Chapter 23

But how many times did Elvin say that the hug was for ‘comfort?’ Am I just overanalyzing things again? No, no matter how I think about it, how could he comfort me with a hug!

All sorts of thoughts ran through my head and I ended up unable to sleep until late that night.
My bandaged ankle continued to overheat, and it seemed to be spreading all over my body.

Two more days passed like that.
The Nickel Knights and the Paladins usually take alternate charge over the front and the back of the procession, but for two consecutive days, the paladins followed behind us at the rear.

I had delusions again in that regard.
Is he walking behind me on purpose? Although my questions left Lily struggling to hold her tongue, it was difficult for me to make a rational judgment because of the smile Elvin showed me whenever we made eye contact.
My heart was constantly pounding.

Whenever I had the chance, I grabbed Lily and shouted loudly, “What do I do, really, what should I do? Do I really like the Holy Knight Commander?” Aak.

Lily paid attention to my outbursts at first; she responded positively and told me that it’s possible he could be interested, since he even gave me permission to call him by his name.

However, as I continued to anguish over what to do, she grew irritated and eventually she told me to just do whatever I want.

Even though I was making Lily irritable, I had no one else to talk to about it but her, so every night I held her and cried.
Lily regretted her positive sentiments that had elicited this much excitement, lamenting that she should have answered more carefully.

Then, adopting a very judicious demeanor, she began to tell me that the holy knight commander himself was just a very kind person.
She calmly explained that he doesn’t smile only for me, he just smiles whenever eye contact is made in general.

I was in deep despair again.
But when I thought about it, it seemed like he always smiled at me and only occasionally smiled at other people.

Then she began to tell a shocking story…

“Sir Elviniraz is actually very popular within the empire.”


Although I didn’t have much interest in him before this expedition, he was still so well-known that even I was familiar with his name……

“His popularity in society is no joke, seeing as he’s not only the imperial prince but also the commander of the Holy Knights.
You know how I sometimes go to treat Viscountess Frentoa’s son?”

“Ah, yeah.
The kid who falls down and hurts himself a lot.”

Anyway, after the treatment she usually invites me to have a cup of tea, so I occasionally hear about the social world.
During those times, his name never fails to come up.
As the paladin commander he doesn’t always attend parties, but when he participates in imperial events as a prince, he’s really… all the young girls run up to him.”

“…they run?”

It’s really scary.”

I felt a bit subdued.
I’ve spent all my time in the temple, and even if I did get called by nobles to their mansions, I wasn’t interested in high society gossip, so I never paid attention to their stories.

Lily’s story was shocking, yet expected.

Even at a party, Elviniraz would definitely be the most brilliant person.
It was an obvious fact; even I ranked him along with Cabel as one of the top 2 most handsome people I’ve ever met.

Moreover, because of his kind and friendly personality, people would never stop flocking to him.
He wouldn’t have truly been praised as, ‘the light of the people,’ if the meaning came only from his name.

“Besides, he’s of marriageable age, right? Actually, it’s kinda surprising that he’s not engaged yet…”

A knight who everyone likes and is currently running a huge share price in the marriage market.

The young girls will light up and approach him, finding any excuse to build a close relationship with him, so I….
aren’t I a bit too common?

Well, my divine power was a bit… shockingly upgraded, but other than that, I have nothing.

An orphaned priest from a small temple who knows nothing about the political or social situation of the empire.

I wouldn’t say my appearance is ugly, but it’d be nothing compared to the beautifully dressed aristocrats.
It was beyond comparison.

“…B-but, didn’t you say that he allowed you to use his nickname? He even asked why you wouldn’t call him by it.”

My expression was so miserable that Lily hastily backtracked.
There was a moment of laughter, but she quickly caught on to the fact that I was about to become depressed again and hurriedly comforted me.

She went on, saying that the allowance of a nickname has a very special meaning, and besides, he goes out of his way to comfort me when I’m depressed and even wrapped my sprained ankle himself, so it’s basically telling me that he really cares…..
with that kind of consolation I was instantly cured.

“You really think so?”

I’d recovered beyond her expectations.

“Your eyes began twinkling right away, huh? But I actually really think so.”

She replied with an unsteady smile on her face, her expression trembling.
But it worked so well that I couldn’t stop smiling anyway.

If I were to be stabbed right now, I think kimchi soup would come out instead of blood.*

[tl/n*: this has gotta be an idiom or slang, but I couldn’t find anything online.
But I’m assuming she means something along the lines of her feeling invincible.]

I was preparing for bed late that night when I tried discussing it with Lily again.
She sighed, asking, “Is it time for this again?” I laughed awkwardly and apologized.

I finished getting ready for the next morning and finally turned off the lamp that lit the inside of the barracks.
Ever since that day, only Lily and I were given a separate barracks, so we could talk like this late into the night.
I’d heard that this was another one of Elviniraz’s orders…

Lying in bed, I stared up at the ceiling of the dark barracks and spoke to Lily again.

If I confess to the commander, it’d be a nuisance, right?”

“……it’s already a nuisance right now.
To me.”

Lily answered in an agitated tone, probably just about to fall asleep.
Although I was nervous, I was impatient to hear Lily’s opinion, so I barreled through her irritation and asked once again.

“He’s only friendly with me because of my divine power, or maybe just because I’m a priest, so wouldn’t he be uncomfortable if I suddenly confessed? The travel back would be awkward……”

But Lily ignored my words and fell asleep.
I don’t know if she’s really sleeping, or if she’s too annoyed to respond, but I stayed up for a while, blinking in the silence.
My heart was pounding.

Should I confess?

* * * * * * *

I must confess.

My resolution came quickly.
When we return to the empire, there will be a celebration party right away to commemorate our victory, and I don’t want to wallow in misery while watching girls approach Elviniraz as he shines brightly at the party.

Besides, even though it’s a day with the very shameful name, ‘Miracle Day,’ if I confess during this time, it’s definitely something I can take advantage of since it places me in a more favorable light……

I was deeply concerned about whether to confess today or the day before we return to the empire, which is still about six days away.

I finally fell asleep after agonizing all morning.
As soon as I woke up, I immediately brought up Sir Elvin to Lily, who looked at me with a tired expression.

However, when I told her I’d made the decision to confess, she was surprised and asked over and over again if I was being serious, and in the end, showed a reaction that could have been either cheering or resignation.

There are multiple reasons why I came to this decision so suddenly, but the most important one is… I want to confess quickly and end the burden of suspense.

It’s a little sad, but I need to assume the worst case scenario.
So even if my relationship with Elvin becomes uncomfortable afterwards, it won’t matter since I won’t see him as much once we return to the empire.

He’s someone I’d never met properly before, so when I go back to my old life, I won’t be able to meet him anyway.
We’ll inevitably run into each other at the celebration party, but I’ll be able to survive that much.

It may make me want to seek the comfort of a breakup song every now and then….
or feel inclined to pen a letter to my lord that I can never send, while a few tears escape my eyes….
but that’s something I’ve decided to leave to the future me for now.

I still couldn’t decide exactly when to confess, but once I made the official resolution to confess itself, my mind was in a constant state of distress.

Wouldn’t it be better to do it sooner rather than later? There are still six days left until we arrive at the villa.
During that time, do I have to keep agonizing over whether or not to confess that day?

And this internal conflict became even more severe because of Elvin, whom I encountered as soon as I came out of the barracks.

As if he’d just been passing by, he found me and smiled as our eyes met while he was receiving greetings from other knights.
No, is that not it? But the number of times he’s shown that smile have been finite……

I wasn’t sure if this was my own narcissism or not, but I decided to enjoy my delusion a little more until reality kicked in.
So I gave Elvin a nod in response, thinking to myself that he smiled at me more brightly than anyone else.

That very smile appeared as Elvin’s cool eyes folded, sparkling even more in the morning sunlight.

Oh, it’s a face that’s really unfailingly harmful to my heart.

“Did you sleep well?”

Did you sleep well, Sir Knight?”

“Hm… I slept as usual, but the Priestess looks a little tired.
Maybe because the hike has been hard?”

Elvin’s concern was actually quite valid since the mountain we trekked yesterday was one of the most rugged.

And I couldn’t say the truth, that I had trouble sleeping because I was hesitating over my confession of feelings for him, so I immediately nodded my head in agreement.

“Actually, this hike just……Everyone’s saying they’re fine, but since we’re halfway there, I’m thinking of taking a break.”

“Really? Then we’re not hiking today?”

It’s not that, but……Oh, did I make you look forward to it?”

At the thought of not hiking for a while, my expression brightened, but as soon as I heard Elvin’s denial, it sank again.

And at watching such a change in my expression, Elvin burst into laughter, covering his mouth with the back of his hand.
After coughing a couple of times, he apologized for giving me false hope.
There’s really nothing to apologize for, but the simple act of him apologizing made my heart flutter again.

“If we go a bit further, we’ll come across a mountain valley with quite a scenic view.
The head of the Nickel Knights told us about the place.
He said he’d found it when he was on reconnaissance, so we’re thinking about having a small dinner there this evening.”

Up until now, we had walked only on the mountain trail in order to advance as quickly as possible to Vios, so now everyone was interested in going off-trail to enjoy some the scenery.

Come to think of it, the villa itself was a place where the Nickel Knights had previously found on their search around the path we’re walking today.

It’s a bit surprising that Cabel remembers such a place, but I was starting to get a little excited to see the waterfall.*


[tl/n:* First it was a valley view but it turned into a waterfall, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯ But the confession is next y’allllllll]

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