Aeneas walked down the corridor alone. Suddenly, he stopped and raised his head absently. –Beyond that door, Celiastina wasn’t there right now.
Aeneas could only smile bitterly at how, every time he passed her room, he found himself searching for her, even through the door. Right now, he didn’t have the energy to tell himself off for how weak he was being.
Celiastina looked quite busy these past few days. Because she wasn’t allowed to act alone, Aeneas would always head to see her and escort her during those times. But even though the time he spent beside her was longer than usual, why did he not feel that at all? Instead he felt like they were drifting apart from each other more than usual. Both of them were awkward and could only have harmless and trivial conversations.
Celiastina liked Asyut. Even Aeneas knew that. The more he was by her side, the more he could not help but feel that. Celiastina treated everyone kindly and was the same to him too. But the affection that was there was different from the affection directed at Asyut.
It was shown clearly that when Celiastina was truly in pain the one she sought was Asyut. In that corridor, Celiastina had justified her reason for seeking Asyut because her topic involved personal circumstances, which made Aeneas understand that it wasn’t a grave problem. Celiastina, who seemed to have been driven into a corner, dispensed with all reason and just wanted to meet Asyut.
And even Asyut thought about her with great care. Everything was told by the way Asyut’s eyes shot at Aeneas when he had been holding Celiastina. The relationship between the two, which had been completely frozen, had changed greatly in areas that he didn’t know. –Ah, why was she with Asyut? From the beginning, was there no room for him to enter? He wanted to think that it would be fine as long as Celiastina was happy. It should be like that. Yet, it hurt so much that it felt like his body was being torn apart. He couldn’t be honest about blessing them.
(Lady Celiastina went out somewhere with Asyut today, huh.)
He had not heard about where they went. Apparently, it was all quite secretive and they slipped out incognito. Could it have something to do with how busy they had been? It hurt that he wasn’t informed and it was also vexing that he wasn’t allowed to accompany them.
When Celiastina returned, should he take her and disappear to somewhere far away?
Aeneas shook his head when such a ridiculous idea came to mind.
Why was he so attracted to Celiastina in the first place?
The first time he was drawn to her was that dark night when they stepped into the dungeon, the Holy Jail. When Celiastina confronted her own mistakes and received a horrible shock, Aeneas was also shocked. He couldn’t explain his reasons but, in that moment, he believed that was the beginning.
Originally, she was a being that was supposed to be hated. Most of all, his best friend, Neisan, had been hurt severely. It shouldn’t be the case that he was attracted to her. When he thought that, he felt embarrassed and like he did something inexcusable to Neisan. However, he was scared to confront his conflicting feelings and came to this point with his back turned to all that.
(I can’t call myself Neisan’s best friend anymore, huh.)
Even though Neisan had raised his voice to save Aeneas, regardless of the danger to himself, Aeneas was far from returning that debt of gratitude.
Even now he continued to betray Neisan. How much distrust did he have when Neisan was announced as Celiastina’s bodyguard? He had various suspicions like wondering what Neisan was thinking– what he was planning. In the end, he was terribly relieved when Neisan was not actually entrusted to be an escort.
(I’m the worst. Honestly.)
When he thought back on that again, he became filled with self-hatred. For having an illicit love for someone he could never reach and for looking at his best friend with distrust. What kind of thoughts did Neisan have when he looked at him? Neisan never said anything. He treated Aeneas the same as usual. However, it was impossible for nothing to have changed in his heart.
(But, right now, I don’t know what that guy is thinking.)
Aeneas clenched his teeth strongly.
He didn’t want to become estranged from Neisan like this. No, even if he couldn’t stop them from growing distant, he didn’t want to just wait and let their hearts separate without saying anything. Neisan might not forgive him anymore– But even still. He was going to meet Neisan directly and be told that.
Aeneas quickened his walk, as if stirred up by an impulse.
He had to meet and talk with Neisan.
He couldn’t change his feelings for Celiastina, but he wanted to say that properly. He strongly thought that.
He ran down the stairs, leaping past every other step. While almost colliding with people around corners, Aeneas walked directly to the training ground. Neisan, who was nearly never an escort, usually participated in training.
When he arrived immediately at the training ground, there were squires and soldiers swinging swords in pairs. He searched for the rare redhead amongst them, but he couldn’t see anything like that anywhere.
(Did I guess wrong?)
Feeling something catch in his chest, he stubbornly cast his gaze around, wondering if Neisan was taking a break at the edge of the training ground. One of the squires noticed Aeneas and called out to him but, when asked, it seemed like he hadn’t seen Neisan even once since this morning.
“Did he take a holiday today?”
“He didn’t have any plans like that yesterday, but maybe he fell ill.”
“I see, thanks.”
He’d never heard of Neisan falling ill and staying in bed. But, when he thought about the Holy Jail, he changed his mind about it being unlikely and decided to visit Neisan’s room.
As he returned the way he came, an unpleasant feeling that swirled in his chest began to grow larger and larger. Was Neisan really in his room? And if he wasn’t, then where was he?
He stepped out of the building and then entered the residential annex. Because it was the daytime on a weekday, other than the few servants that he passed, the building was largely uninhabited. When he arrived at Neisan’s room, a monotonous and unfriendly tall door stood in his way. Aeneas held his breath unconsciously and then knocked several times on the door.
… However, a familiar voice was not returned.
He knocked again, this time a little stronger. But still he couldn’t hear any sound from inside.
“Hey, Neisan, if you can hear me then say something.”
Finally, he called out again. The expected silence wrapped around his body and Aeneas placed his hand on the door knob. When he pressed, the knob turned down with an unexpected lack of resistance. It was unlocked.
Aeneas opened the door gingerly. Creaaaak, only the dry sound of the door ushered in the sudden visitor.
The room was completely empty.
Neisan wasn’t here either. Thinking about the possibilities of this fact, Aeneas stood there dumbfounded for a while.
(T/N: Short chapter so you guys get another quick update! Dun dun dun, the plot thickens. Unfortunately, the next two chapters are pretty huge so it’s gonna take a while again Orz.)