After welcoming them, the Baroness together with her daughter, Aive proceeded to guide them inside the village.
As it was indeed safer than on the road, not to mention the additional security provided, they were all able to relax.
Yet again, for Naell who couldn’t stand so many people, the entire situation was exhausting.
Commoners and nobles alike were surrounding and giving them warm welcomes; especially towards the Prince and Princess.
Luckily, as time went on, Naell found his solace. For the village's ambience was simple yet filled with innovation.
Unlike other towns where stalls appeared anywhere, in Noeadia they were placed at an allocated area which they called marketplace.
Within it, a variety of products were showcased; from general goods, to the town’s renowned handicrafts and more.
At that point, Naell couldn't help but admit defeat. Noeadia, the land of jewels, was far more tourist-centered compared to Beryldot.
• This takes skill, the Baroness is really impressive, HOOT. •
Telepathically said Owly to which Naell truly agreed.
Baroness Noeadia was known as a firm believer of equality. That was why her village was welcoming towards any race and gender.
As a result, the population of female merchants and knights was much higher compared to other villages.
• Restaurants are lacking though, HOOT. •
• …You glutton. •
The marketplace truly was where the town’s full focus had been given. The rest of the establishments they passed, albeit charming, were simple and humble in feel.
Even the home of the Baroness where they all headed was quaint. Yet truthfully Naell found it lovely to live in.
• My dream house. •
• It's small though, HOOT. •
• Exactly, you barely have to walk much to get to where you want to~ •
• …You sloth. •
As they went inside, aside from the declaration stating their arrival, their attention was caught; what beheld their sights was a party living up to the village’s name.
"Beautiful…" They said, yet only Naell sighed as he knew that day would surely be tiring.
The party was filled with vibrant chatters that showed no sign of stopping.
Harmonious music enveloped the dining hall with matching glowing jewels imbued by magic.
It was clear that the Baroness was very particular with her decor, and it showed with the large fashionable drapes that complemented her coral walls.
Some had already begun dancing in joyous spirits, while others were enjoying the food, all of which were cuisines ranging from different kingdoms.
Gathered together were the princess’ escorts, excluding Aive who accompanied her mother, Casper who went off to meet a friend, Utua, one of the central figures of the party, and the now missing young master of Beryldot.
“Hey, where’s Naell?” Asked Septh.
After their earlier encounter with monsters, he had warmed up to Naell, afterall what the young master of Beryldot accomplished was an incredible feat.
Not to mention, Septh already knew that he was really capable, having heard of Naell's deed at the cultural festival.
"And here I thought April would be the most troublesome." Said Cleave with a grin. Yet April only stared at him coldy.
For the first hour of the party, they were still fortunate enough to see Naell’s presence, lazily strolling from wall to wall and speaking awkwardly to the ones who approached him. Yet at that moment, he had slipped away and was nowhere to be found.
That was why Septh could only loudly exclaim,
“As a noble he should be socializing!”
“Who would have thought that the Baroness likes to party, HOOT.”
“You really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
“But Super Pig was bad, cover and story, HOOT.”
“I’m not the one who told you to read that, right? That’s on you.”
“Yeah, but point being, I judged both, and it’s baaad, HOOT.”
In a balcony far from the view of the crowds, Naell and Owly were there eating food that they had yoinked from the party.
“No comeback, HOOT?” Said Owly with a smirk.
Yet Naell simply smiled and continued looking at the distant stars.
“You know it wasn’t your faul---”
Before Owly could finish his words, out of nowhere, someone began making their way to the balcony.
They immediately stopped conversing. Owly swiftly acted nonchalantly and feasted upon the food, while Naell waited for the person’s entrance.
Both of them had already sensed who he was. It was none other than Casper Genoja.
“Aged wine like this shouldn’t be passed on.” Casper said warmly to him, while holding a glass of wine in each hand.
"Hello, little owl."
Naell initially wanted to turn down the offer. Yet he heard Casper teasingly say after greeting Owly.
“I’m pretty sure you can drink this one, it’s quite smooth.”
That immediately awakened Naell’s manly pride, as he went on to grab the glass and take a sip.
Yet because of that, the strong flavour of the wine and the heavy acidity it held, burned his throat, causing him to cough
When he was about to start a coughing fit, he heard Casper speak once more.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Naturally, Naell mistook Casper’s words as a challenge to his manliness, and pettily drank more.
Sensing the misunderstanding, Casper laughed and drank his wine as well.
Before Naell could further think he was being challenged, Casper added on, with a warm voice that seemed to float on that windy night.
“I don’t know why things like that weigh heavily on your mind.”
“This is actually light, I just coughed because it was too mellow and---”
“You’ve been like this ever since we were kids.”
‘He doesn’t mean the drink?'
The young master of Genoja then drank some more before saying,
“Naell, wildetaurs are dangerous so there’s no reason to refrain from killing them, and yet---“
Casper then smiled sadly as he looked towards Naell.
“And yet… there you were trying your best to save them.”
Naell couldn’t refute as he was at a loss for words. He never thought that anyone would ever figure out his actions.
Casper could only laugh softly. All that time, Naell was still the kid he grew up with, hiding the truth with his silence just like in the past.
“That’s why I know you’re special, the way you think is very different from this world.”
At that moment, Naell found himself flooded with emotions; feelings that were his yet were not at the same time. Much like the thought he accidentally conveyed.
“What gives us the right to kill?”
The words that came out from his very own mouth had truly surprised Naell. Reason being, those were just thoughts he never intended to voice out.
The same went with Casper. What he just heard and took a glimpse of, was a voice and face that he became acquainted with many years ago.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.” Naell admitted.
Casper stared at him for a while before laughing out loud. He then patted Naell’s shoulder as he replied,
“Well, you’re not wrong.”
The night grew longer as they leaned against the balcony’s railings, with one thought lingering in Naell’s head.
‘How similar are we really?’ He asked himself.
He then closed his eyes and took in the silence, until the sound of Owly’s chewing was all he could hear.
His thoughts rushed to him as fast the alcohol ran through his bloodstream, yet it began to slow down as it all melded into one question.
At that moment Naell’s eyes shot open as he glared at the sky before him. The myriad of stars seemed to mimic his mind and the countless things he was asking.
‘Will you return and take back your life?’
Fortunately, his attention was averted when they all heard a soft voice from the other side of the door.
“What are you doing here princess?”
Immediately the atmosphere changed and became more awkward as soon as new faces entered the balcony.
“Oh…um…hello.” Said the princess as a light flush came over her pale face. She meekly walked through the door, embarrassed to be caught snooping from inside the party.
Naell and Casper were shocked, they refused to believe a princess would do such a thing.
‘We didn’t sense anyone. It must be a coincidence!’ They both firmly thought.
Yet before they could finalize their thoughts, Wendy spoke seemingly unbothered,
“Caspy, Lesjon’s looking for you!” She exclaimed with full vigor, all before turning to the princess and adding on,
“Please excuse us.”
She bowed respectfully before grabbing her fiance by the arm. The couple then walked together and quickly left the balcony, joining the others inside.
For a while an air of silence overcame the few who were left behind, as neither Naell, nor Utua spoke a word under the night.
On the other hand, Owly who since earlier had been chewing in full spirits, finally stopped before telepathically saying to Naell.
• Yeah, I’ll get more meat, HOOT. •
• Wait! •
• Bye, HOOT! •
The last sound Naell and his new company heard before some more silence, was the door that shut upon Owly’s exit.
That was until he heard her chuckling, Naell then couldn’t help but take a glance at the princess whose cheeks were still slightly blushed.
She seemed to have calmed down unlike earlier, as she leaned her back against the railing.
Her autumn painted hair fell to the other side of the metal bars, each strand darkened by the night's hues and almost unrecognizable in the shadows.
It was only then when Naell recalled that she was apparently listening to him and Casper.
“…Princess, I don’t suppose you heard any of that?” Naell asked, weirded out by her chuckle.
Her gaze didn’t change when she turned to Naell and smiled. A stringent air was around her when she spoke,
“I suppose I didn’t.” She said to him before gazing at the door to the party. The faded sound of music was soothing to her.
As much as Naell liked silence on all occasions, at that moment he loved it. Had the princess also left with the lovey-dovey couple, he would have loved it even more.
Such were his thoughts until the swift return of a now massive stuffed owl,
• M’back, HOOT • He called out telepathically, kicking the door open with a biscuit in his beak.
It was noticeable how his white feathers were covered in sugar and crumbs.
• That was quick. How was dessert? •
Naell asked gawking at the bird’s fluffy stomach, to which the owl then admitted without any hesitation,
• I’ve tasted better, HOOT •
Naell listened to his words intently. At that point he had grown fond of hearing Owly’s many critiques for food, even his elaborate top 10 best meats.
Yet when Utua suddenly spoke without turning to either of them, an air of panic was added to the cold wind of the night,
“Oh, I agree, but the carrot cake was rather nice, don’t you think?”
Upon hearing that, Naell and Owly’s eyes widened, in response, Utua added on as she giggled,
“Don’t worry your secret's safe with me, Owly.”
Both of them were still bewildered. Afterall, telepathy could only be heard if you shared your mana or aura with that person.
Seeing their reaction, Utua smiled. She then leaned on her left arm as she gazed towards the stars.
“You see.. this is a secret, but my bloodline is blessed with ears that can hear what the wind hears, such as telepathic conversations. In fact, we also possess a presence that can be hard to detect.”
“So that’s why…” Naell replied, recalling how he didn’t notice her presence.
“Yup, but if you gentlemen were really alert, I’m sure you both would have noticed.”
Naell could only sigh, uncertain of how many he had already released that day.
“Then all this time, you knew.”
“I did, and to be honest it’s kinda cute hearing your banters.” Replied Utua teasingly.
Naell found her voice to be cheeky and intimidating. Nevertheless as someone who could sense intention, he knew she wasn’t planning any harm.
“Is it okay to be telling us your secret, Princess?”
With Naell’s question, her eyes narrowed and a light smirk formed on her face,
“I’m in no way worried.”
She then added on, as she turned to Naell, holding up a finger to her lips,
“Afterall, we both seem to share matching secrets now.”
At that moment, Naell knew it was a grave mistake to be acquainted with Utua Taglagas.
“Your eyes are very sharp princess, for I am truly great! HOOT!”
It was as if Naell no longer existed the moment Utua chose to give her attention to Owly.
To Naell, the fluffy owl had never seemed puffier out of pride and joy from the flood of compliments, yet he accepted his gullible nature as he was finally able to stay silent.
‘I owe you for this one Owly!’ Naell said as tears of joy formed in his eyes, happy to contribute nothing to the conversation.
It was then when Septh dragging Lesjon barged in.
“There you guys are, you’re missing the party!” Said Septh who almost vomited right then and there.
“Sorry princess, first bottle, lost control.” Said Lesjon who was clearly annoyed, while with no hesitation chose to rat out Septh.
“Far from the rumored rivalry, Septh and Lesjon are actually good friends.” whispered Casper to Naell.
He was actually the one that told of where they were, as only Utua could stop Septh.
Naell responded with a nod. In the first place, he didn’t know the rumor actually existed. He was just surprised how these people were able to just phase in and out of nowhere.
‘’You should really stop drinking, your tolerance is way too low.” Sternly said the Princess.
As Septh was no longer in any condition to party, Lesjon and Casper helped him to the room he could temporarily rest in.
Due to this, Wendy and Naell were dragged to be the noble companions of the Princess and Prince, accompanying both where they went, under the guise of being nobles themselves.
Much to Naell’s dismay, he and Wendy were dragged by the princess to accompany her.
Because of that, they were often included with the greetings directed at the royal blood, several of which turned out to be segways to various noble invitations.
That was a rather unique and tiring experience to Naell. He questioned why guests even bothered to shake his hand, with such a tactless record as the troublesome noble of Beryldot.
Yet unbeknownst to him, he was actually seen as a reputable young noble, and even a powerful adventurer that could later gain his mother’s title.
For a while the greetings continued and seemed to never stop. Never before had Naell ever spoken to so many people in his life.
“I see you’re still sleepy.” Said Casper to the drowsy looking Naell.
All his thoughts of nausea seemed to have been replaced with a strong desire to rest.
Septh smirked upon seeing Naell’s state, yet pain soon followed his head. Lesjon was the one who spoke to belittle his friend.
“That’s what you get for drinking, when you can’t.”
Laughter ensued in the carriage while Septh could only regret his decisions. On the other hand, Naell was dead tired to even bother faking a smile.
They were now on their way to Taglagas, ready to bid the guests of Summer farewell.
Prince Enitma thanked them for the successful visit, and turned to the young master Beryldot, who struggled to stay awake.
“I hear rumors of your exemplary powers, young master Naell. I could use a man like you."
Naell caught a small glimpse of coldness within the prince’s eyes and voice. Yet only for a little while as his usual warm expression returned.
"But I never would have thought parties were your weakness.”
Enitma half-joked, still in disbelief of how truly powerful the young master of Beryldot was.
“If a party tires you out, wait til you participate in the sports festival.” Said Utua, with a look of anticipation in her eyes.