An unfamiliar ceiling.
That was the first thought Judith had when she woke up.
Her head was feeling woozy, and she pondered for a while why she was lying on an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room and staring at the unfamiliar ceiling.
And one minute later, she had a bewildered expression.
After abruptly regaining her consciousness, she raised her upper body up and mumbled.
She remembered what happened yesterday.
Well, not everything.
She remembered Ilya Lindsay having a drink with her, and she remembered that she was fine until she had her first drink, and after that, everything was blurry as if water had spilled on a painting.
However, that was enough for Judith to curse.
Because it probably meant that she might have lost her bet.
‘No, maybe I just don’t remember. I got drunk first and then became excited and drank more… then lost my memory?’
Judith frowned as she thought, thinking about yesterday’s memories, and sighed when nothing popped up.
Right, nothing bad must have happened.
It was the moment when she was thinking about it.
The sound of the door opening could be heard.
And the black cat entered the room where Judith was.
Lulu tried to put the glass of water down on the table, but when Lulu’s eyes met Judith’s, she quickly avoided it.
And that reaction made Judith feel anxious.
As she continued to stare at Lulu, she decided to ask.
“By any chance, yesterday, did I do something? I was super drunk, so did I say something strange?”
“Huh? No? I don’t know. You and Ilya took separate tables.”
“Someone must have helped me and brought me here. I couldn’t have come here by myself.”
“Ah! Yes, Bratt brought you here. You were drunk and sleepy, nothing happened.”
Lulu said nothing happened.
However, she continued to avoid Judith’s gaze, and that made her anxiety rise even more.
Judith jumped up from her bed and walked towards Lulu.
Seeing the huge shadow approach her, Lulu trembled.
However, the eyes of Judith were too bitter for Lulu to use sorcery.
“Hm? What are you talking about? I only told you the truth.”
“I won’t harm you.”
“I mean it. It is really fine, and it is something that happened yesterday. Just tell the truth. If I said something weird or not, or whether I did something strange and who all heard it. Without skipping past a single thing.”
“… Bratt, Airn, and Kuvar were talking to each other, so they didn’t hear what Judith said most of the time. Except for the last one, where you spoke up. It was so loud that everyone in the place heard it.”
“… that so?”
“… should I continue.”
Judith said with a bright smile.
Seeing that, Lulu decided to say everything which she heard and saw.
“… which is why, were you too drunk yesterday that you can’t even remember that?” 1
“That’s what I said. How many more times do I have to tell you?”
“Then the bet is a draw, can I consider it to be as such?”
“Okay, got it.”
Feeling a little relieved, Judith got up from her seat and left Ilya’s room.
“You sure you don’t remember anything?”
“Fine. I’m going.”
This time, seeing Judith leave for real, Ilya sighed.
The truth was, Ilya remembered exactly what had happened yesterday.
Although she was drunk, she didn’t lose her mind, and maybe she was better at drinking compared to Judith.
She quietly recalled yesterday’s conversation.
‘No, I am right. Even in the carriage, you always look at Airn, and you naturally sit next to him all the time, and when you cook, you let him have it first.’
‘Spill it. Aren’t you interested in him?’
‘It isn’t like that.’
‘What isn’t like that? I have eyes to…’
‘I am just closer to him than you two so, I don’t feel like that about him.’
‘Ha! Lies and lie…’
‘…but if we are on that matter, you’re the same.’
‘You are the same. You talk to Bratt Lloyd the most and sit next to him so naturally, and Bratt…’
‘What bullshit are you saying?’
‘Am I wrong? Or…’
‘Hey! Move! Have more! What nonsense are you spewing…’
Judith’s question had stayed in her heart.
Ilya, who had been pondering for a while, had a subtle expression. And her slightly bowed face changed again and again.
However, once she lifted her face, she was back to her usual self.
“… I need to bathe.”
Mumbling, Ilya Lindsay headed to the washroom.
Cooling her slightly warm skin with cold water, she continued to think about the sword as she always did.
It had been quite some time since they left Eisenmarkt.
Maybe it was because they were heading to the north, and they were close to June, the weather was cool.
But no matter how cold the wind was, that didn’t cool off the sweat on the four young swordsmen.
Close-up battles and discussions were always held after their lunch and dinner.
Through that, the four were gaining so much more than their time in Eisenmarkt.
But Ilya Lindsay’s heart was empty.
After leaving Krono, she followed Ignet for 5 to 6 years.
Even if it was an action done because she was indirectly bothered by the words and eyes of others, when the goal she pursued for so long was lost, she felt empty.
Perhaps, maybe because of that, she was able to naturally join in with the others during the discussions about the sword.
In the past, Ilya, who concentrated on her sword, would never give her knowledge and experience to others.
She didn’t even like interacting with others.
But not now, and the reason…
‘Maybe it is because I have lost my greed for the sword compared to before.’
Maybe the sword wasn’t such a precious or desperate thing for her to hold on to as she thought it was.
And that was why she was able to comfortably share her ideas and knowledge with others without hesitation.
No, she still wasn’t sure about it. Despite everything, refining swordsmanship was something she thought about the entire day.
‘What kind of state am I in now?’
‘I feel more comfortable than before. But I don’t know if this is a good thing.’
‘I feel envious of Airn. And of Bratt and Judith. I envy those who are actively trying to move ahead.’
‘Can I be like them? Will I find what I am looking for once this journey ends?’
‘What if I can’t? What should I do then?’
Countless thoughts ran through her mind.
Ilya walked and walked through the wastelands of the north, not knowing where she was walking.
Her eyes had no focus.
A black cat appeared in front of her.
She was shocked at first, but her face was still expressionless, and when Ilya was about to say something, Lulu spoke first.
“If your thoughts are too complicated, then just don’t try thinking about anything.”
“I mean, it will keep happening again and again, right? Like a snake going round to bite its own tail, nothing will get resolved. In that case, just pour out your feelings into the open. If you do that, you will feel more comfortable and when you feel comfortable, start filling the empty spots inside.”
An advice she heard several times from her father and others.
Fortunately, unlike in the past, where she lived with her eyes and ears closed, Ilya now had a clear vision.
After thinking, she said,
“I’ve never done it before.”
“Calming my head. Even if I say that it’s calm, the thoughts and worries are still there.”
“Things like that happen. Humans aren’t cats.”
“Are cats good at emptying their minds?”
“Yes. If we want, we can do it for 24 hours a day. Would you like me to teach you?”
Lulu, flew a little away and landed on a flat rock, and then sat on it.
And then she stared into the endless horizon.
With a face that had no thought or worry.
And the image seemed like she wouldn’t have a problem staying like that forever, and then the black cat said.
“Ilya, come sit next to me and follow me.”
Ilya glanced around.
All of a sudden, the groups who were away looked at them.
Their gazes were burdensome, but nevertheless, as Lulu asked, Ilya approached her and then sat looking blankly.
But the troubles still followed.
However, it was better than before.
Maybe, if she stayed longer, she thought that she wouldn’t feel the burdening thoughts in her mind.
At that moment, Bratt Lloyd, who was watching them silently, came over and sat next to her.
And then he began to look at the sight ahead with the same blank eyes.
And it wasn’t just him.
Kuvar and Airn Pareira came over next and then sat down and did the same. All staring into the endless horizon with blank faces.
Judith, who found that puzzling, said.
“What are you all doing? All doing some mind thing?”
“This crazy bastard, just because I left you alone for a while…”
Judith took huge strides to slap Bratt on his head.
However, she didn’t.
Ahead of her was the place everyone was looking at.
The majestic beauty of the endless horizon washed away her thoughts.
In the end, even Judith sat next to Bratt and looked ahead.
And like that, the party of Airn Pareira, relaxed as if their busy schedule around them had disappeared like a lie, and took a relaxing break for a long time.
About two hours later, that peaceful time was broken.
The sound of horses, a wagon, and people talking.
As they got closer, Kuvar turned his head.
Hmm, he thought and then got up as the others were breaking out of their daze.
“How about we join? If the destination and direction are similar, we can try.”
“Right. Since our carriage broke.”
As Kuvar said, right now, Airn’s party was travelling on foot.
It was because Bratt, who was driving the carriage, didn’t check the road properly, as he was in his own thoughts and went over a rock. The carriage overturned, but thanks to his swift actions, no one was hurt.
But it still was an unfortunate accident.
But they didn’t care if they were in a carriage or if they were walking.
“I think to find ourselves, we need to place ourselves in new situations and gain experience.”
Ilya nodded at Kuvar’s words.
Honestly, his words were quite daunting.
But they could understand it.
And as this was better than being locked inside a mansion’s training hall, she thought that it would be good if she could bump into new people.
Surely it might not turn out to be what she wanted, but what was there to lose?
Thanks to the two hours of peace, her heart was calmer than before.
“Okay, it’s decided; then shall we go see?”
The Orc, who obtained the consent of everyone, took the lead.
Unlike in the past, now there were four people and Lulu helping him out, but some things were better when left to Kuvar.
After a while, Kuvar, after getting permission, came back.
“Fortunately, though not in the same direction, they are a mission group of merchants and mercenaries who are going to a nearby orc tribe.”
“They don’t find this bothersome?”
“I told them that an orc fortune teller is requesting this of them, so they didn’t refuse.”
As Airn nodded, two people approached them.
The people that came forward looked like the ones in charge of the chores and not high-ranking people, but still, they thought to be respectful since they accepted them into the group.
“Nice to meet you, I am Kenzal, and this is Fredric.”
“Hello. Like I told you before, I am Kuvar, a wandering fortune teller.”
“I am Airn.”
“… I am Ilya. Nice to meet you.”
“I am a cat sorcerer, Lulu, nice to meet you!”
“Huh! I-I see!”
Judith and Bratt spoke naturally, while Ilya seemed awkward.
But that wasn’t an obstacle that stopped them from joining.
They moved together to the spot that the caravan had stopped.
After a while, the entire party went there.
Fredric, the youngest, thought with a frown.
‘Ilya, Airn, Bratt, and Judith… I think I’ve heard these names somewhere…’
There is a sudden shift in perspective to Ilya's, and now it's Judith who is questioning Ilya. ↩️
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