Chapter 1: A Meeting Brought About by a Natural Disaster
She had set out to go shopping a while back, but encountered heavy rain.
Whilst thinking that, Astraea continued down a path that didn’t seem like a path in the middle of the mountains. Because of the rain, not just her footing, but also her vision, worsened. It made walking hateful — it was the worst. Yet, about four hundred years had already passed since she’s started residing in that forest. She at the very least knew where to walk.
…But wow, it’s already been four hundred years, huh? Not long ago, I was thinking that it’s already been three hundred and fifty years.
Moreover, as she was heading to make her purchases, she overheard voices talking about the ‘Saint Festival, Four Hundredth Year Commemoration.’
The ‘Saint Festival,’ for which this year was its four hundredth time, was a festival honoring the witch who all by herself saved the country from war.
Around four hundred years ago, at that time, the kingdom in which Astraea lived incurred a massive invasion from the neighboring empire. Many soldiers became corpses, villages were embroiled in battle, and the citizens were overcome with pessimism.
But at that time in history, a lone witch stood up. This lone witch was called by the invading army the ‘Demon Girl,’ and by the kingdom’s army, the ‘Patriotic Saint’–
I wonder just what history critics would say if they all knew that she was just a young girl like me.
But at that time, not even Astraea thought she would live for so long — or rather, remain eternally young.
Instead of occurring the year following the war’s end, the first Saint Festival was held after the sudden disappearance of the Saint, one year after the war ended. As such, for Astraea, the number of times it has been held equals the number of years she has lived in the forest. It makes the question she sometimes asks herself, ‘How many years has it been since I’ve entered in this forest?’ easy to answer. However, she rarely pondered that question and would usually only go to town once a year. Therefore, unless she gets the timing right, she might not be able to get an answer.
“Is what I think, but there’s no point in immersing myself in my memories… But the rain today is really heavy, huh?”
Because of this, she would have been better off doing her shopping some other day. The weather was so bad, she couldn’t help think such.
No matter how heavy the rain fell, neither Astraea’s clothes nor bags got wet. She was able to avoid every raindrop by creating a thin barrier of wind around herself.
It was a simple deed for a witch and Astraea was a fine lady with no intention of letting even a single drop of water fall upon her. She was a bit cold though.
Yet even though she wasn’t wet, that didn’t keep her sight from worsening.
My vision would clear if I use wind magic, but using multiple types of magic all at the same time is too troublesome.
To begin with, if she were to do something as troublesome as that, she would have already flown into the air and gone home at full speed while protecting herself from the rain. She was choosing to walk precisely because of how bothersome that alternative was.
I thought I had more time until the rain, but my prediction was off.
Now that she knew how the weather was going to turn out, she thought that preforming the troublesome weather divination before she left would have been better.
Based on the words, although it was called divination, it involved more or less feeling her surroundings for the presence of water. The name was pretty appropriate, and as such, was a mistake.
Astraea still had a bit more to go before reaching her cabin.
I’ll go sleep once I get home. From the looks of it, it’ll be raining tomorrow as well. That’s why, going to sleep is for the best— When she thought of that, a roaring sound echoed from nearby, as if trying to say it wouldn’t lose to the howling rain.
Astraea was surprised. A few years had probably gone by since her heart last jumped like that.
I have a bad feeling. With those thoughts, Astraea she changed directions.
The sound came from the cliff.
It’s a bit far from here, but beyond this point should be a path that allows one to cross the mountains. What if—
Astraea took off for that area at the though and caught sight of a wagon about to slip over the edge. She threw aside her bags and rushed to help. That the wagon was severely damaged and wasn’t safe was obvious at a glance.
Still, I heard that sound not too long ago. They may still be breathing!
She saw that the horse could still move, but it was weak. Furthermore, it had lost a large amount of blood and its neck was bent at a strange angle. Immediately after that, she saw someone beside it. He was unconscious and from his head dripped crimson blood. Half his face was drenched in it. Considering the situation, he probably had more injuries than she could see.
“But he’s not dead yet…!”
As soon as Astraea shouted that, she put both her hands together and channeled power into them. They glowed and bathed the whole area with a warm, yet powerful, light.
The intensity could make one think for a minute that the dark forest had turned sunny.
A short while passed until the light faded. What appeared was the damaged wagon, the horse standing beside it, and what was then revealed to be a young man. His breathing was now calm despite haven been caught in a landslide. The blood still remained on his face, but if it were wiped away, anymore might think he was merely sleeping.
I have to first check on him— Astraea was relieved, but what hit her the next moment was a sluggish pain and a choking feeling.
Of course I’d be tired from using such extreme magic after several hundred years.
Simple recovery magic would have been the better choice, but unfortunately, the witch didn’t have any talent in healing others. The recovery magic she was barely able to use was one where she transferred her own physical strength to the other. Naturally, she would undertake the injury— If the other was in a critical state, her body would bare an equal burden. In other words, it was magic where if she wasn’t immortal, her survival after healing the man or the horse would have been doubtful.
After using that magic, Astraea remembered, Oh yeah, now that I think about it, it’s that kind of magic. Regardless, even if she remembered it then after all that time, there was nothing she could do about it anymore.
Since I was in a hurry and was surprised, there was no helping it… But putting that aside, this. I saved him, but what should I do?
The young man’s life shouldn’t be in danger anymore, but if she were to leave him there, something more than just another landslide could happen.
To begin with, there was a high possibility that he wasn’t completely recovered from his injury. Actually, blood, although slightly, was still flowing from his forehead. The wound didn’t seem to have fully closed.
When Astraea saw the young man on the verge of death, she saved him without a second thought. Her life, however, was one with as little contact with others as she could have. The only exception was when she went out to buy clothes. Had she concluded the young man wasn’t going to die, she would have resisted saving him in order to maintain her status quo.
What should I do? I want to leave him behind. I absolutely don’t want to be concerned with him.
That’s what she thought, but her own feet wouldn’t turn the other way no matter what she tried.
Astraea took a deep breath.
Before she knew it, she did away with the wind magic covering her. Her clothes clung to her body as a result, making her uncomfortable. This is the worst.
Astraea brushed away the hair that clung to the sides of her face, and having given up, she said,
“…Won’t you cooperate with me?”
Astraea spoke to the horse, and in reply, it heaved with excitement. Due to the horse’s reply, her, He’s heavy, and because I can’t move him, I left him here, excuse wouldn’t work anymore.