A False Confession
He checked my condition carefully, then closed his eyes and expressed regret.
I was a little embarrassed to see it.
More than anything, I was amazed that he was kneeling in front of me.
As I tried to get up, he grabbed my arm and pulled it back down.
I could feel the warmth from his large hand.
As I looked back at Elviniraz in confusion, I suddenly realized how my condition must look in his eyes.
Even excluding the scratches all over my face and body, my hair and clothes were in complete disarray.
My priestess uniform was crumpled and muddy, and my hair, which was always tied up neatly with ribbon, had tangled and loosened to my waist while I was running.
I had no way of knowing where my hair-tie disappeared.
With my sudden self-awareness, I moved my hand to clean up my disheveled hair, but Elviniraz reached out to me.
His big hand approached carefully and gently swept my hair back.
The unfamiliar feeling of my hair running between his fingers left me feeling strange.
“I heard that the surprise attack came from right behind you.
You must have been frightened.”
“Are you alright…no, it’s okay now.
You’re safe now, Priestess.”
I stared blankly at the molten-gold irises that were focused on me, and tears welled up in my eyes.
The situation couldn’t be so easily erased from my mind.
I felt so weak that it was a wonder I even made it back here.
My whole body ached as if I had been badly beaten.
Even though I was struggling to climb the mountain, I had ran like a maniac… and now the consequences are hitting my body all at once.
“….arrow, an arrow….flew right toward me.”
Seeing my eyes redden, Elviniraz’s expression starting sinking.
He twisted his eyebrows slightly as if he were saddened, slowly reaching toward my trembling hand to calm me down.
“Yes…If the Knight Commander hadn’t saved me, I’d, I… “
My throat choked at the thought of ending that sentence.
But I felt like I had to report the situation at that time, that an arrow suddenly came from behind us, a mercenary fell, and Vios’s soldiers had been waiting to ambush us, but my voice was quivering and nothing came out.
My stuttering speech was wandering around in circles, so Elviniraz told me I didn’t have to say more, carefully wrapping his hand around my cheek.
No, the moment he tried, I heard a sharp sound from far away.
Immediately, my body began quivering.
My body reacted sensitively to even such a small sound.
As my eyes started to shake with fear, I saw the Nickel Knights coming down the mountain.
Elviniraz had reacted as well, as I heard the sound of scratching metal as he unsheathed his sword.
I could see Cabel at the front, walking forward expressionlessly.
Just by looking at his face, it was impossible to believe that he was arriving after fighting against Vios’s ambush.
Nevertheless, I was rather relieved by his appearance, jumping up from my seat without thinking.
It seemed like Elviniraz’s fingertips brushed me very lightly, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Cabel.
An aide ran to him and reported something, and Cabel responded with a simple nod.
Then, as he walked back toward his barracks, he looked around as if trying to locate the Paladin Commander, when his eyes met mine.
His eyes narrowed slightly.
I had a lot on my mind that I wanted to say to him, but it was best to quickly express my gratitude.
I bent at my waist in a half-bow, but there was no response from Cabel.
It was oddly comforting to get his usual reaction.
So I raised my head back up to look at Cabel again, but he was still showing an unhappy expression.
Elviniraz also followed me and asked Cabel with a grim expression what had happened.
One dead and twelve injured.
It was said that only three out of the twelve were seriously injured.
It had certainly caused substantial damage, but considering that it was a surprise attack, it was less than expected.
But still, the word ‘dead’ lingered in my mind.
My blood felt cold.
Is it that mercenary?
After speaking with Elviniraz, Cabel looked at me again.
Fatigue was spread around his dark eyes.
It’s a funny thought, but he seemed to find it more stressful to be bothered than to be ambushed.
“Why haven’t you been treated yet?”
“I didn’t seek treatment yet, since there would be many wounded arriving…”
Cabel let out a short laugh.
It was very brief, as if thinking me pathetic.
“Is a priest not considered among the wounded if they’re hurt?”
For a moment I blanked out, not fully understanding what he had said, so he turned his gaze back to Elviniraz.
One dead, thirteen injured.”
As if he had reached his limit, Cabel turned and strode back toward the villa.
Lily came from behind me and gripped my arm tightly.
You’re also injured, so let’s get you treated.”
I couldn’t immediately react to Lily’s resolute words, lost in thought as I watched Cabel’s back get further away.
Eventually Lily grabbed me by the arm and shook until I nodded in response.
Somehow, I felt like crying.
The scheduled dinner was canceled.
Instead, everyone went outside to pay homage to the fallen mercenary.
The deceased mercenary was someone I knew; even though fatalities are expected during war, I still couldn’t accept his death.
I was worried that the image of him falling by an arrow would plague me throughout the memorial, but it somehow hurt even more when I could only remember his smiling face trying to encourage me.
But now, we’re in a wartime situation.
There’s nothing that can drag someone down like being immersed in sorrow, so we all had to make an effort to to shake off the grief.
However, we were granted the freedom of an extra day of rest.
After ten days of marching, Elviniraz and Cabel determined that an extra day shouldn’t cause much trouble.
So, the next evening, a dinner party was held.
Using the cooking utensils in the building, delicious, colorful, and large quantities of food were lined up in a row that could not be compared to the simple foods that were usually served.
The villa’s front yard, where sadness had overflowed just yesterday, was now filled with cheerful chattering.
The soldiers even brought out alcohol, bringing out unexpected cheers all around.
Aren’t you going to drink?”
“Huh? I am drinking though?”
While I was sitting at a table in the garden and eating slowly, Lily suddenly asked me.
She looked at me with a very strange expression and shook her head.
“Are you not feeling well?”
“Huh? What are you talking about all of a sudden?”
“You haven’t even finished half the glass.
Normally you would’ve downed three glassed by now.”
Hm, Lily’s image of me is pretty bad.
She reached out her hand to feel my forehead as she smiled, briefly reflecting on my past.
“It doesn’t seem like you have a fever…”
I stared at Lily, expressing her concerns, and playfully leaned my face into her hand.
“Well, that’s because Priestess Lily El Nur healed me.
How could I be sick?”
“Of course,” Lily said, shrugging her shoulders at my words and letting out a loud burst of laughter.
Only then did her eyes soften.
In fact, everything seemed utterly unappetizing.
It’s been two days now but my shock remains the same.
No, I’m trying not to recall the memories of that time, but… my spirits seem to keep sinking deeper regardless.
However, I couldn’t let myself drown at this gathering, where everyone was doing their best to laugh and create a more lively atmosphere.
So I sat next to Lily and ate meat, and thanks to Priest Varsi, looking at bread left me with only funny emotions.
I was able to laugh with Lily, watching wine pour in glasses and admire the beautiful color…
Even though I tried so hard, I didn’t feel better.
And Lily immediately noticed.
Actually, we’ve been friends for over ten years now, so I suppose it’d be weirder if she didn’t notice.
In the end it was best to stop denying it anyway.
I’m gonna go walk for a bit.”
“Should we go together?”
I just…I want to be alone for a moment.”
I shook my head quickly as Lily tried to get up to follow me.
She looked at me with her face with of concern, but she smiled at me saying she understood, and we parted ways.
I paused for a moment, wondering if maybe I’d be making Lily feel lonely, but Sir Gardiel, on his way out, said hello to me lightly and then naturally approached Lily.
The two seemed to have gotten closer since the last time they helped me together.
Comforted, I was able to go on with peace of mind.
Even though this place was technically a villa in the past, its location proved too difficult to reach, so it eventually became a resting place for mountaineers—mostly soldiers.
There was also a wine cellar under the villa.
The knights who had discovered it cheered so loudly that many of them were still deaf.
I walked slowly, looking around the exterior of the large building.
The front yard had been full of noise, but as I circled back, it was suddenly quiet.
Some floors of the building were lit up, allowing traces of light to diffuse into the otherwise pitch-black darkness.
It was quite desolate.
No one was seen, even the wind was still.
Every once in a while, the sound of laughter erupted in the distance, but it felt like I had been completely disconnected from that world.
The moon was bright.
Its edges were slightly distorted, so I couldn’t tell what phase it was in… My thoughts continued carelessly like this.
I stopped walking, looking up at the moon, waiting for the clouds to pass.
I’d probably spent about five minutes like that when I heard a voice calling from behind me.
It was a calm voice that I had grown accustomed to.
Caught off guard, my shoulders flinched in surprise.
Then I slowly turned my head to look at him, Elviniraz.
The moonlight and the light from the building mingled together giving his blond hair a very strange hue.
Nevertheless, his golden eyes had their familiar glow, and he gave me a light smile.
“Were you looking at the moon?”
“Ah… um, yes.”
Actually, I wasn’t really paying any attention to it, but if I technically had to describe what I was doing, he was right, so I nodded.
Elviniraz, who had walked close to me, looked up at the sky with his head tilted as mine was a moment ago.
“Is this place a tourist attraction?”
“…..I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call it one.
Only if Sir Knight doesn’t disagree.”
There was nothing blocking the view in front of us now; even the trees in the distance weren’t tall enough to obscure the bright moon.
With this scene, it seemed like it should definitely be labeled as a tourist attraction.
But it kinda feels like my own personal one? The thought brought out a slight smile on my face, and Elviniraz smiled softly in return.
I like this place, too.”
I nodded my head.
I had the silly thought that, since he was so much taller than me, the moon he’s seeing must be much better and brighter than mine.
Still, I somehow felt a bit better thinking that he and I were the first to visit this place.
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