Part 14: Doesn’t it smell like a dark secret?
“That must have hurt. What were you doing to get hurt like this?”
Hestia frowned when she saw her friend who came over to play after a good while. Her clear, lime-green eyes were filled with worry.
Her gaze was aimed at the little bundle of fur that was her friend. Her friend with animal ears and a tail.
It was Leo.
After they met in the nearby alley last time, Leo began to go to play at Hestia’s house frequently. He would standout if he came in through the door and since Leo was more agile than expected, Hestia simply opened the window at the back of the house for Leo to jump through.
Hestia and Leo would then play together while sharing snacks with each other. Of course, on days when Anne-Marie was at home, Hestia couldn’t bring him inside so Hestia would take a snack and go out to meet him in the alley.
That said, today, Anne-Marie went to work and way away from home so Hestia could bring Leo inside. She hadn’t seen Leo in a few days and when she finally saw him, his body had a few injures that seemed to be made from something sharp.
They were the injuries he suffered from Odin’s attack some time ago when Odin came to the hideout. The wounds were initially much deeper than this, but unsurprisingly, Leo’s body could heal faster than normal people, so they were already much better.
However, Hestia’s face scrunched up in worry when she saw Leo’s scar wounds which were almost disappearing.
Leo munched on the cookies Hestia gave him then he tapped the floor with his tail. Hestia’s words made him remember what Odin did a while ago and his mood worsened. However, he was merely careless last time, that’s why he got hurt. So next time, he would definitely not be taken down so easily!
“Krrng…Crow bad. I’ll win next time!”
Like that, Leo strengthened his resolve and bravely declared.
Hearing that, Hestia thought Leo must have gotten into a fight with a friend. First of all, the scars on Leo seemed like fingernail scratches plus when Leo said ‘Crow’ he didn’t seem like he was talking about an actual bird.
Then maybe it was a nickname…or maybe it was someone like Leo who had the characteristics of a crow?
Hestia grew curious but for now, she nodded at Leo’s words.
“Yeah, I don’t know why you guys fought but they were wrong to hurt their friend like this.”
“Not my friend!”
Leo was angered by Hestia’s words and cried out. The sight of Leo barring his sharp fangs at her in anger for the first time made Hestia’s eyes go wide.
“Oh? They’re not your friend. I’m sorry. Are you angry?”
Hestia readily apologized. At that, Leo’s momentum also faltered.
“Okay. I didn’t know so I thought it was your friend. I take it back.”
When Hestia immediately corrected her statement, Leo’s anger quickly faded away. He sat down and curled his tail again, albeit a little awkwardly.
The energy of his tail hitting the floor was obviously much weaker than before.
“Oh, hang on. I’ll put medicine on it.”
Hestia stood up as if she suddenly remembered that.
“My sister taught me, so I know how to do it a bit.”
She went into a room, leaving Leo behind then came back out with a first aid kit.
“It might sting a little but don’t move.”
After saying that, she took out what she needed in quite the skillful manner then she applied treatment to Leo’s wounds. In the middle of it, Leo tried to lick where she applied medicine and got a good talking to from Hestia but apart from that, the process was pretty smooth.
Finally, after putting even a bandage on Leo, Hestia looked triumphant.
“How was it? I did good, right?”
Leo was a little uncomfortable because he couldn’t lick his wounds. He was about to rip off the bandage on his arm with his teeth then he abruptly saw Hestia’s proud expression and stopped moving.
In the end, he simply smack his tail on the ground and left the bandage alone. Earlier, he threw a stupid tantrum at her because of Odin so he decided to endure the discomfort.
Leo once again buried his nose in the bowl in front of him and began munching on his snacks.
Chomp, chomp, chomp!
“Have this too!”
Seeing Leo like that, Hestia brought out another cookie and gave it to him. Leo was happy and gulped it down.
“Can I brush your tail?”
Hestia then asked in a quiet voice.
When she brought the first-aid kit earlier, she had also brought a brush and it was now in her hand at some point. She asked to verify but it seemed Leo was engrossed with the snacks, so he wasn’t listening to her.
Hestia’s hand stealthily moved toward Leo’s tail. As soon as the fluffy fur touched her hand, Hestia’s cheeks reddened. She began to brush Leo’s tail carefully.
Meanwhile, a sparrow that was by the window took off and disappeared into the sky but Leo and Hestia who were both distracted by different things did not notice.
* * *
The Alchemist Tower. And within it, a private workshop which was only supplied to top alchemists.
Inside, Damon Salvatore was focused for the first time in a long while, trying to make something.
A bright light gleamed in front of him without rest. The materials were combined and the blessed stone was used to transform its properties and give it a new power.
And a while later, Damon looked at the finished product with satisfaction.
“Good. It’s a success.”
To think he was able to make what he wanted right away. As expected, he was definitely a genius. Of course, there were piles of failed product by Damon’s side, but such things could not enter his sight right now.
Damon tried to assess what would be the perfect time.
He was going to busy for a while after this so he figured it would be best to carry out his plan in three or four days.
What Damon just made was a masterpiece he could use to find the owner of the butterfly who dared to ridicule him using the philosopher’s stone.
He recalled the contents of the note he read in the bathroom a few days ago and ground his teeth.
‘Just wait till I get my hands on you. I’ll definitely deal with you.’
Damon once again affirmed his determination then he finally began to carefully examine if there was anything wrong with what he just made.*
* * *
Time flew quickly and it was time for Yuri to go to the Crawford mansion again.
“You’re here, Yuri!”
Like last time, Bastian welcomed her with opened arms. Anne-Marie was also next to him.
“Hi, Ms. Yuri.”
Yuri returned the greeting of the two.
Today, the butler guided her to the greenhouse. When he was guiding her around the mansion last time, he said she might go to the greenhouse often, but this was faster than she thought.
“I only saw it briefly the other day, but the greenhouse is pretty.”
Yuri walked up to Bastian and Anne-Marie who were sitting at the table in front then she took an empty seat. And when she gave a courteous compliment, Bastian’s eyes widened.
He brought his fist to his mouth to cover his curving lips and cleared his throat for no reason.
“Ehem. Actually, I cultivate this greenhouse myself.”
Anne-Marie reacted appropriately. Of course, she truly looked impressed by Bastian’s words.
“Indeed. What else can an old man do stuck indoors. It’s just something I do when I’m bored.”
Bastian said, as if it was nothing. But his face was full of pride. Following which, his eyes peeked at Yuri. His eyes were practically saying:
‘Praise me more!’
Yuri, whose reaction was weak, felt a bit burdened by those intense eyes.
“It’s nice. You’re like a professional.”
When Yuri opened her mouth, Bastian’s ears pricked up.
“I agree, Grandpa! It’s really amazing. I thought someone was hired to take care of it.”
“I want to do this too when I get older. Take care of a greenhouse at home and raise a dog.”
Thankfully, Anne-Marie jumped in to help. As their praises continued, Bastian’s shoulders seemed to rise.
Yuri looked around the interior of the greenhouse that Bastian was showing off about. Honestly, the last sentence Yuri said was quite truthful. Of course, it was still too early for her to think about old age.
Suddenly, Yuri remembered something and opened her mouth.
“Come to think of it, I haven’t hear the dogs outside today.”
Anne-Marie also looked at Bastion with curiosity in her eyes.
“I know what you mean. I don’t think I’ve seen them for a while too.”
But for some reason, Bastian’s face stiffened in that moment. And suspiciously, he seemed to want to avoid answering Yuri’s question. Right then, Yuri sensed someone coming through the entrance of the greenhouse.
“Actually, the dog trainer suddenly took a leave for personal reasons so someone else is looking after the dogs. So their walking time has also changed.”
Bastian replied, seemingly not yet realizing that someone had arrived in the greenhouse.
Anne-Marie didn’t suspect anything and nodded to show she understood. However, Yuri somehow felt that he was hiding something. But since Bastian closed his mouth and began to drink his tea, she didn’t say anything more.
And finally, someone entered the lounge area in the greenhouse.
A low voice rang in Yuri’s ears. The person who appeared was Dominic Crawford, the current head of the Crawford family and the one who Yuri met in the annex building.
“What is it? Why are you here at this time?”
Bastian frowned at him. Bastian’s gaze on Dominic was riddled with dissatisfaction.
“My meeting ended early, so I just came back.”
Dominic replied calmly and unfazed.
“I see you have guests.”
Dominic’s gaze swept over Anne-Marie and Yuri who were next to Bastian. He looked at Anne-Marie first then he spoke.
“You must be the new caretaker.”
“Hello, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Anne-Marie.”
At that, Anne-Marie hurriedly greeted him. Following that, his deep blue eyes moved to Yuri, but it was impossible to know what he was thinking.
“I met you last time. I believe you said you were hired as Father’s conversation partner.”
Yuri replied briefly, after a slow blink of her eyes. Dominic’s gaze stayed slightly longer on Yuri than it did on Anne-Marie.
“I hired them, so you don’t need to pay attention to them.”
Right then, Bastian spoke, not bothering to hide his displeasure. Then Dominic looked away from Yuri and opened his mouth.
“Now that I think about it, I forgot to have a welcome party for the new employees.”
*…Should we be worried about Damon? LMFAO.
Also, welcome party, my foot.