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As if examining a well-aged wine, he looked at the potion in the wine glass and looked at it in the light.
He then put it back into the potion bottle and closed the lid.
It surprised Valletta a little that not a single drop was spilled despite being poured in a narrow-mouth bottle.
“It’s a high-quality potion. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a potion of this high purity.”
“Thank you for your kind evaluation. Would that be enough to introduce me to another alchemist in the underworld?”
“I haven’t heard of a newcomer coming… How are you going to prove that the Lady made this?”
The bartender asked in a polite and gentle voice.
There was no hostility at all in his bright smile, but his eyes were sharper than a well-forged sword.
The middle-aged bartender, whose gray strands began to gleam through the dark hair, had no unnecessary movements as his every action was as sharp as a well-trained butler.
“It will be difficult to do that here, but if you’ll provide a simple area, I can show you. However, I’m not in a good state right now. I’d like to hear a definite answer that an area would be provided.”
“Everyone who tries to hide themselves in the shadows has their own story. What kind of story do you have?”
“I don’t think there is any reason to answer a gentleman who even wears a mask in the shadows.”
Valletta answered calmly with an expressionless face.
The bartender’s eyes narrowed even more as if he had noticed the thorn in her words.
Valletta turned her head away, pretending not to notice.
It was not pleasing to be forced by the other side to release information without releasing any information first.
Above all else, Valletta couldn’t trust anyone now.
She thought that the underworld was a little better than the Imperial Family who were sure to be hostile, but either way, both were a jungle for her.
In this invisible jungle, she had to distinguish the swamps from the non-swampy areas, so it was wise to keep as little information as possible.
Especially if there was a bounty and both a wanted and missing poster at the same time.
Her neck was money. Those who will aim for it will surely be everywhere.
The only thing that could protect her was herself. No one should be trusted. Even her family was not on her side.
What she had in her hands was both a weapon and tasty prey.
“The bar shift is at midnight. Would you mind coming down for a midnight drink tonight if that’s okay with you?”
Valletta nodded her head calmly.
She stretched out her hand to the bartender who was about to return the potion and turned around.
She then told the restaurant waiter her room number, ordered food, and went to the counter to extend her stay by one more day.
Having finished all the work that could be done in the inn, she went back to her room.
When she opened her door, she couldn’t help but panic a little. It was because her eyes met the child who was packing his luggage with tearful eyes.
As their eyes met, the child’s eyes widened.
“What are you doing?” Valletta asked, frowning.
She doesn’t have much interest in the child’s behavior, however, in various ways, the time she spent with the child was puzzling.
Neither Reinhardt nor Valletta herself was an ordinary child, so it was even more so puzzling.
“Ah… I thought you left me behind.”
As if embarrassed, the child lowered his head, placing the luggage in his hand back on the round table.
She looked at the child with his head bowed, now clutching the hem of his own clothes with both hands, looking at Valletta.
“If I need to leave you, then I will. I’m going to tell you. Appropriate action would be taken, and I didn’t do that. I went out for a while.”
The child was startled by her cold words that reminded him of reality and he nodded his head.
He burst into a bashful laughter, as if he was relieved.
Valletta, whose heart was somehow heavy at the laughter of the innocent child, turned her head.
“I ordered a meal, so let’s eat it when it comes up.”
A brief sigh escaped between Valletta’s lips. She took a seat in a chair near the window.
She had to obtain alchemy ingredients. They also needed emergency medicine that could be used in a pinch.
The herb garden and books that Count Delight made available for Valletta were no longer accessible.
“It looks like it will be difficult to go out.”
Propping her chin on her hand, she looked through the window, glancing at the silver armor-clad soldiers and knights.
The reason they don’t seem to be looking for her is probably because they think Reinhardt was with her.
‘The Crown Prince is too upright.’
It was beyond his abilities to face Reinhardt in various ways. However, the opposite was possible.
Reinhardt was a man who could do anything he wanted, and the Crown Prince was a man who only followed the rules as he did what he wanted.
However, a momentary shield is too fragile to be used as a shield.
“… By the way, did the male lead that was released run away?”
Since then, things have happened so rapidly that she has never thought of it.
In fact, originally, Reinhardt should have met the male lead when he destroyed the nurturing room and got interested in him. At his own expense, the male lead should have been the only one who survived from there.
‘I changed it a little bit.’
Thanks to that, she couldn’t even see the male lead’s face and things turned out this way.
Wouldn’t he be a little less interested in her if she found the male lead and showed him to Reinhardt?
However, she doesn’t know his name, she doesn’t know his age, nor his appearance…
The explanation was just ‘A bright young boy with repulsive eyes.’ All it said was ‘He was young.’
‘It didn’t say anything specific.’
Or she just didn’t remember it.
In order to somehow distract Reinhardt’s attention, it seemed the best way was to find the male lead.
The problem was that the original story doesn’t come to her mind at all, thanks to the fact that she was trying so hard to remember only the scenes in which Reinhardt appeared for the last decade.
Her head lifted at the sound of a knock while she was clutching her hair.
The child was already cleverly opening the door and receiving food.
Valletta, who was staring at something that could be risky, pressed her robe a little more and took the food from the child.
“Ah… Thank you!”
The child bowed his head, and went to get the other meal.
Valletta, who followed, grabbed the rest of the meal instead and closed the door with her foot.
She put the food on the table herself, watching the child sit down, and Valletta sat opposite to him.
“Thank you for the meal.”
Valletta did not answer and knit her brows.
She knew herself that she was bad at dealing with other people, but she never thought that she would be nervous to react to such a greeting.
Despite Valletta’s silence, the child smiled steadfastly and bravely grabbed a fork and shoved the food into his mouth.
The eyes of the child with light gray hair scattered here and there were very deep blue.
His features were clear and his nose was tall, it was not comparable to Reinhardt, but she thought that he would be a handsome fellow.
When she thought of children of similar age, the child was not too skinny, and his skin was white after washing up yesterday.
His cheeks became slightly reddened.
It allowed Valletta to know that the child was now feeling satisfied.
Perhaps he felt Valletta’s gaze on him, the child swallowed his food, twisted his body and lifted his head.
“By the way, do you have a name?”
“Ah, yes! It’s Therion.”
“Therion… Yeah, that’s a good name.”
The child answered with a bright expression. It was oddly familiar, however, it was a common name.
Valletta, who looked into the child’s twinkling gaze, then shrugged her shoulders.
She lowered her eyes and started eating.
“But… is that person Valletta-nim’s friend?”
Valletta paused for a moment at the child’s question.
How nice would that have been. If she could truly hate or resent him, she wouldn’t have much to worry about.
Valletta shrugged her shoulders.
Their relationship has no definition. Reinhardt would probably say the same as well. However, what was certain was that he cannot harm her.
Even if he broke her limbs or cut them off, leaving only her body, Reinhardt could not see Valletta’s heart stop.
He could not stand her gaze not being directed at him.
“It’s just a relationship where we both can see through what the other person is doing and what they’re thinking.”
At Valletta’s words, the child tilted his head as if he did not understand.
“Is that different from a friend?”
“He and I will never be friends for the rest of our lives,” Valletta shook her head and replied calmly.
Friendship was only possible if one side were to be stained by the other.
Valletta could not set foot in Reinhardt’s cruelty, and Reinhardt would not be able to set foot in Valletta’s sense of justice.
In the first place, they were both standing in an area that neither could understand.
It was in terms of their abilities. Alchemy that saves people, and magic that repeats creation and destruction have different trajectories.
Just like that, Valletta and Reinhardt had a complicated and strange relationship that could not be described with words.
Thus, Valletta had given up on giving any definition to their relationship.
And Reinhardt decided to keep Valletta by his side rather than defining it.
“If you’re done with your questions, finish your meal.”
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
The child, Therion, concentrated on eating again.
Valletta slowly lowered her eyes. After she picked up her food a few more times, she quickly put down her tableware.
“I’ll sleep a little more. If someone comes, never open the door and wake me up, okay?”
“Yes! Good night.”
“If you are bored, there are a few books on the bookshelf over there that you can read.”
She took off her robe and went back to her bed and closed her eyes. Fortunately, she fell asleep quickly despite the glaring sunlight.
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