019 – Red Flavor #4
“Victor, how’s this for a chair? Is it okay?”
Nike seemed quite pleased.
From my perspective, she was going all out, clearing the area, sweeping and cleaning the wooden floor underneath.
Does having a celebrity visit your place make you feel good?
Come to think of it, Nike had been friendly toward Victoria from the moment they first met, almost as if an ordinary person idolized a celebrity.
“Do you think Miss Victoria will like the tea leaves I picked? Huh?”
“Don’t get too excited, Nike. She’s probably here to find faults with us and give us some kind of punishment.”
“Oh, no way…”
In reality, I wasn’t entirely sure either.
But one thing was for sure.
“Nike, I’ll tell you this in advance: we need to keep our promise.”
If it’s discovered that I’m cheating, it’ll cause a lot of trouble in many ways.
I’d warned her several times, so Nike confidently replied.
“I know, it’s supposed to be a secret, right? Just like the time we kissed…!”
“Eww, rain, Miss Victoria!”
Nike Moke Moke is as surprised as a squirrel meeting a cat.
Emerging from the bushes was Victoria Arkwright, the student council executive, wearing her white coat with a crimson badge that read ‘Supervision’.
But all of that was probably fine.
The question was, did she overhear our conversation just now?
If she did, from where to where?
When I was feeling tense, Victoria asked.
“Miss Mokemoke, who kissed?”
“Th-that, me and Victor?”
Victoria seemed to be in a very bad mood for some reason.
“Victor, is that true?”
Both I, Ha Seung-ri, and Victor.
The common point between us was that it was difficult to handle woman’s touch.
Do I have to tell such a lie?
But I have to. Otherwise, the story will get even more complicated.
Thanks to the «Steel» Quirk, I could answer without hesitation, but my insides were churning.
But the problem was not that, but the fact that I had lied about Victor and Nike kissing.
“You two kissed. Huh, I didn’t know at all. I guess so. Because I’m a stupid woman who doesn’t know anything.”
“Nobody said you were a stupid woman.”
Lies are like debts.
If you keep telling them, the interest keeps piling up, and it will eventually collapse.
The best thing is not to create situations where you have to lie.
Today, no matter what, I’m going to send Victoria back early!
* * *
The new school year.
But the evenings were still at the end of winter.
Especially in the forest, the night came early.
Right now, many students were looking for Flavor Herbs, so the forest was somewhat lively in the evening, but it was still cold.
I started the fire like a pro, using the dry firewood Nike had prepared.
I boiled water.
“Nike, start preparing the ingredients.”
Then, Nike put in the mushrooms and fruits she had prepared and stirred them with a ladle.
“Done! The dish was successfully completed!”
「Mushroom Hotpot: The taste and effects are decent. It feels like you’re getting healthier when you eat it. Maybe it would be better with something else…?」
A modest Tier 3 dish that slightly recovers HP and provides cold resistance.
It warms the body and fills the stomach.
Victoria, who received her share of the hotpot, asked.
“You don’t eat the soup or bulgogi, do you?”
“Those are for sale. They’re quite plain compared to Tier 1 dishes, but they’re still tasty. If you’re not satisfied, you can leave.”
“I’m not dissatisfied.”
The meal was modest and simple.
The focus was solely on eating, with an unexpected feeling of extravagance about everything else.
Since both Nike and I were used to eating in silence, the conversation was notably sparse. Perhaps sensing the awkwardness, Victoria spoke first.
“You two seem really used to this kind of situation, don’t you?”
In response to that, Nike answered.
“It’s been about a week!”
It had been roughly a week since we started living as homeless people.
It felt like it had been that long.
During that time, many things had happened.
It felt like at least a month had passed in terms of experiences.
“So, is the supervision finally over?”
“There’s nothing significant. We’ve been maintaining cleanliness and hygiene quite well.”
“And who do you think I am? We’ve been thoroughly managing everything from ingredient storage to preparation.”
It was Victoria who kept her mouth shut.
Was prying with her questions, trying to find something to criticize.
It was time for her to leave.
“It’s almost bedtime. How about you return to your dormitory, Victoria?”
“…Victor, why do you keep trying to send me away?”
That’s because I had to keep lying when you’re here.
It’s the same reason Enio disliked coming there.
But Victoria seemed to have misunderstood something.
“Do you want to be alone together?”
“It’s not really─”
“More importantly, how do you sleep? Victor, you said you didn’t go anywhere after being expelled from the dormitory, right?”
“If it’s about sleeping, there’s a sleeping bag here.”
I pointed to the sleeping bag near the campfire.
Victoria was shocked.
“Wait, are you two sleeping together now? Is that what I understood?”
“We’re not sleeping together. Nike sleeps in the cabin.”
“That’s what I meant!”
What’s the big deal about it?
Having a roof or not doesn’t make that much of a difference.
Anyway, this young lady had clearly misunderstood something.
But it’s my fault for not having money and a place to stay.
There’s no one to blame.
I should gather enough Rene and consider a cheap inn to rent in the long term.
But Victoria clearly had some misunderstanding.
“Do you guys happen to be doing something against the rules?”
“What kind of rule are you talking about?”
“Well… Impurity with the opposite s*x…”
Victoria’s face turned beet red as she struggled to speak. Maybe her white complexion made the blush more noticeable.
Was she even more flushed than when she ate the Bulgogi with spring sauce for lunch earlier?
Victoria hesitated about something, but then she burst out, perhaps trying to gloss over the situation or perhaps she just couldn’t stand it anymore.
“I’m staying here tonight too! I have a duty as an executive to observe what you’re doing!”
“That’s fine, but we don’t have a blanket for you.”
* * *
Nike was in a good mood. She even hummed a tune as she brushed her teeth.
The reason is nothing special.
The reason for her happiness was simple. Victoria Arcwright, who was so famous in Ludens that everyone knew her, was to spent the night in her cabin.
“How’s it, Miss Victoria? Not too cramped, is it? I added some straw to the floor!”
“… Yeah, it’s better than I thought.”
Nike hadn’t had any friends for a long time since she enrolled at Ludens, so sharing a roof with someone under these circumstances made her feel incredibly happy.
After brushing her teeth at the nearby stream and donning pajamas made from rabbit fur, she lay under the same blanket as Victoria.
There was a delightful fragrance coming from Victoria, who lay next to her.
Soap? What kind of soap could it be?
‘It must be some fantastic soap I’ve never even imagined. Could it be 50.000 Rene for one?’
Everything about Victoria sparkled, from her silver hair to her golden eyes, her clothes, and even her toenails.
Even her staff sparkled.
“What’s that staff?”
Victoria held up her staff in her arms.
“This is the Arkwright family’s staff. Right now, it’s just a stick to me, but when my combat ability reaches B+… No, why should I even tell you this?”
Victoria was angry.
She was the mistress of her former fiancé, who broke off their engagement.
Why would she tell her everything straight away?
“She didn’t tell me anything either.”
Maybe that’s why Nike felt a bit mischievous.
“Miss Mokemoke, when and where did you first meet Victoria and Victor? I think I have the right to ask.”
“Me? I was in this forest for the first time a few days before school started…”
Nike abruptly clammed up. She almost revealed that her encounter with Victor had taken place less than a week ago.
“Wait, when I say school started, I mean last year. Not this year.”
“Really? So, you’ve hidden your relationship with Victor for a whole year from me. You two are complete sneaks, aren’t you?”
It was Nike who laughed.
‘Victoria probably thinks I’m her former fiancé’s new fiancé, so it’s only natural for her to dislike me.’
Victoria, the idol of everyone in Ludes, was sharing a roof and sleeping with Nike like a friend. But the fact that Victoria resented her because of a lie made Nike puzzled.
‘Maybe I couldn’t ask her in detail. Why did Victor break off the engagement with a girl like her?’
The girl everyone admired and some even reserved to have lunch with.
Victor, breaking off his engagement with her, seemed like he was not in his right mind when Nike saw it.
‘I’m in no position to say anything since I’m helping him…’
How did this happen?
At that moment, someone pinched her side.
“Are you ignoring what I just said?”
“Um, what did you say?”
“Both Victor and you, you two together… forget it. Anyway, I’m worried about you two. You’re resented by Arkwright for breaking the engagement up, but can you handle it?”
“Resented by Arkwright?”
At Nike’s inquiry, Victoria propped herself up.
“Are you pretending not to know, or do you really not know? You’re the reason for our breakup. Do you have any idea how much damage has been done to the Arkwright family because of you?”
Nike suddenly felt a surge of anxiety.
Damage meant debt, and debt had to be repaid.
She began to feel lightheaded and dizzy, but Victoria kept pressing on without giving her a break.
“Miss Mokemoke, are you really confident? Do you have the resolve to turn the world into an enemy for the sake of love?”
“You could give up on Victor now. It might still be possible to undo this. Of course, Victor will have to return to the Arkwright family and receive a suitable punishment.”
If she called it a punishment, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
About to be banned from going out for a month.
Or wouldn’t doing odd jobs for a year be enough?
‘You also make me run errands. Now I have to order a lot of cooking.’
As Nike was thinking, she asked in a quiet voice.
“… Miss Victoria, are you okay with all of that?
“Am I okay with that?”
“Even if you restore your relationship with Victor to what it was, would that be okay for you?”
“Miss Victoria, do you still like Victor?”
Victoria was embarrassed that her question came back to her. She hadn’t really thought about it and didn’t have strong feelings in that direction. She didn’t see it that way, but Nike Mokemoke of Leshgad Forest was more formidable than she thought.
“Do I like him? It’s an arranged engagement; emotions don’t matter much. Miss Mokemoke, you may not know, but…”
Victoria decided to let it slide for now.
After all, she hadn’t really given much thought to whether she liked Victor or not.
“Marrying someone you don’t like… I don’t know.”
Nike’s questions made Victoria reflect on her own feelings.
‘What would have happened if the engagement had continued? We were going to be married? Holding hands, kissing, and then…’
Her face suddenly flushed with embarrassment, but then anger crept in. She couldn’t understand why she was bothered by what had happened between Victor and Nike beside her.
“By the way, you said you kissed each other?”
“Yeah, that’s right!”
“Where? When? How?”
“Probably… right in front of this cabin. It was during the day, and there were lots of flowers.”
“Fairy flowers…? To be honest, I’m not sure! I was too excited at that moment!”
“Hmm, I see. If they were fairy flowers, it must have been in the autumn.”
“Yeah, yeah! It was a cool autumn.”
Nike realized belatedly that she wasn’t entirely happy about sleeping next to the famous Victoria. She continued to lie and felt increasingly uneasy.
Perhaps Victoria sensed Nike’s feelings because she stopped asking further questions.
Nike thought it was a good thing.
But Victoria didn’t just leave it at that.
She pounced when the prey was off guard, just like a hunter waiting for the right moment.
“Fairy flowers, or Fairy’s Bloom, only grow in spring. Miss Mokemoke, you are lying to me.”
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