A False Confession
We finally climbed the mountain and took a break at the castle in the border region, where the soldiers launched an attack after checking the conditions just before leaving there once again.
Fortunately, there were few of Vios’s soldiers until the middle of the mountain, so we had only two injuries, among which was just a slight cut on the arm.
So after the healers treated them at the castle of the lord, we packed up our luggage and moved to the next place.
So, I was climbing a mountain once again.
Damn it! I knew this place was rugged, but I didn’t think it was to this extent!
So today, on the fourth day, we were able to cross the second mountain without a hitch.
So far no major damage has been done.
And by this time, I was feeling some serious sympathy for Vios.
It was clear that the economic hardship of Vios was so severe that they made the disastrous decision to go to war over such a rugged mountain range.
Although it is a bit unfortunate that they chose the empire as the target of their attack.
In the short term it may have seemed like a good idea to raid the unoccupied fortress next door since they were in a dire situation economically, but there’s a reason the empire remained unscathed for a century….
If I think only about the 300 gold I’ll receive, fear of war overtakes me.
Strangely, I feel like I’m more afraid of war than I should be.
It’s not just because of my experience in a ceasefire country in my previous life, but because I feel like I’m flirting with death.
In this situation, my obvious lack of physical power is a huge disadvantage.
The healers only have to wait behind the soldiers to survey the route in front of them, heal any wounded, and then journey together once again after the path is deemed secure.
So far, no knights have been seriously injured, so it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Lily and I are doing almost nothing.
Nevertheless, my legs were shaky due to walking four days in a row.
I thought I was taking care of my health by seeing Lily exercise consistently for the past 10 days, but it was stupid of me.
[*tl/n: that emoji was literally in the text, I didn’t add it lol]
Normally there is a limited amount of divine power that a healer can use per day, but it was instructed that during the war, it should be used only in emergency situations or when otherwise deemed necessary.
So if I use up my divine power to heal my legs, it could become embarrassing if an emergency were to suddenly break out.
Nevertheless, I found myself regularly hiding in a corner and infusing divine power into my legs.
I came to this decision because from my point of view, I would suffer from embarrassment either way, so I’d rather it not be from collapsing from climbing a mountain.
Lily looked at me and tsked her tongue in disapproval, but after seeing my legs trembling she restrained herself.
“Up until this mountain, scouting the terrain wasn’t too hard, but it will be trickier once we get to the next mountain.”
“What? Why? Because the mountain is rougher?”
“That, and also because there are a lot of caves for Vios to hide in.”
“That’s right….,” I sighed with all my breath.
The fact that not only will the mountains be getting steeper, but also that people will be getting more serious injuries from here on out, hit me at the same time.
When that time comes, I won’t be able to slip away to heal my legs like I do now.
Despite my concerns, not much happened for four days in a row, so Lily and I would go around the base camp or walk around the barracks to take a break.
The twenty priests who are participating in the war are divided into two barracks.
Though each one houses ten people, there is still little conversation to be heard inside them.
Still, the majority of the priests are from the state religion, so they were able to gather and converse with more comfort and familiarity with each other than Lily and I.
It now became time for the soldiers to return from their reconnaissance, and while everyone went outside the barracks, they naturally stood behind Abnel.
Lily and I stood at the end and followed.
Even though we were only going out to check the status of the knights who had already been healed, my mind was full of worries about tomorrow’s hike.
Since nothing bad has happened the past few days, I’ve been feeling apprehensive.
“Come on, come on, hurry priests!”
It was suddenly noisy outside.
The priests of Abnel, who were standing upright and moving forward, hurried towards the commotion.
The abdomen of a knight’s white armor was mangled, with blood spilling out to stain the pure gold pattern.
The knight was motionless, and there were three more injured arriving behind him.
The Nickel Knights who had reconciled in the west were uninjured, so we could only assume that Vios’s army had attacked by surprise from the east.
Among them, the most injured man was the one bleeding from his abdomen, whom Elviniraz was supporting and looking down at with a hardened face.
Abnel priests and priestesses ran to the fallen paladin.
Priest Varsi quickly rolled up his sleeves and raised his hand over the wound, but Elviniraz’s low voice interrupted him.
It was a really unexpected call, so not only I, but also everyone else was puzzled.
Priest Varsi, who had just bent his knees and was about to begin treatment, looked up at him with a stunned expression.
Elviniraz gazed down alternately between him and me, and said in a determined voice:
“I want the priestess to finish up.”
“…It’s okay, sir.
I can do it.”
“Yes, of course, I know that Priest Varsi can heal him too, but… Priestess Renesha can heal him more efficiently.”
Words that I could not understand at all came out.
I had only 3 years of experience as a priest, while Priest Varsi had ten.
So, how on earth could I be more proficient?
But I couldn’t ignore a prince’s summons, so I moved forward quickly.
The faces of the Abnel priests standing in front were unusually hardened.
With every step I took, their gaze bore into me.
It seemed sharp enough to pierce through my back.
* * * * * * *
The meaning of that gaze was revealed the very next day.
In fact, there was no question about it anymore.
It was envy, jealousy, and inferiority.
Being a priest of Abnel’s diplomatic religion comes with a huge sense of pride, naturally outshining those coming from smaller temples.
So they had been anticipating the participation of the gods in this war, but to suddenly have a random priest called from an insignificant temple before them…
I guess that was pretty damaging to their pride.
I recently heard from Lily that the paladin leader could feel the presence of divine power to some extent.
That’s why Elviniraz had called me; it was more efficient for me to spend 30% of my energy and get a little tired, than for Priest Varsi to spend 90% of his energy and get depleted completely.
The paladin who received healing from me, fortunately, was able to recover after just two days.
The wound didn’t damage his organs, so he seemed to heal quickly.
Upon receiving thanks from him, I urged him to protect us with the light.
Even during such a short conversation, the piercing gaze on my back continued.
Since this is a fantasy world with magic swords, maybe there are even magic glares….
Priest Varsi, who had to retire because of me, didn’t explicitly give me a look of resentment.
But seeing as he had to step aside for me, I sometimes felt he was looking at me with a bit of an inferiority complex.
Besides him, there were quite a few priests who disliked me since a priest such as Varsi, who stood at the center of Abnel’s priests, felt humiliated because of me.
Those gazes were so intense that I fully expected them to one day force me to follow them up to the rooftop* to continue their bullying.
However, they didn’t directly challenge or deliberately start an argument with me.
With no direct confrontation, I should be fine if they’re just going to glare at me…
[*tl/n: reference to common scenes in K-dramas where bullies meet their victim on a rooftop to avoid intervention (and for dramatic effect)]
Priest Varsi isn’t feeling very well, and he needs to eat more food to recover.
Would you mind obliging, priestess?”
My food was snatched with impunity.
There were many other priests besides me, with El Nur priests taking up only 2 out of 20, yet I was the one asked to make concessions over an Abnel priest.
A priest with a slightly trembling expression said, “People with a lot of divine power have bodies that recover relatively quickly, so Priestess Renesha has nothing to worry about.”
That was certainly an untested hypothesis.
If I recovered quickly on my own, I wouldn’t have had to constantly revive my legs when climbing these damned mountains!
Nevertheless I obliged the first time they asked me.
There wasn’t a lot of food to go around during the war anyway, so not eating that single bread wouldn’t make much of a difference.
So I made concessions, but so far they’ve asked me three times already.
But seeing four people corner me and try to intimidate me with their stares…
And seeing Priest Varsi deliberately coughing behind them, I became a little exasperated.
I mean, really….
I had to give them credit for their dedication.
So, with a generous heart, I decided to understand them.
They took only bread, so Priest Varsi became a kind of barbarian to me, but I smiled brightly and acknowledged him.
“I hope you feel better soon.”
His conscience seemed a bit stabbed by my flawless smile, and he quickly avoided my gaze.
I didn’t feel the need to talk anymore, so I headed to my seat with just a bowl of soup today.
Lily had grabbed food earlier and was seated already.
As I casually sat down next to her, Lily looked at them with a very cold face and asked, “Renée.
Don’t tell me, since yesterday have you been getting your food swiped by the Abnel priests?”
Uh… Until now, I hadn’t put much thought into the priests asking for concessions, and only nodded in response.
But Lily seemed to have noticed the situation through the conversation we had today.
Lily, while straightening her glasses, asked again.
“Was your food taken?”
It was a very angry voice for some reason, so I felt uneasy.
Without waiting for a response, Lily jumped up and strode toward them.
I witnessed a very shameful scene just now….
May I ask you all a question?”
“….If you’re by chance talking about this bread, Priest Varsi is not well so Priestess Renesha offered hers to us.”
Lily’s lips curled up.
Even where five Abnel priests were gathered, only Lily’s face was fully composed with feigned geniality.
Of course, it was a smile that reached only her lips.
The eyes behind her glasses weren’t smiling at all.
With the change in atmosphere, other Abnel priests began to gather around.
Oh, this is really dangerous…
“I was taught that delighting in an unwilling sacrifice is not the path of a priest of God.
El Nur’s doctrine is like this.”
“And even if one is not a priest, that is just a basic way to behave as a human, don’t you think? But maybe you disagree, based on your behavior?”
…I was never concerned about Lily becoming a subject of bullying.
What I was worried about was the aftermath, when we will have to continue working together afterwards.
Yes, because Lily is a legendary verbal master, to put it plainly.
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