For a moment, I could only blink at Cassion’s words.
I do understand what he meant with the first part, but what he said about ‘taking care of the child so that he wouldn’t feel embarrassed’ or something like that.
What was that about.
What do you mean, ‘compassion’ When did I ever
But I soon realized which part he misunderstood.
‘When I said I’ll leave the dolls to the kid, you must have thought I said that out of consideration, right’
He seemed to think that I bought a useless doll and added more money for the child’s sake.
Of course, it’s true that I added more money.
When the doll seller finally appeared even after I strained my eyes for the kid this long, it was an act of gratitude rather than kindness.
The child who took the money offered four dolls in return.
However, I only needed one doll, and it’s not good to carry three more useless dolls with me.
The problem was that the kid insisted on giving me all four dolls.
He seemed to want to hand over the goods that were equivalent to as much as I had paid.
If you live so honestly, you’d soon find out how tiring life is.
I wondered for a moment if I should just get my money back, but I brushed off that idea right away.
It would be laughable to try and get a refund from that snot-filled hand.
So, I roughly handled the situation, saying that I’ll pick up the rest of the dolls later.
I felt a bit sorry for Cassion, who thought that he saw another side of me, but it was not an act of compassion but rather an act of annoyance.
But this good man’s misunderstanding, it just revealed how warmhearted he was.
With a subtle smile on my lips, I shrugged and patted Cassion with the fan in my hand.
“I’m pretty kind by nature.
I have a nice face, too, and my personality’s agreeable, so don’t run away from me anymore, alright”
At the peal of laughter that spilled through my lips, Cassion turned away.
I could barely hear a suppressed exhale of breath.
Feeling a sense of satisfaction in many ways, I continued to walk forward.
After that, we went deeper and deeper into the alley.
The more I entered the maze-like road, the gloomier the atmosphere became.
Now, there could be nothing here called ‘home’.
Not a single sound of a simple bug or a beast could be heard, let alone a human’s voice.
‘I don’t think there’s any living creature here…’
It’s the perfect place to kill one person and sweep the matter under the rug.
Cassion didn’t seem to think differently.
In the middle of the alley, he tapped my arm and double-checked if this was the right place.
Every time he did that, I’d check Blanca’s fairly detailed map and saw the characteristics of the alleyway that she had indicated, so I confirmed that we were going the right way.
We passed by a suspicious looking red stain and a small tree with blue leaves.
On the map, there was a strange drawing of a house site that seemed to have collapsed and turned to ashes.
It wasn’t until we had fully immersed in this dreary atmosphere that we finally reached the meeting place.
However, this was where the real problem arose.
I think we arrived at the right place, but no one was waiting there.
The only things to be seen were old, dilapidated walls that seemed to be on the verge of toppling over, and tall, grotesquely twisted trees.
I couldn’t feel any movements around us.
In the still silence, the sound of grass shaking in the wind sounded bleak.
Is this really the right place.’
The question that Cassion had been asking me came to mind.
However, this really was it.
Didn’t I confirm and tell Cassion many times before
‘Maybe it’s not the right time’
Was the other person going to be a little late, or did we come too late
The former was better.
I could wait here.
However, if it was the latter case, then I’d need to grab that person by the back of their neck.
I came all the way here, but you left without even meeting me
Cassion and I stood in the middle of the vacant lot and looked around.
However, when we thought that there was no sign of any movement—
As soon as I felt that something was odd, Cassion called out to me.
I turned my head reflexively, and a small dagger flew by my face.
Fortunately, I avoided getting hurt in the nick of time, but it’s clear that the situation had turned for the worst.
I strained my senses to find any signs of movement.
But I still couldn’t feel anything.
Perhaps the other person was quite talented in hiding.
‘This is obviously an ambush.’
For either me or Cassion.
Or an attack aimed at us both.
I reached back and took Cassion’s hand.
When I pulled his hand, I felt his large body come closer, touching my back.
“Don’t move away from me.
Take this chance to hide in the safest place possible.”
At the concern that was palpable in his voice, I chuckled lightly.
To be honest, the biggest hindrance for me right now was Cassion.
Had it not been for this man, I would have already jumped up that tree.
“Are you worried about me”
Cassion did not answer.
Meanwhile, several arrows rushed in.
I took a slow step back, watching where those arrows came from.
In my periphery of that large tree, I saw a huge pile of the dilapidated wall’s debris on the side.
An arrow flew in from the same direction again.
I countered the arrow with the fan that was in my hand.
Just in case, I’m glad I hid an iron sheet on one side of this fan.
In my second transmigration, my weapon of choice was an iron fan, so I’m more used to fighting with this rather than a larger weapon that would elicit suspicion.
‘Looks like there’s only one enemy.’
Arrows kept rushing in from only one direction.
Besides that, there’s a little pause in between each arrow that would get shot.
That enemy’s location was above us, at the tree right in front.
First, since I’ve identified how many of the enemy there were and their location, the other thing I need to know is ‘how the enemy is attacking us in this place’.
Did they sneak up on us from behind
No, that shouldn’t be true.
I’m sure of it.
No matter how good the opponent was in hiding, it was almost impossible to completely hide their presence while following someone else.
And we walked for quite a long time along a winding maze of empty alleyways.
If someone was following us, I would have felt their presence at least once.
For this enemy to attack so stealthily, I had no choice but to think that this was a planned ambush.
‘But how did you know that we’re coming here that you were already lying in the wait’
I didn’t even tell Cassion where we’re going today.
And the coachman of the carriage we rode earlier only picked us up from home and dropped us off in front of the Larrington Bookstore.
He must be thinking that we’re still inside the bookstore, as I made a point to show that we entered through the main door of the bookstore, but exited through the back door.
And, there was something else to ask.
Right now, Cassion was wearing a mask while I was wearing a veil.
In other words, it meant that the opponent shouldn’t know who exactly we were.
At any rate, if they were planning to ambush a targeted person who’d come by this place, then shouldn’t they know who they were attacking
Since we’re hiding our identities with a veil and a mask, the enemy should have held their breath and waited for the moment either of us revealed our faces.
However, they already launched an attack without any intention of confirming our identities.
‘Maybe… That’s the specified target.’
With my face hidden with a pre-arranged veil as I walk into a pre-arranged place, coming here with a pre-arranged ‘man’ with the pre-arranged ‘goods’…
Laughter leaked out of my lips.
This situation right now was just so funny.
Given the above assumptions, well, assuming that this was a trap in the first place,
There’s only one person who could have led us here.
Tak, tak, tak.
A sharp staccato beating seemed to echo in my ears.
It was the sound of gold hitting against a hard table.
Then, the familiar laughter of that woman filled my head.
I could vividly imagine Blanca knocking against that table while laughing riotously in front of me.
‘And I was wondering what made you laugh for three days and three nights.’
Now I understand the meaning of that laughter.
I fell for it.
Blanca tricked me.
* * *
This very amusing realization made me tighten my grip over the fan I was holding.
The doll I bought from the kid was no longer useful, so I roughly shoved it into the pocket of my dress.
Now that my other hand was empty, I reached back again to grab Cassion’s arm.
After pulling him to dodge a few times, I pulled his wrist fully.
With my other hand, I kept blocking the arrows and retreated.
Gradually, the distance between us and the tree where the enemy was hiding widened.
The farther the distance between us, the more difficult it would be to aim accurately, and the interval between each arrow would also increase.
Maybe that person would get down from the tree soon.
“Once I give the signal, crouch down.”
“Crouch down, and then…”
I pointed towards that spot near the tree that I saw in advance, the spot with the debris.
Then I gave a nod.
It was a blind spot to anyone up that tree.
“Hide over there.
If you think you’re in danger, just run away by the wall.”
“You want me to…”
I cut him off.
I already knew what he’s going to say next.
‘You want me to run away alone’
Something like that.
However, such concern was enough from earlier.
This is the real deal now.
I’m a bit ticked that someone’s playing a trick on me.
At that moment, I felt his wrist in my hand flinch, but I didn’t care.
I spoke in a calmer tone.
“To be honest, I’m more concerned about you now.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll be safe anywhere you try to hide.
That’s why just think about how we can get through this crisis now.
Worry about me when there’s time to worry later.”
There was no room for emotions right here.
At a time like this, a cool head would be more helpful.
Wouldn’t it be better to act coldly yet survive to see another day rather than act warmly towards each other and die
Cassion should be thinking on the same lines.
I didn’t wait for his answer.
Instead, I pulled his wrist closer.
I need to get the timing right.
At last, another arrow flew past near our feet.
‘Now that an arrow has come, there’s some interval until the next attack.’
This opportunity shouldn’t be missed.
Soon, the enemy would come down from that tree.
If Cassion would still be behind me then, there would be no chance in winning at close combat.
As I began the count with a low voice, I relaxed my grip over Cassion’s wrist.
On the count of three, I was going to tell Cassion to go.
And at that moment.
However, the final signal couldn’t be said.
Cassion drew up—so close—leaned down towards me and whispered something into my ears.
As he leaned down, I could feel the man’s muscles as they touched my back.
His tension-filled breath soaked my ears.
At first, it seemed like something soft had touched my ears.
By the end of Cassion’s words, I heard a rustling sound from the tree where the arrows were coming from.
Just before the enemy came down from the tree, Cassion crouched and rushed away at just the right time, hiding in that spot.
Everything happened in an instant.
It started with the split-second when the word ‘Go’ couldn’t even be completed.
But even as everything happened so fast, it was all so clear.
Muscles, breath, soft touch.
“Don’t get hurt.”
Even the short whisper uttered.
It was all so clear.