Uncle Urbain and Annette were cleaning the tavern when I entered the bar, and were not open yet.
“We are not open yet… oh, it’s you, Elle.”
“Father, you are being rude. Hello, Elle.”
“Hello to both of you.”
After exchanging greetings, I sat down at the table Annette had arranged for me and faced them.
For some reason, Uncle Urbain gave me a dumbfounded look.
“Geez, you always come before we open.”
“Dad! I’m sorry, Elle.”
“No, it’s the truth, after all.”
I have visited the tavern every day for the past three days, and I have always come before the opening to help them clean up. But today was different.
I took a small deep breath and faced the two.
“Actually, I’m leaving the village.”
Annette stood up, sounding surprised, but Uncle Urbain seemed to know what I was planning.
“Annette, sit down.”
“Let me thank you first. Thank you for saving my daughter.”
As soon as Annette sat down, Uncle Urbain bowed to me.
I would have been very surprised if Auntie Anna had not told me that he knew the truth.
“I can’t thank you enough…!”
“Dad… please allow me to thank you again, too. Thank you so, so much.”
When Annette saw Uncle Urbain thanking me with tears in his eyes, she also started crying and thanking me.
I don’t know how many times Annette has thanked me.
She also thanked me for the other girls who were kidnapped.
“I also want to thank you.”
“Why are you thanking us, Elle?”
“That’s right! It’s us who were helped by you!”
Coming from a person who was kicked out of her country because of people’s hostility and hatred, I have to say that just the fact that you welcomed me so warmly was worthy of my gratitude.
I can’t say it out loud, but I muttered my thanks again in my heart.
“You are a strange kid as always.”
“Hey, Dad! You are being rude!”
“Sorry, I don’t know what to say when it comes to serious goodbyes.”
“I don’t mind it.”
I don’t want to feel like I’m saying goodbye for the last time, either.
It’s better to smile when you say goodbye.
That’s what I did that time, too.
What came back to my mind was the stupid faces of the fools who froze at the big smile I showed them before leaving the venue.
“Elle? What is it?”
“No, it’s nothing.”
I smiled at Uncle Urbain, who tilted his head, and got up from my seat.
“It’s about time I go. I will come back someday.”
“Ou! Taverns are open at night! Don’t forget that wherever you go!”
“Looks like I will remember Uncle Urbain everytime I see a tavern.”
“Haha, that’s good. Don’t forget to remember Annette too.”
“Yes, of course.”
I definitely won’t forget.
When I stood up, the two saw me off to the door.
“Ah, take this.”
“It’s a map of Portu village’s surroundings. It will come in handy.”
“Is the reason you have been staying up late recently because you have been drawing this, Dad?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I thought Elle would leave from here before long, so I was making sure that I’m prepared to hand it to her right away.”
I almost cried at the embarrassed smile on his face.
But I held it in because I wanted to say goodbye with a smile.
“Thank you very much. I will treasure it.”
“Oi, oi. It’s just a map that leads to the nearest village. You can throw it away once it loses its use.”
“No way. I will cherish it for life.”
“You really are a strange kid.”
“You are being rude!”
Annette clapped him on the back as he scratched his head.
Seeing the parent and child get along so well, a smile naturally floated on my face.
“Let us meet again then.”
“Yeah. We will welcome you anytime.”
“I will be looking forward the day we meet again.”
The last place to visit is the residence of Lord Gwenael.