༺ The Lord Is With Us (34) ༻
The medical room was eerily quiet in the middle of the night.
The shortage of oil in this down-trodden orphanage made it difficult for the wick in the lantern to catch light. Instead, the moonlight somewhat lit up the room
In that dim room, there was a woman examining my back.
It was the Saintess. A pained groan leaked out as substantial pain flared up wherever her slender fingers glided across my back.
The injuries from fighting the monkeys still hadn’t fully recovered despite using an entire potion.
Without even knowing that, I had been overexerting myself since morning. It was no wonder that the wounds on my back had reopened and was dripping blood.
It felt as if my skin was dry and cracked like damaged asphalt, and a dull pain continually shot through my nerves.
“…….Are you stupid? I told you last time that your body was already at its limit, but you really thought a single healing potion was going to be sufficient?”
I couldn’t find the words to reply. Her scolding was perfectly reasonable and justified.
In her eyes, I was just another sinner for not having taken proper care of myself. On top of that, I had even purposely avoided her, wanting to escape her nagging.
It had only been a day since I had been discharged. I could only imagine her dismay when she saw that I had returned with more injuries.
Embarrassed, all I could do was try to preserve a bit of my pride.
“Kuhum… I thought I’d be fine since it was only a shallow wou–AHHHH!”
Naturally, my false bravado didn’t last long.
An agonized cry resounded as she abruptly pressed down on my wound.
Her sigh tickled my ear.
I couldn’t see her face since I had my back turned to her, but I could somehow picture the kind of expression she was making.
I could tell from her voice that she was ashamed of me.
Truth be told, it really was my fault, and I couldn’t even bother retorting as I was too busy groaning in pain.
She was glaring at me the whole time, but in the end, she snorted and emitted her holy power.
Accompanied by a warm sensation on my back, the pain rapidly faded as I felt the wound close. Although it was something I had experienced many times before, I was still surprised by how such a thing was possible.
How could a wound heal so quickly?
It truly was an ability bestowed by the Heavenly God. While Emma’s healing potions were also effective, they just couldn’t compete with the Saintess’ holy power.
After carefully inspecting the closed wound, she threw out a question with a somewhat indifferent voice.
“You’re injured elsewhere too, right?”
Her voice carried an odd sense of certainty, and I instinctively felt that she already knew my back wasn’t the only place I was injured.
And her instincts were right on the mark. Without a way out, I was forced to admit it.
“A-actually, my left arm is also…….”
Even while grumbling, she came around and gripped my arm. Initially, I thought my arm was simply sore from the arduous training, but a sharp pain shot up the moment she slightly dug her fingers into my arm.
After briefly glancing at my face to gauge my reaction, she reactivated her holy power. Soon after, the pure white glow slowly seeped into my arm.
She looked earnest while treating me. She had previously claimed that she properly distinguished between personal and work matters, and it seemed that she wasn’t lying.
At the very least, she treated her patients with sincerity. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have bothered nagging me about my injuries.
However, to me, that sincerity was somewhat bothersome, as I would be lucky if I didn’t have to suffer through her lecturing until dawn again
Realizing what the near future held for me, I felt like crying.
I even considered coming up with an excuse to sleep in tomorrow by saying I needed to recuperate from my injuries. It was imperative that I maintain my body in optimal physical condition since we might have to face a demonic human soon.
While I was deep in my own thoughts, the Saintess continued to silently examine my arm.
Eventually, the treatment came to an end, and she slowly let go of my arm—Not that I could relax, seeing how her accusatory glare was aimed right at me.
“……Why are you so incapable of loving yourself?”
“It couldn’t be helped. Senior Delphine happened to be incapacitated at the time…”
“You shouldn’t have gone to the forest to begin with. What kind of person goes out hunting demonic beasts immediately after being discharged?”
My mouth closed as I tried to come up with a comeback.
She sighed, her breath tickling the tip of my nose while her fingers continued to tremble.
“Anyway, you’re not allowed to fight for a while. You’re also not allowed to explore tomorrow.”
Her firm tone likely meant that she wouldn’t take no for an answer, but there was no harm in attempting to convince her otherwise…
With the search effort about to begin in earnest, and the possibility of a contractor on the horizon, everyone was needed, including me.
But before I could even utter a word, the Saintess cut me off.
“……What did you think I was going to say?”
“No matter what you were going to say, you’re not allowed. Are you crazy? Think about how many times you’ve been hurt just recently.”
I gulped, averting my gaze for a moment. I remembered visiting the Saintess at least once or twice a week, though I couldn’t remember the exact number.
Unfazed by my lack of response, she began reciting a detailed list of my injuries.
“Once during the duel with Sister Seria, once while facing ten wolf beasts alone, and then another time during an argument with Brother Thean, and after that, when Sister Delphine pierced your hand…….”
I cried out in surrender, throwing my hands up in defeat as her hazy eyes turned to me. It was my mistake, and I opened my mouth to explain.
“It was my fault I got hurt, but at the time, I really did have a good reason.”
Unexpectedly, my words seemed to have struck a chord. On hearing the word “reason”, the Saintess slightly averted her gaze.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know what I meant, so I couldn’t figure out why she was reacting that way.
She had been examining my wound while kneeling, but she suddenly got up. She started pacing the room, deep in thought, before looking down at me with her arms crossed.
I could sense the firmness of her breasts as they rested on her arms.
“…..you’ve been confusing me recently.”
She spoke with a downcast voice. My skeptical eyes met hers as she looked at me with increased suspicion.
“I mean, you’re such a piece of shit. You know that, right?”
“Aren’t you being too unfair?”
I immediately protested, but her stance on the matter didn’t change as she continued to speak.
“You blackmail people, and you’re also prone to violence. You tortured Sister Delphine even after she was defeated. You’re a total villain.”
Despite the fact that it was technically me from the future who had done all those things, I was at a loss on how to explain that to her.
Telling her the truth would just make her think I was making a lame excuse, so I found it better to just remain silent.
She looked at me curiously, waiting to see my response. When I didn’t say anything for a while, she snorted venomously.
It was enough for me to detect a subtle change in her pale pink eyes. It was still subtle, but the emotion was clear.
She was confused.
After a moment’s hesitation, her glossy lips parted once more.
“……Then why don’t you protect yourself?”
I said nothing, my gaze unable to meet hers. She was looking towards the floor, her voice slightly hesitant.
“You don’t have to go so far. Just do what you can, and take care of yourself. I don’t understand why you go to such lengths.”
I remained silent, thinking about the reason I was pushing myself so hard, and I realized it had never crossed my mind.
I just knew that I had to push myself if I wanted to succeed.
By some lucky twist of fate, my skills had improved, but it was still inadequate.. Simply put, the responsibility that weighed on my shoulders was far beyond my abilities.
Nevertheless, I knew the world might end if I failed, so I grit my teeth and just did it anyway.
I acted the way I did because it had to be done. Unfortunately, the night was too short to explain everything that had occurred to her.
Smirking, I decided to make a joke instead.
“It’s how we were able to hunt some of the monkey beasts, and the money will go towards the orphanage anyways. Don’t you think that’s a good thing?”
“That’s what makes you even weirder!”
However, my casual remarks just seemed to have the unintended effect of irritating her further…
Letting out a cry, she marched over to me, poking me right in the chest with her index finger, and continued berating me.
“They’re orphans. No one cares if one or two die.”
My simple words held quite the number of barbs.
She seemed momentarily speechless at my curt reply. Staring at me for a moment, she continued to express her frustration even more harshly.
“You sacrificed hundreds of gold for that? You’re just a lower noble, and you even sacrificed your body for that gold!”
“Since I’m the one who hunted them, I can do what I want with the reward money.”
She seemed to be brooding at my straightforward answer, before finally letting out a defeated sigh. With a shake of her head, she put her hand to rest on her forehead.
Chewing her lip, she turned her gaze back to me, her gaze filled with suspicion.
” …Are you pretending to be nice? Because your public image is important?”
Sighing, I got up from the bed.
Once my body was upright, she had to look up at me to make eye contact.
Her eyes were slightly shaking, confusion seemingly lingering in her irises.
Speaking softly, I advised her.
“Don’t think so calculatingly. You yourself should know the desire to act upon your emotions.”
“Did following your emotions make you attack people with your hatchet…?”
“I also attacked some demonic beasts, and made some donations to the orphanage in the process.”
The Saintess, who had been glaring at me fiercely up until this point, softened her gaze and looked downwards. She didn’t seem to be any more satisfied than earlier, though.
After stuttering for a moment, she murmured something in a timid voice.
“…..you also attacked me”
A bitter smile formed on my lips. As expected, she’d been harboring a grudge since that day.
Not only had she been threatened that day, but she had also been defeated completely by force. Her pride hadn’t had enough time to heal, so she’d been projecting her disdain onto me.
And my recent behavior threw a wrench in her thought process.
In her mind, Ian Percus must be garbage, but from what she’d seen, he couldn’t be such a terrible person. That contradiction was clashing in her head.
I thought for a moment, weighing my options.
I could apologize for what had happened that day right now, and perhaps the Saintess would give it up.
There would still be a need to dance around her, but she wouldn’t be as overtly aggressive towards me like she was now. After all, she was a smart and crafty woman.
She continued to sneak glances at me out of the corner of her eye, seemingly nervous about how I would respond.
Seeing that, I was about to apologize.
But I smiled bitterly and stopped.
It wouldn’t actually resolve what had occurred between us. She would always question me in the back of her mind. Even now, it was awkward to greet each other.
If that was going to be the case anyway, I may as well remain her enemy. At the very least, it would force the Saintess to remove her mask.
So I smiled and spoke.
“Can I hit you again?”
Being perfectly honest, there was a grain of truth in my words.
I’m going to get back at you one of these days, you rude holy power pouch.
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