“… Thank you very much.”
I first bowed to Faris, who was waiting in front of Elize’s dormitory.
“It’s alright. Are you done with your visit?”
“I’m only here to see how she’s doing.”
The conversation ended for a moment. It’s impossible to have a friendly conversation with Priestess Faris after all.
“How is Earl Thelesia―――?”
“He’s fine. He can go home soon.”
She had settled the matter quickly.
Earl Thelesia, who had collapsed in battle, had taken shelter at Sheen Temple and was recuperating. I knew that he hadn’t died, but it seemed that he had recovered successfully.
“It looked like he pushed himself too hard. It would have been dangerous had he fallen ill or something, but I have no intention of letting him fall ill on my watch.”
Earl Thelesia had collapsed because he was lending power to Faris, who was using magic in that battle. He had said that he was using the power of two people for the high-powered spell, but he had run out of power first and collapsed.
――― Magic. Well, it’s true that Faris, who is called the Eye of God, has an insight beyond human comprehension which can be summed up in one word: magic. I’m still unsure about whether the lightning battle of that day can really be summed up as magic… but well, the opponent was a magic beast. If a magic beast can use magic, then it wouldn’t be surprising for a human to use magic.
It is said that Faris is a priestess of the temple because of her power, but I don’t know if that’s true or not, since I don’t know how the other magicians are living. It was only at that battle that I became aware that magicians existed.
“Don’t tell anyone about this.”
“Of course not.”
I agreed sincerely. Information about people who can use magic was best kept away from the public.
“… I don’t want to become someone who returns goodwill with evil.”
I vowed to take this matter to my grave because of the debt of gratitude that I owe both Faris and Earl Thelesia.
Faris laughed abruptly, put her hand on my head for a moment and then left.
… What was that? Was she going to pat me on the head? I’ve always wondered if those two aren’t good with children.
Winter arrived before long. I went back to Kaldia when the Academy was on break and became completely used to living a peaceful life.
There was a thick layer of snow from the heavy snowfall yesterday outside as usual. Since this morning, dust-like snow had been falling noiselessly onto the ground and the pile of snow on the ground will probably get even thicker.
When I went down to the dining room to have breakfast, Claudia was talking with Madam Marechan. They greeted me cheerfully when they noticed that I had entered the room, “Morning!”
I returned their greeting and asked Nathan, the chef, to prepare my meal before taking my seat.
By coincidence, Oscar and Madam Hortensio arrived, then Radka, Thiele and Rekha, who had started living in the mansion as apprentice maids, also turned up.
The dining room, which was supposed to be more spacious than the one at Golden Hill, was filled to capacity when a lot of people gathered at once. Isn’t this the first time so many people have gathered here?
“… It’s really interesting to see how many people of different origins live together in this mansion.”
Oscar, a relative newcomer to the group, grumbled and I agreed with him.
Bellway, Madam Marechan, Claudia, Oscer, Madam Hortensio, Radka, Thiele and Rekha.
Before I knew it, there were more people living in this mansion than the number of family members who I had poisoned and killed.
… It was quite an emotional experience when I thought about it.
I followed Rashiok, who was excitedly rolling around in the snow, under the dim snowfall sky.
The snow, which had fallen this morning, was soft and smooth, making it difficult to walk on. My thick woollen cloak was also annoying. It was heavy already, since it reached my knees, but it became even heavier with water as the hem reached the snow.
I really don’t think I’ll ever like winter, I thought.
I didn’t find it as difficult to walk as I used to, maybe because I’ve grown, but I don’t like the feeling of my movements being impeded.
I buried my face in my scarf and followed Rashiok in silence as he occasionally stopped to look at me.
We descended the hill and crossed the completely frozen Sera River and came down to the newcomers’ village. The village is usually bustling with activity, but today, because of the snow, all the houses in the village were quiet as if they were trying to catch their breaths even though their lights were on.
Hibernation was usually like this. They stay indoors, huddle with family and enjoy the fire while trying not to consume too much energy. They don’t particularly sleep, but they spend winter almost as if they’re hibernating.
I warmed my fingertips with a glass bottle of hot tea and watched the stillness for a while. Rashiok jumped around happily on the snow, which didn’t have a single footprint on it, in the plaza in the centre of the village.
I went to the village chief’s house and briefly asked him if there was anything troubling the village. He answered, “Nothing at the moment,” and I told him, “I’ll check on the village again when it isn’t snowing so much,” before heading to the next village.
I rode on Rashiok’s back as we went from village to village. Travelling from village to village in the silent winter, when only the shadows of the trees remained under the cover of snow and darkness, is almost impossible for humans even in the fief where they were born and raised.
But if one had a draconis, then it was possible for humans to travel through winter on their backs.
I patted Rashiok’s right shoulder, which had a gaping hole in it. When I laid down and put my cheek against his wound, his remaining wing opened a little as if he thought I was cold, and the wind against my face disappeared.
I don’t know how it works, but it seems that draconis can use their wings to manipulate wind. Oscar knew this and told me about it before I fought Deiferais in the capital. I was able to create a wind by waving his wing because I was using the magic power that was left in his clipped wings.
Just as phosphorescent powder from phosphorescent moths can be crystallised into light, some of the materials obtained from the bodies of magic beasts contain magical power. They can’t be used forever, and like battery-operated tools, they will eventually become useless.
Rashiok’s wing had lost their supernatural power to create wind and have now been embalmed and stored in the warehouse. The light and strong coating of a draconis can be incorporated into armour that I will make after I stop growing.
I intended to use my draconis’s wing, which had to be cut off, for as long as I could. I believe I have the duty to do so.
I’m sorry. Thanks. Both were words that rose to my throat, but eventually dissipated before they could be voiced.
His long, snake-like tail moved and gently stroked my almost motionless left shoulder.
We understand each other better than anyone else even though we were a human and a beast.
I’m glad you’re here.
I’m so glad I didn’t kill you.
I remembered the day when we walked through the snow like this and felt very sentimental.
I couldn’t get rid of the ghastly thoughts that haunted me as if my body was being chopped up little by little at every opportunity, or as if I’m being forced to cut myself down.
I can’t believe I’m finally able to think thoughts like, I’m glad you’re alive and I’m glad I didn’t kill you.
I sighed and laughed at myself at the same time.
Why did I end up in a world that seemed like the setting of an otome game? … I can’t believe I’ve come to feel that it’s normal to have such gloomy thoughts. Why?
The suffocating emotions slowly swirled in the back of my chest like piling un-melted snow.
I let out a long sigh until my lungs were empty with my face down on Rashiok’s back.
His large palm stroked my back gently.
“Are you sick? Wandering around out in the cold like this, are you stupid?”
I saw the Golden Hill when I looked up. Rashiok was happily rubbing his tail against the person who was standing beside him, and I recalled that I hadn’t told him where to go next. He probably chose to go to a place he wanted to go since I hadn’t told him our destination.
“Well, it’s cold, but I’m not sick.”
“Another blizzard is going to start soon. I won’t be able to deal with any problems that arise if I don’t go around the villages before that.”
“I get it. Let’s go inside.”
He urged and Rashiok went through the front door.
It had been a while since I had been here, and the Golden Hill mansion seemed quiet and empty, probably because there were hardly any people here.
“――― Can I take you over there today?”
I asked and the back of the man walking in front of me turned around.
“Okay. It’s cold here after all. But why?”
“I don’t want to leave you in this cold, lonely place.”
It almost seemed unbearable compared to the morning bustle.
“So, let’s talk. ――― Let’s ask each other all the questions we want to ask. Okay?”
A smile appeared on his burnt face.
Kamil replied, “Okay,” to that as well.