I'm Stuck on a Remote Island With the Male Leads - Chapter 2
2. Abandoned on a Remote Island
“We should trek up the mountain first. Learning the topography from the peak would be ideal. If we are on the mainland, the horizon will not be visible. If we are on an island……”
The horizon would be visible.
Enoch trailed off as if he didn’t want to even entertain the last possibility.
We walked along the beach, Enoch towing me along, and I looked skyward. The sun hung low. Climbing the mountain at this time would be dangerous. It would be easy to lose our way when dusk came. Above all else, monsters appeared then.
Enoch, who exhibited a bloodthirsty behavior moments ago, lowered his guard. He realized there wasn’t much I could do here.
“It would be best to climb the mountain tomorrow. By the time we reach the top, it would be too dark to make our way down.”
Fortunately, Enoch took my judgment into consideration. “I had no idea Young Lady Margaret could harbor such a rational thought.”
My eyes narrowed with skepticism. Was that meant to be a compliment or an insult?
“As you’ve said, we’ll have to save the climb up the mountain for tomorrow. Now then, I’d like to explore the beach a bit more.”
As a person familiar with the battlefield, he knew which priorities to set before others and to execute them in a decisive manner. Although Enoch was born a bastard from a maid, he was a man who seized the title of a crown prince using his abilities alone and through numerous war contributions, surpassing his brothers to claim the throne. He was incredible. Yet after finding himself abandoned on a remote island alongside Yuanna, he went mad with his obsession for her.
Was it safe for me to be alone with this man? Granted, he had yet to encounter the female lead, so it had to be safe, right…..?
As that thought came to mind, he finally released me. I sighed in relief as I soothed my wrist. We continued following along the shore again, but after some time passed we came to a sudden stop. A cliff blocked us from going further.
I turned to the mangrove area beyond the wall of palm trees. Mangroves flourished in coastal, saline waters.
‘If there are mangrove trees, it means that water flows. Would it be better to go into the forest?’
Seeing where my attention was, Enoch propped his chin and said, “The beach seems to have come to an end here. Now we must make a decision.”
Perhaps Enoch also came to the same conclusion, and followed me without protesting as he had done earlier.
“We should find a shelter before night settles.”
I nodded in agreement. Initially, I had planned to prepare a place to sleep on the beach when I first woke up. That being the case, it would have been faster to move separately, but Enoch was hindering me. What if I wasn’t quick enough to find or make shelter? The thought made my lips dry. I had to make haste.
At that moment, a chilling sound put an end to our endeavors.
A wolf howled from the depths of the forest. My heart pounded in my ears as goosebumps rose from head to toe.
‘Could it be a monster…..? Is it just a wolf?’
This was ridiculous; according to the novel, monsters could only make an appearance at night, and the sun had yet to fully set. It felt as if my blood was drying out from fear.
“Was that a wolf?”
The second I turned to Enoch, the sound of something rushing through the foliage of the seemingly lifeless forest reached my ears. The noise began from a distance and grew closer. My hands were clammy from the tension.
Stomp, stomp, stomp!
The footsteps were approaching frighteningly fast. It was such a fleeting moment I didn’t have time to understand how to handle the situation. Suddenly, something huge broke through the tall shrubs, flipping into the air once. And as its body unfurled, it descended toward me with its maw wide open. Its tongue, which lolled out between razor-sharp teeth, fluctuated much like a serpent. It was a wolf monster.
Overwhelmed by the bizarre sight, I couldn’t even scream or move. Enoch was quicker to react, enveloping me and recoiling back. Using the momentum of the force, he spun on his foot and skid a good distance away, effectively avoiding the monster’s attack. The creature landed with a reverberating growl. Without a doubt, it was one of the monsters depicted in the novel.
Unable to stand its sinister appearance, I hid my face in Enoch’s chest and took a deep, quivering breath to regain some semblance of calm. In turn, he pulled me tighter into his protective hold with one arm while his free hand reached to break off a nearby, sturdy branch. Seeing the opening, the wolf monster sprinted toward us.
Fortunately, Enoch’s agility and strength were beyond imagination, even with my presence serving as a liability. Squatting, he gripped the branch with one hand, side-stepped just in time for the monster to rush toward the pointed end, and pierced it through its chest. Black blood gushed from the wound, dripping down his strong forearm. The wolf released a terrible howl and collapsed, dying within seconds. More blood pooled on the soil.
Enoch sighed harshly and rose from his bowed position, righting me up, as I was still in his clutches. He defeated a monster with one hand, and with only a branch at that. It would have been impossible with the average strength of a man. I glanced at his impromptu weapon and gasped when I saw his forearm dripping with blood. I vaguely remembered a detail from the novel: he suffered from PTSD as a result of war. Was he fine now?
‘What exactly were the symptoms?’
I searched through my memories, but nothing came to mind, perhaps because I was still in shock by the attack. Eventually, I gave up thinking and threw my head back in frustration.
Originally, monsters were nocturnal; however, the monster that attacked us appeared even though the sun had not yet gone down.
Through the thick vegetation, the vermillion sky could hardly be seen. Assessing our surroundings, I noticed the area we stood in was abnormally dark because of the dense forestry. Perhaps it’s the dark rather than night. Monsters could move so long as it was dark, and with night being dark for half of the day, it seemed they were most active during that time.
‘That explains why the monster appeared.’
Without warning, Enoch pushed me away as if he was cleaning filth off his person. He turned to me after looking over the dead monster.
“I don’t know what that was, but are you hurt?”
“Pardon…..?” I was taken aback and grasped his question a beat late.
Disregarding my surprise, he approached to stand before me, his head tilted and his expression solemn, and then he laid a careful hand on my cheek. As his warmth seeped into my skin, I held my breath. This was a jarring reaction compared to earlier.
“I’m asking because you look quite faint. Are you all right?” he asked, as if he was concerned for a wounded comrade.
Maybe he was beginning to see me as one.
“Ah..…” my voice trembled, “yes, I’m fine. Thank you for saving me.” The evident fear in my demeanor had yet to abate, thus my face burned with embarrassment.
He stared at me in silence, and then grimaced. Regardless, he offered his hand. I didn’t understand his behavior and gawked. It wasn’t until he made an obvious gesture that I realized he wouldn’t drag me by force but was presenting his hand to properly escort me.
“Don’t forget: you’re still a suspect. When we return to the Empire, I will investigate the situation properly, and I can’t do so if you wound up dying.”
I hesitated. ‘Investigation? Was he still blaming me for our situation?’
Enoch watched me skeptically, but added, “Hurry up, it’s dangerous.”
Despite his phlegmatic front, he sounded as nervous as I did. What was wrong with his behavior? This tsundere treatment was reassuring but a pain.