On the day of the large-scale reorganization and handover of administrative affairs, I decided to go on vacation.
I was sad to be separated from Leonel, but, I was a bit excited.
Unconsciously humming a tune, I noticed Leonel’s left eyebrow twitching.
“You seem very excited.”
Combining before the regression, it’s been a long four years. Three years before the regression were spent working, torn between life and death, and the year after the regression was busy with a failed revenge.
I hadn’t properly rested or taken a trip during that time.
But why wouldn’t I be excited?
“Let’s travel together next time.”
He nodded, but he still looked uneasy.
I loaded my minimal luggage onto Guadang’s back, pulled down Leonel’s face, and raised my heels to plant a kiss on his cheek.
“I’ll be back then!”
As I tried to mount Guadang, someone came running from a distance, kicking up dust like a tail. Lizzy rushed towards me, caught by Arette, but still reached out with arms outstretched, trying to embrace me.
I approached Lizzy cautiously, comforted her, and embraced her.
“Miss Nelly! Hoo, don’t go!”
“I’m not leaving completely. I’ll be back in just a month.”
“No, you can’t. I can’t let you go! You said you might leave before!”
I felt Leonel staring at me intensely.
‘When did I say that?’
Shaking my head vigorously at him, Lizzy clung to my waist.
“Take me with you! I won’t be a burden!”
Maybe the one suffering from anxiety symptoms is not Leonel but Lizzy?
I looked at her with a bewildered expression, wondering why she was like this. Then, clearing my throat, I asked her to let go.
“You have work, Lizzy.”
“Yes, but, um, yes, but…”
“I’ll be back.”
As we said our goodbyes, Leonel separated Lizzy.
Tearfully, she stepped back without resisting Leonel’s touch. I exchanged glances with the butler, Levance, and Arette, and then climbed onto Guadang.
Leonel came to my side.
“I’ll see you off.”
I nodded and walked alongside Leonel.
Initially, I thought he would see me off only to the castle gate, but he insisted on accompanying me beyond the bridge.
Stopping abruptly as we crossed the bridge, Leonel said with a regretful expression.
“Please stop the farewell here.”
He reached out, and naturally, I gave him my hand. He looked at my hand with a complex expression, caressed it for a while, and then kissed the back of my ring finger.
“Come back safely. Don’t forget the promise about writing letters.”
I shook hands with Leonel and entered the village. Somehow, many people were there to bid me farewell.
“Miss Nelly! If you get hungry on the way, have something here.”
“Thank you for everything.”
“Ah, thank you for turning my son into a decent person!”
…I’m not leaving forever, you know? If you send me off so grandly, it feels like I shouldn’t come back. Of course, I will come back!
After exchanging greetings with everyone, we barely reached the outer wall. There, Sophie, Tom, and Gerald were waiting.
“Miss Nelly, we’ll escort you.”
Sophie stepped forward. I firmly shook my head.
“I’ll be fine on my own.”
I tried to push them away, but they wouldn’t budge. Due to their insistence on accompanying me to a nearby city, we ended up coming to Dames together.
“Miss Nelly, are you sure you’re okay on your own?”
Even though I found a safe place to stay, the three of them seemed as if they couldn’t bear to part with a child left on the riverside.
“It’s okay! I’m not a child, and don’t worry too much.”
I had climbed from the border to the capital alone when I was even younger than now. And that too, without a single coin!
Of course, I was lucky, but I knew enough about how to travel safely.
“More importantly, don’t tell Leonel anything. I’ll write everything in a letter, and even if he asks, promise not to tell. Deal!”
As I extended my finger, Sophie hooked her pinky finger.
Tom and Gerald, who were standing next to her, kept insisting that I had to come back, I shouldn’t run away, and they would chase me to the ends of the earth if I disappeared.
Seems like the people from the territory had become like Leonel without me realizing it.
‘Indeed, it was a good decision to ask for a month off.’
If I return safely after all this, maybe others won’t be as anxious anymore!
“Everyone, return safely!”
I energetically waved to the three departing figures, their shoulders stretched.
I stayed overnight in Dames and immediately prepared to leave.
Guadang, although a spirited and brave donkey, would find it challenging to protect me throughout the long journey. Even if it could chase away wild animals, it couldn’t fend off bandits.
I decided to follow the reliable method I used when traveling alone. In times of need, I would rely on a trustworthy pack animal with a straw rope tied to its top.
When I was destitute, I would cry, beg, and even endure hardship, but not this time.
“Baroness Nelly Pepper, right? Of course, I must accompany you! Meeting the rumored Baroness in person is an honor.”
Status, money, and reputation. The combined effects of these three were tremendous. I received lavish treatment and safely arrived at my dream house near the capital.
“This is not bad, hearing the phrase ‘Rumored Baroness.’ Right, Guadang?”
Guadang flicked its ear as if agreeing vaguely. I patted its mane and loosened the reins.
“Don’t go too far. Got it?”
Watching Guadang nibble on the grass, I entered the house. Though I had never been here before, it seemed well-maintained.
I entered the room and spread my body on the bed like wet laundry.
“A strange ceiling.”
Muttering nonsense, I suddenly sat up.
“Right, I need to write a letter to Leonel!”
* * *
My day is perfect.
Waking up to the smell of bread, enjoying a leisurely cup of tea, reading a book, and taking a light stroll in the forest with Guadang – it’s the peaceful and relaxing vacation I desired.
‘But it’s only been a day or two.’
The peaceful routine became boring faster than I thought. Without anything to do, my letters to Leonel are gradually getting shorter.
There’s nothing to talk about without any events.
So, I included letters to others in Leonel’s letter. But with nothing to do all day except writing letters, even the people to write to quickly ran out.
“I’m bored. Doing nothing is driving me crazy! I miss Leonel….”
I hugged Guadang while rambling aimlessly. It seemed like Guadang found me annoying and shook its head, then went off to graze.
‘It hasn’t even been two weeks since I took a vacation.’
Despite confidently claiming I could endure a month, my patience was not impressive.
Is there anything to do? Sitting on the rocking chair on the terrace, contemplating, I suddenly stood up.
“I was supposed to go to Mary, by the way!”
Is she still in her hometown? I’m not sure, but since it’s not far from the capital, I should check.
Humming a tune, I packed my things.
I also wrote a letter to Leonel, informing him that I would be visiting Mary.
The next day, before sunrise, I called Guadang.
“Guadang, we’re going to Mary’s. Excited? I am!”
Guadang still didn’t respond. But that’s okay.
Now I’m heading to a place where someone will respond!