The fire rose up from under her feet but soon faded away.
This was already her twenty-third attempt.
And she had failed again.
On Anna’s forehead beads of sweat constantly arose, but she just used the back of her hand to swipe them away, and the crackling sound of rising flames immediately sounded out again.
With no stops to rest, the end of an exercise was followed by the start of the next one. The witch uniform lied at the side, neatly folded, If Anna had not insisted on doing so, her new uniform would have already been burned to ashes.
Fortunately, with Roland’s identity as the 4th prince, getting a few spare robes for her to use was not difficult. He had his maid Tyre deliver a whole bucket of robes, gathered by the maids for Anna to use.
The twenty-fourth practice had finally been effective, the flame was no longer rising from her feet. Instead, it appeared on her hand. She gingerly moved her arm, to try and have the flame go to her fingertips, but the flame suddenly shook twice and rose up her arm setting her sleeve on fire, even spreading from the sleeve to engulf the whole robe.
Anna dismissed the flame but her robe was already completely burnt, so she turned to the bucket and got a new one.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened, but whenever it did Roland would look away, so that his eyes were staring at other places, even if Anna herself didn’t care about it.
As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Roland’s strong objections, she would probably have taken off all her clothes and practiced in the nude, in broad daylight! But even if Roland were to get a good view of her great figure that way, he wouldn’t be able to calmly work with a naked girl, especially when the girl turned into flames and her body gave off an entirely different kind of charm.
Roland shook his head, leaving his dirty thoughts behind. For the moment, it seemed that it was not easy to master the power of magic. The actual goal he had set for Anna was that she should control the flame to such a degree that she could release her flames from her palm or her fingers without destroying her own clothes. However, he also wanted the flames to have a high enough temperature to melt the iron ingots that were in the yard.
After Anna’s thirtieth attempt had failed but before she could make the next one Roland stopped her and told her to take a break.
Anna looked at him in a startled fashion but she gave no other response.
Roland had to walk over, he even had to pull the girl by her hand, leading her to the chair and forcing her to sit down.
“You are tired; when you are tired you should rest. Do not be too impatient, we still have some time.” He helped her wipe the sweat off of her moist forehead and said, “let us consume an early afternoon tea.”
Roland knew that the nobility of the Kingdom of Greycastle did not have the habit of drinking afternoon tea and this world’s productivity was so poor, for ordinary people it was hard to have the opportunity to taste such delicate food. The people in this world were not familiar with three meals a day, not to mention a fourth meal. As for the noble sons, they generally gathered together around this time to have some fun in bars or casinos.
The prince himself had to temporarily take over for the maid and cook if he wanted to create the custom here since they weren’t familiar with it. Since he had to prepare some light refreshments and they didn’t have any tea he was forced to substitute ale, it would be important to get some tea in the future..
So in the castles rear gardens, in a wooden cottage, the first afternoon tea party of the Greycastle Kingdom was held.
Anna looked at the dishes of exquisite snacks, not believing her eyes. Since when could something to eat look so good?
Although she did not know the specific name of the cake she ate, it was pure white in appearance, and the bright red collection of fruit could make people feel their appetite increasing. Especially seeing the edges of the pastry decorated in an exquisite pattern, all of this forced her to change her worldview once again.
Roland proudly observed Anna's bewildered expression, she looked like a country bumpkin, but also slightly frightened. Although the strawberries on the cream cake were marinated in sugar and didn't even taste fresh, there was nothing left of the cake.
Roland found that appreciating the witch’s face while she ate was more satisfying than doing so himself. Roland watched Anna, who was carefully placing the cake into her mouth, her blue eyes almost releasing a ray of light, and her hair gently swaying in the wind. Seeing all this his heart suddenly nearly burst and he thought to himself, It’s not good to cook anything worse!
Well, the cultivation of feelings as well as talent was also very important.
Watching Anna while she practiced and accompanying her to enjoy the afternoon tea became Roland’s daily life, not showing any interest in the government affairs. Barov helped him to take care so that everything was clear and orderly.
Three days later, Barov delivered the information of the border town’s industry that he had asked for to Roland’s office. This was an absolutely unbelievable moment, the former fourth Prince actually had never the patience to see such a big pile of complicated reports.
As a matter of fact, even now he didn’t have it. Roland needed only to read two lines of text until he he started to feel dizzy, and he directly said to Barov, “You will read it to me.”
He spent an hour listening to Barov until he found a mistake, “Why were the border town’s annual winter taxes and trade revenues zero?”
Since the winter temperatures were low, the decline in the harvest could be understood, but what was the meaning of directly returning to zero, had the local people the habit of hibernation?
Barov coughed, “Sir, did you forget? In the winter months it’s the time of the ‘Months of the Demons’, the town has no ability to guard its borders, all the residents must evacuate to Longsong Stronghold. But rest assured, your safety is certainly the first priority.”
“Months of the Demons?” Roland seemed to recall having heard that phrase before. He didn’t take the take of ghosts and the legends of wicked witches seriously, he considered it as part of this uncivilized world’s nonsense. But now it seems that the monsters are not a fantasy since the witches actually do exist. Then… what about the other famous legends like ghosts?
When he got his education as a noble his history tutor had explained the “Month of the Demons”’ in detail. Every winter, after the first snow fell and the sun had gone behind the mountains, an intense darkness without light would descend. At that moment the gates of hell would open.
The evil spirits from hell would corrupt living creatures, and turn them into the slaves of the devil. Some of the animals would change into powerful demon beasts with only one goal, to attack humans. Most witches were born in this season, and their power would be far stronger than usual because of it.
“Have you seen them? The Gates of Hell,“ Roland asked.
“Your Highness, how can ordinary people go see them?” Barov shook his head again and again, “don’t say nonsense, the mountains they come from cannot be conquered, even being close to the mountains you will be affected by the foul miasma, first getting a mild headache, and then in severe cases even losing your mind. Unless……”
“Unless the person doing it is a witch. Only a witch can go and see the Gates of Hell because they have fallen from grace and became the devil’s minions. Naturally they don’t need to fear the touch of evil. Mentioning witches, Barov glanced in the direction of the garden.
“The demonic monsters, have you ever seen one?” Roland knocked on the table to recapture the assistant minister’s attention.
“Well, I haven’t see them. Like your highness, this is my first time coming to the kingdom’s borders. In the center of the country, in the castle, only a few people would have encountered the real demons.”
If he needed to evacuate once a year how would he be able to develop this place? He initially thought that the border town was a barren land, but that it still had the potential for development, but now it seemed to be a pipedream.
“When we resist the demonic beasts in Longsong Stronghold, when they aren’t invincible and when they can be killed, then why can’t we defeat them in this border town as well?”
“Longsong Stronghold has a high wall. Also, the Duke Ryan’s elite troops are stationed there. It is nothing like this border town, this small place definitely cannot be compared to it,” Barov explained, “from the start, the establishment of the border town was to provide an early warning to the stronghold. Therefore the town was set between the slope of the North Mountain and the Chishui River.”
So, his town was only cannon fodder to block the enemy. The only path they could cross, Roland laughed grimly as he heard this.