126 – Louiselle, Stay.
Irene had believed that she and Noel were simply tied together by a contract. She was the only one relying on him in private. But that wasn’t the case. She did not know to what extent, but he too was dependent on her. Otherwise, there was no reason for him to bring her here.
You didn’t have to tell me where the money came from.
It was his money after all, so she had not no right to meddle. She didn’t mean to ask first unless he willingly told her. They didn’t have to get to know each other on a deeper level, just because they were to be married. All he had to do was keep his duty towards her, as per the contract. But he had opened up to her without hesitation and shown her his secret, the Ram Mercenary Guild. He invited her into his private sphere. Irene was pleased at this. At the same time, she felt her heart crack.
After listening to Noel’s story, she could vaguely see how lonely and difficult his life had been. If they had met a little earlier, they could have become friends who understood each other’s situation, rather than enter into a contractual relationship. Out of the blue, that thought suddenly popped into her mind. While each silently kept their respective thoughts to themselves, Irene broke the peace and asked Noel. “So, who’s running the guild right now?”
The guild’s spokesman was Noel, but he was currently unable to escape from the Kristen residence. So how was the guild functioning?
“A man, his name is Tag, is running it for me.”
Irene recalled the man with the teal ponytail. He was the man who’d looked at her with hostility, and alert eyes amongst the guild members who welcomed her. Noel also apologised again, “I apologise for Tag’s rudeness.” He did not want her to be bothered by his subordinate’s attitude.
“Oh, no. It’s alright.” Suddenly hearing his apology threw Irene off, and she raised her hand to wave it off as nothing. Noel looked at her for a moment then stood up from his seat.
“There’s a place to visit.”
“Visit?” Irene got up from her seat, following him with a puzzled expression. Maybe today’s destination wasn’t here. There was another place to stop by. She wondered where it was, but when she went, she would naturally find out, so she did not ask.
When Irene and Noel left the room, the guild members who were stuck up to the wooden door, fell backwards upon hearing their footsteps. Noel was calm, as if he already knew they were eavesdropping, but Irene widened her eyes in surprise. Her expression made the guild members smile awkwardly and stand up flustered.
“The door seems to be broken, so I was looking for parts to repair.” Someone muttered. It was a blatantly bad excuse and obviously did not work. Irene also knew that, but she gave a smile instead.
As the two approached showing signs of leaving, Louiselle approached. “Are you going back?” She asked, clutching her scabbard with a face full of determination. Noel shook his head.
“There’s somewhere we’ll be going to, for a while. You wait here.”
“I’ll come with you. It is my duty to protect Lady Irene.”
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“No, you wait here.”
Louiselle didn’t budge, refusing to remain, nevertheless Noel was firm. Louiselle looked back at Irene, she had no intention of changing her mind. Even Irene seemed to want her to come. However, “we’ll be right back.”
Louiselle was forced to resign. “…take care.” she bowed.
“Hey, Louiselle. You’re crying?”
“Let’s hang out.”
“Right. It’s been a while since you’ve been here. Tell us about your life in the residence!” As Louiselle drooped her shoulders dejectedly, the guild members came up to her, and patted her back. Irene could see why Noel did not want to take Louiselle.
The two left the guild building and returned to the carriage. Once Irene entered the carriage, Noel went up to the coachman and informed him of the destination, then followed her inside. After the carriage had been rolling for a while, Irene smiled at Noel. “Noel, seems to be a really nice person,” she said.
“…ah?” he returned, embarrassed by her compliment.
Irene smiled brightly at him. “Louiselle, you left her behind on purpose. To allow her to spend a little more time with the guild members.”
“Just as a guild is a home for Noel, it’s a precious place for Louiselle too.”
“…not exactly. It’s just that the place we’re heading to now is not only difficult to accommodate for more people, but also, I can only protect you myself.” he said as if he’d made that decision based on logic and rationality, but what his face revealed was different.
What no one else could easily read, was very visible to Irene.
Your eyes are shaking…
He was unbelievably flustered, Irene, who knew what he usually appeared with those calm eyes, could see how embarrassed he was now. But she did not want to deliberately uncover what he wanted to hide.