While the wife of the couple went to get dry clothes, the couple’s children ran out and looked up at Hayer curiously.
Hayer brushed off his wet hands and patted the children’s heads.
“Why aren’t you sleeping? If you stay awake, the monster from the south will come to eat you.”
“Hey, where’s the monster? I’ve never seen it before!”
Hayer said at the words of the child who looked about eight years old.
“It doesn’t mean that you should see it.
You’ll be surprised when you see it.
There’s nothing so scary in the world.
If it stands in front of you, you’ll run away trembling.”
“Are you scared even though you’re that big?”
“I’m not afraid of anything in the world.
I was just afraid of the monster that eats children who don’t sleep at night.”
Hayer’s serious words made the children ponder and they rushed into their blankets urgently, laying down.
Hayer chuckled silently with the children’s father.
In the meantime, the children’s mother brought dry clothes.
Hayer took a gold coin from his inner pocket and placed it on the bureau by the door.
“I’ll leave the cost for giving your clothes and storehouse here.”
The man’s eyes widened when he saw the coin placed there.
With that one gold coin used by the nobles, they could buy 20 sets of clothes that they just gave away.
“Too many, Knight!”
“You can’t imagine how happy our party was to see this house lit up.”
After Hayer said that, he motioned to the children who still couldn’t fall asleep immediately out of curiosity to close their eyes, then bid the couple farewell and left.
He immediately returned to the warehouse where Iris was located, and went into the tent.
“Iris, your body is a bit… you don’t look good.”
Because the warehouse and the house were quite far away, Iris’s face had gone white in the meantime.
Hayer was disconcerted and first handed Iris dry clothes.
“Change into this.”
Iris nodded at his words.
However, perhaps because her body temperature dropped too much, her movement was too slow, and even stopped halfway through.
Finally, Hayer said.
“I’ll help you.”
At his words, Iris grabbed her robe with her hand.
Raindrops dripped down her hair.
Hayer, who knew Iris was wary, but could not leave her breathless with struggle, untied the strings of her robe.
When Iris tried to push his hand away unwittingly, Hayer grabbed her hand.
No matter what he said now, he couldn’t alleviate her fears, so Hayer shut his mouth and undressed Iris as quickly as possible.
He wanted to just tear off the rain-soaked clothes that clung to her body, but he suppressed the urge as much as he could in case Iris discovered it.
Iris escaped from the cold that seemed to freeze her heart only after taking off her wet and heavy clothes.
Hayer dressed her immediately in dry clothes.
As he focused his gaze toward her shoulder as much as he could, Iris gradually let her guard down.
The clothes borrowed from the farmhouse were long dresses made of linen.
It had been worn for a long time, but it was a garment that showed traces of careful management.
Hayer, who had long interacted with the Kawats, was aware of how expensive clothes were for those who were not aristocrats.
Still, the fact that they had one set of cleanly maintained clothes showed that the residents of the Hall territory were much better off than the people of the rest of the country.
The clothes were big on Iris, but she looked much better than when she was wearing wet clothes.
Hayer sat a little away from Iris, who said nothing in embarrassment and shame, and spoke to her.
“I’ve had that thought before.”
“Maybe my father is a slave.”
At Hayer’s sudden words, Iris raised her head, which kept dropping.
But Hayer went on regardless.
“My father tortured me in front of my mother to find out who she met, but my mother never spoke up.”
“…You were tortured?”
“Well, I was ten years old at most, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.”
Hayer waved his hand once as if it were a trivial story and moved on to the next story.
“She could have said it anyway.
I think it must have been one of the two since she kept her mouth shut that far.
To protect me, or to protect that man.”
“In conclusion, thanks to him, I was able to at least become an Asheri, so I don’t blame him.”
Hayer’s words gradually brought Iris back to her senses.
After being able to grasp the situation to some extent, she realized that Hayer had been trying to light a fire with flint since earlier.
The fire never seemed to light, but the straw caught fire, as if the wick had dried up due to the continuous lingering fire.
Hayer lit a candle with the straw and then extinguished the straw.
Although it was a small fire, Iris’s mind also stabilized as there was a place to get some warmth.
The color of her lips, which had been so blue like she was about to die, also returned little by little.
Hayer laughed at Iris.
“You often overcome the danger of freezing to death this year.”
Iris paused at his words, as if he knew she had crossed the North Gate.
But she smiled as soon as she realized that it was referring to when she had fallen into the water on her way to the Asheri family estate.
“Are you okay?”
After answering that, Iris belatedly adjusted her clothes, recalling that Hayer had changed them for her.
Fortunately, Hayer said nothing about changing clothes, or taking them off.
Hayer nodded at Iris’s words.
Then he stood up and said.
“Then take a rest.”
After Hayer went out of the tent, Iris laid down on the straw and slept.
* * *
The straw was more cozy than she expected.
Waking up in the morning, Iris found that her health was not as bad as she thought.
There were needles in her flesh, so it felt like pricks every time she moved, but it was not unbearable.
As Iris removed the tangled straw from her hair, she slowly remembered that Hayer had changed her clothes the day before.
She was trying to quickly forget when she heard a voice outside.
“Can I open up the tent?”
“Yes, I’m up.”
After she gave her permission, Hayer pulled up the tent.
After making eye contact with him, she suddenly remembered Hayer talking about his father.
Iris abruptly asked unknowingly.
“Are you worried?”
“You think your biological father is a slave.”
Her words made Hayer chuckle.
“I’m not worried.
It can’t be.
My mother had a richer childhood in the Asheri family than a royal princess.
And the Asheri family doesn’t even have slaves.
I don’t think there’s any chance that my mother can meet a slave.”
“Is no one going to guess?”
“I’m not sure.”
Hayer smiled and shook his head.
There seemed to be nothing in particular that came to mind.
Iris nodded, thinking that though he was smiling, he didn’t mean it.
He said he was tortured at the age of ten.
He spoke lightly, but considering Hayer’s usual personality, which rarely shares about his pain, it might have been much harsher than he says.
Her heart throbbed.
But Iris now knew that Hayer hated to talk about such misery.
Instead of worrying, she decided to joke around.
“You’re not teasing for some reason.”
“Clothes… you changed them.”
Hayer involuntarily closed his mouth at her words.
And said with a very troubled expression.
“I was planning on not talking about it until the day I died.”
NAURRR THEY’RE SO CUTE (head in hands)(despair)
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