“Are you alright?”
He began to run as he asked that. The second and third floors had collapsed, and the fourth floor was engulfed in fire, there are no more paths leading to the hidden passage. Did he not kill me in this pool of blood because the flames are still chasing after us and he didn’t have time? ――― Or, is he really trying to protect me?
I wonder if the knights, who are carrying Earl Einsbark and Wiegraf, are still okay on the other side of the flames. There was only one knight left behind on this side of the fire, but he had already died from being injured by shrapnel caused by the explosion, or because he was too slow to run away from the flames.
“… Where are we… going?”
For some reason, even opening my mouth was painful. My hands and feet feel hot. I even thought they were on fire. Kamil looked at me as if he was going to cry. It was troublesome to even think about why he was making that expression.
“Where, you ask…? Somewhere… safe…”
I heard a dull roar in the distance when Kamil replied to me in a soft voice. Did it come from above us? It must be another explosive. Then, another explosion followed shortly after. We probably won’t be able to go to the roof.
“… Ka… mil. Let me down… I can walk.”
Kamil pretended that he hadn’t heard what I had said, and adjusted his grip on me to make me more comfortable, then he sped up even more. We left the tower, went through the knights’ building all the way to the barracks. Nothing was burning in the barracks. There were no carpets or curtains in the corridor, just solid, rustic stone. Enemies kept coming at us from the south, so I thought that the enemies in the other direction had probably been annihilated; but contrary to my expectations, there were very few people in the barracks, and Kamil silently disposed of the soldiers who weren’t wearing our tunics.
How come Kamil can kill like this? Is it because he is trying to kill me? Then, why doesn’t he kill me now?
My thoughts spun around in circles because I was tired, and I couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer because I couldn’t think properly. That was when I heard a riot outside the window. Kamil didn’t let me down, but at least he should understand what I want. I pointed at the window with my chin, and he walked towards it.
Outside the window, the gate at the castle walls had been broken down, and waves of people were flooding in. My brain froze when I saw that they were soldiers wearing the insignia of the Densel army.
――― However, I relaxed when I saw a group in black chasing after them.
The 1st Knight Order was in high spirits as they trapped the remnants of the enemy army between the wall and fortress. I saw Ergnard passing calmly through the castle gate, still dressed in black while surrounded by knights.
I’m glad he’s okay.
He was at the back of the centre formation, but he had maneuvered the left and right wings into different directions, so they were able to react to Densel’s attack immediately. Of course, the risk of dying also jumped up a lot.
Even if Ergnard had been in a safe position, another person would take his place and be at risk. However, he taught me the halberd, acted as my bodyguard, and reminded me of my previous life’s parents, ――― of how parents should be, so of course I would wish that someone else would get injured or die in his place.
In any case, if the battle at the Great Plains have concluded, then the situation at the fortress will also turn back in our favour. I couldn’t help but exhale slowly. I’m pretty sure I feel relieved.
I felt relaxed since they were back.
My body went limp, maybe because my tension was gone, or because the fatigue that I had ignored until now suddenly came crashing down on me. Kamil quickly adjusted his hold on me, and shook me.
“Are you alright!? Where does it hurt?! Get it together, Eliza-sama!!”
He looks desperate or like he was going to cry. My head felt like it had just been hit.
Kamil will… kill me? What stupid thing am I worrying about? Why do I think that a person with this kind of expression would try to kill me?
The words ‘let me down’ didn’t come out of my mouth this time. I clung to his neck with my powerless right arm and cried.
――― I understood everything in that moment.
A dozen soldiers came like an avalanche from the room facing the corridor along with a loud smash. Kamil’s reaction was momentarily delayed because he was hugging me with both arms.
My vision blurred, and Kamil hugged me so tightly that it hurt.
In less than a minute, I heard many dull crashes near us. Kamil’s body shook a little. I heard a low groan come out from his mouth. I felt as if a scorching pole was pressed against my left arm that was between Kamil’s stomach and my body ――― and realised that this was pain.
The sword that was protruding through Kamil’s body pierced my left arm. Kamil got stabbed because he protected me ――― my head went blank.
At that moment, something that tastes like salty blood and iron swirled in my mouth, and my whole body rolled. I bit on something that was in my mouth. It was Kamil’s finger, and I realised after I had hit my head hard on the stone wall that he must have put it in my mouth so that I wouldn’t bite my tongue while we were rolling. The stars dancing before my eyes rebuked my body, and I somehow managed to look up.
In an instant, a lot of blood splashed before my eyes. Kamil’s arm moved faster than I can follow, and the people around us fell down to the ground with a clatter. At the same time, an appalling amount of blood dripped from Kamil’s stomach.
Every time the enemy decreased by one, Kamil’s movements visibly worsened. His expressionless side profile was pale, and he was biting hard on his lips. I forced my powerless body to move and pulled out the short sword that was hoisted on my waist with my left hand. The chain on my wrist rattled clearly and sounded out-of-place.
The sound of sticky water came out from Kamil’s mouth along with darkish blood. He didn’t seem to care about this as his right hand continued to thrust his sword into the neck of the oncoming enemy soldiers.
――― That was his limit. Kamil’s body slipped forward. I saw the last soldier, who he had stabbed, swing a sword at his back. Everything stopped at that moment. It looked as if everything was playing in frames. I held my short sword in front of my chest and drove at the enemy’s bosom with all my might. I hallucinated that my body had become like a spring.
Even the handle of my short sword pierced deeply into the enemy’s solar plexus. My body stumbled a little from the heavy blow, and the blade that had been swung down at Kamil dropped to the floor without grazing him. As soon as Kamil flopped on the floor, the enemy, who I had stabbed, also fell down. Did I kill him? I stared down at him, blankly.
When I came to, my shoulders were moving up and down violently, and I breathed. For the first time in my life, I stabbed someone to death. The dull feeling in my palm from when I stabbed the blade into the attacker remained. It was the same as killing a beast, but I felt disgusted for some reason.
The shivers from the bottom of my stomach spread throughout my whole body, and my body felt weak again.
Kamil looked up at me with a stunned expression as he laid down on the floor.
“… Kam… il.”
A pathetic, trembling voice came out from the back of my throat. Blood continued to flow endlessly from Kamil’s stomach and side, and the stone floor gradually filled up with red. A pale face stared at me.
I couldn’t even move a single finger. My brain was numb, and my body refused to do anything but stare back at Kamil. He can only wait for death with those injuries. He had a large hole in his stomach, and he had damaged his internal organs as well, so there was no way to treat him.
The back of my throat burnt in pain.
My sight turned blurry as warm water leaked from my eyes and down onto my cheeks. Am I… crying right now?
“Don’t die… Kamil, you can’t…”
Those words slipped out. Without thinking, those words flowed out from my mouth. I shamefully sobbed and whined like a little baby. Am I throwing a tantrum? Why am I trying to tell him something now?
I should have obediently let him hold me, but I refused because I didn’t trust him, and just let myself lose strength. He protected me.
And, this was the result. Eliza Kaldia, the foolish actions that you are guilty of are right in front of your eyes.
My brain felt so hot as if it was boiling. My vision became white and cloudy, and my head was spinning like I was drunk. At the edge of my vision, I saw that I was gripping my hand so hard that it was turning white, and noticed that I was boiling with anger. I hated myself so much that I wanted to vomit. The taste of blood spread from where I was biting my lips.
In contrast to me, Kamil showed a gentle smile. My heart hurt so much that it felt as if it was being grasped.
“… It’s fine. It can’t… be helped.”
Kamil spoke in a weak voice. I was afraid that he was going to cough up blood, and my body trembled even more. No, I just finally realised that I was already shaking pretty badly. His faint voice seemed like it would disappear, and I crawled to Kamil’s side, driven by fear.
“You couldn’t… trust me… right? If you knew what… I was hiding… then of course you wouldn’t.”
Kamil talked with frequent pauses. My body shivered helplessly.
“You… knew that… I was the… son of… the merchant… who had killed your family… didn’t you?”
I couldn’t nod, and even forgot to breathe as I listened to his words.
“I’m sorry… my father… killed your… family. That’s why… I thought… the least… I could do was protect you… Because… you’re really a small child.”
Kamil’s voice gradually became choppier, and he had gotten so passionate that it made me want to cry. Do I want to cry? Or do I want to cling onto Kamil and ask for forgiveness? All my feelings turned into regret and was swirling inside me like a vortex.
However, that as well, ended quickly and felt like it had escaped into the air. There was nowhere to throw the emotions that had swelled up inside me. I had caused everything.
It seemed much better to tell him everything than have thoughts like that.
“――― No, Kamil…”
When I realised, I was slowly shaking my head. I couldn’t honestly accept Kamil’s feelings since he didn’t have any hidden agenda －―― I couldn’t forgive myself, no matter what. Even I knew that I was feeling so helpless that my feelings and shoulders were drooping.
I tore up my cloak, which was pointless to wear anymore, and pushed it against Kamil’s stomach; desperately with my trembling arms. Tears dripped down onto the back of my hand.
“… Ts… ar?”
Kamil raised his voice in confusion. At least, I thought as I raised my trembling face and looked at him.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, you’re wrong, I’ll tell you properly ――― I’ll tell you everything, so please, don’t die.”
My choppy words were extremely annoying.
I stared at him so that I could burn his image into my mind as he gazed at me, but my vision was blurred by my tears. My body froze. I can’t breathe anymore.
I shamelessly begged for forgiveness, what will he say?
I regretted it after I said it. Why did I ask that of Kamil? Why can I explain everything to him now? Aren’t I just confessing everything to him to satisfy myself?
I felt like gouging my heart out as I wallowed in self-loathing.
Kamil quietly closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.
“――― … Okay. Yup… I’ll listen… to it… properly next time.”
Just as I thought, his voice died down as it remained gentle.
――― With that, Kamil didn’t open his eyes.
I timidly touched the blood that had already dried on his cheeks. It felt surprisingly cold, and my shoulders shuddered involuntarily.
“Eliza… sama… My… Ts-ar… don’t cry…”
Kamil said while panting as if it was annoying to speak.
He sluggishly lifted his hand, and hugged my head against his right shoulder. I obediently let him do so, and sunk my head into a pool of blood. Kamil’s body warmth slowly left him even though I was touching him on top of his clothes, and it was so terrifying.
I slid my head down from his shoulder lightly and rested on his left breast. I heard that his heart was still beating feebly, and felt so relieved that I shed tears.
He’s still alive.
I only listened to the small sound of his weakening heart without caring about the angry roars and shouts near me.
――― Before long, I couldn’t hear it anymore, and the hand that was against my head fell limp to the ground.
I had already exceeded my limit, and I sensed it when my consciousness was so thin that I couldn’t even understand when I would die. Then, I don’t know what happened after that.
After a while, screams and shouts came from on the other side of the tower door at the end of the corridor, and heard the door being kicked open.
People’s angry roars echoed in the corridor. I felt like I heard Gunter and Claudia calling my name among that.