“Ugh, you… I just fell asleep.”
“You live over 10,000 years. I don’t want to hear that from a rascal like you. Do you understand? Just get the hell up.”
There was a face looking down at Andal with the tip of his lips tilting upwards, full of mischievous atmosphere. Andal was annoyed all the way to the top of his head. He got up as he cursed at Riley.
Andal woke up with a fuzzy look on his face. The pub was a mess, but Andal cleaned it up completely with a sweep of his hand and walked toward the kitchen.
“Why are you back so soon?”
“Soon? It’s been months.”
Riley looked around the cleaned pub and said the duration of his stay in Rainfield as he shrugged his shoulders.
“Not several years?”
Andal was looking at Riley with ‘why are you back so soon’ look on his face. Andal was pouting. Seeing his face, Riley talked back, finding the idea to be ridiculous.
“Are you bragging about your several tens of thousands years lifespan?”
“Ludicrous… I’m saying this because I’m sure of it. There isn’t a single dragon in this world that brags about one’s lifespan.”
“Ah, is that so?”
Riley sat on one of the chairs that Andal tidied up. Riley ordered the usual, locked his fingers and rested his chin on it.
“How’s that lass?”
Andal, who was preparing the drink Riley ordered, asked as he added ice into the glass.
“Your servant… What was her name?”
“That’s right. Nainiae.”
He was talking about Riley’s maid in training who had a very limited lifespan left because of drug experiments at the Magic Tower.
It seemed Andal was curious about how she was. With a question mark on his face, Andal turned his head and looked at Riley.
“How is she?”
“What do you expect?”
Riley took a sip from the drink that Andal handed to him to wet his lips. Riley continued as he tasted the sweetness of the drink.
From Riley’s perspective, it seemed to be the case.
“She can barely move her body, but she insists that she is not ill or in pain. It seems close.”
Riley fiddled with the ice inside the glass as he leisurely mumbled Nainiae’s condition. Watching Riley, Andal cringed big time.
“That’s inefficient. The way humans think… I cannot understand it. Won’t it be more comfortable to just say she is ill and then rest?”
Andal was tilting his head side to side with a question mark on his face. Andal even prepared a glass for himself and sat in front of Riley.
“There are many different kinds of people in this world. There are foolish people like that who keep on working even when they are sick… The fools who do not realize they are falling deeper into a swamp.”
Riley looked at the drink in the glass wavering as he explained it about people. However, Andal still had a confused look on his face and tilted his head side to side.
Riley was like Nainiae once. There was a time when Riley struggled in futility without realizing he was in a swamp.
“Why do you think humans are humans?”
Riley was thinking about his past, which was strikingly similar to Nainiae. Riley mumbled,
“Humans are humans because they are like that.”
Riley was like that once. To save the people, to save the world, in order to live up to others’ expectations… There was a time when Riley marched on restlessly without caring for his own wellbeing.
Shattered in pieces…
The end result could be summarized in those words.
It didn’t end very well.
“As I thought, humans are very interesting. Their way of thinking is different from dragons, way different. It probably is because of the lifespan?”
With Andal bringing up Nainiae’s remaining ‘lifespan,’ Riley slowly narrowed his eyes and thought about Nainiae, a maid who was much like himself from his past life.
‘Young Master, I wish you could feel this sense of having accomplished something too.’
Even if it lasted long, her life was going to last until the autumn. Because she used magic excessively in Rainfield, her lifespan was shortened even further. If nothing was done, she would have burned out and became dust by now.
Her slightly extended time was from Riley patting her head.
Riley thought of a different way to use the time magic that Nainiae taught her. However, in the end… it was not possible for Riley to cure her illness.
Riley, who was sitting there in silence, called Andal as if he made up his mind.
“By the way, it’s about the thing you mentioned before… Do you still want to try it?”
“Thing I mentioned before? Ah, that?”
When Riley asked, Andal wiggled his eyebrows as if he was waiting for this. Andal nodded and said,
“Of course, I still want to try it.”
It was about the idea that Andal discussed with Riley when he teleported Riley and Nainiae to Rainfield’s nearby area. Andal said he was still interested in ‘that profession.’ Andal asked,
“By the way, what about it?”
Riley said as if he was tossing the words out. Andal, with a look of disbelief, blinked his eyes.
“Are you being serious? You were absolutely against it before. Why are you changing your mind now?”
Andal was rubbing the palms of his hands. He was implying that if there’s something that Riley want in return, then he should just spell it out. Riley, displeased with the gesture, cringed and said,
“Did I say I’ll give her to you? I’m not saying I’m going to hand her over.”
“In that case, what is it?”
“You said you want to experience that profession, didn’t you?”
* * *
It was late summer.
The autumn was already almost here before anyone realized. The weather was pretty cool nowadays. It was perfect for Riley to sleep under the apple tree on the mansion’s garden.
“Young Master, are you sleeping?”
Looking at Riley leaning against the tree with his eyes closed, Nainiae asked carefully.
There was no response.
He had his eyes closed, and he was making regular light movements. They were telling Nainiae that the boy was taking a nap.
‘It’s pretty cold now. He might catch a cold like this.’
Nainiae, concerned, turned around to go back to mansion to get a blanket. However,
She heard a cry from Riley. She stopped walking and turned her head to look.
Riley was furrowing his brows as if something was bothering him. Concerned, Nainiae turned around and came next to him.
“Young Master, are you all right?”
Nainiae’s mask was broken during the seizure she had last time. With her scar fully exposed, Nainiae looked at Riley.
Having noticed that Riley was occasionally struggling as he slept, she looked at Riley with concerned eyes. Nainiae started to blink her eyes.
Through her right eye, which was no longer covered by the mask, she could see sceneries in her head. She tightly closed her eyes and shook her head.
‘What is this? Just now, something strange?’
She thought about the scenery, the people in Riley’s dream to be exact, and opened her mouth vacantly.
It was a very strange sight.
‘This view is…’
There were highly angular buildings made of stones.
There were things with wheels moving around quickly.
There were people walking around in strange clothes.
They were all things that Nainiae had never seen before.
‘Oh no, this is not the time for this.’
Riley was struggling as if he was having a nightmare. Noticing this, Nainiae got a grip and realized perhaps it was not a good idea to go all the way back to the mansion. She used the leather bracelet.
‘Instead of a blanket, at least this…’
She brought out her spare maid dress and covered Riley with it like a blanket.
It seemed he was spared from the nightmares thanks to the maid dress blanket. The look on his face was back to normal. Nainiae sighed in relief.
‘Young Master, the vision just now...’
Nainiae looked at Riley with concerned look. However, a terrifying pain was creeping up again. With her left hand, she started to tightly grab her chest.
Nainiae’s face was completely crumpled. However, having heard Ian’s voice coming from the back, it changed in an instant.
“Yes, Mr. Ian.”
Nainiae straightened up the look on her face by force. With a normal look, she turned her head and faced Ian who was walking toward her.
“I heard from Sera. She said you are not feeling well. Why didn’t you tell us about it all this time?”
Nainiae shook her head. Tightening her grip on her chest, Nainiae said,
“I’m not… ill. I’m fine.”
“You are not ill?”
“How about saying that after your hands stop shaking?”
Nainiae was able to put up a look on her face, but her hands and arms were shaking as Ian said.
“This isn’t just for Young Master… I’m saying it as a family and an elder who had lived longer than you have. Rest today.”
“But… Mr. Ian!”
Nainiae was gradually raising her voice. In response, Ian narrowed his eyes and said with a deadly aura,
“You’ll wake up our Young Master.”
Having realized this, Nainiae had a look of panic on her face. Not knowing what to do, she bit her lips.
She had no choice but to listen to Ian. With her shoulders down, she started to walk.
She was on her way back to her room in the mansion. Having heard Ian’s voice, she stopped for a moment.
“One’s health is very important. If you are going to continue to serve our Young Master, you need to look after your condition. It’s one of important skills you should learn.”
‘Continue to serve…’
Nainiae stood there vacantly. She had a bitter smile on her face as she looked at the ground.
“Yes, Mr. Ian. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Nainiae figured Ian was looking at her back at this moment. However, she was not able to turn to look. She just answered like that and walked toward the mansion.
‘If I’m going to continue to serve Young Master…’
Nainiae was thinking about what Ian just said. In order to get a hold of herself, she shook her head wildly and tightened her fists.
‘Nainiae, get a grip. That’s just being greedy.’
Her life was going to end when the autumn came.
She decided not to be pathetic. She decided not to cling on to her Young Master. She decided to firm her determination. As she thought that, she walked toward her room. However, she ran into someone on the way.
“Oh? Who is this?”
“Our very own famous Six Circles mage?”
It was Lloyd, the second born Young Master of Iphalleta mansion.
“What’s going on? Shouldn’t you be right next to Riley at this hour?”
To pay respect, Nainiae lightly lowered her head. She responded as respectfully as possible.
“Due to a personal circumstance, I was ordered to rest today. So Mr. Ian is serving Young Master Riley at the moment.”
Having heard what Nainiae said, Lloyd opened his eyes wide. Soon, he put up a look on his face. It was saying that Nainiae was a fool.
“Huh, rest? Wow, this is just… You are that Young Master’s servant?”
It was a low blow, unbecoming of a nobility of his status.
However, Nainiae knew that nothing good will come from expressing anger here.
So, she didn’t fight back. She was going to just walk past him and go back to her room. However,
“… Up. Cholok! Cholok!”
Because of something coming out of the throat, she couldn’t hold it anymore and started to cough.
She quickly closed her mouth with her hand. She was coughing hard as if she was about to cough blood. Watching this, Lloyd panicked and broke cold sweat.
“… Cholok! Cholok!”
It didn’t look like her coughing was going to stop any time soon. Nainiae’s eyelids started to shake uncontrollably.
Every time she blinked, her vision was getting whiter. Nainiae was desperately holding on to her consciousness. However, with each cough, that was getting harder.
“What, what is this? Hey, what’s wrong?”
Having noticed the black blood flowing out from Nainiae’s left hand that was covering her mouth, Lloyd flinched his shoulder.
Lloyd realized this was serious. In a hurry, Lloyd turned his head. He was about to call for someone. However,
“This is crazy. Hey! Is there anyone…”
“… Stop it, Lloyd.”
However, he was stopped by someone grabbing his shoulder.
“B… Big Brother?”
It was the eldest Young Master in the mansion, Ryan.
Nainiae’s left hand could not take it anymore and fell. As if a dam broke, lumps of black blood poured out and made a mess on the corridor’s carpet.
“… Khurhuk, cholok!”
The amount of black blood pouring out from the girl’s mouth was enough to make Lloyd flinch once again.
‘What is this?’
Lloyd panicked after seeing the black blood that Nainiae spread to the carpet. He believed that calling for people was the right answer. However,
“… Just let it be.”
However, he was stopped by Ryan once again.
“Just letting it be is the right thing to do.”
Right in front of them, there was a girl, moreover, a person who was a part of the Iphalleta’s household, was dying. However, Ryan was telling Lloyd that ‘just letting it be is the right thing to do.’ Lloyd questioned Ryan’s judgment.
“But Big Brother!”
Even though Nainiae was a formidable supporter of Riley in the successorship… Turning a blind eye to a dying girl was a disgraceful act that would taint the name of Iphalleta. It was unbecoming of the family name.
“If our father was here… He would not leave her be like this…”
With the sound, Lloyd’s head was quickly turned to the side.
Lloyd, with a look of disbelief, looked at his brother.
“Get a grip, Lloyd.”
The look on Ryan’s face could not be colder.
“That lass is going to die anyway.”
Ryan was aware of this because he got a letter from his fiancée a few days ago, which explained that the Six Circles mage maid has a very limited lifespan, so they don’t need to worry about her.
“… Cholok, cholok!”
Not able to endure it anymore, Nainiae suddenly fell to her knees as she poured out black blood from her mouth. Ryan said once again.
“Let her die.”
By his Big Brother’s threat, Lloyd was petrified as he looked at Nainiae.
Lloyd was not sure if this was the right thing to do or not. With a vacant look on his face, his lips was shaking. It was at that moment.
“… Ah, you were here.”
From the direction of Nainiae’s back, there was a man with flame-like red hair. He fixed the glass that fell almost to the middle of the nose as he showed himself in front of Ryan and Lloyd.