A False Confession
“Priestess! Did you not sleep well again today?”
Ten days ago, another person died.
He was neither stabbed by a sword nor pierced by an arrow, but he stumbled and fell, dying in vain during battle.
And from then on, I couldn’t sleep properly.
I thought I would be less affected than before, since I’m now a seasoned soldier when it comes to death, but all the stress and anxiety seems to have accumulated enough to catch up with me.
Fortunately, it hasn’t seemed to affect my divine power yet.
Elvin would occasionally tell me that it’d be better for me to rest and take breaks frequently, but he never directly mentioned anything about my divine power.
The only person who can truly understand my current condition is…..
Well, someone who has experienced it would know it well, after all.
I never said a word about it, but he suddenly handed me a medicine case one day.
There were about ten dark blue pills in a small glass bottle.
He even kindly added instruction, advising me that it’s best to take one tablet with warm water when I was too agitated to sleep.
The pills were quite effective.
Of course, it’d have been strange if they didn’t work, since it was recommended by a three-year veteran of insomnia… but thanks to that medicine, I can really sleep.
But now, after these ten days have passed, I’ve taken all of the medicine.
I hadn’t asked for more, but Tirak, Cabel’s subordinate, came to find me unexpectedly, presenting me with more medicine.
He came during the time when the soldiers had just finished their afternoon reconnaissance, returning to reorganize and prepare for tomorrow’s departure.
The mountain that the Nickel Knights where just returning from had already been searched a long time ago, and they still didn’t find anything suspicious, resulting in a peaceful march for the past several days.
Excluding the deceased.
“I’m the one bringing it to you because he’s busy right now, but…..this medicine, it’s for insomnia, right? I’ve seen it often in his office.”
But it’s nothing of great concern.”
“Huh..? That’s not true, Priestess! You have to sleep well! People who can’t sleep become completely devastated!”
Somehow, at this moment, it seems that Tirak and I are imagining the same person.
He’s definitely the definition of devastation.
As I was smiling awkwardly, Tirak shook his large head back and forth very dramatically.
“Someone who’s so sleep-deprived that their expression alone could kill… especially as a priestess, it’s a look I never want to see.
Why do these words sound so desperate? What exactly has Tirak experienced through Cabel?
Tirak’s spirits seemed to be sinking lower and lower, so I quickly grasped the medicine case and nodded a couple of times in agreement. Nevertheless, he stressed that I have to sleep well at least three times because he was anxious.
“There haven’t been too many wounded soldiers returning lately, so why don’t you ask a fellow priest to help you fall asleep?”
In regard to divine power, especially when it comes to healing, self-treatment has almost no effect.
It’s quite natural when you think about it, since it’s a power of dedication and sacrifice for others.
However, I couldn’t bring myself to ask Lily to use up her remaining divine power on me.
Sometimes she’d offer it to me first, but there’s a big difference between recovering when 20% strength is remaining, and recovering when you’re completely depleted at 0%.
This medicine works well.”
“But if you take too much medicine, won’t you become resistant to it? The chief [Cabel] can’t fall asleep anymore even after taking five pills, enough to knock out a cow…”
Ah, is this a medicine that’s even effective on cows? It’s truly impressive… Somehow I felt a bit uncomfortable, looking at the vial with a slight shiver.
I shook my head and told Tirak that he really didn’t have to worry.
In fact, the only thing I could really think about just now was the novelty of Tirak’s familiarity with Cabel.
Since he’s been by his side for nearly five years as his lieutenant general I suppose it’s only natural, but Cabel seems to have an image of one who doesn’t talk much about himself.
Well, Tirak’s knowledge does seem to come from observation rather than direct conversation, but still…
“Don’t worry, Priestess.
We’d never let anything bad happen to you.”
Tirak suddenly spoke with an earnest voice.
He seemed to have caught on to the cause of my insomnia and repeated himself again firmly as if he wanted to reassure me.
“Now, we will be crossing the border into Vios.
If we don’t run into any problems, it can be passed in two days.
After that, we can proceed to the capital immediately.
Their attacks have been gradually decreasing, and it seems that their food supply has been limited.”
“Since economic hardship was the cause of this war, they were able to find a short-term solution by invading.
But they’re at a huge disadvantage in the long run by entering into a lengthy war.
So you don’t have to worry.
Not only would we never lose, but also….”
Tirak paused for a moment.
I thought to myself that my anxiety wasn’t about losing the war, but rather about seeing the wounded themselves.
He let out a loud cough awkwardly for a moment.
I thought he might be feeling a bit embarrassed since I was staring up at him, so I was just turning my gaze away when I heard a very playful voice.
“It’s never actually the will of the knights to get hurt, but I’ll tell them to avoid getting hurt as much as possible.”
“Can they avoid getting hurt with such an order?”
“Couldn’t I just say that I’ll kill them if they get hurt?”
I assumed he was joking, but this person made a very alarming remark, whether it was serious or joking.
His shoulders shook for a moment, and he finally burst into laughter.
It was loud enough to easily reverberate through the whole base camp.
This man, somehow he’s really dangerous and strangely intimidating?
“Anyway, it looks like it’s going to rain this evening.”
After laughing for a long time, he suddenly commented while looking up at the sky.
In fact, talking to Tirak brought its own kind of relief.
I also felt a sense of comfort from the medicine box I held in my hands, so I was able to nod in agreement with a clear smile.
The sky was indeed quite gloomy, obscured by dark, ominous clouds.
It was now sunset, but rather than a warm orange light, an inky darkness was spreading throughout the sky.
It looks like it’s going to rain late in the evening again, so I think I’ll go looking for Cabel around dawn.
I received medicine from him again, so I should repay him for it.
And also, for the sake of a non-violent procession in the future.
As Tirak pointed out, there will be no more major problems.
We’ll soon cross the border into Vios, where we’ll be able to advance much more quickly, since Vios itself has mostly a flat terrain without any mountains.
If everything goes well, we might even be able to return before the two-month schedule is filled.
So, now, while comfortably talking and laughing with Tirak, I had to agree with Gardiel’s statement that this is no “big war.” It’s a shallow optimism, but we have to look forward with these kinds of reassurances.
So I spend my days with the simple hope that I’ll be able to fall asleep well in the future.
I thought no more people would be seriously injured anymore.
I hoped so.
The sky was suddenly burning a more intense red than its soft glow during the sunset.
Clearly revealed against the gray sky, flames containing the intensity of dozens of blazing sunsets were falling down—
Boom A crashing sound reached my ears, filling its surroundings with dread.
Seeing arrows of fire flying into the barracks, a soldier had ran in fear, knocking over the furnace in front of him.
Five barracks were instantly engulfed.
I had wished in vain that the flames couldn’t burn properly from the humidity in the air due to the promised rain, but the fire raged on before my eyes.
The barracks right next to Tirak and me also started to burn.
He hurriedly caught me and leaned over.
Thwack— Sounds were coming from all over.
Arrows pouring down ceaselessly.
It was a surprise attack.
Was it all for this moment that Vios had been silent for almost ten days, lulling us into a state of placidity? Were they intending to lower our guard before attacking?
After passing the last mountain, it seemed like all these hardships would be over.
Just a few minutes ago, I was laughing while talking with Tirak, but it already seemed so long ago.
Even though I knew I shouldn’t be agitating myself during such a critical moment, I felt my legs give way while running behind Tirak’s lead.
Just before I reached the ground, he pulled me upright again, fortunately saving me from falling into the path of flying arrows.
We urgently hid behind a cart wagon to catch our breath.
The strong winds had allowed the fire to spread rapidly, and almost all ten of the barracks were burning.
Inside, people began screaming and rushing out.
The arrows continued to fly in rounds, leaving only brief intervals in between.
Only then did enlightenment strike me.
We’re at the last mountain, the border between Vios and Keschmir.
It can only be reached through the rugged mountain range west of Uriya, and as such, it was their final fortress, last in their line of defense before the terrain flattened out.
I was faintly recalling Cabel and Elviniraz’s discussion about the location of Vios’s base camp, when I was suddenly interrupted by the shocking sight in front of me.
I frantically screamed out.
The priests’ barracks had also caught fire.
No, had it been burning from the beginning? Asking meaningless questions, I hurriedly jumped up.
Priests were running out of barracks under the protection of the Paladins.
My eyes instantly found Lily.
Her clothes appeared dark with soot, as if she had been close to the flames.
She even seemed to be injured, holding her arm with a painful expression.
And on the path in front of these priests, a charred pillar was quickly overtaken by flames— and suddenly came crashing down.
As soon as I saw the image, the flames soared, flaring upon the pillar’s impact with the ground, obscuring their figures.
I screamed hysterically; it can’t be! As I was screaming, my body moved to run out on its own accord.
But just before I could run forward, Tirak held me back firmly.
The strength of his grip made my arm feel like it was being pulled out of its socket.
Nevertheless, I struggled and shouted to be let go.
But even my shrieking voice was buried under the screams that filled this space, and my eyes spilled over with tears.
Never releasing me from his grasp, Tirak yelled in order to be heard above the fray, saying that it was too dangerous for me to go now.
Wouldn’t it be nice if people were capable of that kind of rationality?
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