It happened one day, as Yulifalet kept going like that. They were in their living room area, in an inn of a town they’d stopped by at that day. Alhelm left for the bar, and Clementine left to take a bath. So by chance, it was just the two of them.
Yulifalet had jumped in bed first to deal with his fatigue from the journey. Without warning, Agedilus suddenly called out to him.
「You’re… A weird guy.」
Yulifalet blinked at those sudden words, his brows lowering in dejection.
「Huh? That’s so cruel out of nowhere…」
「Would you rather I have called you strange?」
「That doesn’t change the meaning very much, does it?」
「That’s true too.」
Easily agreeing with Yulifalet’s words, Agedilus went silent.
That was all the conversation they had then. So why…? At that moment, Yulifalet certainly felt the distance between him and Agedilus had decreased. Someone else might say, ‘How?’ Yulifalet himself wondered just what was it about that conversation that made them closer.
But it was because at that time, Agedilus’s voice didn’t have hidden thorns in it like usual – it was gentler. That’s why Yulifalet felt happy for some reason, despite being called endlessly rude things like 「a strange guy」 or 「a weird guy.」
The magician with pure black hair who wouldn’t get along with anyone. Yulifalet felt like he had finally become friends with, not the aloof being with all those fancy titles, but with Agedilus Von Lancent, a human being. Even though he also had a feeling that there should be a ‘(temporary)’ label on their friendship, he was still happy.
So although he knew it wasn’t like that, that feeling still cheered Yulifalet up. That night, Yulifalet felt that he had to strike while the iron was hot.
Clementine and Alhelm returned to the room, deciding together the plans for how far they’d travel tomorrow. When they said they were going to bed soon, Yulifalet decided it was the right time. He called out to Agedilus, who was writing tomorrow’s plans on the map with a quill.
Agedilus briefly responded, not even stopping his hand as it fluidly wrote with the quill, as if the ink was flowing. His sunrise-colored eyes didn’t even glance at Yulifalet. But someone like Agedilus’s (temporary) friend couldn’t give up like that. Yulifalet who had been studying this for these several weeks, continued his words.
「Can I give you a nickname?」
「……What’s this all of a sudden?」
Furrowing his brows in suspicion, Agedilus stopped writing. Yulifalet smiled at him.
「Well, I mean, calling you Agedilus feels so formal – like I’m talking to a stranger – even though I call Alhelm ‘Al’ as a nickname. Right?」
「Formal or whatever, we’re strangers, aren’t we?」
He declared that without a moment’s hesitation. Well, that was certainly true. But, how to put it… Yulifalet wanted to think, ‘it’s not like that,’ or ‘we aren’t supposed to be just strangers.’ Unable to find the words to say, he scratched his cheek, forcing a smile.
Alhelm would usually find their conversations like this funny, but he cut in this time.
「Ain’t that fine? We’ve been travelin’ together for so many weeks, don’t be so stingy.」
Alhelm put his arm around Agedilus’s shoulder, grinning broadly. Agedilus annoyedly pulled it off. Although Yulifalet felt like he had become a (temporary) friend, he still didn’t have the courage to try touching Agedilus like that yet. That’s just why he’d especially tried to give him an affectionate nickname, closing the distance between them.
「Is it really that bad, Agedilus? What about something like 『Edi』……」
Agedilus thrust the tip of his quill at Yulifalet’s nose. As Yulifalet instinctively gulped, Agedilus watched him with a dangerous expression that Yulifalet had never seen before.
「There is one, only one person I allow to call me that.」
Yulifalet’s green eyes blinked in surprise at the words in his beautiful, low voice. On the other hand, Alhelm’s reddish brown eyes sparkled as if he’d just heard something interesting.
「Huuuh? What the hell, you got someone like that? Man, you’re so distant. Say things like that sooner!」
「Oi, is she the beautiful type? Or is she the cute type…….?!」
Agedilus’s elbow met Alhelm’s stomach with a magnificent thud. Ignoring Alhelm as he doubled over, falling to the floor, Agedilus glared at Yulifalet as if to say, ‘there’s nothing more to say here.’ And then, Agedilus walked away to his bedroom.
Left in the room was Yulifalet, dumbfounded, Alhelm who was still groaning from the pain, and Clementine, who looked like she was about to burst into laughter any second.
「Yulifalet, there’s nothing to worry about. You just ended up invoking Agedilus’s wrath a little bit.」
Clementine finally burst into laughter, giggling. Yulifalet dropped his shoulders at her words. He’d finally felt like he’d been promoted to (temporary) friend, but now it seemed like he’d been demoted again. He felt miserable as he thought about it. Clementine’s words hadn’t supported him at all either.
「‘Invoked his wrath’… That doesn’t make me feel better at all.」
「Is that so? But it’s the truth. What happened earlier wasn’t your fault. If I had to say, it was just Agedilus who was being narrow-minded. But everything’s going to go back to normal tomorrow, right?」
‘So just leave it be,’ she easily settled it away with those words, uncharacteristically calm for her age. Yulifalet scratched his cheek, muttering a few words.
「……I wonder if the person Agedilus was talking about was his fiancée.」
「Oh, you knew?」
「Ah, so it really was about her.」
Just one person, who’d melted away his icey, night fairy-like beauty. That was Agedilus’s fiancée, who Yulifalet never met before. Just what kind of person was she like? Yulifalet couldn’t even imagine her. The woman who could stand beside Agedilus. Just how brave and beautiful would that heroine be? Just trying to imagine her was terrifying.
「What could she be like, huh?」
「Well, who knows? I’ve only heard things about her too.」
Clementine spoke smoothly, but Yulifalet actually wanted her to at least tell him even the little she’d heard. To repeat, this was about Agedilus’s fiancée. Anyone who wasn’t curious about that was crazy. Thinking that, Yulifalet was about to ask Clementine when a strong hand grasped his foot.
Yulifalet raised his voice in surprise. Bitterly glaring up at him was Alhelm, crouching on the floor.
「……You guys, at least worry about me a little!」
「Eh—sorry, does it still hurt?」
「You got what you deserved. You’re a knight, your body is your strength. How can you start screaming over one elbow from a wizard in the first place?」
「You guys are really too harsh on me!」
‘That bastard,’ Alhelm muttered, unsteadily standing up. Watching that, Clementine and Yulifalet exchanged glances, smiling.
——It’s fine as long as I find out ‘someday’, surely after this journey ends.
Yulifalet thought that. It was fine, as long as he could get a glimpse of this woman, who was the only one for Agedilus. If possible, maybe even be friends. He couldn’t help thinking that would make him so happy. Although Agedilus unfortunately wouldn’t be pleased. But even so, the distance between them would certainly shrink even more, surely, once he got to meet Agedilus’s fiancée. That’s what Yulifalet believed.
For the time being, it was a huge step forward that Agedilus was now able to bare his emotions like that. As he thought that, Yulifalet too went to Agedilus’s bedroom.
Agedilus had already fallen asleep, his bed by the window. In the beginning of the journey, he’d fall asleep with his wizard robe’s hood still on. But now, he slept with his black hair freely exposed.
Yes, Yulifalet really had been able to become (temporary) friends with him. Agedilus trusted him just a little. ‘Now, I just have to keep trying my best so I can get rid of the (temporary) part,’ he decided in his heart.
But at that moment, Yulifalet didn’t realize that this would become the main reason for what about to happen in the near future.