༺ Week of the Midnight Sun (3) ༻
Vera was out of breath for a long time.
He had a deep frown on his face.
He thought what he had said to her was incredibly rude, but those were the only words he could utter from his mouth after pondering for a while.
After a long period of silence, Vera barely stood still, like a moron who couldn’t utter a single word correctly.
In response to this thought, he felt a surge of embarrassment heat up his whole body as his face flushed red.
His eyes glanced at Renee’s face.
There was a sign of panic, but her expression showed no malice towards him either.
He shouldn’t have said this. But Vera felt slightly relieved, from within, that Renee couldn’t see his current expression.
From the get-go, he shouldn’t make such a ridiculous expression as his first impression, right?
At that moment, Vera cleared his throat and spoke to Renee again.
“Don’t worry, I’m not someone suspicious. I’m on your side.”
He said so because of the sudden realization that what if she thought he was a suspicious person?
However, his stupidity was the only thing he ended up showing off.
“I… Where are you going to take me?”
It was only then that Vera remembered that he had not told her anything besides his own name.
A stupid mistake that rivaled the twins’ own.
Of course, she wouldn’t know him at all since it was their first time meeting each other. She probably doesn’t even know where he belongs to. He thought to himself, ‘what were you planning to say without even revealing that’?
Vera hurriedly explained, feeling a renewed sense of shame at that thought.
“Holy Kingdom…! I am from the Holy Kingdom of Elia.”
“I have come here to protect the Saint….”
As Vera was fumbling over his words while spouting gibberish, he immediately stopped once he saw the startled and surprised look on Renee’s face.
A pale shadow hung over her face. Her expression gradually dimmed.
The question that occurred to him…
Why is she reacting like that?
While Vera, who had been thinking long and hard about it…
“…I’m not that kind of person.”
When he heard Renee’s answer, he could immediately recall the reason.
Vera looked at Renee, who said so with a dark expression, and belatedly remembered her current emotional state.
Resentment against the Gods. She despised the Gods for taking away her sight and giving her a stigma she didn’t want. This was probably the time when she still harbored such emotions.
This was just a hypothesis in the realm of certainty, since Vera heard it directly from Renee’s mouth, nothing else.
Vera hurriedly shook his head, while muttering ‘Oops’ inwardly.
Vera clenched his fists.
What are you doing? Look at what you did because you can’t even utter a single word correctly.
He was filled to the brim with embarrassment. He had to make up for it somehow.
Having organized his thoughts as such, Vera tried to continue his words.
“Please go back. I’m not the Saint.”
But what Vera got in return was a rejection that pierced his heart.
“…I think you got the wrong person. I’m just a blind girl who lives in the countryside.”
It was a simple remark that nearly stopped his breathing.
“I’m sorry, but I’m not the one you’re looking for. I hope you find the Saint. I’ll take my leave then.”
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
A fast-paced sound. Saint Renee, tapping the ground with her cane, entered the house with the red roof.
The door of the house closed. The white waves of her hair disappeared from his view. When he finally reached her, she drifted away again.
A dark brown door.
So, without the slightest bit of mercy, she hid herself from Vera.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
The cane made a subtle noise as it touched the ground.
Together with the noise…
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
The sound of footsteps followed along.
Renee sighed and uttered a word to the maker of those sound of footsteps behind her.
“Why do you keep following me?”
A solemn tone resounded. Upon hearing that, Renee frowned slightly and added her words again.
“I’m not the person you’re looking for.”
For two days, the Paladin Knight, who had come from the Holy Kingdom, was following her whenever she went outside.
Despite Renee refuting that she is not the Saint or asking him to go back, the Paladin Knight kept muttering ‘I apologize’ like a parrot while continuing to follow her.
There was no time in the past two days when Renee didn’t heave a sigh.
“… Shouldn’t you look for the Saint? I don’t think you have time for this.”
“… I apologize.”
What’s with this guy’s apology? Renee felt a sense of frustration in her forehead, but she couldn’t bring herself to chase him away, so she once more heaved a deep sigh.
…The voice she heard was far too serious for her to get mad at it. It makes her feel weak for some reason.
Besides, he did nothing but follow, so there wasn’t anything to complain about.
To avoid interfering with her own movement, he followed her at a distance she could not reach even if she raised her cane and extended it towards him.
With every step she takes, he steps hard on the floor and follows her with a stomp.
He never spoke until she spoke to him.
C’mon, Renee, what should I say to chase him away?
Of course, many harsh words flashed through her mind.
I’m afraid of being followed. You’re a creep. You make me tremble in my sleep.
Renee knew that she could spit out those words without effort.
However, Renee wasn’t infuriated enough to say rude words to others.
Even more so, with someone favorable to her.
Indeed, if she felt any malicious intentions from him, she might have spoken some harsh words, but that Paladin always conducted himself in an earnest manner.
He treated her with every ounce of sincerity he was capable of as if she was a revered personage.
So how can she say any harsh things to him?
“How long are you going to follow me?”
He repeated the same words. Finally, Renee did not have the energy to open her mouth any longer, so she looked straight once again and moved her cane.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
The two sounds echoed at regular intervals. As soon as Renee touched the ground with her cane, Vera’s footsteps followed along.
It was almost time for the sun to set, but the sky was still blue in the night of the midnight sun that lit up the world.
Vera stared at Renee from behind, just four steps away from her, and religiously followed her whenever she took a step forward.
All eyes were on Renee and her surroundings.
Is there anything flying in? Maybe there is a huge puddle in front of her?
He scanned the surroundings while keeping such an absurd concern in his mind.
…I couldn’t speak anything.
Many words came to his mind.
You must go to the Holy Kingdom.
You shouldn’t stay here.
There are those who are trying to look for you, and they will find this place. Not only you, but the entire province will be turned into a sea of blood.
Such absurd tales flashed through his mind, but he couldn’t bring them up.
With thoughts of being too forceful, she might simply ignore his words. Thus, Vera simply followed her.
A thought suddenly occurred to him while he was training in the Holy Kingdom.
If I were to stand by your side, what would I look like?
Does it seem like I’m proudly protecting her? Or does it seem like I’m defending her from a dreadful foe?
However, in the end, shouldn’t such thoughts be considered too arrogant?
And as such, when the fateful day finally arrived, he couldn’t stand by her side and only silently followed.
It was a sad and unfortunate situation, but Vera did not feel as hopeless as he had expected.
Isn’t he still walking along with her? Any ambitious task is bound to take a long time. After all, haste makes waste.
…Vera knew it all too well. Renee was restraining herself.
The fourteen-year-old Renee, who harbored a grudge against the Gods, simply had no malice towards him.
She just can’t bear to get rid of him.
She is a kind soul. And thus, it was the only reason he was following her back like this.
A tremendous sense of guilt lingered inside of Vera when such a thought occurred to him.
“Why did you become a Paladin Knight?”
Upon hearing her sudden words, Vera stared at the back of her head with a vacant gaze.
He only realized a moment later that she was asking this question for herself.
“…What do you believe in the Gods for? I don’t know myself. So many people believe in the Gods, but a few have experienced miracles, right? But why is everyone so crazy about them?”
Vera organized his thoughts, reminding himself that he had to give a proper answer this time.
He began ruminating over what to say.
He tried weaving a few answers for her.
I believe in the glory of the gods. I believe in their omnipotence. I believe in the power that they have bestowed upon this world.
Such answers flashed through his mind, but Vera couldn’t pick any of them since he knew Renee wouldn’t like them.
Are those even right? Aren’t those the nonsense I myself don’t believe?
Vera didn’t like the answers he came up with, so he thought of the person who could answer these questions the wisest.
How would they respond if they were the Holy Emperor? What answer would that old man have given her?
Vera thought about it.
‘… It’s meaningless.’
That’s the answer.
Isn’t that right? It was meaningless to follow the Holy Emperor’s words. It was an act of deceiving her.
Those words were not meant for a fourteen-year-old, as Vera thought.
Vera fell into deep thought once more to choose his words carefully.
What should I say to this fourteen-year-old Renee, who resents Gods?
She reminded Vera of himself.
He continued on his trail of thoughts for a while longer and then spoke.
“…I don’t believe it.”
It was Vera’s own words.
“I do not believe in the Gods. Neither do I believe in their glory, or their omnipotence, or anything related to them.”
The sound of Renne’s cane ceased, followed by Vera’s footsteps, which also came to a halt.
She turned around.
The direction she was staring at was in the air, but Vera knew it was an effort to look at himself.
“Aren’t you a Paladin? Can you even say that?”
“It’s the truth. I have nothing else to say otherwise.”
At Vera’s answer, laughter came out of Renee’s mouth.
“… That’s interesting. Then why did you become a Paladin Knight if you don’t believe in the Gods.”
In response to her following question, Vera struggled to suppress the words that soared up to the tip of his tongue from within, ‘Because of you’. He then took a deep breath.
Why did I become a Paladin? Why did I become an apostle?
An answer other than Renee. What is it?
Vera pondered for a moment and then realized that he was able to come up with an answer more easily than he thought.
“I wanted to learn how to protect.”
“…How to protect?”
“Yes, there is a light that I dare to follow, and I became a Paladin Knight to know how to protect it.”
The answer was directed to Renee herself, but ironically, as far as Vera knew, he had no choice but to say it in the most distant manner.
Renee mumbled under her breath and pursed her lips as if contemplating for a while, about his reply, and then asked another question.
“So, did you find out?”
Vera’s mouth closed tightly upon hearing her question.
Have I learned how to protect?
That’s why there was only one thing Vera could say.
“…I don’t know yet.”
“Is that so?”
A smirk. A weak smile appeared on Renee’s face.
The tension in the air had subsided a little.
Vera pursed his lips again, remembering that her appearance was suffocating to look at for some reason.
“However, I realized that I’m on the right track after becoming a Paladin.”
At the end of his gaze, he saw Renee, who had a profound and mysterious glimmer in her eyes.
Vera looked at her and thought…
I still don’t know how to protect while wielding my sword.
He was not wise enough to attain that enlightenment, and all he had realized in just over four years was his arrogance and ignorance.
Fortunately, however, the wisest person he knew was right in front of his eyes.
“Now that I know where to learn, I’m going to seek the sword that protects others.”
As I keep following her, maybe there will be someone who will someday show me the answer.
Vera’s head lowered and his gaze bent down to the floor.
It was an endlessly courteous bow that would never reach her.
Renee’s words continued on even when Vera was pushing his head down.
“… That’s great. I’ll be rooting for you.”
With those words, Renee turned to the front again and walked away.
The sound of her cane hitting the ground echoed.
Vera raised his head belatedly, looking at her back slowly drifting further and further away. He gave her a small response, his tone weak.
Can one’s hunger be satisfied with the first spoonful of food? / Can anyone be satisfied with a sip of the drink?
Actual meaning: Used to remind someone that some things take time and that one should not rush to judgment nor give up too easily.
English Equivalent: Rome was not built in a day. But we can’t use ‘Rome’ here so we localized it as ‘Any ambitious task is bound to take a long time. After all, haste makes waste.’
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