Chapter 58 is here. Btw, I’m looking for an editor if anyone’s interested.
Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
For Lifa, life in the royal capital was full of freshness and stimulation. There were numerous things she could never see or experience through her whole life in her village.
Although she seemed like she had spontaneously forgotten about the state of affairs thanks to this great environment, she still wasn’t able to enjoy herself from the bottom of her heart due to the considerable self-reproach she felt from troubling Harold with her careless conduct.
To get rid of these pent up feelings, all she had to do was to give him an apology, but whenever she met Harold face to face, she would give him a tit for a tat in response to his usual provocations, and she would always end up losing the timing to apologize.
And, on the third day of her stay, her heart was still unsettled. On this day, she finally had her first discussion with Justus.
It only lasted for an hour or so. However, it was enough to impress Lifa from how formidable Justus was.
He offered her new perspectives, and new ideas. One after the other, he found new ways to improve some points of Lifa’s logic that she had deemed to be perfect until now. Lifa felt guilty, but considering that this could improve her magic, her excitement far exceeded any shame or regret that she felt.
However, Lifa’s mood still hadn’t cleared up.
【”You don’t look well, Lifa-chan. What’s wrong? “】
It was around the time the sun started setting. As Lifa was relaxing in a free space, a man who happened to be present called out to her. Even though she didn’t remember his name, Lifa still showed a courteous smile.
The man sat down, facing Lifa, as if it were natural.
【”Earlier, Lifa asked the boss about the technicalities of one of her inventions, but it turned out to have more shortcomings than she expected so she’s feeling a little down.”】
【”Mister Justus is really merciless…”】(man)
Elu nonchalantly sat next to Lifa and joined the conversation. That was a lie made up so that the man wouldn’t inquire too much. The last few days, Lifa had started feeling like she didn’t want to talk much with the staff members.
【”But if that’s all, there is nothing to worry about. I thought for sure that bastard had given you a hard time.”】
And this, was the reason for her reluctance. The staff members always brought up Harold, in a more or less hostile way.
Their malice came to be because of Harold’s inhuman behavior that they learned about from hearsay and his behavior in general, in other words, this was Harold’s responsibility. She didn’t feel like ignoring that and covering for Harold.
Harold’s personality certainly was twisted, whenever he opened his mouth, all that would come was wave of sarcasm, cynicism, and scorn. She could understand how people would dislike him.
However, for Lifa, that wasn’t all there was to Harold.
He took the risk of fighting a hydra for a request that was based on a mere verbal promise. And Harold kept his promise even in the state of emergency where two hydras appeared at the same time. If he really was evil, he would have immediately run away, and yet he helped without any hesitation.
Would an outrageous, selfish person, honestly keep such a promise? Lifa, at least, didn’t think so.
He could have done it expecting to reap some returns later on, but in the end, this only served to help Lifa’s research, it didn’t seem like Harold himself had benefited in any way.
【”Well, there is no need to be cautious, he hasn’t done anything to us.”】
【”That’s to make you lose your guard! You should stay away from that guy.”】
The man insisted on how dangerous Harold was. For him, it was probably a fact, and he was likely really worried about Lifa and Elu’s well being.
However, that just made Lifa confused.
The man kept going on and on, hurling abuses about Harold. While listening to him, Elu questioned the man about why he was saying such things, so as to investigate Harold’s past. It wasn’t a conversation Lifa was eager to listen to.
As Lifa had such thoughts, she felt worse and worse. Or rather, she felt actually sick.
【”……Sorry, I’m going back to my room.”】
Saying that while not paying attention to Elu and the man’s voices, Lifa left her seat. Without looking back, she returned to the room allocated to her, lay down on her bed and pulled her futon’s blanket all the way up to her head.
This was a habit of hers.
Whenever she received a harsh scolding from her mother, whenever her research met a dead end, in short, whenever something bad happened to her, she would bury herself in her futon and try to calm her mind within the darkness. As she lay in her bed while holding her knees, various thoughts were going in circle inside Lifa’s head, she was thinking about her doubts regarding Harold, and about the regrets she had from her actions, but she couldn’t reach a solution.
She didn’t know for how long she kept doing this but when Lifa came to herself, she realized she had fallen asleep in that same posture. She had probably been in her bed for a while as she was sweating buckets and her shirt was sticking to her skin, making her uncomfortable.
She groaned a little as her face slowly came out of her bed. When she peeked to check the outside of her window, the dark veil of the night had already arrived. It seemed she had been sleeping for a quite a long time.
【”Are you up?”】
She turned over towards the direction of that voice, and there was Elu, who was reading a hardcover book using only the light of Lifa’s bedside light. Suddenly closing his book, Elu took a tray from a table and brought it to Lifa.
On the tray were a sandwich and a salad. Moreover, Elu poured some ice water from a jug to a glass and handed it to Lifa.
【”How are you feeling? I brought you some snacks, but if it’s not enough, I’ll go bring some more from the dinning hall.”】
【”No, this is fine. Thank you.”】
Lifa didn’t feel all that hungry so this was enough. First, she drank half of the ice water she’d be given, and then took a deep breath.
Elu was watching Lifa with gentle eyes. Lifa was a little embarrassed from that gaze.
【”It looks like you’re worrying about a lot of things, I wonder if we could talk about that. Maybe I’m putting my nose where it doesn’t belong, but still.”】
Apparently, Elu had guessed what was going on in Lifa’s heart. Well, she wasn’t particularly hiding her thoughts either as she wanted to talk to Elu about that.
While thinking this, Lifa slowly started talking about what was on her mind.
【”Elu, what do you think of Harold?”】
【”Are you asking me if the rumors about him are right?”】
Elu accurately figured what Lifa wanted to ask about. Perhaps he had held similar thoughts.
【”I don’t really know. His manner of speaking is bad, and I can’t say he has a good personality, but he’s not a cruel man that you could portray as some sort of evil murdering fiend either. If I may borrow his words, it seems like someone has been spreading bad rumors about him.”】
【”Now that you mention, he did say that”】
Maybe that explained it all. In that case, maybe Harold wasn’t such a bad person.
However, as Lifa started leaning in that direction, Elu pulled her right back.
【”However, there is no smoke without fire. Judging from his personality, it wouldn’t be surprising if he caused some big problems here and there and accumulated grudges all over the place. That’s why, I don’t really know…. Or rather, there isn’t much that is known about Harold in general, so I can’t make a verdict based only on the information I have on hand. “】
【”But you seemed to know a lot about him.”】
【”That was just based on rumors. Like with the tribunal’s case, his informations are usually kept hidden. He’s likely concealing them himself, but that’s all I know, he probably has many secrets.”】
He was given the death penalty based on circumstantial evidence, without any positive proof. There was a high chance that the execution had been arranged by someone. Moreover, following that masquerade, he was sent as a test subject for the research center so as to avoid the execution.
All that Lifa knew about the situation was what Elu had taught her, but there were a lot of strange points to the story. Why did Harold wear a uniform of the Sarian Empire? And why did the man who was involved in the deliberations suddenly lose his mind when he was asked about the case? There were too many mysteries remaining.
And at the very center of all this, was Harold. Lifa couldn’t even guess how many secrets Harold really had.
【”Maybe it’s going to be difficult to not be influenced by the voices surrounding you, but remember you can decide what to do after evaluating him with your own eyes. That’s your privilege as a person who gets to be near Harold.”】
【”…… Yes, you’re right. Thank you, I feel a bit better.”】
Now that Elu brought that up, Lifa realized how right it was. Lifa always did what she wanted to do without sparing a thought for the voices of the people surrounding her and whatnot. Even though she was told to stop trying to become an inventor, and that it was an impossible goal for her, she still made her own decision, went through with it and came to where she currently was.
She estimated people the same way she evaluated an object’s worth, based on the well defined standards she had established within her. Or rather, that’s how it should have been, but for some reason, when it came to Harold, she was completely lost.
(Maybe deep down, I just don’t want Harold to be a bad person….?)
That thought suddenly crossed her mind.
He was shunned by his surroundings, excluded. He was solitary, no one befriended him or understood him. His circumstances were similar to Lifa’s, who was treated as an oddity in her village.
Maybe she had overlapped Harold’s situation on her own, so she might have subconsciously convinced herself that if Harold was a good person, then she could prove that she was good as well. It was shameful but when she thought about it, it made sense.
What kind of man was Harold? She couldn’t see his true colors. Lifa had only perceived the parts of him which appeared on the surface, she hadn’t tried to understand his insides.
Because of Lifa’s nature, these thoughts became unbearable to her. In the blink of an eye, she ate up the sandwich and the salad in front of her.
【”You shouldn’t eat so fast.”】
【”I want to go meet Harold, just for a short time.”】
【”At this time of the day?”】
Elu pointed at the clock while smiling wryly at Lifa who started moving in a hurry. The clock indicated that the next day was coming soon. Harold was possibly already asleep. Even if he wasn’t, this was no time for visits.
And, what surprised Lifa the most was that she had been asleep until this time.
【”Yeah, I’d probably bother him if I go now…..”】
【”Well, it’s a good time to go night crawling.”】(Tln: Elu says Yobai, you’re free to search that)
【”I won’t stop you, and I’ll even keep it secret.”】
【”Keep this kind of solicitude to yourself!”】
While firmly retorting to Eu’s mockery, Lifa gave up on visiting Harold. Because of how late it was, Lifa decided to go to bed, but since she had been soundly asleep until right before, she had a hard time becoming sleepy.
For several hours, she kept turning around then staying motionless in her bed again and again. By the time the light of dawn started coming to the sky, she still hadn’t been attacked by drowsiness. It was a familiar sky for Lifa who had many sleepless night from getting too enthusiastic about her research and development.
In any case, she wasn’t able to fall asleep, so she decided to take a stroll and breathe in the clear air of dawn, in order to change her mood. She left the room silently so as not to wake up Elu who was sleeping close by.
As a matter of fact, Lifa really enjoyed morning walks, it was refreshing to her. But, her village was small, the people there mostly made a living through agriculture and raising livestock, so they generally started their day really early. There were many families that started moving even before dawn.
When she went out in that period of time, Lifa, who was isolated in the village, stood out whether she liked it or not. She could only go out normally after sunset.
Lifa didn’t have to live such a rigid life here. She was slowly going around the research center’s premises at her own fancy.
At that time, her ears picked up the sound of wind being sliced. Lured by that noise, Lifa’s feet changed path towards a sheltered place, separated from the research center.
There stood Harold, who was freely handling two swords of different shapes.
It was captivating. Harold’s sword handling was like a sophisticated dance that could fascinate any onlooker. When he killed the hydras, Lifa was too close so she wasn’t really aware of what was going on, and above all, she had been so frightened by Harold’s overwhelming strength that her mind couldn’t catch up. However, looking at him fighting again, she realized how beautiful it was.
It was the first time she felt the beauty of combat.
Lifa had no sense of how much time had passed. Her preeminent concern was just to watch Harold in fascination.
In the end, only when Harold’s sword dance came to an end did Lifa come back to her senses. Harold put his two swords back in their scabbards at his waist with a cha-ching.
That was the signal that pulled Lifa back to reality, like a curtain coming down on a stage she had been absorbed into. Then, she suddenly recalled her original purpose.
It was still early morning so there were no onlookers. It was the perfect opportunity for Lifa to have a talk with Harold without anyone overhearing them.
His training seemed to be over as well, so talking to him wouldn’t be a hindrance. Thinking that, Lifa took her first step forward, and almost simultaneously, Harold casually took off his shirt, exposing his upper body. He wasn’t trying to display his body, it probably felt gross to wear the shirt as it was soaked in sweat so he just took it off. He surely didn’t expect that someone was watching.
However, Lifa was taken by surprise, and just like that, Harold’s exposed upper body was suddenly neatly burned into her eyes.
Because Harold was tall, he appeared to be quite thin when he had his clothes on, but his body actually had no excess flesh at all, and his muscles were like a masterpiece of pure efficiency where flexibility coexisted with strength. His body was strong and yet elegant, as if it had been sculpted by hand.
Looking at this body of the opposite sex was just too much stimulus for Lifa, who had absolutely no experience with romance.
Her pulse jumped up. As she felt her blood rapidly rising, Lifa didn’t have to look in a mirror to know that her face was currently bright red.
Harold’s back was turned, so he hadn’t noticed Lifa’s presence yet. She had to leave immediately, for both their sakes.
Though she knew that in her mind, she couldn’t take her eyes off Harold’s well-trained body. She had no control over her body, it was like her feet were rooted to the ground.
And, at last, Harold turned around.
Their eyes met. Harold’s deep crimson eyes shot right through Lifa. She had seen them many times so far, but right now, for some reason, she was entranced by those pupils that seemed to say “I don’t care about you, scum.”
Lifa had no words. Despite all the thoughts she had a little while ago about having a talk with him, she couldn’t say anything, be it greeting him or giving him an explanation about her staring at him. Her heart was beating fast, and she just stood there, all she could do was to take slow breaths over and over again.
In contrast to Lifa’s state, Harold’s movements weren’t affected when he noticed her presence. He came up to Lifa with his shirt hanging on his right shoulder.
Lifa’s thoughts were boiling to the point where she couldn’t even think about what to do or what was happening.
Harold finally arrived in front of her. Even so, he didn’t stop walking, and the moment he passed by Lifa’s side, he approached his mouth close to her ear and whispered. Perhaps due to the intense exercise he had just been through, Harold’s voice had a warm feeling to it as it reached Lifa’s earlobe.
【”Did you take peeping as a hobby? How splendid of a so called genius inventor.”】
As Harold addressed her with his usual sarcasm, a shiver went along Lifa’s spine. It wasn’t fear, but another sensation she didn’t know.
Harold left her with those words and went away as if nothing had happened. Left by herself, Lifa sat down on the spot as her knees gave away.
Strange. A strange thing she had never experienced before had occurred to her body. However, she didn’t know the cause.
Even so, she was certain of one thing, and that was that she wouldn’t be able to look straight at Harold’s face for a while.
Translator’s notes: Well, that was a new kind of fan service to translate for me, hope I didn’t screw it up too much.
Also, I’d like to thank Muha.T for donating on my Patreon yesterday, and all the other patrons as well, of course.
If you want to donate as well, her is the link Patreon.
Next chapter might be tomorrow since it’s kind of on the short side, so be sure to check it out.