༺ The Lord Is With Us (12) ༻
Golden hair, crimson eyes, and pure white skin.
Combined with flawless facial features, she could only be called an attractive woman. Her beauty was better described as a work of art rather than a combination of genetics and luck.
She was a picturesque northern beauty.
Her name was Delphine Yurdina.
Her sharp jawline and piercing eyes reflected her fierce nature and prideful heart.
But despite being the heiress to a prestigious family, her usual regal demeanor was nowhere to be found.
Right now, saying she looked ‘helpless’ seemed to be a better description.
Her mouth was slightly agape, and her eyes were clouded over.
Her pupils remained devoid of light as she gazed at me before slowly regaining herself.
The first emotion that flashed across those crimson eyes was surprise.
Then shame, followed by fear, before slowly settling into a murky despair.
Only pain remained in the eyes that once dripped with nothing but boredom.
The once prideful girl jerked her head away, unable to maintain eye contact.
She chewed on her lips, and after a brief moment, a pained voice leaked through.
“……Why are you here?”
I didn’t know what to say.
Honestly, although I managed to meet her, the words came up short.
The only reason I was here was to figure out what had happened between her and ‘Ian’.
But no matter how I looked at it, it just wasn’t the right time to bring that up.
As it seemed impossible to ask her directly, I figured it would be best to steer the conversation in that direction.
However, she didn’t look pleased to see me, and judging from her behavior, our conversation was likely to never make progress. After all, I could practically taste the negativity oozing out of every fiber of her being.
This was problematic. It seemed like she and ‘Ian’ had already gone past the point of no return, rendering my plan to manipulate our conversation ineffective.
With a heavy sigh, I responded to her question.
“Are we not close enough for me to visit you?”
“No, we’re not.”
Her body was shivering even as she spoke, and when her crimson eyes focused on me, I was taken aback and rendered speechless.
Tears began to well up around her eyes.
The senior I knew never showed her tears to anyone. She was a strong-willed woman with an obsession for strength and disdain for the weak.
Simply put, the tears flowing from her eyes were a testament to her shattered pride.
Only someone whose entire self-esteem had been crushed to bits could wear such a sorrowful face.
“Have you come to laugh at me, to see what the person you trampled on looks like?”
“No, I think there’s been a misunderstanding…….”
“Or are you here to warn me because you think I’m going to step out of line and retaliate?”
Delphine let out a hollow chuckle as tears streaked down her cheeks from her eyes.
Trembling, she tightly clenched the hospital quilt. She tried to glare at me, but when our gazes met, she averted her eyes, seemingly horrified.
Senior Delphine quickly wiped the tears from her eyes with her sleeve, making her seem even more pitiful.
She resembled a small child struggling to hold back her tears.
“……Don’t worry, I have no intention of retaliating.”
“You destroyed everything. Not just my pride, but everything else too. Now, I have nothing left.”
Seeing her in such a pitiful state, I wondered how badly she had been beaten.
The pain in her eyes was so apparent that I knew she must have gone through a traumatic experience even without knowing the exact details.
Not long ago, she refused to bow to anyone, yet now, she couldn’t even meet my eyes, and her body shuddered just from my presence.
Even then, she seemed to be biting down on her lips, feeling ashamed that she was showing her tears to someone else. No matter how much she wiped her tears away with her sleeves, they refused to stop.
She had lived her entire life as the victor, and the shock of defeat seemed to prove too much for her.
I crossed my arms and thought for a moment.
As I tapped my arms with my fingers, I threw out a question.
“Does it hurt that much?”
“Of course…! I-It does.”
Once again, she turned to glare at me, but like her previous attempt, she flinched away like a frightened puppy as soon as she met my eyes.
She could only whine while avoiding eye contact.
Despite her current state, she had once been a strong and prideful woman. It made sense that she didn’t completely break drown as Senior Elsie had.
I still sensed a small rebellious spirit within her whenever she mustered up the courage to somewhat glare at me.
It simply didn’t last long. As if on cue, Senior Delphine’s crimson eyes trembled in fear once again.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of her arms.
Along with her neck, they were covered in bandages. The lower half of her body was covered by a blanket, but it was likely that her entire body was thoroughly injured.
After all, her wounds were severe enough to keep her in the intensive care unit for days.
Given the fact my arm took a full day to heal, it was reasonable to assume that all her limbs had been mangled.
To a certain extent, I could understand her shock.
It was rare for the heiress to one of the Empire’s five great noble families to suffer a defeat, especially during their final year. It was even more so considering Senior Delphine was on the verge of graduating at the top of her class.
On top of that, it was to a junior.
In a way, the result was obvious.
The higher you climb, the harder you fall.
Yes, I understood that.
Still, I didn’t like this image of Senior Delphine — One of a tragic heroine with tears streaming down. I didn’t sit right with me
I wondered why, but it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.
I turned to Senior Delphine with irritation blatantly coloring my voice.
“Why did you do it?”
Senior Delphine dumbfoundedly looked in my direction.
She likely hadn’t expected sympathy, but she undoubtedly hadn’t expected me to react this way.
That was the world she lived in.
In her small bubble that only contained her noble family and the Academy, she was treated like a queen. If she showed the slightest hint of discomfort, those around her were quick to correct it.
But that wasn’t the case with me. My relationship with her was already destroyed, and I no longer needed to put on a facade in front of her.
That was why I spoke with pure honesty.
“You didn’t seem to care whenever you bullied Seria. She cries at the mere mention of her mother, but even though you’re her half-sister, you orchestrated the bullying just for your so-called victory?”
Delphine opened her mouth but stopped herself before looking away as if she had nothing to say.
I felt anger boiling up.
“Don’t pretend to be a victim just because you got hit a few times. And speaking of the Hunting Festival, wasn’t it you who attacked your juniors who were already exhausted from a deadly battle?”
“N-No, i-it wasn’t just a few…….”
Delphine started mumbling indignantly, but her timid voice made no impressions whatsoever.
Instead, it only made me frown harder.
“Then what was it if it wasn’t a few injuries?”
She shrank back even further as her head drooped down.
She seemed to have something to say, but every time she looked into my eyes, which were burning with a subtle anger, she ended up averting her gaze in fear.
I chuckled to myself as I observed her pathetic behavior.
How much could she really have been hurt?
I thought that at most, she was probably stabbed once here and there, but that was far from enough.
Her behavior would have made sense if she’d been tortured until she became minced meat, but even Senior Elsie, who was unrivaled in her brutality, would never stoop to committing such gruesome acts.
Thinking up to that point, I felt it was unlikely that Senior Delphine had been subjected to such a cruel fate.
Convinced of my presumption, a series of verbal attacks erupted from my mouth.
“Just twice! You’ve only suffered defeat twice! Do you think you’re the only one who had been stuck in the intensive care unit? I had experienced defeat numerous times, and there were plenty of times when I couldn’t win even if I tried my best. But you’re acting like this just with two losses?”
“N-no… It’s not about my loss, it’s what happened afterwa-“
I shouted, cutting off her words.
She stammered, unable to continue. I thought it was nice that she was being obedient at the very least.
“I don’t want to hear any more excuses, Senior Delphine. I think you need to fix your mindset.”
I walked over to her as I slipped a hand under my clothes. Seeing me approaching, Senior Delphine’s face turned pale in fear.
She immediately hid under her covers, and a shaky cry escaped from under them.
“D-Don’t! I told you I’d never bother you again! I even kneeled!”
But I didn’t stop. I trudged on, and before I knew it, I had closed the distance completely.
“I-Is it because I was being rude again? I-I was wrong, so please…! Just not to the point I can’t ho-“
My hand slammed down on her bedside table.
And as if that were a signal, Senior Delphine began to scream.
“Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Pl-Please, please spare me! Anything but my swor-…. huh?”
But no matter how much she screamed, no violence was inflicted on her. Senior Delphine, who had been shivering under the covers for a while, gently pulled them back with a perplexed look.
Her crimson eyes peeked out from under her blanket and traveled to the bedside table where my palm had landed.
A document laid there.
It was the list of orphanages that the Saintess had given me.
Her eyes flickered back to me, unable to comprehend what this was all about.
I looked back at her and asked.
“Are you free for the next practicum?”
“Y-yes, sir… I don’t have anything planned for now, but…?”
I was a little bothered that she was speaking formally even though it was probably because of how terrified she was, but I knew that pointing it out would only make her feel worse, so I cut straight to the point.
“Then, let’s go together.”
Judging by the blank look on her face, I decided to spell it out for her.
“Spend 2 weeks with me.”
If I had to describe her expression, I would say it resembled that of a Magic Department graduate’s face after learning the thesis they had spent months working on was thrown into the paper shredder.
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