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amaliaverdezoto > The Selection > 13 Princess Irene – Rumors
I stand up. Leila and Irene do the same. "Yeah, let's go. It seems we slept for too long; it's already past dawn."

I survey my surroundings while turning my head towards every possible direction we can go in. I come to a standstill when I realize I have no idea where I am. I skeptically curl one side of my lips upward and ask, "Uhh…which direction's Byzia again…?"

"Jeez… You really are hopeless, aren't you?" Leila sighs and then opens her backpack. She shuffles through it and then pulls out a parchment. She kneels down, lays the map on the ground, and says, "Good thing I bought this magical map when we were still in Drymo."

She pools some of her Mana into the piece of paper. Subsequently, a red dot appears on the map in the forest located east of Byzia. The dot disappears after a few seconds. She rolls up the map, stores it in her backpack, and then stands up.

"Okay, based on our location and the position of the sun…" she says and then points in a direction. "We go this way."

We encounter some monsters on our way there, but Leila easily takes care of them with her magic. Unfortunately, since I don't have my weapon I can't help much because I also need to conserve my Mana. We reach the east outer walls of Byzia in just under four hours.

"I can't walk anymore…"

"Just hold on a little longer, Irene. We are almost there."

"Hey, we should go that way towards the southern entrance instead of the northern entrance in case our pursuers notified the guards here," I suggest as I point toward our left.

"Hmm, good idea, but Irene still stands out too much."

"Ah, we'll just think of a plan when we get there." We continue walking, and the southern gates are within our sights within half an hour. We hide at the edge of the forest behind some trees for the time being because we notice something strange. There are dozens of people heading into the city; many looking like villagers.

"What's going on here? Could it be something happened in their village?"

"Beats me…but we can work this to our advantage. We'll just casually head in with these crowds of people. We can walk a little distance apart so we can ask different people about what's going on," I suggest. We take a short detour south toward the trail so that it looks like we're coming from other villages in this direction. Now all there is to do is ask someone what's going on…

I look around trying to find a suitable informant. I lock my gaze on a middle-aged man traveling by himself. I quicken my pace toward him and tap the back of his shoulder. I walk at the same pace as him. With a smile, I say, "Excuse me."

He frowns as he scans my appearance from head to toe. His eyes bounce up, and he knits his eyebrows before saying, "Who are you?"

Noticing his suspicious tone of voice and facial expressions, I quickly respond, "My name's Kai, an adventurer. This is my first time here in Xantho, and I'm headed to Byzia to find some new work, but then I saw all these people headed toward the same direction. Did something happen in one of the villages?"

"Ah, I'm not sure if anything actually happened, but everyone's probably here to hear Osmir's speech… You're an outsider, so it's no wonder you don't know anything about what's going on…"

"Osmir…?"

"That's right. You've heard of him, right? He's the hero who has been defending villages against Velyn's attacks for several months now. He also led a group of mercenaries two days ago and raided the castle, usurping the throne."

I knit my eyebrows as I think back to what Irene said about her father. "Velyn has been attacking villages…? That seems hard to believe…"

"Not as hard as believing as that you're an adventurer… I mean, look at you. You're carrying two sword sheaths, yet you have no swords, and you have a massive hole in front of your armor. You look sketchy to me…" I blankly stare at him with a forced smile as he points to the areas of interest with his finger. My lips twit

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