༺ Some People Only Realize What They Have After They Have Lost It ༻
A carriage sped through the black alley, gradually slowing down before eventually coming to a stop.
“Could you help me make the payment to him?”
Inside the carriage, Roswyn was fidgeting. Wearing a vacant, hollow look in her eyes, she stepped outside, leaving behind the female employee smoking a cigarette.
“No, wait here.”
“I-I’ll find it quickly and come out, so just wait for me here.”
A blank stare is all she received in return, even the puff of cigarette smoke momentarily left forgotten to exhale.
“What— cough cough!”
Before the employee could ask, she sputtered a mouthful of cigarette smoke.
“What? What else? O-of course f-flowers!”
“O-one or two must still be left, right? Considering how many I have received…”
Roswyn hesitated as she looked at the female employee like that.
“No way… you didn’t throw them all away, right?”
With a slightly frightened expression, she asked.
“…You can check for it yourself.”
“Lately, you have consistently been disappointing me.”
The female employee slouched in her chair, drained of energy and unable to muster a response. Roswyn, still observing her, turned and made her way toward the guild.
“…I never liked you anyway.”
As she watched Roswyn’s departing figure, the female employee mumbled with a sulky expression and then bit her cigarette.
Certainly, Roswyn was unaware of what was going on inside the female employee’s mind as concern gradually wormed its way upon entering the guild..
‘Alright, let’s start by checking the reception room.’
The reception room was her first port of call.
In her recollection of being together with Frey, most of their encounters had taken place there. Therefore, she believed there might be a few flowers left.
After deactivating the security device, Roswyn entered the extravagant reception room reserved for the guild’s VIPs.
Her mysophobia had ensured that the reception room was impeccably clean, without a speck of dust visible.
“Now that I think about it… here…”
Her gaze swept over the room, and Roswyn suddenly remembered the flower vase and golden flower Frey had left as a gift. Without further thought, she cautiously approached the desk.
Although, at that time, she had impulsively shattered the vase out of anger, Roswyn believed she could use a mending spell to restore it. Consequently, she opened the trash bin at her feet, just to be certain.
However, the trash can was completely empty.
For someone who couldn’t tolerate anything dirty, not emptying the trash can for a week was an unimaginable occurrence.
The precious golden rose Frey had prepared with all his heart had long been burned, scattered to the ground along with the remains of other trash.
Only then realizing this fact, Roswyn fell silent, caressing the flower vase in her hand.
“That one… was beautiful…”
She mumbled slightly, a tinge of sorrow laced her words as she began rummaging through the room.
“There are many flowers, but…”
The reception room was filled with fragrant flowers.
“…Now, all of them are unnecessary.”
Half of the flowers were ones Roswyn had bought herself, while the other half were gifts from Ruby.
“…Let’s go out.”
Roswyn scoured through drawers, shelves, and even behind the hangers, but her efforts yielded no traces of a petal, let alone a single flower. Eventually, she left the reception room, her countenance weighed down by a sense of gloom.
But then, her gaze was soon ensnared by the fragrant flowers adorning the walls in the corridor and…
A picture of herself and ‘Hero Ruby’ both flashing V-signs.
Beholding the items she had lovingly decorated just a few days ago, Roswyn’s eyes widened.
“W-what is this…?”
A perplexing disquiet stirred within her as she directed her steps toward her next destination—her room.
“Where should I look…”
With a strange expression, Roswyn entered her room and started searching diligently this time.
Due to her serious mysophobia, she always had a hard time during search missions, but her room was surprisingly clean, so the search itself was not a problem.
However, the problem was the unusual occurrence that suddenly happened to Roswyn.
For some reason, every time she saw the flowers she received from Ruby and the photos they took together, it gave her a headache.
She had always thought it was a feeling she would constantly experience.
She had also always known that she would feel like her heart was about to burst with joy because being able to serve the Hero was her lifelong wish.
However, today, for some reason, she didn’t feel happy at all.
It was because the idea that ‘perhaps something was wrong’ was deeply lodged in her mind—although it was a faint thought.
Because of this, Roswyn stopped searching and rushed out of her room, roughly gasping for breath.
“What the hell is this… for real…”
Roswyn, who had been confused by the unknown emotions and strange occurrences for a while, began to move her feet again.
“Ugh… I-I don’t want to.”
Eventually, she arrived at a slightly run-down iron door.
After hesitating for a moment in front of it, Roswyn cautiously opened the door, revealing the guild’s basement and warehouse.
Due to the underground’s unique characteristics and humidity, this space quickly became dirty and covered in cobwebs, no matter how well maintained. It was one of the places Roswyn disliked the most.
That was why she usually would ask her employees to retrieve items from the warehouse. But today, she had mustered the courage to enter it herself.
With each step Roswyn took forward, she felt an unpleasant sensation enveloping her.
The unfiltered hot air surrounded her body and the thick dust irritated her nose, mouth, and eyes. The spiderwebs all around the space seemed to constantly cling to her face.
Normally, in this situation, she would have screamed and rushed out immediately, but Roswyn, gritting her teeth, continued her search.
Eventually, she spotted a plant stem, and her eyes widened right away.
She smiled brightly as she picked it up, but…
Her expression quickly soured.
It was because the flower, which had been kept in the warehouse for who knows how long, had rotted and decayed.
The pink rose next to it, the tulip next to that, the lily down below, and the daisy above were all the same.
Although it was a well-known fact that any flower would wither without receiving sunlight, this disaster was caused by Roswyn, who had been in a hurry to remove it from her sight right after receiving the flower from Frey.
“O-oh, no… This can’t be happening…”
Eventually, as she hit a dead-end, the earlier relaxed expression that Roswyn had on her face slowly disappeared, and she began to look more desperate.
With a faint glimmer of hope, she started infusing the solar mana she had into a flower.
“I-if I use this… perhaps…”
Soon, as the flower began to regain its shine, Roswyn put all her concentration into it while swallowing hard.
Naturally, instead of regaining life, the withered flower turned into ashes.
After all, there was no way for sunlight to revive a flower that was already dry and dead.
Because of that, Roswyn, with a cold sweat, grabbed the rose next to it and began to cast a restoration spell.
However, after a while, she looked dumbfounded and mumbled while putting the rose back down.
As Roswyn said, there was no magic that could resurrect a dead organism. Well, to be precise, it was forbidden.
It was because reviving the dead went against the laws of the world.
Not even the Archmage from a thousand years before, or the archmages of a thousand years after, like Irina or Magic Tower Master, would dare to perform or attempt such magic.
“I-If I do this… would it work…?”
That was why Roswyn picked up the canary flower that still had a bit of color left.
However, at that moment, the petals attached to the stem fell one by one.
For a while, Roswyn glared down at something that could no longer even be called a ‘flower’ anymore.
She then quietly left the warehouse, leaving behind the withered flowers covered in dust and spiderwebs.
– Step, step…
Unlike when she first arrived here, she listlessly walked towards the bathroom.
After entering the bathroom, she stood in front of the sink, turned on the water, and washed her hands forcefully.
“Who does he think he is… to set such a condition…”
She mumbled as she looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“Huh? He said he would only have a talk with me if I brought him the flower. Seriously, what…”
Normally, she would have retorted with all sorts of complaints about Frey for quite some time, but for some reason, today, her complaints didn’t last long.
“…For real? Did none of the flowers he gave me remain?”
Roswyn, who had been gazing at her reflection in the mirror, suddenly lowered her head, mumbling.
“Not a single one?”
Of course, no one answered her.
With that, Roswyn spent a long time washing away the dust and cobwebs she had collected on herself without saying a word.
Suddenly, she recalled the photo from the morning and the scene in the carriage, her expression contorting.
Lulu had been nibbling on Frey’s ear while closing her eyes and just now, she had clearly called him “Master.”
Also, she had always known that Irina was undoubtedly an aloof and prideful mage, but for some reason, even a touch from Frey had already made her face turn red.
Roswyn clearly noticed, as the carriage door closed, that the eyes of those girls unmistakably displayed love and… desire.
If that was the case…
What kind of emotion was on her face, as reflected in the mirror at this moment? It was clearly something unusual, just by a quick glance.
Anger? Sadness? Regret?
Remorse? Desperation? Helplessness?
Anxiety? Fear? Tension?
No matter how much she denied it, she had to admit it.
The reason why her state of mind in the past few days had been very unusual.
The reason why every time a guest came to the guild, she would wear a face full of anticipation, only to be disappointed when they left, and her inability to control her expressions.
Her fluctuating emotions since Frey announced their separation, along with the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach when she saw other women around Frey sending him loving looks.
All of these pointed to one undeniable fact.
She didn’t know for what reason and didn’t even understand how this could have happened.
But somehow, she found herself inexplicably ‘missing’ Frey.
“T-this is ridiculous.”
As soon as she realized this, Roswyn mumbled with a dumbfounded expression and then splashed her face with water.
“Why… would I feel any regrets…”
She tried to escape the situation in any way she could.
Suddenly, without any apparent reason, some memories came to her mind.
A day when she wasn’t in a good condition, perhaps due to catching a cold.
A memory of when she was lying in bed, groaning in pain, when Frey, without her permission, burst into the room while wearing a pale face.
After that, as she stared at him with a baffled expression, he wiped away his sweat and offered her a flower.
“Roswyn, sorry for being late. Here…”
“…Get out!! You insolent bastard!!”
Even without this incident, she was already in a sensitive state at the time. So, when she saw him looking at her in her sleepwear, she exploded in anger, shouting and driving him out.
Frey left the room, still smiling happily for an unknown reason.
It was such a memorable incident that she had to calm her anger while lying in bed.
She even still remembered the words that the female employee, who had always been laughing, had whispered with a somber expression.
“Before it’s too late… Cough!!”
“Y-you, why are you being like this?”
She even remembered that several days following that day, she could finally get up from her bed, while the female employee had to be bedridden for a whole week.
Of course, she had scoffed at the employee’s words that day, but how come…
She started to remember those words as if they were haunting her thoughts.
Suddenly, memories of the days she spent with Frey began to feel nostalgic.
Frey hesitated when he tried to hand over a bouquet to her.
Frey granted any request and asked for no reward.
When she was sick, he was the only one who came to visit her, even when her parents didn’t.
Even after getting rejected harshly, Frey would laugh and slyly say he’d try again next time.
The memories that used to make her angry just by thinking about them somehow felt quite good and maybe even enjoyable.
No, they were becoming precious memories altogether.
“What is this… really…”
Unable to accept the situation, Roswyn was lost in confusion and headed out of the bathroom.
“It’s just a delusion… probably because I’m tired…”
In the end, she tried to deny reality.
“But it is really…”
Before she realized it, she quickened her pace towards a destination.
Eventually, the destination she reached was none other than the outside of the guild, in front of the carriage she had asked to wait for her there.
“…Why are you like this?”
“Uh, hmm… Get off the carriage. I have somewhere to go.”
The female employee, who had been waiting for Roswyn for a long time, asked with a bewildered expression. However, upon hearing the question, Roswyn appeared awkward.
“A-a nearby flower shop. There’s a really big one, isn’t it?”
“A flower shop? Why are you going there?”
“I-I want to buy some flowers. As an apology to Frey… No, I want to give it to him as a gift. He seems quite upset, so I need to cheer him up.”
“I’ll also want to buy letter paper— an expensive one. And then…”
When Roswyn said that, the female employee blankly looked at her and tilted her head.
“Why are you doing this? Did you just start appreciating that person now?”
At last, the female employee asked with a soulless expression.
“…S-shut up, just come with me. I have quite a few places to visit today, and I need your help.”
With a slightly flustered expression, Roswyn replied, then turned and walked away with large strides.
After exhaling a large puff of cigarette smoke outside.
And crumpling the envelope in her hand.
“Why is she suddenly… It’s already pointless now.”
Muttering in a gloomy voice, the female employee exited the carriage.
“Well, I’ll keep an eye on it anyway.”
Somehow, the sun was now at its zenith.
“Regardless of what happens, retributions never disappear.”
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