Chapter 359: Now and Then
The windows and curtains were closed, and the interior of the room was somewhat dark. I didn’t sense a dust smell since it had been cleaned. Overall, it was a strangely clean room.
As for me, it was uncomfortable. It was a good thing to have a nice room, but I felt it wasn’t suitable for a human being like me.
In such a room was my adoptive parent…Mrs. Ninz. With her purple eyes slowly opening, she stared at me from above the bed.
Even though several years had passed since I saw her in Gharast Kingdom, she didn’t change that much. Her looks remained the same, except for some weight loss. She looked thinner.
She looked so young that I wanted to doubt whether she belonged to long-lived species rather than human.
Mrs. Ninz long lips drew a line on her cheeks. Her bandaged hands were out of the sheets. My throat rang slightly.
「Oh my? It seems I have a lot of unusual guests today…No, or should I just say welcome back, Lugis?」
Mrs. Ninz often greeted me with a smile back when I was a kid. It was as if nothing had happened until we’ve got here. She even spoke with the same tone.
A nostalgic yet warm feeling engulfed my viscera. No matter how hard humans struggled, they couldn’t resist to nostalgia.
While sitting on the prepared chair, I thought about how to respond. My lips were strangely heavy.
There were many words to say. In fact, until I came to this room, I had all kinds of words floating in my head.
But now none of them were coming out of my mouth. It was as if every word had turned to solid stone.
It was no good. But if she behaved the same as before, then I had to follow suit as well. At least, I could do well with that level of performance.
「Do you want me to leave, Mrs. Ninz? It’s quite late, though. 」
Mrs. Ninz smiled again after hearing my words. There was a nostalgic, somewhat mischievous color in her expression.
「It’s so you. I can guess that you are worrying about something strange again…Ah, wait. I didn’t expect you to have a large number of women escorting you.」
No wait. What was she saying, my adoptive mother?
My cheeks were twitching. I didn’t know what to say, and my mouth hardened.
I didn’t have women to escort me, and I didn’t remember doing anything like that before.
Of course, Mrs. Ninz probably said it after understanding the general situation. I had to avoid saying words and doing actions that caused too much misunderstanding. In the worst case, my life would fly if I used bad words. Mainly by Caria’s hands.
Mrs. Ninz slightly shifted her gaze to Caria, Filaret, and then Philos, who were sitting behind me, and then said.
「I don’t remember having given you this kind of education, but who am I to speak? I don’t want to interfere with your affairs, though the whole scene looks intriguing.」
Mrs. Ninz said that with a smile on her face as if it was really amusing.
After seeing me after a few years, was that what she was going to say? What the worst thing. What was she thinking?
No, or was I the one being played here?
If anything, the latter seemed to be the case. If so, poor me.
I gently shrugged my shoulders in response.
Mrs. Ninz nodded, and then opened her mouth wondering if I had come just to say hello.
To be honest, I didn’t have any problems with just greetings. But I had to ask a few things, or they’d never forgive me. Caria moved her lips before I did. Her little hand was on my shoulder.
I could feel her fingers biting into my flesh a little. Ah c’mon, it hurt.
「I would like to ask about his origins. After all, he doesn’t talk much about himself.」
No, I said several times before that I was an orphan. I just didn’t have much to talk about quickly and deeply. Caria’s silver hair swayed right beside my vision.
Mrs. Ninz relaxed her expression for a moment after hearing Caria’s words, and then her lips.
「That’s all hear today. Just a little while ago, Saint Matia and the Queen of Ghazalia also came to ask about him…to be precise, they came to ask about that child as well.」
When she said, “that child”, she raised her eyelashes, slightly. Mrs. Ninz’s sharp eyes were piercing me from the front.
Was that so? At that point, I had some idea of what Mrs. Ninz was trying to say. Matia or Eldith probably wanted some answers, not just about me.
The pinnacle of the Heraldic Order and the head of the Hanging Gardens of Ghazalia. There was only one thing that they should hear directly from Mrs. Ninz’s mouth.
“That child” was Ariene, the Holy Maiden and Saint of the Great Holy Church.
The fact that Ariene was originally in the care of Mrs. Ninz must had been heard by many of them.
That’s why they thought Mrs. Ninz would have a deep understanding of who Ariene was. What kind of person she was, what kind of judgments she made, what kind of thoughts she held in her heart.
I was sure their questions were abominably necessary. As long as Ariene was the Holy Maiden of the Great Holy Church…she was on the enemy side.
Whether or not an evil spirit like Altius was involved, that fact couldn’t go unnoticed.
As for me, I couldn’t help but have a difficult feeling in my heart, as if it was torn apart. It never felt good to hear harsh things about the person I loved.
When Mrs. Ninz shifted her gaze to Caria, she let out a light voice from her mouth.
「Well then, Lugis’ origins. Even now, I don’t know if he’s just an orphan. What I know is that he was an abandoned child and was picked up by my predecessor at the orphanage. His eyes were strangely conspicuous even at night. I still remember it vividly.」
Mrs. Ninz’s predecessor. In short, before she became the owner of the orphanage. It was probably the person who took the place of everyone’s mother. I remembered hearing someone talk about that person from time to time.
To be honest, that person died right after I came to the orphanage, so I didn’t have much of a memory.
When that person died, a lot of people except me were crying. I couldn’t relate to their feelings.
Mrs. Ninz hardly talked about her predecessor. It was not because Mrs. Ninz disliked that person. It was probably just because Mrs. Ninz was a person who didn’t like to put her own thoughts into words from the very beginning.
Mrs. Ninz felt fine as long as her feelings were in her heart.
After that, Caria exchanged a few words with Mrs. Ninz. When she was about to step into people’s embarrassing memories, Filaret suddenly moved her lips as if remembering something.
「There’s one thing I’d like to ask you about…that girl you mentioned earlier. Lugis’…no, the witch Ariene, right?」
Mrs. Ninz tilted her violet eyes to the words spoken by Filaret. Then her gaze turned to me.
Mrs. Ninz remained expressionless, with a clear dissent on her lips.
No, what was the need of that dissent? The fact that I and Ariene were childhood friends was nothing to be blamed for, it was just a fact. No one could deny that.
No, but wait. I didn’t particularly remember telling Filaret about Ariene.
But oh well, to put it the other way around, I didn’t remember hiding it either. Maybe I mentioned her name somewhere around Caria. It wasn’t a problem at all.
When I returned my gaze without affirming or denying, Mrs. Ninz glanced around the room for a moment, looked at everyone’s faces, and then said the following.
「If I told you otherwise, I’d be lying. Yes, Ariene. I used to take care of them both. Therefore, I know her personality to some extent.」
When Mrs. Ninz professed those words, the air in the room became heavy and tense. I didn’t really know the cause of such heaviness. Perhaps it was me, maybe it wasn’t anyone else’s fault.
Perhaps, she figured it out. Mrs. Ninz said with a gentle smile on purpose.
「But it’s good, isn’t it? I thought you were still dragging Ariene within you.」
Those violet eyes turned slightly towards the people behind my back. After that, Mrs. Ninz continued her words with mischievous eyes.
「It’s good for you to make a break and follow a new path. Even if the road is interrupted, there’s always a new road to find…」
I responded to Mrs. Ninz’s words while tilting my shoulders. I wondered what she was saying.
No, of course I knew what she meant. And I was unwilling to accept it.
「…There’s no need to set a new path. From the beginning, I’m me and she’s her despite our current positions. Nothing will change that fact.」
The air creaked again. This time, with a clear sound.
Oh no! Lugis professed his love for Ariene in front of those obsessed girls…Not good, not good at all…