The way to open up the cage – Part 3
Twilight painted the upper part of Listina in shades of vermilion.
Probably somehow noticing that a long time had passed, Lise rubbed her eyes as she lifted her body.
“Did I… fall asleep…?”
“Yeah. It’s evening right now.”
Lize jumped at Takumi’s voice, not expecting him to be that close.
“…This is the worst. Letting you see my sleeping face is just the worst.”
“Try to think a bit more about yourself, then. No matter how much stressful work one has to do, a good child shouldn’t push all-nighters and just go to sleep early.”
“I am no child… but I have surely been a problem. Sorry.”
“No need to apologize. I’m in debt with you for teaching me about magic, so if you need help with anything, feel free to come to Suzuran.”
“It was not that big of a deal… also, I do not… need anything.”
“…I see. Keep doing your best, then.”
Lise balled her hand firmly at his words.
“My job isn’t that important…”
As if to squeeze out her feelings, she uttered those words in a whisper.
Before he could comment, the sound of heavy footsteps approaching them reached their ears, and they turned to see Mirta hurrying over.
“Sorry for making you wait! Oh, Lise, are you awake?”
“…Yes. Sorry for falling asleep in the middle of our lesson.”
“Do not worry! I came by a few minutes earlier, but you were still sound asleep on Takumi’s lap… I confess I was a bit envious.”
“…Did I sleep on this slave merchant’s lap?”
As she stared at Suzuran’s leader in wonder, Takumi patted the said zone.
“Yeah, I was reading this book while you rested your head here. It was bad when you started drooling, though.”
“…No way. I do not drool.”
“What’s that thing on the corner of your mouth, then?”
She blushed furiously while scrubbing her mouth with her sleeve.
“Guess I just imagined it, huh?
“…People like you are the lowest of the low…!”
“Oh, who cares. At least you woke up, didn’t you?”
Unable to stomach Takumi’s smile, Lise flailed her arms about while her face flushed a bright red and tears welled in her eyes, and the slave merchant decided to take a hold of himself.
“By the way, one of Fairstadt’s messengers came to escort you home. Please, take this as a sign of gratitude for what you did for us today.”
Mirta handed a basket over the archbishop.
“What is this?”
“An apple pie I just baked.”
The child’s nose twitched as she smelled the sweet aroma coming from Mirta’s hands, and she looked at the basket with sparkling eyes, like it was a treasure.
“Takumi told me that you wanted to taste my dessert, so I thought to give you some… do you perhaps dislike it?”
“No, I like sweet things… but I am not used to this kind of things, so I am surprised.”
Holding the basket close to her chest, like she was holding a precious gem, Lise bowed her head.
“Thank you very much. I will take good care of it.”
“Do not mention it. Still, although the pie’s flavor should be all right, the shape is a little bit off. Be careful not to wrinkle the paper when you lift it, okay?”
Gazing at the woman’s wry smile, Lise’s mouth curved slightly.
“…Okay. I will be careful.”
“I hope you like it! Let’s go now, the messenger is waiting at the door with a carriage.”
Suzuran’s leader stretched her hand toward Lise, who was about to grab it, when…
“No… I will be fine by myself. Thank you for worrying.”
…after a nimble bow, she darted away.
Watching her back growing distant, Mirta let out a few whispered words.
“Lise, will you…?”
“I can’t promise that, but at least she shouldn’t be excessively abused. That piece of shit Kiad did it only to provoke us, and, in the past, she has probably been… but I don’t think it has been that bad since she became the archbishop.”
Lise now had the chance to show herself in front of other nobles, so Fortesea couldn’t hurt her thoughtlessly, given that rumors could have spread and tarnished their fame. Kiad would never think that was fine.
“Kiad is just a brute, that’s why he hit her. But he knows well what his actions could bring… At least, he knows he won’t just be spanked a little.”
Then, Takumi grinned.
“Still, the likes of him are easy to manipulate.”
He tapped repeatedly on his temple.
“Let’s go, we have some stuff to do. Tell Elsa we said hi.”
“Okay… Takumi, take care of Lise.”
As she looked at him with uneasiness, he turned his back and waved his hand, then told the others to come with him and headed to the slums.