Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
Just like last year, the witches held the feast in the castle.
Leaf turned the backyard that had been expanded several times into an open-air campsite fenced by olive trees. Around the raging bonfire, the witches could appreciate the starry night sky anytime.
Compared with the last BBQ feast which was only attended by five witches, this one was much more crowded, reaching a total number of 25 witches. All the witches from the Witch Cooperation Association came, along with the seven witches from Sleeping Island, as well as Maggie, Lucia, Agatha, Spear, Paper, and Summer.
Plates of finely cut food and various sauces were put on a small table by the bonfire for the witches to eat freely. After the territories of the rebel nobles were completely cleared, the supply of meat and cloth in Border Town had greatly increased. Also served on the table was the low-alcohol fruit wine brewed by Evelyn, as well as the ice cream provided by Agatha.
While Lightning was enthusiastically demonstrating to the crowd how to grill a chicken foot, Maggie had begun to enjoy a hot-roasted steak. Having spent a year in the mountains and jungles with Lightning, Maggie had got familiar with all sorts of grilled food, and she filled her waist pocket with various spices, just as Lightning did.
"I think this is a waste of time." Agatha smeared honey on the roasted meatballs in her hand. "The demons are bound to attack us, but we're not seizing this precious time to prepare... instead, we're just celebrating the latest victory. When the enemy breaks into our city... everything is done for," she said while chewing the food.
"Take it easy. It'll be OK." Roland handed her a bunch of stuffed beefballs—obviously, she was very fond of the juicy meatballs. "A proper balance of work and rest will increase the work efficiency. Besides, resting for one day won't prevent us from defeating the demons, and even if we lose, at least we've enjoyed the sweetness of life."
"Nonsense!" Agatha said while rolling her eyes. She then took the beefballs and put them over the bonfire after dipping it in a bowl of oil—with the help of her freezing ability, she could keep the meatballs at just the right temperature regardless of the heat from the fire. Clearly, her recent work with the process of cooling nitrogen had helped her to perfect control of her magic powers.
On the other side, the newcomer Summer apparently hadn't seen so much meat in a long time. Although she could not stop swallowing saliva, her hands kept still. Fortunately, after noticing Summer's timidity, Wendy pulled this newly awoken sister to her side and shared the food that she roasted with Summer and Paper.
The three witches from Sleeping Island, Ashes, Andrea and Shavi, began to play poker games while waiting for their food to be grilled. In the past few months, they had learned all the variations of poker that Roland was familiar with. As long as there was no attack from the demonic beasts, they would get together and play poker in the castle hall.
And the other witches from Sleeping Island, such as Candle, Evelyn and Sylvie, who had got familiar with the witches in the little town, were having a good time talking with Leaf, Echo, Soraya and others, just like a family did.
Looking at the harmonious scene, Roland felt quite gratified—after a year's effort, changes in the Western Region began to emerge. The people's enthusiastic cheers at the square at daytime and the heartfelt smile on the witches' faces were all payback for his efforts.
Such kind of payback was so sweet that Roland could not help but feel intoxicated by it.
As the bonfire gradually died out, the time approached midnight. Roland asked Nightingale and Ashes to escort Nana and Summer home respectively, while he stepped onto the second floor of the castle, waiting for Anna to appear.
He decided to take the initiative instead of waiting passively, or rather, postponing.
Silver moonlight cast into the castle through the corridor window. In the moonlight, Roland saw Anna's blue eyes. The scene was quite familiar to him, but their positions were reversed from the last time. Half hidden in darkness, Anna's pupils reflected a faint luster, like stars in the night sky where all the other stars could not be seen. The sky only belonged to her tonight.
Roland did not speak, but walked forward. Holding Anna's hand, they went to the third floor.
This was not the first time that Roland had kept this close to Anna, but still, his heart beat fiercely. Through the hand he was holding, he could tell Anna was nervous too. Nevertheless, she followed him without any hesitation.
They entered Roland's bedroom. When Roland closed the door, turned around, took a deep breath, and wondered what to say, Anna kissed him.
The tip of her tongue softly pried open Roland's mouth. Roland felt lost in her luscious breath.
At that moment, the title of a song popped into his mind, Sealed with a Kiss.
When you don't know what to say, kiss; when you've no idea how to express your feelings, kiss. Kissing is the speech without a sound and kissing is scorching affection.
When their lips finally parted, Anna's cheeks had turned red.
"I have a present for you."
From his pocket, Roland took out two red Magic Stones, which had been polished, rimmed with gold and strung together by a thin, red thread at the top.
"Is this... a Sigil?"
"Yes. After being connected together by magic power, a Stone of Pathfinding and a Stone of Positioning make a Tracking Sigil." Roland helped Anna to put the Stone of Pathfinding around her neck. "Now no matter where I go, you can find me with the help of the stones."
Anna must have sensed something unusual because she stared at Roland, motionless.
Just then, Roland carefully spoke each word while softly holding her cheeks with his hands, "Will you marry me, Anna?"
The peacefulness of the clear blue lake was interrupted by a pouring rain.
After a long pause, Anna nodded and said, "Yes."
What followed next was so natural—the long held emotions broke through the last barrier at that very moment and entangled with one another.
Roland picked her up by the waist and put her on to the bed. He kissed her from her forehead down to her neck with tenderness, and clumsily unsnapped her buttons. With her eyes open, Anna stared at Roland as if she wanted to imprint every single move of his into her brain.
When the girl's fair and smooth body was exposed, Roland hugged her gently in his arms and covered them up with a quilt.
Without the barrier of clothes, he clearly felt Anna's rhythmic heartbeat, as if her heart was about to pop out of her chest.
"This time..." Anna whispered in Roland's ear.
"What about it?"
"I won't fall asleep again..."
Roland couldn't help but burst into laughter, which eased the tension between them. He lightly brushed her nose and said, "Even if you fall asleep, I won't leave you alone."
Their mouths searched for each other once again, their bodies became one, and their hearts merged together.
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