A False Confession - Chapter 16
For the time being, the seemingly endlessly falling arrows finally stopped .
I didn’t try to scream or resist anymore, but all my of nerves were on edge, solely focused on the priests . Fortunately, no one seemed seriously injured, since the Paladins had quickly noticed the falling pillars and protected the priests .
No, to be exact, none of the priests were hurt, but one of the Paladins who protected them had their legs crushed under a pillar .
Ah . Even I, from a distance, couldn’t breathe at the sight . The priests there were screaming in shock .
They hurriedly knelt down and began treating the Paladin . Typically, it’s necessary to have a quiet environment where the healer can concentrate fully in order for divine power to work at its best, but now they didn’t have time to think of such things .
I could see Lily, who was closest to the knight, clenching her teeth, her hands in his wounds . The knights were groaning as they focused on removing the pillars .
Only then was I able to take in my other surroundings . I had been completely fixated on the priests leaving the barracks, but as I looked around, I realized the whole situation was much worse .
The Paladins and the Nickel Knights have been working quickly to abate the situation, but the soldiers were overwhelmed by the sudden attack, running in a state of panic and confusion . As many barracks continued to burn and collapse, screams rang out from place to place .
And by then I spotted a soldier . As if he had been struck by an arrow, he was leaning against a tree for support, trembling while holding onto his blood-stained armor .
As I stared at the image in a daze, I slowly stepped forward . At the same time, Tirak was instructing one of the Nickel Knights who had run to him, releasing his grip on me as he moved his arms .
The arrows have stopped flying, so it must be over now, right?
Then, I can go to that soldier and heal him now? Unlike that time, unlike that mercenary I left behind . This time I—I can save him .
Because of this ridiculously grand title of “God’s Envoy,” attached to me, I had to save that mercenary . No, that solider . Otherwise, I would really die this time .
My mind went white . The scene from the other day kept replaying in my mind . A mercenary who was hit by an arrow and collapsed, and myself, who was hit only by shock but stood uselessly frozen .
A mercenary who died like that, discarded .
Could I have saved him if I had run towards him that time? Hundreds, thousands of times each night, my mind is plagued by the same question .
I couldn’t move right away, but I was so overcome by guilt towards that mercenary, thinking that even if I had fallen a few times on the way to him, even if I had to reach him while crawling on the ground, he would not have died . So now, now I have to save him .
My arm was caught firmly . From the strength and grip alone, I didn’t have to confirm that it was Tirak . He rushed to lead me as if he was anxious to get away . He was telling me that I must get out of the situation first, but the words felt strange to my ears .
“It’s still too late even if you go to take a closer look and treat them! So, first and foremost the priestess must hide yourself . ”
“No matter how great you may think healers are, we can’t save the dead!”
I cried out, but Tirak didn’t let me go . I wasn’t planning to completely cure the soldier right now, but he needed to receive first aid . Otherwise, he could die from excessive bleeding .
However, no matter how much I struggled to free my arms, Tirak’s hold only constricted further without the slightest hesitation .
“It doesn’t mean it’s all over just because the arrows have stopped! The enemies were planning on this exact state of chaos! So come—”
Thwack, the sound of wind tore sharply through the space . Tirak broke off his sentence, quickly lifting up the sword in his hand into a defensive position .
Like Tirak said, as if they were aiming for this moment, Vios’s soldiers were approaching rapidly and surrounding us . Not a moment ago, an arrow had passed between him and me . I wasn’t badly hurt, but a sting of pain spread across my cheek .
A string of goosebumps broke out on the back of my neck . My arms shook uncontrollably and a cold sweat dripped down my back . Instead of releasing my arm, Tirak stood himself in front of me as if protecting me . Although we weren’t yet fully surrounded, his face became pale watching Vios’s soldiers emerge from the underbrush one by one .
A loud scream from behind split through our ears . The sound of an arrow being shot from close range was horribly clear .
Looking back, I could see that two of Abnel’s priests had their legs pierced by arrows . Blood began to seep through, making their gray uniforms adhere against their skin . I thought the priests weren’t targets, so why…?
But my own situation became too urgent to watch what was going on around me . Tirak wielded his enormous sword, taking a powerful swing at the troops of Vios who approached him .
The sound of his sword cutting through the air fell heavily . Tirak again swung forcefully, his sword at least three times larger than those used by ordinary knights . It was neither fast nor slow, but rather exuded an overbearing pressure unique only to itself .
“Priestess . I’ll open up a path for you, so run back . ”
The idea that Vios wouldn’t attack a defenseless priest was no longer definite . I considered for a moment whether or not I should tell him that I saw priests being struck by arrows a while ago, but I ended up swallowing the words back .
There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than being distracted while trying to defend someone, so I just replied that I understood in a trembling voice .
—But, aren’t I just thinking too cynically? Shouldn’t I make him aware of the fact that they strangely seem to be aiming for priests? I mean, shouldn’t I try to have a little better grasp on the situation before I move around?
As soon as he gave me the signal, I ran back as Tirak said . I ran, trying to support my shaky legs and praying that I wouldn’t fall .
An arrow grazed my leg . I stumbled once, nearly falling to the ground, but I managed to keep myself upright . From behind, Tirak came running to me, cursing loudly and unleashing profanities . One beat late, he seemed to notice that the situation was strange, too .
And a belated realization during an emergency situation made one feel that much more responsible for it .
A soldier in unfamiliar armor arrived before me . Since he suddenly appeared in the middle of running, he seemed disoriented and confused to see us as well, but he swiftly changed his direction, following after me .
For just a brief moment I couldn’t help speculating . Why would they target the priests? Are they trying to slow the soldiers down by injuring the priests, preventing us from advancing properly? If not, are they trying to make sure their enemies don’t recover, cutting them off at the source?
Even while watching his sword swing towards me, I had such pointless questions running through my brain . In an instant, the running soldier had caught up with me . He stretched out his sword without hesitation, and the sword itself was horrifyingly red and dark, reflecting the burning barracks around us .
I avoided deep wounds on pure reflex, jumping back just in time . However, due to the compulsive movement, the hair over my left shoulder lifted into the air and entered the path of his blade, getting sliced clean through .
At the moment I tried to run away before I was targeted again, Tirak embraced me . He caught me with his arm and hooked me around, pulling me against his back and into a tight hug . I was confused by his sudden movement, wondering what was the reason for this, when my question was answered all too quickly .
Blood began pouring out of Tirak .
Huh? Tirak wrapped me even more tightly in my state of alarm . Since I was embraced by a person twice my size, I was protected in that moment . But flinch after flinch, blood blood coursed more and more heavily out of the body defending me, dripping onto my shoulders .
My lungs forgot how to breathe . I lost my sense of reality and felt that I was going to faint at any moment . Tirak’s shoulder was struck in place of mine, moving to block an arrow that had tried to fly through the gap that covered me . Three shots? Four shots? I couldn’t even bear to count the number of times correctly .
Even in that situation, Tirak clenched his teeth and swung his sword . Excruciating groans fell from his lips, sending me back into a panic again .
The soldier who initially tried to attack me fell to the ground . It was so vain an end that I could feel neither pleased nor reassured . Other soldiers of Vios began to gather around .
“Now—now you need to receive treatment . No, I’m going to do it right now . ”
As I spoke in a stammer, I reached out my hand to his shoulders streaming blood . But the moment I tried, Tirak pulled away and stood in front of me, letting me out of his arms .
“… . . It’s ok—okay, Priestess . ”
I shouted in disagreement at his barely spoken words, with a face twisted in pain . It’s not okay, it’s not okay at all!
But Tirak did not listen to me and stepped forward . The sound of his great sword cutting through the air became louder . With weary faces, Vios’s soldiers had to form a more assertive stance to prepare for attack .
The great sword was still daunting and threatening, but their attacks were able to easily penetrate through Tirak’s weakened defense . His frequent experience in the battlefield had enabled him to sustain his strength and reflexes up to this point, but in the end, even his body had a limit it couldn’t exceed . In this state, they brought him down .
Tirak collapsed, one knee giving out completely . He had taken down the soldiers in front of him, and they lay injured, strewn around him on the ground . But others were quickly approaching .
I knelt with a drained, pale face and crawled to Tirak . His stomach had been deeply stabbed, and blood was pouring out, pooling onto the ground .
Tirak tried to stand up, seeing Vios’s soldiers drawing near, but his knees buckled under him again . His arms shook as he tried to hold up his sword . I couldn’t even scream, and I grabbed onto his arm .
His wound needed to be treated from the deepest bleed, but blood seemed to be flowing from his whole body, and I became dizzy in my frantic search for the source . I could hear the soldier’s footsteps next to me, but I couldn’t raise my head .
But in that moment, all sound seemed to turn off . A moment of silence came, as if all the turmoil in the world had been blocked . It passed by short and strange, like the quiet anticipation between lightning and thunder, waiting for a tremendous noise to erupt—Kwa-kwa-kwang .
Or an explosion .
It was so deafening that my ears were momentarily numb . The ground shook . It was such a violent vibration, one that only occurred when something forcefully struck the earth .
Trembling in shock and fear, I turned my head . And it was the person caught in my sight, the one who strode forward with a cool, rolling blackness curling around his sword .
It was Cabel .
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