Nozomu, who had been led out of Wandall's workshop, was being dragged by the arm back to the main street of the craftsmen's district.
With nimble steps, Lisa pulled Nozomu along with her.
Nozomu somehow managed to keep up with her, but his hand was in a lot of pain because he was being pulled so forcefully.
"Lisa, hey, get your hands off me! O-, ouch!"
"Hmm? Ah, Sorry!"
As Nozomu yelled out due to the limit of his patience, Lisa finally slowed down her legs.
Nozomu's shoulders slumped in relief as the pain in his arm finally subsided.
"Ouch... Gosh, what the heck is this about all of a sudden?"
"It couldn't be helped. If I hadn't done what I did, Wandall-san's preaching would have continued."
"But by the looks of it, I'm sure the preaching will just start over when you go to pick up your sword anyway, right?"
"A~ a~ I can't hear you~~"
Nozomu let out a sigh as Lisa covered her ears with her hands and looked up to the sky.
Reluctantly, he decided to leave Lisa, who showed no signs of regret, alone to take care of his next errand.
The bell was ready, but it would be too tasteless to hand it over as is.
Since he was going to give it as a gift, he decided to add some fancy details or accessories to it.
In fact, when he had sent the bell to Somia before, he had made it so that she could wear it on her arm as a replacement for the arm ornament she had treasured so much.
"Well then. I've got other things to do, so let's split up here."
"Wait a minute. Are you going to leave just like that?"
As Nozomu was about to walk away, Lisa grabbed his arm again.
The tone of her voice clearly showed her dissatisfaction.
"... Please come with me for a bit. There's a place I would like to go."
Lisa lifted her eyebrows for a moment and began to pull Nozomu's arm again.
Compared to before, Lisa's steps were somewhat slower and her pull on Nozomu's hand was not as strong.
But her hand was strangely attached to Nozomu's and it couldn't be shaken off.
"Even if you say that. I mean, as I said, I have other errands to do..."
"That errand, is it related to that bell you were making at Wandall-san's smithy earlier?"
"Yes, it is..."
As Lisa repeatedly glanced at the wrapped package Nozomu was holding, Nozomu looked uncomfortable and hid the package behind his body.
"The reason for giving that bell to Irisdina-san is to thank her for her dance practice before the opening festival, isn't it? Does that mean that Nozomu's next errand will be to find a decoration to put on that bell?"
Nozomu's eyes widened at Lisa's spot-on point.
Nozomu had never told Lisa why he was sending the bell to Irisdina.
Watching Lisa, who was puffing out her chest as if to say, "I knew it", he realized once again how close he was to his childhood friend.
"That's right, but…"
"Well then, I know a good store. You can get some pretty good quality fabrics and strings, so let's go there."
Once again, Lisa's hands tighten.
A chill ran down Nozomu's back as he recalled the strength of Lisa's hand.
A smile that could not have been wider could be seen on Lisa's face, as if she knew that Nozomu was flinching.
From the outside, it's a smile that would make anyone smile, but now that he knows how brash and aggressive she's been lately, it only makes him more anxious.
"Don't worry, it's okay. It's really a nice store!"
"No, whether you are aware of it or not, you're being forceful... So please stop pulling on my arm with so much force~e~e~e!"
Firmly ignoring Nozomu's concerns, Lisa once again tugged him by the arm and ran off.
The boy's screams echoed through the alley as he was dragged along by the sprinting red-haired girl.
Nozomu, who was forcefully taken by Lisa, finished his shopping at the store she led him to, and then finally settled down on a bench in the central park.
While resting his back on the long, narrow wooden bench, Nozomu slumped his shoulders and exhaled heavily, as if to indicate the fatigue he was carrying.
Beside the bench sat a bag that seemed to contain items he had purchased at the store to which he had been referred, a colorful piece of fabric peeking out from the mouth of the bag.
"Haa... I had a rough day."
"But you got a good deal, didn't you?"
Nozomu was once again dragged away by Lisa and had to deal with further arm pain, but the store she led him to was indeed an excellent store with a wide selection of goods and reasonable prices.
"Dyed silk threads and fabrics are hard to come by..."
While saying so, Nozomu peeked sideways at the cloth peeking out of the mouth of the bag he had placed at his side.
What Nozomu purchased was a cloth woven with a special thread from the eastern part of the Arkmill continent.
The raw material is made from threads spit by a giant insect called a silk bug, which itself is an extremely rare insect.
The silk bug is a giant insect that originally belonged to a demon beast called the Moth Galamos.
The Moth Galamos was originally a pest, purple in color, with a sharp proboscis that sucks all the water out of plants, causing them to wither and die, which is a problem for farmers.
However, there are rare individuals among the Moth Galamos that mutate into silk bugs.
Unlike the Moth Galamos, silk bugs have a white body color and are very weak.
They are slow-moving and seem to disappear in the natural selection process, but the threads produced by their larvae are extremely pleasant to the touch and are treated as luxury items.
The silk threads and fabrics purchased by Nozomu are not that many.
To put it bluntly, they are just sc.r.a.ps left over from making clothes.
Even so, it was thanks to Lisa that Nozomu was able to purchase items that the average person would not be able to afford.
"It's a product you can obtain because this is Arcazam. Like this sweet, it's one of the things that makes me glad I came to Arcazam."
Lisa smiled as she crunched on the flat, pie-like sweet in her hand.
She was eating a pastry called Kouign-Amann. It is a sweet from the southwestern continent of Arkmill, made by fermenting a dough made of strong flour and sweetened with b.u.t.ter and sugar.
Using salt and b.u.t.ter, the hard dough is fermented and baked, and when bit into, it is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
The salty-sweetness of the b.u.t.ter spreading in her mouth brought her the most uplifting and euphoric feeling, and the way she bit into the sweetness in her hand was like a squirrel eating a walnut.
"It was me who paid for that Kouign-Amann, though."
"It was a referral fee, a referral fee. I'm the one who helped you get that Silk Bug thread at such a low price, remember?"
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"I know. I just didn't expect Lisa to have this kind of connection..."
"Flower? Oh, you mean Crowea? It's a flower that blooms during the fall and winter..."
"Oh, is that the name of the flower?"
"Nozomu, you don't know anything about it?"
"No, especially since I've never heard of it being medicinal or anything of the sort."
"'Well, yes, but ... That flower blooms during the fall and winter. It can survive the winter depending on the land it's rooted in, but Arcazam can get pretty cold, so it might be difficult..."
Crowea. Also known as Southern Cross, a small evergreen shrub with small purple flowers.
Irisdina's long hair. The purple flowers seem to go well with both black and white, and in Nozomu's mind, the image clicked perfectly.
Lisa peeked into Nozomu's face with a little peeking gesture.
"Hmm, Nozomu, do you prefer long hair?"
Even without saying anything in particular, Lisa seemed to have guessed what Nozomu was thinking. As expected of a childhood friend.
"No, it's not like that. I just thought it would look good on Iris..."
Nozomu personally has a certain admiration for Irisdina's long, l.u.s.trous, straight black hair, which seemed to represent her unwavering nature.
In fact, Irisdina herself said that she was proud of her black hair. That was why, looking at her current bleached white hair, Nozomu felt frustrated at his own incompetence.
(Calm down, all that matters now is for me not to keep regretting it...)
Realizing himself almost trapped in a negative loop, Nozomu once again took a deep breath in and let it out loudly and slowly.
With the exhaled breath, the stagnation swirling in his chest began to fade away.
"It suits her, huh ... Then, what about my hair~?”
Lisa, on the other hand, looked a little dissatisfied with Nozomu's continued talk about Irisdina, and started to finger-comb her own hair which had been shortened, so that Nozomu could see it.
The reason for Lisa's shortened hair was also due to Nozomu's rampage.
However, the sly smile plastered on her mouth quickly washed away Nozomu's guilt.
The fact that they have spent so much time together, even if they are no longer lovers, makes it difficult for them to be reserved in the first place.
"... I think it would look good on you too."
"Bu~~. Somehow, it doesn't seem convincing. Sounds like you're just trying to be polite."
While flapping her legs in a misbehaving manner, Lisa puffed out her cheeks and grumbled. Boo-hoo!
Seeing her gesture, Nozomu couldn't help but smile.
At the same time, his mischievous spirit began to flare up, as if to repay her for all the trouble she had put him through, even though she had helped him get the materials he needed.
"That's not true. I'm not lying, I'm telling the truth. First of all, it was you who asked me."
And since he was usually on the pa.s.sive side, Nozomu tried to step in all at once when he went on the offensive.
Be a little mean to her.
Nozomu was motivated by a sense of mischief, but his mischievousness was shattered by Lisa's next words.
"It can't be helped, you know. If my ex-boyfriend kept talking about other girls, it would bother me and make me grumpy. I still like Nozomu after all."
(I still like Nozomu.)
Nozomu's mischievous spirit was quickly crushed and vanished by the straightforward confession uttered in a light tone of voice.
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