༺ Aftermath (2) ༻
After seeing Aisha’s divinity burst, Vera’s first action was to grab Aisha and pull up her sleeve.
It was to check for a stigma.
There had never been a case where someone without divinity suddenly manifested it except through a stigma. Vera needed to confirm whether Aisha had received the currently vacant position of the Apostle of Death.
“What are you doing?!”
There was no stigma, only Aisha struggling against his hold.
Vera felt confused. It was because he hadn’t even considered the possibility of this variable occurring.
Divinity was an innate power that one was born with. It was a power obtained when the mana organ in the body underwent a mutation in the fetal state.
But why did Aisha awaken her mana now? Was it a butterfly effect from his actions?
The one who cleared up that doubt was the Crown Prince, Maximilian, who came to the mansion two days later.
“There have been people awakening their divinity all over the Imperial Capital.”
“It’s exactly as I said. They say that people with the mana trait mutations have been emerging.”
His voice was calmer than the last time they met.
“For now, the healers and wizards of the Imperial Family are pointing to the Saint as the cause of this situation.”
Renee shrunk her shoulders with a startled face.
Did I do something wrong? Did I make a big mistake?
It was because of her anxiety that she felt that way.
“It was the aftermath of the miracle that the Saint had caused on the day of the terrorism. That’s their judgment.”
“I’m not blaming you, so there’s no need to shrink back like that. No, rather, I should express my gratitude. If the Saint hadn’t performed the miracle that day, I would have already been buried underground.”
“No… It was something I had to do.”
“You don’t have to be so humble. Well, in any case, there’s something I want to request related to this.”
Renee tilted her head.
“Some of those who have awakened their divinity and a few healers wish to travel to the Holy Kingdom. Would it be possible for some individuals from the Holy Kingdom to escort them back? We are currently short-handed here.”
Renee’s eyes widened slightly upon hearing his words.
“That miracle we witnessed that day was quite something, wasn’t it? Some of the healers were quite shocked by it and suddenly made that request.”
Maximilian’s fatigue was evident in his words.
Renee could understand why he was feeling that way.
‘It’s no wonder. Healers are highly skilled workers, after all.’
If they suddenly left, it would cause quite a headache.
“We can do that. We can just send them together with Lady Marie when she returns to the Holy Kingdom.”
“Thank you. As for the compensation…”
“It’s okay. If you think about it, it’s my fault.”
Renee made an awkward smile and shook her hand frantically.
‘There’s no reason to feel sorry.’
She had a strange feeling as if she had just stolen the Empire’s manpower.
Maximilian let out a deep sigh.
“Ah, by the way, what are your future plans, Saint?”
“I haven’t decided yet, but why do you ask?”
“My brother’s coming of age ceremony has been postponed for a bit. I’m afraid we need to make some adjustments.”
“Oh, come to think of it, I did agree to give a blessing.”
“If it’s not too much trouble…”
“I’ll do it. It’s not like I have anywhere urgent to go anyways.”
Renee let out several awkward laughs in response to his voice, which showed signs of extreme exhaustion.
‘So that’s the reason why Aisha suddenly manifested divinity.’
It occurred to her that Dovan might be able to relax now. Aisha’s unexpected awakening of her divinity had caused him to worry deeply every day.
‘I’ll tell him later.’
After all, he had already been through so much, with the incident happening as soon as he left the mountain range. He deserved only to hear good news.
As Renee was thinking that…
“Ah, by the way, the festival will resume starting next week. If you’re interested, you should go and experience it.”
Maximilian blurted out.
Renee then asked with a surprised expression on her face.
“It wasn’t canceled?”
“It was only temporarily on hold. If we were to miss the biggest event of the year due to this incident, there would be those who doubt the Empire’s status. We need to show our strength now, more than ever.”
“Umm… you’ve been through a lot.”
“It’s my job, so what can I do? Anyways, I’ll be leaving now. Take care.”
“Oh, okay. Goodbye.”
There was no reply.
The door opened and then closed again with a thud.
“Um… How was his expression?”
“It looked like the face of a kid who got his allowance stolen by a bully.”
It was an odd metaphor.
Or rather, it was a fitting metaphor, considering Vera’s upbringing in the slums.
“It’s my fault.”
“The Saint doesn’t have to feel guilty. The choice was made by the healers.”
As Vera was watching Renee scratch her cheek, he suddenly remembered something he had forgotten and spoke.
“Aisha wants to learn swordsmanship. She asked me if I could teach her. Can I teach her?”
“Huh? I don’t mind, but…”
“I’m surprised. I thought Vera would hand her off to Sir Norn.”
“I want to try teaching her myself because I see potential in her.”
They weren’t baseless words.
It was a decision calculated by Vera.
She wasn’t just anybody; she was a hero from his past life. It was just a matter of guiding the renowned hero, Aisha Dragnov, Master of the Demon Sword.
Even though she didn’t have the Demon Sword, it wasn’t a big issue. Aisha was still Aisha, and her talent had already been proven.
‘I can slowly see the limits of being alone.’
In most cases, he would be by Renee’s side, but there would be times when they had to be separated.
Supposing a battle takes place in such a situation.
Norn and Hela were there, but they were only slightly better than the opposition.
He needed a sword to protect Renee in his absence.
“Then, assuming I have permission, I will begin training with her starting tomorrow.”
As Renee finished nodding her head, she suddenly felt her curiosity rising.
She realized Vera always went out to train late at night or early in the morning when she was asleep. Just what kind of training was he doing that he wouldn’t do it in front of her?
As Renee felt Vera’s presence beside her, she asked a question.
“Do you mind if I watch?”
She asked that question with a slightly blushing face. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her.
Vera flinched at those words but eventually gave a hesitant response.
There was only one reason. He didn’t have an excuse to refuse Renee’s request.
‘…I should be gentle.’
He had planned to be rough from the first day, but with Renee watching, he had to tone it down a bit.
It was because he didn’t want to show his ugly side in front of Renee, for some illogical and emotional reason.
The next day, in a small open area prepared behind the Count’s mansion.
Vera was standing across from Aisha, speaking to her with a firm voice.
“Come at me.”
Aisha’s head tilted.
She was expecting to be taught the basics like slashing or thrusting after Vera offered to teach her swordsmanship, but hearing the words ‘come at me’ come out of the blue confused her.
Vera added a brief explanation for Aisha, who was tilting her head.
“The basics aren’t necessary. You’ll learn faster by fighting.”
It was Vera’s conclusion after plenty of deliberation.
Aisha was a beastkin. Her inherent physical abilities were superior to humans, and having lived as a blacksmith’s apprentice, she had more than enough physical strength.
Of course, the basics were important. However, Aisha’s animal instincts needed to be honed first.
Aisha nodded her head in affirmation to Vera’s words.
“Do I start then?”
The moment Vera spoke, Aisha charged forward.
The short dagger in her hand was already heading straight toward Vera.
With a calm expression, Vera watched as the dagger flew towards him, and then flicked it away effortlessly with a hint of divinity in his index finger.
Contrary to his actions, there was a loud noise, and Aisha was tossed up high in the air.
Being thrown up to a height three times her own body, Aisha floundered briefly before quickly regaining her balance and landing on the ground.
“Your intentions are as clear as day. If you plan to ambush me, at least do it more appropriately.”
Aisha’s face was fuming with anger.
Watching Aisha glare at him with a frustrated expression, Vera made a wry smile.
‘Thinking and moving at the same time doesn’t fit this brat.’
He needed to engrave the art of combat into her natural instincts so that Aisha could strike vital points while moving emotionally.
As he was thinking that, Aisha charged once again.
When Renee heard the sound of a collision and Aisha’s screams, she made a worried expression as she turned to Hela and asked.
“I-Is she okay? Aisha isn’t hurt, right?”
“Yes, she’s fine. She’s a cat beastkin, so she definitely has excellent balance.”
“Oh… If she gets hurt, we need to stop them right away. Do you understand?
As Hela watched Renee fidgeting with a worried look on her face, she said in a slightly rough tone.
“Saint, injuries are a huge part of sword training…”
“But she’s still a child…”
“I also broke a few bones when I was her age, so you don’t have to worry.”
Renee let out a deep sigh at Hela’s unusually sharp tone and nodded her head.
There must have been a good reason why Hela, who typically responded with a flat voice unless the situation was noteworthy, spoke so firmly.
After all, Hela probably knew much more about swords than she did.
Aisha’s screams continued.
“Oh, Aisha has landed again. She has a really wonderful sense of balance.”
Hela continued relaying information about the training.
Renee pouted her lips, feeling like an outcast for some reason.
“Ah, you’ve worked hard.”
“No, not really. Were you not bored?”
“Not at all.”
The conversation between Vera and Renee took place after his spar with Aisha had ended. Hela took the panting, dust-covered Aisha with her, and the two of them were left alone after that.
“Weren’t you being too harsh? It’s only the first day, so I thought you were going to teach her something like holding a sword.”
It wasn’t a reprimand.
She was just speaking her mind.
However, Vera, who had trained her ‘gently’, felt a slight sting from Renee’s words and spoke as if to make an excuse for himself.
“…I thought she would have some knowledge in that area because she lived as an apprentice.”
Renee quickly accepted his words.
No matter what would happen, Vera would know better and do a better job than she could.
Her voice leaked out while stroking the end of her cane.
Renee continued that sound for a moment, and then turned the handle of her cane and pulled out her sword. She smiled and spoke.
“Speaking of how to hold a sword, is this how you do it?”
More than ten days had passed since Renee had first held her sword to open the gateway to the Heavenly Realm. She asked that question because she was uncertain whether she had held the sword properly back then or not.
As Vera’s eyes involuntarily narrowed as he stared at Renee’s hand.
Why is she holding it like this?
Renee’s thumb and index finger should be wrapped around the cane in a circle, so why was she holding the handle with all five fingers tightly together?
“…Am I holding it wrong?”
As Renee asked that question, she felt embarrassed at the thought of Vera’s next action. Vera then placed his hand on top of Renee’s with a slightly awkward expression.
“Your thumb should be like this…”
Vera’s left hand removed Renee’s thumb which was wrapped around the handle of the cane and made her wrap her finger around another spot.
“…wrapped around your other four fingers.”
Renee’s face turned as red as an apple. It was caused by the shame of realizing that she hadn’t known how to properly hold a sword until now.
Renee pointlessly cleared her throat, causing Vera to flinch and soothe her.
“…It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to hold it. It’s my duty to wield the sword.”
Does he even realize that those words make me feel even more embarrassed?
Feeling her face flush for some reason, Renee muttered under her breath.
“…Since you’re already teaching me, then teach me more thoroughly.”
Soon, the back of her neck turned red as well.
Without commenting on her appearance, Vera obediently began to explain.
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