༺ Festival (1) ༻
“Is this how you do it?”
Those words were spoken by Renee, standing upright in the center of an open area with a sword gripped in both hands.
While examining Renee’s posture, Vera wondered.
‘How did it come to this?’
He had only meant to teach her how to hold a sword, but before he knew it, he was already teaching her how to wield it.
In the meantime, he thought that it was time for them to go back and rest.
“Now I just have to draw it downwards like this, right?”
Renee continued her questions with a very excited face. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her smile was so deeply carved that the dimples exploded. Even her movements were energetic.
At that appearance, Vera inadvertently thought ‘It’s a good thing, anyway,’ and approached Renee, dispelling the doubts he just had.
“You are applying too much strength.”
It was to correct her posture.
Vera’s right hand overlapped with Renee’s, and his left hand touched her lower back.
As Renee’s body trembled, her tremor was transmitted to Vera.
Vera felt a sense of unease as he saw Renee pursing her lips together.
There was a stiff sensation on his left hand that was resting on her back. In his right hand, the soft skin of a girl who had never done anything rough was tickling his palm.
He felt like he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to, and he felt guilty for some reason.
Nevertheless, one reason why he couldn’t stop was because of the sensation of her skin against his. It continued to entice Vera, even though he thought that he was doing something wrong.
It’s not wrong. It’s just a matter of adjusting her posture.
Vera’s instincts pressed down on his sense of reason, rationalizing his actions.
“Could you relax a little?”
Renee’s answer came a beat late. Vera felt a piercing sensation in his chest at the faint tremor in her voice, and he steadied her.
“…I will show you the way.”
Shamelessly, he pretended to be calm and guided Renee’s body.
He placed his left hand, which had been resting on her back, on top of Renee’s other hand. It became an awkward posture, as if he was hugging Renee from behind.
A vertical slashing stance.
Even as he slowly drew her sword down, Vera had another thought in his head.
Being in this position, Vera couldn’t help feel the height difference between him and Renee, and found his attention being drawn to it.
Her height barely reached his shoulders. When he glanced down, he could see the round top of her head. The way she held her breath and drew the sword down felt cute for some reason.
Thinking such thoughts, Vera’s body jolted.
Vera managed to answer and kept his mouth shut.
What in the world does ‘cute’ even mean?
Surprised and jolted by his own thoughts, Vera frowned slightly and cursed inwardly.
‘…This damned Empire.’
Vera attributed his strange feelings to the Empire.
Wasn’t that the case? He had been serving Renee without any problems for almost three and a half years now, but after entering the Empire, he started to see her differently.
It wasn’t a strange or disillusioning story.
It was just that she looked like a young girl, not the Saint who was supposed to become the light of the world.
He remembered Renee, who wore casual clothes to visit the library. He remembered when she was sitting on a bench in the corner of the library and leaning her head on his shoulder.
That was not all. The small smile that always hung on her lips, her beautifully flushed cheeks, or the warmth and pressure that came from their interlocked hands came to mind one after another, stirring Vera’s insides.
That moment of that day overlapped with this moment.
The small and soft hands trapped inside his and her warmth that spread from there permeated his palms.
There was a hissing sound that felt like it was digging into his ears with every breath breath Renee took.
In addition, they were so close that it was difficult for him to breathe because Renee’s body scent seemed to fill his nostrils. It was because he was worried that Renee might misunderstand his actions, and he was worried that she might think of himself as a scoundrel secretly sniffing her.
In a very stiff and tense manner, Vera guided Renee’s sword. He tried to catch his thoughts that kept bouncing elsewhere.
Since Renee was so focused, he thought he should do his best to teach her the sword.
Of course, if Renee knew his thoughts, she would’ve felt incredibly guilty.
It was because she hadn’t been able to focus on the sword even for a single moment after they stood in that position.
The fact that she was here to learn how to hold a sword had already been erased from Renee’s mind.
There was only one thought in Renee’s mind right now.
It was the thought of her face burning up.
Her heart was pounding as her whole body was trapped within Vera’s arms.
The back of Renee’s head was hitting Vera’s solid chest. Thump, thump. A loud beating sound echoed in her ears, and both of her hands were caught between Vera’s hands and felt overwhelmed. She didn’t know how to describe it, but if she had to, she would say that her lungs were being filled with his scent.
Renee, who was much more honest to herself than Vera, thought that it would be nice if he would just put down the sword and hug her tight like this.
A pleasant languor, as if thoughts had become hazy, was gnawing her whole body.
She thought that she could fall asleep right away like this if she just closed her eyes and leaned in Vera’s arms.
…No, it was a waste to fall asleep. If she slept now, she couldn’t fully enjoy this sensation.
She just wanted to feel the sensations of being held tightly and leaning against him.
She just wanted to be close to him all day, just like they were in the library.
Immediately after that thought came to mind, Renee opened her mouth.
“…Shall we rest for a bit?”
It was like the day they went to the library. As the thirst piled up, her embarrassment fled far away. She just wanted it. Only that feeling remained, and there was no place for embarrassment to squeeze in.
When Vera, who had answered, tried to remove his hands, Renee quickly continued.
“Let’s just rest here.”
Don’t move. When a look of bewilderment flashed through Vera’s face at her words, Renee lowered her head and added.
“…My legs are shaking and I can’t move. Let’s just sit down and take a rest like this.”
It was a brazen remark.
Even though she was practicing with the sword, all she did was swing the sword in place.
Fortunately, Vera was not in the right state of mind to pursue it.
Vera bent down slowly and sat down on the dirt floor with Renee locked in his arms.
Renee sat down on top of Vera’s thighs, then put the sword she was holding down on the ground.
When she showed him her empty hands, Vera’s hands overlapped over them, then intertwined with hers.
A strange atmosphere filled the air.
It was an atmosphere that came up when the two’s hearts, which ran far away with nonsense thoughts even in the midst of teaching swords, met in the bean field.
Renee brought Vera’s tightly clasped hands to the front of her body, creating a position in which she was trapped between his arms.
Vera’s flinching was transmitted to Renee.
Renee felt a pleasant feeling rise from it. She felt that Vera was conscious of her, and she felt satisfied with it.
Of course, she didn’t say it out loud. If she asked if he was conscious of her, Vera might run away in surprise.
Instead of teasing Vera, who was trembling, Renee asked a question to distract him.
“How much time has passed?”
“…The sun is still up.”
It was a lie. The sun was slowly setting.
Vera lied to Renee for the first time in his life. At the same time, he didn’t even realize that he was telling a lie.
He was pleased with this atmosphere for some reason. Having Renee locked in his arms was so satisfying that he thought he wanted to stay like this for a little longer, and so he answered without even looking at the sky.
As for what was relaxing, neither of them said anything.
It was just a matter of saying that everything was relaxing.
“How was Aisha?”
“She is a talented kid.”
“That’s a relief. Don’t push her too hard.”
“I will keep that in mind.”
“How are Marie and Rohan these days?”
“They are working hard to purify the slums. It’s a place with a lot of germs, after all.”
“I will go with them starting tomorrow.”
“I will let them know.”
Talk about daily happenings came and went. As if the sitting position was nothing, their conversation continued that way as if they were really doing the same thing as usual.
The two deceived themselves, deceived each other, and leaned back like that.
As if it wasn’t anything significant, Renee spoke to Vera in a nonchalant tone and leaned the back of her head on his chest.
“The festival is coming up soon.”
“Didn’t you say that the night market had a lot of attractions?”
“Yes. The night market, outdoor performances, and auction houses held only during the festival are some of the famous attractions.”
“When are we going?”
The questions flowed like water. The option of not going didn’t exist… at least not for the two of them right now.
“The festival has so many things to see that I think a day is not enough to look around at everything.”
“Then we can go for a few days.”
“I will take it as that.”
“I’m sure the others are busy, right?”
“It is indeed so.”
“Then we’ll have to go with just the two of us.”
“I’m afraid that will be the case.”
Vera’s gaze was directed into the air, while Renee’s head was bent toward the floor.
They were smoothly asking each other out on a date as if it was nothing.
“There’s also the coming-of-age ceremony for His Highness the Second Prince.”
“Yes, it is held at the Foundation Day Banquet.”
“I never expected I’d go to a ball in my life.”
“You will need a dress.”
“But I’m going to give a blessing, so I have to wear the priest’s robe.”
“The ball will be held after the ceremony, so there shouldn’t be any problem.”
“It’s a hassle to change.”
“Then just wear the ro….”
“I will wear it specially because Vera wants me to.”
Renee’s index finger tapped on Vera’s fingernail. When Vera trembled at the touch, Renee spoke in a voice full of laughter.
“How about a thank you?”
“…I am grateful.”
“Oh, you’re grateful?”
When Renee let out a laugh, Vera’s heartbeat intensified.
In the empty field where the sun had set, they talked like that for a long time.
‘Ow, I’m dying.’
Rohan felt his entire body ache as he trudged back to the mansion.
‘What kind of damn neighborhood doesn’t get cleaned no matter how much you purify it…?’
It had been a week since he was assigned to purify the slums and he had continuously purified it by pulling out his divinity everyday, but it seemed like the slums lived up to its name.
The progress of the purification was too slow. Thanks to that, his suffering kept increasing.
‘I should go in quickly and rest.’
If I have one big drink and lie down, I think I can forget this hard day.
As Rohan strode down the street with such thoughts in mind, he stopped and frowned at a scene that suddenly entered the corner of his eye.
He saw Vera and Renee sitting overlapped with each other in the middle of the field.
Rohan felt a sharp pain on his nape at the sight. His eyes started to turn bloodshot and he grinded his teeth.
Someone who was suffering all day was just now on his way back, so he couldn’t help but feel angry when he saw people sitting in a secluded spot right in front of him, flirting with each other.
Why does my vision have to be so good?
Rohan felt his blood rush backwards at the clarity of the two people’s expressions and the color of their flushed faces.
Rohan shuddered at the throbbing in his side and the outburst of anger before moving again with a distraught look.
‘…The festival is the answer.’
The festival. He had to go to the festival.
Only the festival could soothe his heart.
Middle-aged and a bachelor, Rohan was now in his forties.
As he trudged along, blurry teardrops shone in the corner of his eyes.
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