“Long-time no see, Ling Yue.”
Ling Yue looked at the white cloak in front of her blankly and took two steps back. She looked at the individual in front of her with surprise.
I chuckled, and then removed my hat. I said, “It was so cold on the way here, but your place is really easy to find. I could see the red roof from a long way away… Wh-”
I exclaimed, because the young girl, who always maintained her distance from me and refused to have body contact, with me took the initiative to throw herself at me, and tightly hug me. I staggered backwards two steps. I smiled and hugged her back. Ling Yue tightened her arms around my waist and thumped her head on my chest hard, bringing her ears along for the ride.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong? … Ah…”
I looked at the cold house behind her and immediately understood why. The jaded girl, Ling Yue, couldn’t look after herself. She wasn’t Nier, Lucia, Mera or Luna. She was a jaded girl who was pampered. Determination and resolution couldn’t teach her how to take care of herself.
Ling Yue didn’t say a word. I knew that her strange dignity and sense of pride meant that she wouldn’t act coquettish with me as Lucia did. She still refused to admit that she was suffering even now. I stroked her head and said, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Let’s tidy up. I’ll teach you how.”
She snuggled up on my chest, and then raised her head up. She gave me a small nod. I looked into her eyes. She had tears at the corner of her crescent-moon eyes.
I did bring my guards, but I didn’t plan to let them in to disturb us.
I walked into Ling Yue’s house. I felt a cold sensation once I entered. It was a house, yet it was virtually colder than it was outside. There was a fireplace in the hall of Ling Yue’s house, and therewas bound to be one in her room, too, except I was sure she didn’t know how to use them.
‘I suppose the first step is light a fire, then.’
I hung my cloak to the side and then went up to the fireplace. I took out a few pieces of timber inside to examine them. Though I didn’t pay attention to the fireplaces in this world, the flames in the elven lands were autonomous, while it was Luna’s job in humanity’s lands, I did attend survival in the wild classes in the past, so I did know how to start a fire.
‘These bits of timber can be burnt, but I bet Ling Yue tried to burn them directly. How long would it take to do that?’
There’s definitely some wild teasel in the rooms of the servants and maids. I went around and found the now empty rooms that originally belonged to the servants. There was a bag of wild teasels hung up to the side as I thought, and there were also some branches. I took them back to the fireplace and lit up the teasels before adding the branches. I looked on as the fire gradually started. I then placed the wood on the fire. The wood make crackling sounds and a warm fire appeared in the cold room, scattering the cold air nearby.
Ling Yue stood behind me and watched the flame rise. Her tail began to swing side to side with excitement. I clapped my hands, and then stepped back with a smile, “Careful not to burn your tail.”
“Hmph! As if I would!”
Ling Yue rolled her eyes at me. She then looked at me with excitement and said, “Help me light up the fire in my room, too… That room is very cold… I can’t sleep at night.”
“All right, all right.”
I nodded, and then went upstairs. I went into Ling Yue’s room. The room didn’t need a big fire yet. We needed to get rid of the cold air first, then. We just then had to continue lighting it up at night.
I stood up. I looked at Ling Yue, who followed behind me the entire time, and told her, “See that, Ling Yue? It’s hard to light a fire by lighting up the wood directly. Use these to start a fire first, and then add wood. Don’t throw all of them in at once, though. You need to make sure that there’s sufficient air, understood? Add two more pieces of wood at night, or it might go out at night.”
I looked at Ling Yue. Her face went fully red in an instant. She looked at me fearlessly. She tried to not show her distress.
I asked, “You’re hungry, right…?”
You must be hungry, right?!”
“Say you’re hungry!!”
“Okay, I’m hungry…”
Ling Yue sighed a breath of relief. I laughed, “There’s not even a single merchant nearby anymore. Even if there was, you don’t have money to buy food, do you? I’m sure there’s food left behind by the panthers in the warehouse, but then, you don’t know how to cook, do you?”
“Get off my case!! I didn’t need to cook for myself in the past… Nobody taught me, either… Your rye bread is too tough, don’t you think?! Why do you make a bread that is hard as a rock?!”
Ling Yue slammed her tail on the floor with frustration.
It seemed that her entire body resented rye bread after eating it during this time. Of course, if I ate rye bread for days as she did, I’d be complaining, as well. Rye bread was seriously terrifying. It seriously was hard as a rock.
‘Ling Yue can’t even light a fire, so she couldn’t have made soup, either. How did she survive the past few days? She’s been pampered all her life, so how did she last until now? How much has she suffered? How much did she cry during the time I was away? How much longer was she going to weather it here if I didn’t come?’
‘Would I have not gotten the chance to see her again? She might’ve frozen to death or starved to death. The last member of the Moon Fox Tribe might’ve died on her own bed. This isn’t home. This is hell. This is torture.’
I gently cupped her face in my hands. She raised her head up to look at me. Her gaze contained a mixture of emotions. She didn’t resist or speak. She just looked at me with those eyes, and I looked back at her blood-red eyes.
After a moment of silence, she softly said, “… Sorry, I’m hungry.”
I stroked her head, “Uhm, I know. I’ll cook something for you. I can’t promise I’ll be able to make something tasty, but I can give you a warm meal. You don’t need to eat rye bread anymore, at least, not today.”
She nodded then asked, “Why… did you come back?”
I looked at her and replied, “I just came back for today. I’ve arrived below the Imperial City, but I still can’t capture the city, yet. I need to wait, so I came to see you, and I found you in the exact state I predicted you’d be in. Ling Yue, you can’t look after yourself, huh?”
She blushed a little before responding, “I’ll be able to take care of myself in the future. The reason was because nobody taught me before. Teach me, and I’ll be able to look after myself.”
Keeping my clasp on her pretty and delicate face, I met with her beautiful eyes and looked at her crescent moon pupils. I sincerely said, “Ling Yue, I’m serious. Leave with me.”