"Oh! Kurdak, you brought a newbie? He seems rather young."
As there weren't many people lining up at the registration point, the receptionist quickly saw Kurdak and Leguna.
"He's the newest member of our party. I brought him here to register. Name's Leguna," Kurdak replied with a smile.
"This is Eve," he said, eyeing Leguna.
Leguna gave Eve a quick one-over. She was a rather energetic woman. She had deep-blonde hair and azure eyes. Her facial features weren't outstanding but gave one a sense of energy and warmth that made her very approachable.
"Nice to meet you, little... little fellow," Eve smiled as she stuck out her hand in a friendly manner.
After her eyes had scanned the child quickly, she was unsure whether to call him 'kid' or 'fellow'. Fortunately, she wisely decided on the latter.
"Nice to meet you, Miss Eve. I'm Leguna," replied the youth as he held the outstretched hand warmly.
It was apparent that the way she addressed him was having a good effect.
"Fill in this form."
Eve took out a form and handed it to the kid. Since she was still on her shift, she couldn't chat for too long and returned to her duties after the brief introduction.
I have to fill out forms everywhere I go, thought Leguna bitterly.
"How's Cyranos and Vera?" asked Eve as she guided him through the form.
"They're doing well. The last mission ended with both unharmed. They've been resting and training well. Come to think of it, I have to thank you for recommending such a good mission. We wouldn't have found such a good deal otherwise."
"That's nothing. I look through many requests every day. The better ones just happen to catch my eye. Then again, Cyranos hasn't come here ever since then..."
Eve had a slightly moist and dazed expression when she mentioned Cyranos. After a short pause, she looked at Kurdak doubtingly.
"Did you tell him anything?"
"Umm, well... He's been rather busy lately. It's no surprise he hasn't come recently. Don't overthink it."
Kurdak avoided eye-contact as he spoke.
"Hmph. Just look at your reaction… I bet you said something!" barked Eve as she gave Kurdak a harsh gaze.
"Err, ahahaha..." Kurdak snickered, "I did that for your sake, alright? You know Cyranos is a little slow when it comes to these things. If you don't take the initiative, don't ever hope for something to happen between you two! I just happened to give your relationship a little push, that's all."
"You're the slow one! As slow as your bulky look suggests! Cyranos is a quiet, sensible, and reliable guy, unlike a blabbermouth like you. To think you told him about this so soon."
Kurdak didn't care about Eve's insults at all.
"Oh, I didn't think someone as old as you would be shy about this. You should tell him how you feel quickly. If he likes you, then all's well. If he doesn't, then it's still better for you to give up sooner. There's no point in keeping it to yourself like this."
"Tch, you make it sound so easy. I wonder how your relationship with Vera is getting along?" smiled Eve coldly.
"Umm, that..." Kurdak stammered with a blush, "Vera's different, alright? Given her temper, I have to tread carefully. If I set off the wrong fuse, I'd suffer a horrible death! Hey, brat, fill out your form and stop eavesdropping! Your ears are stretched out so far they look elven!"
Leguna suffered a knock to the head.
"I'll tell Sis you bullied me!" he complained.
"You little... You dare to tell on me?! Don't think I don't dare silence you!"
"No, spare me!"
In spite of his apparent moaning surrender, Leguna was all smiles.
"Boss, I didn't think you were that much of a schemer. You're trying to have Miss Eve take Cyranos away so you have one less... Ummffh!"
Kurdak hurriedly covered his mouth. He gave Eve a quick glance before he started threatening him once again.
"If you don't want to die, don't you dare talk about Cyranos and Vera together."
Leguna looked at Eve's odd expression and understood he had said something uncalled for. He nodded.
"I really don't know what's so great about Vera! I don't care if you fall for her, but she even took Cyranos's heart! I envy that woman!" sighed Eve.
"Don't worry about it. Cyranos and Vera are close because they've spent some time together. It'd be odd if they didn't care about each other at least a little bit. They're not like what you think. Oh, and, I've also come to see if there are any worthwhile missions. Do you have any suggestions?" said Kurdak in an attempt to change the subject.
"Go see what Old Jack has. I think I remember a decent one concerning a crimsonblood bear," mumbled Eve, a little distracted.
"Alright. Kid, fill out your form while I go take a look."
Kurdak gave Leguna a tap on the shoulder before he left.
"Oh, you're from the west?" asked Eve when she returned her attention to the kid.
"You fresh faces usually come from the west. Some come here to avoid persecution while others come here to train. People have all kinds of reasons. How did you meet Kurdak?"
"I was wandering about in a forest and ended up chased by a bunch of quickshadow drakes. Fortunately, Boss came to my rescue… Were you a mercenary, Miss Eve?"
"Me?" Eve smiled gently, "I used to be, but I grew tired of it and retired. I found a safer job here. Even though the pay's slightly lower, at least I don't have to fear for my life anymore."
"I didn't really want to be a mercenary. I think a quiet life is better. Being a mercenary is way too tiring." agreed Leguna.
"Why are you registering to be one if that's how you feel?" Eve asked, "I think you'd do better as a shop apprentice."
"I don't really know," Leguna smiled frustratedly, "When Boss said I'm not cut out for that kind of thing, I just went with their suggestion. I thought about this before. Even though the life is dangerous, it's exciting and interesting. Other jobs are definitely much safer but they're far too plain and boring. I lived in the slums all my life, but now I finally managed to break out. I saw how big the world is. I seriously doubt I could coop up in a small place again."
Eve listened with surprise. She had never thought a youth, one younger than her, could say something so moving. After thinking about what he'd just said, she smiled.
"Well, you're still young. It's better if you get some experience exploring."
"Miss Eve's still young as well," complimented Leguna.
"No way, I've already had my share of fumbling around. I only want to live peacefully from now on."
"A peaceful life with Cyranos, right?"
Leguna's gossipy mind started to wake up.
"What would a kid like you know?!"
Eve didn't refute him, She appeared far more accepting of things like this than Vera.
"Miss Eve's taste is rather good! Cyranos is a good man."
"What's the point of having good taste? Doesn't help increase my charm at all." lamented Eve.
Leguna stopped writing and gave Eve a look.
"Actually, Miss Eve, you don't have to be that sad. Cyranos is quiet and keeps most of his feelings to himself. I'm afraid nobody knows what he's actually thinking. While he treats Sis rather well, it'd be a stretch to say he has romantic feelings for her. I have no idea what Boss told him, but looking at how busy Boss is lately, I doubt it's related to you. It's not as bleak as you think. Maybe, you have a pleasant surprise waiting for you if you confess?"
"What if that isn't the case?"
"That's fine as well. You can't change how Cyranos feels whether you say it or not. At the very least, knowing the truth is better than trying to guess it all day, right?"
"Are you trying to console me?" asked Eve with a tough smile.
"Nah, I'm only saying what I think. Miss Eve, do you want to give it a go? Do you need me to call him over?"
"I think it's better to give this time," said Eve, shaking her head.
"I'll tell him after he comes back from the next mission," added she when she saw Leguna about to say something again.
"That's fine as well."
Leguna no longer pushed it. He knew Eve's gesture was a prayer for mercenaries. It was believed that mercenaries expected wouldn't die in the middle of a mission because they still had loose ends to tie.
"I didn't think a kid like you could have so many thoughts," said Eve.
"Hey, I never said I was a kid. Also, what's wrong with thinking about this stuff even if I'm young? There, I'm done. Take a look."
Eve checked his information and nodded. She cast a spell and set the form on fire. In a mere moment, the form was completely burnt out. Not even ash remained.
"Alright, the information's been submitted. You're now a member of the Association. Here are your badge and pamphlet. Since you haven't completed a mission before, your success rate is currently zero. Kid, you better try hard! I look forward to your growth!" said Eve as she gave up resisting the urge to ruffle Leguna's short, black hair and looked at the mess she made with satisfaction.
Leguna rearranged his hair without much complaint since Eve didn't go all out and rub his head without restraint, unlike Vera.
"Are you done?" Kurdak returned.
He seemed to have found a decent mission.
"Yep, I'm done."
"Alright, let's go. I accepted the mission Eve recommended. Let's go back and discuss it with the others. Thank you, Eve."
"'Tis but a flick of the finger," said Eve with a shrug.
By the time they thanked her and returned to the inn, it was evening.
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