27.1 The Long Night and the Witch (3)
“—Azm, calm yourself down.”
The voice returns him to reality—his colleague, Jones, is staring at him, hard.
Like Harij, Jones has also just returned from his mission.
He, who lives in the dormitory, was ready to return to his room. Hence his shock when he saw Harij carrying in a thief.
Because it’s already late into the night, the jail isn’t open. As such, Harij drops the thief in the knight station.
“Aren’t I calm?”
“Sure, very calm. Just before, you looked like you’re ready to kill.”
Harij clicks his tongue—if killing were allowed, I would’ve already done so long ago. Only now did Harij realize how much he hated the thief’s guts.
Harij, who worked without a break for a month, rewarded himself by visiting the Witch’s hut. He was just planning to take a glimpse of her house from behind the bushes.
Even though they were only separated for a month, never did he realize that he would want to see her that badly.
—are you cold?
—have you been eating properly?
—do you need any help?
—did the villagers cause you any trouble?
—did those brazen guards come again?
He had ordered his trustworthy servant of many years—Safina—to help with Roze’s personal tasks as much as he could—
—however, it would certainly be better if he could assist Roze himself.
If he could, he wanted to keep taking care of Roze.
—are you lonely…?
If someone were to ask Harij the same question, then the answer would be yes.
During the entire mission, even though he stayed by Bilaura’s side—who’s like a little sister to him—to protect her, the same couldn’t be said regarding his thoughts. He’s guilty to admit that Roze was the only one that occupied his mind.
The last time Harij saw Roze was during the festival in town. The appearance of Roze, who dressed like other town girls, which he saw from the top of his horse, refused to leave his mind.
He didn’t expect that they would meet like that, right before he was about to leave on his mission. So, he decided to linger around a little longer—which was a lie. If he could have stayed there, he would.
Harij thought about Roze so much that Bilaura snickered—
“—now this is something that not even the most potent of the Witch’s secret potions can cure.”
—finally, Harij understood everything.
This devastating emotion, sparked by the far away distance—thousands, no, tens of thousands of people know what it was.
“…are you asleep?”
Roze’s hut was quietly nestled in the middle of the lake at night.
—if she’s already asleep, that’s good.
She did say customers visit at night, so it would be nice if she was having a good night’s rest for once.
Harij refrained himself from walking up to the pier—afraid he would wake her. But, he soon noticed the boat that was gliding across the lake.
“Maybe, it’s a customer? But, this late?”
Then he realized that he, himself, too, used to visit around the same time. He felt remorseful.
His glance returned to Roze’s hut—not a single light was on.
He didn’t put much thought to it before, but during his visits, Roze’s light was always on.
When the bell announced the arrival of a customer—she would, without fail, light her fire for the customers.
However, up until this second, Harij didn’t see any sign of the lamp being turned on. The boat was also heading towards the back of the Witch’s hut for some reason.
When he felt something was amiss, he heard the sound of glass shattering from a distance.
Reflexively, Harij took off his shoes and armor. With only a pair of pants and a thin shirt, the freezing winter made him shiver instantly. He even removed his sword.
He quietly entered the lake so no one would notice.
The water was as freezing as expected. Harij’s temperature sank in an instant.
The chill stung his entire body, but he kept on swimming. He approached the hut without making a sound.
The boat had already reached the island—moreover, it was empty.
As he went up onto land, the chill increased. The frosty wind hit him mercilessly.
He opened and closed his fists several times to heat up his body. Everything would be pointless if he was rendered immobile during the most crucial moment.
I hope nothing is happening—was gradually turning into a mere wishful thinking.
Yet, he still hoped that it was only a clumsy customer; one who couldn’t row the boat properly, one who accidentally broke the glass upon trying to wake Roze…
…then his entire decision of jumping into the lake in the dead of winter would make him a laughingstock.
He truly hoped nothing was wrong—but, what if—
“—if someone suspicious comes, I would immediately hide under the floorboard.”
When Harij recalled Roze saying that, he gritted his teeth.
When he heard her words, his initial feelings were that of pity. He was brought up believing women should be protected—he thought that Roze who had no one to protect her was pitiful.
However, now, after seeing how capable she was in taking care of herself, he respected Roze.
He had promised himself, if something were to happen to her in the future, he would definitely protect her.
He approached the entrance a hoe from the field in hand. The door was open, from inside, a man’s voice leaked—
“—aah, the Witch isn’t here. I heard it’s a young woman. I came all the way here cuz’ I thought I could have some fun with her…”
Even though it was supposed to be freezing cold, Harij’s entire body was boiling in anger.
He suppressed his rage and hid behind the front door. He peeked through his shoulders—rushing in without any grasp of the situation was the last thing he should do.
The man was using Roze’s old lantern to search the house. The man was tall and had silver hair. It reminded Harij of the thief that was on spree, instantly.
However, without truly confirming he wasn’t a customer, Harij could do no harm to him—such was the oath of a knight.
The room was lit, however, Harij saw no trace of the Witch. Fortunately, the man also didn’t find her—to which Harij concluded that she was hiding in the cellar.
He pictured her in that narrow space, shivering in fear. His hand, which was holding the hoe, clenched immensely.
“There’s barely anything in here—she sells lotsa’ drugs, I thought she’d be making way more than this…”
This man misunderstood what kind of “drugs” Roze was selling. They were, of course, completely different than what he imagined.
Anyway, it was certain that the man was trying to steal from Roze’s house.
Harij would attempt to seize him. If the man tried to retaliate, Harij could use his combat skills—however, before Harij could call out to the man—
“—you’re there, aren’t you?”
After hearing some noises, the man changed direction—
—towards the hidden door leading to the cellar, where Roze was likely to be.
The man advanced. His gaze was affixed to the rug hiding the cellar.
Harij’s plan to call out to him was abandoned—
—when Harij strode and arrived right next to him, the man didn’t even notice it. In the next second, the man was blown away—both his body, and his consciousness.
In his last shred of rationality, Harij decided not to use the hoe but to use his own strength.
A loud bang was heard as the man hit the wall.
Fortunately, no cracks were formed. Harij was relieved he didn’t break Roze’s house.
Grabbing his collar, Harij slammed the man’s face to the wall.
Harij made sure to restrain the man’s movement using a corset—it wasn’t the best, but it would do—he tied it up carefully so that the man couldn’t resist.
The room was quiet.
He made sure there were no other accomplices in the room. He peeled off the rug and opened the cellar’s lid.
Her deep, green, eyes, which shone because of the lantern moistened when they found Harij.
—whenever Harij recalled Roze’s face, which was still stricken with fear, his murderous intent rose in a blink of an eye.
—he wanted to wipe this thief from the face of earth.
***T/N: LOL so how many ppl were actually scouting Roze’s house that night?
So, a mage, a thief, and a soldier got into a boat one day–wait.
Now you can sleep easy, Gabe, the
winter update is coming.