A False Confession - Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

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 .

“An arrow…”  

“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 .

“Th—Thank you . ”

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 .

“Correction . 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 .

“Now . 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 .

“Renée . 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 .

“Lily . I’m gonna go walk for a bit . ”

“Should we go together?”

“Um, no . 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 .

“Priestess Renesha . ”

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 .

“Yes . 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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