༺ Into the Great Woodlands (2) ༻
Vera was in a rare, panic-stricken state.
Of course, it was Renee’s fault.
A minute ago, he decided to escort Renee to sleep in fear of her passing out drunk.
Yes, it was a minute ago.
Renee got drunk from her first drink and became unable to properly think.
“I’m not the Saint.”
Renee raised her head. Her hand was still holding Vera’s collar.
Renee blurted out those words as she bobbed her head.
“I’m Renee. I’m not the Saint.”
“Here, follow me. Renee.”
Vera’s mouth closed.
Renee giggled with a drunken expression on her face while tugging on Vera’s collar.
Renee burst into laughter as her shoulders bobbed.
Vera felt anxiety slowly creeping into his heart.
How should I send her upstairs? What should I say?
Vera, who continued to ruminate over the dilemma that crossed his mind, soon held Renee’s hand, that was clasping his collar, and said.
“Saint, I think you should stop and head upstairs.”
The corners of Renee’s lips rose.
Renee giggled continuously, then suddenly frowned and uttered the following words.
“Is Vera a womanizer?”
Flinch. Vera shuddered. Norn and Hela, who were watching the scene unfold, trembled as well. Norn looked at Vera while breaking out in a cold sweat.
But of course! Has there ever been anyone who was allowed to walk away freely after calling Vera a ‘womanizer’?
Even if she is the Saint, there won’t be an exception. Vera must certainly be fuming.
The moment Norn thought that and tried to stand up to calm Vera down.
Norn opened his eyes wide upon witnessing a miracle.
Vera, in front of his eyes, was comforting Renee with an expression that Norn had never seen before.
It was an expression full of regret. An expression that Norn had never even imagined he could make.
“I’m not a womanizer. I’m not the kind to indulge myself in the charms of women.”
Vera broke into a cold sweat upon seeing Renee’s frown as she clenched his collar tighter.
“Vera has fallen for the elves.”
He has never done that.
“You are excited to play with the elves.”
He didn’t want to be involved with them at all.
“Vera is… you’re going to settle down in the Great Woodlands…”
The moment Vera was about to say something to protest against such nonsensical claims, Renee spoke with a lump in her throat.
“Vera is going to marry the elves…!”
Vera’s eyes quaked in trepidation.
“One son… One daughter… You’re going to have children…! Waaah!”
Soon, she burst out crying. Vera wondered what she was talking about as he continued listening to her. However, he had no choice but to be ‘tongue tied’ upon hearing her ludicrous remarks.
What the hell is going through her mind for her to spout such words?
Vera panicked due to the situation he couldn’t understand at all. He continued to speak while placing his hand on Renee’s back.
“That’s not true. I have no intention of setting down or starting a family with the elves.”
“Saint, calm down…”
People at other tables began stealing glances upon hearing Renee’s cries that echoed all over the place.
In the meantime, Vera’s sensitive ears were able to overhear the ongoing conversation at other tables.
-Hm? What’s going on there?
-She must be a very sick child. At that young age…
-Is she being mistreated/bullied? I want to know why she is weeping so bitterly.
Vera became flustered.
He desperately wanted to protest, but there was no way left for him to talk to Renee, who had already gone silent.
Uncharacteristically, Vera glanced at Norn and Hela for help, but they were also flustered by this situation.
Norn and Hela retreated and began sipping alcohol while facing each other.
Gnash. Vera gnashed his teeth.
Vera began to pat Renee’s shoulder stiffly, thinking that he had to soothe Renee somehow, thinking that a major accident would happen if she continued to act like this.
“…Please calm your anger.”
The movement appeared so rigid that the onlookers could even hear a ‘creaking’ sound ringing in their heads.
The notion of even considering touching Renee’s body with his own hand made Vera feel sorry for her. It was a different situation than the one where Renee was escorted to the Holy Kingdom three years ago while avoiding pursuit of the enemies.
At that time, he asked for permission and acted after judging that it was an inevitable situation. However, now he is recklessly touching Renee’s inebriated body without her permission.
Vera felt like he was committing a great sin as he kept patting Renee on her shoulder nervously.
Renee stopped crying after a long time.
“Have you calmed down a little now?”
Vera inquired as he looked at Renee, who was still crying and trembling a bit.
Renee nodded her head slightly in response to Vera’s question and then placed her head on Vera’s shoulder.
As a result, Vera’s body naturally hardened. Meanwhile, Norn and Hela, who were sitting across the table, were watching this scene while chewing snacks.
While Vera was in the midst of being frozen, Renee let out a brief sigh of relief.
However, was it too early to judge that they have passed the hurdle?
Suddenly, Renee began to sob.
Vera gazed at Renee’s tearful eyes which were wide open.
Squeeze. When the grip around Vera’s collar firmed, he answered with a tense face as his hand overlapped with Renee’s.
“Yes, I’m here.”
Startle. Soon afterwards, Renee began weeping as her shoulder trembled, and eventually she uttered the following words with a lump in her throat.
“I can’t see ahead!”
Tears flowed from Renee’s eyes. On top of that, she had a runny nose.
Vera couldn’t think of anything to comfort Renee this time, so he closed his eyes tightly.
The next morning, Renee woke up late with heavy eyes as she felt the events that transpired last night flash through her mind. She began trembling, then covered herself with a blanket.
‘…Should I die?’
The hand holding the blanket tightened as a vein popped up over the back of her palm.
Yes, I’d better die. Rather than living in shame, I’ll die with honor.
She thought about it for a while.
-Is Vera a womanizer?
The remark she made last night returned to Renee’s mind.
‘…Why did I say that?’
Renee wanted to cry. As such, Renee closed her eyes tight and began praying to the Gods again, which she seemed to be doing quite often lately.
Please bestow upon me the power to turn back time, not this useless power, but the power of regression. She made a wish like that, but… If that could have been done by praying, her eyes would have healed a long time ago.
Again, the Heavens were indifferent, and Renee’s wish didn’t come true.
For a moment, a feeling of despair swept over her body as she recalled the words she spoke. Renee felt suffocated.
- Vera is… you’re going to settle down in the Great Woodlands…
Renee was aware that Vera never said such a thing.
-One son… One daughter… You’re going to have children…!
Why are the plans regarding children so specific?
For a moment, she felt her body heat up from the memories she just recalled. Renee then remembered her firm declaration.
- I can’t see aheeeead!’
Pow. She began screaming while kicking the bedsheets with her feet.
After she was done kicking, Renee began rolling on the bed.
‘I can’t see!’
I’m blind. How can I see ahead? Why am I crying because of that all of a sudden?
Renee started struggling once more with the wish of wanting to turn back time for just one day so she could get rid of her past self.
Meanwhile, Hela was watching while sitting still in the chair next to her bed. She thought to herself.
Initially, she wasn’t sure if Renee was awake or talking in her sleep. However, the moment Renee began rolling around and screaming in her bed, she became certain that she woke up.
Now she had to get her ready for departure.
Engrossed in such thoughts, Hela stood up and said.
“Saint, are you awake?”
Renee’s struggle ceased upon hearing the words. Her eyelashes quivered.
Then she involuntarily uttered a question in a trembling tone.
“…Since when have you been here?
“Uh… I’ve been sitting next to you since you covered yourself with the blanket.”
Renee closed her eyes tightly.
“I’m glad that you’re feeling alright.”
Renee wanted to cry.
Renee who just walked out of the accommodation’s door flinched upon hearing Vera’s voice.
Renee interrupted Vera before he could mention the ugliness she had displayed last night, and spoke firmly.
“Please don’t mention it. Please.”
It was an earnest cry of desperation.
Vera remained silent as he listened to Renee, and soon nodded briefly.
“…Let’s drink after you’ve grown a bit more.”
Renee’s face turned red. She lowered her head in shame as her gaze was directed towards the floor.
Renee, who was holding Hela’s hand until now, soon grabbed Vera’s palm, and kept her mouth shut, hoping that Vera wouldn’t say anything and erase yesterday’s events from his memory.
However, Vera didn’t seem to have any intention of doing that.
What else is he trying to say? Is he going to make fun of me?
While Renee shuddered as she kept pondering over such questions.
“I don’t like elves.”
Vera’s words pierced her ears.
Renee raised her head upon hearing those words and turned towards Vera.
Vera looked at Renee, who turned in his direction, and continued speaking.
“I won’t settle down in the Great Woodlands, nor do I have any plans to have children. The place where I belong is by your side.”
What followed was a long speech.
Vera spoke these words to resolve last night’s misunderstanding.
He doesn’t know what Renee was thinking, but… how many people in this world are capable of loving those who once aimed for their own life?
Although time has turned back and such an event never happened in this timeline, the fact doesn’t change that they once aimed at his life. Even though Vera convinced himself like that, he still couldn’t look at them in a favorable light.
Thus, Vera used all the knowledge he knew to dispel Renee’s suspicions.
“Above all, elves can’t reproduce in the first place. Because they’re androgynous.”
A fact not yet well known at this point. It gets revealed later on after the elves leave the Great Woodlands.
When Vera divulged that info to Renee, Renee trembled. She froze on the spot.
“Elves are unisexual. They’re a species who are born from the fruit that Aedra produces, so they don’t require any reproductive capabilities. So, I would never fall for an elf. I’m a human who prefers women.”
Renee listened to those words with her mouth agape and a dazed expression. However, her face soon turned red when she realized why Vera was talking for such a long time.
She guessed that she had caused him a lot of trouble.
If Vera, who normally didn’t bother talking for so long, was speaking for such a long time, it must have been really serious.
While her body continued to tremble in shame, Vera continued speaking.
“I said this out of the hope that you don’t misunderstand me, so please don’t worry. It’s a known fact that everyone makes mistakes when drinking for the first time.”
Upon hearing the word ‘everyone’, Renee pursed her lips and hesitatingly asked Vera.
“…Did Vera make a mistake too?”
“Yes, I did.”
Why wouldn’t he? On the day he drank for the first time in his life, Vera cracked Doran’s skull, the leader of the beggars who abused him.
Vera recalled the past that didn’t transpire this time around, then said.
“You don’t have to worry too much. Rather, I think it’s something I should be sorry for. Because I made Saint worry about me… I must have said and done something that made Saint uncomfortable. I’m the one who is in the wrong…”
Startle! Renee was surprised upon hearing Vera’s words and refuted loudly. She then spoke the following words out loud.
“Uh-Uhum! Yes! Then it’s nothing! Let’s pretend it didn’t happen yesterday! Let’s do that!”
Renee, who ended the conversation because she didn’t want to continue talking about this topic anymore. Amidst her burning face, she felt a sense of relief upon hearing the excuses Vera had made.
An elf is androgynous. He said that his place is always by my side…
Ironically, her worries of the past few days melted away with those two statements.
Suddenly, a smile flickered across Renee’s lips.
Renee’s first love crisis.
Vera’s affair ended up staying as just a delusion.
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