3 A Place Away from the Public Eye

"Thank you for saving me. My name is Avy. May I ask for your name?"

"Oh, I haven't told you my name, haven't I?"

With a pleasant gaze, she turned towards me and smiled.

"My name is Sophia."

"It's nice to know you Sophia."

"Oh no, the pleasure is mine. I shall be going now. I need to prepare some breakfast."

"In that case, I shall help."

.

"Is your body fine now?"

"Yes, I'm all good. Thank you for your concern."

I got up from the bed and was about to fold the blanket when Sophia stopped me and used her magic instead.

"Oh, you can use [Daily] magic."

"Yes. Thanks to it, I can make all chores with ease and maintain this house's tidiness."

We both giggled for a moment and started walking towards the kitchen. I must say, that even with this small house, its neatness is comparable to our house in the Lucent. While we're preparing for breakfast, I started gathering my thoughts.

When I was banished from my home, I went north so that I can be free from everything, even if it means I'm going to live and eventually die, alone. The Kecchin Kingdom is the only kingdom in the North. On the Northern part however lies an incredibly vast forest that is home to various rumors that even the kingdom doesn't want to do anything to it. Some say it is home to fairies that lures unsuspecting victims to eternal entrapment in the forest; some say it's a home of a great immortal witch that can spell doom to anyone who tries to destroy her home; among others. The cause of that rumor would probably because of an odd, horrifying atmosphere of the forest. Besides that, there are notably strong animals living in it. With that in mind, nobody even dared to step a foot in that forest.

However those are false rumors. I myself am a living proof to that. When I'm still a knight-in-training slash student, one of my individual quests is about slaying a wild boar. The problem is that most places where wild boars are existent, there seems to be overhunting that in turn made the wild boars quite exotic. I'm at loss of how I'll be able to complete my quest. I then recalled of a dense forest north of Lucent, and after my preparations I quickly set my course to my destination. When I got there, I am blessed upon what I've seen – there are a lot of boars in the forest. I was able to secure one, and I finished my quest without any more problems. The forest is undoubtedly full of resources.

"Great! Everything's done."

"I shall prepare the table."

"Thanks for the help. I shall wake my sibling up."

I nodded with a gentle look on my face.

So how did I get here? I'm pretty sure that there are no signs of a village or an isolated home in the northernmost part of the continent.

"Oh, morning there lass. I see that you're doing fine."

"…! Ah, it's nice to meet you, my name is Avy."

"I'm Sarge, Sophia's elder brother. Anyway, your complexion looks fine now. I have tons of questions with you after breakfast; will that be okay?"

"Of course…"

His stern look and a bulky physique made him a complete opposite of Sophia.

The breakfast is ordinary, really; it's rice and fried egg. However, when I took a spoon full of rice and a piece of the egg in my mouth, I experienced an odd, yet joyful, feeling tingling in my heart.

"Avy, are you okay?"

"Yeah, why are you crying lass? Is it due to the food?"

"That's rude big bro!"

Eh? I'm crying?

I wiped my tears immediately and responded to their question.

"N-no, I'm fine. Don't worry about me. I'm just happy upon eating delicious food."

"Is that so?"

I'm envious on these two and their good relationship as family. If only my family were this close…

I guess there's nothing I could do.

I smiled at them, a smile that contrasts the melancholic expression I have on my face.

After we had our fill, we went outside to breathe some fresh air. At the back of their small house are a tree and simple benches that face at one another. The three of us sat on those, with Sarge separated and sat on the other one.

"Once again lass, I'm Sarge. I'm a hunter. Sophia, on the other hand, is my younger sibling and is the only magician in this place."

"O-oh, I'm Avy and I embarked from Lucent."

When I said where I came from, Sarge shuddered and immediately stood up.

"Is something wrong?"

"…out."

"What?"

"Get out of this place! You scum and the rest of the people in the Royal Capital are full of crap! This is our only sanctuary; don't tell me you're a scout? That explains the question why you have a sword with a noble's crest embedded on its sheathe! Get out, and never return!"

I was shocked after hearing his words. When I turned to look to Sophia, I saw her trembling and put some distance between her and me.

Just what happened and they hate me now? Is this because I'm from the Royal Capital?

No…

It's not just that.

Perhaps, are these guys…?

"…the runaway slaves who successfully escape the capital – are you the guys I helped before?"

"Ha? You're the one that helped us? Screw you and your lies."

"I guess it's not specifically you, but I helped some of the slaves to escape from that place by securing an escape route."

Sophia, who was then trembling with fear, tucked my shirt and asked.

"Are you perhaps, Lady Cross of the Knight's School?"

"You know her?"

"Yes brother. Trac often talks about a certain knight-to-be that helped him and the rest of his siblings escape the slave prison cells. He said that it's a young woman with the name 'Cross'."

I'm happy that those kids made it out of that hell.

"Indeed I am. I should reintroduce myself."

I stood up with dignity as knights should be; with my right fist on my chest, I announced my full identity.

"I am Avy Cross of the Knight's School of Lucent. My skill in swordsmanship is unparalleled, and my intelligence far surpasses the scholars…or so they say."

Dumbfounded while still compressing his rage he show earlier, Sarge asked.

"Why are you here then?"

"I was banished from my home. I don't have any place to go so I wandered aimlessly until I remembered that there's that vast forest north from Lucent, so I set my objective to live in the forest. But then I collapsed and the next thing I knew I'm here with you all."

Sarge lets out a deep sigh and sat down.

"So you're the one that helped them escape huh. For that I thank you."

Sarge bowed down, cried and said in a trembling voice.

"I sincerely apologize for my rudeness earlier. For helping Tarc and his siblings, I thank you."

"I too am sorry for my big bro's rude behavior. In behalf of those children, I thank you."

I smiled upon them and said that it's no big deal.

"But why did they banish an exemplary knight like you?"

"You already know the nature of that place right? If you ever be a righteous person on the side of justice, the higher-ups will do any means to remove you from your position, or throw you away."

The atmosphere became gloomy after I talked about it. To drive it out from our system, I started to talk about another topic.

"By the way, where are those kids?"

"Oh, them…? They're living in that house."

Sophia pointed out a small house not far from us. It's a little bit shabby, but it's better than having no shelter at all.

"Who's taking care of them?"

"It's their mother."

That's a relief. There's someone who looks out to them.

"So, how many of you are living here?"

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"The kids included, we're eleven. Why did you ask?"

"Nothing. I just wanted to know our quantity here."

Eleven of them plus the twelfth one which is me… Yes, this number is more than enough.

"Can you gather all of them Sarge?"

"Hmm…of course lass, indeed I can. But for what reason?"

With a smirk on my face, I decided that the plans and blueprints as well as ideas that I haven't able to submit or shared to my father for our vacation house and other businesses, shall be used here.

"We'll start our renovations in this little paradise."

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