Taming a Munchkin - Chapter 30
At Eian’s unusual reaction, Kynemeia felt her temper rising and pouted.
“Forget it! I don’t want it back either! I’m not someone who’d reacquire something I’ve given, okay?”
As though he’d gotten the reassurance he sought, his expression loosened up to his standard one. Still, he carried on fiddling with the bracelet.
“Why do you keep touching the bracelet? Is it weird?”
Eian stroked the pumpkin charm on the bracelet and grinned.
“It’s my first time having a friend.”
‘It’s also my first time receiving something of this sort,’ he added to himself privately.
Kynemeia bit her lip as her heart wavered.
“Y-You, even if you act pitiful again, I won’t…!”
She was about to question how could he not have had a single friend in thirteen years but stopped herself. Almost instantly, her pupils began quavering wildly. Eian listed his head, puzzled.
Then a tremor seized her shoulders as a certain truth struck her like a thunderbolt. ‘Me too…! I don’t have a friend in this life either!’
How could she have afforded one? The nobles refused to socialize with her due to her family name, the commoners due to her aristocratic status. It was no wonder this was her first time ever hearing of Relationship Day!
Everyone must have known she was friendless all along, but no one would have dared point it out!
‘Oh my God, I’ve had no friends in all my twelve years of living…’
CRASH! It felt as if a crack of thunder had clashed above her head.
‘To think a girl as bright and nice as me is living a life resembling that of someone with an antisocial personality disorder…!’
Since Kynemeia had failed to finish her words earlier, Eian prompted her.
“Mia? What is it?”
“No… Just thinking… It turns out we’re… each other’s first friend…”
“I’m your first?”
“Yeah… Much as I dislike it…”
“I like it, though.”
The boy’s expression melted, his grin spilling over to his eyes.
“Good for you…”
Kynemeia turned away grimly. To think her very first and only friend in this life is a wicked magician. Was she slowly but surely headed for ruin?
What a tragedy.
* * *
Kynemeia and Eian spent some time by the column chit-chatting before a maid came to announce lunch, and they headed to the dining hall. She was asking the maid about the lunch menu for the day when her gaze fixated on the boy who suddenly spun his arms, his face set with discomfort.
“No, it’s just that my joints have been cracking lately.”
“That so? Is it growing pains?”
“It’s a pain of some sort you’ll feel when you grow taller.”
‘Might be similar,’ Eian mouthed to himself and nodded hugely.
Kynemeia squinted at him. ‘He’s already this big, but he’ll merrily continue growing taller, all on his own?!’
She whipped around with a disapproving air when she caught something black at the corner of her eyes.
A motion like butterfly wings vanished past the edge of a window. Kynemeia rubbed her eyes. She was pretty sure she’d just glimpsed a black butterfly. ‘Did I see wrong?’
But more importantly, they couldn’t stand around like this.
She glared at Eian. The disparity in their heights was starting to widen considerably. Looking up at his head, high above her, she felt rage surge through her gradually.
What is this?!
They were only a year apart, weren’t they! Still adolescents, both of them!
And he hadn’t had a friend either!
‘I should take some growth pills.’
* * *
‘The smell of herbal medicine…’
Even though Eian had wanted to follow her, Kynemeia left the boy behind and entered Hyeminwon alone.
“Oh my, Miss Little Angel. Welcome.”
The clerk stepped out when he spotted her, pressing his hands together in greeting.
She bowed her head awkwardly. Greetings in Yu Ga was the same as how it was done in the Western Continent, by bending forward at one’s waist, but she didn’t understand why they put their hands together solely for her.
“Miss Little Angel, please wait here awhile. I’ll call Sir Xuan Tian over.”
He ushered her into the parlour before knocking on the room next door.
“Sir Xuan Tian! Stop drinking alcohol and come out! Miss Little Angel is here!”
‘He’s drinking again?! In broad daylight?’
She was peering into the sunlight when Xuan Tian’s voice reached her ears.
“Mia is here?”
“Yes, she’s in the Magnolia Room.”
Xuan Tian, in outerwear resembling a silk gown, a liquor bottle in one hand, a cigarette in another, emerged from the room with languid steps.
‘…His indolence is at its zenith. Is this what they mean when they speak of rakes?’
The clerk showed him to the Magnolia Room where Kynemeia was seated. She stood up and greeted him.
“I’m here, Orabeoni.”
“Hello, Little Doll. Welcome.”
Although she wanted to advise him he’d meet an untimely end if he continued his current lifestyle, Xuan Tian Xinghai was freakishly healthy. No matter how indolent his lifestyle, it wouldn’t pose a risk to his health whatsoever.
‘I’m jealous…! That healthy body… That idleness!’
Xuan Tian hurried to place his bottle on the table and sat on the chair across from her.
“How is life at Hyeminwon? Any discomfort?”
Judging by how this rake was idling in paradise—no, a hermit—she simply asked how he was faring.
“Not much. It’s much better here than Yu Ga. That aside, there’s something I want to tell you—”
“Yes? What is it…?”
“So here’s the thing—”
A large hand swiped the liquor bottle from the table.
“Were you drinking again, Master?”
“Y-You brat, how did you find out?!”
It was Law.
“Miss Fairy, you’re looking adorable today as well.”
“Thank you, you are just as dashing today, too!”
As soon as Law handed Meow over, Kynemeia cuddled her close.
“How can I not find out? The alchemists are whispering around that Sir Xuan Tian has been knocking a few back in broad daylight in his room.”
‘Those guys…’ Xuan Tian gritted his teeth. ‘Darn it! I reminded them over and over again to not inform him of my whereabouts.’
“You, get back to work!”
He hollered and aimed a kick at Law’s butt who didn’t appear to have even felt it. When a clerk came by to request his help, he marched off with huge strides, Xuan Tian’s liquor bottle in one hand.
“S-Shouldn’t you leave that behind?!”
Only Xuan Tian’s voice, loaded with despair, echoed after Law’s hulking back.
Meanwhile, Kynemeia sat staring at NyangPapa’s body, carefully observing. ‘Even his movements put one in mind of a panther.’
Although NyangPapa was a huge man, his movements weren’t sluggish. Rather, they gave the impression of a sleek beast.
‘His beastly charm…’
Kynemeia was about to smile in contentment at the thought when Xuan Tian opened his mouth.
“About what I was saying earlier.”
“Can’t you take that brat away, Little Doll? He’s uselessly strong, so he’ll definitely be an asset regardless of whatever work you set him to.”
“Weren’t you keeping him busy around Hyeminwon?”
She tilted her head. NyangPapa referred to Xuan Tian as ‘Master’ so she assumed he was his disciple.
“But what exactly is your relationship with NyangPapa, Orabeoni?”
“Adoptive, of course.”
‘Ah… So Orabeoni adopted NyangPapa and became his master. That’s what usually goes down in a master-disciple relationship.’
Kynemeia nodded, but then Xuan Tian wasn’t finished.
“He did it, to me.”
‘He was the one who adopted you?!’
“He picked me up when I arrived at the Western Continent, clueless and facing persecution at the hands of the cruel Western citizens.”
‘You sure it’s not because you were an illegal immigrant?’
“I’d been lying on the filthy ground at the time, trembling piteously from homesickness.”
‘And not because you couldn’t get your dose of alcohol?’
“I made him a medicinal decoction as a token of my thanks for providing me food and shelter— but then he started jabbering on about electing me as his master and that he’s washed his hands off. It will all be fine as long as he eventually goes back to the path that sustains his aptitude.”
“Yeah. That fellow is a Kshan after all.”
Eh? Kynemeia blinked.
“Yeah, he said he once managed a guild called Black Night or something… I’ve no idea why he’s stubbornly clinging to the hopes of becoming an alchemist when it’s a pipe dream.”
“Don’t tell me… The Black Night’s Kshan Law?”
“You know of him too, Little Doll?”
‘NyangPapa was Kshan Law?!’ Kynemeia’s hands flew to her cheeks.