༺ The Lord Is With Us (14) ༻
Celene was glaring at me in frustration while Seria was nervously chewing on her nails.
It was only after hearing the sound of teeth tearing through her nails that I snapped back to reality.
The atmosphere was tense, and in retrospect, I realized I might have said something wrong.
“I don’t need you” was an inappropriate remark to make to someone, and I felt embarrassed, considering it was a phrase I normally would have never used.
It must have inadvertently carried over from when I was with Senior Delphine.
After all, discussing the usefulness of another person and categorizing the world into useful and useless things – These were all characteristics of Senior Delphine.
Realizing my mistake, I quickly tried to rectify it.
“Sorry, I made a slip of the tongue…….”
“……You’re going with that bitch?”
However, Celine and Seria seemed fixated on a different issue.
When I looked at her in confusion, Celine narrowed her eyes.
“You said you’re going with that bitch Delphine.”
Finally understanding her point, I nodded.
There was no point in denying it since it was the truth. I had just finished persuading Senior Delphine into accompanying me.
“Yeah, I am.”
“……I’m against it!”
Celine’s reaction was more negative than I had anticipated. Her glare intensified, and she desperately tried to convince me.
“Don’t you remember when she ambushed you? You were fortunate to have defeated her, or else you would have lost the hunt!”
“But now we’re in the same group. Why would someone so obsessed with winning attack her own teammate?”
Unable to find a response to my simple counterargument, Celine’s hazel eyes darted back and forth, searching for a way to convince me before finally settling on Seria.
However, Seria was absentmindedly biting her nails while staring down at the ground, muttering incomprehensible words.
“Won’t be stolen, won’t be stolen, he won’t be stolen…
Celine pounded her chest, her vexation clearly conveyed.
“R-Right! Ian-oppa, didn’t you see her naked before? And you’re going to spend two weeks together?”
I was unable to find the words to retort to that. It was true that I had seen her naked. I had even given her the title of “Miss Exhibitionist”.
But that alone was not a valid reason to exclude her from the group.
It would have been a different story if she had posed a threat to me, but in her current state, she could only tremble in fear when facing me.
A questioning voice escaped my lips.
Celine let out a cry of frustration as she pounded her chest once more. Like last time, the pounding was muffled by her soft flesh.
Realizing that she needed an ally, Celine turned her hazel eyes towards Seria.
With desperate eyes, she grabbed Seria by her collar.
“Hey, hey! Say something! Ian-oppa is saying he’s going to go off and have fun with your sister!”
Seria seemed to regain her composure.
She slowly lifted her head, but her eyes, which had always sparkled with pure, blue light, were now a dull color that resembled the pitch-black depths of the ocean.
Then, in an instant, Seria grasped my collar tightly.
My eyes widened with surprise. When I looked down to meet her gaze, her eyes seemed so lonely that I couldn’t help but keep my mouth shut.
Her voice sent shivers down my spine, making me feel as if my body temperature had plummeted several degrees.
There was absolutely no trace of reason in her eyes, and her hoarse voice echoed in my ears.
“……Never. I will never let you be stolen away. You’re the only one I have.”
That was the end. Just as abruptly as she had grabbed my collar, Seria loosened her grip and walked away.
In a daze, Celine stood there, her eyes shifting back and forth between me and Seria.
She appeared dissatisfied, but the mood had already shifted, leaving Celine with no choice but to stomp past me and follow after Seria.
“Hey, hey! Where are you going?! Ugh, seriously!”
But even as she departed, Celine made sure to shoot me resentful glares the entire time.
In the end, I simply shrugged my shoulders, wondering what her problem was.
In response, Celine snorted, leaving me to assume that she believed this matter was far from over.
And so, my encounter with the two came to a close, still oblivious to the reason why they were so upset.
Letting out a deep sigh, I continued on my way.
Lately, I had grown tired of dealing with women, but what could I do? Relationships were naturally complex, and if things didn’t work out, all we had to do was have another heart-to-heart conversation.
That was how Celine and I had reconciled before.
Subconsciously, I started fiddling with the hatchet tied to my waist as I made my way towards the Alchemy Department where Emma was.
Room 506 in the Alchemy Department’s lecture hall was a place I knew well.
It was Emma’s lab. Starting from their third year onwards, students of the Magic and Alchemy Departments would receive their individual labs.
As such, both Leto and Emma had their own labs.
Just like any other lab, the school administration had put up a plaque on the door of Room 506, bearing the name “Emma.”
It had been a week since Emma was discharged from the hospital, and while I was uncertain about what had happened to her during that time, I believed she had likely been busy cleaning her long-neglected lab.
Like the majority of magicians, alchemists had their quirks. However, amongst their various quirks, they shared a common obsession.
They were ardent sticklers for cleanliness. Their work demanded meticulous attention to detail and precision, where even the tiniest speck of dust on their ingredients could spell disaster.
Emma was no exception. As I recalled, she was also mysophobic.
It wasn’t severe, limited only to her lab and storage area. However, even with just that, it was easy to imagine how she would have reacted when she walked into her lab.
Her face would have paled, and she would have immediately sprung into cleaning mode, spending the next few days cleaning off the accumulated dust that had settled during the past month.
But it had been a week since her recovery. She should have finished cleaning by now and started delving back into her backlog of research.
Even so, I thought it would be okay to take up a few minutes of her time. I knocked on Emma’s door with a light heart.
A clear answer came back.
“Yes, just a moment~”
Her voice sounded slightly exhausted. Then, the door slid open, revealing the face of a lovely, young girl.
She looked groggy as though she had stayed up the entire night. She covered her mouth with her hand as she yawned.
Emma’s eyes, half-closed from yawning, fluttered open as her gaze simultaneously met mine.
And just like that, she froze.
Emma’s eyes widened. Her abnormal reaction was sudden, and while I couldn’t figure out why that was, I raised my hand with an awkward smile.
The door slammed shut with a resounding bang.
There was a loud clatter, a clear indication of just how flustered Emma was. Her panicked voice came from the other side of the door.
“W-What should I do? What should I do? What should I do……?!”
I decided to wait patiently for her to calm down. After a few minutes of waiting, the door opened once more.
Except, the person in front of me seemed like a whole different person from the Emma I was familiar with.
Her reddish hair was glossy, her face had makeup on, and her clothes were neat and tidy.
It was as if her disheveled look from before was just an illusion. Speechless, I stared at her when she took the initiative to greet me this time.
“Oh, Hi Ian… Come on in, what’s going on?”
I remained silent for another moment, unsure of what to say. Then, I decided to begin with an apology.
“Uh, sorry for startling you earl-“
“What do you mean?”
But before I could finish saying my apology, Emma interrupted me with a smile.
“This is the first time I’m seeing you today.”
“But just a few minutes a-“
I attempted to protest, but Emma’s response was firm, her usual smile replaced by a resolute denial.
I lowered my raised hand in surrender. Then, Emma’s face lit up again with a satisfied smile.
“Anyway, it’s good to see you, Ian! I’ve missed you so much… Would you like to come in?”
With those words, Emma opened the door to her lab and welcomed me in. Expectedly, her workshop was neatly organized as always.
The blanket left on the couch hinted at her having slept there, but I deliberately ignored it as my instincts advised against mentioning it, and as a swordsman, I tended to trust my instincts.
Regardless, Emma seemed pleased to see me. She walked over to her potion rack in the lab and pulled out a vial.
She then extended her hand, gesturing for me to take it.
“Take it,” she said. “I heard you’re going out for your practicum soon, so I thought I’d prepare something for you.”
A grayish liquid sloshed around inside the vial.
It was a familiar potion, the same one I had received during my initial visit to Emma’s lab, a potion for which I had been grateful.
A concealment potion. Although it had the drawback of slowing me down, it proved effective in combat.
I decided to accept it gratefully as a wry smile tugged on my lips.
“Thanks, I’ll put it to good use.”
Beaming at my gratitude, Emma turned back towards her stash.
Her hands began moving tirelessly as she began fishing out several more.
“This one enhances your natural healing, this one releases a flash when you throw it, this one emits a scent animals hate, this one emits a scent animals love, and this one, and this one, and this one…….”
I watched Emma with a smile, but as time passed, my expression began to stiffen. It was inevitable.
Initially, there were just a few potions, but they quickly multiplied into dozens.
They piled up like miniature hills, reaching a point where I couldn’t even keep track of them.
With another potion in her hand, Emma turned to me with a huge smile on her face.
“It’s a bit lacking, but they should do for now!”
I broke out in cold sweat.
No, this was still way too many.
I hadn’t noticed before, but Emma seemed to be quite the devoted person.
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