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    Schedule: Every Saturday, 4 chps max

    Karhan entered the room after climbing the stairs and tossed the robe he was wearing onto the bed. It was a slightly different behavior from his usual calm demeanor.

    Karhan pulled out a chair and sat down rather roughly. Doel, who had been standing still, also pulled a chair from the opposite side and took a seat. The two faced each other with a wooden table between them. Karhan was the first to speak.

    “For now, I’ll say thank you. Is there anything you want in return?”

    “No. It’s fine. It was nothing much.”

    Doel immediately declined Karhan’s offer. At that response, Karhan lightly nodded his head and brought a smoking pipe placed nearby to his mouth. He lit a small flame at the end and inhaled. As he took a big puff, smoke rose in wisps.

    “Peep?”

    Smoking?

    When I was human, I very much disliked cigarette smoke. My uncle often smoked on the veranda next to my room. The smell would enter through the cracks of the window and made me dizzy. It was no different even during the important time of my senior year in high school. Being in a position of living under someone else’s roof, I couldn’t say anything and had to endure it.

    I, who was on top of Karhan’s head, saw the smoke rising in wisps and abruptly stood up from his crown. Birds don’t put up with it! I hurriedly came down from his head and sat on his shoulder. As I got closer to the cigarette, the smell felt even more pungent.

    “Peep!”

    Without hesitation, I raised my right wing and slapped Karhan’s left cheek. There was a light but dull sound as my wing made contact with Karhan’s cheek. Karhan, who had offered his cheek to me, stayed still for a moment, then turned his head to the side and looked at me sitting on his shoulder. This mouth! Mouth!

    “Cheep!”

    The muzzle!

    As his mouth got closer, the smell intensified, and as soon as Karhan moved the cigarette with his hand, I tapped his mouth with my wing. He either seemed startled or was in thought for a moment, as he just let me hit him diligently. After a few strikes, he finally put down the smoking pipe.

    “Cheep.”

    That’s right. As soon as he put it down, I neatly folded my wings. When I became docile, he turned his head forward and looked at Doel, and I also turned my body forward, following Karhan, and stared at Doel. Doel was covering his face with one hand. Upon closer inspection, his body seemed to be trembling slightly as well.

    Why is he acting like that? I tilted my head and looked at him curiously. As Karhan and I both focused on Doel, he managed to calm his trembling body and raised his head. His face was bright red. He cleared his throat and spoke.

    “If that was all you needed, I’ll take my leave first.”

    As Doel spoke softly, Karhan immediately responded.

    “You said you work as a mercenary. No, to be precise, an errand runner.”

    At his words, Doel’s hand trembled. Doel, who had been looking down at the table, slowly raised his eyes to meet Karhan’s face. As their gazes clashed, the comfortable atmosphere instantly turned chilly.

    “Cheep?”

    Why is the mood like this again?

    I looked back and forth between the two who remained silent. Both of them didn’t speak, so the uncomfortable silence continued. Ah, what is it! Is it because I’m biologically incompatible with this atmosphere that my body felt itchy? Unable to stay still, I flew up from Karhan’s shoulder and went back to the top of his head. I settled in a warm spot and opened my beak, picking up Karhan’s hair one by one to start building a nest.

    “Peep peep.”

    Let’s just build a nest. The two of them will figure it out.

    I felt a sense of satisfaction as the nest was nicely completed. While I was working in a good mood, Doel was the first to break the silence.

    “Did you investigate me?”

    “When I asked how long you had been here, you said not for long.”

    Karhan’s hand reached for the pipe. When I glared at him with sharp eyes, somehow he knew and his hand lost its way and stopped. Do you have eyes on the top of your head too? The awkwardly extended hand was placed on the table. He hesitated for a moment and tapped the table with his index finger at a steady pace.

    “…Did you investigate me just for that?”

    “I can’t trust someone who lies. If I must say, there were several other things that bothered me besides that.”

    Doel stared blankly at Karhan, who slowly crossed his legs. Then, with a small sigh, he said,

    “…I knew it was Your Grace the Duke when I approached you then.”

    “Peep?”

    What did you say?

    I was startled and dropped Karhan’s hair that I had been holding in my mouth. It was the first time I heard about it. Of course, I haven’t read the entire story, and I don’t even know if it’s completed, but I couldn’t help but be surprised to hear that Doel approached him knowing everything. I looked at Doel with a shocked expression, as if I had witnessed a birth secret in a drama. Where did the love go?

    Karhan nodded his head slightly, signaling him to continue, and Doel hesitated before opening his mouth again.

    “It was a coincidence that I spotted Your Grace while walking, and after much thought, I followed and approached you.”

    “Explain why you approached me and why you came to this village.”

    “Cheep cheep!”

    More! More! Tell us more!

    I urged Doel, feeling like I was watching a morning drama. Doel glanced around and closed his mouth. It meant he couldn’t say any more. Karhan, who had been quietly watching him, leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. Then, he slightly raised his head and looked down at Doel.

    I, who was on top of Karhan’s head, also wiggled my bottom to take a position slightly more forward and raised my head. It was a tactic to double the pressure. If two of us do this, he’ll have no choice but to talk! I narrowed my eyes and looked down at Doel. However, Doel kept his mouth shut, standing firm.

    “I’ll double the commission fee.”

    “……”

    “I’ll keep my mouth shut about this matter too. It’s a pretty good deal, isn’t it?”

    “Peep!”

    Double the money! Double! Honestly, he should tell us! I nodded my head vigorously. Even with Karhan’s proposal, he hesitated to speak. He opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, then quietly said,

    “…I don’t know whose side you’re on. My client is in a position to oppose the minor lord, your subordinate. Therefore, I can’t trust you.”

    From what I remember, Karhan had also come here to deal with the minor lord’s problem. I nodded my head. Since they have the same issue, it should be resolved well! Is this where love blossoms? It seemed that Karhan and Doel weren’t on bad terms. Realizing it was a good direction, Karhan spoke up.

    “It seems the minor lord has been causing problems lately. I came here to investigate and handle the matter appropriately.”

    “Then, do you intend to punish the minor lord?”

    “If he has done wrong, it’s only natural.”

    As if agreeing with Karhan’s words, Doel also nodded slightly. Perhaps due to tension, he took a deep breath and revealed the details of the request he had received.

    “My client, unable to pay taxes, had their son assigned to work at the minor lord’s mansion, serving as a slave laborer. The son, who had been working on a commute basis, suddenly started behaving differently one day and then disappeared without returning home. They went to the minor lord’s mansion to find him, but the minor lord wouldn’t even meet them. The request was to find out the whereabouts of their son.”

    “Cheep…”

    Indeed… I nodded my head with a serious expression. After hearing the details of Doel’s request, all sorts of unpleasant imaginations flooded my mind. The minor lord must be kidnapping commoners who can’t pay their debts and engaging in evil deeds. That wicked man.

    I came down from the top of Karhan’s head and landed on the table. Then, I boldly raised my head and looked up at Karhan. He, who had been pondering something, must have sensed my gaze and looked down at me standing on the table. I raised my right wing and clenched it as tightly as possible, as if making a fist.

    “Peep!”

    Fighting!

    I shouted “fighting” with all my might. Karhan, who had been expressionless throughout the conversation, slowly smiled. He gently raised his right hand that had been tapping the table and tenderly stroked my head. I closed my eyes and accepted the gentle touch. He continued to stroke me and said,

    “I think I can help.”

    “Really?”

    “I came here for a similar issue as well.”

    And so, the three of us gathered tightly together again that late evening at this inn. Once they started talking, they continued their conversation late into the night.

    As I listened attentively to their conversation by their side, drowsiness washed over me. Unable to control my body, I nodded off several times, bowing to the air. I shouldn’t fall asleep during an important conversation. I shook my head vigorously to ward off sleepiness, but it was futile.

    Tossing and turning, I suddenly opened my eyes and found myself teleported onto a pillow.

    “Peep?”

    When did I lie down like this? Lying on the soft and fluffy pillow, I blinked my eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. I came to my senses and abruptly sat up. What happened to the conversation? I tilted my head from side to side and looked around. Then, instead of the shabby clothes of a commoner, I discovered Karhan dressed in the neat attire of a nobleman. I stared at it quietly and shouted.

    “Cheep!”

    Karhan! As I called out loudly, Karhan, who was fastening his sleeves, looked at me. Seeing me awake, he smiled and said,

    “Shh, did you sleep well?”

    “Peep peep!”

    Yes! Sound asleep! I flapped my wings, showing energetic movements. Then, he approached me and carefully extended his finger to tap and stroke my head. He then opened the bag next to me, took out an earthy-colored robe, and put it on with a single wrap. The neat clothes were completely concealed by the dull-looking robe. He even pulled the hood attached to the robe over his head, hiding his face.

    “Cheep?”

    Is this some kind of spy game? Filled with curiosity, I stretched my neck and looked at him. Perhaps sensing my gaze, Karhan lightly grasped me, who had been sitting still, with one hand and tucked me into his bosom. Due to my small size, I easily fit inside.

    “Cheep!”

    I can’t see!

    As I entered the robe, everything turned pitch-black, and I flapped my wings in a fluster. I wriggled vigorously and put strength into my feet, climbing up Karhan’s body until I saw a small ray of light. There it is! I thrust my head recklessly towards that single ray of light.

    With a pop, my head emerged outside.

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