Snow started falling again. Leguna had met up with Annelotte some time earlier.
He looked at Annelotte, elegant as a lily, and smiled. He recalled the first time he had a good chat with her. It was also a quiet and snowy night like this one.
He had just started working as a fledgling mercenary, nothing but a weak and cowardly brat. But now, he was a mature youth handling intelligence matters for the empire and the most famous and terrifying assassin, Dark Requiem.
Back then, Annelotte was just a girl working for Moonshadow's chairman. All she cared about was finishing her missions, but who could've imagined how much she changed as her experiences piled up. She was no longer a cold, machine-like girl, but a real person with her own goals and thoughts.
She fulfilled him in making the squeamish brat grow into a brave young man, and he fulfilled her by making her more lively and warm.
Even though she was suffering from amnesia, Leguna believed there were some things that would never disappear, even if the memories did.
Leguna approached her and scratched his head like a young boy late on a date. "I'm sorry I'm late. You've been waiting for quite a while, right? It's my bad for making you wait on a cold night."
"You of all people should know I'm immune to cold. Also…" Her eyes glowed with contempt. "If you're trying to make this look like a date, you'll see how I ruin the mood for you!"
"Alright, fine. You win," he said with his hands raised.
"Enough chit chat. Let's got!" She ignored him and went towards the west gate.
When the two reached the gate, the guards asked them a few simple questions before letting them through. After some more walking, Annelotte stopped when they were out of range of the spatial disruption formation in the city.
"Stand there and don't move!" she hissed. Now that they were out there, using the transference spell was far more convenient. She knew where the lake near the outskirts was and zipping there instantly would save them quite some time.
"Okay." He stopped obediently.
Annelotte furrowed her brow with unease. Using the transference spell with someone else required physical contact. She stretched her hand out unwillingly while Leguna couldn't be more eager to take it.
The moment their hands touched, the muscles in her body all tensed up, but she soon regained control of herself. She dictated her spell and they appeared near the lake two minutes later.
"Looks like Boss isn't here yet!"
Leguna looked around at the rather small lake. It was surrounded by bare, flat land; there weren't many trees nearby. While it was snowing, Leguna could see well in the night as a shadow dancer, so he had a clear view on his surroundings. He didn't see Kurdak's burly body anywhere.
"Let's wait here then."
Annelotte stretched her hand out and dictated a spell to blow the snow clean off a rock and sat on it.
He scooted over and pushed the snow next to Annelotte away without a sound. He could use impetus to do the same, but he knew what made her tick and intentionally chose not to do so.
As expected, when she saw him shoveling the snow away with her bare hands, she softened and let out another gust of wind to blow Leguna's side clean of snow.
He smiled like someone fell for his scheme and sat down back to back with her.
Annelotte turned around and brushed off some snow from her hair. Even though a water swayer could never get colds, she would still feel uncomfortable from the snow melting on her. She dictated another low-level barrier to keep the falling snow away.
Leguna looked without making a sound and shook off the snow on him from time to time as if he was shuddering from the cold. But given his strength, how could cold of that level even affect him?
Annelotte listened to the shuffling and sighed as if she'd lost.
"Is that how you won my sympathy back then?"
Leguna stiffened, before he cracked an honest smile. He no longer pretended to shiver and used his impetus to shake the snow off himself.
"You only guessed half of it."
"You've always been a rather sympathetic person. But I've never made use of it. Perhaps you really did feel sympathy for me, but I never knowingly exploited it, at least, it's never occurred to me. I'm willing to swear on that."
She turned back and saw that snow was piling up on his had again. She recited the incantation and placed an energy barrier on him.
"What… happened between us?"
Leguna fell silent after hearing the question. He answered with a hoarse voice after a long moment of silence.
"You… really don't remember anything at all?"
"I don't understand what I was thinking," she said with a crease on her forehead, as if she was trying hard to recall something, "Everyone says our relationship was… that way… But I don't understand it. If you were really someone important to me, why didn't I back up more memories of you? I should've backed up everything about the person most important to me first, right? But now, apart from a few labels and some important memories, I don't have anything else. It's really confusing."
"Do you think the others are lying?"
He smiled with a pained look. He understood why Annelotte was so cold towards him. He was a stranger to her.
If someone jumped out of nowhere and claimed to be someone so important to you the two of you were about to get married, would you accept it? No normal woman would, at least. It wasn't surprising for someone with Annelotte's temperament to throw a fireball at them immediately.
At the thought of that, Leguna didn't know why Annelotte did as she just suggested. Even the current her wasn't sure why.
"I know you're not lying," she said with a pained expression, "But I simply can't accept it."
"I understand. It's not your fault, Annie.--" Her words tugged at his heartstrings, but he still tried his best to console her. "--As I've said before, just follow your heart. I'm confident that if I could get you to fall for me the first time, I can probably do it a second, even a third time!"
She blushed immediately after he said that. Turning to him, she spat, "Who did you say liked you?!"
"Hmph!--" He smiled thuggishly. "--Well, you don't remember, so you wouldn't know. You were so attached to me you insisted on going with me on my missions!"
"That's because you're too weak. I was worried you would die!"
"Hey! I'm curious what memories you bothered to back up! Why do you remember those things so clearly?" he said, almost shrieking.
"How… how would I know?" Her face turned even redder.
She did, however. The first of many labels she attached to Leguna in her backup was 'requires protection'. It was as if she couldn't trust herself to do that after losing her memories, so she made a point to record much of her memories of Leguna being beaten up.
Of note was the time Leguna was bloodied and surrounded during the incident at Innilis's home, and the time he was beaten up badly by her during the tournament.
Protect him, huh?
While she didn't quite know why she had told herself that, she believed it best to trust her own judgement.
The two of them fell into yet another awkward silence. Leguna agonized for a moment before clearing his throat.
"Ahem! Annie, you've forgotten a lot about me, right?"
"Yes," she said, her back still against his, "Compared to Innie, Eirinn, Father and the others, memories about you are less than a quarter than each of theirs."
"Then why don't I tell you what happened since we have nothing better to do now?" he suggested.
She hesitated for a moment, but ultimately agreed.
However, she made sure to add, "But you can't embellish anything!"
"Relax! Don't you know my character by now? I'm the honest merchant that doesn't even trick children!" He patted his chest so confidently that it rang loudly.
She thought back at Leguna's slyness while negotiating with Geoffrey and made up her mind to treat what he told her as mere stories.
However, he didn't include so much as a single lie and stuck as close to the truth as his memory would permit. He hoped he could spur her memory. But even after he finished the story of their journey to the snowy mountains for the millennium lotus, her head didn't start hurting all of a sudden with the resurgence of her memories.
She merely responded with 'huhs' and 'hmms'. He didn't even know what she was thinking.
Leguna sighed in disappointment before he decided to start the story about their encounters with the Eye of Arcana.
But right as he was about to get to it, a tall, blurry figure appeared in the darkness ahead.Previous Chapter Next Chapter