Author: lipzoldyck

 

I thought he would reply after a short pause, yet no matter how much time passed, Ivan just stared at me and said nothing.

 

“…?”

 

Did I say something wrong? Was them passing by here a question that shouldn’t be asked? At the moment when I tilted my head in doubt in many ways, Ivan’s eyes suddenly caught my eye.

 

It’s the same when I saw it on the bed in the barracks earlier, and while talking like this. At first glance, I thought he was an ordinary child with nothing special.

 

Up close, Ivan’s eyes were different from the others, with the pupils slit upward. Yes, it’s like an animal, if you ask me…

 

The moment an animal with eyes like that came to mind, Ivan broke the silence.

 

“Sister.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“How do you feel about traveling with strangers?”

 

Why… are you asking this? However, the answer to the question came out of my mouth first rather than the following question.

 

“If you look at it closely, I don’t even know the people from the merchant I’ve been with so far.”

 

“Hmm.”

 

Ivan nodded his head knowingly. Whether or not I felt uneasy at the sudden question, Ivan, whose expression changed quickly, soon became a refreshed face as if he had finished his troubles.

 

Why is he the only one feeling refreshed? I wish he could tell me something too.

 

“Hey, but why do you ask such a thing?”

 

“Ah.”

 

Ivan, who returned with a cheerful expression as I saw in the beginning, smiled broadly.

 

“Our group just happened to be passing through the village where Sister goes.”

 

“…? Yes.”

 

“So I thought it would be nice to give Sister a ride on the way!”

 

“Pardon?”

 

I asked back, showing a puzzled expression at the unexpected words, yet Ivan, who brought up the words, didn’t seem to care.

 

It took me a while to really understand Ivan’s suggestion. While I slowly but surely felt perplexed, Ivan muttered something to himself.

 

“Anyway, we’re not going… right away, We’re probably going to take a break in that village and come up with a specific strategy… Is it okay?”

 

The voice was so low that I could hear it intermittently. However, the word ‘strategy’ sounded so clear that I became very curious about what these people were doing.

 

But in the current situation, my simple curiosity isn’t important. I managed to control my bewilderment and shook my head.

 

“Thank you for your words, but it’s okay.”

 

“Pardon? But you said you had to go quickly.”

 

As if he was only helping because he could, Ivan’s innocent expression made me more troubled. He seemed to be asking because he didn’t know why I had no choice but to reject his offer, but looking at it like this, he seemed really ignorant.

 

If you are asked why you refuse when it’s natural to refuse, what on earth should you answer? I paused for a moment and chose my words.

 

“First of all… It’s not just a few hours, we’ll have to move at least a few days together, but I’m so sorry to bother you for such a long time.”

 

“What’s wrong? It’s okay! There’s plenty of space in the carriage we’re riding in. Will it make any differences if there’s one more person on board?

 

No, the space in the carriage isn’t a problem. Why does he say such nonsensical things that the more he says, the more weird I feel weird?

 

I tried to speak as calmly as possible. Lest this innocent child be startled by a sudden frown or blunt remark. In any case, if he doesn’t have other intentions, it’s obvious that he’s thinking of me.

 

“It’s not like that, it’s because I’m afraid your colleagues will be uncomfortable. Seeing that you passed by that village on your way, you seem to have a separate destination, but you don’t have to…”

 

“Uncomfortable? I don’t think we’ll feel uncomfortable, though?”

 

Why do you only listen to what you want to hear? I almost spit it out without realizing it, but Ivan suddenly got up faster than that.

 

“I’ll ask if they’re really uncomfortable!”

 

“Pardon? No, wait!”

 

I hurriedly got up from my seat, yet Ivan had already run far away. As for where he ran, to the healer who kept looking at me and the man next to the healer.

 

At the situation that suddenly rushed past, I spat out a laugh. Are all the kids these days like that? He seemed to be swept along throughout the conversation.

 

Of course, I’m very grateful, but I couldn’t join the party. As I said to Ivan, there was also a reason that I was causing trouble unilaterally, but more than anything else.

 

Because those people were complete strangers whom I had no idea where they came from.

 

It was all the same in that me and the people from the merchant didn’t know each other, but the case was different from that time. Just being a member of the guild was equal to proving their identity, and there was a friend in the capital who remembered that I was with the guild.

 

In a word, it’s the same companion, yet it means that the risk was much lower if I followed the merchants. Not to mention how dangerous it is to follow unknown people.

 

This was an inevitable decision, even for my own safety. Thank you for the ride, but what if there’s something wrong with me if I follow you/

 

Of course, considering that they saved the people of the merchant from the monsters,  it didn’t seem like they were openly bad people, but gratitude and vigilance were separate stories.

 

He didn’t answer the question of how they happened to pass by here, did they? The fact that only three people were moving without any other escorts in a place where monsters roamed was like that, and they were people whose purpose was unknown at the time.

 

While I was thinking about this and that, Ivan soon brought his party here. Judging from the faces of the healer and the man next to her who weren’t properly aware of the situation, it seemed more like they had been dragged rather than brought.

 

“I just called you because it seemed like you were asking a question while we were together!”

 

As expected.

 

While I swallowed a sigh, the healer who met my eyes immediately asked me with her eyes. Why is he like this?

 

I answered with an expression, I don’t know, but Ivan opened his mouth again.

 

“Sister Lily. This one here isn’t from the merchant, and she was just on his way to Ronen Village, but she said it took her a week to get here.”

 

“Hm, and then?”

 

The healer, called Lily, answered Ivan calmly. Unlike the healer, the man next to her didn’t even raise a simple nod, but Ivan didn’t seem to mind that he didn’t answer.

 

“And if she goes back to the capital, she will have to come back through this road again. That’s why…”

 

Ivan hesitantly continued.

 

“Can’t we give this Sister a ride to that village?”

 

“Huh?”

 

The healer looked at me in bewilderment. But I didn’t have anything to say in response to that look, so I just let out a sigh.

 

To raise a fundamental question here, none of my intentions were included in that statement.

 

“As I said before, I’m really fine.”

 

When I deliberately spoke without reason, the healer made a puzzled face as if she had roughly guessed the situation.

 

“Ivan… Of course, it would be great if you could help, but if the person receiving the help doesn’t want it, it’s best not to.”

 

That’s really close to the truth. However, as close as it was to the truth, it didn’t seem to work for people with an unpredictable way of thinking.

 

“But if I can solve the reason for her refusal, shouldn’t I help?”

 

“Hmm… It also depends on the circumstances.”

 

You can’t say that. You have to be firm and say no.

 

Before I could express my intention of refusal again, someone opened their mouth first.

 

“Don’t talk nonsense, Ivan.”

 

The man who had been staring at the boy with a look of dread from earlier shot at him. The already sharp eyes and even the frown made me feel a bit… He seemed like a bad person.

 

Ah, it’s my first time meeting him, so is it rude to think like this?

 

“What are you going to do by picking up useless ordinary people in this situation?”

 

He’s a bad person. Besides, I stopped in my thoughts, and that person was speaking more rude words.

 

Ignoring my cold eyes, the man continued talking.

 

“Don’t forget what brought us here.”

 

“Don’t… No, it’s not that we’re going there with her, it’s just that we’ll give her a ride to the place we pass by. Why can’t we do that?”

 

Despite the man’s cold words, Ivan stood firm. Again, it was an argument the healer didn’t enter at all.

 

The man uttered a sneering laugh.

 

“Your habit of blindly offering help if you feel even the slightest pity has grown again. I thought it was fixed at least a little during the war, but didn’t it? There are more and more people who want to use you because you’re so easy. Look at that now.”

 

“This Sister didn’t ask me for help! I said I would help.”

 

“Then don’t even say that anymore.”

 

Why are you two fighting all of a sudden? I’m the reason why these people had an argument, and I felt unfair because I hadn’t done anything.

 

In the frozen atmosphere colder than the midwinter night, no one opened their mouths easily. One stubbornly shut his mouth and one stared at him. Standing between them, I wonder what I was doing.

 

I felt like I should definitely refuse even if I had to say that I didn’t trust them. Both my position and the other side are embarrassing, so it would be better to end this confrontation quickly somehow.

 

None of those people agreed with Ivan’s words.

 

…However, as if to say that my thoughts were wrong, the silent person opened her mouth.

 

“Excuse me, um. patient?”

 

It was the healer who hadn’t intervened while they were fighting.

 

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