After the Rain (7)
The boy furrowed his brows.
He had heard of a demonic beast called a siren that was said to bewitch people and drag them into the deep sea to devour them. He wondered if such a monster came to the plains too.
‘That’s a stupid idea.’
He dismissed that thought and looked at the girl again.
He felt this earlier too but her delicate and exotic appearance was definitely foreign.
Same went for her light hair-color which was unlike an Irugoian.
‘Is she a foreigner? She doesn’t look mixed either.’
He thought, remembering the Queen’s children.
《 What in the world is a foreigner doing in the demonic beast plains?》
《 Don’t ask me. There was a whoosh and I found myself here all of a sudden…》
《 Shouldn’t you come up with a better excuse?》
《 I’m telling the truth though…》
The girl mumbled and averted her eyes.
It felt awkward and unfamiliar because it had been so long since she talked to someone while making eye contact.
《 That said, I practically saved you, yet you’re interrogating me now?》
The boy chuckled when he saw her get everything off her chest while also avoiding his gaze.
《 I saved you too.》
《 Well, since we’ve helped each other, you can say we’re good people to each other. 》
《 You’re very eloquent for a tiny person.》
The boy laughed.
The feeling of his mouth muscles curving upwards was strange.
The boy wiped his lips and realized he was smiling.
It had already been 10 days since he was practically driven to the demonic plains after his mother passed away.
Naturally, a smile had never crossed his face.
Frankly, it was the same even before he entered the plains.
But to think a smile was something that could appear so easily.
Was it possible because this child was a complete stranger who had nothing to do with him and whose identity he didn’t even know?
He never thought a stranger could be such a comfortable presence.
Aristine was also feeling the same way. She felt more at ease because he was a complete stranger.
It felt like she had been relieved of the burden of considering things like the emperor or the monarch’s sight or her position.
For the first time, she became aware of that burden that she had never even realized because she had never put it down.
The boy studied the girl.
Her eyes were calm unlike a child, but from her size, she seemed about six years old.
He heard foreigners were on the smaller side, so maybe she was a year or two older than that.
Either way, she was still a child, so he ought to be a little kinder.
‘How should I know how to be kind without experiencing it?’
Although he thought that, he could tell that it wasn’t appropriate to ask the foreigner what she was doing in the demonic beast plains.
In an attempt to be ask kind as possible, the boy asked:
《 How old are you?》
Of course, in the end, his tone was still interrogative, far from being friendly.
But that didn’t matter.
At that unexpected age, the boy’s eye opened wide.
When Aristine returned the question, the boy fell silent for a moment then answered bluntly.
《 …About the same.》
《 I thought you were much older.》
The boy felt pricked by Aristine’s words but he tried to act unaffected.
《 I said about the same, not the same.》
《 Then how old?》
《 I see.》
The boy stealthily avoided the girl’s eyes.
To be fair, he wasn’t lying. After all, he didn’t confirm it with his own mouth.
He got up and sat down, leaning against the rock.
Aristine also stopped lying on the floor and sat down next to him.
《 Let’s rest a little bit and I’ll take you to the wall. The border guards will at least try to find your home since you’re a child.》
《 And you?》
《 You are a child too. You have to go home.》
《 Don’t treat me like a child.》
The boy retorted furiously, but Aristine laughed.
《 You said you’re the same age as me. And you called me a child.》
The boy was speechless at that.
On a closer look, he could see a faint sense of triumph on the girl’s face. It seemed like this was revenge for treating her like a child.
The boy burst into laughter.
He had never dealt with a girl like this.
《 Either way, you should go back too. It’s dangerous here.》
Aristine’s expression changed, and she spoke seriously.
Since earlier, flashes of terrifying monsters appeared on and off before her eyes.
She could instinctively tell that it was in the near future.
《 I… 》
I can’t go back.
The boy shut his mouth.
Aristine watched him do that then she opened her mouth.
《 There’s no point going to the border. Because I have nowhere to go back to.》
The boy turned to Aristine.
Aristine didn’t look at him and hugged her knees together.
The boy looked forward again.
He could see the horizon where the endless plains and the blue sky met.
This place was swarming with demonic beasts, but he never knew it could be so peaceful.
The boy and girl just stared straight ahead, not looking at each other.
They were complete strangers who knew nothing about each other.
But at the same time, they also felt a strange sense of kinship with one another, as if they’d met someone similar to them for the first time.