Rotting Away


It’s been a while」


  When I reunited with Priest Sarah again after roughly a month, her face was extremely pale, showing great fatigue and unease.


  Even though she smiled at me the moment she saw me, that appearance of hers can only be described as pitiful.
I could have guessed from the children’s faces already, but Iria’s condition is probably really bad.


  Priest Sarah explained the situation to me with a sorrowful look.


「Medicines and magic both worked in the beginning.
However, the symptoms came back before long…and that wasn’t all.
The medicines and magic that we used previously would work less and less before they eventually stopped working completely」


  It sounded as if the illness is evolving inside the sick person’s body.  


  When I visited this village before, I didn’t leave them with only the 『Union』’s antidotes, I left them with some jiraiaooks fruit too.
According to Priest Sarah, even those have no effect on Iria now.


  It’s looking like a hydra’s poison more and more.
With that thought in my mind, I was about to tell her the events of the last couple of days――but I hesitated.


   I don’t have the courage to tell a mother that the poison in her daughter can’t be cured.


  It’s like I’m the physician who’s going to tell the sick person’s family that their daughter’s illness can’t be cured.
But the problem here is I don’t have the professional knowledge or the qualifications of a physician, and even the crucial “can’t be cured” part is just a speculation of mine.


  In other words, I’m a quack physician.


  When someone like that goes “it’s possible that this poison is incurable”, just who is going to believe them? If anything, they would be yelled at to stop saying irresponsible things.


  If I was in Priest Sarah’s position, I wouldn’t just yell, I would probably throw some hard fists too.


  Therefore, I was thinking maybe this is where I just keep quiet and bring out the improved antidote that Miroslav finished with her dedication.


  However, that would be a problem as well.


  Miroslav said that my blood is similar to a powerful drug.
I can’t just give Iria medicine that is mixed with such a dangerous substance without any explanation.
In the worst scenario, it could end up dealing fatal damage to her body that is in a weakened state.


  That being said, if I were to give her a detailed explanation on why I’m giving such medicine to her, I would have to tell her about the possibility of the poison being incurable.
There will be a need to reveal my secrets to some degree as well.


  Both of those things wouldn’t make much sense to Priest Sarah.


  To spew such ridiculous nonsense at a time of emergency――When I Imagine Priest Sarah giving me a look of disgust with thoughts like that in her mind, the pain is so much to bear even if it’s only in my head.


  「……? Sora, is something wrong?」


  「Ueeeh?! W-why do you think that……?」


  「You looked like you are having a hard time ……Oh, speaking of which, I still haven’t heard about the reason you came to visit this time.
If you have something to discuss with me, please don’t hesitate」


  After she said that, perhaps she thought about the situation she’s in right now; the priest put a hand over her gaunt cheek bashfully.


  「Ah……Um, you might be thinking I don’t look very reliable right now.
But, I was a warrior priest in the past just like Iria.
I’m tougher than I look!」


  With that, Priest Sarah flexed her arm at me.


  ――I almost instinctively kneeled down on the spot.


  It’s so that I can repent to this lovely, great priest who would still worry about me even when her daughter is in such a big crisis.


  For me to withhold crucial information because I don’t want to be scolded and looked at with disdain, I’m definitely an existence that is even lower than a goblin right now. 


  What we have to do right now is treat Iria.
I know that already, so why do I need to hesitate?


  It’s true that the hydra stuff is just my proofless speculation, but it’s not a malicious lie by any means.
There’s no way that the priest in front of me wouldn’t see something like that.


  「To be honest――」


  I gathered my resolve and told Priest Sarah everything that happened up to this point in detail.


  In response, she listened to me with a serious expression throughout the whole thing. 




  After that, I was invited to a sickroom and I came face to face with Iria alone.


  She wanted to speak to me directly after she heard the story from her mother.
Priest Sarah had left the room as well.


 Iria was sitting up on the bed.


  Her eyes were not looking at me but out the window.
From my point of view, I can only see the left half of her face.
As she remained in that same position, she spoke in a cold tone. 


  「So, what are you trying to do?」


  「I don’t know how to answer you from just that」


  I responded to Iria with a shrug.


  As a matter of fact, a huge load was lifted off my shoulders.


  Until I got in this room, my mind was filled with images of Iria’s face looking like the face of that sick person I saw from that village.
But once I came into contact with her like this, both her attitude and her voice were the same old Iria I know.
The first words that came out of her brought me comfort since they had successfully gotten rid of the illusion that was stuck in my mind.


  Iria, who has no way of knowing what I’m thinking inside, continued to talk in a seemingly bad mood,


  「You know what I meant.
I’m asking you why you are helping me when you hate me.
You might not be celebrating if I die, but I know you definitely wouldn’t be sad」 


  「That’s a cruel assessment of me.
Well, I won’t deny it though」


So then?」


  「It’s true that I have mixed emotions when it comes to you, but Priest Sarah and the kids will be sad if you die.
I don’t want to see them sad」




  With her gaze continued to be locked on to what was outside the window, Iria sneered at my reasoning as if she didn’t buy it at all.


  When she opened her mouth again, the topic moved to something else.


  「I got the gist of what happened from Larz.
So Miro has also joined your clan now, huh?」 


  「Yeahh, she did」


  「So she did, huh.
Even though you saved her on Mount Skim, she didn’t even think twice and parted with Larz to join you.
The one who instigated Larz to fight you.
The one who was pampering Larz to keep him away from me.」 


  「……What are you trying to say?」


  「I’ve thought about it many times since I left Ishka.
If I just look at the end result, what Miro did ended up making things pretty convenient for you.
Both her and Luna were out, and Larz also became calm.
The 『Falcon Sword』was practically destroyed.
If I say all of that was what somebody was aiming for all along――would I be reading too much into things?」


  「Well, I don’t have the answer for you even if you ask me that」


  While I responded as calmly as possible, I was tensed up inside.
Iria seems to have noticed the connection between me and Miroslav.


  Of course, she probably noticed that she was a target of mine as well.


  In fact, that was what she said next.


  「I wonder if a certain someone is responsible for this poison」


  I frowned after I heard that.


  Yeah, it can’t be helped that I would be suspected in these circumstances.
I tricked Larz and took Lunamaria and Miroslav from him, pretty much disbanding their party.
Then Iria, the only person left in his party, was infected with this new type of poison, and it just so happens that I show up with a new antidote――Yeah, I’m as fishy as I can possibly be.
If I was in her shoes, I would suspect that I have something to do with it too. 


  However, that’s just not true.
I denied it all with a strong tone.


  「I’m not.
I meant it when I said that I don’t want the kids or the great priest to be sad」


  I thought she was going to sneer at me again, but contrary to my expectations, Iria simply nodded.


  「I figured」


  「……Wait what?」


  I was stunned at how she just straight up acknowledged it.


  Iria then shrugged in a tired manner.


  「I already knew that.
A poison that my mother can’t handle isn’t something that can be easily produced.
Besides, to have a Kelpie attack the children to lure me out would have too many unpredictable elements.
If you wanted to lure me out, you would have taken a more efficient approach」


  That’s why she knows that the incident this time is not related to me, she reiterated.


  So the reason she said she suspected me even though she knows that is――


  「I’m just harassing you a little.
You――No, you guys, messed with me quite badly.
Nothing wrong with a little payback, right?」 


  「I would like to not comment on that」


  「It’s not like I was expecting an answer from you」


  With that, Iria let out a small sigh. 


  I started to have doubts about her attitude.
I thought she should be angrier after she found out about the truth and she would be condemning me intensely.


  Even though she’s not feeling well due to the poison right now, she could have done all kinds of things before the poison started to affect her.
Especially something like telling Larz and Priest Sarah about my schemes; she could do that even with the poison affecting her.
I know this because she still has the strength to talk to me right now. 


  When I confronted her about all that, she spoke to me bluntly.


  「What good would telling them those things do?」


  「…So you can fight back?」


  「It’s not possible.
I don’t have any proof.
I could say bad things about you, but it won’t mean much with no proof.
I could have used our party’s influence and the circumstantial evidence to corner you in the past, but right now even that wouldn’t be possible.
More importantly, if I mess up, you’re going to kill us for real.
I was scared of that」


  Those words of hers reminded me of how things went down with Lunamaria. 


  Lunamaria accepted to be my slave even though she realized my connection to Miroslav.
If she refused me carelessly then it would have left me no choice.
Rather than going down that road, she agreed and became mine.


  Right now, Iria might feel the same as Lunamaria did at that time.
Since Iria doesn’t know about Soul Eater, she shouldn’t feel as threatened as Lunamaria was, but she still knows what I was like in the past.
From that, she knows more than other people about how abnormal the current me is.


  It might be because of that fear that she stopped thinking about retaliating, I thought.


  While I was thinking about such things, Iria started coughing all of a sudden.


  It began with just a couple of light coughs at first.
However, more coughs started to soon follow, and there were no signs of it stopping. 


  Seeing her bending her back in pain, I immediately stepped forward, but then I quickly abandoned that thought.
She probably doesn’t want me touching her back either.


  I decided that it would be best to call for Priest Sarah here, and so I started to exit the room.


  However, an exceptionally intense sound of coughing came from behind me right away.
When I took a look, a dark red liquid was on Iria’s hand and mouth.


  That wasn’t all; I saw her upper body twist as she fell over on the bed, so I knew I couldn’t leave right now and ran back to her. 


  Then, she probably noticed that I was coming closer, and she looked at me with a frightened expression. 


  ――At that moment, I was stunned.


  She had been facing the window looking out the whole time.
From our positions, I was only ever able to see the left side of her face.
Since she was looking at me now, this was my first time seeing the right half of her face. 


  How should I describe her appearance? I couldn’t find the words at the moment.


  The right half of her face is…Yeah, it was severely pruney.


  The left side of her face is the same Iria I know.
Sharp and tight features, a dignified and beautiful face. 


  But the right half of her face is like a different person’s.
The skin around her cheek is drooping, the skin around her eye and eyebrow is puffed up.
The graceful-looking face that was normally there was destroyed by ugliness. 


  She was showing the exact same symptoms as the sick people I saw from that village.

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like