“Oh, my goodness! I didn’t see you at all. I’m sorry, child.”
After a few collisions, she finally arrived at the stall and heard the commotion.
“That darn little thief!”
Someone cursed and grabbed Robert by his robe as he reported him to the owner.
“I caught this chicken skewer thief here!”
Recognizing the accuser’s voice, Izeline’s mouth fell open.
It was Camry.
He briefly ignored Izeline and turned his head towards the furious owner, pointing a finger at Robert with a triumphant look.
“I saw it with my own two eyes. He stole sneakily!”
“How dare you steal from my stall!”
The angry owner approached him with determined steps, snatched Robert from Camry’s grip, and roughly pushed him to the ground.
As a result, two chicken skewers fell to the ground, and Robert’s hood got wet in the process. In the meanwhile, Camry wore a proud expression and pointed at him with his index finger.
“This guy is a thie…”
However, as Izeline cut him off and shouted, his words trailed off abruptly, a flicker of hesitation crossing his face.
Yielding to the intensity of Izeline’s menacing stare, he finally sealed his lips. In her eagerness, she then swiftly closed the distance between herself and Robert, pulling the hood over his head. She didn’t want anyone else to recognize him besides Camry.
“Quick! Quick, come here!”
She hurriedly urged Robert, who came out empty-handed, to stand behind her. If they paid, the situation would quiet down.
However, Izeline’s heart sank behind Robert’s ensuing response.
“What is it?”
Caught off guard, her eyes shook in confusion and slowly lifted her head toward the shadow looming over them. The owner was glaring at them fiercely.
“Little troublemakers daring to mess up my business.”
“We, we’re sorry. We were so hwungry…”
Izeline decided to play the pity card as quickly as possible. She tried to make her eyes look as pitiful as possible, but…
“If you don’t have money, starve.”
The owner stooped down, picked up the dirt-covered chicken skewers, and presented them in front of the two.
“It’s four percs.”
He extended his palm towards them.
It was a disaster since they didn’t bring any money. Izeline wracked her brain, desperately trying to find a way out of this situation. Unfortunately, however, no viable solution came to mind.
That was when Robert tore something sparkling off his own body and handed it to the owner.
“Instead of this useless thing, mon… huh?”
It was a button, intricately crafted with precious gemstones, adorned the chicken skewers. Its value surpassed that of the entire food stall, leaving a surplus of worth.
He quickly counted in his mind and coughed hastily. Then, with a firm voice, he shouted.
“Fine! I’ll let it slide this time! Don’t ever pull off a thieving stunt like a rat again…!”
At that moment, someone kicked the tavern door as if breaking it. The man who captured everyone’s attention sighed and walked out, swaying back and forth.
“Damn, it’s noisy.”
He then tilted the beer glass in his hand and gulped down the drink to the last drop before adding a remark.
“The taste of the alcohol is ruined.”
The man, who appeared suddenly like a comet, alternated his gaze between the missing button on Robert’s torn clothing and the owner’s clenched fist with a sharp look in his eyes, contrasting with his drunk demeanor.
“What’s all this commotion? If there’s a problem with the door, you should compensate properly!”
The startled owner, finally regaining his composure, shouted loudly. In response, the man let out a derisive snort.
At a great speed, he twisted the owner’s wrist and leisurely caught the button that had floated up before smirking.
“I’ll even cover the medical expenses.”
Clang. Clang. Clang.
Dozens of coins fell to the ground with a loud sound.
If he had to heal his wrist and fix the door, the money was enough. Of course, the door was only hit hard enough not to be completely broken, and the owner’s wrist would recover well enough, too.
The owner frowned and shouted.
“Give that back quickly!”
“Instead of this junk, I’ll give you money.”
“I did it as you wished, but you talk too much.”
Casually shrugging off, the man sent a farewell gesture to Izeline and Robert, who were sitting on the ground with dazed expressions and rummaged through his pockets, taking out a few more coins.
“These are worth two skewers of chicken.”
Izeline looked at the coins rolling on the ground.
It was exactly four Percs.
At that moment, startled by the owner’s sudden action, Izeline widened her eyes in shock.
“No matter where you came from, you’ve crossed the line!”
Dodging the punch that was flying towards his face by bending his waist, the man retaliated in the same motion.
Contrary to the light movement, a heavy sound echoed. The owner’s body, as his lower jaw was precisely struck by the fist that rose from below, floated into the air.
Izeline was so startled that she covered her mouth with both hands. Robert’s mouth also hung open.
As the owner’s body fell in front of the two, the man rubbed his hands together, glancing at the foaming and unconscious figure.
“I don’t particularly like using fists.”
Despite saying that, he delivered the blow smoothly.
“Ah, since it’s self-defense, there won’t be any medical expenses, right?”
He patiently elucidated the situation to the oblivious owner, who couldn’t hear a thing.
Then, his gaze shifted towards the two children, causing Izeline’s throat to tighten. Though he seemed to be on their side for the moment, he didn’t emanate the air of a compassionate person who sympathized with the vulnerable.
It felt somewhat unjustifiable.
In that moment, Robert, who had risen to his feet and brushed off his bottom, offered a slight bow. Setting aside her initial reservations, since they had received assistance, Izeline belatedly felt the urge to express her gratitude as well, however…
“What’s there to thank for?”
The man flicked the button with his thumb before swiftly catching it again. Understanding the meaning behind his actions, Izeline let out a hollow laugh.
“Well, how mwuch is it worth.”
“Do you understand value, little one?”
Izeline raised her gaze, her expression filled with confusion, as she observed the man before her. It was clear that his true interest lay in the valuable jewel. Indeed, the world was harsh. He was simply a rat who had his eyes on expensive jewels.
With a sweep of his hand, pushing back his brown hair, he revealed a villainous smile. His hazel eyes were fixed on Robert as he uttered.
“This little guy here is still a baby.”
Robert’s previously polite and composed expression crumbled.
Despite his youth, being referred to as a baby felt demeaning, as it undermined his maturity. It was the second disparaging remark he had endured, the first being Izeline calling him a fish.
“I’m not a baby.”
“With a large amount of pride at that. Fine, then what are you then?”
Instead of answering, his lowered face seemed to emit a dangerous aura.
In an instant, the man’s eyes widened in surprise. He quickly leaned back as if avoiding something and then grinned menacingly.
“Oh… You’re not an average child.”
Robert’s face showed signs of anger as invisible sparks seemed to fly between the two men.
Izeline, unable to comprehend the situation, glanced back and forth between the two men in bewilderment while other onlookers were equally clueless about the situation.
“I saved your life. You should be grateful to me.”
The man taunted the unconscious owner before he turned his gaze towards Robert after taunting the unconscious owner.
“Now I’m even more curious about your identity.”
“I don’t have to tell you.”
Robert was guarded toward the man like a cat with its fur standing on end. He attempted to use mana to create a red thread and snatch the button from the man’s hand but failed. It was clear that this man was quite skilled, as an ordinary person wouldn’t have noticed it.
As Robert bit his lower lip in frustration, the man smirked.
“Do you know there’s some rumour going around?”
The child’s eyes trembled slightly, wanting to ask what rumour he was referring to but unable to find his voice. There weren’t many rumors circulating about a child in the vicinity, except for the rumor that the young lord of Armanty had contracted Krug’s Disease.
Dread filled Robert’s mind, fearful that the man would bring up his condition.
The mere thought of people fleeing from him as if he were a repulsive pest caused his breath to become erratic and his throat to constrict as frustration coursed through him.
If only he didn’t have this disease…
The man, still observing Robert intently, stretched and yawned.
“Ah… using my body has made me tired.”
With a nonchalant demeanor, the man casually strolled past Robert as if he had completed his intended task.
Eyes burning with the desire to kill the man, Izeline fixed a piercing glare at the man’s retreating figure. He appeared even more sinister than the stall owner, feigning assistance while exploiting and unsettling Robert’s most vulnerable aspect.
On the verge of erupting in anger and impulsively pursuing the man, she felt a firm grip on her shoulder, halting her in her tracks.
It was Camry.
“Izeline, stop it.”
As she glared sharply, Camry gulped. She then gazed at him with a chilling look in her eyes.
“You’we doing this on purpose.”
“You wanted to sway it.”
He had intended to shout that Robert was a Krug disease patient in front of everyone, but Izeline’s outburst had interrupted him.
Camry, fully aware of his malicious intentions, fell silent, overwhelmed by guilt.
Having come to town on an errand for Julie, he had coincidentally come across the two of them and became consumed by jealousy. Ever since Izeline had entered the Armaty mansion, he had been unable to spend time with her, while Robert unexpectedly grew closer to her.
Camry, who had been following the two with his eyes, noticed Robert engaging in theft and unconsciously made a move as he wanted to teach him a lesson.
Robert had taken away the little kid who was so fond of him, after all.
However, when Camry locked eyes with Izeline’s piercing gaze, it felt as though a sharp needle was pricking at his heart. In her eyes, he could only see disdain for him, as if she viewed him solely as a manipulative individual who exploited the pain of others.
Izeline left him frozen in his tracks, resembling a lifeless statue, as she turned away from him.
In the meanwhile, Robert, who had been observing the unfolding scene from a distance, understood the situation and shot a fierce glare at Camry before swiftly following her lead. The two of them started running before the man disappeared from their sight.
Left alone in the disarrayed shop, Camry clenched his fist while watching the two figures moving away with jealousy flickered in his eyes.