Ayra, who’d returned to the castle after buying Janus dinner, opened his bedroom door as if he had stayed in his room all day.
As expected, Bloom stood right next to the door standing guard, before turning and bowing his head.
At first he had only acknowledged him with his eyes before stepping away, but he was suddenly overcome with curiosity.
Ayra asked, “Sir Bloom.
Can you walk around with your eyes covered?”
He had asked out of curiosity, but Bloom must have taken it as an order.
He replied, “I understand,” and immediately took a handkerchief from his person and tried to cover his eyes.
Ayra quickly shook his head.
“No, this isn’t a command.
I’m only asking since I’m curious.”
However, my reaction speed would probably decrease.”
“Then, could you walk around without bumping into anything at all?”
“I could do it, but…”
At Ayra’s curious look, Bloom covered his eyes with the handkerchief completely this time.
Then, he walked all the way down the hallway, opened the door, entered and exited the room, and came back to his original position again.
Even if Ayra blocked his way several times or quietly placed obstacles in his path, every time the knight paused and narrowly, but clumsily, evaded.
“How in the world are you doing this?” The young lord exclaimed.
Was this something every kid and his grandmother knew how to do? 1 It seems that he’s lived in the labyrinth for far too long.
Ayra thought that his common sense was overturned, but, after untying the blindfold, Bloom faithfully explained, “If you train your body to certain limits, your five senses become sensitive, making it easier to detect your surroundings.”
“……Mm, so, in short, you’re evading through your senses? Is this akin to a sixth sense?”
“Sixth sense…That’s right.
This could be considered one of my senses.
For example, it could be useful for things like spying on the situation happening outside the castle walls.”
Ayra understood what Bloom was trying to say; the young lord could use his magical powers in similar ways.
The ability to defend from arrows shot from afar was not due to reaction speed born from his eyes.
By spreading mana as widely as possible, like fog or a spider web, he could detect the moment an arrow enters that space and defend in time.
Then, Ayra paused in sudden realization, “Wait a minute, then… Then you must know that, lately, I’ve been visiting the village every day.”
“Yes, I knew.” Bloom nodded his head honestly.
Ayra, remembering how he crawled through the window in secret, rubbed his cheek self-consciously.
In a weighty tone, the knight calmly said “Please, don’t pay any attention to me.
Come and go in peace, Ayra-nim.
No one in the castle can defy you.”
Didn’t he resemble a knight that only existed in films or novels? Perhaps it’s been too long since Ayra last indulged himself–perhaps he spent far too long in that bizarre Labyrinth–Ayra found that he had no immunity against such a rigid knight.
For the soon-to-be-lord, such a picturesque and loyal retainer was somewhat burdensome and, simultaneously, strangely pleasing.
Sir Bloom bowed his head in a perfectly rigid manner, as if he had measured the angle with a protractor, before backing away.
Perhaps Ayra got used to roaming around the territory; today, he wasn’t tired as usual.
For the past few days he was so tired he collapsed onto the bed every time, but today he could enjoy a leisurely evening.
After resting and warming his body with a hot water bath, Ayra sat on the bed and took out the instrument.
Plinking the taut strings sequentially, he began to think about Janus.
Was he so free-spirited and fickle because he was a mercenary? To Ayra he seemed like a being that didn’t belong to anywhere in the world and could not be bound by anything as well.
The young lord recalled the haphazard and mischievous dance they danced on the street today.
It was something worth getting angry about, but strangely he didn’t feel too upset while reminiscing.
What remained in his memories now was not Janus’s rude prank but his warm body temperature, the feel of his hands holding Ayra’s waist tightly, his nice scent…
After thinking about the day’s events, one by one, white and tidy fingers rolled up and down the strings slowly.
‘As suspected, this is…a crush.’
His strumming fingers paused briefly.
The first thing that came to mind was denial.
It didn’t matter that the other was the same gender.
When one lived in the labyrinth with monstrous sunbaes who could change their bodies like changing clothes; colleagues who dissected, tore, and grafted monsters to create new species; and those who sometimes experimented directly with their own bodies…same-sex or polyamorous relationships didn’t feel too shocking in the grand scheme of things.
However, this inherent repulsion was more like a warning to him that had fallen far too quickly… Falling deep into thought, Ayra’s eyes reflected a steely glint.
But, soon afterwards, he laughed uncontrollably.
‘There’s no need to be so serious… It’s normal for people to form crushes.’
With that thought, Ayra dislodged that initial repulsion.
There’s no reason to relieve himself of this affection or do anything in this current situation.
Like water flowing in nature, he could just let things happen.
Ayra sighed and muttered inwardly, ‘It would be nice if, while I’m governing the territory, I could escape the castle and remain as a close friend.’
Bloom was wrong; someone in the castle could defy Ayra.
Ayra met Ginas on his way to breakfast.
Ginas seemed to have lost some weight since he last saw the man, perhaps because he’d been working hard in preparing for the succession ceremony or because of his work on behalf of the territory.
When Ayra asked if he’d like to dine together and if he could leave the castle momentarily, Ginas looked serious.
“The only successor to the Solar estate is Ayra-nim.
At times like that we should be most careful with Ayra-nim’s body.
If something happens to your well-being, all sorts of vultures will take advantage of the Solar’s lack of direct bloodline; flock to become the lord, tear the land into pieces, and turn it into nothing more than a mugwort field!” 2
The more the young governor spoke, the more bloodshot his eyes became.
To Ayra, it seemed like he needed sleep much more than breakfast.
Conscious of leisurely eating and sleeping while others worked, Ayra had asked if he could help prepare for the ceremony, but his offer was rejected.
“All Ayra-nim needs to do is to rest his precious body as much as he can until the succession ceremony.
And please let us know if he needs anything.”
“You are not to tear apart brick walls, flooring, nor the roof tiles from the bell tower for your personal curiosity.”
Honestly, he hadn’t even taken a single brick from the wall? Though, it isn’t as if he’d never had those thoughts, but! When Ayra opened and closed his mouth, Ginas bowed his head politely, “Then, I’m busy so I’ll get going.”
Ayra crumpled his brows as he watched the governor’s back move further away.
No matter how one looks at it, it’s undeniable that the young governor had lost so much weight compared to their first meeting.
Anyway, as long as Ginas reacted like that, Ayra had no choice but to sneak out of the castle as he had done yesterday.
Janus, who Ayra had met in the town square, was surprisingly wearing the torn clothes he had on yesterday.
Since every day was colder than the last, Ayra nearly screeched, “What in the world! Aren’t you cold?!”
“If you touch my body, you’d be able to know whether or not I’m cold.
I bet I’d feel toasty warm.” Showing no signs of feeling the cold, Janus spoke while the hems of his torn clothes flapped in the air.
No matter how much he may not feel the cold, anyone else that saw the man might feel chilly through sheer sympathy; Ayra couldn’t just leave him in those clothes.
Since he’s being guided around for, essentially, free, Ayra visited a nearby clothing store and bought new ones for the mercenary.
The young lord smiled happily as he covered the other with a black linen shirt and dark blue outerwear.
For no reason at all, it felt like the temperature was rising in his cheeks.
“How’s that? It’s warm, right?”
As he patted the new clothes, Janus’s eyes curved into a smile.
He seemed quite satisfied.
“I like it.
I’ll repay you for these clothes some day.”
“There’s no need for repayment.”
After all, the cost wasn’t much for Ayra.
Rather, he was more pleased by the fact that the man was dressed in clothes he bought.
Ayra couldn’t deny the fact that he was inwardly excited every time he touched Janus.
‘Occasionally, I’m attracted to some folks for no particular reason…’
For no reason, he became interested; and after interest followed affection.
Then, he bought the other food, bought him clothes, bought him drinks… And the young lord enjoyed spending time with the other.
Ayra briefly thought he should create some distance between them, but, even as he thought that, they had gotten closer in a blink of an eye.
Going further, one would expect that the next stage would be wanting your object of affection to return that affection and to pay attention to you.
Like Nadal, the mercenary from yesterday.
If that happened, things would become bothersome.
However, Ayra didn’t maintain distance from Janus as was wise, because it would be difficult to see the other often anyway if Ayra became the lord of this territory.
He felt that it’d be enough to just enjoy the present.
‘Rather, if it gets hard to see him as the Lord, I could just hire him as a mercenary… Wouldn’t it be fine to have at least one lover in the castle?’
While Ayra walked around deep in thought, Janus wrapped an arm around his waist and drew the young lord close.
Ayra was flustered and startled; they were the closest they’ve ever been ever since the two met.
As the mercenary had said, he truly wasn’t cold at all; the places where their bodies met were warm, and his arms were sturdy.
A low-pitched whisper entered Ayra’s ears, “Careful.”
It was only after Janus released the young lord from his hold that Ayra realized there was a puddle beneath his feet.
The Solar territory’s roads were in poor condition, and many spots were bumpy and riddled with holes.
Belatedly, Ayra’s ears flushed pink.
He pretended to cough before hurriedly following behind Janus’s footsteps.
TL: Ngl, I’d swoon a bit for the knight here.
The phrase says (literally) everyone saying me too me too, aka, everyone knows.
This was the closest English idiom? Korean Mugwort (as compared to its European cousin) is a perennial flowering plant that is often used in traditional medicines or food!
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