「Knight ‘Lydon’ ‘s favorability increased by 5.」
「Current favorability: 55/100」
Cadel gritted his teeth at the succession of system windows that popped up.
‘……Just give me back my mana. I’m going to burn off that fluffy head of hair.’
Cadel was going to wipe that smug smile off his face. His eyes were fierce with determination.
* * *
After Lydon had finished his satisfactory meal, Cadel was able to safely return to the Royal Palace by the power of illusion again.
「Congratulations! You have completed the sub-quest ‘Uncomfortable Legs’!」
「Reputation increased by 2.」
The subquest went smoothly. Cadel shuddered slightly as he watched the system window pop up with a cheery notification.
“Lydon, I’m so cold…….”
“Huh? Want a hug?”
“No, just slow down the flow of mana.”
After a meal prepared by the servants and a checkup by the healer, Cadel decided there would be no more visits, so he set to work.
Mana injection. The process was as simple as the principle. Cadel would sit upright and still on the bed, and Lydon would place his hand on his back and channel his own mana into him, and that was it.
An inconvenience was that Lydon’s magic attribute was ‘ice’, so the longer he worked, the more intense the cold Cadel felt.
‘I should be glad it’s not a fire attribute.’
If it were a fire attribute, he would have been cooked from the inside out. Cadel snorted and straightened his back.
“I think we can wrap this up now, and I’ll give you a warm hug when we’re done.”
“I said I don’t need it.”
The bluntness of his words brought an amused chuckle from Lydon. Ever since ‘the shock candy incident’, he’d found it amusing that Cadel was so wary of even the slightest touch.
Just when he thought it was all going well, someone knocked on the door.
‘Who would be here at this hour? A maid?’
He had asked them not to come until morning because he didn’t need anything. A familiar voice came from beyond the door, as Cadel, anxious at the thought that Lydon might be caught, rose up.
“Leader. Can I come in?”
It was Lumen. Relieved, Cadel walked straight to the door and opened it, revealing Lumen, who was dressed to the nines. His dark navy blue shirt and casually swept-back black hair, combined with his nonchalant expression, gave him an air of stoicism.
Cadel, who had been looking up and down Lumen without realizing it, said in pure admiration.
“What, why are you so handsome? Are you going to a ball or something?”
“Who cares about balls when I’m so busy.”
After pushing the door open, Lumen shook his head tiredly.
“I’m here to see His Majesty Danila. I’ve been traveling all day, and when I finally got a chance to rest, he asked how Leader was doing.”
“I said you would still need more rest, but the healers seemed to have taken the lead. They said there would be no difficulty in moving. So, it is better to prepare your mind.”
Cadel’s expression quickly turned grim. He had tried to hide his condition, but apparently, he couldn’t fool the healers.
‘I’ll have to think of an excuse.’
He had to promote the mercenary corps from the ‘Osma Empire’ to a knight order, not anywhere else. Because that was the story. Before that, he did not know how the story would be twisted if it was absorbed by the forces of another country.
‘It’s different from Viscount Stra. I can’t run away blindly, so I’ll have to make up a plausible story.’
He was a king, and if he was determined to keep Cadel, there was not much he could do about it. Unfair, but unavoidable. This world was based on status, and the gap between a mercenary led by a fallen aristocrat and a king was as wide as the sky and the earth.
‘Ha……. I just want to stop thinking about it and get on with my life.’
The life of a transmigrator was a hard one indeed. Sighing and running a hand through his hair, Cadel turned around.
“We can put it off for a day or two at least. Lydon, you can finish up now…….”
He had hoped to finish the mana injection today. But on the bed where Lydon was supposed to be, there was only a rumpled quilt.
The knock at the door caused him to transform? He searched under the covers and pillows for the little fairy, but there was no sign of Lydon. As Cadel stood bewildered, Lumen pointed to the window.
“The window is open. Isn’t he gone?”
“What? At what point?”
The curtained window was wide open. He had really escaped. Of course, if it had been a night when everyone was asleep, he would have been allowed to go for a walk in his fairy form, but…….
“Shouldn’t you finish what you’re doing and go!”
He was a completely selfish fairy. Cadel would have a stinging word for him when he got back. Dejected, Cadel dropped the pillow he was holding with a toss and flopped onto the bed.
Naturally, there were only two people left in the room, Lumen and Cadel.
Usually, when they were together, Cadel would do something and Lumen would tease him. Sometimes it was annoying, but it never felt awkward.
But for now, there was an awkward, heavy atmosphere between them.
‘……Come to think of it, we haven’t had a chance to talk alone since that day.’
That day, he violated his trust, and Lumen was deeply disappointed. The fight continued before he had a chance to untangle the tangled web of his mind, and even afterward, things were so urgent that he didn’t take the time to do so. Since waking up, he had been putting it off, but the time was finally here.
‘Should I……say something?’
It was Cadel who had labeled Lumen a ‘temporary member’, putting him in an ambiguous position where he couldn’t leave and couldn’t be with Cadel. He still couldn’t accept him, but he wanted to at least make it clear that he didn’t see Lumen as a disposable tool.
But it was faster for Lumen to open his mouth than for Cadel to choose the right words.
“Van said he would stay at the shelter where the villagers gathered. It seems that he intends to stay there until Leader finishes all his business in the Royal Palace.”
“Van did? Is there a lot of work…….”
“I don’t know. Maybe he just doesn’t want to stay in the Royal Palace.”
It was highly likely. He was a man with an aristocrat phobia, so breathing in the Royal Palace might have been an ordeal in itself.
‘It would be good for Van to get some rest too. I’ll have to visit him sometime.’
If Van didn’t like the Palace, he should find a good inn and let him stay there. Once again, Cadel planned to use Lydon to sneak out of the Royal Palace.
And Lumen, for his part, stared wordlessly at Cadel. Dark, troubled emotions rose and fell over his sunken gaze.
A completely relaxed, docile face turned to Lumen. Between the eyes that met, several emotions of different textures came and went. Lumen said, taking a short breath as if to stifle the urge to burst out.
“What are you going to do after you get your mana back? Are you going to stay in the White Kingdom?”
“No, there’s no more business here. I’m going to the Principality of Mystic, where I have the means to break Lydon’s seal.”
Lumen nodded slowly and lowered his eyes. It was an impassive expression, devoid of his usual depth of emotion, but Cadel sensed that something was not right with him.
However, Cadel never asked why Lumen was giving off that vibe, or if it was because of him.
“Then let’s stay together until there.”
“If Lydon gets his skills back, you won’t need my help anymore. So…… when that time comes, I’m leaving the mercenary corps.”
Lumen called it quits.