Chapter 13. A Place Where Warm Light Gathers
The peaceful chirps of the forest reach Astraea’s ears. A soft and gentle wind caresses her skin, and a warm futon lies wrapped around her body. Such sensation… is not supposed to be there!
Astraea’s eyes pop open.
The first thing to enter her sight is a white ceiling. At the very least, it was not her home. Nor was it the forest she last remembers entering.
She tries to get up, but her body writhes with pain. Thus, she immediately gives up trying. While it isn’t a pain that she can’t endure, her current condition requires she rest a bit more before being able to walk properly again. Normal usage of her magic will probably take around ten days.
As expected of a forbidden technique. Throwing out all of my remaining magic power without any care leads to this…
At any rate, I really am inhuman. Astraea feeling like a masochist, has a second thought.
More importantly, just where is this place? This should be… the fort, right?
Even if that place isn’t the fort, Astrea has no doubt that Eos brought her there. But in that case, where is Eos? She’s glad he isn’t there. Her sleeping face isn’t something she wants him to see. However, the fact remains that other than him, there is no one else she can ask about the situation. Just what is going on?
Although there are signs of people just beyond the door… calling out is too troublesome.
Or, to be more precise, if I call out, it would be troublesome?
At any rate, someone would eventually enter the room. Best would be if no one enters until she recovers enough to walk on her own. With such a conclusion in mind, Astraea closes her eyes to try and sleep again. She has already been freely sleeping there all that time, nobody is going to harm me here.
However, on the other side of the door, the signs of people soon turn into talking voices.
…I can’t sleep.
Astraea was not used to sleeping with people talking nearby. Furthermore— of the voices she hears, she’s positive she recognizes one. That’s Eos.
Astraea rouses her injured body and slowly turns. She staggers a little bit and as a result, Eos opened the door. Astraea, at that time, looks like she’s about to fall from the bed.
“Are you alright!?
“I-I’m alright. I’m just a little bit curious about the floor.”
That a terrible excuse. Saying I’m curious about the floor. What kind of hobby is that? Regardless, she definitely didn’t want to tell Eos, “I’m not alright”.
More than making an excuse, I should just show him I’m alright.
Astraea displays her composure and will power and slowly raises her body, using the headboard for support.
“Good morning, Eos. I, seem to have been sleeping.”
“Looking at your condition, I’m relieved that you’re this energetic. You slept for two days.”
Astraea didn’t intend to sleep that much, but she seems to have been quite tired.
“Will you eat, lunch? Can you drink, milk soup?”
“My stomach is fine, so I can eat anything… probably.”
“I see, then I’m glad. How about meat or fish?”
“Then, I’ll request for something good later.”
Eos, with those words, sits down on the wooden stool beside the bed.
“…What happened to those people?”
“You mean Morgan and Elba? They are currently recuperating, but they’re fine. Some parts of their memory are fuzzy, but they’ll be back to work the day after tomorrow.”
“I see. That’s good.”
Astraea judged they would be fine after healing them to the extent she did, but is still relieved after hearing the situation clearly. Parts of their memory being fuzzy will let me lie as needed. Still, it all depended on what Eos would refrain from saying.
“Don’t worry. I won’t ask, and I won’t say. Anything you don’t want said will remain quiet.”
“Even so, I want to convey my gratefulness. Thank you.”
“Wait, stop that.”
Astraea hurries to stop Eos, but he deeply lowers his head. She feels terribly embarrassed. Eos, upon raising his head, merely gives her a tender smile. Astraea’s gaze, as a result, shifts around.
What should I say, how should I answer? While Astraea is pondering such, she hears a faint laugh. She glares at Eos, yet his smile doesn’t change. It is as if he is saying, “I don’t know anything.”
Yet, when she looks at his eyes, she feels as though they are urging her with, “What happened?”
“…You really won’t ask anything, right?”
“Would you mind if I ask?”
“I won’t answer, though.”
“I’m fine if you only won’t answer me, but I feel like you’ll disappear if I do.”
She can’t refute that statement.
“Besides, it’s not that big a deal, right?”
However, Astraea can’t say it is not a big deal. She is a witch who has lived for hundreds of years, something that would unsettle anyone. While she struggles with for an answer, Eos calmly continues.
“Everyone has one or two things they don’t want to share. I also have things I don’t want to say.”
Astraea eyes widen at the unexpected words. Eos, in turn, only smiles at her. Eos was also a human, so it wasn’t strange that he had one or two things that he didn’t want to share. Rather, it would be strange if he didn’t. Regardless, hearing that directly from him feels strange.
“Although it might not be important for others, it’s important for me.”
Everyone has parts that they don’t want others to touch. Even though she should know that, she didn’t know what to say in order to continue with his conversation’s flow.
“…Hey, Eos. I want to eat cake.”
Very well, I’ll buy you some.”
“…Ah, the money…”
At the moment, Astraea has gold and silver treasures she received as rewards for her deeds four hundred years ago. Since her life doesn’t require any expenses, even if she doesn’t work, she has no trouble shopping. She merely needs to liquidate said treasures. However, when she left her home, she thought she was going to return soon. As such, she left all of her money at her home.
Eos gives a light shake of his head.
“That’s fine, you don’t have to worry. There’s a lot of excess funding.”
“It’s the allocated military budget for subjugating the Chimera. However, now it’s all being diverted for medical expenses.”
Then that’s, good. Still, since the expenses came from the taxes Astraea thinks that she shouldn’t make any unreasonable requests. The monthly salary of a knight should be within the permitted range? She doesn’t know how much that is, but buying a cake should be allowed… probably.
“But from what I saw… even without me, Eos could have defeated the Chimera alone.”
Astraea doesn’t see a single scratch on him. She isn’t trying to flatter him, but really believes such. Had he been alive in that warring period, there’s no telling how history would have been.
However, Eos shakes his head.
“That would have been impossible. There is no way I would have been able to fight it while covering two injured people. Also, I wouldn’t have known how to fight it without your information. After all, from just the Chimera’s appearance, I couldn’t infer how hard its skin was nor guess the location of its heart.”
But if… Astraea swallows the words she’s about to say. Those hypothetical words have no meaning. Once their present reality is taken into account, what Eos said is proven correct.
“That’s why, thank you.”
Astraea doesn’t feel like she could beat the current Eos in a debate and reluctantly says such. Eos, upon hearing her, stands up in satisfaction.
“Alright, let’s end that conversation for now. I’ll ask for your lunch and buy the cake afterwards, but before that… you must want to take a bath, right?”
A bath? Astraea tilts her head in wonder to why such an option is appearing.
“Not particularly, no.”
“But you sweated in you’re sleep, and a fresh bath has just been prepared. Nobody will disturb you, and I also have the keys. You’ll want a change of clothes, correct?”
“No, not really…”
Certainly, her hair was somewhat stiff. At the moment, her current condition doesn’t allow her to use purification magic. As such, she understands that she needs a bath to cleanse herself.
No, Eos doesn’t know about purification magic in the first place. Of course, he’ll say that… but it is very troublesome for Astraea. Why, even though I’ve been using purification magic because that’s too troublesome for hundreds of years, do I have to take a bath now?
“I won’t die even if I don’t take a bath. There’s no need for concern.”
“Is it because you can’t walk? You stumbled just now too.”
In the end, he discovered that she was about to fall off the bed. No, I was not about to fall off. I was just looking at the floor.
“So, walking is impossible for you after all?”
“I can walk.”
“Hmm… Then, I’ll carry you to the bath.”
Carry? What? Before Astraea can ask, she notices that Eos is very close. Despite reflectively backing away, he’s faster than her.
“Wah, don’t worry. I won’t drop you.”
“This is not okay!!”
“While you’re in bath, I’ll arrange a wheelchair for you.”
If there was something like that, then prepare it now! Just what the heck is this person doing!?
It is no wonder that Astraea wants to shout.
In his arms!? I-I’m not some kind of princess!!
Astraea letting someone do such to her is not in her nature. She tries to resist, but Eos holds her down by increasing the strength in his arms. He makes wriggling around too difficult for the struggling Astraea.
Fi-fine already, the bathroom or wherever, just hurry up and put me down…!!
Astraea feels her chest pulsing painfully as she wishes such from deep in her heart.
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