Chapter 277: Signs of Deterioration
I narrowed my eyes while sitting right next to the bed. I exhaled hard from my lungs. I did it as a sigh of relief.
I loosened my cheeks slightly while looking at the person lying on the bed. The bed was simply made in order to accommodate the sick. I could see several simple blankets.
「Surprisingly, you look good, Bruder. Did fine ale go down your throat? 」
Bruder, still wrapped in the blankets, had lost her usual carefree rudeness, but the way she sneezed and drew lines on her cheeks was something I knew well. Her eyebrows were slightly distorted, probably because the pain of her burns was still running through her skin.
「Don’t be silly, employer. You can see there’s no ale in your sight. But since the tobacco-smoking person has come to visit me, I’ll be fine.」
Hearing Bruder’s words, I sighed involuntarily, and then, took out a chewing tobacco from my pocket and handed it to her.
It was not much of a souvenir, but it would be at least a pain reliever. Bruder raised her body lightly and held it between her teeth with a relaxed hand. If she applied too much force, the burns would pierce her body. Overall, it was a fairly weak move.
Well, as Vestaline said, her body seemed to be safe. After that, she won’t have any problem after seeing a doctor in the walled city Garoua Maria.
Bruder chewed the tobacco with her teeth for a few times, felt the fragrance through her nose, and then, opened her lips.
「…So, why are the two of them together with you? Do you actually need followers? 」
Bruder muttered those words with suspicion, or rather just curious, while chewing the tobacco between her lips. Her brown eyes pierced the people behind my back.
Without knowing, I swallowed my spit while twitching my fingertips.
No, of course I knew the two were with me, because they did not left my side. I was afraid that if I touched that topic, it would explode like gunpowder, so I hesitated to talk about it. But from Bruder’s point of view, it was natural to think that it was a very strange visit.
While I was trying to pick out the words to answer to Bruder’s questions, the silver hair bounced at the edge of my field of vision.
「He does. After all, he is like those people who misunderstand that they can go anywhere they please without proper supervision. 」
Caria quietly spoke that she was on a lookout for that purpose, and closed her lips again with her arms crossed. However, only her silver eyes had a fierce light that seemed to pierce the prey in front of her sight. Her eyes were reminiscent of a predatory beast about to attack.
I knew that Caria often behaved this way. But I wished that she drank ale more often so that her fierce persona could diminish a little.
After lightly pressing my lips with my index finger, I leaked some words to Bruder, who turned her gaze in my direction.
「No, it’s nothing. What’s important is… 」
After saying that, I decided to change the situation for the time being. However, there was someone other than Caria who couldn’t forgive no matter what.
A voice rang while trying to reduce the strange air that lingered around.
「…It’s nothing? I wonder what you mean by nothing. I want you to tell me, Lugis. 」
The owner of that voice was none other than Filaret La Volgograd.
Her black eyes strengthened their line of sight, and I could see that they were looking straight at me. Unlike Caria’s sternness, her gaze contained certain coldness.
It was bad, extremely bad.
Since the day I said that I was going to the Flimslat Mountains, a few days ago, not only these two but everyone else had been behaving like this. I frankly thought so.
Apparently, I stepped on some kind of tail. It was not a lion or a wolf’s tail, but something more ferocious.
My eyes naturally diverged to an unfamiliar place. I realized that something close to cold sweat was licking the back of my ears.
Seeing my horrible condition, Bruder smiled openly. The corners of her eyes were deeply wrinkled. Laughing at people’s misfortunes could be a very healthy thing, but at the same time, it made her a very terrible and heartless human being.
Unconsciously twisting her eyelids and twitching her cheeks, Bruder opened her mouth as if to apologize.
「Sorry, sorry. But, I know how they feel, too. Even if the employer is tied to a stake, he has the nature of moving while dragging the stake with him.」
She just said a very bad thing about me. Didn’t it sound as if I were an idiot? At least I wanted her to choose her words more carefully.
Bruder quietly wiped her teary eyes from laughing and asked if the people lined up outside were the same.
I turned around instinctively. Even from inside the tent, I could see the shadows standing near the entrance. It was probably four or five people. Since elves were also mixed in, I was not sure if my way of counting was correct.
It seemed that my statement caused a great deal of turmoil in the hearts of Eldith and Matia, in addition to Caria and Filaret. As expected, it didn’t seem like they were going to enter the tent, but in the past few days, the soldiers of the Heraldic Order and the soldiers of Ghazalia often jumped into my sight unnaturally.
There were eyes on me wherever I went. It felt like being a sinner. It felt as if I had committed a sin, but a sin that didn’t kick me out.
After muttering those words, Bruder spoke again, happily echoing her voice.
「Surprisingly, people tend to forget where the seeds they sow are. The employer has not realized it, but you have been dropping seeds in familiar places.」
Suddenly, the only thing that bothered me was that Bruder’s eyes were quietly erasing what seemed to be a smile.
「What, I don’t care where you go, Lugis. 」
As soon as I left the tent after visiting Bruder, Caria moved her tightly closed lips smoothly, touching my back while saying so. It was as if she was saying there was nothing wrong with my choice of destination.
How good would it be if that were true? However, this was not the case, since the gaze emitted by her silver eyes didn’t seem to change at all.
「I know you’re not the type to stay in one place. If that’s the case, then I’ll guide you or lead you if I must…However.」
In any case, those were extremely kind words for someone like Caria. Amazing, it made me want to raise my hands and rejoice. I would do so, only if I didn’t know the real Caria.
While still touching my back, Caria put her weight on me to bring her small lips closer to my ear. I could see her long eyelashes ripping through the faint rays of sunlight.
「However…I just hate to be in the dark about your plans, you know? You must have been scheming about this plan for a while, Lugis. After you said you’d leave your back to me, I behaved like a big fool for carrying all of our burns alone. You see, I feel like my pride has been dirtied with mud.」
Caria talked to me without any reservations. There was a sign that my heart had been grabbed straight from my back. My eyes were even terrified. It was a sign that I felt somewhere before.
However, just as Caria said, I shouldn’t have deceived her. I made a deal with Caria and then broke it. In that case, I should be blamed for it and allow her frustration tone to reach my ears. I wanted to cool Caria’s head, but.
「That’s right, Lugis. I won’t deny you, no matter where you go. But I just want you to hear one thing.」
As if to match Caria’s words, Filaret wrinkled her lips. I felt that the quality of her voice was rather heavy, in spite of the carefree tone.
Filaret’s fingers fell on my right shoulder. Her fingers were so delicate that they felt as if I was touching something broken. And just like that, she grabbed my right arm so that she could lean her body against mine.
A whispering, tickling voice spoke near my face.
「Maybe it’s just me…But I won’t allow you to keep using me to your advantage whenever you feel like it. I’m not the same as I was when I stayed in Garoua Maria.」
That voice. A voice that was heavier than Caria’s, yet it felt like it was pushing me from my spine. It left a very bad taste. I really didn’t like it. I knew that something that seemed to be frightening was running down my throat.
Just like the old days…the pressure they had on me when they were the mighty heroes was now faintly felt. But that was not what was scary.
What was terrifying was that their presence had changed considerably from what it used to be. A gloomy presence, as if something was entangled in it.
Caria and Filaret weren’t trying to harm me, nor were they yelling at me. Rather, the way they touched my body was very polite, and I could even feel their concern.
Even so, I felt the presence of something dangerous crawling up in my back.
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