the picnic table and chairs back under the refreshing shade of the tree.
“I’m so hungry I could die.”
After using so much mana to grow the tree, hunger had taken over her. Lucian, on the other hand, had effortlessly cut down several trees with his sword, showing no sign of exhaustion.
Ariel took out food from the picnic basket. She contemplated whether to start with the large chicken sandwich or the cherry pie. Ultimately, she succumbed to the temptation of the cream and chose the cherry pie.
“Lucian, you should eat quickly too.”
He shrugged his shoulders and pulled the sandwich toward himself.
Yum. Ariel scooped up a forkful of pie with creamy layers and took a bite. The cherry filling burst in her mouth, offering a tangy and rich sweetness.
Lucian lazily cut a piece of sandwich and watched Ariel, who was enjoying the cherry pie with a blissful expression.
Ariel was completely absorbed in eating, diligently maneuvering her fork. It was quite a while later that she noticed Lucian’s gaze.
Lucian was looking at her with a somewhat relaxed expression.
Ariel looked at him in confusion.
“Why are you staring? Did I get cream on my face again?”
Ariel quickly wiped around her mouth with the back of her hand. Cream wasn’t smeared anywhere, let alone any leftover crumbs.
Lucian burst into a chuckle.”You think I can only eat if you get cream on yourself?”
Wait a second. What did he just say?
Eat me? Did you say ‘eat me’
Ariel widened her eyes and pondered over the words she had heard.
‘No, he must have said it as a joke, right?’
Even though the history of Lacartel was filled with tales of blood and madness, she had never heard of people being eaten.
‘But then again, I might have misheard, or the Great Council might be hiding something.’
Ariel’s petite face quickly turned serious.
She should have paid attention when he kept mentioning eating her quickly!
As she continued her thoughts, Lucian snapped his fingers to get her attention.
“Lost in thought.”
“Did I look like it?”
“Isn’t it too obvious?”
Yeah, what a foolish thought I had…
Ariel scolded her own imagination and turned her attention back to the food.
As she opened the jar of candied chestnuts, the pieces of chestnut, glazed with maple syrup, emitted a fragrant smell as the glistening syrup flowed.
Ariel excitedly scooped up a serving of candied chestnuts with a spoon.
Candied chestnuts were currently her favorite treat. When she bit into them, the chestnuts would break tenderly, releasing a faint syrupy flavor that spread even inside her mouth.
While she was enjoying the candied chestnuts, Lucian, who had been watching, swiftly reached out his hand.
His approaching hand snatched one of the candied chestnuts.
His red lips bit into the chestnut, and his syrup-coated fingers licked the syrup.
Ariel stared at the scene as if entranced, momentarily forgetting about her own eating.
Wow, Lucian looks pretty even while eating…
At that moment, his face twisted.
“Tasty, isn’t it?”
Ariel asked with anticipation.
Lucian looked at her with a lot of skepticism.
“How do you eat these sugar lumps?”
Sugar lumps? This was an insult to the candied chestnuts.
The sweetness of candied chestnuts mainly came from the chestnuts themselves, not sugar. It’s made with maple syrup.
Lucian swiftly pushed the jar of candied chestnuts in front of Ariel.
“Have it all.”
Ariel held the jar of candied chestnuts sulkily.
She knew he didn’t like sweets, but to dislike this too…
With a heavy heart, she finished off the candied chestnuts.
As she munched on the candied chestnuts, looking melancholic, Lucian watched her with an amused expression.
After almost finishing her snack, Ariel yawned due to feeling full and glanced around.
At that moment, something caught her eye.
“Lucian, look at that!”
Ariel pointed towards the pond inside the Black Garden.
Though the pond was a bit of a distance from where they were sitting, Ariel could clearly see it.
A pitch-black horse was calmly drinking from the pond.
Ariel observed the horse with sparkling eyes.
The black horse appeared large and powerful. Despite its fierce appearance, the glossy and beautiful black mane made her involuntarily admire it.
“The horse looks so cool.”
Lucian furrowed his brows in an intimidating manner.
“You find that cool?”
Perplexed by his reaction that seemed somewhat upset, Ariel asked.
“Is that the horse Mr. Matthias rides?”
But why does he dislike it when I say word others are called cool?
Ariel tilted her head.
“What’s the name of the horse?”
Lucian lowered his long eyebrows in an imposing manner.
“Where does that matter? It’s just a horse.”
“Everything in the world has a name, right?”
…Except the pitiful horse that met Lucian.
“I want to give it a name.”
She didn’t know if it was okay, but Ariel contemplated it.
Every inch of Lucian’s beautiful horse was pure black.
From its mane and body to its hooves and pupils.
The purest black…
“How about ‘Vanka’?”
Vanka Black was said to devour all light, the darkest color in the world.
Vanka was the name of a rare mineral found only in the northern mountains protected by Lacartel.
Ariel cautiously looked at Lucian, worrying if he might dislike it.
But Lucian only looked at her with a strange expression.
“…Are you starting to change even things about me?”
He replied with an arrogant tone.
“Do as you wish. You have permission.”
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