ad eaten all of one dish in a blink of an eye.
Looking at Janus in front of him, the man had already polished off his third plate, so Ayra ordered more food.

     “So, why’d you come here? For money?” As Ayra began to gradually feel full, he pushed his share of alcohol to the other.
While slowly sipping at the thick broth, he tossed Janus his question.

     “I’m here to find a lover.”

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     “You’ve been searching for a lover here for 10 years? Ayra stared into Janus’s face.
With his face and body–even if he were a talentless and destitute beggar–it couldn’t have been that difficult to find a lover.

     Janus was handsome–as if someone had painstakingly sculpted his face.
His red irises were more akin to highly saturated rubies rather than something bloodshot and creepy.
Though his gaze was a bit ferocious, it matched well when he smirked his lips.
His face was so memorable that Ayra recalled his looks while he had passed through the city square multiple times, and now he was buying him a meal.

     “I dated a few people, but they were no good.” Janus continued.
Counting on his fingers, it seems that he had dated at least 10 people; it was evident that his standards must be high.
Honestly, Ayra thought, while sipping savory broth, that someone so handsome could afford such high standards. 1

     “So, lately, I’ve been gradually getting tired and was thinking about organizing my business and leaving.
However, it’d be a pity to give up the steamed buns from this place.”

     Ayra nodded his agreement.
He just dipped his steamed meat bun in the well-steeped soup, but that simple act had delivered delicious warmth to his bones.
“How’s this place for foreigners?”

     Janus drank straight from the bottle–an indifferent response to Ayra’s casual question.
Soon after, he placed his chin in his palm and looked gently at the young lord.  The color of his eyes were so striking–Ayra couldn’t help but stare into them; his gaze was startlingly striking.
‘How could someone’s eyes be so beautiful?’ Ayra repressed his subconscious desire to possess those pretty eyes, telling himself ‘he’s a human, a human’.

     “It’s so-so.
It’s quite boring, since there’s no place to play around.
All that’s here is alcohol, pickled fish, braised meat, snowy mountains, rocky mountains, dirt mountains…If I were you, I’d live in Sobletche or Bolney.”

     Sobletche and Bolney were territories located right beside the Solar territory.
As a future lord who would rule over this place in the future, Ayra had not received a particularly happy answer.
In short, it sounded like this region had no unique characteristics nor resources.
“Well…there has to be one good thing about this place, right?”

     “The cold?”

     Janus, considering his attire, seemed to have a constitution that could retain warmth well.
This ‘advantage’ wasn’t much of an advantage at all.
Janus released a short exclamation and snapped his fingers, creating a sharp sound.
“There’s one more.
The food from this store.”

     Ayra, who had been waiting with bated breaths, felt the hope in his heart extinguish.
He was hungry, so he turned to place another piece of the warm steamed bun on his spoon…but Janus asked with a wide smile, “By the way…Ayra, are you a mage?”

     As soon as he said that, the steamed bun that Ayra had swallowed was caught in the young lord’s throat.
After barely swallowing the bite down, Ayra asked, voice husky, “…What are you saying all of a sudden?”

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     “I’m talking about this.” Janus tapped the back of Ayra’s hand with his finger.
When the young lord lowered his gaze, he saw Pebble, which had crawled up to the first join of his index finger–curious about the outside world–hurriedly flee back to Ayra’s wrist.
Without caution, Janus grabbed his hand and uncovered his sleeve; Ayra flinched.
Janus’s hand was startlingly hot.

     “This punk is fleeing.” Janus’s fingers pressed midway up Ayra’s forearm, ahead of the fleeing Pebble, leaving two warm spots on Ayra’s skin.
As if he were walking with his two fingers, Janus herded the shocked Pebble back to the back of Ayra’s hand; unsure of where to go, Pebble eventually crammed itself into a corner.
Helpless to resist the finger that pressed against it, Pebble simply floated a heart above it.

     Janus tilted his head and raised his red eyes; a sharp smile began to form at the corner of his lips.
“Are you casting something on me right now?”

     “What? No!” Ayra, after blankly watching this all happen, belatedly pulled back his arm at the frightening misunderstanding.
Maybe it was shock, maybe it was anxiety; his heart raced.
It was the first time since he left the estate as a child that he had been at the receiving end of random physical contact.

     “Hey!” Ayra raised his gaze, intending to rebuke the other for casually touching his body like that.
Instead, he saw Janus’s mischievous eye smile–the corners of his red eyes were curved, matching the corners of his lips quite charmingly.

     “Sorry, I’ve never seen a moving tattoo before,” Janus said.

     Ayra pushed Pebble back towards his wrist while lowering his rolled up sleeve.
Janus’s gaze lingered on the white skin that had been revealed underneath the sleeve before, soon, looking away.

     He asked once more, “So, are you a mage?”

 

 

TL: Pebble so cute >.< I can imagine it saying “Don’t bully me” to Mr.
Redhead.

High standards = 눈이 아주 높은 편 = Eyes are are set on something up high.
Slang that has been anglicized. 

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