To get away from the military, even after we separated from the wagon, Ravi and I proceeded towards south silently. I’m piggybacking Ravi. Every so often, I told her「It’s fine to sleep」, but she would rub her eyes and shook her head sideways.
She’s probably trying her best to accompany me. It would’ve been fine if she’s more pampered though……
As I felt worrying about her, I carried her back up.
「Sorry that you couldn’t sleep comfortably. 」
「I’m alright……. I-I’m not that sleepy……」
I smiled wryly as a response to her awkward minding for me.
We are on foot. The military unit have horses. If they come and searched on their horses, it would be very bad. I can’t let my guard down if we don’t cross a certain distance. Anyhow, let’s hurry to somewhere Ravi can rest properly. I started my steps once again silently.
The dawn is near. When Milton wasn’t in view even when I turned around, I finally stopped my steps. Getting out from the highway and into the forest, finding a suitable place to rest. Coincidentally, there was a limestone cave that we could take a breather in.
It would be risky to walk on the highway when the sun is out. Because the possibility of getting discovered is high.
But I wonder if the military unit would come to find for me specifically. I don’t think that will be the case, but it’s better to not be arrogant and assume. How much desire for promotion does the military leader have? As I have no idea about it, it’s better to be cautious.
That is why, I’ve decided to lay low for the time being. The sunlight doesn’t reach deep into the limestone cave. I grabbed a candle from the bag and used a match to light it up. Relying on the swaying candlelight, we proceeded deeper.
「Here is probably fine. 」
It’s definitely enough to avoid the wild beasts. As I dripped a few drops of wax on the ground, I set the candle on it before it hardens. I managed to fix it in place somehow. With this, there’s no worry about the lighting.
Using the candlelight, Ravi looked up at the ceiling of the cave and exclaimed.
「The first time you’ve seen a limestone cave? 」
A vague reply came back. It seems that she didn’t know the name.
「Is that ice? 」
Ravi looked at the stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
「Haha. It does seem to resemble icicle. But that’s rock. It’s a white rock that’s called limestone. 」
Ravi stared at the ceiling intriguingly. Come to think of it, she’s curious about everything.
「A limestone cave is, a cave formed when the rainwater or underground water dissolve away the limestone. 」
「……! A cave so big made with water? 」
「Yeah, it takes a very long time in doing so. 」
Ravi eyes shone with amazement as I explained the formation of limestone cave. That had warmed up my heart too, encouraging me to teach her many more things.
「The temperature in a limestone cave is relatively stable regardless of the season. But the humidity is very high instead. It isn’t really a comfortable place to sleep over. 」
Even so, it’s able to ward off beasts. But in the first place, it’s just a nap while we’re on the run, I can’t ask for too much.
「I think we should avoid the highway while advancing from now. 」
The distance to Balzac is about 10 days of walking. Although there’s many rural villages on the way, the main would be camping outside.
「I guess the life of sleeping in a soft and fluffy bed will be put on hold temporarily. 」
I lowered the bag from my back and retrieved two sheets of blanket.
「Ravi, use this」
Taking off the coat and laying it on the ground, and substituting the pillow with the bag. Ravi observed me while doing the same for her coat to construct a temporary sleeping spot.
Covering the abdomen with the blanket, Ravi did so too. I raised my head to check whether the blanket is covering her whole body. I tried to fix my posture after raising my body once. The blanket that is considered too small for me was able to shield her entire body.
「Daddy, thank you……」
As I replied so, I tried to sleep again.
「Let’s rest until about noon here. 」
Ravi turned around and rested her head on my arm. It’s as if a gesture of a small animal wanting warmth.
「……N-not saying it……I know it’s not good……」
Ravi’s voice which is getting softer and softer. And her body started to shiver again. I know even if I don’t ask.
「B-but……when I try……It’s scary……i-it’s painful……」
A wheeze came from Ravi’s throat as she tried to continue. I panickily hugged her.
「Ravi. I said it before. You don’t have to force yourself to say it. 」
I told Ravi who was breathing repeatedly as if gasping for air. Ravi grabbed ahold of my shirt and started crying while clinging onto me.
「N-no…… I……Daddy was in danger because of me……. Many bad things will happen if we’re together……」
「There’s no such thing……!」
I embraced the thin figure, and denied it with all my strength. But Ravi shook her head sideways afraid.
「I’m a cursed child that’s why……!. The people wearing black will come and take me as a sacrifice for the devil……」
The people in black means the assassin……?
If I knew what is causing her so much fear, I might be able to save her from her sufferings. Although I thought so, even saying a small part of the entire picture is scaring her like this. At this pace, it would be cruel to ask for more.
「Ravi, you can stop already」
Was she too upset? Ravi coughed badly like that, and slowly threw up.
「It’s fine, let it all out」
I repeatedly said that while patting her back. I kept saying it as gently as I could to calm her down. Finally, finishing throwing up, Ravi raised her face stained with tears.
「It’s okay. Now wipe your mouth. 」
Using the hand towel and wiping the stained area around the mouth. And then giving a cup of water to her. I handed the last piece of lump sugar, in case the bitterness remained.
「It’s fine to eat……? 」
「Yeah. Sweet stuff will calm your mind. 」
She picked the lump sugar with her fingertips and dropped in her mouth. The cheek on the right swelled a little, and her expression became milder.
「It’s sweet and nice……」
「Is that so」
As Ravi finally seemed like she got her calm back, I exhaled a sigh of relief.
「Ravi, I’m glad I’ve met you. I’ve got a bunch of happiness from that. There wasn’t a single bad thing. I think that everything happened is precious for me. 」
Hearing my words, Ravi raised her head with surprise. When a smile naturally came on her face, she suddenly bit on her lips. She’s forcefully suppressing her feelings.
「B-But……the bad people attacked……. And now also, daddy is forced to run because of me……」
「I don’t mind it at all. So, Ravi can do that too」
「I feel happy that you’ve tried to confess everything. But I don’t want force Ravi. So, you don’t have to be feeling guilty if you are keeping it to yourself. 」
「But tell me when the time comes. I won’t mind what is it. I will definitely accept it. 」
「Unn……. Thank you……」
And drops of tears started to drop from her eyes again.
「Ah……! D-Don’t cry……! 」
I panickily wiped the tears from her face. Seeing me panic, Ravi giggled in a soft voice. Seeing that, I realized it was a different type of tears she cried. Even so, looking at her tears are still disheartening. I desperately tried to calm her.
If sharing the darkness that she carries lightens her weight, I will take it no matter how much. But the Ravi now didn’t have that leeway. The guilt of carrying such a secret, the sadness of not being able to confess it even forcefully is conveyed to me.
What can I do to ease her heart? As I was troubling over it, I carried the Ravi tired out from crying.
It’s different from the voice that was scared just now. The pampered tone that Ravi raised, she’s probably very sleepy.
「You’re very tired right. Let’s rest now」
Ravi clung onto me with her both hands and legs as if she doesn’t want to be a milli apart and slept just like that.
I want to convince her that as long as I’m around, it’ll be alright and nothing scary will happen.
I thought so as I peered deeper into the darkness of the limestone cave…….