It was only hours later that Senia finally said something.
“….oh, should we camp out here today?”
Carr looked up, checking the position of the sun, and nodded his head. The sun was about to set, and they need to find a perfect place to sleep and settle for dinner for the night before the sky turned completely dark.
The two were already used to have their roles when they had to camp out in the wild, either preparing the tent, dinner or taking a turn to stay up and guard their surroundings. Once Carr found a flat and dry area near the main road, Carr set up a tent for Senia while she set the fire for dinner.
Even though they didn’t have many ingredients, but for the cold night, a warm soup and sweet bread became their dinner was perfect to end their day.
The two ate quietly, listening to the sound of nature which was something Carr used to but the unusual quietness from Senia was starting to bother him.
Once he was done, Carr put down his plate and stared at Senia who was looking at the bonfire in front of her.
“….what’s wrong? Do you want a second serving?”
She raised her head, meeting Carr’s intense gaze. Carr shook his head which only made Senia confused. She tilted her head slightly, trying to find what’s wrong before realization finally came to her.
She had been quiet after their little quest to help the unicorn and the merchants, lost in her thoughts which caused her to be quieter than usual and less aware of her surroundings.
“Ah, I will do the cleanup.”
Senia cleared her throat, quickly got up from her seat and gathered all the used plates and utensils to clean and pack again. Carr watched her and decided to gather dried branches to keep himself occupied and not worry over Senia.
“Good night, Sir Carr.”
Senia entered her tent without looking back anymore, leaving Carr alone in the chilly autumn night. For a moment Carr could only stare at the entrance of the tent, his mind blanks out while his body just moved to sit down in front of the bonfire. He sighed, feeling the regret inside, as he stared at the bonfire.
There was no tent for him, as staying inside a tent only made him uncomfortable and claustrophobic. It also made it difficult for him to be on guard all the time. Although, Senia, who was worried about his health, had given him a thick blanket. She did tell him to join him inside the tent if the night became too cold, but Carr wasn’t ready to accept that offer.
“It may be a little awkward during wintertime.”
Carr mumbled as he took his sword and armour off, letting his body relax even if his mind didn’t. As a half-demon, winter was one of his worst enemies. He always had a problem with food and accommodation and the cold was biting and dangerous.
Every single day he needed to search for abandoned houses or caves void of monsters to survive. If he was homeless like now, he would have ended up dead or committed suicide because of the hazardous situation.
“No matter what happens….”
He really couldn’t share a tent with Senia. He had made that promise to himself when they started the journey. Of course, her suggestion was very much appreciated and made him delighted, but he didn’t think he would be able to hold back when the only thing that separated them was a thin blanket.
Carr raised his head, sighing slightly, looking at the night sky where there were groups of stars twinkling against the dark velvet. It was a beautiful sight that Carr couldn’t help but drone to its beauty as the night slowly wrapped around him.
As he moved his legs, his hand touched a bump inside his pocket. When he looked down and checked, it was the tobacco leaf – already rolled into a cigarette, that Ellard gave him earlier. Carr let out a soft laugh as he took it.
“When the hell did you put it there? Well, I understand why you want to see a particular sight since you said you don’t have eyes.”
He mumbled as he lit the cigarette, tasted its sweetness and bitterness before he puffs out a cloud of white smoke. He watched as the cigarette smoke drifted higher up in the sky.
The sight made him thought about Ellard’s soul. He wished the man’s soul could be as free as the cigarette’s smoke even though Carr had no idea what would happen once someone was dead or where the soul would go to.
Around the time when the cigarette reached half of it, Senia came out of the tent with a blanket over her shoulder. She was having trouble sleeping and thought that fresh air would do some help.
“Oh…? Sir Carr, did you smoke? I’ve never seen you do it before.”
Senia called out, surprised to see Carr to be still wide awake. Carr was startled, quickly trying to hide the cigarette – almost like a child who was found out doing something naughty by an adult. But then he remembered that Ellard did smoke, despite being a paladin, which mean that it was not a banned item by the church. It was a normal thing and yet he still felt numb for no reason.
“Oh, don’t mind me. Sorry if I sounded like I’m meddling.”
Senia said in a perplexed voice, averting her gaze slightly.
“I was just amazed because I’ve never seen you doing it before.”
Carr rubbed his chest, nodding after realizing that Senia didn’t mean to nag or reprimand her and so he just continued taking another drag and let out white smoke.
“Are you having difficulty sleeping too, Sir Carr?”
Senia asked eyes fixed on the white smoke, approaching carefully. She smiled at the slight nod,
“Me, too. May I sit next to you?”
Carr moved to make space for her and felt as Senia gently sat down, her gaze staring up at the night sky while the bonfire warmed them for the night.
She admired the stars that seemed endless in the night sky. She had never seen such a clear night like this – which probably only happened once a year like tonight. In reply to her muttering, Carr thought to himself how beautiful she was. Although unlike Senia who was staring at the sky, Carr was looking at her.
The stars mirrored in her blue eyes were making them sparkled even more. Her skin, which had cast in warmth colour of the fire made her looked more fragile. Her silver hair, which always changed colour from time to time depending on the lighting, never lose its brilliance, was shining under the night sky.
In Carr’s opinion, she was the only woman in the whole world that could look like this. She’s just breathtaking. If the, once in a year, the clear night sky was spectacular to Senia, her presence was a once in a hundred-year miracle to Carr.
He was very thankful for her presence but at the same time, he couldn’t stop being greedy. He wanted to bask under her presence more and more.
Amid all his raging emotion and admiration, the pair of blue eyes turned to look at her. When Carr noticed her gaze, he became anxious and swallowed his saliva and tried to look away. However, before he could do that Senia opened her mouth first.
“Well, if you don’t mind…. May I sit a little closer?”
Carr stiffened at the request as he never expected it. He would understand better if she had asked for sex. But to have her closer than right now, it just not good for his heart. He looked at Senia’s face, trying to read the intention wondering if she was trying to test him, but there seemed no hidden intention behind the question.
‘It is indeed close, but not that cold’.
In the end, Carr nodded his head, trying to act like he was not affected by the question. He watched as Senia smiled brightly at the permission and moved closer, making their shoulders touched against each other. The part of his body that touched her was starting to itch, so Carr distracted himself by taking another drag of the cigarette.
“….Oh, it wasn’t just my feeling.”
Carr turned toward Senia, noticing her smiling with half-open eyes.
“It smells like home…”
She mumbled, closing her eyes, and pulling her knees into her chest.
“I remember this scent. Very sweet, soft, and yet bitter like starch syrup. It used to fill the town on windy days. But my hometown has been gone for a long time, so I thought I would never smell this unique scent again.”
For a moment Carr forgot to breathe as he looked at Senia who still smiling and reminiscing about her hometown.
“No wonder it was familiar. Did you buy it this afternoon?”
Carr shook his head. There was no way for him to explain that it belonged to Ellard. But now he couldn’t ignore the fact that both Ellard and Senia came from the east. It might have been a coincidence, after all, there was a big 300-year gap, between the two but he couldn’t stop thinking about Senia’s childhood.
Senia didn’t talk more about the cigarette, instead fell back to the memories of her childhood. She was not a saint until she turned five, she was just a child in a small village, enjoying a normal day as a daughter of a lovely couple.
Carr watched as a sad smile graced her face and he recalled that Senia had lost her parents to a demon. Although he never experienced family affection, Carr could tell that Senia’s family must have been a treasure that she would not trade for anything else in the world.
It made him wonder how did Senia able to forgive the demon that had taken her parents away from her. He never understood how Senia’s feeling worked and the more he tried to analyze it, it only made him confused even more.
Carr let out a sigh as he returned to focus on the bonfire in front of him. The warm flame already made the chilly night more bearable and created a good mood between them. He didn’t want to ruin and wondered if he should excuse himself to get some rest.
Senia called him weakly, head bowed down, knees tightly hugged and her eyes facing away from Carr.
“This trip will be over before winter comes.”
Carr could feel that there was a request she was about to ask from him. The trip, indeed, would end the moment they arrived at the temple, not when the Holy Lady was resurrected. No matter, if they took their time with their journey but they would arrive before winter came.
“Once we arrived in the temple…. I won’t need to be escorted anymore.”
Carr tensed at the words, feeling as if thorns were stabbing his chest. He didn’t want to hear the rest of her words, but he knew he needed to.
“So, Sir Carr, please think about what you want to do next. As I said today, the sun church will provide full support for your endeavour. There will be no need to protect me anymore.”