༺ Awakening (2) ༻
The divinity that swirled atop Renee’s palm scattered as she sighed in regret.
Renee apologized to Theresa as she felt ashamed for her lack of concentration.
“I apologize, I’m not doing very well today…”
“There’s nothing to apologize for. No one will blame you for your failure today, so take it easy.”
Theresa smiled and consoled the young girl’s heart as she examined her complexion.
To be precise, she was examining the emotions oozing out of Renee.
An immensely dark shade of pink.
‘As the days go by…’
It was getting even darker. Her feelings at first, which only seemed fresh, were now gradually becoming something more.
Throughout her life, Theresa couldn’t help but peek at other people’s emotions. So, she could guess to some extent why this phenomenon was happening.
‘… She’s turning a blind eye to it.’
She denies her own feelings. No, it would be correct to say that she doesn’t even realize.
She didn’t know Renee completely. However, Renee, whom she’d seen for these past two weeks, was a slightly clumsy yet strong girl. So, from her perspective, the fact that Renee was in denial seemed absurd.
Theresa’s eyes narrowed.
Theresa usually preferred to stand aside and observe from the sidelines, thinking it was not right to interfere in the relationship of others. Still, it was difficult for her to see a person she cherished so much struggle like that.
She was facing a dilemma.
She wanted to help. However, when the opportunity presented itself, how would she bring it up?
It wasn’t the right thing to directly tell her about her feelings. Rather, the owner of those emotions should come up with the definition on their own.
What she needed to do as an elder was make sure Renee felt a bit more comfortable.
‘… It’s fine.’
But at least she could give her a nudge in the right direction.
Having organized her thoughts with the idea that appeared in her mind, Theresa spoke out to Renee with a smile.
“Are you worried about something?”
Renee fiddled with her fingers upon hearing that question.
Worried. Of course she was worried. Her head was in a mess all day because of that worry, which over time seemed to become even more complicated.
Should I say it? Is it alright to tell her? It’s just a meaningless personal issue. Is it fine to voice it out?
Renee hesitated. She was hesitating because she always thought that she had to deal with this situation on her own.
Of course, her hesitation might have been frustrating for the other person.
Fortunately, however, Theresa wasn’t so impatient as to urge Renee to hurry.
It was a reaction she was quite familiar with.
The power she possessed, the years she had lived, and her experience as the professor of the Academy, Theresa knew well how erratic children at that age were.
Theresa clasped Renee’s hand and spoke as if she was comforting her.
“There is no such thing as an elder’s hunch. However, whenever I look at the Saint, she always seems to be troubled about something, so I hope you let this old lady be of some help.”
Renee flinched at her words. Her fingers quivered as she continued to ponder. ‘Bite,’ she lightly bit her lips and said.
“Well, is it alright for me to get a little help?”
“As much as you’d like.”
She gave her permission.
Renee nodded and tried to spit it out, but suddenly found that her words seemed to be stuck in her throat.
How can I explain it? An inevitable reaction suddenly emerged because of that thought.
Once again, hesitation followed suit.
What is my state now? How should I explain it and ask for advice?
Thinking about it, her head felt like a jumbled-up mess.
No matter how hard she pondered, she couldn’t choose the right words.
As Renee’s lips twitched and her brows furrowed, Theresa snickered at the thought, ‘Youth.’ She then finally opened her mouth.
“Well… Can I take a guess?”
“Huh? Ah, sure!”
“Don’t you feel your chest suddenly tighten? Even when you’re in a daze or doing other things, when you eat or when you’re in bed, your chest tightens for no reason.”
“Yes! That’s right!”
Rattle. Renee’s shoulders shook.
How could she guess my condition so accurately, even though I never told anyone about it before?
Theresa continued speaking as an astonished expression lingered on Renee’s face.
“Sometimes you feel like your whole body is being devoured by a fireball. Sometimes you keep replaying the same scene in your mind over and over again, and sometimes your head gets filled with wild imaginations.”
“That’s right! That’s it! These days, I keep getting frustrated because of that…”
Renee smiled and nodded wildly at her accurate assessment.
What an enthusiastic response. As Theresa burst into a grin, Renee now feeling ‘free’ used that momentum to ask another question.
“How did you know that at first glance? I didn’t even say…”
“It’s years of experience. Not to mention, I regularly teach children around your age as well.”
Renee nodded when she remembered that Theresa’s place of dispatch was now Tellon Academy.
“It’s common for children to daydream. There are still many immature and odd feelings from not knowing yourself well. Often the emotions that come to mind are unfamiliar at that age, so I fully understand what the Saint feels.”
“Aah, I’m embarrassed by that…”
Renee bowed her head awkwardly.
The next moment, she shook her head and sighed, then kept talking.
“It’s getting worse these days. Is there something wrong with my body? Is it because the place where I live has changed? Even when I seek medical treatment from priests, nothing comes up.”
As Renee became more comfortable, she poured out her complaints.
Thinking that Theresa might know how to resolve her unstable state, Renee poured out her worries without any shame.
Theresa nodded as she listened to Renee’s grumblings, and then answered with a broad smile.
“Well, some of my students also suffer from such symptoms.”
“Is that so?”
“Most of the time, yes. And some of them even come to me for consultation.”
Upon hearing Theresa’s remark, she asked another question as her throat became parched.
“So, why am I like this?”
What’s wrong with my current physical condition? When she asked that, Theresa responded with a slightly mischievous tone.
“I think that’s something the Saint needs to find out by herself.”
“Isn’t it about your feelings? Even if I do tell you what it is, it might be the right answer for the Saint. So I’m trying to be a little cautious.”
Renee’s expression turned slightly bumpy when she abruptly avoided answering after the long conversation.
Theresa grinned, and she then continued.
“I will give you a hint. Isn’t there something that comes to mind when you feel that way?”
“Something that comes to mind?”
“It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be an object, a place, or even…”
Her words became obscure at the end.
Theresa, who saw that Renee’s body leaned forward little by little in anticipation, finally finished speaking with a smile.
Rattle. Renee’s whole body suddenly shook.
Her face began to fill with embarrassment and shame.
Something immediately came to mind. A certain someone.
“There’s a saying out there. In order to find the cause of a problem, one must first find a common denominator of the problem. So, based on my judgment, I think that ‘something’ that came to Saint’s mind right now is the cause of your discomfort.”
Renee silently listened in and immediately recalled a name with four letters.
Badump. Badump. Her heart began to beat wildly.
That reaction, which had been bothering her all this time, had begun once again.
It’s just a name, but as soon as it was brought up.
Her face turned redder than ever before. Her body continued to tremble so severely that she could hardly stay still.
Renee felt incredibly embarrassed at her subsequent actions and soon began to clench her fists and stutter.
“Well, that… it’s…”
She couldn’t finish her sentence.
Renee didn’t have the courage to say, ‘I feel sick when I think of Vera.’
Theresa kept as she felt immensely delighted upon seeing Renee’s hesitation.
“The next thing you have to find out is… right after identifying the cause… why does it make you feel strange? That’s what you have to worry about.”
“The students I’ve seen blurted out so many reasons. Some said it was curiosity, someone once said it was a feeling of longing, and others said it was unpleasant.”
Upon hearing her following words, Renee’s mouth shut tight. Theresa did that so Renee would think ‘why.’
“But something is surprising.”
“The answer to those who talk about such troubles eventually take a similar form.”
“What’s the answer?”
It was a question she blurted out as her anticipation reached its peak.
As Renee asked with an uneasy look, Theresa continued speaking with a smile.
“I won’t tell you the answer. The idea is that one must tread through this path on their own and discover the answer by themselves.”
“Just like that!”
From Renee’s perspective it was cowardly.
Theresa pretended to have a solution to her troubles, but in the end, she only fanned the flames of her curiosity.
Renee, whose complexion became even grumpier, soon muttered out.
“Then, at least a hint…”
It was especially inconvenient that she couldn’t see ahead at that moment.
She didn’t even have a clue what Theresa’s face was like now. Instead, judging from the tone she was hearing, there seemed to be meaning behind her words.
It was the kind of moment when you’re so nervous that you can’t help but feel overwhelmed.
Shortly after, Theresa went on.
“Hmm… Well then, why not? I’ll give you a riddle.”
“That’s right. It’s unlikely that the answer to this riddle would suffice, but from my judgment, the answer is probably similar to what the Saint seeks.”
Theresa took a short breather and then resumed.
“It’s the most straightforward emotion in the world. For myriads of people, it’s an emotion that reminds them of myriads of things. It is an emotion that turns the world’s bravest men into cowards and an emotion that makes the world’s most disloyal person into a devoted servant.”
Renee tilted her head.
“And there are many different kinds of people who that emotion is directed towards. Sometimes a friend, sometimes an enemy, and sometimes the emotion that comes to mind when you see someone for the first time. It’s a feeling that rarely distinguishes between other people or situations and easily blends in with other emotions. That’s why, it’s easy to be mistaken.”
Theresa grinned as she saw Renee’s puzzled expression.
“It’s an emotion of great pride while being sublime. It’s an emotion that is born without a reason, but it’s also an emotion that constantly forces one to seek the reason behind its birth.”
Theresa said so and then asked a question in a tone filled with laughter.
“Alright, that’s the riddle. Well, the next lesson will be in three days, so can I expect to hear an answer by then?”
“Oh, I’ll try!”
Renee nodded in astonishment as she listened to her in a daze, but soon she regretted it.
She uttered ‘Ah…’ inwardly.
I didn’t understand a single thing.
She answered confidently, but she wasn’t confident at all.
Her head drooped as she kept her eyes shut.
Theresa’s riddle was too hard for Renee.
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