In the end, the group returned to Lyla’s house after a few days. Chase greeted the group warmly, almost excessively.
“Thanks to you, I was able to worry a bit less. I appreciate it!”
He smiled brightly, shaking hands with Badin and Adam. When it was Holly’s turn, Cahill pulled her away to prevent him from grabbing her. In the end, Chase couldn’t help but hide a chuckle as he withdrew his outstretched hand from the air.
Holly chuckled as she watched Chase, looking overly fond.
Before leaving to find Lamia, she recalled what Chase had said to the group before they departed.
“Only Lyla knows that the Elder has lost the treasure. It’s entirely in her hands whether the Elder can retain his position as an Elder.”
“But that’s why the Elder is scheming to kill Lyla.”
“If the Elder gets hold of the power of the spirit, she won’t spare Lyla then.”
Adam also seemed to have realized this. As he wiped his hands held by Chase with a handkerchief, he spoke up.
“That’s why you deliberately looked for it…”
As she forcefully silenced Adam, who was trying to speak honestly, Cahill wore an annoyed expression when he saw her clinging to Adam.
Adam, who noticed his disapproving gaze, struggled to free himself from Holly.
“I didn’t deliberately look for it. It’s for Lyla’s sake.”
Holly, holding onto Adam tightly as he tried to escape, smiled at Chase like a contented person. Then, she gestured to Adam to keep quiet.
‘There’s no point in making the landlord uncomfortable for no reason.’
For whatever reason, Chase’s desired outcome had indeed been achieved. Feeling quite pleased, he didn’t pay much attention to the strange atmosphere among the group.
“Well then, as a gesture of thanks, I will treat you to some tea to unwind.”
Chase opened the cabinets around the kitchen counter and took out various items.
“Looks like you don’t have this where you live?”
Perplexed by the unfamiliar term, Holly asked, and Chase turned to her and replied.
“Well then, it will be a good memory.”
She examined the paper bag that he had placed on the table.
Inside the paper bag were dried leaves emitting a bitter scent.
“You steep the dried leaves in hot water.”
Chase responded to Holly’s question and reached into the paper bag. He then placed a few leaves into a small teapot with a strainer.
“These cups are very lovely and unique.”
The cups that he had set out on the table were smaller than usual cups, with thick glass and round handles. Holly’s eyes sparkled at the sight of this unfamiliar cup shape. The dishes she had seen during their meal at the mansion were all carved from wood.
“Right? These tea leaves, teapot, and cups, Lyla brought them back from her trip to the desert.”
Chase proudly explained as he poured water into Holly’s cup, filling it with brown tea.
“Thanks to that, we can enjoy some delicious tea.”
Cahill, next in line as Chase’s teapot was pointed in his direction, placed his hand over his cup.
At that moment, a cracking sound echoed.
Chase, who was pouring tea into Badin’s cup, turned around with a startled expression. Water was leaking from Cahill’s cup.
“Was there a crack in the cup? I’ll get a new one.”
He hurriedly poured tea into Adam’s cup as well.
However, Chase couldn’t even get new cups after that. Badin and Adam’s cups had both shattered in succession.
“Ack, it’s hot…!”
Adam quickly pulled his chair back to avoid the water flowing beneath the cup. Chase’s eyes widened in surprise.
“What’s going on? Just yesterday, there wasn’t a single scratch on them when I cleaned them…”
The tea was on the brink of spilling onto the table and falling to the floor. Holly grabbed a kitchen towel and pressed it firmly around the cups.
“Be careful. You might hurt your hand.”
As Cahill told her as he cleared her hand away, her gaze was fixed on the handle of the cup that she had barely touched. The cup’s handle was very cold. It reminded her of the time when he had touched the cup to make a refreshing drink in the Green Village.
“Don’t worry, we have plenty of cups.”
Holly, lost in thought as she alternated between the broken cup and her undamaged one, asked with a mischievous smile.
“So, is it okay if we break one more?”
“Uh, oh? That’s….”
Chase’s eyes darted around in confusion at Holly’s question.
“Go ahead, it’s okay. Like I said, we have plenty of cups.”
When he nodded hesitantly with a troubled face, she quickly emptied her cup of tea in one gulp. The bitterness made her face scrunch up. She then handed the empty cup to Cahill.
“Cahill, make this cup cold.”
Despite the sudden request, Cahill promptly did as she asked. The cup became so cold that it was difficult to touch immediately.
Adam tilted his head in incomprehension.
“What are you trying to do?”
Holly poured hot water from the tea kettle into the chilled glass cup. Just like with Cahill and Adam’s cups, the cup started to crack. As she poured the tea, she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the cup.
She spoke as if feeling refreshed.
“I don’t know for sure, but I think pouring very hot water into a cold cup might be the reason.”
Cahill and Adam’s cups cracked as soon as the hot water was poured. The only undamaged cup was Holly’s, and her cup wasn’t as cold as the ones belonging to Cahill and the other two from Adam.
“You’re still as sharp as ever, Holly.”
Turning her head at the voice from behind, she saw Lyla standing at the entrance of the dining room.
Chase called Lyla’s name with a joyful expression, though Lyla didn’t respond and only addressed Holly.
“I’m curious about how you’ve been all this time. Would you like to come to my study?”
Holly’s eyes widened in surprise upon hearing unexpected words from her. Lyla had never shown interest in the personal affairs of others. When she visited Hallidem to work, Lyla was only interested in information about other regions she would travel to later.
“A few days ago, I left you alone to rest, but I couldn’t bear it when I saw you again today.”
Holly replied with a cheerful tone, although she concealed her puzzlement.
As she started to follow Lyla, who had walked ahead, someone grabbed her wrist. She stopped and looked at Cahill, who was holding her.
“Holly doesn’t go anywhere without me.”
Cahill and Lyla stared at each other intensely, and it felt like a cold wind was blowing between them.
“Is that so?”
He then turned his head toward Holly, urging her with his eyes for a response. While Lyla had saved Holly’s life in Centuria a few years ago, they weren’t as close or well-acquainted as Cahill and Holly.
“Can he come, too?”
“It’s not a particularly private matter, so feel free.”
Lyla nodded readily.
Chase, who had been watching for an opportunity, interjected. However, this time, Lyla didn’t nod.
“You should serve the other guests.”
He continued to send pleading looks, expressing his desire to go with them and yet Lyla didn’t turn back.
Holly followed her into the study, and the worry in her eyes as she scrutinized Lyla’s face was evident. Her complexion was even worse than when she had seen her before she left to find Lamia.
“Lyla, you’re not feeling unwell, are you?”
Holly asked as she sat down in response to Lyla’s gesture. She silently examined Holly’s face without responding.
“I went to the secret space you mentioned.”
After a brief silence, Lyla’s revelation was completely unexpected.
“There were signs of someone using that place, even though I, the owner, had no knowledge of it.”
Her words widened Holly’s eyes. The idea of having unknown spaces in one’s own home and someone living there was chilling even to imagine. She shook her head, trying to dispel the chilling thoughts that had crowded her mind.
“Could there be others like us who accidentally discovered it?”
Lyla’s eyes sparkled as if she were waiting for her response.
“I hope you can find out who’s using the hidden space for what purpose and if there are any other hidden spaces.”
Holly nodded in agreement, realizing the importance of investigating this mysterious discovery.