#erwin smith Tumblr posts

  • luanabonn
    22.10.2021 - 1 hour ago

    For the event: AoT Veterans' Day!

    Thanks to @ack3rlady, @axoxtxhxh and @levi-supreme for creating and hosting the event.

    For the occasion, have this bunch of Vets cosplaying each other <3

    #my art stuff #vets#snk#veterans#mike zacharias#as Hange#Moblit Berner#as Nanaba#Erwin Smith#as Moblit#Nanaba#as Erwin#Hange Zoe#as Levi#Levi Ackerman#as Mike #nice fake moustache you have there Levi <3 so sexy #nanaba really nailed it though let's be honest #aotveteransday#snkveteransday #aot veterans day
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  • harurunhol
    22.10.2021 - 1 hour ago

    Kitty

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  • aboutmilesaway
    22.10.2021 - 2 hours ago

    I saw this meme weeks ago and I thought about these three.

    I like to think that during official meetings between all the corps, Hange is the one who’s going to piss off a lot of people unconsciously, Levi going like : “Oi four eyes shut up or I’ll do it for you. And you Nile, take what you said about her back and I won’t kick the shit out of you that bad so you can still take a shit without being a crybaby.” While Erwin is desperately trying to calm the game and negociate for the financing of their next exploration ouside the walls.

    Thank you @burdge (She’s my favourite artist did I mention it before?) for the help and inspiration of Levi especially (he’s so freaking hard to draw!)

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  • rukia-deja-vu
    22.10.2021 - 3 hours ago

    Erwin fans today ✨

    #Erwin smith#snk #shingeki no kyojin
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  • rukia-writes
    22.10.2021 - 3 hours ago
    #cries in adorable #levi ackerman #shingeki no kyojin #Erwin smith
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  • leverrdelune
    22.10.2021 - 4 hours ago

    lets talk abt levi’s choice scene in ep55.

    levi, as we all know, is a very level-headed person. he never lets his emotions to cloud his judgement nor let it affect his decisions and actions. and he never hesitates.

    however in this episode, the moment when his rational decision-making was needed the most– it was to save the commander who is time and time again had proven that he could free the humanity instead of a smart kid who has the same potential but is, still a kid– he chose to be compassionate it’s ironic.

    he chose armin not because he wanted to save armin but because he wanted to save erwin (even though it wasn’t an easy decision for him too.) and spare him from his duty that requires him to be hard-hearted and making all the tough decisions that are more often than not involving the lives of his subordinates. 

    levi decides it would be kinder to let erwin pass.

    “and in the end, when he had finally been set free from hell, we wanted to bring him back once more. 
    but i think it’s time to let him rest”
    #aot#i talk#levi ackerman#erwin smith#armin arlert #floch was right in a way when he said armin is alive bc eren and levi couldnt let go of their emotions #hes still an ass tho #cant you tell #i just love levi so much #let me just say that he didnt want armin to d1e just as much #but he needed to be practical
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  • emmysmith
    22.10.2021 - 4 hours ago

    Omg Omg Omg

    Sanrio!Erwin is Kitty 🥺🥺🥺🤗🥰💖💖💖💖💖👌🙏👍

    #snk#aot#erwin smith #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #sanrio #sanrio x Snk collaboration #erwin kitty#so cute
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  • the-shadow-of-your-heart
    22.10.2021 - 12 hours ago
    #attack on titan 3x01 #shingeki no kyojin 3x01 #aot 3x01#snk 3x01 #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk #attack on titan season 3 #shingeki no kyojin season 3 #aot season 3 #snk season 3 #erwin smith
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  • the-shadow-of-your-heart
    22.10.2021 - 12 hours ago
    #attack on titan 3x01 #shingeki no kyojin 3x01 #aot 3x01#snk 3x01 #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk #attack on titan season 3 #shingeki no kyojin season 3 #aot season 3 #snk season 3 #erwin smith#levi ackerman
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  • the-shadow-of-your-heart
    22.10.2021 - 12 hours ago
    #attack on titan 3x01 #shingeki no kyojin 3x01 #aot 3x01#snk 3x01 #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk #attack on titan season 3 #shingeki no kyojin season 3 #aot season 3 #snk season 3 #erwin smith
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  • the-shadow-of-your-heart
    22.10.2021 - 12 hours ago
    #attack on titan 3x01 #shingeki no kyojin 3x01 #aot 3x01#snk 3x01 #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk #attack on titan season 3 #shingeki no kyojin season 3 #aot season 3 #snk season 3 #erwin smith#levi ackerman
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  • bluebellhairpin
    22.10.2021 - 13 hours ago
    #nemo answers#yow anon #erwin smith x reader
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  • ack3rlady
    22.10.2021 - 15 hours ago
    #💦 Anon #I may or may not have died finishing this thirst #erwin x reader #erwin smith x reader #erwin thirst#aot thirsts#snk thirst#thirsty thursday#CalmDownMia
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  • arachnes-weaver
    22.10.2021 - 16 hours ago

    aot vet trio, just because i can

    #hange zoe#hange#erwin smith#levi ackerman #aot vet trio #vet trio#aot #attack on titan #attack on titan fanart #aot fanart#aot art
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  • beyondthewalls101
    22.10.2021 - 16 hours ago
    #attack on titan #aot x reader #shingeki no kyojin #snk#erwin smith #erwin smith x reader #erwin x reader #my writing#reader insert #anime x reader
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  • ack3rlady
    22.10.2021 - 16 hours ago

    Erwin is the kind of man who pulls his jacket around you when he hugs you at the pier on a crisp autumn evening. He leaves lingering kisses on your forehead and rests his head on top of yours as you watch the sunset together.

    #I need the commander to kiss my forehead please and thank you #Also rest his head on mine #I'm giddy#erwin smith #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk #attack on titan headcanons #shingeki no kyojin headcanons #snk headcanons#aot headcanons #erwin smith headcanons #erwin smith imagine #erwin x reader #erwin smith x reader
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  • just-another-evil-immortal
    21.10.2021 - 18 hours ago

    SNK characters in a highschool AU

    this is all snk characters as students and what they are/where like in their school time in a modern AU

    implied or referenced ships: Yumihisu, MikaSasha, Eruri, HitchAni, PoruKoru

    CW: weed and smoking

    -----------------------

    Eren

    He’s pretty average, there’s no subjects he’s good at but also none he’s super bad at. He’s relatively good in PE but not good enough to play any sport.

    He get’s picked on sometimes and usually tries to fight the people doing it since he got some anger issues but he usualy doesn’t get out on top. Actually neither get out on top since Mikasa usually get’s him out of these situations and drags both parties to a teacher

    Every try he had at dating someone has been a failure, either they person didn’t realize he was flirting with them or they outright rejected him.

    The teachers are often neutral to him becuase while he's mostly good in classes he often loses hsis temper in class

    Mikasa

    she's a straight a student in most subjects

    get's along well with all teachers but is still relatively liked by her classmates

    often has to force Eren to study before tests

    sometimes she's the only thing keeping Armin and Eren alive at school

    she wear exclusively black and often has a full face of goth makeup t´so there's a good amount of people (especialy lower classes) who are scared of her and there's rumors she does black magic to get her good grades

    Armin

    Straight A student too

    not popular with his peers though, he doesn't get bullied from people in his class but a lot of people from other classes make his life living hell

    A lot of people ask him to send them the solutions for homework and he's often too nice to say no

    often people ask him to copy off him during tests but he makes sthem study instead and comes to their houses to personally tutor them. He almost singlehandedly brough Reiner, Jean and connie through 10th grade that way

    Jean

    he tries to be popular desperately but isn't

    he's hit on almost every girl his age, the only one who didn't reject him was Hitch but they only dated for 3 months until she started dating Reiner

    he's average or below average in every subject excpet for some reason english

    Unvoluntarily hangs out with Sasha, Connie and Ymir because Marco is friends with them and noone else want's to hang out with him

    his first day in class he picked a fight to kinda ssert dominance instead he got almost beaten by Eren and dragged to the principal by Mikasa

    he fell in love with her that day but never got a chance

    Connie

    he's failing every subject except sport. Armin is kinda bringing him through most of the other subjects but he only barely passes most of them

    most of his free time is spent playing video games

    he flirts with every female teacher and even some male ones. One time Eren's mom picked him up and he flirted with her which almost lead to them fighting the next day but Mikasa was able to prevent it

    everyone think's him and Sasha are a couple which is understandable since they're extremly close but he's not really intrested in dating yet and Sasha is a lesbain

    Sasha

    pretty average in every subject but could be at the top of the class if she studied

    her and Connie sit in the last row and she's always eating. somewhow she has never gotten caught

    most people in her class like her but find her weird but she always brings candy for everyone so noone dares to be mean to her

    she's surprisingly friends with Mikasa. There's some rumors the two are dating but noone realy know's if it's true

    Historia

    She's a straight A student but only because her father is making her get private tutoring. She often studies with Ymir a second time so she doesn't fail any classes

    her dad is pretty rich so she's a popular kid by default. In school she hangs out with the popular kids but she doesn't really like any of them very much

    Off school she hangs out with Connie, Sasha and Ymir. Her father doesn't allow her to meet with them but she usually just tells him she's sseeing Reiner

    Her and Reiner are/were fake dating. they're both gay and not out to their family so they use eachother as beards.

    a lot of people think she's cheating on Reiner with Ymir but some suspect that they're not actually dating

    She wanted to break up with Reiner once but he convinced her not to so he could stay closeted. They agreed on staying together until graduation

    Ymir

    only barely passes most classes thanks to Historia

    She comes from poor parents and is living on her own at 17.

    She's a year older than most people in the grade because she failed 6th grade once and had to do it again.

    She's the class weed dealer which makes her more or less popular

    The first time her and Historia had contact was when she tried to buy weed in 8th grade to spite her father.

    Historia ended up paying double the price and they smoked it together

    Neither her nor Historia or anyone else in the grade knows what exactly is going on between them. It's very obvious they're in love and they spend most of their time together but haven't talked about whether they're dating or not yet.

    Reiner

    he's average in most subjects but only thanks to Armin. In the lower classes he used to always copy off him but as Armin got more confident he didn't allow it anymore and got Reiner to study with him instead

    part of the popular group too but only really friends with Historia who he's fake dating.

    He was the first person to ever break up with Hitch (she usually breaks up with someone) and everyone started suspecting he's gay so he asked Historia if they could pretend to be eachothers partners.

    his best friend is Bertold who he knows since kindergarten and they're getting closer over time. Bert is basically the only person (bseides Historia and Annie who at least suspects it) to know he's gay and has supported him sicne day one

    Bertold

    He's the person noone realizes he's absent when he's not there. Noone really talks to him since he's really shy and people barely know anything about him

    One of the better students and get's almsot only As

    His only friends are Reiner, Armin and Marco.

    Amrco is friends with Armin and Armin is tutoring Reiner, that#s how they became friends. He often watches star trek or plays dnd with Armin and Marco since Reiner finds star trek boring and doesn't understan (or refuses to) dnd

    Annie

    above average but not one of the top students

    she doesn't really talk to most people and noone really knows anything about her except that she pays bass, has known Bert and Reiner for a pretty long time and is somehow part of the popular friendgroup

    her and Hitch are dating. She's the first person Hitch hasn't broken up with after 3 months or less (except Reiner) and they've been dating for a year now.

    A lot of people are scared of her because the rumor goes around she has killed someone and knows martial arts. The first part isn't true, the second one is, she has a black belt in Judo.

    class president of her class

    Hitch

    relatively bad grades but she barely passes and that's enough for her

    not even Annie could get her to study

    dated about 10 boys in 2 years until she realized she's a lesbian and started dating Annie

    everyone thinks he asked Annie out but it was the other way around

    She also knows that Reiner is gay because she looked through his phone once while they were dating which was the reason the broke up.

    She often still flirts with him a s a joke which eh just finds annyoing

    Levi

    As a student he was a bad boy but not necessarily trying to be one. He owned a motorcycle because he needed to get to school somehow and the leatehr jacket was 20 dollars second hand. smoking was just a bad ahbit he had picked up from his uncle and everything together made him look lie a bad boy

    he was actually a pretty decent person, he had good grades, helped his classmates if they aksed him (which rarely happened) and didn't do anything criminal

    he was just poor and scary looking so everyone though he was a criminal

    as an adult he's a math and physics teacher

    new students oftenthink he's laughable but after one week at most they're terrified of him even though there is no real reason to be. If someone is a decent person, no matter whather tehy're good in hiss class or not, he's nice to them and even offers help

    there's a rumor going around that Erwin is cheating on his wife with him which is just untrue

    Erwin

    as a student he was a typical nerd that got bullied until he became friends iwth Levi somehow (through Hange probably).

    His dad was a teacher at his school so he got picked on for that too. his dad always stayed his hero though

    he was a very shy kid and only really got out of his shell after befriending levi an Hange

    As an adult he's a history and english teacher

    He's both respected and feared by his students because while he's a fun teacher he get#s loud very quick and most people onyl try to challenge him once

    More than once has someone brough him on a tanget he spent the whole lesson talking about. Most of the time it's Ymir, somehow he's one of the few teachers taht gets along with her though.

    He often talks about hsi partner and uses neutral pronouns for them, ost students just think he has a wife when in reality it's Levi. They're relatively affectionate, not physically but verbally and that's where the rumor he's cheating on his wife with Levi came from

    coaches the football (soccer) team of the school which is probably one of the reasons him and Ymir get along

    Hange

    They were a straight a student but also e very troublesome kid

    they somehow befriended Levi in 7th grade and Erwin just kinda tagged along with them since him and Hange were the best students of the class and they were the only one who seemed to like him.

    They got in trouble a few times for stealing supplies from the chemistry lab

    in 8th grade they started wearing a lab coat and refuesed to change that. they wore it on top of their clothes everyday until graduation.

    They went on to become a teacher and strated becoming friends with Zeke for some reason because they were the only science teachers in the school

    basically ever student likes them. They watch a lot of movies in class but still do teach a lot themselves

    They still wear a lab coat every day and always have safety googles ither over their glasses or on their head even in the teachers lounge. They also wear crocs everyday which Levi ahs been trying to make them stop doing.

    Pieck

    she's mostly get's As and Bs

    also part of the popular group even though she doesn't really care about it

    some people find her very odd but virtually every boy her age has a crush on her but noone has the courage to ask her out

    she's a grade above the rest of the people but still mostly friends with them

    she often eats lunch with the teachers, especially zeke who she jsut talks to a lot, even during class

    people find that pretty weird but the thruth is she just likes talking to someone who's mentally a bit further than the people her age and there's nothing secretive going on. They mostly talk about politics anyways.

    class president of her classs

    Porco

    a B student but used to be worse. Pieck helped him become better after he almost didn't pass 9th grade

    in the same grade as Pieck, he's been in love with her since like 3rd grade and has no idea why she suddenly wanted to be friends with him in 6th grade

    Not a lot of friends but he prefers it that way. Mostly just Pieck, Colt and his brother.

    He has a problem with reiner, no idea why but he can't stand him. He probably thinks Reiner is a danger to his relationship with Pieck and has no idea how wrong he is.

    After Pieck rejects him once he surprisingly moves on pretty fast. Him and Colt get closer but nothing happens yet, maybe in the future. Pieck is a big fan of them as a couple

    Zeke

    As a kid he was a bit weird, he had good grades but bullied people. Probably because he was scared he'd get bullied himself otherwise.

    He especially used to bully Erwin by throwing rocks at him but stopped after Levi once threatened him.

    Played baseball as a kid but got a very bad injury in college and hasn't really played since

    As an adult he get's along surprisingly well with Erwin since they both teach english and make a competition of who the better english teacher is

    coaches the baseball and softball teams of the school.

    Has another competition with Erwin. the coach of which ever team loses the most matches has to buy pizza for the the winner team. Most years they agree to bot just buy pizza for both teams though, the competition is just to motivate the players.

    There's an inside joke at the school that he's scared of Levi 8which is still true) so everytime he tells someone to get anotehrteacher they get Levi.

    Yelena

    a garde above Pieck

    one of the better students in her class but not at the top of the class

    she used to have a weird crush on Zeke when she was younger and is embarassed every time someone mentions it

    she has no friends in her grade but instead just spends a lot of time with Pieck

    a big portion of students don't knwo what her gender is and even some teachers

    Colt

    a grade belwo Reiner etc

    good in most subjects but sucks in math

    he often passes for older than he is and getÄs his hands on alcohol every now and then. Sometimes after school him and a few friends drink beer just to seem cool, Porco often takes it off him

    Porco helps him in math

    Gabi

    average grades

    most teachers don't get along with er since she's pretty loud and often get's confronational

    has beat up a few boys in her grade and almost got kicked off the school once

    She's started being a bit less confrontational after that

    Falco

    Very good grades

    Gabi didn't like him but he started helping her in school and they became friends somehow

    he's a bit embarassed of his brother for no reason other than teachers always recognize him because of their last name and the fat that they're almost identical

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  • selfships-in-spanish
    21.10.2021 - 18 hours ago

    The Queen of Demons 5/?

    Pairing: Erwin Smith x OC, Levi Ackerman x OC

    Rating: Mature (the rating will go up as the story advances! But it will totally be explicit ;D I even have some smut chapters already half written woooo! But right now just in case)

    Warnings: None for now, but sexist and misogynist upbringing (Eva’s father is a huge asshole).

    Word Count: 13.538

    ALSO POSTED ON AO3

    A/N: Jesus Christ this month has destroyed me. A lot is going on, I had 0 time to write and I managed to do a bit when I had 5 minutes to sit my ass down. At least Patreon is working good enough!
    But the plot thickens! 👀 There are a lot of "AHHH THEY TOUCHED" moments that had me screaming, and I'm so sorry for putting Eva through all this... but it will be worth it in the end! C'mon girl, you will get through it 💪

    CHAPTER 5: OLD FOREST OF THE ANCIENT GODS

    There was not a cloud in sight, an unwavering blue sky greeting them as they passed through the village’s main gates. Although pale, the sun shone bright, even if it did not warm as it should.

    Still, Eva did not feel the cold.

    How could she? Even through her winter cloak and thick winter dress, Eva could feel the warmth the Chief irradiated. Like a well fed furnace. Constant. Blazing. Comforting…

    No, no, no. She could not be thinking about that. Where did her proper manners go? She tried to maintain as much distance between their bodies as possible, not believing how they were… touching, something completely unthinkable back home. In Gottesreich it wouldn’t be until their wedding day where they could leisurely hold hands and become more intimate. But in Eldia? Not even a day and she was riding on the same horse! Astride!

    Her riding teacher would be spitting fire at the sight, like those dragons from her books and legends.

    But the Princess’s efforts to put some distance were in vain. The horse’s movement and stony path made Eva often fall back into the Chieftain’s chest, much to her dismay. Feeling the Chief’s shoulders slightly shake in amusement, at least trying to conceal it and not make Eva more self-conscious than she was, at her gasps when their bodies collided, made her even more vexed than she already was.

    Her behaviour was being so improper! And he wasn’t helping.

    The Princess tried to keep her mind out of this inconvenient situation by looking at the beautiful scenery in front of her. Yesterday she found it worthy of a painting done by the best court artists, even if she marvelled at it from inside her carriage and the caged view it provided, but now that she had the entire sight for her eyes to feast on? Breathtaking.

    The pure white from the snow looked like an immaculate mantle, as if the softest of silks were draped over the entire expanse of land that it touched. The faraway mountains, covered in snow also, reminded her of those sweets from back home the cooks baked for her, the tops powdered with sugar. Eva spotted smoke coming out of the scattered farm houses chimneys, getting lost in the sky, and for a moment wished she could be there, enjoying the warmth of a fire.

    Beautiful, calm, serene, elegant. That’s what this view told her. Blissful peacefulness.

    It was contagious, and the stillness of the fallen snow lulled Eva into a sense of tranquillity. The Princess came to the conclusion that it was better and easier to accept that she will have to endure an entire ride on the Chief’s stallion mercy. Closeness included.

    They kept a relaxed pace, not rushing the animals and being careful of the frozen puddles on the road. Back in Gottesreich, Flora would already have started to hum a song as they watched the scenery from inside their carriage, Eva eventually joining her and following the rhythm with their tapping feet. Eva caught herself just in time before she let out the first note, too enraptured with her own thoughts and memories and the rocking of the horse too, to notice how she was taking a deep chilly breath.

    The Chief noticed the change of her posture, going rigid again, and the huge exhale of air she let out, trying in vain to conceal it. The eldian warrior misinterpreted it as the Princess getting bored out of her mind, and frowned, thinking about ways to entertain her. What could he do? He’d love to ask about a million topics, if they shared the same language; Erwin had always possessed a curious and inquisitive mind, and vividly remembers having his big nose buried in one of his father’s books. He still does, when he is able. But speaking leisurely with the Princess would come… he hoped. Preparations had already begun for it. But what else could he— ah! That might work.

    Eva was startled by the Chief’s gentle tapping of his fingers on her arm, discreetly asking for her attention. The Princess saw the Chief’s massive arm cover her right side view, following his outstretched arm to where his finger was pointing at. Eva willfully avoided the thought of how their bodies were practically glued together, feeling his rumbling chest as he purred out some eldian words in her ear— at least for Eva, he was purring out words in the shell of her ear, low enough for only them to hear it, just shy of a murmur. His voice had no right to sound that way, this close. Is this what awaited her, every day, for the rest of her life?

    The Chief watched the tips of her ears reddening up further, knowing it was not the cold this time. Woops. He had to remind himself of how different their body languages were in their own respective cultures.

    But Eva did look to where the Eldian Chief was pointing over, scrunching slightly her eyes and— oh!

    “Cows!”

    A smile found her lips upon seeing the gentle animals strolling around. Eva noticed how they were a different breed from what she was used to, just like the horses. Eva knew all the gottesreichan breeds, as she had been taught in her lessons, and had never seen the Eldian breed before even though she had read about it. They were absolutely adorable with the long coat of fur over their bodies, even when the long hairs covered their eyes, a beautiful mirage of black and honey brown over the snow. It still amazed the Princess how that breed of cows had such big horns.

    Eva couldn’t tear her gaze away from them, transfixed. She did not notice the Chief discreetly looking at her, pleased he managed to communicate without words and show her something. He also found her smile beautiful— her brothers weren’t lying. Erwin’s eyes also found themselves with the expanse of her neck at his viewing pleasure, unguarded, soft, long, little hairs falling out of the perfect up braid and bun… it looked kissable.

    No! No. Erwin, no.

    All this had a meaning. A purpose. They had a plan and Erwin would carry it to perfection. No distractions allowed. Erwin made a promise to her brothers, had a deal, and whatever stray thoughts a lonely man had, would stay sealed deep inside.

    Maybe if things had been different… If they had met in another way.

    The Chief teared his eyes away, looking straight ahead with intent. Eva kept looking at the beautiful cows, wishing she could pet them and stop time for a moment.

    It wasn’t too long until they reached the forest’s entrance, leaving behind the few scattered houses and their fields and cattle. Two massive obelisks, made of old and robust wood, marked the entrance. They had the same carved markings, or at least quite similar, as the ones from back in the village’s houses and Great Hall. The obelisks looked like they were put there a long, long time ago, judging by the rugged and chipped wood, the paint having washed and fallen off, only a few remains visible still, an ashen tone around the grooves and the moss covering them all over. They truly looked ancient.

    The Chief led them through the obelisks, entering the forest. The path was wide enough that two horses could ride next to the other with more than enough space, even three in a more narrow fit, but the Chief rode first and alone, with everyone else following behind. The forest was quiet besides the sounds of birds and the horse’s hooves thudding on the snow, as well as the wooden cart creaking its way into the woods. Everything was covered in thick layers of snow, even the bushes from where the trees allowed the sky to show. The path was marked with short wooden stakes spread out unevenly along its sides, as if they had been an afterthought, deeply embedded into the ground. Some fell, others remained askew and bent or broken from nature itself.

    They kept venturing further into the forest’s path, carefully avoiding fallen branches. Eva marvelled at the frondosity of the forest, as well as the massive sizes some trees had. The deeper they went, the bigger the trees grew in size and girth, as if nobody dared to disturb them for centuries. This was an old forest, for sure. Everything about it screamed ancient, that it had seen the rise and fall of many kingdoms. The thought of it made Eva feel as if she only was a small, brief being on this earth. A blink.

    For a moment, still reflecting these feelings, Eva thought about how stupid wars were, when humans just had such a short period of time to be alive. Shouldn't everyone be spending it by being happy? Rejoicing in life itself? Eva shivered, feeling tiny. Useless.

    That’s when the Chief surprised her once again, feeling the hood of her winter cloak lift itself from her shoulders and be carefully set on her head, mindful of her braids and flowers. Then, he pulled his own open eldian cloak around them both, successfully sheltering the Princess.

    Eva wanted to scream.

    Instead, a gasp escaped her mouth.

    This was scandalous! Eva found herself at the total mercy of the Chief’s whims and she was not happy about it, no escape, no way to put distance. Did he want a feel of what awaited him, behind closed doors once they were married? Was this a way to intimidate her? Show her how powerless, useless she was in his hands? The Princess wanted to bolt right out of the warm cocoon, as she reluctantly had to admit, she found herself in.

    Don’t cause a scene, like a vulgar wench.

    Her father’s voice echoed in her mind.

    Are you a vulgar wench?

    Cold eyes.

    I didn’t think so. You are a princess, vulgarity is out of the question for someone like you.

    Lips pulled down in a grimace.

    Don’t bring a crude, disgusting attitude into this sacred Kingdom.

    Nose flaring.

    I will give you a reason to cr–

    Eva cried for the entire day.

    Deep breaths. That’s what she needed to do when she felt her chest squeeze itself in. Deep breaths. Think of your surroundings, what was there to see? Focus on it, what can you see?

    I can see trees. I can see branches covered in snow. I can see the horse’s ears. I can see the path dividing into two. I can see a giant, leafless oak tree in the middle of the split path. I can see–

    A blue glow flickered behind the thick and mossy tree trunks on her left. It was faint but powerful enough to be seen in daylight, and caught the Princess’ undivided attention. The glow of the light was gentle, placid, like the tender caress of the moon’s light on a starry night. Eva couldn’t help but to stare at it, transfixed, wanting to know what was the source of it. It was a beautiful light.

    The faint blue glow slowly followed their pace, shining unsteadily as it went through the massive expanse of trees and bushes. Eva narrowed her eyes, trying desperately to see what that silhouette was. By the way it moved, it looked like a four-legged animal, like a horse or a deer.

    Did nobody else see this?

    Eva ventured a quick glance sideways towards the Chief, but his head was staring straight ahead, as if the glow was invisible to him.

    Upon scrunching her sight further, the Princess realised it was a stag. An enormous stag. The antlers were unnaturally big, twisting and bending on themselves, forming a quite frightening shape.

    What, in God's name, was that.

    The outlandish creature silently followed them, not making a single sound. Eva could only hear the hooves of their horses, some of them huffing, the cart creaking, the birds tweeting…

    The stag suddenly stopped. Eva couldn’t stop staring, although something kept her on edge. Her grip on the Chief’s stallion crest and the saddle’s horn tightened, feeling the fabric of her gloves crack under the strain.

    Eva just blinked once.

    It was a flash, quick as lightning.

    The stag had turned its head towards the Princess, and she could feel its gaze focused on her. The Princess held her breath, uneasiness gnawing every fibre of her body.

    Eva blinked again.

    Those eyes flashed in her mind. Big. Opaque. Dark blue.

    Another blink.

    Eva felt as if the creature charged towards her.

    A strangled gasp escaped her lips, unconsciously throwing herself back in fear, hands grasping whatever was within reach, squeezing hard.

    Blink.

    The stag was gone.

    The Chief quickly grabbed the Princess’ falling body, pulling her against him and wrapping his arms around her as the Chief hurriedly pulled the reins to stop his horse. The rest of the group did the same, stopping immediately upon seeing and hearing the ruckus. The Chief heard some of the men dismount, footsteps thudding on the snow. The Princess was frightened, as if something spook her on that side of the woods, and without thinking twice, the Chief moved her so she sat on her side, instead of astride the horse. Eva let him, pressing herself against his body, unaware of the hood falling from her head and some of the flowers falling down or getting crushed on the Chief’s chest. This way he could easily shield her of whatever danger may lurk behind the bushes and tree trunks. The Eldian leader looked at the point where the Princess had been staring, trying to find the source of it.

    Nothing.

    Levi appeared on his left side, his hands already on the hilt of his sword. He threw a questioning look to him, then glanced quickly at the Princess. Her face was pale. Levi frowned. The Chief answered him, nodding towards the woods as he spoke. Levi turned to face the same spot he was referring to, trying to see what scared the Gottesreichan Princess.

    Nothing.

    Prince Hans and Moblit approached them too, with Moblit asking his Chieftain what happened for them to suddenly stop. The Eldian leader told the same he did with Levi, and asked if the Crown Prince could help in inquiring further about it to his sister. Prince Hans nodded, slowly approaching them and gently placing his gloved hand on his sister’s ankle.

    “Eva?”

    Eva managed to rip her gaze away from the exact spot where the stag stood, looking down at her brother. The way her eyes were wide open concerned the prince.

    “Did something happen?”

    “T-there was– Big horns, it ran, it was– i-it stared at me and then it–”

    “Eva, darling, breathe. Calm down, what was that you saw?”

    Eva took a deep breath, gulped down the knot in her throat.

    “I-I don’t know, I don’t know–”

    “Did you say horns, your Highness?”

    “I–” Eva’s eyes went from Moblit, to Hans and then to Levi, and the Chief too, all of them waiting for her response. Their awaiting gazes felt like hands squeezing her lungs and brains. The Chief’s thumb trying to reassure her felt scorching hot.

    ...Don’t cause a scene, like a–

    She was causing a scene. She stopped the entire party because she got frightened over a… a stupid halucination, because her mind played tricks on her, for sure. Eva heard stress could do that to oneself, because that thing could not be real. And she was stressed.

    Yes, it had to be that. No mystical stags with massive antlers.

    The three men saw how the Princess forced herself to compose and gather her wits as if a spell had been casted on her, as if she had not lurched back and almost fell in a terrified mess. A mask devoid of feelings. Hans knew who forced that “magic trick” on her, and clenched his jaw in anger.

    With a fake smile, the Princess spoke, trying to control the quivering in her voice and desperately pushing away the image of the stag’s antlers charging at her.

    “My deepest apologies for making such a ridiculous and nonsensical scene, my Lords.” You must think of me as a fragile, spoiled, useless– “It was not my intention to make the horses stop. I must have seen a branch moved by the wind or a wild animal.” Stupid, stupid, stupid!

    Prince Hans was not buying it. He knew his sister, practically raised her, because Father’s “efforts” couldn’t be called parenting, so he perfectly knew when she was spitting out massive amounts of bullshit. But he waited until Moblit translated and the Eldian warriors nodded in acknowledgement, going back to their horses and away from Moblit’s earshot, to speak again to his sister.

    “Eva,” he briefly squeezed his hand on her boot, catching her attention. “Tell us later what you saw, okay?”

    “I didn’t–”

    “Eva.” she involuntarily flinched, and Hans wanted to kick himself; he was often reminded how he looked like Father when he was angry, and he hated it. The Chief’s icy glare directed at him made the sentiment grow. “Eva, I’m not mad, I’m concerned. We cannot protect you if we don’t know what we are fighting against.”

    “I’m sorry, I don’t want to be a bother as I am right now.”

    “You are not being a bother, Eva. Don’t apologise for that.”

    “I’m sorry– ouch!”

    Hans flicked his finger on her knee.

    “Stop saying sorry, you have nothing to apologise for.” Hans replied. Eva had unclenched one of her hands to rub her knee, pouting, and that made the Crown Prince let out an amused huff. “C’mon, we will talk later.”

    “Okay.” Hans was relieved to see his sister’s soft smile timidly appear.

    The Chief waited until everyone got back to their horses before he resumed the pace. He kept glancing to where the Princess had spotted something, and upon looking ahead to guide his horse, he recalled the legends and myths surrounding the Eldian woods, and in particular this area with the leafless oak tree.

    This particular forest was known for the spirits inhabiting it, sometimes showing themselves. Maybe it was the first time the Princess encountered one, considering her Kingdom’s policy on magical creatures. He would need Hange and Moblit to explain the spiritual world further to her, knowing they were the true experts.

    As they reached the bifurcation of the path, the Eldian leader led them to the right, leaving the oak tree behind and lining up to cross the river’s bridge. They were close to their destination, that enormous glade just after the river, where they could set the tent and lit a bonfire to shelter the ritual testimonies and his future bride from the cold.

    His future bride.

    Erwin looked down, searching for her face. He found the Princess still deep in thought, her gaze lost.

    He would really have to inquire further about it, dissipate any fears about the woods to her. Spirits were not evil, curious and mischievous yes, but the forest’s deities were good-natured, amiable.

    The Chief still had his arm wrapped around her body, his hand resting on her abdomen, reassuring, as they continued their journey, and he had no intention to take it back. Eva let him, needing to feel secure after her encounter with the glowing stag. The Chief knew she was still trembling in fear, and made no comment or movement of how her own hand was clutching his tunic, or how she curled up further, not wanting to look out at the woods again.

    It was a silent message, clear as crystalline water.

    Help me, I’m scared.

    And when the Chief gently squeezed his hand, pulling her closer, if that was even possible, answered her silent cry.

    I’ll protect you.

    The Princess believed it as she still felt those dark blue eyes glued to the back of her head as they left behind the oak tree.

    They arrived at their destination without any further incidents. The eldian warriors got off their horses first, already taking everything they needed from the cart to set a quick tent to protect their guests from the unforgiving eldian winter and cold. The Chief stopped his horse in the flattest surface he could see, and gracefully dismounted without first guiding the Princess’ right hand on the horn, then the left on the cantle when he had his foot on the stirrup and was facing her, so she wouldn’t fall when he moved down. Once happy the Princess was secure, the Chief’s feet thudded into a soft grass bed covered in a thick layer of snow.

    The Chief looked down, seeing his own worn boots sunken in the snow. Nobody had disturbed that snowfall, maybe some animals, but it had accumulated from the past weeks of snowy days and nights. He then looked at the Princess’ feet, and doubted the Princess’ boots would be thick enough for the forest snow; if it covered half his foot, then it would surely reach her ankles easily, recalling how small she was compared to him on last night’s banquet dance.

    His feet moved on their own, pushing and shoving the snow away to make a clear spot for her to stand on without wetting the thin leather; he would need to talk to the shoemakers of the village, and seamstresses and tailors also, to make some appropriate Eldian winter clothes for her, or else the Princess wouldn’t last a week without falling ill. Erwin had no doubts about Hange’s healing skills, but he was sure Friederich wouldn’t be pleased, to say it mildly.

    Once he was satisfied and saw the deep green of the wet grass, Erwin looked up, finding the Princess staring at him and being caught red handed. The Princess quickly averted her gaze, embarrassed at her lack of decorum, and Erwin saw how her cheeks and ears flushed quite prominently. He tried to quell her anxiousness with a smile, moving closer to her and grabbing the stirrup so she could set her right heel on it, trying to make clear to her that he didn’t take it as an offense. The Princess let the Chief guide her, unconsciously tightening her grip on the horn of the saddle when the Eldian leader gently took her leather-clad ankle and made her put it on the stirrup. The Princess was reminded, once again, how massive this man was.

    The Chief raised his left hand, signaling her to take it. Once she did, timidly posing her hand on his, and thinking he would only aid her to not fall flat on her face, the Chief surprised her by gently tugging her hand forward, on top of his shoulder, and making her body inevitably fall forward. Eva’s other hand had shooted onwards, joining the other on his opposite shoulder. The Princess let out a tiny gasp when she felt both the gravity do its job and the Chief’s hands grasp her waist, easily picking her up like she did on the banquet’s dance from last night, and easing her down on her feet right on the spot he cleared earlier. The Chief watched the flurry of skirts and cloak flow as she landed, reminding him of the summer snowflakes that bloomed in Spring. Even in her unfamiliarity of her environment, the Chief thought of her unconscious gracefulness elegant.

    She really was small.

    His hands felt like they were a perfect fit.

    The clearing of someone’s throat brought them both back to the present, their little bubble being popped off. They both turned to see Levi impatiently waiting with his arms crossed, and in the distance, the Chief could see Friederich’s stare hurling dagger after dagger at him. Throwing an apologetic smile towards the Prince, because he knew it would be useless on his friend, the Chief let go of her waist as the Princess hurriedly withdrew her hands from his shoulders, as if she had been burned. Levi said something to the Chief, which he answered with his usual smile and cheeky retorts that made Levi want to smack him.

    Both eldians kept talking while Levi walked towards the Chief’s horse, taking the reins and tugging the enormous beast with him, leaving the Chief to deal with the Princess. Said man turned to her, offering his arm like he did back at the village. Eva tightened her closed fists before forcing herself to unclench them, accepting the Chief’s invitation and letting him guide her back to the rest of the party.

    Flora was already inside the tent, a dusting of red on her cheeks too as she helped ready the wooden folding stools, putting thick pelts on the stool’s fabric seat. Nanaba was fanning the beginnings of a fire, while Mike helped her by setting more logs nearby for when they would be needed, and making sure the smoke vent opening of the tent was secure and working. There was a table with various objects laid in it, going from bowls to sage sticks, a dark powder and other items that were going to be used shortly, to a bow and a quiver full of arrows. Moblit was conversing with Prince Hans, seemingly talking about the Eldian tent and how it worked, comparing it with the Gottesreichan ones. Friederich tagged along, but was absolutely ignoring the conversation in favour of watching the Chief and his sister come inside.

    The Eldian warriors saluted their Chief and went back to their chores and preparations. Moblit took the cue to lead the Gottesreichan princes to their Chief, awaiting his leader’s signal to proceed with the marital ritual. They all waited until every single one of the preparations were done, so there would be no disturbances from now on.

    Moblit explained the next step of the ritual, mindful to describe and illustrate each stage of it so it was clear to everyone and didn’t lead to any misunderstandings. Eva shivered at the mention of blood, not being very keen at the sight of it. From her culture’s perspective, this was truly barbaric. What did Father get her into? As Moblit finished, they began the ritual, not wanting to delay it further and kept exposing the Gottesreichan guests to the cold.

    First, we must cleanse the betrothed of negative energy.

    Nanaba took her cue, as one of the village’s priestesses, and walked to the table, taking the sage stick with her. She approached the fire and let the tip of the sage stick ignite, blowing on the flame so it would burn slowly. The smoke from the stick began to float around the tent, it’s minty scent reaching everyone present in it. The eldian warrior moved to where the Chief and the Princess stood, gently commanding them to stand in the proper way, with both their hands clasped together and facing each other. Eva’s heart made a leap, wanting to get out of her mouth at the closeness for the tenth time this day. What was it with Eldians and their need for… for proximity?!

    This was not like the dance, where they parted quickly to follow the music. The Princess had to endure looking at those intense blue eyes, gazing back at her, and fight every single fibre of her being to not flee and hide herself behind a tree or anything that managed to conceal her. His stare was unnerving, not because he was looking at her in any unsolicited way, but because she was not used at all to look into a man’s eyes, sans her brothers, and now she had to.

    Nanaba lifted the stick, the smoke following her movements and leaving a mystical trail behind it. She began speaking and chanting in Eldian with a beautiful and soft voice, reminiscing Eva of a gentle lullaby sung by doting mothers. Nanaba’s lips had a kind smile painted on them as she kept chanting and passing the burning sage around and between them. Every Eldian warrior present in the tent slowly joined in, their voices harmonically blending together. It was beautiful, otherworldly but enchanting in a magical way. Eva felt her tense shoulders slightly relax as the voices soothed her anxiety.

    Flora looked mesmerised at the cleansing ritual. Back home this would be straight out heresy and sin, any sort of witchcraft more than strictly prohibited; it’s penalty was death. But it was impossible to look away, it bewitched you to maintain your gaze on it as if two hands gently guided your gaze and didn’t let go. The handmaiden didn’t have to look at her side to see the Princes being transfixed as she was, she knew. Who could look away from it?

    As the chanting came to an end, slowly, kindly as before, the voices quieted down as Nanaba held the sage stick above their heads, closing her eyes with the finishing Eldian words. The Gottesreichan guests felt the immense urge to erupt into applause, almost feeling unworthy of having witnessed something so unique and private to their culture. Nanaba stepped back, leaving the burning sage to keep letting out its smoke in a stone plate as she prepared the next stage of the ritual.

    Once cleansed, the bride must paint her groom’s ancestors marks to honour his name and household, so he may enter the challenge bearing his warrior’s marks.

    Nanaba took a bowl and started mixing water, oil and the powder that had been carefully set before inside a leather pouch. With expert movements, she created the paint used for their body paintings and markings, that deep and rich blue Eva had seen on the warriors and the Chief upon arriving on Eldia. The paint looked thick as Nanaba lifted the stone pestle from the mortar, watching the blue liquid drip down.

    The warrior took the mortar, leaving the pestle on the table on top of a cloth, and walked back to the Chief and the Princess. She was smiling at them both, giving Eva an air of tranquility and peace with her gentle movements and soft expression. Nanaba held the mortar in her hands, holding it a bit higher so the Princess had it easier to dip her fingers in. The Chief let go of her hands and Eva took them back, not wanting to think about his warmth. The Princess busied herself by taking off her gloves, the tips of her ears turning red in embarrassment when one of the gloves got stuck at a finger, her trembling hands not helping her one bit. Both Nanaba and the Chief waited patiently, not giving any signals of annoyance or disdain for her clumsiness, as she would have expected from Father. Finally, she got rid of the stupid glove, and before she had to turn back to look for a surface to leave them on, her handmaiden took the initiative and stepped forward, hoping she wasn’t intruding much into the ritual. Flora took the gloves in silence, far gone was her cheery and cheeky smile, replaced by a solemn and serious expression. Flora stepped back into her place beside the Gottesreichan Princes, carefully holding the expensive gloves in her hands.

    Nanaba presented the mortar and Eva couldn’t be more lost than she was right now. She had to draw the warrior’s ancestor’s mark, but she had absolutely no idea what those were. The paintings he had yesterday on the Great Hall’s stairs? A stripe? Dots? Hand print? Eva looked at the mortar as if it held all the answers to her questions, desperately hoping it provided an answer… but it was just a stone mortar. Nanaba’s eyes widened in realisation, and caught the Princess’ attention by letting go of the mortar with one hand and lifting it to her own face. Eva stared at her fingers as they mimicked the lines she had to draw on the Chief’s face. Nanaba could see her relieved and profoundly thankful face, and was relieved herself too as it would have been quite disastrous and insightful of her to assume she would know them. Nanaba presented the mortar again and this time Eva lifted her own trembling hand to dip her fingers into the paint.

    It was cold and thick, and undoubtedly got under her nails –Flora wouldn’t be pleased about that– but still, Eva let her fingers thoroughly dip into it, preparing herself mentally for having to touch the Chief herself. But, there was another problem.

    He was too damn tall.

    Eva couldn’t reach his face without struggling to do so, straining her arms and body to reach him more easily, so she did not know how to ask the Chief to bend slightly down, so she wouldn’t make an embarrassing mess of the job. Eva still had her fingers inside the mortar, debating herself how to do it without dripping excessive paint on the floor and on their own clothes. Taking a deep breath, Eva decided to try her luck. Lifting her fingers, she let the excess of paint drop back down into the mortar, moving them out of it when she deemed it safe enough.

    The Chief didn’t stop gazing at her the entire time, patiently awaiting and enduring the ritual, and it only fueled her own nerves. What would he think of her if she made a disastrous mess? No! No, don’t let those thoughts in now, concentrate. Eva unconsciously bit her bottom lip, trying to quell the knots in her stomach, and completely obviated the way the Chief’s eyes quickly shifted down and back up. As she predicted, the Princess had trouble reaching his face, and inevitably watched a drop run down her hand and fall down, hitting his boot. Eva gasped, lurching back her hand and feeling her throat squeeze in itself. Oh no, no no no– this was terrible, catastrophic! Eva felt her lungs run out of air as her throat kept squeezing itself, feeling how her eyes stung and began to gather unshed tears.

    Eva screwed up, she screwed it up badly. Was the stain permanent? Could she ask Flora for help in how to remove it? The Princess did not dare to look up at the Chief, knowing this would only end in punishment. Eva only hoped the Chief would be merciful to some extent, knowing she would have to pay for ruining his boots. Oh dear, this was bad. So bad. She couldn’t even do one single stupid task, Father was right–

    Eva’s blurry vision filled itself with the Chief’s body and concerned face, having knelt down to try to bring the Princess back from her spiral of dread. His hand tenderly touched her face, trying to make her focus on him. The Chief felt anger bubbling inside him, witnessing first hand, sadly, what the brothers told him about their Father and their little sister. This wasn’t a normal reaction, this was someone who expected severe physical punishment, someone who lived in fear. Dear Goddesses above, he wanted to punch that man.

    The Chief tried to calm her down as one would do with a scared animal, executing slow and open-handed movements so they saw he meant no threat or harm. The Chief ventured a reassuring smile, his hand on her cheek not moving and forcing her to see how he was not mad. Erwin didn’t have to look behind the Princess to see everyone’s concerned faces, or the Princes ready to storm in –mainly Friederich– and secure their sister.

    The Eldian leader moved her dripping fingers towards his face, letting go of her own delicate face, and still kneeling at her feet. Eva never wanted to disappear more than she did right now; not only was she a huge embarrassment, but the Chief had to kneel at her feet. No noble or royal would lower themselves down for a peasant or foreigner, and yet, this Chieftain did without thinking twice. The Chief closed his eyes, waiting for the feel of her fingertips on his skin as if he was a venerable knight awaiting for his Princess’ touch at the throne room. The Princess swallowed down, harshly, gathered what resolve she could and went back to the ritual.

    Her hand was shaking, still not fully recovered from the scare, and involuntarily flinched her fingers when they touched his skin for the first time. The Princess scrambled to remember what Nanaba showed her: first, a wide stripe across his nose, from cheek to cheek. Eva willed her hand to move and felt her breath stutter for a completely different reason than her fear.

    His skin was warm and surprisingly soft to the touch. The Chief did not move upon feeling her fingers run across his face, keeping himself perfectly still so she could do a perfect application. Eva watched mesmerised as her digits easily glided on his skin, eyes glued to how long and blonde his eyelashes were. Eva knew many noble ladies and princesses would envy him for being so naturally gifted. They fanned down his cheeks, and in this perspective and light, it made his cheekbones sharper and nose stand proudly on his face, and it went along with his bushy and thick eyebrows, something she couldn’t help but notice right away from him. Eva discovered the Chief had some faint freckles sprayed across his broad nose, undoubtedly from being exposed to so many hours a day in the sun, contrary to her who was always kept in the shadows. Even his blonde hair looked shiny and soft to the touch, not a single doubt in her mind that the Chief had taken care of bathing himself thoroughly for today.

    Eva realised that the Chief was… handsome.

    He possessed that beauty of men.

    Eva noticed her fingers had run dry, like her mouth. Feeling her cheeks heat up, Eva turned to Nanaba, trying to distract her thoughts by dipping her fingers again in the paint. This time Eva felt more confident, seeing how the Chief was still patiently kneeling at her feet and completely trusted her. This time, too, Eva felt bolder, reaching for his face, hovering over his jaw, to help guide her own hand into an even line. Her fingers resumed the glide on the bridge of his nose, and gulled up all the small details and movements he made, like the controlled breath, how he unconsciously raised his head to her touch, the way his eyelids fluttered when he felt her fingers smooth down his other cheek…

    Eva had never been this close to a man before.

    Her heart thumped wildly at the realisation of it, how in her secluded life, she had never been next to a man that… intimately close. For a moment, Eva lost track of what she was doing, having her fingers hovering over his cheek. The sight of him swallowing and watching his Adam's apple bob, snapped out of her trance. Lost, Eva looked back at Nanaba, who immediately caught up and showed her the next lines she had to make. Two lines on his left eye and cheek, and three to the right. Eva watched which fingers Nanaba used, replicating the same movements on the Chief’s face.

    Her fingers gently stroked down his cheek, accidentally brushing the tips of her fingers on his long lashes. Eva felt and saw them twitch, and had an apology ready on her lips even though he couldn’t understand a single syllable of it. But seeing the corner of his mouth twitch up made the words get stuck in her throat. Was he enjoying this? Her clumsy and pathetic attempt? Did he find her mistakes amusing?

    That dread and hollowing sensation in her mind and chest came back with a vengeance. Sucking a breath in, Eva continued on autopilot, finishing the other three stripes on the other side of the face. The Chief noticed the trembling on her fingers return, and once the markings were done, the Chieftain immediately opened his striking eyes, zeroing on the Princess and finding that anguished and anxious expression on her face again. In the distance, both of them could hear Nanaba speak and Moblit translate it for the foreigners, signaling it was time for the third part of the ritual.

    Eva swallowed a whimper, having the Chieftain’s entire attention on her and not knowing what to make of it. Was he mad? Was he trying to intimidate her?

    The Eldian Chief didn’t let Eva dwell much into her restless thoughts, taking her stained hand in his. It was sudden, and a tiny gasp escaped her mouth. Nanaba already prepared the basin with warm water to clean the fingers, and the Chief stood up to his full height, not releasing her hand. Testing the water first and deeming it acceptable, the Chief dipped the offered cloth that rested on Nanaba’s forearm, gently wiping the Princess’ fingers. He took most of the paint off, but would need a thorough scrubbing when they got back into the village. To finally get rid of most of the paint, the Chief submerged the fingers inside the water, letting the liquid melt the dried chunks of paint.

    Eva watched the pigments disperse into the water, not daring to look back at the Eldian leader and feeling her cheeks blaze up.

    The next step was blessing the weapon used for the hunting, a traditional Eldian bow used for this ritual. The groom had to hunt their prey using only that bow and arrows, a dagger only for if they needed to defend themselves if the occasion arose. Nanaba took the still burning sage stick, lifting it from the plate and passing it over the bow, quill and arrows. Then he motioned Eva to approach her, the Chief letting go of her hand and watching her walk to where Nanaba needed her to be. The eldian warrior passed the bow to Eva, instructing her to stand in front of the Chief as Nanaba said something in Eldian and passed the sage around and across them.

    Eva could see how magnificent and a work of art this bow was. Completely black, big and with gold motifs on its wood of the same engravings all across the village. The Princess was used to the simpler ones, made of wood, leather and a string. This one was the masterpiece of an artisan, many hours and work poured into this superb piece. It was almost a shame it was going to be used, afraid of having a single scratch on its perfectly polished surface.

    When Nanaba finished, she nodded at the Princess to offer the blessed bow to the Chief, who in turn got down on one knee and bowed, accepting the weapon. They repeated this step for the quiver and arrows, the Chief silently taking them in reverence.

    Now, it was the fourth and final step of the ritual before the hunting began.

    The bride must send off the groom, wishing him luck and for the Goddesses to bless the hunting.

    And how was Eva supposed to do that? Did she have to wave goodbye as she watched him disappear into the woods? Say something? Do a certain thing? Her mind was racing, trying to find something suitable to do. Nanaba wouldn’t help her this time, since this was a step that the bride must do alone. Panic was taking over, her brain struggling to find something suitable to send the Chief off. So, as a mind in panic often did, Eva’s went blank, and did the first thing that came into mind.

    She read about it in her secret books, blushing at the romanticism of it and thinking what would Eva do in the heroine’s place.

    Well, now she knew.

    Eva bent down, gently holding the Chief’s face in her hands and letting her lips touch his forehead in a feather-light, soft kiss, murmuring “good luck” into his skin.

    That surprised everyone.

    Including the Chief.

    And herself.

    The Eldian leader looked back at her with wide eyes and his mouth slightly open. This was completely unexpected. Now the groom had to answer the bride, and it was the Chief’s turn to have a blank mind. He should correspond her gesture.

    The Chief took her hand again and lifted it to his lips, never tearing his eyes away from her and her flushed and embarrassed face. He saw the Princess’ cheeks redden further as she felt the soft press of his own lips on the back of her hand, and kept gazing at her as he stood up and saluted her with the Eldian salute, bowing while doing so.

    Eva watched the Chieftain turn around and march towards the tent’s entrance, the Princess noticing how the tips of his ears had a red flush on them, too. He didn’t turn back, Eva watching his broad shoulders disappear outside the tent.

    Now, they had to wait for him to come back.

    Levi had busied himself into making tea for everyone. Their guests were seated on the wooden stools near the fire, keeping them warm. It had been quite a while since the Chief had departed, and Eva’s hand and lips still felt as if they had been set ablaze by the contact of their skins. Thankfully, nobody questioned her “sending off” or inquired further about it, but as Levi handed out a cup to everyone, Prince Hand turned to face his sister.

    “Eva,” he did not want to spook her more than she already was. Hans knew Eva hated being the center of attention, and since her arrival she had only been on everyone’s sights. “About earlier, in the forest.”

    The Crown Prince saw his sister visibly tense up.

    Moblit kept an eye on the siblings.

    “It was nothing.” Eva kept her voice low, not wanting to disturb anyone. She felt like a bother, having to be babysat by the Eldian warriors. Moblit explained how it would usually be the priestess, the bride and groom and witnesses from both sides of the betrotheds, one for each side of the family. So she had more than double of the necessary witnesses. Like a defenseless, useless child.

    But she was.

    You are nothing more than a pretty doll.

    She was.

    Your job is to stand still and obey.

    “Nothing makes you almost throw yourself off a horse.” Hans pushed the issue, not wanting to let it go. Not yet.

    Eva felt the grip on her tea cup tighten at his insistence, and trying to not answer the question just yet, Eva lifted it to her lips and took a sip, eyes casted down to the floor.

    “The wind…”

    “Eva, please.” Hans’s hand landed on her forearm, making Eva look at her concerned brother with guilt in her eyes. Hans knew his sister never truly showed her feelings or thoughts, always keeping them to herself so she would not be a bother. “I beg you. If there’s something out there, not only you are in danger, but the Chief is now that he ventured alone into the woods.”

    Eva felt a pang of culpability and shame at how selfish she had been. Hans was right, the Chieftain could be in danger because of her own childish fears and stupidity. They all could be. Swallowing down a wet sigh, Eva looked at her brother with a regretful gaze.

    “I saw a stag, but it was... unnatural. It… it glowed a blue light, as if it was made of light itself.” Eva awaited for a sneer, a laugh at her wild, immature imagination. Eva waited for her father’s eyes to pin her to the ground with disdain and disgust in them. But Hans frowned, concerned.

    “A magical creature?” Hans hummed to himself, leaning back in his seat and taking back his arm, his hand absentmindedly stroking his well kept beard. A magical creature made more sense.

    Gottesreich was under their father’s strict rule, and everyone knew how no magical creature could thrive in their Kingdom. Father made sure of it. Countless wars, countless battles and marches of their army into their territories to extinguish the heresy, the sinners. Countless resources spent on Father’s crusade. Hans had to admit at first he believed it. Father told him how they took mother away, how it was their fault. Father told him how they were dangerous, treacherous, dishonest and double-crossing. Father had to cleanse the world from them.

    But seeing first hand how they, the Holy Kingdom of Gottesreich, were the true sinners and heretics, how they were the murderers of the innocent… Hans and Friederich would never forget the faces of those children. That was their breaking point. The start of their rebellion.

    Eva had never been exposed to magic, always been taught to fear it and the creatures that used and thrived in it, so it made sense she was afraid of the unknown. But a small part of his brain whispered how the creatures were angry at them, rightfully so. They knew who they were, where they came from. Gottesreich was a name they would spit on it, curse it, detest it.

    “Magical creature?” Eva’s eyes widened in fear, the dark blue stare of the stag flashing in her mind. Father told them how they were blood-thirsty and traitorous beings. If that creature was in the woods… The Chief was in danger! “Brother, if that is true, then we must aid the Chieftain! That creature is going to–”

    “My deepest apologies for intruding in your conversation, your Highnesses.” Moblit cut Eva’s anguished pleas. Hans and Eva turned to the eldian warrior. “But I think I must take part in it and clear up some misunderstandings.”

    “Misunderstandings?” Prince Hans frowned.

    “We are in the Old Forest of the Ancient Gods.” A chill ran down Eva’s spine. Ancient Gods? “This is a sacred place for the Eldians, as it is both the residence of the magical creatures and the start of our people, of Eldia. If Your Highnesses fancy it, I can explain in more detail about our deities and ancient history when we get back to the village after the ritual comes to its end.” Prince Hans nodded, quite interested in expanding his knowledge of their allies. “But, as I was saying, these woods gave us food and shelter when we needed it, and provided us with the sacred woods to make our homes.”

    That explained the archaic looking pillars scattered on the village and in its houses, with their markings and engravings.

    “We respect the ancient creatures living in this forest, and do not take what we are not allowed to. We aim to protect them as they protected us.” Moblit waited for the siblings to process his words, and took a moment to breathe. “Probably, the creature you saw, Your Highness, was the Guardian of the Forest. It is said it has an unnatural size and antlers that are as big as tree branches. It doesn’t often appear to guests, so it must have sensed you.”

    “Is… is that bad?” She didn’t want to be sensed. She wanted to be left alone.

    “Not precisely.” That didn’t really quell any fears in the Princess’ heart. “The Guardian is a curious creature, and has no ill intentions towards those who pose no threat.”

    Moblit didn’t mention how The Guardian sensed rarities.

    “I really don’t wish for a confrontation with anyone, specially… magical creatures, or old gods.” Eva fought every fiber of her being to not shiver at the thought of it. What would she be able to do, a mere defenseless human, against powerful beings?

    “I’m sure The Guardian knows that well, Your Highness. They are wise.”

    “Then…” Eva looked down at her hands, still gloveless and with a bit of a blue stain on her fingertips, clutching tightly the tea cup. “Why did The Guardian… charge towards me?”

    “Charge, Your Highness?”

    Eva felt a bolt of courage go through her body. Maybe this would answer some questions she had.

    “The Guardian fixed its eyes on me, or at least it felt like it was doing that, and… and also as if he was looking deep inside on me, as if it was somehow searching for something. I felt… bare. Defenseless.” her grip on the cup tightened. “Then, The Guardian charged towards me, that’s why I almost fell from the horse. It… was as if I had been knocked down by a strong wind, breath leaving my lungs. Did I do something to cross it?”

    Eva immediately felt as if she said too much, talked way too much than was strictly necessary. Her mouth had run off as if she was a charlatan. Where did her manners go?

    The Princess refused to look up at her brother and the Eldian warrior, knowing how they probably found her lack of decorum distasteful, babbling so much. She kept her gaze on the tea, gently shining from the torches and fire.

    “Ah…” Moblit took a pensive stance, going through the Princess’ words to find a suitable explanation. “Be at ease, Your Highness, I highly doubt you did something to raise The Guardian’s wrath upon yourself. As its name says, it’s the guardian of the forest, so they are cautious of newcomers. They are of the spiritual realm, so I don’t think I err by saying that he… actually looked into your soul.” Eva raised her eyes at the Eldian warrior, slightly nauseated at the thought of being looked at in such intimate and personal places where even herself couldn’t see, and unconsciously rubbed her hand on her chest. Moblit greeted her with a smile, which only increased Eva’s displeasure. “The Guardian deemed you worthy.”

    “Then, what about the rest of us?” Friederich spoke up.

    “The Guardian didn’t even see you as a threat.” Moblit didn’t even bat his eyes once, and kept his amiable smile.

    Friederich didn’t know if to feel insulted or not. He opted to be comforted by the thought of it, considering the red staining his hands.

    “Good to know, then.” Friederich crossed his arms over his chest, looking back at the fire.

    “I hope this appeased your worries, Your Highness. I assure you The Guardian meant no harm, and I understand you might have been confused by its actions, since I… ah, know that you didn’t have many encounters with magical creatures.”

    “Thank you kindly, Moblit. I do feel more at ease.” Lies. She was scared shitless.

    “If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask me, Your Highnesses. I am here to be of as much help as I can be.” Eva forced herself to smile as an answer.

    Hans asked Moblit something that was in his mind, his insatiable curiosity taking over, and Eva immediately removed herself from the conversation. The Princess took a sip of her tea, as if it would help her gulp down and digest the massive amounts of information she had just been fed right now. The mere thought of having magical creatures freely roaming the lands deeply unsettled her. Weren’t they dangerous, as Father said? Did the Eldians really trust those creatures? Was she, her brothers and Flora truly safe?

    Nanaba appeared on her right, kneeling down and letting one of her hands gently rest on her wrist. She had a warm smile on her lips, reaching her eyes, and her demeanour and aura told Eva that under the warrior garments, she was a kind and sweet woman. Eva felt as if the Eldian warrior was trying to reassure her in some way, as if she understood completely what the conversation had been about. Maybe she knew Gottesreichan?

    But with Prince Hans and Moblit’s voices in the background, the fire happily creaking, Flora’s quiet presence beside her and Nanaba’s gentle care, she let herself be persuaded into a more calm state.

    Now all they had to do was wait for the Chieftain’s return.

    It had been many hours since the Chief departed into the woods, the sun having moved from its position in the sky and changing the lights inside the tent, and with every hour that passed, Eva feared something happened to the man. Even if they just met and Eva couldn’t make out his character or intentions yet, she thought no-one should die alone in the woods.

    Moblit and the other warrior’s nods reassured her the Chief was one of the best hunters of the village, no-one outbesting Levi in that matter, but the Chief was good. The marital ritual was an exercise of patience not only for the hunter, but for the one who awaited their soon to be spouse to come back. Still, Eva thought the Chief had been gone too long, and that worried her.

    As Levi served the Princess another cup of tea, a distant sound could be heard from outside the tent. Immediately, the Eldian warriors stood to attention, looking at each other as they heard the sound repeat itself, now closer. The Gottesreichan guests looked at each other with mirrored confused expressions. Was something out of the ordinary?

    Mike moved first, walking to the entrance of the tent and stepping out of it. Then they heard Mike let out another sound, as if answering the first one, and the Princess realised it was similar to bird calls, so inconspicuous to the untrained ears but useful for its users. The first call answered Mike back, and the giant warrior came back in to open the tent’s entrance and tie the fabric to the pole, securing a perfect view of outside.

    It was as if time slowed down, holding their breaths, but everyone present inside the tent could see a massive silhouette slowly approach them. Everyone sprung into action at once, and Moblit’s gentle words could be heard amongst the ruckus of boots and cloaks, explaining to the Gottesreichan guests the next steps of the ritual.

    The bride must welcome back the groom from their hunt. The groom will present their hunting piece to his betrothed–

    Nanaba came by the Princess’s side and urged her to leave the tea and stand up with her, making her walk to the entrance itself. The Princess stood, frozen, at the very edge of the tent, and she could feel the winter breeze caress her face, the warmth of the fire behind her back.

    Then she saw him.

    The Chieftain was back. Safe and with the prize.

    He succeeded.

    Eva didn’t know she had been holding her breath, but as the Chief neared the tent, Eva released the burning air out of her lungs.

    His hair was disheveled, no doubt from the little bouts of wind, but overall he appeared unscathed. Eva’s eyes widened upon realisation of what he was carrying on his robust shoulders: a massive stag that surely weighed like three cows without the antlers. If Eva could, she would laugh at the irony of that.

    The Princess could see his muscles bulging from the strain of carrying such an enormous animal, and she instinctively swallowed down at the sight of her soon-to-be husband when the wind picked up and opened his Eldian cloak, flapping behind him. Her mind was a garbled, confused mess. Was this what she would see, everyday, from now on?

    But his eyes were burning. Eva felt herself be pinned down by them, by their determination and purpose. If Eva had been one of her forbidden novel’s heroines, she would have fainted at the sight of a big, barbaric strong man coming her way. Instead, she willed her legs to hold her up and patiently await his arrival. She still had a role to play in this ritual, as Moblit said earlier.

    The Chief stopped in front of her, heaving from the effort, but exchanged no words, only his hypnotic blue gaze. Eva watched, with her own eyes wide open, as the Chief eased down the stag to the snow covered ground with the utmost care, and not even breaking his eye contact with her. The Eldian leader presented his hunting piece and kneeled down, awaiting the next step the Princess had to carry on.

    –and the bride must take out the sacred arrow from the hunting piece. The bride must show it to the witnesses as proof the groom succeeded in the trial.

    Just the mere thought of it made Eva want to bolt back inside the tent.

    The Princess willed her legs to move forward, her boots thudding on the snow. The Chief patiently waited for her to come, quietly regaining his breath. Eva gathered her skirts, lifting them slightly as she courtly bowed before the stag and the Chief, hoping that would suffice as a welcome back. He didn’t move, so she thought it worked.

    Eva approached them slowly, as if she was desperately gathering all her will and resolve to do the next part. The Princess kneeled down herself too in front of the animal, eyes glued to the beautiful black and gold arrow embedded in the stag’s thick neck. Her hands couldn’t stop trembling as she raised them, and involuntarily flinched when some of her fingers brushed the still warm skin. The Princess released a stuttered breath as her hands neared the arrow. Then, she stopped there, unable to move further.

    The Chief’s hands appeared in her vision, gently wrapping his gloved fingers around her own hands, guiding them into the proper position. His touch was reassuring and Eva’s eyes quickly flashed up to the Eldian leader. He was solemn, but not cold. He didn’t seem disappointed, either. The Chief nodded towards their hands, showing Eva how she must pull out the arrow. Releasing a deep breath, Eva wrapped her fingers around the arrow, the other one setting next to it on top of the skin. Press and pull. She could do this.

    Press and pull.

    Eva did not want to think about the skin pulling up with the arrow head, or the blood trickling down as it moved upwards, but she had to do it. The faster she did it, the sooner she would be out of that situation.

    Press and pull.

    Inevitably pulling her lips into a grimace, biting them afterwards, the Princess pulled the arrow out with all the strength she could muster. The squelch was sickening and Eva wanted to lurch and vomit the tea she had just been drinking. Her hands sprouted back into a shaking and she could not tear her eyes away from the droplets of blood falling down the arrowhead into the white snow, staining it.

    The Chief’s hands curled around her face, tearing her gaze away from the blood and into his concerned blue eyes. Eva felt her breathing harden, her lungs squeezing on themselves, but the Chief managed to keep her grounded enough to not faint. The Eldian leader managed a tiny smile, as if he wanted to show her how proud he was of her, or that’s what Eva would like to believe. He nodded towards the tent where the other Eldian warriors awaited the proof of the groom’s success. Eva assented, getting back up on her feet with the Chief’s help. He even brushed off the snow off her dress and patiently waited for the signal to come in.

    Eva clumsily turned around and walked towards the entrance, so mechanically she wanted to slap herself in shame. Her hands tightened around the arrow, willing herself to calm down, for God’s sake.

    Nanaba was the first to greet her with a kind smile. She looked down at her hands as Eva presented the arrow, and her smile widened when she saw that the Chief, indeed, succeeded. Nanaba turned around, making Eva step forward and present the arrow to everyone else. The female warrior said something in Eldian as she did so, and everyone relaxed immediately. Eva quickly ventured her eyes to look at her brothers and handmaiden. She hoped her eyes screamed out her message: I want to go home already.

    Thankfully Nanaba made her turn around to face her and made her close her fingers around the arrow, pressing it to her chest. She had to keep that arrow, as Moblit said earlier when explaining the next step.

    The bride must carry the arrow in her hands home, showing it to the village as proof, also, that the marital ritual was a success and the Goddesses bless this union.

    The arrow was going to be hung in the house walls she would share with the Chief soon, since it would become some sort of talisman or charm for their union. Eva didn’t know if she would get used to the sight of it, but hoped she would manage to look at it fondly one day.

    Nanaba went to the entrance, seconds later the Chief himself entered the tent with his heavy boots thudding on the ground. The Eldian warriors solemnly saluted him and he answered with a nod.

    “The ritual was a success.” Moblit’s voice announced to the Gottesreichan guests. “The Goddesses have blessed the start of their journey together.”

    It was official then. They would marry in two months.

    The journey back to the village was spent in silence too.

    The Eldian warriors had carried and secured the stag into the wooden cart, knowing it would be tonight’s main dish at the evening banquet. Eva didn’t know if she would be able to stomach it down after the encounter earlier.

    It was uneventful, too, if Eva didn’t count the fact that she had to spend the entire ride back on the Chief’s massive beast of a horse again, his hand on her waist, and God forgive her for the strangled gasp she gave and the furious blush on her cheeks, when the Chief tried to rearrange the flowers from her hair.

    The Guardian did not appear again, or Eva felt its presence inside her mind. It was as if the creature had vanished, and Eva didn’t know if to feel glad for it. Her grip on the beautiful black arrow tightened, hoping it all had been worth it. She just wanted her life here to be as peaceful and harmonious as possible, not wanting to be much of a burden as she was already being. At least, that’s how she felt, either here or in Father's presence.

    The horse’s gait was a slow and peaceful one, just like when they first came to the forest. Looking to her left, Eva saw the long-haired cows from earlier, still munching on the little bouts of grass and plants there were left from the freezing snow, their bells softly chiming in the distance. They looked like they had no worries, no duties to perform, no expected performances… nothing. Just help the farmers and munch on their grass. They still brought a smile on her lips.

    In the distance Eva could see the village’s walls and main gate appear. Her stomach twisted itself inside, feeling her throat squeeze in and her fingers tremble. She would have to be the main attraction of the ritual now, with a public. Eva knew she should be used to it, being a Princess and dealing with courts and public speeches back at the Kingdom, but nothing compared to speaking and interacting with people from another kingdom, as if you were part of them. She felt like an impostor trying to fit in.

    Moblit explained earlier how she would have to proceed upon entering the village, and gulping down her nerves, she looked up at the sky, trying to gather any strength and resolve that hadn’t left her yet. The arrow was secure, wrapped in a cloth, and the bride carried it the entire journey, she couldn’t mess this up. As they neared the entrance, the guards stood straighter into attention and announced the Chief’s return. People started gathering on the main street of the village, eager to see if the Chief had been successful.

    The Eldian leader guided the horse far enough into the main street for the rest of the entourage to enter the village too, gently stopping it when it was time for Eva to present the arrow. Everyone was waiting, holding their breaths, eyes wide with curiosity and eagerness. Even the kids remained silent, albeit jumping on their feet and tugging at their mother’s skirts in impatience.

    The Princess looked down at her hands.

    Unwrap the arrow. Present it. Keep it until you share the same roof.

    Oh dear God above. She wanted to run.

    Eva’s fingers couldn’t stop their nervous tremors, slowly picking the cloth, careful to not let it fall. She swallowed hard, as if she had a ball of sawdust in her mouth, tongue dry.

    C’mon, you useless Princess. Present the arrow, do your job.

    An overwhelmed whimper threatened to escape from her throat, the events of yesterday, today and the undoubtedly nerve-wracking ones from the future piling up together. Not now, not now! She would have time to cry later in the privacy of her room!

    A soft murmur of foregin words reached her ears, gentle words and hands guiding her and managing to, somehow, pull back the unstoppable string of dark thoughts her mind subjected her to. His thick gloved hands helped steady her own, and once he deemed it safe enough, his hands returned to her waist and the horse’s reins, making Eva feel as if she had been enveloped in a warm and caring cocoon, saying “you got this. You can do it.” Eva chose to believe those words, at least for now.

    The arrow was still an impressive work of art, although stained with the now dry blood of the stag. It shone, the black lacquer without a crack or scratch, it’s feathers in perfect condition. Eva lifted it from the cloth, leaving the fabric on top of her dress skirts, and holding it on both her hands, Eva raised her arms, showing the arrow to everyone present.

    The entire village erupted into cheers and shouts, children screaming excitedly as they let themselves share their parents’ happiness, also never missing an opportunity to make a ruckus without being reprimanded. The Eldian villagers clapped, whistled, let out relieved breaths… everyone was genuinely happy their Chief managed to complete the ritual to perfection. Eva ventured a look back at the Chief and she found him smiling fondly at his villagers before looking at her, still that fond gaze in his blue eyes. Eva looked straight ahead, her ears red.

    The Chief willed his horse to move again slowly and mindful of the villagers on both sides of the street. Eva lowered her arms, setting the arrow back into the cloth and covering it, not daring to look anywhere else but the horse’s beautiful crest.

    “I think I will need the wine this time.”

    Eva eyed the magnificently cooked meat in front of her, knowing it was the stag that the Chief hunted today. She didn’t want anything to do with those animals, at least for a while.

    Flora looked at her Princess in concern, eyeing the goblet in front of her.

    “That bad?” Flora pried some information in their secluded rooms, changing the Princess into her evening gown, a beautiful amber and golden piece with open shoulders and an elegant cleavage line. Flora outdid herself again with her hair, her braids held together with a dazzling and intricate piece of jewelry that glinted with the torche’s lights, part of a matching set of earrings and a necklace that gracefully accentuated the Princess’ delicate neck. Flora thought the entire ensemble matched the Chief’s golden hair.

    Eva had explained a bit of what had happened, her more intimate and personal thoughts, and some details of the Chief’s gentleness that surprised her. Flora squealed in delight at those, her hopeless romantic heart beating wildly on those stories.

    “That bad.”

    “Well, this time you will be more prepared if the Chief asks you for a dance.” Eva sighed at that, recalling how youthful his face had been in his bout of mischievousness at the dance. Is this what awaited her? A husband who enjoyed torturing his wife’s poor nerves?

    “I hope he doesn’t.”

    He did.

    Her lungs burned from the strain, not used at all at the Eldian dancing pace and rhythm. It was frenetic, lively and Eva was not prepared for the whirlwind that was dancing with the Chief, with his massive hands on her waist and back, picking and twirling her up in the air. Eva tried to enjoy it this time.

    The Chief saw the Princess’ eyes shine like her jewels in the Great Hall’s fires, cheeks rosy and lips parted to take much needed air as the dance ended. Erwin understood now the allure of dancing.

    Bowing as the couples parted and gave room to newer, fresher ones, the Chief took the Princess back to the table, guiding her with her hand delicately posed on his raised one. Eva was surprised when the Chief pulled her chair back and pushed it in its place again when she was seated, as if he was a servant. Flora watched the exchange with raised brows, trying to swallow the piece of meat and bread without making an uncouth spectacle.

    Eva went straight for her goblet, trying to avoid the Chief’s attention and quickly looking with a bewildered stare at her handmaiden.

    “Well, that was unexpected.” Flora chewed through a piece of bread.

    “Everything about him so far is unexpected.” Eva cleaned her mouth elegantly with the napkin, leaving it neatly folded on top of the table; she doubted she would eat more.

    She had to admit the stag was… delicious.

    “Well, that’s good, isn’t it Princess? It can be a good sign!”

    “I hope you are right. It just… puzzles me. How am I supposed to act, then?”

    Flora cleaned her mouth with her own napkin too, leaving her food temporarily aside in favour of turning towards her Princess.

    “Like yourself, my Princess.” Flora’s hand squeezed her wrist, a smile on her lips. “Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to be yourself.”

    “B-but I am–” Herself? She was herself… right?

    “This is not Gottesreich, Your Highness. Don’t let it ruin your experience and new life here.”

    “It wouldn’t ruin…” Eva stopped there, sighing. Maybe she was right. Maybe the wine made her more agreeable to her less respectable thoughts. “I’ll… try.”

    “That’s my Princess.” Flora smiled smugly, hand going for her goblet. Eva let a tiny laugh escape her, soft and low, shaking her body, but her lips pulled into a smile, too.

    She did not know or notice the Chief had turned his head towards her when he heard the Princess laugh, surprised to hear it. He found it beautiful, a soft chime and gentle. It was fitting for her. The Chief was distracted from his thoughts and musings when one of his warriors approached him, leaning into his ear as he delivered an urgent message.

    The Chief’s face became serious, his posture in the chair too, and he signaled with his hand to proceed with his orders. The same warrior came back with a newcomer, not an Eldian but a Gottesreichan messenger. He wore the Kingdom’s emblem on the chest, and with his clothes and squalid body shape, he clearly was not a fighter. The villagers eating and dancing did not notice the foreigner coming in, blending perfectly behind the rows of chairs and tables, guided by the Eldian warrior that went to fetch him.

    Eva’s smile fell when she looked around the room and saw him, recognising from a mile away the symbol of her home. Her eyes snapped to the man’s hands, clutching a satchel close to his chest.

    Why was a messenger here? Did something happen?

    Eva turned to the Chief, his expression an unreadable one, but his mouth was a thin line. Frowning and unhappy with her findings, Eva turned to her brothers, in time to see the messenger make a beeline towards the Crown Prince and open the satchel to hand in a sealed letter.

    Time seemed to slow down, the tension palpable. Prince Hans carefully opened the seal of his father and read the letter, his frown deepening the longer he read. His mouth morphed into a displeased, angry line, as he slapped it on Friederich’s awaiting hand. Eva did not know if she preferred it or not, but Friederich was much more expressive, letting out angry huffs and retorts, going as far as to curse before throwing the letter on top of the table. Eva looked at her brothers with worry, leaning into her chair towards them. Hans looked like he was burning holes into the magnificent oak table they were dining in, the vein in his temple pulsing.

    Eva was deeply concerned. This was bad. This reaction was troubling.

    Was the Kingdom under attack? Was Father okay? Did something happen? The crops? The fields…? She needed to know.

    “Brothers,” both Princes avoided their sister’s eyes, mouth’s pulling further down. “What is the issue? Is the Kingdom– is Father–?”

    Moblit appeared right behind them, cutting Eva’s string of questions and trying to be as gentle and understanding of the brother’s sudden change of mood over the contents of the letters. He apologised countless times, inquiring if the contents of the letter affected Eldia and if the Chief had to be informed of anything. The words coming from Prince Hans’ mouth froze Eva inside.

    “Father requested for our presence back at Court.”

    Eva was going to be sick.

    “I’m surprised he hasn’t requested us sooner, or that he told us to come back the same day of our arrival.” Friederich’s words were full of poison.

    Flora lowered her head as she tightly closed her mouth and tried to be as silent as possible. She did not need to turn to her right to see Eva’s devastated face tearing her heart into pieces. This was the final blow for her beloved Princess, a truly unnecessary one. Couldn’t the King truly not wait…?

    “My deepest apologies, Your Highnesses, these are the most unfortunate news.” Moblit scrambled to make better of the situation, but he needed to express his concern for the upcoming events they should have been present in. “But we expected to have your presence in your sister’s welcoming ceremony, as we have done today with–”

    “I know, Moblit. I know. I’m not happy about this.” Prince Hans bit his tongue, not wanting to lash out at the poor Eldian interpreter. He was more than helpful, Hans was not being that. “Selfish bastard.” he muttered, the words his father wrote angering him further. Moblit forced himself to keep threading through such boiling waters.

    “When does King Nikolaus expect your return?”

    “In two days.”

    “Oh.” Moblit did not comment about King Nikolaus' whims; it was well known he often demanded almost impossible things just to bark at the mistakes later. The journey from Eldia to Gottesreich was four days, three if you wanted to kill your horses from exhaustion, a week if you took it slow and travelled in carriages. “Should I ask for the horses and carriages to be ready to part tonight? Although I would advise not to travel at night, the roads are dangerous in winter.”

    “That won’t be necessary, Moblit, thank you kindly. We will part tomorrow morning and won’t rush it. We’ll keep the old man waiting and use the weather as an excuse.”

    Moblit nodded. Ballsy move, but Moblit guessed being the Crown Prince gave him a little bit of leverage to bend some situations in his favour. He still thought it was a good decision, even more not letting himself be choked into his Father’s rule that easily.

    “Our warriors will accompany you to the borders, please allow us to.”

    Knowing Moblit wouldn’t bulge about it, Prince Hans nodded.

    Friederich was far too enraged to comment anything else about it, leaving it all to his brother as he clenched his fists in indignation.

    Apologising once again, Moblit took his leave, letting the brothers deal with their bitterness and fury, and walking to the Chief to deliver the bad news he surely got an idea of, judging by the displeased expressions of the brothers and the broken, vacant one of the Princess.

    Moblit spoke in an urgent tone to the Chief, the Eldian leader nodding and switching his gaze from one sibling to another. His gaze fell on the Princess, frown deepening upon her state. Eva felt the music and laughter far away from her, as if she was sitting in a different room with closed doors and windows. It was harder to breathe, to see, vision blurring, and the trembling in her hands returned violently. She clutched tightly her dress skirt, no doubt wrinkling it in such a way that Flora and the Eldian maidens would surely have a hard time getting rid of, but she needed something to try to desperately anchor herself to the present.

    All color had drained from her face.

    Her brothers were leaving.

    Eva felt as if she had her feet sweeped off the ground, even though she was sitting down in a chair.

    They were leaving.

    Too soon.

    Too soon.

    She was going to be alone with Flora, left in the middle of a land of savage demons.

    Alone.

    Helpless.

    Afraid.

    Forsaken.

    #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #aot#snk#erwin smith#levi ackerman #erwin smith x oc #erwin x oc #erwin smith x reader #erwin x reader #levi ackerman x oc #levi x oc #aot fanfiction#snk fanfiction#aot oc#snk oc #attack on titan oc #shingeki no kyojin oc #arranged marriage au #queen of demons #mius writes
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  • capitainelevi
    21.10.2021 - 18 hours ago

    Incorrect AOT quotes

    #attack on titan #shingeki no kyojin #erwin smith#Eren Jaeger#eren yeager #incorrect attack on titan quote
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