Two Sides of a Coin (2)

Translator: Alice

Editor: Claire

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Two Sides of a Coin (2)

Huge thanks to Andrew for the kofi! (1/1)

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“Why do you say that? I’m here to apologize. I didn’t come here to do anything to you.”

 

“What are you going to apologize for?”

 

“Just… this and that. I told you you were dirty, and I didn’t catch you when you fell. Also, I brought meat and showed you how scary the sea is. I admit it was mean. You’re a prisoner, but you don’t have to-”

 

“Were they all your ideas?”

 

“Do you think Sir Kerner would have come up with such things?”

 

“And you’re telling me this now?”

 

“All right! Even if I’m late, it’s better than never!”

 

Henry Reville argued blatantly. But still, he accepted her words because they were true. He remained silent for a moment, and opened his mouth again. This time, his voice was as soft as a mosquito.

 

“Thank you for saving Layla, Rosen Walker.”

 

“You’re thanking me with such empty words?”

 

“I’m sincerely thanking you, don’t ruin the mood.”

 

“I’m speaking sincerely, too. There’s no sincerity in thanking me. You need to pay for it.”

 

She smiled softly and made a circular shape with her fingers. Henry was dumbfounded for a moment, then snorted in surprise.

 

“There’s nothing I can’t give you, but what are you going to do with money? You can’t even write.”

 

“Exercise your flexibility. You can give me something else.”

 

“…Well, what do you want?”

 

His eyes shook anxiously. Rosen burst into giggles. He thought he knew what she was asking for. But really, it was funny because she didn’t even know what she wanted.

 

“You want me to bring you the key to the lifeboat? I can’t do that. Never. It’s not just impossible, it’s not something I can do in the first place.”

 

“Reville needs to pay the price for a life.”

 

At her sarcastic remark, Henry became furious again.

 

“It’s not like that.”

 

“Then what’s the matter? Does it matter that I’m a prisoner?”

 

“…Yes.”

 

“Because I killed my husband? Do you mean that I need to get punished? Many people say it’s better to commit suicide than to go to Monte. Its a punishment one level higher than the death penalty. At least a gunshot would let me die clean. Even though I saved your niece, I still have to go there? Is Hindley Howarth’s life more precious to you than Layla’s?”

 

Seeing that there was no response, Henry didn’t seem to be as stuck in his ways as Ian Kerner. If Ian saw her run away, not wanting to go to Monte, he would shoot her in the leg and bring her to the island, but Henry would likely turn a blind eye and shoot her in the heart, having mercy on her.

 

She decided to continue her momentum and confuse him more. It was fun to watch his face alternate between red and white.

 

“And, do you think I really killed Hindley Howarth?”

 

“…”

 

“What if I didn’t kill him?”

 

“There’s no way you didn’t.”

 

“Me? That big man? Of course, I didn’t kill him, but let’s say I did. What if there was a good reason for that?”

 

Henry, who was listening blankly, covered his ears and began to groan.

 

“I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you! Don’t say that to me. Do you think I’m easy? Do you think I’ll fall for your tricks easily?”

 

“…I can’t lie. Of course, you are more deceitful than Ian Kerner.”

 

“There will be no one in the Empire who believes your words. Besides, you said you didn’t save her for a price earlier. I heard what you said to Sir Kerner.”

 

“That’s true, but you came all the way to see me, and now you’re showing off. In fact, if you don’t repay me more than this, you won’t be at ease, will you?”

 

“…”

 

“You’re right, don’t give up the key. I already know that even if I go on a lifeboat, I will be a meal for marine predators. How about this instead?”

 

She made a gesture for Henry to move his face closer to hers. As she toyed with him, something came to mind. She grabbed Henry’s ear and whispered. It was as if she was the devil enticing a devout priest, subtle and gentle. Like she had no ulterior motives.

 

He hesitated, but listened to all of her whispers. He asked, frowning.

 

“…What kind of trick is this?”

 

“What do you mean by a trick? This is a trivial request.”

 

Henry stared at her for a long time as if to gauge her intentions. Really, this was the prisoner’s last request. But still, he seemed to be confused whether it was the beginning of a clever trick.

 

“Henry, you’ll do it, won’t you?”

 

She smiled sadly. 

 

‘Now that I’m clean, do I look a little prettier?’

 

It was then. She heard the bathroom door slam open. Henry and Rosen looked up at the same time.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

It was a voice as cold as ice. Henry quickly jumped up from his seat with a blue face. Rosen shrank back, trying to avoid the sudden chill pouring in. Surprisingly, it was Ian Kerner standing at the door with a discontented look on his face.

 

“Sir Kerner!”

 

“I just asked you what you were doing, Henry.”

 

“That, that…”

 

Ian furrowed his brows, alternating between Henry and Rosen, who was wet and naked. She could clearly tell what Ian was thinking. This was a scene that anyone would misunderstand. She thought Henry was a little pitiful, but it wasn’t her business.

 

Ian’s gray eyes turned towards her. She didn’t know how to react, so she just shrugged her shoulders. He stared at Henry again with a cold look.

 

“This isn’t what Sir thinks!”

 

“Reville, you’d better come up with an answer that I can understand.”

 

“I, so, um, something to say to Rosen…”

 

Henry tried to explain, but the words coming from his mouth were disconnected and scattered. 

 

‘Well, what excuse could he give to Ian Kerner?’

 

“I came here to say thank you. It was because I felt uncomfortable just serving her a meal. Besides, I wasn’t going to grant her a questionable request without Sir Kerner’s knowledge.”

 

“Get out!”

 

“…Sir!”

 

“I’ll hear your explanation later. It remains to be seen whether it’s an explanation or an excuse, but get out.”

 

Ian pulled Henry by the collar and threw him out the door. Henry was dragged like a doll and crumpled in the hallway, then the door closed again. Now, Ian Kerner and Rosen were the only ones left in the steam-filled bathroom.

 

“…”

 

“Come out for a second, Rosen Howarth.”

 

He grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the bathtub. It was like fishing a piece of meat out of a stew with a spoon. While she was being pulled up, she glanced at his muscular arm. It must be nice to be strong. No matter how hard she tried to do push-ups in prison, she couldn’t get arms like that.

 

Water splashed out of the bathtub. She shrank back.

 

Of course it was not because she felt shy, but because it was cold. And because she didn’t know what he was thinking. In fact, in the midst of everything, she was busy studying Ian’s expression. 

 

‘Is this an opportunity? Should I pretend to be weak and attack him naked? Is it that kind of atmosphere right now?’

 

Unaware of the impure thoughts filling her head, he took a large, soft towel out of the bathroom cupboard and threw it at her. She wrapped herself in the towel and buried herself in it, blinking her eyes like a frightened mouse.

 

Ian sighed as he looked at her, then the ceiling, and nervously messed up his hair.

 

After a long time, he brought up something completely unexpected.

 

“Did Henry do something you didn’t want him to do?”

 

“What?”

 

She knew, but she swore she didn’t know. She really didn’t understand Ian Kerner. No one had ever asked her about these kinds of things and genuinely cared. They just looked at her with disgust.

 

He saw her blinking cluelessly, and sighed as he began to explain.

 

“Did Henry force you to commit a crime?”

 

“No?”

 

“Then did he ever touch your body without your permission?”

 

“No! What are you talking about?”

 

“You can be honest with me. I am Henry’s superior. If you wish, he can be removed from guard duty until you get to Monte, and blocked from approaching you.”

 

‘What is this person saying?’

 

He was acting as if he were her guardian, not Henry’s colleague. 

 

‘You really know but you don’t. You threatened me with a sea beast. It’s Henry, not me, that he has to believe.’

 

He was treating Henry like a witch, a criminal. She was dumbfounded and asked.

 

“Isn’t he your lieutenant?”

 

“If he did something to you, he would no longer be my lieutenant.”

 

“I think you’re mistaken. I’m the witch of Al Capez and he’s a war hero like you!”

 

“…What do you mean?”

 

Surprisingly, he didn’t understand her at all. She explained to him as she would a child.

 

“I hate this kind of incident very much. I’ve seen it so many times throughout the war that I’m sick just thinking about it.”

 

Well, he had a  reason that she couldn’t understand at all.

 

She pulled the towel around her more tightly and walked through point by point what he was mistaken about.

 

“No, aside from that, I’m a prisoner, and Henry Reville is on your side.”

 

“People are three-dimensional. Just because he is a good subordinate doesn’t mean that he will be kind to you.”

 

“You don’t even trust your subordinates? How did you get through war?”

 

“There are a few things that I teach the soldiers who come under me by force if necessary, and this is one of them. Never, under any circumstances, r*pe a woman from an enemy country. Don’t molest a woman, don’t buy a woman with money.”

 

‘That’s ridiculous.’

 

Would a person mad with desire listen to him? She laughed. The battlefield was the home of those who lived. A place where the strong trampled the weak, the righteous died and the cowards survived. 

 

He said she didn’t understand war, but was there anything else she should know about war?

 

The rest were just numbers on a meaningless tabletop.

 

“Are you an idiot? You think they listened to you? Perhaps you were being fooled out of sight, where you couldn’t see them.”

 

“At least they knew it was wrong, and they are probably trying not to stand out from me.”

 

Ian responded without agitation. That was a relief for sure. She doubted for a moment that this war hero was an idiot. Still, Ian was smart enough not to trust her completely.

 

“Really, nothing happened?”

 

“Yeah, we were just talking.”

 

“About what?”

 

Ian raised his eyebrows and asked. It seemed that he was still suspicious of poor Henry, so she decided to clear up the misunderstanding.

 

“About Layla. I didn’t really want to hear it, but he kept talking . He must have felt uncomfortable. What should I have done? I just listened to what he had to say.”

 

“…”

 

“Nothing happened. It was just embarrassing for him to say thank you in front of others. Just because I’m naked and Henry’s in the bathroom doesn’t mean something inappropriate happened, right? I don’t play with kids like that because it’s boring. I have nothing to gain, so what?”

 

“What do you mean ‘gain’?”

 

“You always have to pay a price to get through a crisis, right? As you know, there have been some crises in my life.”

 

She explained in noble words.

 

“I used to sleep with the prison guards whenever I wanted a chance to escape.”

 

He seemed to understand right away. His straight lips distorted.

 

As expected, high-ranking people spoke this language. It was fun.

 

She looked at him standing upright like a huge marble pillar. No matter how he sat down or stood up, he was always tall. There was a time when she squatted down and sucked on a chunky prison guard, but this man was so tall that she felt like he would have to bend around awkwardly to do the same thing.

 

It was a ridiculous posture, so she laughed when she imagined it. Of course Ian Kerner wouldn’t let her do that. He opened his mouth after staring at her for a long time with a smirk.

 

“…I can see clearly in your eyes that you are only looking for an opportunity. It’s obvious that you’re shedding false tears to look pitiful.”

 

“…”

 

“I don’t know how anyone has been fooled by your lies. I can really see your insides. It’s like that.”

 

Did war heroes use mind reading? She felt a tingle in her stomach. She quickly lowered her gaze. She was embarrassed for no reason because she thought he read her specific thoughts.

 

He sighed and slowly sat down. Now, his face, which was high in the air, could be seen up close. A straight nose, a blunt mouth naturally located underneath it, and a jawline that was sharp, as if carved out of marble.

 

She was glad her arms were tied. Otherwise, she thought she would have reached out to his face as if possessed.

 

Print was great. It made you develop indescribable affection to people whom you have never met face to face.

 

The words she saw in the newspaper, and his vivid pictures.

 

“Sir Kerner, are you curious about that? Do you want to know why?”

 

Ian Kerner and Rosen Walker met for the first time on a ship heading to Monte in the worst relationship possible; a prisoner and a guard. However, she felt like they had known each other for a long time. It threw her off guard.

 

“It wasn’t because I deceived them, it was because they pretended to be deceived. Does it matter if I’m good at lying or not? You only hear what you want to hear anyway. Whether you pretend to be naive or clever, the result is the same.”

 

“…What do you mean?”

 

“Do you think the world wants to know the truth? No one is curious about that. Pretend you don’t, but you need witches as much as heroes. No matter what I say, nothing will change.”

 

‘What the hell was I thinking when I said this to him? If he listens to my words and starts interrogating me, what will I say?’

 

But like a patient who couldn’t hold back his cough, she said useless things to her guard, who she was supposed to slap on the back of the head. 

 

She opened up to this strange man holding her chains who acted as her protector.

 

She was going to ask why he was nice to her, but she stopped. Because she realized it herself while she was talking. For him, this was normal. As natural as taking her to Monte.

 

“You are definitely a hero.”

 

“…”

 

“You’re so righteous. It must be hard to care about a prisoner like me.”

 

She wasn’t being sarcastic. It was pure admiration. 

 

Wasn’t it difficult to always be fair? 

 

Everyone loves power. When you climb up high… It’s human nature to treat the beings under your feet like worms.

 

Few could have compassion even in heaven. She felt bad that she thought he was an unsympathetic person after hearing what happened to Layla. Yes, come to think of it, he wasn’t just a warrior, he was a hero.

 

To a warrior, compassion was a weakness. So not all warriors were heroes. Wasn’t hero a title that could only be obtained by a few warriors who had overcome their weaknesses?

 

Even after killing people, they were not called murderers, but heroes. Unlike her.

 

Ian seemed surprised by her words. His eyes lost their way for a moment, wandered through the air, and then settled on her again. He asked her with a frown and clenched his jaw.

 

“You think I’m a hero, too?”

 

“Why? Does that mean I can’t even admire heroes?”

 

She wasn’t surprised, she was just in a bad mood. Because he wasn’t trying to protect a witch like her, but the good people of the Empire. However, fantasy was fair to everyone. The good and the bad, the rich and the poor all heard the same propaganda broadcasts.

 

Whether you felt love or hatred, it was annoying to be denied your heart. She glared at him and grumbled.

 

“I liked you too. Like everyone else, you were a hero to me. Do you feel sick?”

 

“…”

 

“Your voice and your appearance. When the flyers with your picture fell from the sky, I picked them up and put them in a drawer.”

 

“Did you collect them?”

 

Ian made a strange expression again. It was a face she had seen quite a few times in a short period, but she didn’t know what the hell he was thinking. He certainly had a knack for hiding things. She couldn’t read anything from his expression. 

 

‘Are you surprised, in a bad mood, or angry?’

 

She explained.

 

“Yeah. It’s nothing strange. There wasn’t a girl in Leoarton who didn’t collect your photos. I was just one of them.”

 

“…”

 

“You are handsome and you are a hero. You know that the government has used you for propaganda.”

 

When she spoke those words, it felt strange. Her face heated up. Oh, why was she so angry that she was saying this to Ian Kerrner? She was drowned in her childhood fantasies and decided not to waste unnecessary emotions.

 

To think about it at a time like this, how could she escape?

 

She sighed and turned around.

 

“Anyway, stop accusing poor Henry and leave him be. Please send the attendants back in, I don’t have any clothes to wear. I need to get dressed, right? Make sure no one comes in when I’m getting dressed and just stand in front of the door.”