After enjoying their meal, the three left The Golden Sea restaurant with satisfaction. As they stepped out of the building, Cian asked his sister, “Is there a place you would like to visit, Seren?”
She thought about it and answered, “The waterfall where you took me to last time.”
The Crown Prince of Abetha immediately informed their escorts of their next destination. Their carriages headed for the outskirts of the capital. They left the bustling streets, and the more they traveled, the sights of the buildings and houses became lesser and lesser, until there were only vast lands meant for growing crops left on both sides of the road.
“Why are these farms empty? Shouldn’t there be people tending to these fields?” Seren mumbled when she noticed the scenery outside the window.
Drayce stared outside. “Isn’t it because it’s winter?”
Seren shook her head. “It is unusual. Abetha’s winter is mild unlike in Megaris. I heard Brother mentioning before that the farmers would normally switch from grains to planting root crops and other hardy vegetables that can resist the cold.”
Seren’s gaze noticed something. “Isn’t that…?”
Drayce instructed to stop the carriage. Seren and Drayce stepped out of it and so did Cian.
“Is something the matter?” Cian asked as he went to his sister. When he followed the direction of her gaze, he noticed a certain silver-haired person standing in the middle of the desolate field.
“Mister Yorian? What is he doing there?” Cian asked.
Drayce walked towards Yorian, leaving the siblings behind. Meanwhile, Seren crouched, gently touching the wilted grass on the side of the road.
“Why is land barren, Brother? So lifeless and…” She didn’t know why but she felt concerned about this land.
As far as she knew, Abetha’s land was renowned for its fertility all year round. Being in the central region of the continent, the climate is temperate with no snow even in winter, not to mention the kingdom owns the largest river of the continent, an eternal water supply to the fields.
In general, the surrounding area of the capital produced highest-quality farm products that were even exported to the other kingdoms. The rich land of the kingdom should never face any issue with producing crops.
Cian massaged his temple with a sigh. “That is a question hounding the Minister of Agriculture as well. I think it was around a month or two ago when the royal court learned of the issue. No matter what the farmers sow, the seeds do not develop sprouts, and even if we put saplings, they wilt in a matter of days. Even weeds are finding it difficult to thrive at this point. Up till now, we are still investigating the reason.”
Seren asked, “Is it a drought?”
Cian shook his head. “How can there be drought when we are right next to the Grand River? The river has to dry first, but that is not the case.
She heard her brother continue, “Why don’t you go wait inside the carriage? I will also go see what Mister Yorian is doing here. Maybe he knows something.”
Cian nodded at his knights, silently ordering them to tighten the security. Slayer also stayed behind to guard by the Queen’s side.
When Drayce reached Yorian, he saw the elf had a frown on his handsome face. “What are you doing in the middle of a field, Yorian?”
The elf had long sensed their arrival and was not surprised to see the red-eyed king. “Can you feel it, Your Majesty? The land, it is as if its soul is gone.”
Drayce glanced at their surroundings, but in his opinion, the barren field was similar to the many empty swaths of land he had seen in Megaris. He made a guess, “Maybe this year’s winter is the coldest they have yet to experience.”
The elf shook his head. “It is different. I have wandered around this kingdom in the past, so I can tell. Touch the soil. There is no frost, and the color shows how rich and fertile it is. But because the land has no soul, it is impossible for the land to give birth to new life.”
“You are implying there is an invisible hand behind this?”
After encountering supernatural and divine beings one after another for the past few months, Drayce would no longer be surprised if a new source of trouble were to appear at this moment.
“Even we are wondering the same,” a voice remarked as Cian joined their group. He continued, “The real problem lies in the fact not only the land around the capital becoming infected by whatever this, but also the farmlands of the surrounding territories and it is spreading as we speak. If Mister Yorian has an idea about the situation, I would like to ask for guidance so that my people can take measures to deal with this problem.”
While the three men were conversing, two of them felt a fluctuation of energy and they looked at the land under their feet. The only human among them followed their gaze.
“What is happening?” Cian mumbled while Yorian and Drayce looked at a certain someone.
When Cian left Seren, she did not stay in the carriage as her brother suggested. Her purple eyes continued to gaze at the barren land, and unknown to her, she took a step ahead.
“Your Majesty?” Slayer called for her but she looked like she didn’t hear him and continued on until she left the road, her heeled shoe stepping on the crusty, dry soil. Slayer followed her behind her, not willing to go against her wishes but also ready to steady her if ever she lost her balance.
As he glanced at the ground, checking for rocks that might hinder the Queen’s walk, his eyes widened.
Weeds were growing under her feet!
Seren walked on that lifeless land, looking all dazed and in pain. She herself didn’t know what she was doing, but every patch of land she stepped on started to turn green as if the dead land was coming back to life. It was a magical sight as the greenery began to spread, revitalizing even the seeds that were unable to sprout.
From Slayer and the other escort knights, to the coachmen and the servants, everyone was shocked at the otherworldly sight. Seren looked like a goddess gracing the land of the mortal world, her slim figure emitting a soft, warm glow that brought reverence and awe in their hearts.
Some people of the palace recalled the other identity of the Queen of Megaris—she was the Third Princess of Abetha, the witch capable of making flowers bloom!
Drayce and Yorian were not shocked but worried.
“You need to stop your wife, King Drayce,” Yorian commented.
Drayce had already disappeared from his side and reappeared in front of Seren. “Seren, stop.”
Hearing his voice, Seren got back to her senses. She blinked her eyes, unaware of what she did. She looked at her husband with confusion. “Dray?”
“Are you alright?” he asked as he held her hand.
She nodded. “Why are you…? But I felt like I was….” As she glanced around, only then did she notice the greenery with her as the center. “This?”