Erna, who had been snacking on fruit and sipping tea, now approached Kalion with ravenous hunger.
“What brings you down here? I was about to come up,” Kalion asked.
“I was feeling lonely and restless. When did you learn how to cook? You’re amazing at it,” Erna replied.
“It’s just something I picked up on missions with the guild. We had to cook for ourselves a lot, so I got used to it,” Kalion explained nonchalantly.
When asked why he was so skilled, Kalion explained that at first, he didn’t trust the food provided by others, so he started making his own meals. That’s how he learned to cook, driven by a desire for delicious food. As the knight group grew and tasks became more demanding, Kalion stopped cooking for himself, but the skills he acquired remained.
“I also did some practice before coming here,” Kalion added with a shrug.
“Practice?” Erna asked, intrigued.
“Yeah. I asked the head chef of the great castle about your favorite dishes and learned them separately. Why?” Kalion replied, before being suddenly surprised by Erna pulling him from behind and laughing.
As Erna hugged Kalion tightly, she couldn’t help but think that he was even better like this.
* * *
Erna awoke to the soothing sounds of birds and the cool breeze. She rubbed her eyes and took in the view of the simple, unadorned ceiling and the bright morning light.
“What…?” she muttered, trying to sit up, before realizing she was still bound to the terrace with her waist tied.
Oh, right. We’re at the villa, she remembered.
A smile spread across her face as she reflected on the events of the previous day. She had sat on the terrace, looking out over the night lake, and savored the dinner that Kalion had prepared for her with such care. The meal was simple and light, consisting mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables, with a little roasted meat. Although it wasn’t as elaborate as a palace feast, the flavors were so sweet and rich that it felt as though honey had been drizzled on each dish.
Erna turned her head to look at Kalion, who was fast asleep in her arms. His face was creased with sleep, but the deep color only emphasized the strong lines of his cheekbones and jawline.
“He won’t wake up,” she whispered softly.
Normally, Kalion would stir at the slightest presence or movement, his eyes snapping open with alertness. Yet, now he slumbered deeply, his breaths deep and steady.
Erna gazed upon the peaceful scenery, taking in the fresh morning air and the tranquil sounds of nature. The villa, which Kalion had kept as his personal hideout for many years, was a serene refuge, providing comfort that Erna had never expected.
As she basked in the quiet, she realized that there was a whole week of free time ahead of her, with nothing to do but relax and enjoy the scenery. The lake in front of the villa was certainly a beautiful sight, but she couldn’t help but feel that staring at it for a whole week might grow monotonous.
Erna pondered, her mind racing with possibilities. ‘Maybe I should have brought a book,’ she thought. A visit to a nearby village, to browse the shelves of a quaint bookstore, seemed like the perfect way to pass the time. But before she could even act on the thought, she felt a large hand gently sweep over her hair.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?” Kalion asked, his voice a gentle whisper as he gazed at her softly.
Erna shrugged, “I was just wondering what to do for the next week. Looking at the lake is beautiful, but it might get a little boring after a while.”
Kalion chuckled and pulled her into a warm embrace. “You’ve got it all wrong. There’s much more to do here than just gaze at the lake.”
With that, he took her hand and led her towards the bathroom. “Let’s go to the lake now and see what the morning has in store for us.”