༺ Nursing the Sick (2) ༻
What made Oznia’s condition so strange?
It was a question that I couldn’t find the answer to even if I pondered alone.
Most importantly, it was getting late, so I needed to send Titania back to her room. If we stayed any longer, it could interfere with tomorrow’s classes.
“Titania, it’s getting late. You should rest now.”
At those words, Titania looked at the sleeping Oznia with a worried expression.
“But what about Oz? I’m too worried to leave her like this…”
I shook my head and spoke.
“I’ll be here. If anything happens, I’ll call you right away, so don’t worry.”
“Hmm, if you’re here, Instructor, it should be okay… But if anything really happens, you have to call me right away, okay? Even if there are no visible external injuries, there could be internal ones. She needs to stay hydrated, and if her condition worsens or she shows any signs of discomfort, immediately-“
“Of course, I’ll handle it well, so go back to your room now.”
I firmly cut off Titania’s words.
I may not be an expert in magic, but I have dealt with countless injured people while experiencing war. This includes magicians whose mana was exhausted or whose magic circuits were damaged, so I had a general understanding of what symptoms to look out for.
“You promise to call me if anything happens?”
With a lingering, worried gaze on Oznia, she finally left the room with a regretful expression.
The room Titania left was dark and quiet. The only sound coming from the surroundings was the faint breathing of the sleeping Oznia.
I pulled up a chair and closely monitored Oznia’s condition.
Oznia’s breathing was steady, and her complexion looked better than when she had first come out of the forest. It was probably thanks to Titania’s vitality magic.
It didn’t seem like there would be any major problems if I left the room like this, but not sleeping for a day or two would not have any significant impact on my physical condition. So, I decided to keep an eye on her until the end, just in case.
As I looked at the sleeping Oznia’s face, I momentarily recalled another thought.
It was about the illusion of Ella that I saw in the forest.
Until now, I had buried my thoughts about Ella in the back of my mind. I thought that by doing so, I would eventually forget the memories I had with her.
Even after coming to this academy, I had no intention of looking for Ella. To be honest, I lacked the resolve to face the truth, whether she was doing well or not.
However, after hearing a story that might be related to Ella recently, and now facing Ella’s illusion, my thoughts gradually changed.
Experiencing her illusion made me realize once again that it was difficult to completely shake Ella off my heart, and I finally made up my mind.
I decided to check on Ella’s whereabouts once.
To do so, I had a place to visit. I knew someone who was perfect for finding people.
While I was lost in thought, the night had passed, and the morning sun was slowly rising beyond the window.
At that moment, Oznia woke up from her sleep.
She slowly opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling with a blank expression.
Then, as she looked around to figure out where she was, she noticed me in the room and blinked in surprise.
“Yes. Did you sleep well?”
I greeted Oznia, who still seemed to have trouble fully understanding the situation.
As Oznia looked at the morning sunlight slowly coming in through the window, she belatedly realized that she was lying in her own bed.
She asked an uncertain question in a soft whispering voice.
“Did you… bring me here, Instructor?”
I nodded slightly in response.
“I did. Don’t you remember?”
“…My head feels foggy. It’s like I had a dream.”
I see. Then, what do you remember?”
Oznia only remembered patrolling the forest path with me, and couldn’t properly recall what had happened after being led by the spirit. She only had a faint memory of seeing my face.
I briefly explained that I had saved her from the illusion created by the forest spirit, and that Titania had cast a spell to help her regain her vitality.
Oznia kept silent for a moment, then nodded with a softened gaze.
“Titania…? I see.”
Suddenly, a sense of guilt washed over her face, and Oznia spoke with a trembling voice.
I spoke calmly, as if to reassure her.
“It’s not your fault that you fell into the spirit’s illusion.”
However, Oznia seemed to disagree with the statement as she bit her lip with an unconvinced expression and looked down.
“Just before falling into the illusion, I heard a strange voice.”
Oznia slowly nodded in response.
“It was my parents’ voice.”
Oznia continued with a slightly self-mocking smile.
“It doesn’t make sense. Both of them have been gone for a long time…”
She seemed to feel a sense of self-loathing for foolishly falling into such a simple trap. As if she wouldn’t have fallen for it if her mind had been clearer.
Her words made me more certain that something was off with Oznia’s state today.
I spoke with a slightly cautious tone.
“…It didn’t seem like they were good parents. I couldn’t see any traces of you in the house.”
Oznia nodded in agreement.
“I was… locked in the basement attic. I lived there as if I didn’t exist.”
Although I had already guessed it, I swallowed a small sigh as the truth was revealed.
Oznia kept her mouth shut for a while, seemingly hesitating deeply, biting her lower lip. Eventually, she steeled herself and began to quietly and slowly talk about her past.
“Since I was a child, I could see and hear things that other people couldn’t.”
Oznia spoke with a trembling voice.
“Because of that, strange beings always lingered around me. They sometimes helped, but mostly caused problems in my life.”
“Spirits, demons, monsters, fairies… and sometimes even more.”
Titania had guessed that Oznia had attracted the attention of beings other than spirits. Oznia’s explanation confirmed that suspicion.
“…The villagers thought I was cursed, and the village priest took the lead.”
Oznia frowned as if talking about her past was painful, and her trembling shoulders caused her speech to falter.
After a while, the room fell into an uncomfortable silence. Oznia’s eyes still held the fear and pain of her past.
Rather than pressing her further, I thought it would be best to end the conversation here and placed my hand on Oznia’s shoulder.
“That’s enough. You don’t have to force yourself to talk.”
Oznia still needed some time to regain her composure. If she wasn’t ready to discuss her past, there was no reason to push her.
However, Oznia slowly shook her head and continued.
“You protected me, didn’t you?”
“If you’re talking about saving you from the spirit, I was there and couldn’t prevent it, so it’s my responsibility too-“
“Not just that.”
Oznia’s violet eyes stared intently at me.
“You experienced… my past firsthand.”
In that hut, from the terrible violence and curses of her parents and the villagers.
The young Oznia, who closed her eyes and covered her ears, weeping and begging pitifully.
It was a sight that reminded me of my own powerless past.
Oznia just smiled faintly at my silence.
“…I didn’t do it to receive thanks.”
A brief silence filled the room. However, unlike before, it didn’t feel as uncomfortable.
Oznia licked her lips and continued speaking.
“…Anyway, as you saw, I lived in the village receiving such treatment. Plague, demon, witch… and all sorts of other names were hurled at me.”
“You managed to stay in the village despite everything.”
“Thanks to my parents and the village priest. They tried to…”
Oznia paused for a moment.
“…to make me repent. They believed that even a child of the devil could be embraced by the goddess, or something like that… I’m not really sure.”
Judging by Oznia’s reaction, it seemed that the repentance they spoke of was not achieved in a good way. It was likely accompanied by cruel tortures and various forms of violence, which were too harsh for a child to endure.
“Living like that, suddenly, a war broke out…”
Oznia stopped there and spoke with the most bitter expression I had never seen before.
“…Real demons came to the village.”
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