Wendy opened her eyes and saw an unfamiliar ceiling above her. There were cobwebs draping from the wooden beams. The ceiling was made up of gray bricks and had an unlit, circular chandelier. Slowly, the image turned from cloudy to clear until she could see every detail.
[It's not a cold rocky roof or narrow tent. Oh right, I've left the Witch Cooperation Association for more than half a month. I wonder if Mentor had successfully led the sisters to the discovery of Holy Mountain.] Wendy thought.
She took a deep breath. Although the air in the room was not as clean and fresh as that in a cave, its dullness and warmth made her comfortable. Her body was wrapped in a soft velvet quilt, and the layers of cotton blankets under her sank slightly every time she lay on them. Even if she stretched her body fully, her toes wouldn't be exposed.
She felt a little guilty at the thought of lazing on the bed. Even though she had only arrived for half a month, she felt a sense of peace. It was something that she had not experienced in a long time.
In the castle, no one would disturb her no matter how late she got up. Just like today. Wendy turned to look out of the window and noticed that the gray sky was a little glaring. It seemed over 10 a.m. In her past wandering life, she did not have such a comfortable sleep before. She would be woken by the faintest sounds and had to prepare food before dawn. During that time, the witches had lived in the fear of being discovered by the church or dying in the next Demonic Torture.
Even while hiding in the Impassable Mountain Range, Wendy was always busy with the many chores. She had to help with seasoning the dried food and herbs, drying her sisters' laundry, or cleaning the camp and so on.
Wendy did not mind doing these works and felt happy when seeing the smile on everyone's faces. Yet, she could not resist the lazy life now. Unexpectedly, she was enjoying it.
[No, I shouldn't be lazy anymore.] Clapping her face, Wendy pushed herself up and tried her best to get out of the bed. When she was in the convent, mother superior had always warned that God would never bless those who were lazy.
[In a while, I'll go to the castle backyard to practice controlling the wind and I'll clear the snow along the way.] Wendy could not hold back her smiles whenever she thought of His Highness' requirements for her training. These were odd and eccentric requirements, such as asking her to control the wind 10 meters above her head after he had seen her performance. However, a witch could never extend the power as far as he required. Nevertheless, the prince wasn't angry when she had admitted that it was beyond her abilities. Instead, he had come up with a strange idea—standing on a stool and blowing the wind from the top and the bottom at the same time. After trying, Wendy found this a practical solution. The test result pleased His Highness very much. In addition to asking Wendy to practice more, he also asked her if she was afraid of heights.
Just as Nightingale described, Roland Wimbledon was indeed an unpredictable person. Yet, he was also a prince who cared about witches.
Wendy sighed softly at the thought.
[Mentor, you're wrong. There exists a prince who doesn't hate witches.]
After she put on the new robe, she felt that it was a little tight at the chest—Wendy had been accustomed to it. When she was looking for the sewing kit to mend the cloth, there was a knock at the door.
It was Nightingale. Wendy was somewhat amazed and laughed. "Is His Highness still in bed? It's surprising that you have time to see me."
"What're you talking about? I don't have time to follow him all day." Nightingale lifted the basket in her hand. "I've brought you some breakfast."
Usually, it was the maid who served the breakfast to her room. Wendy had barely seen and talked to Nightingale except when the prince was asleep. She smiled in her heart. Wendy knew that Nightingale must have sneaked in to check if she had woken up and came in as soon as she was out of bed.
"Go ahead, what's up?" She took over the basket and put a piece of bread filled with cheese into her mouth.
"Hmm..." Nightingale walked to the bedside and sat down. "Today is... the day for Nana."
Wendy was speechless. She knew that although the first bite of magic power was not as fierce and long as the one in the Day of Adulthood, the witch was not completely safe. The younger a witch was, the less the pain she could endure. Wendy placed the basket on the bedside cabinet and walked to Nightingale. She clapped her shoulder and comforted her. "Didn't His Highness say that as long as the witch released her power every day, the torture would minimize?"
"It was just a hypothesis."
"At least it sounds reasonable." Wendy went on. "Anna has been through it this way, hasn't she?" "She was safe even on the deadliest Day of Adulthood, and you've seen it with your own eyes," she paused and continued, "Where is Nana?"
"She is at the hospital." As she was talked, Nightingale could not hold back her smile. "I heard that her father, Baron Pine, has bought a lot of hares from hunters and send them to the Medical Centre. Nana will get to practice with them until tomorrow."
"It's nice to have such a father," Wendy said enviously. "I don't remember anything about my childhood... which is very strange. It was like a memory gap. I don't have father or mother, and all the memories begin with the time when I was in the convent."
"Looks like I'm a little more fortunate than you."
"Yeah, much more fortunate." Wendy sat close beside her. "Are you nervous?"
"..." Nightingale remained silent for a while and nodded.
Of course, Wendy knew what she was nervous about. Today was not only of paramount importance to Nana but also a vital turning point for the fate of all witches. If she could get through the bite safely, it meant that all witches would be free from being called the devil's minions, and Border Town undoubtedly would be their Holy Mountain. A day would come where all witches would gather here, living a life just like ordinary people without a need to move around to hide from the church.
"There's no use worrying. Let's take a day off to stay with Nana."
"A day... off?" Nightingale looked at Wendy with wide eyes.
"Yes, telling me the news so early is making me as nervous as you," Wendy said bluntly. "Since we're not in the mood for training, let's go and see Nana. Isn't that written in the contract? It's called a paid leave."
After dinner, Nana's chamber was crowded with people—Anna, Lightning, Nightingale, Wendy, Tigui, and Roland. Seeing all these people, the young girl looked bewildered. "Er... am I going to die?"
"Of course not!" All of them shook their heads.
"The intensity of bite at the first time will be not very strong." Wendy held Nana's right hand and said, "Stay focus, you can manage it."
"Grasp my hands when it hurts." Tigui shook her daughter's left hand and said, "You've grown much stronger at the hospital. I'm so proud of you."
The young girl nodded. She looked through the crowd until her eyes fell on Anna.
Anna walked over and kissed her forehead. "Stay alive, okay?"
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