In the mountains, where wild animals roamed about in their natural state, there was a girl who was chasing a deer through the bushes.
Her body, accustomed to running around in the mountains, was slender and thin, and her eyes were frigid and relentless as she assessed her prey.
Her knee-length jacket, dyed in a geometric pattern, was tied around her waist, and she wore a pair of tanned leather boots.
On her head, she wore a hat with several red and white tail feathers stuck into them, which expressed her gratitude for sharing the bounty of the mountains.
It was a ceremonial hat for hunting.
She threw a chain with a dangling weight onto the antlers of a stag that she has cornered with her swift body movements.
With the momentum, the chain was wrapped around the stag by centrifugal force.
As the stag struggled to escape from the chains, the girl pointed a finger at it.
“O Spirit of the Wind!”
As if in response to her sharp voice, a whirlwind suddenly wrapped around the magnificent antlers.
The startled stag yelped and stood on its haunches.
Aiming at the stag, she quickly fired the bow and arrow that had become so familiar in her hands.
The arrow struck the stag between the eyes, killing it with a single blow.
After a smooth hunt, Sheila Danau wiped the sweat off her forehead with a smile.
Her red hair, tucked haphazardly in a bun, danced in the air like a horse’s tail.
Kneeling beside a stag as big as her body, she put her fist to her forehead and offered a prayer of gratitude.
She put down her bow and arrow and quickly pulled out a dagger.
It was common practice in the village to drain the blood from the venison on the spot to prevent the meat from smelling bad.
It was a bold idea that it would be a blessing if a new beast emerged on the scent of the blood.
Deep in the mountains, far from the royal capital, there was a small, tiny village.
That was the village of Denan, where Sheila lived.
Because of its remoteness, self-sufficiency was the norm.
In fact, the village was so remote that it wasn’t even known if the people of the country were aware of its existence.
The villagers, though exclusive, were gentle and always helped each other.
In such a peaceful village, Sheila stood out as the most lively person.
Since childhood, she ran around in the fields and mountains and often tore her clothes to shreds while climbing trees.
She learned embroidery at an early age, and if she could sew clothes, she would be considered full-fledged, but she preferred to jump into waterfalls and play in the mud.
Even as she grew older and girls her age began to enjoy talking about love, Sheila’s days were far from feminine.
Her father was also responsible for her growing up in such a way.
He taught her from an early age how to hunt in the mountains, how to gather materials, and all other men’s work.
Although he had no choice but to love his only daughter, who was interested in everything and her eyes always twinkled with curiosity, he was responsible for this.
Normally, a marriage proposal was decided in the early teens, and it was common to get married at the same time as the coming-of-age ceremony at age 15, but even now, at 15, Sheila hadn’t received a single marriage proposal.
That’s right, she was completely late for marriage.
But Sheila wasn’t depressed.
Rather than dreaming of love, she had found a more beautiful dream.
“If I can’t get married anyway, I want to go down the mountain and become a knight.”
The moment she dropped the massive bomb, the usual breakfast scene froze.
W-what are you talking about, my sweet girl?”
“I’m sorry, didn’t you hear me? Well, I said I wanted to be a knight.”
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
Even the father, Huey, who loves his daughter dearly, shook his head.
Next to him, her mother pressed her temples as if to endure a headache.
what you’re doing is just an escape from reality.
You should’ve listened to me and practiced sewing when you were a child.
The only reason why boys shunned you now is because you’ve been doing whatever you want.”
Sheila leaned her head to her mother, Tania, who looked up at the heavens and lamented, ‘Oh, I went to the trouble of giving birth to you so prettily.’
“They don’t shun me, you know? We always hang out together.”
“As a friend.
Your childhood friends all think that, ‘She’s a nice girl, but I just can’t see her as a woman, so I don’t think she’d be a good choice for a wife.’”
“Oh, awesome mom! You weren’t there, so how do you know?”
“Ahh… They’re not so naive as to declare it clearly in person….”
Her mother, who was tired of being petulant, looked at her with a faraway look.
Sheila tilted her head to the side, unable to understand more than half of Tania’s words.
“I think it’s a good idea.”
Joining Sheila was her brother Felix, who was three years older than her.
He had shiny silver hair and pale gray eyes.
He had a handsome face and a polite manner that bore no resemblance to his sister’s.
Felix’s smile, which was always on his lips, was now replaced by a wry smile.
“I don’t know what to think, but there’s no way I could ever give Sheila to any of the men in the village.
I’m not going to give her to someone who doesn’t understand her charms.
It would have been best if I could have married her, but since we’re siblings, it’s a real shame that it’s not going to happen.”
“I mean, I don’t know why anyone would want to marry such an unmanageable person.
I know she’s your sister and you think she’s cute, but…”
Felix cocked his head curiously.
Such gestures were the only things the siblings resembled.
“Is that so? I find Sheila’s inability to fit into a prescribed frame of reference and her beastly instincts very appealing.”
“Thank you, brother.”
“Sheila, that’s not a compliment at all, okay?”
As her face broke into a smile at her brother’s kindness, Huey tsked at her.
Sheila brought a piece of hard bread stretched thin with flour to her mouth without any particular care.
Seeing her like this, her parents all held their heads together, as if to say, ‘It’s no good.’
Felix smiled as if to repaint the atmosphere of the place.
“Anyway, I’m in favor of Sheila going to the royal capital.
I think we can cooperate in various ways.”
Hearing these words, Tania’s mood changed.
She turned her sharp gaze on Felix, as if she won’t tolerate any deception.
You have something to do, don’t you?”
The elder brother smiled meaningfully as he elegantly brought a cup of herbal tea, a popular drink in the village, to his lips.
“First of all, you have to go to the academy that trains knights.
As I recall, the specialized courses start in the spring of the 15th year of age, so I think you can get by with a mid-course enrollment.
You will have to cram in three years’ worth of studies from the time you enter the academy, though.”
How did her brother, a villager, know so much about the city’s academy? Sheila didn’t know, but for now, her mouth was full of the grilled venison she hunted yesterday.
Huey stared at the carefree girl, who was no longer able to speak.
A tense conversation ensued, leaving the father and daughter behind.
“You’re not leaving Sheila alone?”
I’ve no intention of letting go of my cute little sister.”
“Well, I know how much Felix loves her, so I’m not worried about that.
Perhaps I should say, this child is not yours in the first place.”
Tania let out a weary sigh at her children, who had no common sense.
She knew well that not only her daughter, but also her seemingly impeccable son, was a problem child.
Tania was graceful and also quick to make a decision.
She meditated and fell silent, and after a while, she decided to look up.
I trust Felix.”
“Wife! What are you talking about?!”
Huey, who hadn’t expected her to agree, stood up in astonishment.
But Tania’s eyes were calm and unwavering.
“She’s a girl, you know! It wouldn’t normally be possible to become a knight! Why….”
“She’s not a normal girl, so it can’t be helped anymore.
If you disagree with that, can you go find Sheila a husband right now?”
Her father hung his head in despair.
Thus, Sheila’s career path was settled with the cliché that she would never marry.
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