On the way home, the appearance of a man whom I thought was a passerby was strangely familiar.
As I got a little closer, the man’s figure was revealed. Soon, the slender, tall man strode towards me. Eventually, with a few steps ahead, he stopped. I let out a gasp.
“…How have you been, Lady?”
“Are you really Ian?”
“Yes, Lady. This is Ian.”
Ian came to see me. I told him to run far away, but I didn’t know why he was here. How the hell did he come here?
I was bewildered and embarrassed and stood stupidly even when he took my basket away.
“How did you get here?”
“Where are you staying?”
“How did you get here?”
Ian, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, was becoming more stubborn. I quickly calmed down and took the basket away from him again.
“…It doesn’t matter how you came here. But, go back. I told you to leave.”
“I’ve finished all the missions you mentioned.”
“…Did you come to me to say that?”
Ian was silent.
Did he just find me to say that? I knew where this place was. This was a place he wouldn’t come to. In addition, I came here with a teleportation stone, so there was no way he could find my existence.
I also gave him the teleportation stone, but I didn’t even say where I was going. Even I myself wasn’t sure where I should go. It was decided only after organizing everything and using the teleportation stone to get away, but how did he come here? There was no way to search the entire continent for a year and a half to find me.
I hardened my face and started walking past him. It wasn’t long before I heard him following me from behind. I turned around again and told him. “Go back. I clearly told you to leave. At that time, our relationship between master and servant ended. You don’t have to report to me anymore. You don’t have to carry my belongings either. We’re just a stranger, understand?”
And I turned around and walked again. Despite the clear warning, footsteps could still be heard from behind me.
“Please allow me to protect you by your side.”
Even if he had no choice but to remember and live, Ian couldn’t forget everything. Because he was the type of person who repaid the kindness of being saved.
But why is it so frustrating?
“I don’t need an escort anymore. So find your way to live, please.”
“…I can’t go.”
He really made me speechless.
* * *
Embarrassingly, after a long quarrel, Ian came to the cabin where I was staying. No matter how much I told him to go, he wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t stand there like a stone statue to keep him from coming with me, and if I walked, he would follow me. That’s why I had no choice but to come back home. Looking at him sitting in the chair, I still couldn’t get rid of the absurd feeling.
“I don’t know why you’re being so stubborn, but leave as soon as possible. I just forgot everything and lived my life, but I can’t do that anymore because you came.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”
“…Do as you please. If you’re so stubborn, I can leave again.”
I prepared the dish that I half-forgotten. It was because the time for Amaerin and Kuren to come here was running out because we were arguing. About an hour later, there was a loud noise outside.
“(Renia! Are you inside?)”
Hearing that sound, I wiped my wet hands on the towel and went outside. A small basket was pushed in front of me as soon as I left.
“(Renia, we’re not too early, are we? I baked some cookies for dinner. And Jam to mix with tea.)”
“(No, you’re just in time. But I have a little problem.)”
“(Problem? What problem?)”
“(…There’s one more guest.)”
Then, Kuren and Amaterin widened their eyes and exchanged glances. Soon, Amatgerin smiled brightly.
“(Who cares! We’re fine.)”
“(I’m sorry for not telling you in advance. Come in.)”
“(We’re also curious about Renia’s guest!)”
As soon as they entered, the two eyes widened when they saw Ian. The house was narrow, so they found him as soon as they entered.
Amaterin came close to me and whispered in my ear. “(Your hidden lover? What did you said last time… that was incredibly nice?)”
Did I say that? I thought about what I said in the past, then shook my head. “(No, it’s not like that. So, that person is…)”
Then Ian got up from his seat and bowed his head. “(This is the lady I’m serving as my master.)”
“(Lady? Master? Oh my, do you speak common language?)”
“(I can speak it a little bit.)”
Then Amaterin alternately looked at Ian and me. I couldn’t help but let out a deep sigh.
“(He was my escort in the past… He came here to find me. He will be returning soon.)”
“I’m not going back.”
“Why do you keep being stubborn?”
I spoke sharply, but there were Kuren and Amaterin, so I couldn’t fight and closed my mouth. Even if they couldn’t understand us, they would understand the tone of our voice.
The atmosphere became cold, so I organized the basket that Amaterin had given me.
“(It’s fig jam. Coincidentally, I bought a nice tea today, so it’s perfect. You don’t have to worry because the food is enough for four people.)”
At my words, Amaterine raised her voice as if to help. “(Mmm— I could smell something delicious even from the front cabin. I was going to make a bet with Kuren on whether you could really make dinner or not. If I knew this would happen, I would have bet that you could make dinner!)”
“(I told you I know how to cook. Sit down. I will serve the food soon.)”
Let’s have dinner first, send the two, and then talk to Ian again.
I busily put the food in a bowl while the two sat down with their coats hanging on the hanger. When the food was served enough to fill a small table, Kuren, who usually doesn’t have much expression on his face, gave a look of surprise.
“(The taste… I don’t know if it will suit your taste or not. It’s fine for my taste. Go ahead and dig in.)”
“(The smell is telling me already. I will eat well! Renia sits down. You should sit down too. What’s your name?)”
Amaterin tugged at me and asked Ian too.
“(You can call me Ian.)”
Ian spoke the common language as well as I, who had been here for a year and a half. That made her even more excited.
“(Okay, Ian. Hmm! It’s delicious. Did Renia really make it?)”
“(That’s right, I made it.)”
Dinner time was very noisy. Amaterin and Kuren ate all the food I made, overshadowing my nervousness.
Amaterin asked Ian countless questions about what she was so curious about. Sometimes she asked questions that were too deep. Her curiosity was so strong that if Kuren hadn’t helped me, she would have known all about my past.
“(By the way, I heard Ian called Renia as lady. If he was your escort, wouldn’t you be a noble? Are you a daughter of wealthy people? You said you were commoner, so was it something like that?)”
“(N-no. It wasn’t something like that.)”
“(Not like the princess and her knight?)”
“(Yes, not at all.)”
Amaterin then muttered with his elbow on the table and rested her chin on it.
“(When Ian said he was your escort, I thought it was a fairy tale story where he came to find Renia because she was the princess of ruined kingdom.)”
I burst into a small laugh at the absurdity. “(Even if I’m born again, that won’t happen.)”
“(Isn’t that too much? Then would you like to stay here? Didn’t you say you were his escort?)”
Amaterin asked Ian. I intercepted before Ian could answer.
“(No, Ian will have dinner and leave tomorrow morning.)”
“(Really? It would be nice if he stayed longer.)”
Ian tried to say he wouldn’t go again, but I stamped him on his foot and covered his mouth.
Ian and Kuren disappeared while Amaterin finished eating all the cookies she had brought. When I was puzzled, Kuren said he took Ian out to ask a few questions. After all, even when I just came here, they were very wary of strangers. Since Ian is also a stranger, he might be trying to confirm this and that.
Amaterin asked quietly while washing the dishes. “(Seeing that he came here, can he really just leave you alone? It seemed that he had no intention of leaving you at all. Didn’t that person also come from the land below?)”
“(Right, but he’s not my escort anymore. He doesn’t have to be here. I have no place for him to stay anyway, and I have the money to hire him.)”
“(Renia, no matter who sees it, it doesn’t look like he came here because he needed money. That person likes you, right?)”