​While staring sidelong at Janus, Ayra was surprised that he had fallen so deeply for one person in so short a time.
Following that thought, he felt regret that this territory wasn’t large enough to travel around for longer with the other man.
Now, it felt like they’d gone around pretty much everywhere.

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     Ayra stealthily pulled out the lyre-like instrument.
Janus must have completely forgotten about it, as his eyebrows rose up slightly.
He had been lying idly on his right arm, but now he sat up, wiping his mouth with his sleeves.
“I guess you’ve completely readied yourself, huh?”

     It’d be redundant to point out that the young lord wasn’t a musician, and there was no way that he became adept in just a few days.
But, more than a musician, Ayra was a mage–adept in so much more than just playing an instrument.

     Ayra applied mana to his fingertips, then plucked at the strings in order.
Like revving an engine, the instrument began to play its own strings automatically afterwards.

     “A self-playing Hapi? How impressive.”

     “For such soft and simply constructed items like this, it’s easy to engrave magic circuits into them,” Ayra replied proudly.
That’s right; it was easy to inscribe that magic circuit.
What was difficult, though, was tracing back memory to recall some familiar songs, find the notes, equate them to the strings one by one, and to draw the sheet music… 1

      “This is the first time I’m hearing this song.
Did you compose it? It’s nice on the ears.” Intrigued, Janus sat down next to the young lord, touching the resonating strings.

      It was actually one of the most famous classical pieces on Earth, but Ayra pretended to be ignorant of that.
“That’s right–I wrote this.”

      The only drawback to this instrument was that it would only automatically play in a mage’s hand, because it had to be constantly injected with mana.
Still, with such melodic music playing in a quiet location, the atmosphere felt nicely picturesque.

     Perhaps fascinated by the automatic instrument, Janus bowed his torso over it and ran a finger along its plucked strings.
Ayra had been watching that without much further thought, but then blinked, ‘Huh?’ He was sure that the other had never heard this song before, but, as the strings rang out, Janus’s fingers moved at almost the same time.

     ‘How quick are his fingers’ reaction speed?’

     From being able to walk around freely with blindfolded eyes, to being able to climb to the top of a mountain range without breathing raggedly–he definitely was a mercenary.
Could all the other mercenaries do this? Watching Janus’s movements as if it were some strange show, Ayra’s gaze soon turned towards the other’s red hair.
The bridge of his nose rose sharply underneath the randomly tousled bangs.

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     ‘It’s interesting that his eyelashes are also colored red…’

     Hair, eyebrows, pupil–everything was a rich crimson that could never arise from dye.
That color was not only rarely seen in the past world, but the present one as well.
Ayra recalled how he had inadvertently touched that hair when he had blindfolded the mercenary–he raised his hand to stroke it again.
As expected, its softness and smooth texture didn’t fit with this guy.

     Then, all of a sudden, the mercenary moved his eyes without moving his body; Ayra and the mercenary locked gazes.
Startled, Ayra returned to his senses and removed his caressing hand.
“Ah, Sorry.”

     Janus hummed indecipherably and raised his torso (that he had been leaning over with, in order to touch the instrument).
His index and middle fingers, which had been touching the string, raised up to slowly run through Ayra’s silver hair.
The young lord’s heart beat rapidly.

     Since he had touched the mercenary, turnabout was fairplay; so, he had let the other do as he pleased.
All of a sudden, though, Janus’s face drew close.
Ayra, suddenly conscious of the distance, stopped breathing inadvertently.

     At that moment, something warm and soft touched him.

     While his mind was still stuck on what that could be, Ayra, wanting to wet his dried lips, licked his tongue through the gaps of closed lips.
When he opened his tightly closed eyes, well-formed ruby-like eyes shone brightly in front of him.
Sucking in his lower lip, loud enough to make some noise; Ayra returned to his senses and hurriedly pushed him back.
The performance was cut short.

     Without looking at the instrument tumbling out of the young lord’s lap, Janus reached out and caught it with his hand.

     “…What was that?” Ayra asked, slightly stammering.

     Janus took the instrument and strummed the previously played song with his fingers.
The corners of his eyes and lips drooped slightly, drawing a languid curve.
“It’s in return for buying me clothes.”

     “Who…would repay someone like that?”

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     “The atmosphere seemed appropriate, and it didn’t look like you disliked it either.”

      Bewildered, Ayra hesitated; he couldn’t easily respond.
His head wouldn’t chug properly because of his surprise and confusion.
As if the first time the mercenary had played was just a distant memory, Janus moved his fingers deftly and skillfully across the instrument.
“Am I wrong? I thought you were deliberately guiding us to this.”

      “Deliberately guiding you?

     “Didn’t you ask me to accompany you in order to flirt with me? I thought, otherwise, someone wouldn’t ask me to guide them around this small territory.”

     Suddenly, cold wind seemed to circulate around the area; Ayra’s shoulders slightly shrank in on themselves.
Even though he didn’t have such an impure motive, Ayra bit his lips because his cheeks were burning.  His heart, which was already beating fast, was galloping.
“I wasn’t trying to seduce you; I wanted to learn more about the territory.”

     “You weren’t? But, then, why is your heart beating so loudly? Look, even now it’s beating.” His voice and tone sounded so mischievous.

     Ayra was stunned–he could hear the pounding of his heart? “Can you hear that?”

     ‘I can hear it very clearly, like drum beats right by my ear.
I thought you were trying to seduce me again, so I responded enthusiastically.
Apologies.”

Ayra tried to breathe slowly; his breaths were enunciated by excitement.
He would be lying if his crush on Janus didn’t factor into asking for the mercenary to be his guide.
However, he didn’t think he was being particularly flirtatious.
Yet, his mind wondered for a moment; his weakness stabbed.
Nevertheless, he made an effort to keep calm.
“So, if I were trying to seduce you, you would have come to me?”

     “Just earlier I was trying to come over to you?” the mercenary replied.

     Speechless, Ayra shut his lips tightly.
He couldn’t completely deny the other’s words.

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     “So… Was I mistaken?” Janus continued.

     Mistake? Or no mistake?

     The young lord wasn’t certain of his own feelings–he was confused.
Therefore, Ayra chewed on his lips.
He couldn’t easily say yes because Janus was smiling so composedly.
Pride slightly hurt–though there was no pointed reason for that to be so–Ayra said flatly, “It wasn’t like that.”

      “That so? That’s too bad.”

     His words indicated his disappointment, but his expression indicated otherwise.
The young lord flinched when he attempted to take the instrument back from Janus–Ayra couldn’t claim ownership.
He clenched his hand.
After taking a deep breath, he tried not to be shaken and convinced himself it wasn’t such a big deal.
“This much is enough for the performance, right?”

     “Well, it was good enough.” Janus seemed to have rapidly lost interest.
In a blink of an eye, he already emptied three bottles and began throwing the bottles down one by one.
The sound of the bottles shattering pierced the young lord’s ears sharply.
When asked if Ayra wanted to keep the other bottle, Ayra shook his head and returned the bottle to its master.
For him, a third of a bottle was enough.

     Janus emptied half the bottle in one gulp.
A few drops leaked out and slid down the strangely upturned corners of his lips, gliding down his neck before hiding in his collar.
Janus, who threw and broke the remaining bottle, raised his chin and observed Ayra.

      He tilted his head slightly and stared long enough for his gaze to become burdensome.
Only when Ayra frowned with his brows, did the mercenary speak.
“Yeah.
It’s definitely enough.”

     Janus, who stood up with the remaining alcohol bottles, finally shook off his dirt-covered hands.
He looked at Ayra again, as if he were trying to confirm something, and smiled calmly.
“…Then, should we slowly wrap this up?”

     For some reason, the nuance contained in his words slightly bothered him, but Ayra, looking around his surroundings, quietly accepted.
Since the sun was setting, it was time to leisurely return to the castle.
“Yeah.
Okay.”

     When the young lord patted his seat and moved to get off the boulder, Janus reached out his hand, saying ‘Here.’ Ayra didn’t hesitate to hold the other’s hand; he didn’t believe in his own drunken body.
Perhaps because of the alcohol, the mercenary’s body temperature felt hotter than usual.

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     He came down the mountain, stumbling and in danger of falling over several times.
By the time they arrived at the bottom, he had sobered slightly.
Ayra belatedly discovered his clothes were full of grass and spanish pine needles.

     Janus tapped him lightly on the shoulder.
“Then, I’ll go first.”

     By the time Ayra looked up at the mercenary, Janus was already far away.
As he watched Janus waving his hand at him, the mercenary’s back going further and further away, Ayra suddenly recalled something.
He called that instrument a ‘Hapi.’ Did he leave it there or bring it with him…

      Ayra gazed a bit longer at Janus’s hand, holding that alcohol bottle, before departing

 

 

 

TL: So much pride on both sides of the equation >.< I can relate somewhat–I don’t like my intentions being misunderstoo. 
Just a few more chaps until the ‘prologue’ is over~ Maybe I’ll turbo translate sometime!

오선 (oh-sun) = five lines.
This is referring to the five lines used to denote music notes on sheet music. 

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