Perhaps he just sang however he wished; things like the pitch, beat, lyrics, and performance showmanship were all a mess.
Of course, the performance did not live up to the price of two mana stones given out of sympathy.

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     “Is that so?” The man responded apathetically, stretching his previously bent, long legs while carelessly throwing his instrument away.

     Alarmed, Ayra had almost automatically picked up the lyre that had rolled to his feet.
“You can’t treat the instruments this harshly!”

     “It isn’t mine anyway.”

     “Shouldn’t you be handling other’s possessions with more care?” Rebuking the man, Ayra habitually called up his stat window.

 

HP: ???
MP: ???
Physical Attack: ???
Magical Attack: ???
Affection: ???? <3

 

     ‘Rehzedt? That huge rugged mountain range to the east?’ Ayra thought that it was quite strange that the man’s surname was the same as a mountain range, but the latter squinted his eyes and sent a piercing gaze right back.
Ayra quickly removed his gaze from the stat window, and red eyes slowly slipped downwards again.

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     Janus tugged at his shabby old shoes that he had placed onto his thick thighs before asking, “Is something wrong with your feet?”

     “What are you talking about?” Ayra asked.

     “It seems, after watching you for a few days, you always trip over the same jagged stone edge.”

   Ayra, who had never thought anyone would have been observing him fall around for days, awkwardly coughed.
“I had been distracted.
What about you–why have you been sitting here all day, day after day?”

     Ayra, quietly sitting next to the possible beggar, probed to see if Janus’s idleness was an inherent problem of the territory–strangers were especially rejected here.
The young lord had walked for a particularly long time today, so his legs hurt.

     Since the young lord made it his goal to introduce himself to as many people as possible, his introduction tumbled out of his mouth almost automatically, a knee-jerk response.
“Call me Ayra.”

     “Janus.”

     The man had a unique way of looking at the person who sat beside him.
He only rolled his bright red eyes to the side to glance at Ayra without turning his head fully; the corners of his lips turned up in a sly smile.
At a surface glance, he looked similar in age to the young lord, but his jawline was sleek and clean, without a trace of a beard.

     He didn’t respond to the question of why he had been loitering here for several days and instead talked as he pleased.
“I’ve never seen your face around here before; you’re not from this place, are you? Your bundled up appearance, your accent…you’re from the south?”

     “Well, I guess different regional dialects may have more full phonetic sounds.
You look like you’re from here–ignorant to the cold.” Ayra turned his gaze onto the other’s bare skin.
The man certainly wasn’t a bard; Ayra could see the other’s exposed forearm muscles under his linen shirt sleeves.
Furthermore, Ayra could now see an old sword hanging from the man’s waist.
The scabbard was so old that it cracked, the gap looking a bit like the space between an old man’s toothless gums.

     “I’ve lived here for about 10 years.”

     So, he’s a foreigner that had adapted to the cold climate.
Come to think of it, Ayra hadn’t yet asked a foreigner about their perspective on this territory.

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     Feeling that this was a good opportunity, Ayra casually proposed, “Then, won’t you tell me where I can buy delicious food here? I’ll pay for your meal.”

     “Should I?” It seemed as if Janus was going to sit quietly for another few days, but, unexpectedly, he slowly brushed off the seat of his pants.
and stood up.
When he stood up straight, he was a lot taller than Ayra had imagined.
No matter how one looked at it, his height just screamed that he wasn’t a local.

     Janus must have told the truth when he said he’d lived in this area for 10 years; along the way, plenty of people recognized him.
When his name was warmly called, Janus smiled and returned a greeting of his own.
Ayra was amazed that he had memorized all these names.

     “We’re here.” Finally, Janus guided the young lord to a pub located within a shabby alleyway.
There was a happily steaming steamer in front of the pub, wafting a delicious smell into the air.

     The owner, who was sweating profusely as he tended to the fire, smiled broadly with his gentle face.
“It’s been a long while, Janus.”

     “Yeah, Wolf, give me two of each type.
Also, two bottles of alcohol.”

    “Alright.
It’ll be out shortly.”

    Janus ordered like a regular, opened the door, and stepped inside.
The humble bar was crowded with people, but fortunately, because it was a little past meal time, one table remained vacant.
Not long after sitting at the table, food soon arrived.

    Each plate before them held a large steamed bun.
One bun was placed on a bed of oily golden soup with red flowers—the symbol of the Mollunka religion—garnished on top; the other was placed atop mashed potatoes and red soup.
One was alone on a plate without a single drop of soup.

     Ayra cautiously scooped a spoonful of the soup.
And afterwards, after he returned to his senses, he realized that he had eaten all of one dish in a blink of an eye.
Looking at Janus in front of him, the man had already polished off his third plate, so Ayra ordered more food.

     “So, why’d you come here? For money?” As Ayra began to gradually feel full, he pushed his share of alcohol to the other.
While slowly sipping at the thick broth, he tossed Janus his question.

     “I’m here to find a lover.”

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     “You’ve been searching for a lover here for 10 years? Ayra stared into Janus’s face.
With his face and body–even if he were a talentless and destitute beggar–it couldn’t have been that difficult to find a lover.

     Janus was handsome–as if someone had painstakingly sculpted his face.
His red irises were more akin to highly saturated rubies rather than something bloodshot and creepy.
Though his gaze was a bit ferocious, it matched well when he smirked his lips.
His face was so memorable that Ayra recalled his looks while he had passed through the city square multiple times, and now he was buying him a meal.

     “I dated a few people, but they were no good.” Janus continued.
Counting on his fingers, it seems that he had dated at least 10 people; it was evident that his standards must be high.
Honestly, Ayra thought, while sipping savory broth, that someone so handsome could afford such high standards. 1

     “So, lately, I’ve been gradually getting tired and was thinking about organizing my business and leaving.
However, it’d be a pity to give up the steamed buns from this place.”

     Ayra nodded his agreement.
He just dipped his steamed meat bun in the well-steeped soup, but that simple act had delivered delicious warmth to his bones.
“How’s this place for foreigners?”

     Janus drank straight from the bottle–an indifferent response to Ayra’s casual question.
Soon after, he placed his chin in his palm and looked gently at the young lord.  The color of his eyes were so striking–Ayra couldn’t help but stare into them; his gaze was startlingly striking.
‘How could someone’s eyes be so beautiful?’ Ayra repressed his subconscious desire to possess those pretty eyes, telling himself ‘he’s a human, a human’.

     “It’s so-so.
It’s quite boring, since there’s no place to play around.
All that’s here is alcohol, pickled fish, braised meat, snowy mountains, rocky mountains, dirt mountains…If I were you, I’d live in Sobletche or Bolney.”

     Sobletche and Bolney were territories located right beside the Solar territory.
As a future lord who would rule over this place in the future, Ayra had not received a particularly happy answer.
In short, it sounded like this region had no unique characteristics nor resources.
“Well…there has to be one good thing about this place, right?”

     “The cold?”

     Janus, considering his attire, seemed to have a constitution that could retain warmth well.
This ‘advantage’ wasn’t much of an advantage at all.
Janus released a short exclamation and snapped his fingers, creating a sharp sound.
“There’s one more.
The food from this store.”

     Ayra, who had been waiting with bated breaths, felt the hope in his heart extinguish.
He was hungry, so he turned to place another piece of the warm steamed bun on his spoon…but Janus asked with a wide smile, “By the way…Ayra, are you a mage?”

     As soon as he said that, the steamed bun that Ayra had swallowed was caught in the young lord’s throat.
After barely swallowing the bite down, Ayra asked, voice husky, “…What are you saying all of a sudden?”

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     “I’m talking about this.” Janus tapped the back of Ayra’s hand with his finger.
When the young lord lowered his gaze, he saw Pebble, which had crawled up to the first join of his index finger–curious about the outside world–hurriedly flee back to Ayra’s wrist.
Without caution, Janus grabbed his hand and uncovered his sleeve; Ayra flinched.
Janus’s hand was startlingly hot.

     “This punk is fleeing.” Janus’s fingers pressed midway up Ayra’s forearm, ahead of the fleeing Pebble, leaving two warm spots on Ayra’s skin.
As if he were walking with his two fingers, Janus herded the shocked Pebble back to the back of Ayra’s hand; unsure of where to go, Pebble eventually crammed itself into a corner.
Helpless to resist the finger that pressed against it, Pebble simply floated a heart above it.

     Janus tilted his head and raised his red eyes; a sharp smile began to form at the corner of his lips.
“Are you casting something on me right now?”

     “What? No!” Ayra, after blankly watching this all happen, belatedly pulled back his arm at the frightening misunderstanding.
Maybe it was shock, maybe it was anxiety; his heart raced.
It was the first time since he left the estate as a child that he had been at the receiving end of random physical contact.

     “Hey!” Ayra raised his gaze, intending to rebuke the other for casually touching his body like that.
Instead, he saw Janus’s mischievous eye smile–the corners of his red eyes were curved, matching the corners of his lips quite charmingly.

     “Sorry, I’ve never seen a moving tattoo before,” Janus said.

     Ayra pushed Pebble back towards his wrist while lowering his rolled up sleeve.
Janus’s gaze lingered on the white skin that had been revealed underneath the sleeve before, soon, looking away.

     He asked once more, “So, are you a mage?”

 

 

TL: Pebble so cute >.< I can imagine it saying “Don’t bully me” to Mr.
Redhead.

High standards = 눈이 아주 높은 편 = Eyes are are set on something up high.
Slang that has been anglicized. 

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