A False Confession - Chapter 20
“It’s okay. Actually, I was surprised… I heard you were resting in the barracks, so I thought you needed more treatment.”
However, I found him in perfect shape. But it’d be strange to say that I was embarrassed over how well he’d healed, so I just shook my head and replied that I was fine.
Tirack then smiled a little more comfortably and explained to me that he’d actually woken up yesterday and was able to move right away, but he was stuck in the barracks because the Commander had ordered him to be placed on bedrest. But he came out today when he heard the news that I’d woken up…
Hearing those words, I was impressed that Cabel was personally taking care of him. He seems to be the type that wouldn’t get close to anyone, but even he must become fond of someone he’s spent several years next to, right?
Come to think of it, Tirack knows quite a bit about Cabel, too. He’s constantly smiling and seems to act freely, but he always draws the appropriate line. Moreover, when Tirack was injured, Cabel was watching carefully and didn’t interfere during his treatment, eventually even sitting next to me and supporting me.
The memory felt quite distant, but the fact that Cabel put his hand atop mine and held it came vividly into my mind. And while he had tried to keep his composure as much as possible, he bit his lips the entire time and had to force himself to speak.
I turned my gaze towards Cabel as I listened to Tirack’s story about how bewildered the other healers were yesterday, when they saw him and found that there were no wounds to be treated.
However, to my embarrassment, Cabel’s eyes met mine so quickly that I was under the suspicion that he had already been watching me. His purple eyes were looking down at me with some strange emotion.
I tilted my head curiously at his gaze, then realized that what he was looking at was my hair. And then his lips opened.
“Ah, yes! Does it suit me?…hyuk“*
[tl/n:* basically the sound of her sucking air back into her throat in surprise/embarrassment. I couldn’t find an English equivalent and it looks awkward but that may just be me.]
I’d meant to say that I’d just had it cut, but unconsciously my anxiety over it must have lead to me blurting out such a question.
Or maybe it’s because it’s such a natural question to ask after getting your hair cut. Ah, no, but the current situation is still a bit embarrassing. Cabel replied bluntly to me as I was trying to explain that the question came out in confusion.
“It’s not bad.”
“That means it’s good, Priestess!”
I became embarrassed at first since there was no denial from Cabel, but Tirack suddenly interjected and burst into laughter.
He was laughing wildly, saying that it’s okay to say when something is good, but when Cabel looked at him with slightly narrowed eyes, he quickly sobered up.
The slightly awkward air subsided. As I glanced back and forth between them, I realized it was strange for me to be embarrassed by the modest affirmation that Cabel gave, so I laughed it off.
Then I explained that my hair was cut in half that time, and all I did this time was even it out to the same length. Cabel, who’d had a strange expression on his face from the moment I burst into laughter, said softly that he was sorry, thinking I must be disappointed.
……Hmm, when I think about it, Cabel’s expression is always indifferent and cold, but he has a subtle way of caring for those around him. Not only was he able to recognize what’s most difficult for me, but also when I actually found myself in that situation… he’d helped me in the way I’d needed it most.
When I was desperate for my divine power that wouldn’t come out during what seemed like Tirack’s crucial last few breaths, when I was in despair over my own guilt, terrified of carrying the weight of his life, didn’t Cabel say it?
He told me to blame himself.
He definitely knew. My fear of war, and my guilt over the death of the mercenary during that raid.
So, he’d given me some of his own insomnia medication, and even in that critical moment… that moment when the breath of someone close to him was about to fail, he told me to blame himself for fear that I would suffer from subsequent guilt.
The emotions I experienced at that time came over me again. So, looking up at Cabel, I answered that it was okay with a genuine smile that came from my heart rather than my usual business smile. I jokingly added that it’d have been my neck that was cut if it hadn’t been for my hair.
Meanwhile, Tirack seemed busy receiving greetings from the other Nickel Knights who came flocking to him. The relationship between the members was strong since he has been the vice-commander for a long time, and some of the knights even cried out, overwhelmed by emotion.
I was a little embarrassed to witness such a scene, since it’s not a sight you’d usually expect to see from the elite knights of the Empire who sweep over the battlefield. But still, a space in my heart was filled with joy.
I still felt a sense of separation, knowing that I almost failed Tirack, and that gap shouted at me that I was selfish, but……now I’ve decided to label it ‘selfless selfishness.’
I want to believe that I can gradually overcome this feeling of guilt, even if it trips me up sometimes.
But I wanted to thank Cabel. He knew of the guilt that I suffered from, and he told me to blame him anyway… So I said thank you, but a questioning look appeared on Cabel’s face.
In fact, it was a bit embarrassing to retell the story I had told Elvin a while ago, but it came out quite easily to Cabel, since I had often revealed my anxieties about war to him before.
“At that time… you told me to blame you.”
Come to think of it, the issue of his title still hasn’t been properly resolved. As for Mr. “Why-would-you-call-me,” I have no reason to call you in the first place because of the vibranium wall you’ve built around yourself! Is what I want to say, but…… now, I keep ending up with reasons to call him.*
[tl/n*: Okay so this paragraph was so confusing I want y’all to appreciate the twenty minutes it took me T.T it’s still so confusing that I have to include this note tho… anyway in Renée’s last dialogue, for “you,” she basically uses a generic word for ‘Sir,’ since she doesn’t know what to call him anymore cause of their convo in Ch. 7 when he asks her why she’d ever need to call him. And in this paragraph, she’s expressing her frustration with the conclusion she came to previously, since she keeps getting into situations where she needs to address him properly. The actual Korean is very different but this is the essence of what she means, cause it’ll make no sense if I translate it literally (but she did include the bit about the vibranium wall herself lol).]
I suddenly felt a sense of displeasure again, but I just paused for a moment before continuing on to finish the conversation. Cabel looked down at me with a strange expression.
“Actually, it’s been weighing on my mind. My main concern was that I would suffer from guilt, and my selfishness actually came first, but everyone’s praising me for making miracles…”
My words became gibberish as I continued to speak, but I suddenly heard Cabel’s voice. He looked down at me with a face of disapproval.
Unlike Elvin’s contemplative reaction that expressed confusion but a desire to understand, Cabel seems to understand exactly what my worries are, but instead points out the problem in them. He said firmly.
“If you were really selfish, then that wouldn’t have even bothered you.”*
[tl/n:* Again, just want to point out the literal translation. Cabel says, “네가 만약 정말 이기적이라면, 그게 마음에 걸리지도 않았겠지,” which is literally more like, “If you were really selfish, then it wouldn’t have overtaken your heart.” Which is so much more moving, right?]
“You wouldn’t have been plagued with guilt every night.”
……I was unable to say anything at the moment. I didn’t know how to respond to the words that so logically argued from the root of my troubles that I am not selfish. It already feels like a part of my thinking has been shattered as it is.
I stared up at Cabel with a jumbled look of confusion and shock, and he tilted his head. His dark purple eyes stared at me clearly in the sunlight.
“……and even if it was your selfishness, I held you with my selfishness as well and forced you, so you don’t have to feel guilty about it. The same goes for Tirack. “
Tirack, who until now had been laughing uncontrollably while talking with the knights excitedly, turned his head in surprise. He was staring at Cabel apprehensively, as if asking why his name suddenly came out. Cabel glanced back at him and replied casually.
“It seems that your survival is a product of Priestess Renesha’s selfishness.”
He said it so candidly that I lost the words to explain myself, but Tirack’s eyes widened as if surprised.
“Since I have become a beneficiary of that selfishness, shouldn’t I be more grateful?”
“Thank you, Priestess! Come to think of it, I haven’t been able to thank you properly until now! Thank you very much, Priestess. Actually, I was a little worried I was really going to die, so you don’t know how surprised I was when I was able to get up thanks to you, Priestess. Besides, some of our members were injured, and they all got better, too! Everyone, give your regards to the Priestess properly!”
At the sudden shout, Nickel Knights all bowed their heads in my direction and shouted their thanks. Tirack said that he had to bow down because he received the greatest benefit, but that he wasn’t even strong enough to get on his knees, and he burst into laughter again.
The other knights also laughed, joking that he should live in gratitude for the grace he has received for the rest of his life.
It was a strange moment. I was told that I didn’t have a selfish thought in the first place, and even if I dared to name it selfishness myself, I’m facing people who are rather more grateful for it.
I held Tirack’s arm and looked at him blankly, turning to look at the knights… and finally, I looked at Cabel as well. He was watching me in the commotion with a resigned expression.
Caught in that very strange, bewildering, turbulent moment—I finally burst into laughter.
I felt so good.
* * * * * * *
The expedition resumed two days later. No one was injured, so I thought the delay was due to the damages from the surprise attack, but to my surprise… it was because of me.
I had just woken up, and since I had exhausted all of my energy at that time, the whole schedule was postponed because I needed to rest a bit more. However, no one expressed any resentment towards me, and instead I was always met with polite greetings and well wishes.
I felt ashamed when knights went out of their way to search for and bow their heads towards me. The whole situation was so uncomfortable that I mostly kept myself hidden in the barracks, but eventually I had to come out when we had to resume this campaign.
But, regardless of my feelings of embarrassment, the reconnaissance itself ended without any problems. We now have only the final mountain in front of us, so everyone became extremely wary of a surprise attack like the last ambush, but there was no trace of Vios’s soldiers anywhere.
The knights had searched all over the mountain, but Vios couldn’t be found. Everyone was puzzled and decided to move forward to the top of the mountain for now.
The Nickel Knights took the lead, and the Paladins took the rear to protect the priests. But among the line, I stood in the front and went with the Nickel Knights, and it was for a very absurd reason.
Ever since the incident, Tirack often comes to check on me and chat about various things.
He would tell me stories such as how old he was when he first joined the knights, what it was like when he first met Cabel, and how he’d met his wife, who is his first love.
Tirack claimed he was fine, but Cabel removed him from the morning recon anyway, so I ended up talking with Tirack for a long time…. When moving as a group, I walked together with him as if swept along.
I told him that I should walk from behind with the other priests, but he responded, “If the point is for protection anyway, wouldn’t it be better to get it directly from the Nickel Knights?” Then with a big smile he led me along behind him.
Although Cabel saw me being led by Tirack and stopped him for a moment with a raise of his hand, he didn’t say anything and continued walking in front of us.
The mountain was a little high, but the slope was not steep. I tried to walk at my own pace, but seeing the Nickel Knights in the back generously walk so slowly in consideration of me, I felt embarrassed and ended up trying even harder.
After walking for a month, I had just barely started to grow accustomed to it, but after only five days off it had become difficult again. The knights kept cheering me on and telling me it was okay to go at my own pace but, really it was… just so, so shameful. It was like when friends would cheer for the student who wrote, ‘I’m sorry, friends,’ on Golden Bell*. T_T
[tl/n:* Star Golden Bell is a popular academia show, so here she just means that she feels pathetic as the weakest link with everyone cheering her on despite her not knowing the answers/not being able to keep up.]
Then at last we finally reached the summit. All the knights had been saying that the campaign would be resolved soon after we passed it. I felt a sense of relief and strange anxiety over the fact that the hike that has been tormenting me for a month is finally over.
But suddenly, Vios’s soldiers appeared.
The armor-clad men stood at the summit as if they were about to charge. Cabel saw it at the forefront, immediately grabbing my arm and pulling me behind him, and Tirack pulled out his sword swearing and muttering to himself, ‘These crazy people….’
Just as the Nickel Knights were reaching for their scabbards and preparing to attack, before their swords could be pulled out—
All of Vios knelt down.
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