Knock knock knock
“Sakura, are you awake?” I knocked on her door and asked.
Hearing no reply again, I already knew that she was still sleeping. ‘It’s almost noon and she is still asleep…’
I scratched my head as I remembered the time when she didn’t even wake up when I lifted her tent onto the carriage. ‘This girl is even worse than Riria at waking up…’
Early this morning, I had tried to wake her up for breakfast, but it was to no avail. I knew that she wasn’t a morning person, and we were also on night shift when escorting, so I just left the inn and let her sleep some more.
I went out to exchange my Magical Cores for coins.
‘200 silver coins aren’t so bad, but hearing the prices of houses in the capital, the dream is still so far away…’ I could only sigh in depression. ‘I should’ve collected some more at the Demon Continent’
I sold 10 Medium Grade Magical Core to the Magician Tower for 10 silver coins each and 2 High Grade for 50 silver coins each.
Nevs City, as the capital of the most advanced Kingdom in terms of magic, was a really popular place for business, so much that their house pricing was beyond the roof. ‘10 gold coins for a house on the Adventurer’s District, with no backyard even. I can’t imagine how much a mansion can cost in the Noble’s District. Ugh…’
‘Should I stole some treasure from Master’s lair? He said that it was somewhere in the tallest peak of the northern-most mountain range.’ I remembered the time Master Sieghart told me about his treasure trove.
‘Ah forget it… Anyway… Should I just enter? Any longer then the food I bought will be cold.’ I stared hard at the door knob separating our two rooms. ‘She won’t hit me again, right?’
I knew that she was just shy, but still, being hit by the Holy Sword was no small matter. Even if my skin was much harder than normal person, what hurts still hurts, okay?
“Sakura, I will be entering, okay?” I warned her as I turned the door knob slowly.
Hearing no answer, I went in and walked silently to the side of her bed.
There she was, lying down on the bed like a sleeping beauty. She slept on her side with her face facing me. I slowly knelt down beside the bed to look closer at her.
Her tender white skin…
Her silky black hair…
Her long eyelashes…
And her thin pinkish lips…
‘She is really beautiful…’ I brushed her hair slowly as I whispered, “Wake up Sakura, it’s almost noon. I bought you some breakfast…”
Feeling the warmth of my hand on her head, she sluggishly tried to open her eyes.
“…Uuunh…” She blinked her eyes slowly as she tried to look at me.
Then half-sleepily, she giggled and whispered, “…ehehe… Zed…you are finally here…”
She slowly grabbed my hand, put it under her head, and proceeded to close her eyes again, continuing to sleep.
Seeing that, I could only shook my head and sat down beside her bed, giving up my hand to be her pillow.
In utter defeat, I just smiled bitterly and whispered to her, “Fine, just another 15 minutes, okay…”
I was too nervous to sleep…
I kept thinking what I should do if he went through that door…
I really like him, and maybe even love him…
‘But, can feelings really be described in words?’
Then… he came to me, softly caressing my head…
“Zed…you are finally here…”
His hand was so warm…
It felt so comfortable…
I didn’t want to let go…
Then I felt him caressing my head again…
But this time, I could faintly hear his voice…
“Sakura…” His voice was low and soft, I really liked hearing it…
“Zed…” I slowly opened my eyes…
His face was in front of me…
His blue eyes staring warmly at me…
His lips smiled faintly while whispering my name…
“Sakura… are you still sleepy?”
‘So I was asleep?’
I could feel his warm hand under my cheek…
I moved my head a bit to look at the window behind him, the light of the sun was peeking through the gap of the curtain.
But I am still sleepy…
It was his fault, because he didn’t come last night…
I fell asleep late because I was too nervous…
So he had to take responsibility…
I could feel his body coming closer, slowly embracing me into his arms…
I snuggled closer, yearning for his warmth…
‘Maybe this warmth is love…’
Using his arm as my pillow, I went back into the dream world…
“It will be 40 copper,” said the Inkeeper lady.
“Zed, I am sorry…” said Sakura as she timidly stood behind me.
I just smiled and patted her head. “It’s fine,” I said to her.
Because she had woken up late, we missed our time to check out. But it really was not a problem. “I had been thinking that we should stay for a few more days anyway.”
“Tomorrow is the start of the festival, so we should look around together,” I said to her. Then I looked back to the Innkeeper lady and said, “So, how much is it for 5 night?”
“Uhm…” The innkeeper lady frowned and said to me, “I actually don’t want to say this, but on festival days, my husband already told me to up the price, so it will be 30 copper per single room, times two, then times five, it will be 3 silver coins… Well, I can give you a discount, so let’s just make it 2 silver and 50 copper coins… or you can rent the double room, and I can rent it for only 1 silver and 75 copper coins. What do you think?”
The prices seemed reasonable to me. “Ok then. We will take the-“
“Double room!” Sakura suddenly said.
I looked back at her. “Hm?”
“W-we should save money!” Her face blushing as she just realized what double room meant.
‘Eh? I haven’t told her that we have 200 silver coins, have I? Did she think that we are that poor?’ I smiled bitterly.
“Oho! So nice to be young! But young man, your girlfriend seems to be really young. You two shouldn’t think about having a child this soon, okay? I will just give you a room with two beds, okay?” The Innkeeper lady grinned while teasing us.
“E-eh? C-c-child?” Sakura stammered behind me.
The Innkeeper lady already knew that I am a Rank 5 Adventurer when I checked in, which gave me a sufficient background and prestige, but maybe seeing my baby face and Sakura’s young age, she still felt a little bit worried. So I just nodded and said, “That will be much appreciated.”
After I gave her the money, she then said to us, “If you want to eat something, just sit somewhere and call my daughter, she will bring you the menu.”
I nodded at her and looked back at Sakura.
“Let’s eat first. You haven’t eaten breakfast,” I said to Sakura who was still daydreaming behind me. I already taught her on our way to the city that the normal inn in this world usually also doubles as a restaurant at noon and a bar at evening.
“Okay,” she nodded at me with a blushing face.
‘Hmm? Is she thinking about a child?’ I thought to myself as I saw her bright red cheeks.
Seeing her like that, I couldn’t help but to think about it as well. I imagined myself sitting in the backyard, looking at a slightly older version of Sakura playing tag with a child that looks similar to the two of us. The child then asked me to play together with them, and so we played hide and seek together.
‘I really have to find more money if I want to have a house with a backyard that big.’ I scratched my cheek, contemplating, ‘But I don’t have any other specialty other than fighting and killing though… I can even barely remember anything I had read in the library long time ago…’
I felt a little bit depressed thinking about the uncertain future in front of me.
I sat on the side of bed, with my hands propping my chin, just staring at Zed through the balcony door. He was standing there, on the balcony, with the night sky and the moon as his background, leaning against the railing, looking below at the people on the street.
‘He has been acting strangely since this afternoon. When I asked him about it, he kept saying that it was nothing.’
But actually, I already had a guess, ‘As expected, is it about money?’ I remembered the amount of silver coins we should have left after getting the quest reward, ‘From 10 silver coins, we already spent 5 silver coins for my outfit, 1 silver coin for my registration fee, 1 silver coin for my underwear, 1 silver coin for yesterday inn, food, soap, and maybe my diary, then another 1 silver coins and 75 copper for the next five days. Hmm… that should left us with 25 copper coins?’
I also remembered that after we ate lunch, he had told me to wait at the inn because he had to go somewhere. When I asked about where he wanted to go, he just told me that he had to check on something at the Adventurer’s Guild. So I told him that I wanted to go too. ‘After all, staying alone at the inn is boring.’
But when we were there, he just kept staring at the Quest Board with a frown between his eyebrows, and when I asked him what he was thinking about, he just smiled at me and said that he was looking for a simple quest for us to do after the festival, but I knew that he had been looking at the quests that ranked 7 and 8.
‘Why does he need that much money anyway? Can’t we just do the simple quest like helping with the festival preparation? I saw that it gives a nice sum of copper coins.’ I puffed my cheek in indignation, ‘I don’t even eat that much… and the only expensive thing I bought is this pair of underwear. He is also the one who said that we should stay a few more days at the inn to see the festival, but I actually don’t really mind if we just camp outside the town.’
‘Hmm… Is he in debt? That’s the only possible reason why he need that much money…’
No matter how much I though about it, I couldn’t seem to understand why. ‘Ugh… this is getting nowhere…’
I looked at his broad back again and felt a bit sad as he wouldn’t even share with me about his difficulties. ‘Maybe I should just ask him…’
I saw the people below looked so happy and busy, running around to prepare the festival to celebrate the death of the Demon Emperor. They put up lanterns and stalls, selling souvenirs of the Five Heroes. Some were even selling silver colored masks that looked similar to what I had used to wear.
I felt a bit conflicted, ‘It felt a bit strange that people are actually celebrating the fact that I am dead…’
I suddenly felt something hitting my back softly. I turned my head a bit to look behind me and saw that Sakura was leaning her forehead against my back. She just stood there silently, leaning the weight of her head onto me.
“What is it Sakura?” I asked her.
She seemed to be thinking of something to say. So I just stood there waiting for her.
“…Zed… are you in debt?”
??? ( O A O ) ???
‘What in the Goddess name is this silly girl talking about…?’
‘I knew it…’ Seeing him not talking, I knew that my guess was right.
“It’s okay you know? We can just pay it back slowly… You don’t have to do the high ranked quests too, it’s too dangerous. I am worried about you… Tomorrow, we should get a refund for the inn, I am fine with camping… A-a-and maybe we can return the other underwear too, I haven’t used it yet…” I kept thinking about what other things I could do to earn some money. ‘Should I sell the Holy Sword? Can it even be sold?’
He suddenly turned around and grabbed my shoulder. “Wait, wait, wait! What are you talking about?”
“I saw that you were looking at the quests that gives lots of reward… so I know that you are in need of money… I am sorry because you had to spend the money you earned from the escort quest to buy me clothes and stuff. I promise that I will pay you back…” I said to him.
He frowned and looked a little bit troubled.
‘Ah…’ I suddenly realized that I might have been rude and wounded his pride. I felt bad and lowered my gaze to look at my hand instead.
‘I am so stupid… I really shouldn’t have talked about it, shouldn’t I? Is he mad at me?’ I felt like a kid that had done something wrong, waiting to be scolded.
I felt depressed. “Uhm… I am sorry, I know that it’s not my place to talk about it, so let’s just forget what I said-eeeeh”
He suddenly lifted me up in a princess carry and started to walk into the room. He stopped right beside the bed and sat down with me on his lap. He fell silent, seeming to be contemplating about what he should say.
I kept staring at my hand, just waiting for the scolding to start.
He then caressed my head and said, “I am not in debt, okay… Uhm, no, I should apologize to you first… It’s my fault that I made you this worried. Sakura… I am sorry… I have failed as a boyfriend…”
I shook my head, then leaned against his body. “It’s okay… As long as you are not mad at me…”
I felt his arm on my back, pulling me closer into his embrace.
“I am not mad, okay? It is true that I actually want to get more money… But you really shouldn’t be worried about it… We are not that poor, okay? I do have some money. [Storage].”
He took out his money pouch and put it on my hand. It was heavy and filled to the brim with silver coins. I was surprised, because the last time I saw the ring, there wasn’t much money inside.
“Then… what do you need more money for?” I looked at the pouch on my hand, and then looked at him. With this much silver coins, we should be able to live comfortably for months.
“…” He scratched his nose and fell silent.
“Why won’t you tell me?” I puffed my cheek and looked away. “Hmph!”
He was silent for a while but then poked my cheek and said, “…I don’t know where yet… but… I want to buy a house…”
“I have told you right? I want to save up to buy a house, a ring, and then propose to you when you are 17…” His face slowly reddened as he told me his reason.
I felt my face heating up as he said the word propose. I knew that it took him a lot of courage to be honest with me, but it was really embarrassing for me too, so I just plastered my face onto his chest and hugged him. I didn’t want him to be able to see my face right now. I was pretty sure that it was even redder than his.
Then he suddenly added, “That’s why, I have been thinking of enrolling you to the school…”
(o _ o ) ??
‘What does a school have to do with that?! And why do I still have to go to school again in this world??’ (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
“I don’t want to…” said Sakura while still hiding her face on my chest.
“The magic schools in this city is famous you know, you can learn a lot of things. There should even be princes and princesses studying there.” I patted her head. My money should still be enough for her enrollment fee, and I should already be back before the next annual payment.
“No! no! no! no no!” She started shaking her head left and right while the top of her head was still sticking on my chest.
‘What is this cute creature, seriously…’
I actually didn’t want to leave her, but the quests that gave lots of gold were quite hard, especially if one didn’t have the corresponding rank, so I couldn’t take the quest from the Adventurer’s Guild and had to find the quest giver personally, which could make it a little bit more complicated as there weren’t too many quest that showed the quest giver’s name for confidentiality reason, and even if it did, the quest giver might not be in this city.
I was thinking of getting the Seven Petal Ice Clover for the Magical Tower from the Magical Beast Mountain Range west from here. The pay was actually quite nice, 100 gold coins per stalk and I could also hunt some High Ranked Magical Beasts while I was at it. ‘I don’t have to go through the guild and can directly sell it to the tower, but it can take weeks to find it and the mountain trek is also hard… so I really don’t want her to go through it…’
“Why?” she suddenly asked me.
“…” I thought about it a bit more and said, “The school has a dorm… so it would be safe for me to go…”
She suddenly lifted her head and stared straight at me. “You want to leave?!”
I could see her eyes starting to redden while tears were slowly trickling out from the corner of her eyes.
She tightened her hug and went back to hide her face onto my chest, seemingly afraid that I would leave if she were to let go. “No! You said you will always protect me! You said you love me! You said you will propose to me! Why would you leave?!”
“… hiks… hiks…”
“I am sorry… I am not that great of a guy… I don’t know how to earn money beside hunting and killing Magical Beasts. It will be really dangerous, you know? So, knowing that you will be safe here, I can go without worry…” I patted her head slowly. “I promise that I will come back as soon as possible.”
“You know that it will be dangerous… so don’t go…”
I kept crying for 5 minutes straight…
After collecting my thought, I slowly released my hug and leaned my side against his chest with my shoulder. I rested my head against his body and looked down onto my wrist. The wound was hidden behind the sleeve of my shirt, but a little bit of it was still peeking out.
“Do you know? I already lost too much people I love…”
I started telling him about my former live, about my parents, about the accident, the orphanage, my foster parents, the landslide, and the curse….
“Astraea-sama said that I should live a fulfilling life in this world, and gave me the Holy Sword so I can protect the people I love…
“But I am weak, and I don’t know if I can protect you… But I know that the life I want in this world is with you by my side, so if having a house means that you will have to leave me and go through danger for me…”
I looked at him straight in the eyes…
“Then I don’t want a house…”
I slowly put my hand on his cheek…
“I don’t even want a ring…
“I just want you…
“I love you…”
As I stared straight into his eyes…
His hand touched my cheek…
And his face slowly moved closer…
I craned my neck and closed my eyes…
Then our lips touched…
‘It’s full moon tonight…’
I leaned against the railing of the balcony, enjoying the night wind brushing against my bare upper body while looking at the moon above my head. The cold wind made the scratch marks on my back feel a bit better.
I looked into the room through the window beside the closed balcony door. Sakura was lying on the bed, her clothes scattered on the floor, her glistening white skin was peeking from the edge of the quilt reflecting the moonlight.
‘I don’t know if I should be happy or mad at myself…’
The norm in this world was people of 17 years old were considered as adults. But in actuality, many nobles were married when they were even younger than Sakura, especially the daughter of the nobles.
‘Forget it… I couldn’t exactly refuse to eat when the dish was already served in front of me, right?
‘I will buy an engagement ring tomorrow and propose to her. That’s the least I should do after taking her purity.
‘As for marriage, it can wait after we have the house. She is not from this world after all, so I can’t even ask her father to hand her daughter to me…
‘Eh wait… We both have no families left… And she doesn’t even want the house… So what’s even stopping us from marriage anyway?
‘Even if we have a ceremony, who’s going to come? I don’t even know where Master is right now.’
No matter how long I thought about it, the answer was still the same…
‘I will just marry her then…’