After agonizing for a long time, Senia sighed and gave Carr a resigned smile.
“Forget it. It’s nothing of importance. I’m sorry to have bothered you. Did you have your dinner yet? If not, do you mind if I join you?”
Carr frowned when she changed topics, but he nodded at her request. Senia smiled brightly in response. It seemed that her spirit had returned when Carr agreed to spend more time with her, although she had been his only real companion since his imprisonment.
They ordered their meals to be sent up to the room. The inn’s first floor was not crowded because of the local villagers but also due to tourists visiting for the festival. The staff brought an extra table and chair to the room to allow both of them to be comfortable. As they ate their dinner, neither of them spoke.
The silence weighed heavy on the two and left them feeling awkward. However, as their dinner progressed, the silence became more comfortable. They could hear the noises from the busy street, the chatter from the floor below them, and occasionally they heard the sound of music in preparation for the festival.
Despite his portion being larger than her’s, Carr found himself matching Senia’s pace, enjoying their meal together. He quickly glanced at the saint, stunned at the sight that greeted him.
The sunset cast a red light on Senia’s face as she looked out the window. Her slightly dazed eyes were unfocused and looked almost empty. It was like her mind was far away and not there in the room with him.
‘What are you looking at?’
Carr turned his gaze toward the main street of Cardo, curious to see what had captivated Senia, but he didn’t notice anything special. For the first time, his curse annoyed him. He wanted to ask what was bothering her.
“Festivals always seem to make people excited.” Senia said abruptly as she laid down her spoon. Carr turned his gaze back to Senia, but her attention was still focused on the scene outside. A faint smile graced her face, but it didn’t reach her eyes.
“I’m sure it’ll be fun, right? I’m actually looking forward to the puppet show and the music performance. We should dance in the square at night. There will be fireworks too. What do you say, Sir Carr?”
The sky-blue eyes shifted suddenly and met his gaze. Startled, Carr, flinched at being addressed. Still, he agreed to join her at the festival tomorrow. For him, this would be a different experience because with his red eyes disguised he didn’t need to be afraid of being found out as being a demon.
Senia laughed softly, excited that she could spend the day enjoying the festival with Carr.
“Well, I’ve got to get back. It’s getting late and I don’t want to worry anyone.” Senia murmured and Carr quickly rose from his own seat, wondering if he should escort her back to the temple.
Senia tensed up slightly, cheeks flushed, as she watched Carr approach her. However, Carr who didn’t realize the effect he had on Senia, didn’t notice the change. He simply opened the door and pointed to the hallway.
“Huh?” Senia sat frozen in place and blinked in confusion.
A blush slowly spread all over her face when she realized what was happening. She stared at the open door for a moment and then back at Carr before she finally broke the silence.
“Oh! Well, it’s okay. I mean – I can go by myself. Sir Carr must be tired too, so you should rest well! Do excuse me!” Senia quickly ran out in embarrassment while Carr stared on. He knew he shouldn’t chase after her but her reaction left him unsure of what she expected from him.
Carr closed the door once Senia’s disappeared from view. He sat down on his chair. The room felt very empty now without her. As if trying to fill the void that she left, Carr placed his arms on the window sill and watched the bustling street. A young child looked up as he ran by and met Carr’s gaze. The child waved his hand and smiled before continuing on.
People were now friendly towards him because he no longer had red eyes. The change was temporary, but for Carr, this moment felt like a dream. He, who had always been forced to focus on survival and hiding from people’s hate, was finally able to taste a bit of life where no one was afraid of him.
As he considered his situation, memories of his earlier encounter with Senia popped up in his head. He remembered her sudden tension, but only now he realized the reason behind it.
“Did you think I was going to attack?” Carr mumbled with his chin in his hand. Senia’s expression, the way her body tensed as he approached, it was the exact same expression as when the two started their relationship.
Now Carr understood her odd behavior. After all, anyone would get the wrong idea when being approached in a small room that consisted of only a single bed. However, he made sure never to touch her unless she asked for sex. There was no reason to do so other than that[ Our ML isn’t so bright sometimes.].
‘Although if I’m being honest, I would like to hug her, but only if she allowed it. I can only hold her if she asks me too. If she hadn’t said that she needed to get back early, perhaps….’
Carr quickly shook his head to clear the thoughts from his mind. He knew that was just an excuse to make Senia not hate him. Of course he wanted to touch her, but he didn’t want her to despise him just because he followed his own desires. He was afraid that if he revealed what he wanted, even a tiny bit of it – his passion and desire, her attitude toward him would change.
‘Would her smile and embarrassed face turn into fear when she looked at me?’
Would that be the moment she finally saw him as the demon he was and end everything. All her kindness that she’d been showing him all this time would stop and he didn’t want that.
Carr sighed and closed his eyes as he let the cool wind brush against his face. “Isn’t this enough?” He mumbled quietly, wondering why he still felt uneasy.
The next day, Carr left the inn around lunchtime. He’d been waiting to see if Senia would come, but the more he thought about it the more it embarrassed him. After all, there were many people in the temple who could accompany Senia to the festival, there was no reason for her to come and meet him.
He must have gotten used to her presence around him because Senia’s absence was enough to dampen his mood. He sighed and rubbed his own face in frustration. Despite his low spirit, the whole town was filled with festivity.
“Well, I won’t have another opportunity to do this again. I should look around.” Carr hummed as he made his way amongst the crowd.
The festival’s purpose was to thank the gods for a year without infectious disease and to pray for another year without one. It was a very grand and splendid festival compared to the Sigol Village Festival that Carr had visited the one time.
He spotted colorful flags all over the roofs, as well as clowns and dancers in the square to liven up the mood. There were even snacks from the sugary ones he’d seen before to frozen ones he hadn’t that were being sold all along street. As he continued to explore the festival, he spotted booths selling equipment for traveling, crafts made by blacksmiths, and even magic scrolls that cost a fortune.
‘This definitely was more convenient than going through the black market.’ Carr thought as he put back the dagger at the blacksmith booth he’d been looking at.
There were many things that interested him and even more places he hadn’t explored yet. For him, time seemed to have slowed down as he wondered in the crowd.
“Oh? Young man, are you alone today?” A middle-aged man, who Carr recognized from the city gate yesterday, called to him as he passed his booth. “Where is the young priest that you were with? Didn’t you go to the festival together?”
The merchant looked at him curiously while he puffed out smoke.
“It is none of your business.”
“Well, there are few ladies that are as beautiful as the young priest and it would be idiotic of you to let someone like her go. Or did you just get bored with her?” The merchant giggled humorously. Carr turned around to escape after hearing the crude joke.
“She’s a priest of the sun God, isn’t she? Aren’t you going to join her for prayer? The bishop in this city will lead the origin prayer this year. You must have been left out because you were so cold yesterday. You should never treat a lady like that.”
“Like I said, it’s none of your business, but what do you mean by origin prayer?”
“Eh? You don’t know? You must not be from around here, huh?” The merchant blew out another puff of smoke.
“When a festival is held, whether big or small, one priest from the temple will pray as representative. The prayer is to ask for forgiveness as everyone in the town is at the festival and may or may not do something sinful. At the same time, the representative thanks the gods for another successful year. That’s the origin prayer.”
Carr grew uneasy as he heard the explanation.
“How long does it take?”
“Until the festival is over.”
“Is it the bishop’s duty?”
“Usually, it is the responsibility of the person who is the closest to God in the village. There is the Archbishop who usually done it, but, the saint is the perfect one to perrform it. If she’s not here then it us up to either the archbishop or bishop.”
Arte indeed had the strongest divinity, but his status was nothing compared to the saint who was originally loved by God. That means if the festival lasted all day long, the saint would spend her time praying to the god. The same routine would also happen in other cities. The person with the strongest divinity, beside the saint, would pray to the god.
“Don’t tell me…” Carr frowned as his mind finished processing the new information. For some reason he had the urge to verify his conclusions.
“Hey, where are you going? Shouldn’t you pay the price for my information?” The merchant called to Carr when the young man started to walk away.
“Was there a price for such trivia?” Carr asked the smiling old man who waited for him to pay.
“There is nothing free in this world.” Carr sighed, murmuring under his breath. It was no different than making a transaction in the black market.
The man laughed out loud at Carr’s expression, “Well, I’m not quite desperate for it, but you should buy something from my shop young man. A piece of advice for you to think carefully about. Do what you want with it.”
Carr looked at the man one last time and picked a silver ring. He quickly paid for it. Then he turned around and tried to retrace his steps from yesterday to reach the sun temple. He remembered that the temple was located on a hill. The highest ground in the city symbolized the sun god. Located far from the center of town, the noise of the festival died away as he got closer to the temple. Carr could hear the nearby birds even though he had only made it halfway up the hill on which the temple was located.
It was only after he saw the gate to the temple that Carr wondered what he was doing. He didn’t have any plan or reason to come and yet, his feet didn’t stop walking.
‘If I think about it, it was due to Senia that I could walk around freely today.’
He didn’t have to hide or limit his movements as he strolled around the town. Everything was due to Senia’s blessings. He felt like he’d betrayed her by enjoying the festival alone. As he continued to contemplate his situation and feelings, Carr noticed someone moving toward him. In an instant, he hid himself behind a tree. It was a habit that he couldn’t break even if he didn’t have red eyes anymore.
He frowned, berating himself for acting suspicious, and was about to move from behind the tree when he heard a conversation.
“It’s really true that the saint’s power has returned.”
Carr poked his head out slightly toward the source of the sound. He spotted the man from yesterday, Priest Gaol, and another person he had never seen before in his life.
“It was quite unfortunate, Bishop Hales.”
“It’s such a waste of power for the girl who has nothing but charity.”
“Yes, I agree. Three years ago, because of her insistence not to kill the demons, our church almost hitt rock bottom. If you hadn’t led the attack toward the Great devil at the end, I’m sure there would be nothing left.”
“Now that she’s recover her power, everyone is fawning over her… I wish I could be the victim of pity.”
“The bishop’s entry into the church would have been denied.”’
“Hahaha. That would be an unfortunate situation. Anyway, it’s been five years since the Bishop has not needed to attend the origin prayer, you should enjoy your time off today.”
“I shall. At least, the saint has her uses.”
Gaol and Hales made their way toward town. The two didn’t notice Carr, who was still hiding behind a tree, when they passed him.