The restroom's door gradually opened. Annelotte wasn't in a rush to get out of her meditative state, so she used her enthymema to sweep the room.
Three people entered. Two were Kurdak and Innilis, but she didn't recognize the third face. She knew, however, that it was Leguna.
Seeing Annelotte sitting on a chair with her hands to her head, Kurdak knew she was meditating, so he stopped the excited Innilis. As for Leguna, it was his first time approaching her in months. He thought he should be emotional, but he didn't know what to say.
Should I apologize? An apology alone would be insincere, huh... What about greeting her like usual? Well, even if I'm thick-faced enough to pretend nothing happened, I doubt the others can.
Their relationship's future depended on Annelotte's attitude. If she was willing to forgive him, the rest would be simple. But if she wasn't, he might have to put in lots of effort.
Annelotte couldn't help but be furious again when she noticed Leguna was there.
Didn't I tell the guards one of them shouldn't be allowed in? How could he be so shameless?
She gradually exited her meditative state and opened her eyes.
"Boss, Innie..." she greeted as she stood up.
Though she didn't want to speak in a way that reflected Leguna's influence, she suddenly realized the brat somehow managed to leave quite an imprint on her. There were many habits she found hard to shake.
Innilis leapt straight into her arms. The girl couldn't help but smile when she saw the sweet smile.
"Long time no see."
Though Kurdak misunderstood her in the beginning, after a long time together, he liked the slightly sinister girl. He had also heard Vera mention that she had suffered a strike from Death's Finger to save the two and almost lost her life. He could not forget either her or her deeds.
"That's right. Long time no see. Are you doing well nowadays?" Annelotte replied.
"Quite. The matter with Balor is finally over and we've come to Chino to look for you," Leguna added anxiously.
Annelotte ignored him completely. She looked at Kurdak, still waiting for an answer she'd yet to get.
An awkwardness wince shot across Leguna's face. He blushed slightly, his mouth dangling empty.
"Hehe," Kurdak laughed dryly, "Well... We're doing pretty good. But--" He glanced at Leguna. "--Just look. Ley realized his mistakes and came to apologize. Shouldn't you two..."
"Sis Annie, forgive Big Bro. He went through a lot to find you again," advised Innilis as she clutched Annelotte's fair hand.
Annelotte looked at Kurdak and Innilis before turning her gaze back to the mouth-agape Leguna.
"I told the guard I refused to see one of you. Why'd he not stop you? Even then, you should have known who I was talking about, why's this thing here?--" Her gaze returned to Kurdak. "--If you're here to talk about the old days, you're more than welcome. But if you're here to spit words on me on behalf of this, it would be best to leave now, before you sour our relationship as well."
Leguna was speechless.
"This..." Kurdak frowned, "The guard did tell us. Leguna's friend, Eirinn, volunteered to stay outside, so Leguna came in with us. Perhaps... we've misunderstood?"
Annelotte was stunned. She finally realized who the girl was.
"I wasn't talking about her. Don't pretend you didn't know."
She left the room quickly.
Eirinn stood at the entrance with a small crowd, mostly men. They had planned to pay Annelotte a visit, but because of their low status, they had no choice but to stay outside when the guard stopped them.
As for the more distinguished nobles, some were also quite interested in the beautiful magus. But, people of their status would naturally know much more than the average commoner, such as Annelotte's full name being Annelotte Ladis and her being the galestorm swordsaint's daughter. Her position in the court magi association also showed First Prince Geoffrey's favor. Even idiots understood his intentions.
The galestorm swordsaint was among the strongest people on the continent and Geoffrey was the eldest prince of the empire. Those two were not people to be offended lightly. No matter how alluring Annelotte was, no one dared to lay a hand on her.
However, those outside the resting room didn't know that and cheered when she appeared. Quite a few men squeezed to the front, some to catch a glimpse of her, others to give her flowers. There were some who went on to praise her and profess their love on the spot. They meant nothing to her though.
She had always been so. Those about whom she cared not a shred wouldn't get even a twitch from her, good or bad.
The noisy environment creased her brow. She waved a force field to push the annoying things away before setting up a silence barrier. Within were the two guards at the entrance, Annelotte, and the ugly silver-haired girl.
"Eirinn?" Annelotte looked at her. She hadn't met the girl before, but she had heard about her looks from that brat. She was just like he'd described; silver-haired and badly burned.
"Yes. Would you be Sis Annie?" Eirinn asked hesitantly. She was actually quite afraid of people she didn't know.
The impact of Annelotte's beauty had was even more stunning up close. It was as if her features were intricately sculpted and planned before she was even born. Beautiful wasn't enough to describe her. Perfect might be more apt.
"Yes," the glacial girl nodded, "I'm Annelotte. I didn't mean to leave you out here. This has nothing to do with you. I'm sorry."
"It's fine," Eirinn said with a hurried shake of her head, "I chose to stay outside. I... I know you're still mad at Big Brother. But I also know how much he wants to see you, so I chose to stay outside so he could go see you. I should be the one apologizing."
"Why would you care at all about that brat? You're just as kind as he said."
"I don't want to see him sad."
Eirinn lowered head, her hands fidgeting nervously.
Annelotte was moved. She looked deep into the half elf's eyes.
"Alright, let's talk inside."
Annelotte re-entered the room with Eirinn. Kurdak couldn't help but shudder.
He, Leguna, Annelotte, Innilis, and Eirinn were present.
Interestingly, the three women were all in some kind of ambiguous, quasi-romantic entanglement with the little brat.
First, there was Annelotte. Leguna had clearly expressed his feelings to her before, but she'd refused to give him any reply. It was already impressive that she hadn't just simply rejected him brutally and left immediately, so it could be said that she had some kind of romantic connection with him.
Then there was Innilis. She would most likely stick to Leguna for the rest of her life. Kurdak didn't know if it was love or just a kind of psychological dependence some traumatized people develop for their caregivers, but the connection was undeniable.
As for Eirinn, Kurdak had never been made out what her relationship with the kid was. They were childhood friends who relied deeply on one another. Leguna either loved her too, or he was attached to her much the same way Innilis was to him.
When he realized how complicated this web of teen hormones was, he understood how much it must vex the brat. He wasn't just two-timing, he was in some sense betraying all three with all the others, and they all knew it on some deep level. It both impressed and frightened the living daylights out of Kurdak,
Should I become his disciple? His eyes fell on Leguna's pathetic face, and the thought vanished. Multiple relationships sounded nice when you didn't have them, fantasy was always infinitely nicer than reality.
It could, at least on some level, be managed as long as everyone was kept oblivious of the fact that it was polygamous, gathering them all together was just… There were no words for such stupidity. Annelotte was certainly completely willing to kill Leguna, even before all the other vixens were gathered. He didn't know about Eirinn. She seemed sweet and timid, but few things could change a woman as much as a man.
Her aside, thought, there was still Innilis. She was a little vixen right from hell. She alone was already too much for Leguna.
Kurdak had two options; he could either leave this to the brat to sort out on his own, it was all his fault and completely his doing and his problem after all, or he could try to help the brat out -- he was the kid's boss, after all.
He thought about it carefully and decided.
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