Chapter 06: The Crimson Eagle
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
Our trip proceeded without any any problems, rather unexpectedly. Even when we passed three forest cabins, Sieg did not show a single sign of being tired. I was in awe. She was indeed a person from the military.
At the third stop, we had a meal. Although we were only sitting, it still used a lot of energy. Even if we didn’t feel hungry, the food went down quite well.
Here we asked for meals (※paid) from the old man here, but what we got were six thick slices of black barley bread and six flat round slices of cheese (※for three people). Drinks were served as well, but they were cold, so I got this indescribable feeling.
From the three cabins we stopped at, it was the most expensive, but the meal was the plainest, so yeah.
Accepting the reality, I then thought of ways to make the meal as tasty as possible.
I stuck the cheese on the skewers which were on the table, and grilled them by the fireplace. Within a few seconds, the cheese melted and the surface was glossy. Then I put that on the bread and gave it to Miruporon. I made another one for Sieg. At the second time, Sieg melted the cheese. When I told her that it tasted better because a women made it for me, she smiled bitterly. I was saying the truth, but maybe she didn’t believe me because of my casual manner.
After we finished eating, I spread out the map and started explaining the route from here on.
“In about two hours, the sun will set so you might want to wear another layer underneath.”
“Does the sun set that fast.”
“You’ll be surprised?”
In winter, the sun sets a bit past the afternoon. Furthermore, it’s a scary region where the sun won’t rise for the two following months. Sieg’s grey eyes open wide in surprise, as she made a serious expression.
“So when we get out of the forest soon, the temperature will fall below zero. So we’ll be stopping every fifteen minutes to check.”
“Check for what?”
Hypothermia. It’s a symptom that appears when people could not keep their temperatures normal in cold environments. The body temperature continues dropping, causing derangement until all vital activity stops. People call this death from exposure.
“When we ride out with reindeers in the village, people sometimes die like that……”
As I explained, I couldn’t continue. Sieg looked at me worriedly, but I couldn’t find the words to explain these welling emotions.
“What are you talking about?”
“To die while moving, I just realised that this was not usual.”
I grew up in the village thinking only of family, and when they left I lived in an environment thinking solely of myself.
Realising that it was the first time that I was in charge of someone’s life, I realised once again the gravity of the matter.
From my arbitrary decision, I might have exposed someone’s life to danger.
“I was so excited about the marriage, that I didn’t realise how dangerous it might have been for Sieg’s life.”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
Sieg says so, but there are no guarantees.
Last time I brought a fiancée over, it was from spring to summer. And it only took about one hour by reindeer from a nearby port.
That port is currently closed because the sea was frozen.
“……I really should have brought you at a warmer season.”
“——Let me tell you a story.”
“It was about eleven years ago. When I was still in my teens.”
Seemingly ignoring my uneasiness, she stares far away and starts talking about her past.
Five years since she enlisted, she was assigned to an elite corp that would be sent to the very front lines. They trained strictly everyday, tempering themselves everyday.
As she was doing so, it became the season for the mountaineering training that was had once a year.
They were to spend a week at the summit of a mountain that still had a thin layer of snow.
Having only meals for a week and the minimum equipment, Sieg said that it was the most avoided training.
“We silently climbed the steep slopes, but after five hours something happened.”
With a sudden downpour, a gale strong enough to prevent people from standing assaulted Sieg’s platoon.
Exposed to the elements and unable to move, the platoon commander decided on abandoning the luggage.
A short climb later, they found a mountainside cabin so the platoon headed there.
“Sooner of later the rain and the wind will stop. That’s what everyone thought.”
However, the storm did not let up for four days.
“The food ran out as well as the firewood. On the fourth day, the rain turned to hail and started punching holes in the roof.”
In that tragic scene, some people started being unable to maintain their consciousness.
“In retrospect, it might have been hypothermia.”
Help did not come on the fourth day.
On the fifth day, the weather cleared up but only Sieg and one other person could move by them.
“A fellow soldier suggested to get some food outside. Back then, I couldn’t make calm judgements, like staying still in the cabin, or waiting for help to come while putting a noticeable white flag out, because of the hunger.”
Snow had piled up outside the cabin. However, it was not too difficult to move so they decided to traverse the snow-covered fields.
Even though they searched the mountain, winter was over so there was nothing to eat. While they were at a loss, they discovered something.
“It was a big deer. My comrade swiftly took aim and fired a bullet.”
From well-trained moves, the bullet hit the mark and the deer collapsed.
As if the fatigue he had was a lie, Sieg’s comrade ran gleefully to the deer in a straight line.
“However, the deer was not dead. When he approached, it immediately charged into his stomach.”
The deer only fell from surprise.
Sieg fought back with a knife.
Because she was really in the mood to get that deer, it was fortunate that she had that large and hard knife to mortally wound the deer on the neck and the abdomen.
“When the deer finally fell, I was covered in blood. But there was a bigger problem.”
The comrade who was attacked by the deer was bleeding from his nose and was knocked out.
“I was agonising over whether to take the deer back or my comrade back. Now, I would unhesitatingly bring the deer, but back then I was not yet fully ruthless……”
Ultimately, she carried her comrade back and gave him first aid.
“Not having the courage to go out alone, I waited for rescue to come while being exposed to the wind and snow in the dilapidated cabin.”
The rescue unit came half a day later.
“Seeing me covered in blood, they thought for a moment that I killed a comrade in confusion.”
Thanks to Sieg talking to her comrades and giving accurate treatment to the wounded, everyone managed to return home alive.
For that, Sieg received a reward from the country.
‘The Adler (Eagle) Medal’
The eagle represents courage and strength, and the medal was rewarded to people with outstanding performances.
“The story of me getting covered in deer blood and the eagle medal mixed up, that when I went out again I had already got the baseless nickname of ‘the Crimson Eagle’.”
I was curious about the origin of the nickname ‘the Crimson Eagle’, but since it might have been rude I had not yet asked. I felt satisfied that I could hear the story now.
“……Well, the story got long, but just who is the count worrying about.”
“Who do you think is in danger of dying?”
“!!…… That Sieg might die from hypothermia.”
“Do I look like I’ll die?”
“…… No, not a bit.”
She stayed conscious in a snow-covered mountain in early spring when all the men collapsed, and she even fought a deer. I really couldn’t imagine Sieg blacking out while moving on a sleigh.
“I told you? I’ll be fine.”
To her very convincing words, I couldn’t help but nod.
By the way, that was the story of ‘her most terrible incident in her military practice’. When I imagined that there could be more terrible stories, I really couldn’t describe how I felt then.