Leguna shuddered. He turned his head around with great difficulty but still didn’t dare to meet Annelotte’s gaze directly.
“I… I was only curious. Do you know anything?”
“I don’t,” said Annelotte coldly.
After hearing her denial, Leguna breathed a sigh of relief. But, seeing how he was acting, the rage the girl felt only rose.
“Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
“Why?” asked the boy, his voice slightly louder than before.
Her words had apparently struck a nerve.
“Because you would only act recklessly and it wouldn’t help the two at all.”
“Don’t you care about whether they live or die at all?”
The boy’s rage boiled in his words.
Annelotte said as she forked another piece of roast meat and plunged it into the special spicy dip.
“—It’s precisely because I care that I can’t tell you. Your recklessness will only mess everything up.”
When she finished, she flung the piece of meat into her mouth and chewed slowly.
“Stop messing around!”
Leguna was quite angered by her casual attitude.
Boss and Sis are locked up in that anti-magic dungeon and probably being punished or tortured but you’re enjoying your roast meat like nothing’s wrong! Yet you care?!
He glared at the girl as though his gaze would slap her, his words left his mouth clearer than any had ever before in his life.
“You don’t care! You don’t care at all!”
“How would you know?”
“Because you only care about me!” Leguna yelled.
His mouth curled into a mocking smirk.
“—Oh, wait. You don’t care about me either. You only care about the shadow dancer, the prospective Moonshadow agent. That’s why you’ve been helping him all this time. You hope he will grow faster so he can serve the guild sooner. You’ve never cared about me! You’ve never cared about Boss, or Sis either! Everything you think and do is for the guild! Am I wrong?”
Annelotte’s face turned as white as a sheet of paper. While Leguna had been angry at her before, this was the first time he had snapped entirely and spoken such sinister words, or in such a sarcastic tone. This was the first time anyone had ever spoken to her like this. Though she was Marolyt’s daughter, Wayerliss had taken care of her like she was his own flesh and blood. While he did educate her, he never scolded her like this. It had never been necessary because she had always been reasonable. It wasn’t like other people in the guild could scold her either. Her position was simply beyond such behavior.
Leguna, however, was not held back by such issues at all. It could even be considered slander. Never before had she experienced the anger and vexation that now filled her heart. She felt her eyes clouding up. It was the first time something like this happened. She didn’t know she was tearing up.
She became aware of a set of overwhelming emotions flooding into her mind. She strained to keep everything suppressed. She needed to stop this conversation as quickly as possible.
“So what are you going to do?”
When Leguna saw Annelotte’s red, puffy eyes, regret suddenly rushed into his mind. He knew his words had been a little too severe. However, since he had already said them, he wasn’t going to apologize. His words were the truth, after all.
He replied after a moment of silence.
“The full moon will come in a few days. I have to get to Starfall before then and kill Hladik.”
“You can’t,” Annelotte said immediately, “Eye of Arcana is not something we can deal with on our own. We can’t kill Hladik or save Boss and Sis… Unless… Someone else is willing to help you?”
“I don’t… And it won’t be the two of us — I’m going alone. Oljharok is using you and Innilis to force me to assassinate Hladik. He won’t let either of you leave the city. As for Boss and Sis, I’ll think of a way to save them even if I’m on my own.”
“So that was why Kreighdon captured us,” Annelotte said furrow-browed, “They’re trying to make the two guilds go to war…”
Leguna was once again surprised by how sharp the girl was. She realized instantly what had taken him minutes to figure out.
“You’re too reckless. You shouldn’t have agreed.”
“Would you rather I sit by and watch you two be skinned and cooked? Boss and Sis don’t have much time either. I have to go!”
“You should’ve dragged things out for a few more days, at least! The guild might have been able to respond to this,” Annelotte said, “This plan is too reckless, it’ll never work!”
“Work or not, it’s none of your concern!”
Leguna’s anger soared again. He couldn’t stay calm. Even in a situation like this, she was still trying to convince him to not care about his two companions.
“My life or death is none of your business. While you can ignore Boss and Sis, I can’t. You can be cruel and emotionless, but I can’t. You can ignore the plight of others, but I can’t. Even if I’ll be captured too, I can’t sit still and watch them be at the mercy of others. You don’t have to say anything else.”
Annelotte glared at him. He couldn’t meet her gaze.
“Do you still trust me or not? Should I have nothing to do with matters concerning you in the future?”
Leguna turned his head away silently. He was afraid seeing her face, on the brink of crying, would soften his resolve.
“Very well,” Annelotte said, “I don’t want you to stick your nose in my business ever again either. I know whether I care about those two or not, it’s not for you to decide on my behalf! If you want proof, you’ll get it in a few days. Until then, get out of my sight!”
“What are you going to do?”
Leguna looked at the girl anxiously. Her last sentences were vague enough that he had no idea what she was planning. However, he had a bad feeling about it.
“I already said you have no right to get involved in my business! Get out!” yelled she.
Leguna’s jaw dropped. This was the first time he saw her acting so emotionally. He knew it was best to avoid her when she was like this. He left crestfallen after giving her two final glances and closed the door behind him quietly.
The girl looked at the table full of delicious food but couldn’t muster the appetite to eat. Two streams of tears glistened down her cheeks. They collected beneath her chin before falling onto the back of her hands. The drops snapped her out of her daze and she wiped her cheeks.
Leguna was endlessly frustrated. He had wanted to get some sleep, but what had transpired between him and Annelotte kept him awake. He eventually got up and went for a walk outside to pay Innilis a visit.
The little girl was behaving pretty much the same Annelotte had — munching down on the delicacies in her room. Her eating was far less elegant than her counterpart, however. Sauce clung to her chin, nose, and cheeks. Droplets of sweat sat on her forehead.
Though he wasn’t in the best of moods, seeing the little girl’s current state still brought a smile to his face.
“If you keep eating so disturbingly, no boys will fall for you, you know,” teased he with a smile as he brought his handkerchief out to clean her.
“I don’t need any boys to fall for me! Big Bro Leguna is enough!”
“Sheesh, watch what you say,” he pinched her nose.
Innilis looked at him intently.
“Are you sad?” asked she suddenly.
“How d’you know?”
“I can tell. You’re frowning.”
“Really?” Leguna touched his forehead.
“Is it because of Sis Annie?”
“Maybe, but not entirely.”
He didn’t want to discuss this at the moment, definitely not with Innilis. He had to worry about it on his own.
Innilis continued staring at him, suddenly smiling.
“Don’t be sad! Sis Annie treats you really well.”
“What?” It seems she thinks I was heartbroken.”
“I don’t know how Sis Annie thinks, but I know she treats you very well.”
“Really?” Leguna smiled bitterly, —she only cares about my gifts.
“Did you know? After what happened to my family, you fainted for a few days. Sis Anny was the one that watched over you most of the time. Every time Uncle Kurdak changed your medicines, she would go in and dictate a spell. She said it would make it so you were in less pain from the sunlight. I don’t know how it works, but every time she came out, she was very weak and white! She treats you really well!”
Did Annie endure the pain of being mana-drained to relieve Host of Darkness’ side-effects?
He felt even worse when he happened upon the thought.
“Sis is usually very strong, Innie feels like she is actually really weak. She never tells anyone what she thinks. Maybe she wants to tell someone sometimes, but there isn’t anyone. I don’t think she’ll tell anyone if they don’t ask about it first. Big Bro should believe in himself more! You should talk to Sis more!”
Leguna listened to the little girl’s words before he looked at her, shocked, as he would an abomination.
“Listen to what you’re saying at your age! I didn’t think a little girl would be such a schemer!”
“I’m turning thirteen! I’m not a little girl!”
“Fine, fine. My beautiful old lady,” said Leguna as he stroked Innilis’s head with a helpless smile.
He chatted with her for a little longer. The longer the conversation went on, the more surprised he was at the little girl’s thoughts. He left with the determination to never underestimate a woman ever again, no matter how young.