Kalion expertly fileted the freshly caught trout and other fish, his knife gliding through the tender flesh with ease. Erna, eager to try her hand at the task, picked up a knife and approached the fish with determination. But as soon as the first drop of blood splattered onto the cutting board, she let out a blood curdling shriek and promptly handed the fish back to Kalion.
“What’s the matter?” Kalion asked, a hint of amusement in his voice. “Are you not going to catch any fish in the future?”
Erna scowled at him and replied, “You’ll do it for me.” It was as if she was certain that Kalion would always be by her side, ready and willing to fulfill her every need. Kalion gave her a small nod, his expression softening.
“Alright. I’ll do it,” he said, taking the knife back in hand and fileting the rest of the fish with a newfound confidence.
The two of them cooked the fish they had caught and enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the terrace of the villa. Afterward, they took a nap, the warm sun drenching their bodies. When the afternoon arrived, Kalion gently woke Erna by suggesting a walk.
To avoid attracting unwanted attention, the two of them slipped on rings that altered their appearances with magic and walked comfortably through the Haldis area. The landscape was dotted with picturesque lakes, surrounded by rolling hills, making it a perfect destination for a leisurely hike.
As they made their way through the forest and passed by other villas, Kalion couldn’t help but marvel at the grandiose structures. He glanced over at Erna, curious to see her reaction, but she merely looked at the villas with a serious expression before turning her gaze back towards the lake.
“Don’t you find these places interesting?” Kalion asked.
“They’re too big,” Erna replied, shaking her head.
“But big is good,” Kalion countered.
Erna lowered her head, and Kalion could sense her unease. “I don’t like looking for you in the palace, let alone out here in the countryside,” she explained.
Kalion couldn’t resist and leaned in, placing a gentle kiss on Erna’s forehead. Whenever she spoke with such vulnerability, Kalion felt as though he was sinking into a warm embrace. Erna, it seemed, was oblivious to the impact her words had on him.
After wandering for a while, the pair found themselves in the bustling city of Haldis, the same city they had saved on their previous adventure. With no particular plans in mind, they leisurely strolled through the streets, basking in their sense of accomplishment.
Before long, Kalion’s arms were overflowing with fresh bread, snacks, and fruit, all at the urging of a wide-eyed Erna. She was ecstatic to finally be able to explore again after so long, and she didn’t hold back as she indulged in the sights and treats of the city.
While Erna was absorbed in a store selling souvenirs, Kalion’s attention was drawn to a flyer stuck to the window. He carefully examined the illustration and text on the paper, trying to determine the date.
“Yes, it looks like it’s happening,” Kalion said with a smile, his face lighting up. He had been worried that their time in the city would be devoid of any excitement, but this was a pleasant surprise. With a spring in his step, Kalion strode into the next store, keeping an eye on Erna, who was still occupied inside the first.
A short while later, Kalion returned to his seat, his arms now burdened with even more bags. He had discreetly slipped the flyer into one of the bags, hoping Erna wouldn’t notice.
A while later, Erna emerged from the souvenir shop with several bags in hand. Kalion asked, pointing to one of the bags, “What’s that?”
“It’s a commemorative gift for Orpe and the wizards,” replied Erna, holding up one of the bags.
Kalion then pointed to another bag in Erna’s other hand. “And what about that one?”
Erna hesitated for a moment before answering. “It’s a gift for Vanessa.”
At the mention of Vanessa’s name, Kalion fell silent. He had been able to sort out his complicated feelings towards her much faster than he expected, but Erna was still struggling. She had been avoiding Vanessa for months, making sure they wouldn’t cross paths, and that hadn’t changed, even before she arrived here. Although she wasn’t ignoring Vanessa entirely anymore, she still only spoke to her when necessary.
Kalion understood Erna’s feelings and respected her choices.
Sometimes, residents of the Grand Castle would inquire about the relationship between Erna and Vanessa and request Kalion to act as a mediator. But Kalion deemed it an awkward proposition, for he believed that the issue between the two was a matter that only they could resolve. Vanessa was the one who had initiated the problem and Erna was its victim. No amount of interference from outsiders would result in a lasting solution.
Despite this, Erna did not want to hold a grudge against Vanessa. She understood that it was her own heart that would be left shattered in the end. So, Kalion stood by her side, silently hoping for a new beginning to emerge from the broken pieces. And eventually, that hope would bear fruit.
Kalion smiled to himself as he picked up Erna’s luggage.
“Isn’t it heavy?” Erna asked.
“If it is, then I wouldn’t be fit to be called a knight,” replied Kalion with a chuckle.
Erna paused for a moment, deep in thought, before speaking again. “Let’s go to one more store.”
“Hey, I think my arms are about to fall off. Can we please go now?” Kalion pleaded.
“You said it wasn’t heavy!” Erna yelled, playfully chasing after Kalion as he ran away.