Dry Drowning - Chapter 34
The expedition, which Ian thought would be rough, was more peaceful than he expected.
Three days have passed since they left the mansion, but the march was smooth because the terrain was not rough and there were no large animals that infested.
Rather, it was more problematic because nothing appeared.
Although it was a cold area, it was not to the extent that animals could not live. Nevertheless, there were no small footprints, let alone herbivores such as deer.
Strangely, everything was quiet in the forest.
It was the first time that birds could not be heard in a forest, so Ian looked around and then looked at Logan who was walking side by side. He was looking ahead expressionlessly as if he was not particularly interested in the scenery.
Even though it was possible to trot slowly, Ian was still unable to speed up enough to catch up with the skilled Knights. Although he naturally lagged behind the crowd from the beginning, he did not get lost because Logan always slowed down for him.
[T/N: Trot- (with reference to a horse or other four-legged animal) proceed or cause to proceed at a pace faster than a walk, lifting each diagonal pair of legs alternately.]
The full-fledged expedition began when Claude arrived at a pre-designated place. After unpacking and determining the area, the search party moved based on it, so by the time Ian arrived, most of them had disappeared into the forest. Ian didn’t know what they were searching for, but he only noticed that they were in vain because there was nothing in the hands of the Knights who returned around the evening.
“They say that in Rox, the body remains unscathed even when hit with the highest grade of power.”
Suddenly, Ian, who was looking away, turned to the sudden voice coming from the side. Logan wasn’t looking this way.
“Of course, your skin has been clean and beautiful since birth.”
Ian thought he had heard it somewhere, and soon he remembered the first time he met Kyle.
Even clothes have clean skin in Rox?
Even that face that curiously asked*.
[*T/N: Ian even remembered Kyle’s expression when he asked that strange question before.]
In fact, Ian, who had never been to the country of the Rox, couldn’t quite understand the meaning of that question. Even in the modern era where they lived, most of them had clear skin unless they were in a country where a certain culture was established. However, the more he got out of the room and encountered people, the more Ian realized what it meant.
Each of the people here had something engraved on their bodies.
Some were very small, like Claude’s cross*, but others were noticeably large. Of course, no one had a swear word on their face like Kyle, but all of them were different in size and location, and not a single person could be seen without anything like Ian.
[*T/N: If you guys don’t remember, Claude has an engraving of a cross like this ✝️ on his forehead.]
Even Ed, who seemed to have no interest in it, had a tattoo on his wrist. He remembered seeing lines that went like a ring.
Ian, who had never thought it was engraved on their skin since birth, thought of them as merely tattoos. And the most common of them was the pattern similar to the snake on the back of the hand.
Ian had seen it in the village, the tattoo was located in a place where it could not be hidden without gloves.
ㅡ We’re stigmatised like this here!
It was a way of saying that they wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. Ian thought the stigma meant the thing on the back of their hand, but he couldn’t even ask. In this mostly hostile place, the tattooed people avoided Ian like a worm.
It wasn’t a very pleasant feeling to be despised for no reason, but it wasn’t very unpleasant either. There must be a history of this place. Bloodstained things are usually hard to forget.
“But since you came here, you’ve always been hurt.”
Logan’s voice that followed was at first glance filled with sadness. He felt that he was speeding up a bit, so he glanced at Ian while pulling the reins.
“My heart is always anxious.”
Taking off his shoes, taking him to the procession, putting him in the Knights Templar were all Logan’s doing. He spoke well as he made the whole situation himself. The fact that there was no malice couldn’t be an excuse anyways.
Because there have been so many things that he had done so far without malice. Just because you’re curious, bored, and for no reason.
Therefore, it would not have worked if it had been the usual argument.
[T/N: If this fact had been put into debate or something, Logan would have lost because he had done so many hurtful things to Ian even if he didn’t have any malice. It kinda means that. ಡ ͜ ʖ ಡ]
The senseless kindness, the empty kindness of the inside, and the pleasant words were completely incomprehensible to Ian, who had a habit of scepticism. Logan seemed like the sweetest and cheapest of them all. Ian instinctively felt that he would have a hard time if he swallowed it*.
[*T/N: Swallowed his kindness I think (?)]
I knew I was going to have a hard time, but strangely enough, I just…
When Bella, who was walking fast, stopped, Logan immediately stopped in the same place. Ian took out a notebook and a pen from his arms and looked at him as if he was wondering why. Logan came closer as he watched him start to write something down.
When he handed over the torn paper, he immediately took it.
He looked interested in what else would be written.
However, Logan, who read the letters in ink, no longer smiled. It wasn’t what he thought.
It would be okay.
What would be okay?
Getting hurt or being used? If not, how about dying?
It was when Logan, who tilted his head to a word he didn’t understand, eventually opened his mouth. For a moment, his head turned to smell on tip of his nose. It seemed that he had finally found it.
“We have to go a little further forward.”
Logan, who took the reins and turned quickly, disappeared into the forest where there was no path. Ian blinked, wondering what was going on, and didn’t even look at him. Ian, who was left alone in the blink of an eye, turned his head, but only the dense black trees were growing densely.
There was still no sound in the forest.
Fortunately, it was as Logan said.
As he followed the intermittent sound of conversation, he soon saw the Knights who had departed first.
The search had already begun, but there were only about a dozen people left. Because they had to stay overnight in the forest, this is how many people were always left to protect their luggage and make food. As they rode the horse fast, several people, who felt his presence, turned their heads. Then they gave him a suspicious look of wonder.
“What? Why are you here alone?”
It was Ian who was always with Logan.
He couldn’t tell where the Grand Duke had gone and why he was alone.
He wanted to ask, but unfortunately, most of the remaining people were not on good terms with Ian. To be precise, he was exactly among the group of Rox haters. Claude, Schwartz, and Kyle, who were the most elite members of the crew, each went on a search team, so there was currently no one to talk to Ian in a friendly manner.
Ian, who had noticed the situation roughly, didn’t bother to approach them.
You don’t have to scrape it to make a crumb.
[T/N: Simply means he doesn’t need to make the situation worse.]
Ian, who came down from the saddle, tied the reins to the tree and took out a water bottle. When Bella’s eyes began to shine, he prepared some water for her and she quickly turned it over in a hurry. She was especially smaller than other horses. It was a schedule that never seemed to end within a few days, so he had to be careful.
It was when he poured water again because he thought it was still not enough.
When he turned his head to the voice that approached and greeted him, there was a man with a face he had never seen before.
Who is he? I don’t think I’ve seen him before.
In fact, Ian didn’t remember most of them except for a few.
“It’s the first time we’re having a conversation. Ah, I’m Dayden.”
Dayden, who introduced himself with pleasure, had a very ordinary impression. Brown hair, brown eyes, uncharacteristic features, and even a voice that sounds familiar to ears as if he had listened to it several times. He may have talked to him, but he may not have remembered him.
When Ian nodded with that thought, Dayden bursted into laughter, haha.
“Sorry. It’s really amazing to see you up close. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while, um.”
Dayden, who paused as if he were thinking something, whispered with a slight expression of embarrassment.
“It was kind of hard because Kyle was always next to you.”
It was a reason that Ian could empathize with. No one would want to come near seeing someone pecking at your ears like a woodpecker all day long. Well, he didn’t even want that. Ian, who roughly shrugged his shoulders, locked the bucket.
“Ah, you can eat first if you’re hungry. It’s hard because it’s your first time on an expedition, isn’t it ?”
It was almost evening before he knew it.
Ian, who was not very hungry, shook his head, pointing to beef jerky and stew prepared in advance so that they could eat it as soon as the search party returned. Ian recalled that none of the people who suddenly pretended to be friendly and talked to him properly were decent humans.
“I am making you feel uncomfortable, aren’t I? Talking to you all of a sudden?”
Dayden asked with a light smile as if he noticed it.
It would have been better if I knew, I would have gone a little bit, but it seemed that I didn’t have such a keen eye.
[T/N: Ian is probably thinking that if he knew where Logan went then he would have gone there but he didn’t have such keen eyes to notice where he went. Because it’s awkward here. (・∀・)]
“I’m not from the North. So I actually wanted to apologize. It happened when I joined the Knight Templar…., and maybe to this day. I’ve been watching you being treated unfairly.”
“I mean, you didn’t come to Shertian because you wanted to come, either.”
It was quite a normal remark that he didn’t expect to hear here. Ian, who was ignoring him moderately and trying to avoid the seat, turned his attention towards Dayden. Unlike before, the ears were a little red, showing that he is sincerely embarrassed.
It was the moment when he narrowed his eyebrows.
Ian, as well as Dayden’s face, turned toward the sudden noise around them.
And there, there were search crews who returned in their miserable condition, covered in blood.