Editor: Areth Kyntaul
When we left the hotel that night, Leah wore a very distressed expression.
I gently picked up my cape and draped it over my shoulder. I heard footsteps behind me, and someone hugged me from behind. I turned to look and saw Leah’s small head slammed on my lower back, with her arms wrapped around my abdomen, refusing to let go.
She didn’t say anything. She just held me with her head sideways.
I chuckled softly as I crouched down to scrub her head. I softly explained, “Leah, Papa is very sorry, but Papa really can’t bring you along this time. Papa is going to the military camp. If you transform there, we’ll be in trouble. So, stay here and wait for Papa. Papa will definitely be back once Papa is done with work.”
“Papa… scared…” Leah looked at my face.
I think I saw tears well up in her eyes. I touched her face apologetically and kissed her forehead. I then said, “It’s alright, Leah. Don’t be scared. Papa promised you that Papa would never leave you. It’s just one night. Go sleep in bed and when you wake up, Papa will be back.”
Leah gently clasped my face, frowned, and asked, “Really? You’re not lying to me, right, Papa? You’ll come back for sure, right?”
“Yes.” I firmly nodded, then kissed her head gently. I stroked her face then stood up and said, “Papa will be back soon with good news, for sure.”
“Can you promise me then, Papa?” Leah blinked her eyes, then hugged my arms and looked at me with a distrustful gaze. She continued, “Papa, can you guarantee that you will always be thinking of Leah when you go out with that woman? That nothing will happen between you and that woman in the future and that you won’t end up forgetting about Leah when you’re with that woman?! Papa and that woman always do weird things every night! Will something happen without Leah around this time?”
I smiled helplessly as I scratched my head and replied, “You might not believe it, but every time I’m with her, it’s for legitimate reasons. Nothing will happen, Papa promises to always think of Leah. Papa will definitely come right back as soon as Papa is done with business!”
Leah still didn’t quite believe me, but she did sit back on the bed and pull the blanket over herself.
On the table by the side were the strips of dry meat and remaining bread we brought along. The kettle to the side also still had water. Leah won’t have to starve in the room.
I gently pulled the door open and took one last look at Leah.
Leah’s gaze was still on me, as I predicted. She wore a very complex expression and bit down on her lip tightly like she was fighting her urge to run to me.
I softly shut the door. It was such a simple action, yet I felt as though the door was so heavy.
When I left the room, Veirya was already outside waiting. She frowned and said, “Why are you so slow? You’re later than the time we agreed on by ten minutes already.”
I sincerely apologised, “Sorry.”
Veirya just looked at me without saying anything else as we went down the stairs together.
There was nobody inside the hotel. It was only around five or six in the afternoon, but the city was already dead silent. The doors to the hotel had been shut as well. The apprentice that saw us come down looked at us a little strange.
He picked up the bar holding the door closed and said, “If you’re going out now, be sure to be back early, because if you don’t, we can’t go to sleep.”
I nodded and then led Veirya out. From beside me, she asked, “Where are we going?”
I simply replied, “Outside of the army camp.”
She didn’t say any more or ask anything else. She just followed alongside me. Veirya wasn’t a good travelling companion, but she was a brilliant warrior. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to slay the Demon King.
We headed there in the darkness. Despite having a destination, trying to navigate through a strange place in darkness was tough, so Veirya led me.
There doesn’t seem to be any so-called nightlife in this city. As soon as the sun goes down, the city basically dies.
The people still walking the streets were difficult to spot since they wore black robes. They pulled their robes tightly around themselves and walked at a fast pace like rats swiftly disappearing in the night.
Soon, lots of patrol teams holding fire torches appeared on the streets. There were about ten people to a team. The metal armour of the troops reflected the light from the fire. Their long swords and spears looked frightening under the light of the fires.
The troops walked along the streets with expressionless looks, shooing people who had yet to return home.
We were dressed in the military uniform, except without armour. However, the troops seemed to consider us the same as them so they didn’t drive us off.
The two of us soon arrived at the entrance of the military camp. It was evident that the camp was managed more strictly at night. There were twice as many door guards, but they let us through as soon as they saw Veirya.
Veirya is the warrior who had slain the Demon King. She wasn’t going to harm them, so it was absolutely safe for her to be allowed passage.
I didn’t try to do anything since it was night time.
We went to the break room. There weren’t as many people there as there was during the day.
I pulled my hood up.
Veirya looked at me, and then pulled up hers up, too.
The fire in the break room was lit up, right now, with a few long tables set up.
The two of us entered and then sat at a long table in one of the corners. Nobody noticed us. They conversed about something as they drank from their cups.
I looked at the table to the side and waited silently.
“Did you find out anything, like when we can leave?”
“No. I don’t know either. There hasn’t been any information from our superiors. The last time I went to check, there was still plenty of food. I don’t think we’ll be able to leave anytime soon.”
“Don’t you reckon we’re unlucky? Everybody else has gone back yet we’re stuck staying back here. I’d be fine with going elsewhere. It’s annoying as hell to watch starving heretics in this rotten city and we have to go on strict patrols.”
“My wife, back home, sent me another letter asking when I could return. The Demon King is dead already, so what are we even here for? My wife thought I ran off after getting the reward money!”
“We can’t help it. We can’t help it, either. Let’s just wait here. At least we don’t have to worry about the city being conquered and then us dying in battle. It’s good to be alive.”
The two soldiers next to me said something. Veirya, who was opposite me didn’t care about what they said. She picked up a cup. She had a drink then nodded and said, “It doesn’t taste bad.”
I picked up a cup and had a drink then spat it out.
Veirya looked at me blankly with the liquid I just spat out coursing down her face slowly. She licked it and then calmly remarked, “Wine.”
“Sorry, sorry, cough, cough, it’s hot…” I coughed loudly.
I really never thought it would be wine, and strong wine for that matter! I could drink a little, but it’s the first time I’d drunk such a strong wine.
Two of the soldiers next to me noticed Veirya and me. They panicked as they stood up and saluted her.
Veirya wiped her face with her sleeve and then returned the salute.
I stood up and dragged Veirya out of the break room.
“What’s wrong?” Veirya looked at me confused. She seemed like she wanted some more of the wine there.
The military camp was something else. Despite the city prohibiting drinking, they still had wine to drink.
Veirya seemed to really like the taste of wine. She drank lots last time, at the banquet, too.
I nodded and replied, “It’s all right now. Let’s return now.”
I had gotten what I was after.