146 More of What? Pt.1

    Zeren bit down on his lip as he limped away from the storage house. Jolts of pain shot up his leg with every step he took, causing him to whimper. He cursed under his breath. As much as he was dedicated to helping Jimin's love life prosper, the throbbing pain made him think otherwise.

    The things I do for you, Chim, he thought as he shielded the bowls from bumbling pedestrians. He scowled as a reckless merchant barged past, almost toppling him over. "I deserve a raise," he muttered once he had regained his balance.

    "Found you!"

    Zeren peered over his shoulder just in time to see a flustered Pho appear.

    "I swear," the maid panted as she waded through the crowded street, "if you break any of those bowls-"

    "I'll make sure to say it was because you were chasing me!" Zeren shouted before breaking into a jog.

    Pho's jaw dropped. Despite his handicap, Zeren effortlessly weaved through the street like a peregrine. It took her by surprise to find that his supposed injuries hadn't hampered his stride at all. Compared to Pho who was tired and already out of breath, Zeren's energy seemed boundless.

    The maid huffed and urged her legs to keep moving.

    It had been half an hour since they started their unintentional game of cat and mouse and already, Pho's patience was running thin.

    "Stupid guard," Pho grumbled as she kept her eyes locked on his back like a target. "How dare he make me sweat!"

    But while her annoyance at Zeren occupied the forefront of her thoughts, the fear of incurring Madam Zhou's wrath lingered close by. Pho unknowingly sped up. The last thing she needed was to get on the head maid's bad side.

    "Don't you dare drop them!" she shouted, suddenly alarmed at the thought of Zeren slackening his grip. "Or else it won't just be broken bowls you'll be dealing with!"

    Zeren briefly glanced over his shoulder and raised a brow as if amused by her threat. But as he did so, two small children suddenly emerged from an alleyway, crossing his path.

    "Look out!"

    Swerving just in time, Zeren pivoted on his injured leg, narrowly avoiding crashing into the orphans. A surprised cry escaped his lips as he landed with an ungainly thud, masking the sound of smashed pottery that followed.

    A collective gasp was heard as people stopped to stare at the spectacle.

    Pho rushed over. "Are you all right?"

    Zeren winced when he attempted to stand. As he tried to put weight on his leg, he hissed. "I'm fine, but I think I twisted my-"

    "Yes, we're all right."

    Looking up, Zeren noticed Pho hunched over the children. Oh, she was asking them.

    "Are you sure you're not hurt anywhere?" Pho asked, her voice filled with concern. She addressed the young boy who seemed the most affected, "What about you?"

    Made anxious by Pho's voice, Zeren looked over her shoulder. Had harm befallen the children because of me? Catching a glimpse of the pair, he noted how they appeared vaguely familiar. Hang on, aren't they the orphans Chim and I had played cuju with a while ago?

    The lass glanced down at her brother who was clinging onto her, wide-eyed with shock. "Gulnar's fine," she said after giving him a once-over. "He's just startled is all."

    Pho breathed a sigh of relief. "You should be careful when going onto the main road. You'll never know when lunatics like this guy," Pho gestured to Zeren, "will be carelessly running around."

    The lass peered at Zeren and nodded. "We will next time."

    Pho was about to say more when she noticed the young girl staring at her intently. "Is there something wrong?"

    "Oh," she shook her head, "no, nothing. It's just your garments-"

    "They're the same!"

    Pho turned her attention to Gulnar.

    "They're the same as Mama's!" the boy squealed excitedly.

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    "Mama?" Pho repeated, puzzled by his remark. Dusting herself off, Pho stood up as she exclaimed, "Oh! You must be referring to Gyuri." She laughed. "Yes, Gyuri and I wear the same uniform. You two must be the children she and the Young Master are looking after."

    "Are they well?" the lass keenly asked. "They haven't come to see us for a long time."

    "A lot has happened lately," Pho murmured. "The Young Master has been... he's been out of sorts but Gyuri is doing fine. She's actually at the storage house now if you want to see her."

    "She is?" Gulnar's face lit up. He turned to his sister and tugged at her sleeve. "Did you hear that, Chun Chun?"

    Chun Chun nodded. "We should go right now!"


    The trio turned to Zeren, who was still sprawled on the floor. "You can't go!"

    "And why not?" Pho asked.

    "It- it's not time." Zeren frantically looked around. "We still need to tell people about the soup-"

    "Take care on your way there," Pho addressed the orphans, ignoring Zeren.

    Zeren let out an uncharacteristic scream as he watched the pair leave.

    "And as for you," Pho said, facing him, "give me back those-"


    Zeren's eyes widened as Pho slowly lifted her heel, revealing several shards of pottery beneath her feet. She gasped. The shards were the same hue as the precious bowls Zeren should still have in his possession.

    Pho met eyes with Zeren immediately.

    "It was an accident," Zeren blurted, raising his hands as if to calm her. "I didn't mean to let go of them but then I fell..."

    Pho's expression shifted from alarmed to thunderous as Zeren's empty hands confirmed her worst nightmare.

    "...I'll pay for-" Zeren began to say but his words were soon replaced by a yelp as Pho lunged at him.
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