The Sneaky Banquet
Leguna's mind was a wide green field. A gentle breeze blew across it and a wave could be seen on the field of green. The sun was shining bright, shedding its warmth and harmony. It was neither scorching nor chilling.
But the moment Jaehart's words fell, a low rumbling could be heard in the distant fields. It sounded almost like gushing water, loud and thunderous. A cloud of dust was gradually beaten up in the distant horizon where the green of the field met the blue of the sky.
What is that? It's actually surging towards here with such speed! It's getting closer... Leguna was finally able to make something out from the cloud of dust. It was a horde of stampeding beasts numbering near the ten thousands. They seemed a little like goats, but not quite so. They also resembled horses somewhat, but it wasn't right either. They do, however, look a lot like camels.
That's right, they were a horde of alpacas galloping through the fields that was Leguna's mind, screaming 'what the f*ck' as the galloped across.
Naturally, that was not something the drunk Leguna actually saw. However, it did aptly reflect the state of his mind.
Ten thousand alpacas galloping across the fields screaming expletives as they passed, what a nerve-wracking sight that would be. But that was all in Leguna's head. In reality, everyone fell dead silent when Jaehart finished his sentence.
The most important things to Jaehart are his two sisters. No matter what, he wanted to make sure that they were taken care of. They were already about eleven or twelve, and that was the age when engagements were usually made in that world. Jaehart had never considered selling his sisters out for some benefit to himself, so finding a reliable man for his sisters was something he had obsessed himself over during the past few months.
And now, he had suddenly reunited with Leguna. Not only was he Jaehart's benefactor, he also showed shocking power during his time with the hunting squad. That was just the kind of reliable man Jaehart was looking so hard for.
That's why Jaehart felt that Leguna was as precious as coal in a snowstorm. The hospitality he had been showing Leguna and the rest through inviting him to his house to stay over all built up to that exact purpose. If Leguna wasn't against it, then the deal was sealed! Not only had he repaid Leguna for what he had done for him, it also absolved him of his worries of finding someone his sister can count on. Being able to kill two bird with one stone was something he couldn't be more happy about. So, he took the chance when they were still under the influence of alcohol to bring up his excessive request.
Jaehart's two sisters were already over ten years of age and that was when they were awakened to the intricacies of romantic relationships. Even though they were rather curious about things concerning men and women, they didn't have too much of their own thoughts about it. Given how they were used to going with whatever their brother arranged for them, they didn't say much about the matter. Minnie and Innilis only fidgeted about hesitantly with their faces flushed red with embarrassment.
And then there was Kurdak and Vera. The relationship between the two had no doubt matured in the past two years. As Leguna's 'elder siblings', they couldn't help but act busybo--, concerned would be a better word, for their little brother's love affairs.
Naturally, the two of them had some rough guesses about what Leguna felt about matters like these. However, none of them could say how strong the feelings Leguna had for Annelotte was. And while Annelotte had become far more proactive than she used to be after two years, her chilling and icy personality was not something a brat like Leguna could melt down in a matter of two short years, so Kurdak and Vera didn't hold much hopes for Leguna's success in that department. Now that someone was being served up just like that, Kurdak and Vera were really curious how their little brother would react and had their gossip switch flicked up to the maximum setting.
Annelotte on the other hand didn't reveal any change in expression. In fact, she didn't so much as blink even once when she heard what Jaehart said. As for what was going through her mind... Anyone's guess was just as good. Nobody there including Vera could tell what Annelotte thought about it.
Leguna, the star of the show, felt like there were tens of thousands of alpacas galloping through the fields that were his mind and heart. He had been caught completely off-guard by Jaehart's words and sent into a complete dazzle. He saw nothing apart from the horde of alpacas galloping towards him.
Seeing everyone at the table quieting down, Jaehart felt that his announcement had come too suddenly. Smiling awkwardly, he said, "Hehe, I know it's really sudden, but I was being absolutely serious. I hope you can consider it, Brother Leguna."
After looking dumbstruck for ten whole seconds, Leguna broke out into a sudden laugh. "Hahahahaha, Jaehartm you're really quite the talker... This... well.. That's right! Um..."
As Leguna fumbled with his words, he shot Annelotte a few glances. When he saw that her expression didn't change in the slightest, he felt a little dejected. But he soon returned to normal and said with a smile, "I'm a mercenary, you know. I fight day in and day out in the most dangerous of situations. There's no guarantee that I won't just die tomorrow. Leaving either of your beautiful and capable sisters in my care is definitely not worth it! And I haven't ever considered settling down yet, so it's far too soon to talk about this!"
"No matter what, I still think that you are a reliable man. Well, if you ever change your mind one day, I definitely wouldn't refuse you. Please do consider it well." Jaehart knew that there wouldn't be a point in forcing this matter, so he didn't force Leguna to give him a response right there and then.
Me? Reliable? You don't really know me well, do you? I can't even ensure the safety of my own life right now! thought Leguna. Though he had wanted to spend his life in peace, the workings of fate was beyond anyone's grasp. Something like living in peace which normal people took for granted was ever so unattainable from Leguna's eyes.
The atmosphere soon returned to normal as if they forgot about the awkwardness from before. But in fact, traces of what happened before still lingered under the surface.
"Are you mad? I only did this cause I was considering what was best for you, you know," whispered Jaehart as he brought some of the food into Minnie and Innilis's plate.
"I'm not mad... Minnie knows that you're doing it for our good, brother. And, Mister Leguna doesn't seem that bad," replied Minnie with a soft voice with Innilis nodding beside her.
"My sisters are the best!" Jaehart stroked their heads lovingly. When he toasted Leguna, he said, "I know you have feelings for Miss Annelotte, right?"
Leguna spit out all the wine in his mouth straight at Jaehart's face. As he coughed, he struggled to explain in a hushed and panicked voice, "No way, no way! What were you thinking? Annie's only my comrade."
"Just own it. How can you still deny it even though you're referring to her so intimately? Based on your reaction alone, anyone can tell that something's up." Jaehart wiped his face nonchalantly before he smirked. "Hehe, Bro, you really do have a good eye. If I were you, I would refuse anyone else for Miss Annelotte's sake."
Afraid that the conversation would get even more tangled up, Leguna didn't bother to explain. Instead, he put on a perverted expression and said, "Hehe, well, it's not like I don't consider your two sisters unattractive, it's just that I'm caught up in something quite troubling right now. If I manage to solve it, I wonder if you can leave one of your sisters for me?"
"No problem!" Jaehart smacked his chest incredibly loudly as he said so.
Leguna's expression twisted even further upon hearing it. "Then, how about both of them?"
"Buzz off! Even dwarves aren't as greedy as you!"
"Darn it, I'm your 'Bro'! What kind of person insults their bro like that?!"
"Well, if you do get together with my sister, then I'd no longer be your bro. Instead, I'll be your elder-brother-in-law, isn't that right? Younger-brother-in-law?"
Leguna was completely speechless.
On the other hand, Kurdak and Vera were giving each other glances.
Vera gave Kurdak a look before she glanced at Leguna, then Annelotte. It was obvious what she meant: 'Looks like Ley's still unable to give up on Annie'.
Kurdak furrowed his brow and tapped on his chest, meaning to convey 'Why of course. Us men are extremely dedicated, you know'.
Vera sent another message with body language. But this time, all she did was spit on the ground. She then turned to Annellotte and probed, "Umm, how are you feeling right now?"
Annelotte looked calmly at Vera and said, "If you're asking about the matter just now, I feel nothing. After all, it doesn't have anything to do with me."
Vera smirked. "Hehe, Annie, you let yourself slip! I didn't say I was asking about that!"
Annelotte didn't utter a single word.
"Oh, come on. Tell Sis how you really feel. It doesn't seem like you hate Leguna anyway," said Vera as she widened her eyes.
"I've never hated him in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn't continue to work as a mercenary in this party."
"Then, that means you like him, right?"
Annelotte remained silent like before. Vera didn't bother to question her anymore. Instead, she advised, "Annie, there's nothing bad about letting others know how you feel. There are some things that ought not to be kept to yourself. Otherwise, you'll be the only one in pain... Well, Leguna might be too."
Looking at the gossipy Kurdak and Vera, Annelotte wondered if she had joined a party of mercenaries or paparazzi.
The dinner lasted quite some time. By the end of it, the three men were already mumbling incoherently and feeling light in the head. Without a doubt, they were releasing the pent up feelings they've endured over the past few days.
Jaehart drunkenly instructed his sisters to prepare the beds for their guests.
Leguna was completely drunk. All he could make out was a small figure pulling him along and putting him in bed. Though he muttered incoherently, he grabbed that other person with his hand just before they were about to leave.
"Eirinn, don't leave, alright? I'll protect you with all I've got, even if it'll cost me my life. Don't worry, I won't let anybody else do you harm..." whimpered Leguna drunkenly.
Innilis started with fright when that happened. She had wanted to run, but the strength of Leguna's grip wasn't something a small girl like her could shake free.
 Alpacas, or 草泥马, is actually a minced oath in Chinese, not so different from 'motherf*cker' or 'f*cking hell'.
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