28 Chapter 27
That's strange. Lord Valentine seems to know the couple in front of us, but they do not seem to recognize Lord Valentine.
After stopping the bird like girl, Arina, from pecking at the popcorn on the floor by hugging her, the handsome guy gently pulls Arina up. He taps Arina's dress lightly to remove the dust on it. Throughout all these, he has a near frantic expression on his face as if he is afraid Arina may disappear all of a sudden.
"Why do you stop me! I am hungry! They look delicious!" Arina starts to hit him with her fists.
"Arina is hungry? I'll buy you food. What do you want to eat? Let's go to Jade Garden, I know you like the buns and cakes there. Shall we go there?" he says in a gentle and coaxing manner like he is really coaxing a little bird.
Arina is still gazing at the popcorn on the ground.
"Arina wants to have popcorn?" He starts to stroke her hair to calm her.
She nods once.
"I'll order the chef in Jade Garden to make it. We'll walk over there now."
"Fly? I want to fly there."
A look of regret and heartbreak flashes on the handsome guy's face. "I am not able to fly. I cannot accompany you. I want to go to Jade Diner with Arina. Together."
He offers her his hand. After eyeing his hand with her head tilted for a second, she places her hand in his.
"We're walking to Jade Diner?" she asks.
"That's right. Come on, you must be hungry."
"Wait. I can't leave Lark. She is my friend." She points at the songbird in the cage.
Without letting go of the hand holding Arina, he pats Arina gently on the cheek with his other hand and says,"We'll bring Lark home, don't worry." He then turns to the vendor owner, "We'll buy that songbird."
The owner nods reverently. "Don't worry Lord Atherton, I will send it to your villa immediately."
"You'll find Lark at home, let's have lunch first." He smiles dotingly at her.
Arina nods. She is getting more and more sane. The confused, bird-like look slowly disappears from her face.
Arina looks up and sees me. "Oh right! You're searching for Jade Garden! We're walking there as well. Walking might not be as quick as flying, but we're going there. You can follow us." She offers me a polite smile again.
"Finally." Cordelia rolls her eyes.
Turns out things do not go as Cordelia wishes. Cordelia squeezes her beautiful eyebrows together when she found out Arina is wandering from vendor to vendor and the gentleman smiles dotingly at her like she has all the time in the world.
"We're in a hurry! Hurry up!" Cordelia demands in annoyance, she then mutters under her breath, "We shouldn't have asked a crazy girl for direction."
The gentleman looks at Cordelia. The indulgent smile he had a second before is replaced by a gentle and polite smile. "Jade Garden is two streets over located on Jade Avenue. It's the largest building around that area." Then his smile turns more sharp and acidic. "If you're in a hurry, no one is stopping you, isn't it?"
We are all a bit taken aback by his change in facial expression all of a sudden. He seems like a Lord Valentine kind of guy when he interacts with Arina. He is gentle, kind and warm. But the way he is looking at us now is totally different. A sardonic smile hangs on his face and his eyes are pinpointing on Cordelia like she is a prey.
"As I can see, your feet are beneath you. Or are they mere decorations?" The corners of his mouth tip up sarcastically, his eyes fill with contempt.
"What..." Cordelia is at a loss of words. Then as if realizing the guy in front of us is mocking her, her face turns bright red. "How dare you! Do you know..."
I clamp my hand on her mouth to stop her from blurting out secrets. It's mostly our fault. We anger him by calling Arina a lunatic. If we're in a hurry, we can simply ask for the direction and go to Jade Garden first. We shouldn't have insulted Arina.
"We deeply apologize. My lady here is the most impatient people in the world. Thank you for showing us the direction. Thank you so much. Please excuse us." I bow and shove Cordelia's head down with my hand.
Cordelia is struggling, no doubt finding this insulting. But it's for saving us. This gentleman surely holds some power in this country. The vendors' owners are all talking to him with respect and maybe a hint of terror.
"You're welcome." His smile is back to the polite one.
"Thank you." And I quickly drag Cordelia away.
"Who does he think he is? Why do you drag me away?"
"You said you're in a hurry to find Jade Garden! You said you wanted to beat Prince Lance!" I try to distract her.
"Oh right. I'm gonna beat you Lance." It's great Cordelia is kind of a simpleton.
It's now my turn to be dragged by Cordelia. Before being dragged away, I turn to see Lord Valentine in deep thoughts. His eyebrows are furrowed together. There is definitely something behind Arina and her guardian.
In the end, we beat Lance. Lance is nowhere to be seen. After settling down, I try to divine Lance's exact location and to find out he hasn't even arrived in the capital. This fact greatly amuses Cordelia. Knowing that she has won, Cordelia begins to fill her stomach with the highly expensive food provided by Jade Garden.
Jade Garden is the largest restaurant in town, it also sells the most expensive food. I sincerely hope Cordelia has enough gold in her pocket. Lord Valentine is still in deep thoughts. He even looks slightly worried.
Even though we're not talking at the moment, Lord Valentine's worried look finally wins over. I can't help but to talk to him and comfort him.
"Lord Valentine, what's the matter?" I ask with concern.
He looks shocked that I am talking to him. After much deliberation, he finally says, "Those two people... look exactly like my friends back in my world."
So that's the reason. That must be shocking seeing people that look like your friend in a world that is supposed to be based on a novel.
"But 'Ianthe' looks exactly like how I did back in my world. 'Lord Valentine' too. Maybe it's a coincidence."
Lord Valentine shakes his head. "No, it's not because of coincidence. It's because I set it this way when I first sent your soul to this world, so that you look like yourself. But I didn't do anything to Arina and her guardian!"
"Maybe since you're the creator of this world, you subconsciously used your friends' faces for these two characters?"
I think it makes sense. Lord Valentine is the creator after all.
"I am not the creator. This is just a universe among many different universes. It's my limit sending our souls to this world."
"Maybe it's your friends' doppelganger..."
"Maybe... I certainly hope so... I just worry that it's really my friends, but they lost their memories."
"Why would your friends come to this world? To find you?"
"That's a possibility."
"Then you should know if you go back to your original world! Your friends must have gone unconscious if they're trapped here."
Gradually, Lord Valentine looks more and more calm. He is back to his original collected self.
"As expected of Ianthe. So smart. Let's check it out tonight, shall we?"
"That's right. The two of us." Lord Valentine smiles dazzlingly and innocently.
That's definitely not what I am expecting...