༺ The First Letter (58) ༻
A silence settled in the treatment room. The Saintess was still looking at me with a smile on her face as I just stood there with my lips trembling, unable to say anything.
I couldn’t understand the situation at hand. The atmosphere became more frigid, and even though the Saintess’s smile was warm like usual, beads of sweat dropped down my back.
My mouth couldn’t bring out a proper answer as I stuttered.
It was because I couldn’t grasp the purpose of her question. Why was she asking if I enjoyed that Celine and Seria were fighting over me?
Of course I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t get why she would even ask that in the first place.
Even so, there was a certain sense of a crisis that pressured me to come up with a good answer, so I continued to hesitate.
From the mouth of the Saintess, who looked at me without saying a single word, a soft giggle seeped out.
After the start of her giggle, the Saintess began to laugh as if she couldn’t hold it in any longer. It was as if a dam had cracked and all the water behind it flooded out at once. She laughed so joyfully that tears started forming in her eyes.
The Saintess, who laughed for some time while banging her hands on the desk, directed the reverberation of her laughter towards me, who stared at her with bewildered eyes.
After the Saintess stopped laughing, she spoke to me with a smile in her eyes. It was enchanting.
“Jo, Joke… Hahaha, it was a joke, Brother Ian. You seemed overly confused.”
“O, Oh was it?”
I wasn’t sure what kind of joke it was, but I was just glad to know that it was indeed a joke. I internally calmed my pounding heart.
The Saintess saw my discomfort and began laughing again, but after a while she looked at me with warm eyes.
“Sister Seria was very worried about you. She said that you looked very unhappy.”
‘Ah, that was the reason,’ I now felt like I understood better. The Saintess took Seria’s feelings into consideration and tried to make a joke to make me feel more at ease.
To be honest, the joke made me nervous rather than at ease, but I decided to move past it because I felt much better anyway.
However, someone like the Saintess wouldn’t have asked to speak alone just to make me feel better. Maybe in a more private setting, but as of now she was working, giving medical treatments and tending to other public affairs.
Of course, it was clear that there was a valid reason.
Even before I asked, the Saintess immediately got to the point.
“As you know, the use of real swords is prohibited within the academy for hand-to-hand combat. However, when I looked at Sister Seria’s wounds, it seemed to be inflicted by a blade.”
“Was the wound deep?”
I’d also checked the wound several times, but my opinion wouldn’t be as accurate as an expert’s, so I asked cautiously. I had wondered if Seria was seriously injured.
Nevertheless, the Saintess shook her head with a wry smile. I let out a sigh of relief once again.
“It’s not deep at all. If the wound wasn’t caused by combat, it might have been treated in maybe a couple minutes?”
“Saintess, what do you think?”
Her light pink eyes focused on my face. Her eyes seemed to ask for additional information. I continued my question with a more urgent tone of voice.
“Will the disciplinary committee take action?”
“I’m not so sure……”
The Saintess frayed the end of her sentence as if in thought. I looked at her with earnest eyes, more desperate for an answer than before.
After staying silent for a bit, the Saintess glanced at me and smiled mysteriously.
“It seems like the victim herself didn’t want any disciplinary actions and the wound isn’t deep enough to result in serious action taken. If I speak on her behalf, I don’t think the disciplinary committee would have to get involved…….”
The moment I heard that, my head started filling up with countless thoughts. What could I do in order to save Celine?
Should I latch onto the Saintess’ legs and beg? A cliched line passed through my mind.
Please let our poor Celine go, she lost her father when she was younger to high-ranking nobles and since then…
More lines similar to that passed through my head but thankfully I did not say any of them.
It was because the Saintess examined my desperate eyes and started laughing even before I could say anything.
She continued to laugh as my bewildered eyes turned towards her.
“Don’t worry, Brother Ian. Unless it’s someone who shouldn’t be forgiven, the grace of the Heavenly God Arus isn’t scant enough to watch someone’s misfortune.”
It was a huge relief. When my complexion brightened, the Saintess had a proud look on her face. Her hand was then placed over her chest.
Her breasts were as full as every other time I saw them. It was a surprising sight to see her hand go over her chest. Perhaps her breasts could even balance a glass.
As soon as my worries were resolved, I began to think of unholy thoughts, but the Saintess didn’t even seem to notice my gaze.
Instead, she just winked and spoke to me.
“Of course, I’m also letting things slide because of my relationship with you, Brother Ian.”
“…….My relationship with you?”
When I tilted my head with an expression of confusion, the Saintess giggled as if that was good enough. Before I knew it, her light pink eyes were filled with an image of me.
“Yes, ‘our relationship’… Ah, so that’s all I have to say for today. Please have a peaceful day, Emmanuel.”
And just like that, I stood up from my seat. I felt bewildered, but there was nothing I could do. The Saintess was busy with her official duties, and there was no justification for me to take her time away from her.
But before I left, the Saintess added one more thing.
“Oh and by the way, Brother Ian.”
My eyes turned back right before I opened the door. There, the Saintess still sat with a benevolent smile.
“The ‘joke’ I made … wasn’t exactly a joke.”
I didn’t understand the meaning of her words.
But I was certain about one thing.
That, as she spoke, the Saintess looked even more alluring than ever.
It was then that I left the treatment room.
Seria and Leto were long gone by the time I left the treatment room. I remembered that Seria tried to stay behind to wait for me but I purposely forced her away.
Leto, on the other hand, wouldn’t have stayed even if I asked him to, so I didn’t expect anything from him.
As I was thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I should go back to my dorm and sleep after a shot of whiskey.’
Someone suddenly came up to me and put their arm around my shoulder. I was startled and almost ran away.
My recently heightened senses were used to picking most of the movements around me subconsciously. But whoever approached me right now was able to sneak up on me without me noticing.
My hand instinctively reached towards my waist. It was a swordsman’s instinct. However, I was soon able to recognize the man who put his arm around my shoulders.
A thin face and neutral appearance, his jade-colored hair tied in a ponytail. His skinny body may have looked frail, but appearances could be deceiving.
This man was the second-in-command of the 3rd year students in the Academy, a master of swordsmanship with skills so polished even Seria would not be able to face him alone.
Yuren of the Holy Kingdom; he had a mischievous smile alongside his shining blue eyes.
“Yo, Ian. It’s been a while!”
“……Yuren? Didn’t you say you were going to the city?”
It was true. The reason why I couldn’t predict his presence was because it had been so long since he left to go to the Holy Kingdom’s capital city, St. Rune.
I heard that he was helping a bishop with some important task.
I had recently started feeling lonely because I hadn’t seen him since the beginning of the semester.
Just as Celine built relationships with the female second-year students who came from lower nobility, Yuren built close relationships with the third-year students regardless of their social status.
There were many people who thought highly of his cheerful and sociable personality as well as his frankness. Since he came from the Holy Kingdom, his noble lifestyle was also a given.
He went a little crazy whenever a sword was involved, but at the Academy where talented students were nurtured, it was accepted as a virtue.
And he had finally returned to the Academy. I couldn’t help but speak to him with feelings of delight and confusion.
Yuren slightly smiled at my words and revealed a red marble.
It was a marble with an alluring blood red color. My eyes turned to Yuren with curiosity. Yuren smiled back with a mischievous grin.
“Obviously I’m done with my work. This is it. It’s called ‘Blood Spirit’, and it’s a very precious sacrifice. It can temporarily strengthen your divine power and can bring about miracles.”
“Did you keep yourself holed up for months just to make that one marble?”
“Tsk tsk, you probably don’t know because you’re not from the area. Do you know how much value this tiny marble holds? You probably couldn’t get it even if you sold a castle.”
At Yuren’s explanation, my eyes widened subconsciously. Worth more than a castle? It was the first time I saw anything worth that price.
My eyes trembled as I looked at the small blood red marble. In an instant, someone’s name passed through my mind.
Emma. If a sacrifice of this magnitude was used maybe she could be healed. No, I was positive it would work. It was a sacrifice worth more than the price of a castle.
My eyes desperately went towards Yuren. But Yuren, who had been putting his arm around me, quickly backed away and placed the marble back into his inner pocket.
A bitter smile hung on his lips.
“I heard about your friend, Ian… But this won’t work. It’s an item you can use only with the Holy Kingdom’s permission.”
I let out a deep sigh as if I knew that would happen. It made sense. I was just blinded for a moment because of the possibility that was right in front of my eyes.
Yuren, who had been watching me with a sad look for a bit, patted me on the shoulder as if to comfort me. Then, he asked me a question, like he just remembered something he wanted to ask.
“Oh yeah Ian, I’ve heard countless rumors about your skill with a hatchet?”
I answered in a nonchalant voice. My shoulders were still slumped in disappointment but Yuren’s eyes had a new gleam.
His curiosity was written all over his face and I knew that he would react in this way. He crept closer to me and started to poke my side with his finger.
“Hey, hey. What did you do in order to get that good in such a short period of time? Even I can’t say with confidence that I can beat Senior Delphine……”
“Beat Senior Delphine my ass, it was barely a tie even though she had no weapons. My hand was pierced through while she had no scratches on her.”
Yuren continued with a whiny voice as if he was begging. His eyes were sparkling with anticipation.
“Can you show me just this once? Your hatchet skills.”
I let out a sigh. Then, with eyes that glazed over with no interest, I looked towards Yuren. I slowly opened my mouth with a sour face.
“We’re in front of the temple, why would I start a… fight!”
Of course, that was a lie.
From the moment Yuren approached me, the hand that had been shadowing toward my waist immediately moved to complete its role.
A straight silver line, a sharp trajectory that only a hatchet could draw was drawn in the air.
It was clear that the sharp edge of the hatchet was aiming for Yuren. It was a surprise attack with purpose and Yuren was also probably hoping for it.
However, the result was as I expected.
With a clang, sparks flew in the air. Before I knew it, the thin sword from Yuren’s waist parried my hatchet that was sharply rising.
Rotating around the hatchet as if wrapping it with the blade, he pounded it straight towards the ground.
Metal hit the marble floor and sparks flew. I didn’t let go of the hatchet, but as soon as it hit the ground, I almost fell on top of it.
The fight wasn’t just between my hatchet and his sword. The places where Yuren and I had been standing were switched as well.
After seeing my sloppy posture with my upper body bent over, Yuren exclaimed and stroked his chin.
“Wow, not bad! I would’ve fallen for your attack if I wasn’t expecting it.”
Instead of praise, I muttered those words instead.
His skills were insane. Even though I had attacked first, Yuren was able to parry and knock both me and the hatchet to the ground.
In other words, he was on a different level. If Senior Delphine and I were to go all out, the outcome would have been even worse than this.
Would we be okay at the Hunting Festival? I already had grave thoughts in my mind.
Yuren observed my body hunched over on the ground. Then, he shook his head as if he had figured something out.
“It’s your mind and body. Your skills are excellent but your mind and body can’t keep up.”
“……….? What are you talking about?”
If he was talking about the mind-body-skills theory, I was already familiar with the topic.
Martial arts required three different disciplines. Mind, body, and skills.
Training your mind affects visualization, training your skills shapes you to become a skilled warrior, and training your body creates a vessel to connect both together.
This was the mind-body theory. If you didn’t train in all three disciplines, you would not be a skilled warrior. But Yuren told me that only my skills were uniquely excellent.
Yuren couldn’t tell me all the specific details. He only left the following words for me to think about.
“I mean, it feels like you were training in a ditch on some mountain somewhere? No, even then, it would be hard for your mind and body to fall behind this much… You should go fight on some battlefield all day.”
“……But then my skills won’t form correctly.”
“Maybe you had a good teacher, well… whatever you do now, it’s probably impossible to fix quickly.”
Then, Yuren tapped my shoulders again. It was his way of saying goodbye.
“Don’t think about it too much. You’ll have to correct it in the long run, but for now, it’s not bad to focus on what you’re good at.”
‘Good at,’ that phrase stood out to me.
What I was good at… Thinking back, Leto also had said the same thing to me.
Something like ‘Do whatever you want to do’?
I didn’t know what Yuren was thinking but he had a proud look on his face after seeing me lost in thought. It seemed like he thought I listened to his advice and learned something.
He walked away with a wave of his hands, as if not to bother me any further.
“I’ll be going now since Noona is waiting for me… Now that I think about it, you should be careful of Noona.”
My eyes, which were lost in thought for a moment, slowly turned to Yuren. He had a mischievous smile like when he first approached me.
“……She’s taken a lot of interest in you lately.”
There was only one person who Yuren would call ‘Noona’.
As an orphan, the only person he trusted and followed like family was the one person who grew up with him like they were siblings.
It meant the ‘Saintess’ had taken a deep interest in me.
Before I could bring those words to my tongue, Yuren left like the wind, just the way he had come.
Since he was officially serving as the Saintess’ personal guard, he probably went to her.
As one worry rose, a path to resolving a different worry opened up.
I wasn’t smooth with my words like Leto was, had connections like Celine, or had a wealthy family to back me up like Seria did.
But still, something I was ‘good at’.
Yes, there was something only I had.
It was a dark night, the moonlight casting a faint light from behind the clouds.
Her hair, resembling the color of the night sky, caught my eye at first glance. Her light brown eyes staring blankly at me and her white skin that stood out even more in contrast.
Celine Haster, my childhood friend, was in front of me.
A sword was slowly drawn from the scabbard at my waist, reflecting the moonlight of the night.
With a clang, the scabbard was thrown to the ground. It meant that I wouldn’t sheathe my sword until the match had a winner. A signal for the start of a duel.
In a clearing in the forest where no one would ever visit, I formed a faint smile.
This was the only thing that I was good at.
There was a rule that swordsmen should only speak with a sword. Although for me, my hatchet would do most of the speaking.
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