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Having seen the prince leave the hall, Lightning drew Maggie into a corner.


Maggie wore her hair down. The long white hair which almost touched the ground made her look like a ghost when she was moving. She parted the hair covering her face and revealed a bulging face. Half of a pork gristle still stuck out of her mouth.

Lightning whispered, "I find an interesting place in Misty Forest. I'll go to explore it tomorrow. Are you going with me?"

"Coo." Maggie swallowed the food in her mouth and nodded repeatedly. "Yes, what do I need to prepare?"

"The three-piece suit for exploration..." Realizing that she had used some Roland-style strange words just now, Lightning corrected herself by saying, "no, I mean the three most frequently used things in exploration, flint, solid food and dagger. It's not very far away. We only need to bring food enough for one day. Don't fill all your bag with food like the last time."

"Got it, coo," Maggie patted her chest and said. When she was about to leave, Lightning stopped her.

She said to Maggie, "Remember, this is our secret. Don't tell anyone else. We'll set out tomorrow morning."

Seeing her hurriedly heading for the dining table, Lightning twitched her lips and started to think about the plan for tomorrow's exploration.

Despite the fact that she had successfully dropped the bomb for His Highness, recently when she was flying she found that something seemed to hinder her movement and decrease her agility. Every time when she sped up, she felt as if she were chased by a demon.

She believed this psychological obstacle was caused by the dreadful experience of her precious exploration into the stone tower. She had panicked and turned around to flee as quickly as possible when seeing the menacing bulk at the entrance of the basement. This fear had not only made her lose her cool on the spot but also affected her confidence in being an explorer.

"The thing you have to fear isn't fear itself but fearing the unknown. If you want to overcome it, you must get close to it first." Lightning repeated to herself what her father had taught her.

Knowing that tomorrow she might confront real dangers, she still made up her mind to be brave and keep moving forward. She knew that if she failed to overcome her fear this time, she would no longer fly freely.

This was the reason for her decision to act without Roland's authorization. In accordance with the prince's plan, the exploration of the stone tower was scheduled after the Months of Demons, but at that time, accompanied by all the other witches and the First Army soldiers, she thought she would not force herself to overcome her fear. It could hardly be called her exploration, if she was only able to get close to that dreadful place with so many people.

She was clear that His Highness might reproach her and punish her by stopping offering her ice creams for this unauthorized action, and the sisters of the Witch Union might worry about her, but she still determined to go.

As the daughter of the greatest explorer of the Fjords, Lightning could not accept herself as a coward.

She must be well prepared for this upcoming exploration. Compared with the ill-prepared one several months ago, this time she was equipped with a revolver, a gift from the prince and she had a better understanding of demons and her friend Maggie's help.

"It's really good that Maggie agreed to join me. Even if she failed to fright away demons, if any, in her demonic beast form, she could at least carry me and flew away in a dangerous situation."

"An explorer doesn't need a large troop to keep his courage up, but exploring with several reliable friends is totally acceptable," she thought.

When the banquet ended, Lightning wrapped up all the sliced honey ham she had collected and put it in a cloth bag, and then she put in her gun, her torch and her water bag.

She got some of her confidence back after the success of the bombing mission, and felt braver after getting encouragement from the prince and kissing his face which had a little stubble. As a saying went, struck while the iron was hot. After such a nice day, tomorrow was the best time for her to start the exploration.

Early in the next morning, when she flew up to the top of the castle, Maggie was already perching on the top of the wall, waiting for her.

"Check your pack."

"I take all the things you said." Maggie transformed back into a girl and opened her cross-body bag for Lightning to check. This time, Maggie only took half a bag's food, a dagger and a flint.

"Well, I can let you pass this time... Let's go." Lightning flew with the pigeon toward Misty Forest.

As she had recalled this route many times in her head, she could fly in the right direction even with her eyes closed. It was a little cloudy today, but it was much better than the dark and gloomy day when she had explored the tower for the first time. The land below was slowly moving backward. When she was approaching the area where the stone tower located, Lightning was getting increasingly nervous.

Maggie asked, "Is the interesting place you mentioned last night a newly found eagle's nest?"

Lightning shook her head and said, "No, it's much more interesting than that. Our destination today is an ancient monument, an over 400-year old stone tower. As its basement hasn't collapsed yet, we may be able to find some ancient books in it recording information of that time."

"Ancient books?" Maggie fluffed her wings. "It doesn't sound as fun as stealing eagle eggs, coo."

Lightning explained, "An eagle nest has at most two or three eggs. You'll swallow them in a few bites. However, if we can find valuable ancient books there and bring them back to His Highness, he'll reward you with a basket of eggs. You can boil or steam them according to your preference. Even if you eat three of them each day, they'll be enough for you to enjoy for a long time."

Hearing that, Maggie immediately cheered up. "Really? Let's hurry up to find ancient books! Coo, coo!"

They finally saw the tower when it was almost noon.

Half of a stone tower covered by vines and moss stood down there in the woods. Everything around it looked the same as several months ago. Lightning lowered herself to fly around it. After making sure that it was safe, she landed.

"Is this the place?" asked the pigeon perching on her head.

"Hush..." Lightning put a finger in front of her lips to suggest Maggie be quiet. In this silent woods, even their speaking voices sounded quite loud. "Talk quietly, for some demons may be here, too."

"Demons?" Maggie's tail erected in shock.

"Waiting for me up there. I'll get in and check first," Lightning pointed to the top of the broken tower and said in a very low voice.

Stepping on the withered grass, she could clearly hear the rustle under her feet. She found that the plants had not grown back to cover the tower's entrance yet, and she saw the small cluster of vines she had cut off last time. She held her breath, and entered the tower, following the route she remembered. Step by step, she was getting closer to the stairs in the center of the tower, which led to the basement. Now she could even hear her own heartbeat.

"Ignorance brings the fear. To overcome the fear, I've got to approach the unknown..." The little girl kept encouraging herself in her heart. She lit a torch and walked down the stairs.

Standing at the stair corner, she stretched her neck to peek. She saw that the collapsed wooden door was fragmented and no demon was at the entrance of the basement any more. The profound darkness there looked like a bottomless open mouth of a man-eating monster.

At this moment, she heard a weak but familiar voice coming out of the darkness.

She involuntarily cringed at the sound, and all the hair on her body stood up at once. Feeling a desperate urge to escape, she clenched her teeth to suppress her fear and covered her mouth with her hands to prevent herself from crying out. She focused to listen again.

This time, she heard it clearly. It repeated in the same tone.

"Help me..."

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